Business Speaking

Inspire 2014 and the Ripple Effect

Looking back, I have realized that walking away from being so deep in my boudoir business was absolutely the right thing to do last year. I knew I needed to stretch more. Most importantly, I knew it was time to acknowledge my BIG DREAM that involved helping people dig in, get vulnerable about who they truly are, and then take that and make it the core of their business.

Once your business is about you? No one can compete with that.

2013 was focused on finding a way to help women to feel amazing as hell about themselves; after all I am the Avenger of Sexiness. I just want to do so much more than I could ever do with a camera in my hand. Through photography I could reach 80-100 women a year. I want to reach 10,000 a year – and that is just the start.

So I drove, and I drove, and I drove. I thought a lot. Working through big changes like this in my business, a shift in how I accomplish my mission (but not a change in the mission itself) is very hard for me.

In the middle of my trip, I went to Stephanie’s house in Calgary. The dream we had been talking about for well over 9 months became a reality on her dining room table. It was time to create a Business Coaching program.

We created Vivid & Brave. We built the foundation of our Life+ Group Coaching program, with a pile of post-it notes, three sheets of posterboard, and a lot of big dreams. We poured our hearts in to it. We launched it immediately.

Then, when we were all done and thanks to the encouragement of Sarah Austin Lehberger, we applied to speak at Inspire Photo Retreat, 2014. I was still in Calgary when we got the news that we had been selected. We were ecstatic beyond words, and so honored. I’m pretty sure there were tears involved.

Our dream was coming true. It was time to start speaking.

Bonnie shares her Manifesto, created at our workshopTo prepare for our 3 hour workshop at Inspire, Stephanie & I got together in January at my house in Houston, Texas. (A lovely break for her from a very harsh Calgary winter this year!) We built our slides, hashed things out at 2am, had an argument or two that involved us going to our separate corners, and in the end – built a workshop. We then recruited Houston photographers to join us for a trial run so we could work the kinks out. So glad that they came out for us, as it really helped us make it an even stronger presentation!

Finally, February arrived. Stephanie & I headed off to the Inspire Photo Retreat.

For the record, I’ve been to countless workshops over the years, conferences ranging from small to large, both in the blogging world and the photography world — and NOTHING was like this experience. NOTHING. HANDS DOWN. It was simply the MOST amazing experience EVER.

Stephanie had some travel delays getting there; the road to your dreams isn’t always easy. That meant that I arrived Sunday night without her. For a fleeting moment, I felt like an outsider, as the majority of attendees are from the Massachusetts & Connecticut area and it seemed like they all knew one another already. That feeling quickly faded away, as I was immediately welcomed by everyone I met. Sunday night was spent in the Gazebo Graveyard laughing & talking until the wee hours of the morning, and I was hooked.

Teaching with Stephanie at Inspire 2014

Stephanie & I gave our workshop on Monday, and it still fills me up with butterflies thinking about how amazing it was to see everyone really digging in, giving it their all. Opening up and sharing with us. Posting online. Sharing their declarations. Creating their manifestos. Dreaming of personal projects to come.

Thomas Flint at the Vivid & Brave Inspire 2014 Workshop

We had no idea just how much it was going to impact people though until dinner that night. Over and over, we had people come up to us and tell us that they had heard about our workshop, and they wished that they had been there.

Somewhere around 1am, we asked one of the Inspire staff members if we could do it again. There was a gap of time and an empty room, and we posted a sign and invited people to join us. And they did.

Graham Scobey at a workshop I taught at Inspire, 2014

I’m still a bit speechless just thinking about it.

Want to know the most interesting observation? I never once asked someone what type of photographer they were. For so long, I’ve identified myself as “photographer” – and at Inspire? It never came up for me. Instead we talked about our passions, our hopes, our fears, our plans and our dreams. Sure, there was business thrown in there as well. Yet I never asked anyone what type of photography they did. It just didn’t matter. In the past 7 years, I’ve never seen that happen.

So many of my friends, both new & old, summed up the Inspire experience so well – you should go check out the posts that Patricia Miller, Sarah Lehberger, Jen Lightful and Sharon of Bittersweet Books have shared.

It has only been two weeks since we left, and yet I can’t wait to return in 2015 when it moves to Portland, Maine! (I hope there is still late night karaoke & dancing on the schedule next year!)

Singing and Dancing at Inspire 2014

I left Inspire a very different person than I was when I arrived.

To my Inspire friends, I owe that to ALL OF YOU. Every last one. You made my dream a reality. You touched me, you listened to me, but most of all? You revealed yourselves to me. You shared your heart & your soul. You were Vivid & Brave with us. I adore you all SO MUCH and the only thing that sucks is that I’m 1500 miles away …

Inspire Photo Retreat 2014

Thank you, with more gratitude than I can even put in to words. Inspire 2014 changed my life. This will go down as one of those big pivotal moments, and I know when I look back a year from now, it will be even more obvious that that was the moment when everything turned.

So What’s NEXT??? WPPI 2014!!!

Now Stephanie and I are focused on doing everything we can to get the Vivid & Brave message out there. We are heading to Las Vegas next week, and we realized — why not do it again? So we are! We are offering up the same workshop on Tuesday, March 4th or Wednesday, March 5th at the MGM. Want to join us for the Rediscover You Workshop? We would LOVE to have you there! Join Stephanie & myself, and go home with new insights into yourself, your voice and your passions.

Dancing at Inspire, 2014

By Christine

Business Coach for Local Businesses, founder of the InstaLocal System, and Best-Selling Author. Blogger since 2000, I named WordPress. (Yes. Really.) My Superpower: Helping Local Business owners like you use the power of story to magnetize clients and dominate your market. It is time to stop believing the lies of the Perfection Culture. I live in Houston, Texas when I'm not on a road trip adventure in my Mini Cooper.

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