How to Unfollow Your Passion with Terri Trespicio

| 44-min read

In my latest chat with Terri Trespicio, we tackled confidence and chutzpah, perfectionism and impostor syndrome, practicing in public and a really interesting new idea she shared about “disappearing into the message” (which I think will prove especially useful for introverts).

It’s all rooted in Terri’s brand new book, Unfollow Your Passion: how to create a life that matters to you, which you can pre-order (with lots of awesome bonuses!) at unfollowyourpassion.com.

As a little surprise during our conversation, I read aloud my review of the book: 

What a joy to read! The funniest business book I’ve read! Part comic autobiography, part business handbook, Unfollow Your Passion provides practical and clear and excellent advice. But the thing is that it is so beautifully written, the stories so compelling and hysterical that you’ll learn the practical in spite of yourself. The message of this book -- forget about passion -- is so important, something I’ve espoused for years, but not nearly as eloquently and clearly as Terri has. It has the power to relieve millions of people of self inflicted suffering.

Listen here (and below) or scroll down for the complete transcript. 

 

Read the Complete Transcript of Podcast #433 with Terri Trespicio

ilise benun

Hi there, this is ilise benun, your Marketing Mentor. And this is the podcast for you if, and only if, you are ready to leave the feast or famine syndrome behind, and I mean for good.  

I have a feeling you're gonna like this one. I did. It's my latest powwow with my good friend Terri Trespicio, and we lingered a little longer than usual. In this wide-ranging conversation, we talked a lot about the virtues of practice—which is one of my favorite topics—starting with childhood memories about not practicing the piano when I was supposed to. From there, we went into confidence and chutzpah, a takedown of perfectionism and imposter syndrome. And Terri shared a really interesting new idea about how she likes to “disappear into the message,” which I think will solve a lot of self-promotion problems, especially for introverts. 

I also got Terri to tell me the story about how she landed the gig, which became her now, very popular, TEDx Talk—it’s a classic story of listening to the market. And all of it is underpinned by the ideas in Terri's brand new book, “UNFollow Your Passion. How To Create A Life That Matters to you.” It was named one of the best “feel good” books of 2021 and it comes out officially on December 21st, 2021, just in time for Christmas. So, if you preorder it, you'll get all the bonuses, and you can find it all at unfollowyourpassion.com. But first, listen and learn.

Hello, Terri, welcome back to the podcast. 

Terri Trespicio

It's one of my favorite places to hang out.

ilise benun

So, awesome. I don't know what number we're on, but we're going to try to set a record, here. Today's a special episode because we are here to talk about your brand new book, “UNFollow Your Passion,” which is coming out very, very soon. 

Terri Trespicio 

Very soon. It’s my new and first book.

ilise benun

Umm hmm. Which means there will be more to come.

Terri Trespicio

I hope. Let’s hope.

ilise benun

Absolutely. So, let's see. “UNFollow Your Passion. How To Create A Life That Matters to you.”  What I like to do, as you know, is focus. I really wanted to focus on just one of the many amazing ideas in the book, that I really am passionate about, actually, and see where that goes. And then, at the end, I want to read to you the review I've written of your book, and then you can do whatever you want with it.

Terri Trespicio 

Ooohh. This is like Christmas came early!

ilise benun

It'll be fun. Don't let me forget to do that. Okay, so I think it's chapter eight, on practice.

Terri Trespicio

“Practice Makes Purpose”? 

ilise benun

Yes. Let me just tell you why I love this chapter and this idea, and then you can tell me a bit about what you were trying to do in this chapter. Maybe I'll even read aloud from it, because there are just so many things that I was highlighting and, exclamation points and everything. 

I think that practice is underrated, number one, and maybe even has negative connotations—like, I shouldn't have to practice. As I was thinking about this conversation, I was remembering, going back in my own memory, about what was practice to me as a “young’un.” I had this very vivid memory of studying piano, at a certain point, and then being in the backseat of my grandfather's car—because he used to drive us around from one activity to another—and going to the piano teacher’s house and spending a lot of time in the backseat of the car erasing the circle around the pages I was supposed to have practiced, but hadn't, as if she was going to forget or wouldn't remember what she had given me as homework; I was erasing the pages I hadn't practiced. I think part of it was that I just didn't understand the purpose of practice. So that, maybe, is a connection to the idea: what is the purpose of practice?

Then I thought about all the years and years of dancing that I did, but it never felt like practice. It was always just dancing and having fun. I do remember that the teacher would always say, “Okay, we're doing techniques, first.” Like, what is techniques? I have no idea what techniques is; we were practicing some sort of techniques. So, part of it is, I want to blame all the adults in our lives who never really explained the purpose of these things that we were supposed to do, or being taught to do. I would have had a much stronger foundation, if I understood. Maybe I wouldn't… But, I just love the idea of practice, now. I really think that people need ways to get good at something—which is to practice, practice and practice. And I kind of want to take all the cliché out of it. So, where could we go with all of that?

Terri Trespicio

Well, I think it's funny, cuz how many kids dreaded going to piano? Or dreaded dance? Or loved piano and hated dance, whatever, and didn't get it? Why didn't anybody think we’d want that explained—the dots to be connected? 

I was in band, and I didn't like to practice. It really wasn't in my blood. And I said, “Why do I take this? I'll just do it when I get there. You and I do like to kind of improvise on the spot a little bit. But I didn't see the point, because I didn't have a personal stake in it. There was no reason—I just had to do it. Why? For the spring concert, and then what? I think part of it is, the fact that we think of it, as kids, as drudgery, because we just know we have to do it. And it's all the drudgery without necessarily the rewards. I think that is part of it, because I hated most of the activities. I hated all of it. 

ilise benun

Yes. Let's also connect this to the other things that I see people struggling with, so much, which is a lack of confidence. It seems to me that all of the practice is how you earn the confidence, right? And, so then there's this expectation: well, I can't do the thing I'm supposed to do because I don't have the confidence. Well, you didn't practice enough, so why would you have the confidence?  

Terri Trespicio

Here's what's coming up for me about that. How much stake we put in “secret genius, instant magical talents”—that we think some people are divinely blessed  with, and it just pops out of us like “Good Will Hunting” or that that woman from the “The Queen’s Gambit”—like they just are crazy good at math or chess and it's like, “Oh, they don't even practice.” First of all, they do practice. You know the woman in The Queen’s Gambit played chess over and over and over, forever, but she’s scary good. And there's a fear or an assumption that I would only be confident if I were the best one in the room or if I were scary talented. Most people aren't scary talented, in general, or in any one thing. That's not how it has to be. 

It's the practice that gives us the mastery, and that allows us to find out what we're good at. 

I practiced flute, and practiced and practiced, but I didn't care. But when I practiced writing, there was something I really cared about. I could feel myself getting better, and that confidence comes from that. So, I think we think that if you're talented, poof, it should just happen; I shouldn't have to drag through the paces, as if it's something just for lower life forms. But really, it's for all of us. 

ilise benun

One of the things I'm thinking, also, is that all those people that you mentioned who are at the top of their game, you don't see them practice. We don't really realize how much time goes into the practice. So, then there's all this kind of shroud around the practice, as if no one is allowed to see it. When you said, “We like to improvise,” actually, I think what I like to do is just practice in public. 

Terri Trespicio

That is exactly right. You just nailed it. We don't mind pulling the veil back from the practice. It's not like a big secret and then, “Oh, I just do it this way. I'm just effortlessly genius.” Again, I think that it looks like, “Oh it’s like nothing,” as if effort discounts ability—and it doesn't. Like you said, you are not afraid of practicing in public. There's also that whole fear of appearing ‘less than perfect.’  

ilise benun

And I also think perfection is totally overrated. It really is off-putting, I think, when someone appears to be perfect. I feel ‘less than.’ I am much more comfortable when someone just kind of lets it all hang out, and we see the vulnerability; we see the gap, the weaknesses, the places where they have to work on it, and we know they're human.

Terri Trespicio

The question is, do you want people to think you’re some kind of perfect robot? Or do you want people to feel connected to you? Do you want to have that empathic relationship? Some people really do want you to appear perfect, but, you're right, the people who work hard to appear perfect aren't my favorite.

My favorite people are the ones who aren't afraid to show who they are and what they're working on and what they struggle with. And you're right, it is overrated, and you don't win affection or connection by appearing flawless. 

ilise benun

Right, I think what you win may be praise and admiration and being put upon some kind of pedestal, but that's not where life is. That's not where life happens. I know that I did that for many years and put other people up on pedestals. But, when I looked back, I think, “what a waste of time,” and all of that connecting we could have been doing, and learning I could have been doing, if only I had been willing to practice in public. 

Terri Trespicio

Yes. Also, the fear of being found out if you're really prioritizing appearing perfect and the best or effortlessly flawless, then the fear of being found out is ever present. But, if you're authentically there and vulnerable from the word go, there is no fear of being found out. You already are.

ilise benun

Right. So that's an interesting connection, also, to what they keep calling “imposter syndrome”—being found as a fraud, or someone seeing that what you're presenting, or the fakeness that you're presenting, isn't the reality. And so, I feel there's something in what you're saying, also, about if you're just real, there's no imposter syndrome, because what you see is what you get; we don't have to be everything to everybody. We want to attract the people that we're going to get on with and let the rest of them go—repel them. 

Terri Trespicio

That's right. That's absolutely right. I think the thing about imposter syndrome is, is always this, what I think of as the Velveteen Rabbit complex like, am I real yet? I'm thinking of the first time I was on a stage speaking. I knew I loved to do it, but I didn't know if I was a real speaker yet, or if I had just done it once. And it was only doing over and over again, yeah, this is this is part of what I do. People who aren't speakers simply don't get up there and speak. So, the imposter thing is that kind of invisible hurdle where they go, “Oh my gosh, am I really doing this? Do people really take me seriously?”

The most common denominator for people who experienced that, people who are forever challenging themselves, and who are successful. If you want to never have imposter syndrome, don't try to do anything, and don't strive to be or achieve something new or different. I don't mind feeling a little bit like, “What?”—because I know that’s kind of exciting. Like Seth Godin says, “I experience imposter syndrome all the time because that tells me I'm always trying something new. I'm always dangling out there a bit.” 

I mean, yes. Okay. So for the first time ever, I can hold this book in my hands with my name printed on it. That is a dream. That is an amazing moment in my life. 

Part of me goes, “Oh,”—always to my head, this is what my imposter syndrome, my internal critic, says—“Oh, so you did it. Obviously, it really wasn't that hard.” If I got to do something, I go , “Oh, well, if I could do it, I guess anyone can do it.” We say that all the time. Because part of that in that is, “Oh, okay, I guess it's not a big deal after all. It's only a big deal if I can't do it.” That's made up too!

ilise benun

Oh my god. So much is made up. So, let's shift a little bit and talk about your book. Let's pretend I haven't read it and know nothing about it, and if I said to you, “Terri, tell me about your book,” what would you say?

Terri Trespicio

Well, luckily, you're catching me on like Podcast 831. So, I’ve got my schtick down. I've gotten it down, which is great. 

UNFollow Your Passion” is inspired by the TED Talk I gave in 2015 called, “Stop Searching for Your Passion,” which, that 10-minute talk, aimed to unseat a popular idea that if you find your one passion, you follow it forever and just do that, and that's the answer to happiness and success. This book picks up where that talk leaves off, explores some of the ideas and the science behind why this piece of advice is not helpful. But, it goes beyond that. I decided to kick over all the ideas I can't stand. So, the book is a dismantling of common advice and “isms” and beliefs that I think are worth questioning, peeling back, and looking under the hood of, so that we can make more intentional decisions about the lives we want to create.

ilise benun

Love it. Awesome. Two things. One. Let's talk about where that TED Talk came from, because I remember that weekend. Also, do you have a favorite chapter or a favorite section or favorite myth that you're questioning? You can start with either one.

Terri Trespicio 

First, the TED Talk—where did that idea come from, you mean?

ilise benun

One of the things I remember reading in the book, and I just want to you to elaborate on, because it speaks to what we're talking about, which is you wrote: “Just as I came up with a TEDx Talk when I was prompted to write one, and discovered ideas I didn't know I had that ended up changing my life, my own life, you have no idea what you might come up with or across, if you don't put the words down.” And so, I imagine that people imagine that you had this big idea about unfollowing your passion or stop searching for your passion, and you were going to get it on TED, and you were going to turn it into a book and … and what I remember is that you were, at the very last minute, filling in for someone in Kansas City.

Terri Trespicio

Oh, yeah, it was TEDx Kansas City. At the time was the biggest TEDx event in the country. And someone had to come out of the lineup. So there was an open spot, and someone I don't know, but was friends with on Facebook said, “Hey, you seem to post a lot of interesting stuff. Maybe you should apply.” 

Literally, I've gotten so many things through Facebook by just through things people see. And so I said, “”Yeah, I'd love to talk to someone there” and he said, “Okay, I'll put you in touch. Obviously he was talking to a lot of people who want that spot. It was about six or so weeks out from the event. I mean, it wasn't it wasn't very long; it wasn't like half a year before the event. It was a few weeks. And I got on that call a couple hours later. I always had a dream of doing a TED Talk, but I didn’t know what it would be. I had ruled myself out. I said, “Oh, you have to be like a NASA scientist,” like this was years ago, when you really had to be sort of, I thought, important. 

Anyway, I had a couple ideas I used to kick around that I hated; like I hate when people talk about this, I hate this, and I just think of things that bother me. I got on the call with that guy, who's a brilliant curator, and he goes, “So, do you have a TED Talk in you, do you think?” And I said, “Yeah, I have a couple ideas. And I go, “Here's a piece of advice I hate: I hate when people tell you to follow your passion. I don't think it's very helpful.” And he said, “Oh, that's interesting. Why?” 

I wasn't sure why. But it was something I wanted to figure out. I was leading with curiosity and angst. And he—being an incredibly intelligent guy, he also leads with intellectual curiosity—said, “I'd be interested to hear more about that.” 

Actually, I said a few things. “I hate the idea of fate …” I just threw a bunch of things on the table. I threw everything at the table. I was like, maybe I'll pick up on one of these.  He said, “I’d like to go back to that passion idea. What do you think that's about?” 

So, we talked it out a little bit. He goes, “Listen, why don't you go write something up, and let's meet tomorrow. Write up an outline or structure.” I got off that call. I started writing the talk. I said, “You better figure it out, now.” So I just start writing it, with having had no previous draft, no idea. I just had something kicking around. That's it. So, once you sit down to write it, oh, now you're serious. So, I wrote down some thoughts and I sent them over and we got on a call the next day. And he said, “This is interesting. What do you mean by this?” Then he goes, “Why don't you work on a little bit more?” So, I got back on the call with him the next day.

ilise benun

It wasn't perfect right away?

Terri Trespicio

No, it was just a few lines—it wasn't an outline. I don't really think that way. So, I was like just writing the thoughts about it, like early drafts, you know? And so, he said, “That's interesting. What you think about this? And what do you think about that?” And every day, I got on a call with that guy for nearly a week. He was like, “Let's look at it tomorrow.” 

At one point I said, “Am I just getting some free writing coaching, like what's happening here?” Because I knew he was talking to other people, too. And finally, I said, “Listen, I just got to get an idea here. Is this happening or do you not know yet?” And after four or five days, he said, “Yeah, yeah. I think, you're in. “  

But it wasn't until he got to see me thinking … he didn't review a talk. I didn't have a pitch. This was very different than what's typical. So anyway, I didn't know how to end that talk, until the week I gave it. He's a very tight line editor and we worked on it. I was forming my thesis as I did it. And I said, “I know there's something that's going to come out of this. Where am I taking the audience?” We were building the bridge as we walked it. And, I nailed that last line, which I am very proud of from that talk—it really sealed it, days before. And I said, “I think this is the last line,” he said, “That's right.”

ilise benun

What's the last line? 

Terri Trespicio

The last line is, da da da da … “When it comes to following your passion, you don't follow your passion; your passion follows you.” But that sounds very neat, like, oh, you could quote it; that sounds really smart. I didn't know that's what I was saying until I wrote it and wrote it and wrote it. 

By the way, I didn't go, “Cool. Box checked. Million views. Two million views. I'm gonna pitch a book on it.” No way. 

I was like, “That was fun. Next!” You know me, I'm on to the next thing. I didn't think I was going to do anything with that. People said,  “You should do a book on it.” Nah. I was like, “What am I gonna do, write up the talk I just gave?” I literally was like, “I don't know.” 

So, we're talking five, six years later … I'm working on ideas for a book. I thought it might be a collection of essays; I really didn't know. I found an agent who was interested. We went to a publisher. We went to a few publishers. Most people said, “No.” And it had nothing to do with the TED Talk. I was, of course, referencing that talk, because it had done so well. But then, they said, “Well, you know, we really like your writing. And we think there's something here, but we got to kind of connect it to that TED Talk. Like, what are you doing?” 

I was like, “Oh, really, that old thing? I got to take that old dress out again”?” And so, the request from traditional publishing was, “We know that that idea had interest. That's what we can sell.” So, I just feel like I need to clear that up, ilise, because it seems like, “Oh, she mapped it all out.” I did not! 

ilise benun

Right. No, I mean, this is a classic tale of listening to the market.

Terri Trespicio

That's exactly right. Because it might be like “Oh, Terri just did what publishers told her.” Well, first of all, I could have just published whatever I wanted on my own. But I wanted to work with Atria [Publishing Group]—that was exciting to me. So yeah, they know about books and what sells. I'm going to listen to them. And they know the market.

ilise benun

Interesting. Let's connect this, also then, to the idea of confidence and maybe even chutzpah. I've been talking a lot about chutzpah, lately, so did confidence play any role in that whole process you just outlined, from 2015 to now with the book coming out? Where does confidence and where's chutzpah come in, and what are those things anyway?

Terri Trespicio

Well, I knew I liked to speak and wanted to make it more part of my career. I knew I wanted to do that. I was speaking at events that people didn't show up to; we had two people in the audience. For years, I wasn’t doing anything of note, and I thought this could be a really big opportunity. And I was right. 

If I hadn't gotten this TED Talk, I would still be speaking for a living. It just wouldn't be maybe about that. 

But the confidence part wasn't like, “Well, let me get confident.” There was no time to worry about whether I'd be confident. I had to, as a content person, take refuge in the message. I said, “If the message is strong enough, if it works, then my job is to bear it out to the listener.” 

It's not about how I feel about me. I don't have any time for that. In fact, I have found that what has given me what appears to be total confidence on stage is not, “Oh, Terri thinks very highly of herself up there.” That's a kind of like this puffed up sense of confidence that sometimes people think about. I don't have that. It’s not a secret—it's just that how I have found calm and ease onstage, regardless of where; and yes, I get excited, I get nervous, too. But that calm comes from disappearing into the message. I have now been doing it for years and years—that confidence comes with practice. But I also am not up there trying to feel good about myself. I think it's important to say that. Can I pour myself into the message? Because I know that people in the audience don't really care about me that much—they're listening for what serves them. So, I found that you can almost disappear into whatever you're talking about. That makes all the self-consciousness, for me anyway, go away.

ilise benun

Yeah, that's beautiful. I mean, it maps to what I've been saying forever, really, which is: self-promotion is not about you—it's the people, about the people that you're talking to. I love this idea that it's about the message, not self-promotion so much, but that you can disappear into the message. 

I'm imagining as the people are listening, as the listeners are listening, there are light bulbs going off like, “Oh yeah, I could disappear into the message. That would solve my promotion problem.”

Terri Trespicio

Yes. Disappear into it. You know, I mean, look, I don't like how my hair looks every day. I don't like this and that. But I'm like, who cares? I don't think anyone cares. 

I do it because I think it's fun. When I get up there to do any kind of talk, I almost feel like a superhero—not because I'm saving people, but because I have a kind of laser focus up there that I don't get anywhere else, because when we're up there, you don't have time to think of anything else. You're focused on that audience, that message, and you're there for that one … you're holding people in a sacred moment because they're probably not doing anything else than sitting there. And that is such a gift, what a pleasure to plug into flow on stage. 

You don't need to be an extrovert. You don't need to be a big personality. The intimacy that introverts, like me and you, bring to the stage is that sense of one-on-one conversation. You know, at least when I listen to you speak, you're just talking to us. You're not ‘giving a talk.’ When people get up to give a talk, they talk like this [loudly]: “I'm here to give a presentation.” 

When you and I get there, we just are there to talk. I find it incredibly freeing, and I would encourage people to try it, gain a little chutzpah of your own, and get up there and try and see what it's like to disappear into a message.

ilise benun

Yeah, actually, I think when I came to that, it transformed my speaking, also. There was no difference between me standing below the stage and I'm talking to someone who's sitting there and introducing myself, and now I'm going up on the stage and I'm just going to have a conversation with a few more people, but nothing really needs to change, maybe, except the volume of my voice. 

Terri Trespicio

That's right. And more and more we know, ilise, that anyone who's running their own stuff or wanting to be recognized, you don’t have to be a speaker. But the more you're able to get up in front of people, the greater impact you can have, and the more you can help people—which is what everyone always says they want to do.

ilise benun

And one of the things that I think the pandemic has wrought, and Zoom has wrought—and I've talked about this with my client, Gigi Rosenberg, who's a public speaking coach—is that every conversation is a presentation, and every presentation is a conversation. 

Terri Trespicio

Yes. Yes, that is correct. 

ilise benun

Yeah. I love that. Idea. I wanted to apply the idea of disappearing into the message—when I'm responding about that, yes, I'm talking about being up on stage. But I'm mostly imagining that people listening could see that even reaching out to a prospect—cold or warm or whoever it is, a stranger—you could disappear yourself into your message, and it might make it easier and that's what they're going to respond to, anyway—is your message. What do you think of that? Can we can we translate it into that?

Terri Trespicio

Yes. You mean one-on-one conversations with prospects? Oh, yah. I think that that has enabled me to talk about what I do without feeling like I'm bragging or without feeling like I'm showing off—I know a lot of people are afraid they're going to appear that way. I don't. I know I don't. 

It's also given me the ability to talk about money, and about the value proposition of what I'm offering someone, because I can disappear into what they really care about—them! I just make sure I am 100% tuned into them. And I say, “Well, from what you've told me, your concern is this, not so much this.” So, I just keep supplying things that support what they're doing, rather than trying to elbow them off the stage to talk about how great I am. It's not that; it's let me show you how I can connect pieces for you. When you show how you connect the dots for them in their own work, well now you already feel integrated. This isn't like trying to sell them a sports car. Although, you know what? Someone selling a sports car is also fitting themselves into someone’s life. Every time I try to use a car analogy, it doesn't work.

ilise benun

Maybe because you don't have one. 

Terri Trespicio

Well, exactly. I shouldn't even talk about that. I do find that helpful, because when someone's thinking of hiring you, as you know, they really are worrying about themselves— what they get from it. And, so it doesn't have to be like, “Well, I've done this; I've done that.” I never do that. 

Here's how I talk about what I have done, though. I’ll say, Well, you know, Bob,”—and Bob's always the name I use—"Bob, one of the things you've told me is this …. and I did this exact same thing with someone else who was facing a similar problem. Let me just show you what we did here.” And they want to see your other work. And I say, “But they're different from you, obviously very different. But here's what their problem was and what they wanted to show on their website. Here's what we created.” It's showing my portfolio, without saying here's my portfolio. Right? 

I found that to be, you know, it is a presentation. I mean, when I'm doing it virtually and I'm sharing my screen, that's what a presentation is. But in terms of in terms of disappearing into it, yeah, that is the answer, because feeling obvious or sticking out in an awkward way, that is the definition of not feeling confident.

ilise benun

Right. So the self-consciousness that people are doing, I think it's an action—you can do self-consciousness, and the alternative, a better option, is disappearing yourself into the message by focusing on the other person and what they really care about. And if you don't know, ask.

Terri Trespicio

People love to answer questions, as you know, questions are the answer. So, I found that to be really helpful: onstage, one on one, virtual or in real life. When people feel listened to and seen by you, they love you, even though you never said anything.

ilise benun

It's kind of amazing. 

Terri Trespicio

It really is. It's magic. 

ilise benun

It's magic. All right, so just a little about chutzpah, but I'm curious. What is it to you? When do you use it? How do you think about it?

Terri Trespicio

Well, when I think about what chutzpah sounds like to me, it always sounds like nerve, like, “Wow, she's got some nerve,” in a good way. Like, “Oh, she's got some gall.” I don't know, kind of a perky bravery, is what I think of it as. It's playful. The word “chutzpah” is a Yiddish term and so it has a lot of color and fun to it. It's not just, “She's strong willed. “No, chutzpah has a flair, has a personality to it. 

I will tell you that for most of my early life, I would never have defined myself as someone having chutzpah, ever. I didn't want to talk, I didn’t want to raise my hand, I didn’t want to order a pizza over the phone. I didn't have any chutzpah. So, I think chutzpah is something you can collect along the way, like a big aluminum foil ball. You just keep adding little pieces to it, until you have a lot more chutzpah than you did before.

ilise benun

You know, one way I think about it, also, is in the context of a moment—it's momentary—it's on the seat of your pants. It's not like confidence, which you earn over time, and it's part of your foundation and it becomes part of your personality. But, chutzpah, I really feel like, you either you step up in the moment and you use it, or you don't.

Terri Trespicio

And, again, it brings us back to practice. Because, if you decide in the moment you're going to, say, raise your hand and ask a question in a group of people you don't know, or you're going to offer an opinion somewhere, you just have to do that once to demonstrate chutzpah. And most of the time, the thing that we think is, “Oh my God, that requires so much chutzpah.” When you do it, it might feel like a big deal to you, but it registers nary a blip on other people's radars. When you do that, you can sort of do it more and more. Right?

ilise benun

Indeed.

Terri Trespicio

Did I slip into Old English?

ilise benun

A little bit, yes.

Terri Trespicio

I just think the things that we think are so ballsy and crazy to do, they don't really register. And so that lets you go, “Oh, well. I'll do that again.”

ilise benun

And then you can keep practicing.

Terri Trespicio

Here's an example of chutzpah. I have, over the many years—because I'm in a relationship now, but I've been dating for 35 years; I mean, it's a long time to be dating, but it is a lot; and talk about practice… . And, I have exhibited surprising amounts of chutzpah, where I would just give my number to people. 

I remember it was Valentine's Day and I was in a café, and I was single, I just happened to be there. And then I see this guy sitting by himself. And I was like, and I don't think like “Well, I’m such a huge prize,” but I was like, “It's Valentine's Day. Love is in the air. I'm going to do something kind of daring and I'm going to make my day. I'm going to make his day, because even if he is zero interested in me, everyone loves to feel flattered by someone else's attention.”

So, I think I wrote a little note, put my phone number, and as I was leaving, kind of slid it on his table, waved to him and then left—which is weird, right? But I would always do that. I would like pull this string—like the parachute—and jump out; like I leave my number and then run out. And I'll tell you, more than once, people have called me from that. But I just thought, even though I never heard from that guy, it didn't matter. I liked that I did it, because nothing happened—there was no risk. And I taught myself that over the years, so that I got really good at dating.

ilise benun 

And you did use the word “daring.” So, I'm connecting that to chutzpah, also. It's kind of audacious. It's risk-free risk taking, maybe.

Terri Trespicio

Well, yeah, you throw your number at someone around the door, there's not a lot danger; not a lot of bad things that can happen; but it just felt good. I think chutzpah starts with gestures, small things. 

ilise benun

That's really funny. 

Terri Trespicio

Would you have described yourself as having chutzpah? You seem to have been, because you were like, “I left my job and never wanted another one.”

ilise benun

No. There were moments of chutzpah. I was writing about this, recently, in an article that isn't out yet. Picking up “How” magazine in the office of a client, and not knowing what graphic design was at that point in my life, and thinking to myself, “I could write an article for this magazine,” when I had never written an article for anything before. And so, sending a pitch letter—it was a letter in the mail to Laurel Harper; I remember her name—and just pitching an idea. And she said, Yes,” and that was really the beginning of my writing career.

Terri Trespicio

But, wait, I have a question about that. Were you thinking, “Hmm, I might want to write. Let me see, well, who could I write for?” 

ilise benun

No, it was in the moment. 

Terri Trespicio

You looked at an article and you said, “I could write that—I can do that.” 

ilise benun

Yeah, I don't know what it was. I read an article in there and I was like, “I could do this.”

Terri Trespicio

Do you know how many people are freelance writers or who want to be, who won't even go that far as to send the pitch in, and that's all they want to do? And you didn't even, until the minute you walked in there, and you got the gig. It's really unbelievable, because you created a many decades-long relationship with that company.

ilise benun

Yes. And that took my career and life in a direction toward the world of graphic design. If I hadn't been in that office, reading that magazine, and then having the idea—and listening to the idea, I don't know what I would be doing right now.

Terri Trespicio

That's right. It changed the course. But, it was a client's office; you weren't at the dentist getting a cleaning.

ilise benun

Right. No, I was in the office of a designer. They had the magazine, but I didn't really understand what a designer was, at that point.

Terri Trespicio

But someone else would have said, “Well, I don't know anything about that.” You were like, “I guess I'll learn.” That's the key. That's how you were able to do it. Those small moments of chutzpah may, in fact, change careers.

ilise benun

Absolutey. All right. I want to do two more things before we say goodbye, for now. I do want to go back and ask you, do you have a favorite chapter or a favorite idea in the book? And then I want to read you what I wrote about.

Terri Trespicio

There’s two. I think that one of the ones that I was the proudest of is at the end of the first part of the book. It's called, “It's not a sin to get wickedly curious.” I didn't originate the idea. But looking at Adam and Eve, and saying Eve was ‘just like any other hero,’ is just not traditional thinking about the story of Adam and Eve. The idea that Eve was curious and that one of the worst things we can do is quash our own curiosity—that if we can be curious, we can do anything. We don't need confidence; we don't need motivation; we need to be curious. I know that's something that's very close to your heart, and I was pretty excited about that chapter. 

But the funny thing is, the one that's my favorite, is the one that literally not one person has asked me about. It’s the last chapter of the book, so I think people just haven't gotten there, yet. That last chapter of the book was the one that, not took the life out of me, but where I felt that I was like, “Now I know what this is all about.” 

It felt like timpani, like drumroll at the end. It was also the last thing that I wrote in the book. But for me, that chapter has the most meaning, because it pulls together meaning and loss, and what it means to keep making efforts in your life even though you've no idea where they'll go. So those are two of my favorites.

ilise benun

And that one is called …

Terri Trespicio

The very last one is called, “Set Yourself Free.” Because to me, that is the point when you said, “What do you want people to take away from the book?”— I don't want to tell people what they should think. But, I do want them to feel free, and part of that freedom comes, of course, with the responsibility of making decisions to create the life you want. And if people feel freer to do that, then I've done my job.

ilise benun

Beautiful. And you do have pages in there where people can write—it's not just a book to read.

Terri Trespicio

Right. I provide a prompt in every chapter, because that's what I do, also, with the writing workshops I lead—is I help people take what we've just talked about, and now bring it to the page so you can make this your own. Otherwise, what do you do with it? Read it and put the book in a box somewhere? You have to use it or it won't happen. 

ilise benun

All right. Actually, I have one other thing I wanted to talk about, because you've been doing what I consider to be, from a marketer's point of view, a really interesting promotion of the book: advance promotion of the book; you've got these 30 days that you're counting down. So, just give me an overview. Again, if I wasn't on the list receiving them, what is your strategy?

Terri Trespicio

Well, I realized I was a month out. And I said, “Okay, this has been a long slog of this pre pre pre, and we're finally in the homestretch.” I realized that around Thanksgiving is 30 days till the book comes out. So, I thought, “Alright, how about you send a daily email with a reason to unfollow your passion—which is basically highlighting some of the ideas in the book. But, it's something that is content; something that's a gift. You're saying, “Hey, here's an idea, here's an idea,” and also put ideas from the book in front of people so they think, “Oh, I really like this, maybe I would like the book.” 

So, I created them in Canva, little squares, little design. So, each day, I pulled one idea. And then I post them on social, and I emailed them to the whole list. And, when I sent an email to my whole list, I said, “If you would like to not get these daily, just click here to mute yourself.” And, you know, a couple of people did, but everyone else has been kind of like, “Oh, I really love these.” 

So, it's really changed; because I used to write once a week to my list or maybe twice and I was like, “Is that a lot? Is that too much?” I've been doing it daily, and the open rates are higher than ever! So, I was like, “Okay, well this might mean that I'm changing my own relationship to my own marketing, because most people think, “well, I don't want to bother people.” But if you don't bother people, then no one knows what's going on. So, I did that. 

Then I decided to go all in on TikTok, which has been really fun. And so then, I'm taking those same images and doing a little short, one minute riff on each one. I'm having fun with it, because I love some kind of loosely-structured content that I can play in. And so, I think for anyone who's launching anything, the advice would be: where can you find something fun, that allows you to keep being creative and not feel like you're pounding a drum?

ilise benun

The other thing I love about it is, generosity as a marketing tool—you are giving little ideas, dripping little ideas, every day, baby steps, basically, to this idea. I think that's what people need, these days. 

Terri Trespicio

Yeah. I mean, again, listen to the market. If my whole list muted it, I'd be like, “Okay, it was not a good idea.” But usually, if you give something … again, disappear into the message. Marketing also disappears into the message. And it can. It doesn't have to go, “Buy my book,” every second. Yeah, of course, I put the link in there, so people can do that if they want. But that's not the point; it’s not to be like, “Oh, counting down until you can buy the book.” You can buy the book now. And also, who cares? It can't be 30 days till Terri has her dream come true. It's got to be 30 days of a reason for you to do something. So, that's the idea.

ilise benun

Beautiful, that's a good segue, too. I want to wrap up by reading the review of the blurb I wrote for your book, which you have not seen yet and I don't really know what to do with it. So, I'm just gonna read it.

Terri Trespicio

Put it on Amazon, please. I'm very excited for this.

ilise benun

Alright, so here's what I wrote. “What a joy to read. The funniest business book I've read. Part comic autobiography, part business handbook, “UNFollow Your Passion” provides practical and clear and excellent advice. The thing is, is that it is so beautifully written, the story's so compelling and hysterical, that you'll learn the practical, in spite of yourself. The message of this book: forget about passion, is so important; something I've espoused for years, but not nearly as eloquently and clearly as Terri has. It has the power to relieve millions of people of self-inflicted suffering." 

Terri Trespicio

Oh my gosh, ilise. That’s amazing. You just made my day. That is a gorgeous review. Please, I want to print it up and hang it on my wall. Yes, please put it on Amazon. That is so thoughtful, ilise. Thank you. It's very high praise, because I know you take content very seriously.

ilise benun

I do. I do. Alright, Terri, is there anything else you want to say or share about the book that I haven't asked you about? 

Terri Trespicio

No, there's a lot in there for everyone. I mean, yes. Is the publisher tilting it toward millennial women? Yes, but the fact is, I'm not even millennial, so it's kind of …

ilise benun

What does that mean, ‘tilting it toward millennial,’ how so?

Terri Trespicio

Listen, they said, “It’s for millennials.” Okay fine. I don't. Whatever. It's not though, because this idea that only young people need direction or need to be free … everyone at every age is wondering what they're going to do next. 

This idea that growth is something you literally grow out of is not the recipe for an exciting life. There isn't a person who isn't wondering what they're doing and why, especially right now. And so, for that reason, I think there'll be something in there that will help you go, “Huh, I didn't know I could think that. I didn’t know I was allowed to think that.” Yes, you are. You officially have my permission. 

And of course, ilise, my name is complex. No one's going to remember how to spell my name. So, I bought UnfollowYourPassion.com and that is where all the information is about the book. And, thanks again for sharing it.

ilise benun

Beautiful. It officially comes out December 21st, but of course, you can preorder it. And you still have that promotion with all the bonuses?

Terri Trespicio

Yes, you get all the bonuses, if you order before the 21st. And for those of you who would rather listen, I recorded the audio, so you can order the audio if you prefer. If you can hand handle that. If you're like, “I can't listen to this woman one more second, then don't get the audio book.”  

ilise benun

Awesome. All right, Terri, thank you so much for this beautiful conversation. Thank you and we will talk again soon. 

 

Did you learn a little something? I hope so. Because that's how this works, one baby step at a time. Before you know it, you will have better clients with bigger budgets. Speaking of better clients, they're probably not going to fall in your lap. If you want to build a thriving business on your own terms, you need my Simplest Marketing Plan. The new 4.0 version is packed with all new content, including six new case studies and six new lessons. You also get three different planners, plus access to the free monthly Office Hours group coaching session, where you'll meet other creative pros who are practicing what I preach and taking control over their business and their life. Find this all in the marketing mentor shop at marketing-mentor.com. I'll be back soon with more conversations with creative professionals who are doing what it takes to ditch the feast or famine syndrome. Until then, see you next time.

 

 

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