8 years ago, I took a big risk

Eight years ago this week, I took the biggest risk of my life. Just before my first son was born, at the bottom of the recession, I started a company.

Now, “starting a company” sounds kind of glamorous. But in my case, it amounted to me saying, “Hello world. Um, does anyone want to hire me for anything? I’ll just be waiting right here in this corner of my apartment. Anyone? Bueller?”

It was a big leap.

The result of those years of work? It’s tempting to try to “add up” ways to calculate this. For example:

  • 400 newsletters sent
  • 600 blog posts published
  • 1 book published
  • 40 podcasts released
  • 15 courses created
  • 14 mastermind sessions
  • 6 meetup groups
  • 200 clients
  • 3,000 students in my courses
  • 20,000 social media updates
  • 3,000 photos shared
  • 100 webinars run

But my body of work is not a “thing,” not something easy to quantify. Rather, it is an experience — the effect I’ve had on other people’s lives. And truth be told, it is also the effect that their lives have had on me.

When I think of the past eight years, this is what I think of:

These are some of the writers and artists who have been a part of my Creative Shift Mastermind group. I spent months and months with each of them, digging into the difficult stuff of what it means to create and share.

I also think of these people:

These are creators that I have interviewed for my Dabblers Vs. Doers podcast. We spent time exploring what it means to take a big creative leap, and double down on one’s art.

I think of these people:

Who I’ve worked with for months — even years — at a time as clients.

My work for past 8 years has been entirely about moments with them — going to the deep places, doing the work that isn’t easy, and moving past challenges in order share one’s work with the world.

There is another side of all of this that I rarely talk about. During this time, I have worked from home or from my private studio just a few blocks away from home. What this means is profound: I see my family constantly. This work has allowed me to truly be present with my family.

It still blows my mind.

The reason I don’t talk about this much is because I know that most other people don’t have this experience. Somehow I worry that talking about it — something that gives me so much joy and fulfillment — can feel like gloating. But that is not my intention. I simply want to recognize these small moments with the people I care about most.

Today, I am feeling thankful.

What I care about are deep, meaningful experiences with people. It is something that I have made a core part my creative work. My days are spent with those who inspire me: writers and artists.

In the past few years, recognizing this has allowed me to make some big changes. I stopped teaching courses because I found they didn’t always provide the deep connection with other people. Instead, I doubled down on my Mastermind group. For new projects, I have found that it is simply more interesting to have a collaborator. That is why I reached out to Lori Richmond to be a part of the upcoming Creative Business Boost workshop on New York. Her energy and experience has already made this an amazing project.

I’ve developed so many amazing friendships over this time. When I consider the past eight years, I don’t think of accomplishments, I think of faces. I think of moments. I think of what we have shared with each other.

When I launched WeGrowMedia I did consider the coincidence that it began around Independence Day. I thought of how starting a company represents “independence” in some form. But as I consider what I have learned in the past 8 years, I now realize that is not the goal. I don’t want to be independent. I want to be deeply connected with those who inspire me.

Thank you. To my readers. Collaborators. Colleagues. Friends. And of course, family.

This is me, this morning, living the dream. Coffee in hand. Blog post on the computer screen. Book manuscript on the window sill. And so much thanks in my heart.
Dan Blank