By Julia Kirst, DLE Membership Committee Member and Founder and CEO of juliakirst.com, Pittsfield, MA. Julia was one of four DLE community members whose personal experiences of overcoming obstacles to pursue their entrepreneurial goals captivated attendees at the Jan. 22 DLE Breakfast Club. In this article, she reveals how creativity keeps her motivated.
I am a one-person business, a solopreneur, and my business is my name because this name gives me the greatest flexibility to pivot as the market demands.
I work in a space I call “Cross-cultural professional branding.” This means that I help international professionals be understood and valued when they apply for opportunities in the United States. I work mostly with applicants to professional degree programs at U.S. universities and applicants for the EB2-NIW immigration visa. I have clients in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Argentina. More recently I worked with someone in Ghana. One of my goals for 2021 is to expand to serve clients in a few more countries.
Recently I realized that since the start of my business two and a half years ago, I never —and I mean never—met a single client in person. And I do make a living with my business! These are extraordinary times. An entire business and not a single in-person encounter, not even with the attorney I worked for, for two years!
For me personally, this new work reality, coupled with the pandemic, has created a new and unique situation. I now live and work alone, which means that I have to be my own motivator every single day. The freedom is extraordinary! The responsibility is out of this world!
I have plenty of fears, don’t get me wrong. But they don’t stop me. As a friend once said: “Nobody is going to take care of you. So you better do what you have to do, to take care of yourself.” And that is the hustle.
What is the magic that keeps my hustle going? Creativity.
I don’t mean creativity as in the ability to paint, dance or create poetry. I mean the creativity that is available to everybody and is best expressed in our thirst for trying something new. If I had to give it an image, it would be the image of a child building a sandcastle. Before, there was only sand, and now there is a castle. Making something out of nothing! That, I think, is the essence of being alive.
I hadn’t given creativity much thought—until during the pandemic, when people started asking me how I was handling my emotions and my need to keep going, without an external force telling me what to do.
What keeps me going is the excitement of what else is waiting to be created. What solution is waiting to be discovered? What client is waiting to hear from me? What life story will I have the privilege of listening to? What country might I hear from in the coming weeks? And these are thoughts that I believe can apply to any workplace.
Creating is simply transforming nothing into something. It requires no skill other than being willing to engage with the world around us and being open to transforming it, no matter how crazy the thought.
When we create something new, we know, viscerally, that we are of the world and that the world is of us. Creativity allows us to bridge what is inside and outside of us. It doesn’t allow us to sit by the sidelines. Creativity is the daily reminder that we are only going to go as far as we take ourselves, and therefore we better get going.
Creativity is the best tool to not let the world overpower you and disengage. It is an awesome gift to give our hustling selves in this time of great struggle.