What’s your thing?

A few months ago I was listening to a podcast called “Do The Thing”, and it stopped me in my tracks within the first few minutes, before she even got to the actual topic.

She did a little intro, welcomed her guest, and then said, “Before we get into it, the first question I ask all of my guests: What’s your thing?”

The guest speaker started talking about how her thing was teaching people to heal….and I stopped the podcast and just sat there thinking.

What would I say, if I was somehow a guest on that podcast, and she asked, “What’s your thing?”

Without too much familiarity with this particular podcast or its episodes, I instantly grasped the concept. Figure out what your Thing is, and then do that. And focus on that. And address whatever it is holding you back from it. (She introduces it as “A podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change, and make it stick.”)

And I sat there, on the overground train, watching London city rumble by, with my suitcase at my feet and the airport ahead of me, and I thought.

What’s my thing?

The default would be “helping accountants to become better marketers”. 

I just dashed that off right now, but it’s not a bad phrase to describe what we do at PF, which is the creative agency I own.

But that’s not all I do. And what struck me in that moment is, I’m not even sure it’s my Thing.

Because I also love…

  • Writing
  • Sketchnoting and sketching
  • Branding
  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Connect people with help

Those are things I love to do, which tap into my skills and abilities. I do all of these things, sometimes daily. Sometimes together. Right now, for example, I’m writing to you, with an accompanying sketchnote. And maybe even connecting you to some help, if you end up listening to and being helped by the podcast.

But which one is my Thing? What’s the ultimate one I want to focus all my energies on? Will I ever figure it out? How do you know?

At first I felt a little overwhelmed, and sort of pressured. Like if you don’t figure out your Thing, now, you’re WASTING TIME and IT’S GOING BY SO FAST and HURRY HURRY NOW NOW. (Doesn’t help when there’s a global pandemic on and some of the messages are along these lines.)

And I do know focusing in one direction is always more efficient and more profitable. Helps you achieve more, get more things done which have more impact. Even choosing to focus exclusively on accountants in our agency has been evidence of that.

But I’ve been mulling this question over for the last while (that was probably six months ago now), about what MY thing is.

Just because you’re good at – and enjoy – many different kinds of things, doesn’t mean that’s where all your energy needs to go. In the past I’ve had to let go of things I enjoyed and was very, very good at (like wedding photography) to make room for something which I not only enjoyed and am good at, but which will lead me closer to my life goals.

I chose the creative agency because it felt more scalable and profitable than the wedding photography. (Hands down the best decision. Much as I love photography, it’s very hard to stand out and make it last profitably for a long time.) Over the past year or two, I’ve been working on training the team and building scripts and processes and our PF Way, so the current team can train the new team members, and we can keep scaling and growing.

I’m doing less of the hands-on client work and more of the coaching and training and helping. And branding.

So right now, all my Things seem to integrate.

I find myself doing more and more of all these Things. I’m doing more writing, in different ways and for different purposes. I’m consistently sketching (these weekly Notes help!). I’m reading more books and consuming more content on branding, and building resources on branding for accountants. I’m doing more coaching and training courses. (Side note, I really, really love those – if you’re an accountant I definitely recommend our new 4-week Breakthrough groups. Pick a topic you want to go deeper into and join 10-15 of your closest friends, okay other accountants who feel like you do, and figure out what’s holding you back and start changing that.)

Through all of it I continue to connect people with help. Podcasts, books, ideas, support – whenever I hit something which has helped me, I start buying people books and sharing stories on Insta and having conversations and getting all fired up.

For example, this week it was reading a book about Religious Trauma Syndrome, which I didn’t know was a thing but apparently it’s a thing, and after posting about it on Insta have had at least nine very deep, very long conversations with women who are struggling in this area too. That’s my… that’s my thing! Not the trauma syndrome itself but the conversations, the connecting people. Recommending and sharing and helping people to get help.

Maybe the Thing for me has something to do with the connecting. And then it flows into and out from all of my other Things.

Austin Kleon talks about this in his book “Steal Like An Artist”. He says “Don’t wait till you know who you are to get started”. The whole point of copying others is to try stuff you can see working, but try it for yourself with your own style. It’s not plagiarism, but copying. “Like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.”

“It’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.”

So, I’m making things. Doing my work. Doing my thing (or things), in varying formats and with varying frequency. Day after day, week after week, year after year.

Trusting that the One Thing will become clear, will be more and more refined as I keep going. It’s already a lot clearer than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Imagine how clear I’ll be 5 or 10 years from now!

It’s a good thought. And they’re good Things.

What’s your Thing?

Follow me

ON THE GRAM

Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon
Oh hey, it’s me. 

And a new updated KLR brand and website! 

For the past six months or so, while I was finishing my book content and the final edits from my side, we have also been working on an updated KLR brand and website, to distinguish from the PF brand and site. 

It’s a tough job, when you’re the business owner and have been for ten years. And the book you’ve written is for the kind of clients your business serves, so it feels like a PF project.

But I’ve also been working for years to figure out (and help others see) that PF is far more than me. I’m the owner and MD, and I’m involved in sales and speaking and writing, and yet our clients primarily work with the team. There are 18 beautiful humans delivering great creative work every day from PF (soon to be 19!) and as I always say to potential clients, you definitely want all of them working on your creative projects. They’re structured and organised and talented - 19x more talented than just me. 

I’ve still got my own skills. And my own identity. It took us weeks to dig into how we represent “Karen L Reyburn” as a personal brand, with an audience of clients and friends and accountants and non-accountants and witches and wizards and family members and creative humans. 

We settled on “Leader, writer, creative, coach”, because those are the areas I love the most and want to lean into more as PF grows. And as I write more books and keep being my own self. 

If you’d like to be on the list to get “Karen’s notes” by email every Saturday, or to be on the waiting list for the book (coming May 2023), the link is in my bio. 

And I’d love for you to head over to my new site (karenlreyburn.com) and let me know what you love or anything you notice and wonder about! 

Stay strong, stay creative, and keep going. 

#karensnotes #staycreative #justkeepgoing