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Talking With Christy Strauch

As promised, I now present a wonderful interview business coach and author, Christy Strauch!

1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Hmmm…I’d say loving, intelligent, and unconventional.

2. How do you think others would describe you?

It depends on who you ask. I think my friends would describe me in the same way I did above, adding more words like sensitive, passionate, a good listener, a clear-eyed strategist.
They might also take the word “sensitive” and put the prefix “overly” in front of it, along with remarking that I’m such a good listener that I hide what’s going on with myself, and I am so passionate about some things that I get too upset about them when they aren’t working out the way I think they should.

I think they would say that I am aware of the human tendency to take a good character trait and expand on it to the point that it becomes a weakness, and that I try to keep them all in balance as best I can as a human, human being.

3. Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

I’m most passionate about helping people. My writing is dedicated to helping a specific group of people: those who adore their work and want to create a prosperous business around that work, but who may be struggling with the business side of business.

4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

Sadly, no pets. I’d love to have a cat but am deathly allergic to them. I have four stuffed animals: Mitzi the bear, Simone the mouse, Lotte the elephant, and Raquel the dragon. Is it against the law for a grown woman to have stuffed animals with names? I hope not.
5. What is your most precious memory?

I have two God-children; Kai and Xoe. I remember holding Kai when he was just a week old, and falling in love with him on the spot (he’s 8 now). I also cherish the memory of the first time I held Xoe. When I picked her up for the first time, she grabbed the collar of my shirt and wouldn’t let go.

I have many other precious memories of these children (dyeing Easter eggs, going out for hot fudge sundaes on birthdays and many other things), and hope to create lots more.

6. What is your most embarrassing memory?

Ah, which one to choose? I can’t tell you the worst ones, so I’ll pick one from my early business career. I was being interviewed for a summer job at ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Company, now part of British Petroleum). The two men interviewing me had staff jobs; they supported the people who worked directly with customers (the people who had “line” jobs). I spent 15 minutes blabbing about how I thought staff jobs were lame and how I didn’t want one of those; I wanted a line job.

After my lecture on the virtues of line jobs vs. staff, one of the men said, in an annoyed voice, “we have staff jobs.” I’d just spent 15 minutes insulting their work. Not surprisingly, the interview ended soon after and I wasn’t hired.

I can still remember the irritation on the faces of the interviewers, and how mortified I felt. That taught me a number of lessons, not the least of which was to keep my mouth shut until I knew more about the people I was talking to.

7. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

I would be teaching. I am teaching now, actually. Part of the beauty of having finally published my business plan book is that I can now use it as a teaching tool.

I’ve found that for most people to really use the book, they need some kind of support. I’ve posted a lot of documents on my website (one of which contains the directions about how to start a business plan workgroup on your own), and I also lead groups of people who want more support in writing their plans. In addition to being a writer, I am also a teacher; writing books is a way to teach people when I can’t reach them directly.

8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Christy Strauch’s overriding passion in life was helping other people; she did that in her work, with her writing, and in her personal life. She took seriously Shakespeare’s adage “to thine own self be true,” believing that each of us was put on the planet to do and be something that had never been before. She helped people express their true selves, their true nature, and in doing that, was able to fulfill her own purpose. She will be greatly missed by the many people whose lives she touched.

9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

That realization has come over me slowly. I started to recognize that I was a real writer when I read about the writing processes of other people whom I consider to be “real” writers, and saw that mine were similar. I noticed how much I enjoy the days I’ve scheduled blocks of time to write. I guess the most obvious indicator that I’m a real writer is that I have published a book, have a second in the works, and a clear vision of what my third book will cover!

10. What is going on with your writing these days?

I am in the middle of revising my next book, which will either be called You Hate to Market and What to do About It, or The I Hate to Market Book.

While coaching my precious, right-brained (and sometimes introverted) clients, I noticed they hated to do their marketing because they chose activities they didn’t like. They didn’t understand the range of marketing activities available to them, and they didn’t know how to pick marketing they would like.

With the advent of all the ways you can market using the Internet, I thought there must be a way to solve this problem. I decided to write a book to show people how to choose the marketing activities that fit their personalities, as well as the personalities of their clients.

I’m very excited about this book. I think it will guide small business owners to pick marketing that they actually like. And the marketing people enjoy is the marketing that gets done, and is the marketing that works.

11. What are your future goals for your writing?

I have a third book rolling around in my head about how to build community around your business. I’m going to go find some business owners who want to do this, help them do it, and write about the experience.

I also want to improve my writing. I’ve taken a number of writing classes, but I’m ready for another one.

12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

Because I teach and coach, I have to juggle those two activities along with my writing. It’s easy to procrastinate the sitting down and writing, so I do my best to treat my writing as sacred. I give it regular time, at least a two-hour and preferably a four-hour block at least three times a week.

When I’m revising work like I’m doing now, I can pick that up and get something done in an hour, if that’s all the time I have. But when I’m writing the first draft of a book, I need to give it space; i.e. three or preferably more hours in a contiguous block.

Writing is like exercise. If I only get out and walk or go to the gym once every other week, it never gets easier. Exercising and writing are most enjoyable when I make time for them almost every day.

I also have to give my unconscious mind time to work. My books explain (sometimes complex) concepts to my readers; many times when I start the first draft, I can’t figure out how to explain clearly what I want to say. So I go for a walk, read something that pertains to the work I’m doing, call someone, or work on something else for a few minutes. My unconscious almost always works out the problem on its own while I’m letting it alone to think.

I also try to treat my writing gently. It’s a paradox: I have to be ruthless in setting aside time to write, and I have to be kind to myself as I’m doing it.

13. Why do you write?

It’s hard not to respond with a cliché, here, but the cliché is right: I write because I have to. Not writing would feel almost like not eating or not breathing. It is just a thing I do because it’s part of me to do it.

14. What writer most inspires you? Why?

There are so many great writers; it’s hard to choose just one. I am inspired by good writing wherever I find it; in newspapers and magazines, blogs, and books. I learned the sacred formula for finishing your book (Ass + Chair, attributed to the film director Oliver Stone), at the Desert Rose chapter meetings of Romance Writers of America. Whatever else you can say about romance writers, they put their butts in their chair and write.

I love reading Anne Lamott, whose unconventional outlook on the world makes me laugh and think, and Malcolm Gladwell, who synthesizes disparate data into startling, thoughtful conclusions. I also follow The Fluent Self and Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist blogs. As a writer, one of the ways I get better is to read, so I read an assortment of prose (and even some poetry) as frequently as I can.

15. How do you define your writing?

I hope my writing teaches people about business; makes business success accessible to those who don’t think they have a “business” brain. My other goal is to make readers laugh while they’re learning.

16. In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

Her books helped fuel the transformation in the world economy by showing hundreds of thousands of small business owners how they can prosper doing what they love.

17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

My website is
www.claritytobusiness.com ; blog is www.claritytobusiness.com/blog . You can also follow me on Twitter: @christystrauch .

18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?

Readers can email me at cms@claritytobusiness.com , or call 602-561-8499.

19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

My first book is: Passion, Plan, Profit: 12 Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business. It’s available on Amazon. My second book should be available in late fall this year.

20. For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

My goal for all my books is to give readers the tools they need to run their businesses and earn a prosperous living. New readers will find information, practical exercises and advice, presented in a light-hearted way. I strive to make learning about business interesting and fun.

21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

It’s tough to create a prosperous business. It takes a lot of perseverance. But the alternative—not doing the work you love, can take a much greater toll on you.

There are no special skills to owning and running a successful business that can’t be learned. Business owners are made, not born. That’s why I wrote this first book. You can learn a lot of what you need to run your business by reading it.

I’m not kidding about the perseverance part, though. Having a business will make you face your demons about money, if you have any. It will force you to confront the truth about what you do well and what you need help with. It will make you separate your self-esteem from your bank account (or be alternately miserable or elated depending on your bank balance, which gets very tiring). To handle all these things you will need perseverance.

But your perseverance will be greatly rewarded. You will experience the joy of creating a business and doing the work you love; the work you were put on the planet to do. You will meet, and help, the people who need you and your business; whose lives would be diminished without you. You will know the joy of depositing checks from these people who are happily paying you to do this work you’d do for free.

There are no guarantees in business. You could fail, too. The economy or some other change in the market could kill your business. But the same thing could happen to your job if you work for someone else. If you take the risk to create your own business, and God Forbid, you fail; at least you will have gained the experience of trying.

And the cool thing about business is that many times it most-greatly rewards the people who’ve tried, failed, learned, and gotten up to try again

Thank you for stopping by today, Christy! Being an extremely right-brained introvert, I'm certainly looking forward to your next book! Folks, join us tomorrow when I share my thoughts on Passion, Plan, Profit!

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Christy Strauch said...

Thanks for the very thoughtful interview questions, Joyce.

Let's hear it for the right-brained introverts, too! We need lots more of you to remind us extroverts to slow down and breathe.

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