I’m not a bad driver, at least… I don’t think I am.
Turns out my family doesn’t agree.
I always had my suspicions, but I found out just how wide spread this belief was last weekend when I DROVE my mom, brother and girlfriend up to a family cottage.
When we got there (safe and ON TIME might I add) everyone waiting for us was shocked to find out that I had driven.
They had been talking and I had been the least likely choice because… I was not a good driver.
Everyone believed it, even people that had never set foot in a car with me.
And if you’re honest with yourself, I doubt you believe me either.
Why I am clearly lying about my driving skills:
I’m not going to lie. The whole thing bugged me.
Why did everyone think that about me? Was it true? Am I actually a really bad driver and I just didn’t know it?
And then I realized that part of the reason everyone thinks I’m a bad driver, is that I’m always talking about how I’m a bad driver.
Let me explain…
I’m a pretty self-deprecating kind of guy, and one of the things I often joke about is my driving ability. I joke about how slow I like to drive, how out of practise I am, and how many times I almost died when I first stepped behind the wheel at 16 (I was not a good driver then).
And apparently people started to believe the things I say.
Which is really not their fault… it’s mostly mine.
Turns out sometimes the way you talk about stuff shapes what people think about you… who knew?
The things the world believes about the creative class:
How often when you meet someone new and tell them about your work do you get some version of this question?
“You do that for a living?” or “You actually make money?”
This conversation hasn’t changed as I’ve slipped from the opera world to the online world.
I usually answer with some version of:
“It pays the bills!” or “I get by.”
And I walk away pretty smug. Knowing that it is a lucky thing to be able to cobble together a sustainable income from a combination of singing and online work.
But I doubt the other half of the conversation watches me leave with thoughts of Warren Buffet in their mind.
The world doesn’t think working in the creative class is a good financial choice, and the way I answer that question sure doesn’t change any minds.
Doctors don’t get asked that question. Programmers don’t get asked that question.
So how can the creative class stop getting that question?
A bad driver and a shitty business owner too:
I’ve been reading a book called “Profit First”. It’s got a ton of great ideas in it, but there’s one big thing I’ve been stuck on every time I pick it up.
What is ‘profit’?
I’m not sure if the author expected someone to struggle with that simple business basic… but I am.
I have carried a belief, which I have talked about a lot, that I’m not interested in being rich… I just want ‘enough’ to live my life.
Now, that word ‘enough’ has changed from being ‘enough’ money to get through the month, to ‘enough’ to get through the year (especially December), and is starting to encompass ‘enough’ to get through my life (retirement, risk management, all of that).
But profit… by definition that’s when you have MORE than enough.
Despite never officially naming my business a non-profit, I have adopted its core tenants. In the way I speak to others, and in the way I speak to myself I have decided that I want to have ‘just enough’.
And I’m beginning to think that it’s holding me back in a huge way.
Creating a profitable and thriving creative class
… just look at those words for a little bit… it was weird to write them.
A profitable and thriving creative class.
How could that be possible? How could we start to reform the way the world sees us… well… I have a hunch it starts by changing the way that we see ourselves.
I don’t think most of us believe that we can be profitable, at least not without losing some core artistic value.
That’s how i’ve always thought about myself, and my business.
Now… I’m not so sure.
After reading ‘Profit First’ I’m starting to think there’s a mental shift around the idea of ‘profit’ that could be a powerful one.
I’m starting to realize that ‘profit’ isn’t the same thing as ‘paying yourself a salary’… and that there’s a way that you can have ‘more than enough’ without making 6 figures a year.
If that all sounds vague, I’m sorry.
I don’t have any answers yet, but I’m starting to question that core belief that so many of us carry around the creative industry.
That breaking even is enough.
That paying the bills is enough.
That building a profitable creative business is next to impossible.
What if what everyone believes about us is wrong?
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at email@example.com