Back in 2015, maybe even 2014, after completing my business plan (gawd! did I ever put that off) I finally narrowed down and focused on some key values that Whitney French Writes (and by extension Whitney French) stands for.
This all started when I was wrestling with this rad workbook from ByRegina.com called the Epic Brand Identity Workbook (FREE by the way). There I was chilling in Bampot café in Toronto being all business-like. I was still working a 9-5ish job at the time but it was the weekend and I wanted to carve out time and space to commit to my barely budding business.
Values. Huh. After much wrangling to find the right words, I simply asked myself, “Frenchie, what values do you hold true?" “What values make me stand out?” “What values do I organically carry into my artistic practice?” From that convo, I come up with:
Cool. Dandy. Those there, some fancy words. They sound really nice. Roll off the tongue even. Mission accomplished! I tossed my four little jewels into my mission statement, went about my way and kinda forgot about them. Fast-forward to today. Two weeks ago I couldn't have named them for you if my life depended on it. So the real question is, how do I actually implement these values into my business framework? Panic!
A few weeks later, it popped up in the shower (the number one spot for incredible ideas) that I chose four values. Four. Four values, four seasons, four quarters. Why not meditate on one of the core values per quarter? For each season and flesh it out? Why did I chose that value, what does it mean and what directive will it take me? So, with the new year and in my new quarter (January-March), I will actively look at my work with the lens of the very first value: self-determination.
The origins of WFW came from a deep personal conviction and my own self-determination to live my life as a writer. Not because starting a business was a trendy thing, or because someone suggested it. It was a choice from me and me alone. Trust me, my family can testify to the number of times they convinced me to "write on the side". Being an artist and eating is tricky.
The decision to register my business is one in which I pushed myself to step into my greatness. This is what I want to do with my time on the earth and I can provide for myself while doing it. And it didn’t come easily. Oh no. During many years of colourful and semi-random jobs — being a house cleaner, barista, ABA therapist, copy editor, rock climbing instructor (very, very briefly), community animator, researcher, that person that hands out samples at grocery stores — writing was always the end goal. But now I’m in it, and it’s not an ending at all. It’s a whole new beginning.
When I think about self-determination and how that mentality of “it’s all on you, Frenchie” helped me, I can’t help but think of all the things I manifested.
Flipping back to old journals, I sketched out preliminary logos for WFW (some really corny, ugly logos), I wrote how much money I wanted to make, I made mind maps of all the people I knew who could help me reach my goal and an even bigger list of the people I didn’t know but wanted to know (whom I eventually ended up not just meeting but collaborating with in future). Back before even living in Toronto, I travelled 2 hours one way, 2 hours back to the city just to attend writing events in hopes to build connections. I remember saving up money with tips from the café I worked at just to print business cards. No matter how little I had, how tired I was, how few people I knew, and how powerfully in-over-my-head I was, I was mule-like determined to make this thing work.
There was no other way.
And so, for this quarter and this series, I’ll be sharing some of the things I do inside my business (a behind the scenes as it were) that is guided by the principle of self-determination. I’ll talk about:
- My Business Journal routine and share some (embarrassing!) old entries that actually manifested into success
- My day of the week system that kicks my butt to stay determined while working from home
- The Reveal of my Whitney French Writes annual reports from my 2014-2015 & 2015-2016 years
- Exploring what self-determination looks like in a workshop setting & figuring out how to neutralize power as a facilitator
- Tools for people who want to write or build their own truths so they too can be self-determined
All this to say, I’m excited, not just because I’m organically and intentionally blending my values into my work, but I’m sharing the process. It’s a bit new for me, but I look forward to doing through this with y’all.
Read on, and see how this “Very Valuable” Series unfolds.