Voice Notes is a regular Voice Bureau special feature, in which we take our readers behind the scenes of an online brand presence we want to learn from — and into the professional life, creative lifestyle, and personal gestalt of a brand creator we admire and appreciate. Through a host of evocative questions and sentence starters, our goal is to portray the idiosyncratic, private approaches behind doing one’s excellent work in the world. (Abby’s note: I think of these Voice Notes Q&As as Paris Review-style author interviews. I hope you enjoy reading our contributors’ responses as much as we enjoy asking the questions.)
Abby (Chief Voice Bureau Officer) says:
As a client of two of The Voice Bureau‘s DIY experiences, Molly Morrissey has impressed us with her depth, her quickness in picking up and integrating new ideas, and her ability to parse an idea and teach it back in an understandable way. We know this is part of what makes her a fantastic traditional astrologer.
We look forward to sharing more of our clients’ work with you in this way!
Molly Morrissey, Traditional Astrologer and Coach
→Connect with her at MollyMorrissey.com. Also find her on: Facebook; Pinterest; Google+
How do you like to introduce yourself, professionally? How do you want to be known?
“I’m Molly Morrissey. I practice traditional astrology and am also a coach. I help seasoned leaders reveal more of who they truly are.”
I’d love to be known for helping people learn how to fully live their true self with confidence. I think we are ourselves all the time, which sounds very obvious, but that most of the time, we are busy second guessing either our situation or our internal experience. We’ve lost the ability to properly delineate our faith and our logic and I can help bring integrity back to this issue of which one to rely on at which times.
How long have you been in business for yourself, in total years? How long as this entity?
I started my practice in early 2007, so it’s been 6.5 years! This iteration (the astrology with the coaching) was launched in Autumn of 2009.
What’s an important difference between you and other brands who offer something similar (AKA your clients’ other alternatives)?
I bring a perspective that is grounded in cultural anthropology, philosophy and most importantly, traditional thought. I was also trained as an architect and worked as a licensed maritime captain. So, I’m pretty pragmatic when it comes down to it for an astrologer — and even compared to a lot of the coaches out there. I am adamant that stuff make sense, so making sure my work is always informed by a pretty broad group of sources is important. This logical and practical approach to the issues of intuition, divination and faith is what sets me apart. At the same time, I am not just task-oriented. The process of building your place within your story and creating meaning that sustains you is just as critical to my success. It’s just that my work is referenced back through our rich worldwide heritage of myth, divination, and interpretation, as well as the work of people like Aristotle and the great Persian thinkers of a millennia ago.
What would we typically find you doing at 10:15 AM on a Tuesday morning? How about at 4:30 PM on a Friday afternoon? We want the real deal here, not a gussied-up version of events. ;)
Whichever biz-related project I am working on at any moment — for quite a while it was my website which I re-wrote and re-built myself (I do like a good challenge). And now I am developing a new group coaching program — so working on the curriculum build out, as well as the no small task of building an online presence through my blog, and getting my writing out into the world. I tend to work in small chunks, interspersed with email or some web surfing. I could be writing, doing client work, emailing, or playing Sudoku at any time.
At 4:30 on a typical Friday, I am out for my daily exercise — a walk or run — which usually commences at around 4 PM almost everyday. On Fridays though, that will be followed up (after a bunch of water, of course) by a big glass of wine while I capture whatever came up during my exercise and wrap it up for the night. Typically done working by 6 PM or so. Olives usually accompany the wine, though it might be guac and tortillas — I live with the best guacamole maker in North America.
What’s Your Myers-Briggs type?
Was always an ENFP but am now testing out as a solid ENFJ.
What’s your Enneagram type?
4 with a 5-wing (Abby’s Note: When Type 5 [The Investigator] flavors Type 4 [The Individualist], the result is called The Bohemian.)
What’s your astrological profile?
Virgo Sun, Capricorn Moon, Pisces Ascendant. Though I gotta say, in traditional astrology, these three pieces of information lose the importance they are given by the modern astrologers. I am more concerned about the phase of the Moon, the season of the Sun, and three or four other factors, taken in concert. So you’d never know the most important bits of me from those three pieces of information — but out of them, that Pisces Ascendant is most telling. (Of course keeping in mind that Jupiter rules Pisces, not Neptune!)
Where in the world do you live? And why?
I live in San Diego. Been here for one year. Moved here with my fellow, because of a job promotion transfer for him. Lived most of my life in Seattle and Olympia, Washington, so I’m still getting used to all this sun! This move has actually been a huge driver for me to reinvent my business. Back in Seattle, it was based on in-person networking — I just knew a lot of people! Now, I’ve had to up my game and get online. While it hasn’t been easy, I wouldn’t trade the growth I’ve experienced and the new friendships I’ve built during this new adventure.
Show Us Your Voice Values
MY TOP 3-5 VOICE VALUES ARE:
Depth, Intimacy, Clarity, Excellence, Helpfulness.
(Abby’s Note: Discover your own Voice Values when you subscribe to The Voice Bureau’s Insider Stuff e-letter. Look for the sign-up box in the upper righthand corner of the site.)
Which of your Voice Values made you say, Oh, duh. Of course that’s me. And why?
Depth and Clarity. I sometimes have to stop myself from ending every sentence with “Does that make sense?” There’s sometimes so much that I see happening that is salient to a situation. I want my clients to see that and to get it. Knowledge without insight or anchor into the self is garbage, and I believe the knowledge is often hiding just under the covers.
Any Voice Values that totally surprised you in showing up? As in, you really didn’t see that one coming?
Helpfulness. I had to read the definition more than once. I have always been clear that while I can facilitate, you are responsible for your experience — which didn’t strike me as Helpfulness initially. I am not the cheerleader type or the run-out-and-bake-cookies type. But I do deeply want to be of service and I do believe my work can help a person see how they are emerging and steer that growth more effectively. So in the end, I can see how this Voice Value really does color my work.
Do you notice that your especially Right People clients seem to be drawn by one of your Voice Values, in particular? How can you tell?
Depth, for sure — they appreciate knowing how all of the theories tie together. My especially right people can’t get enough; they’ll often tell me they want to know more. They want to understand the structures and are curious to hear how they might fit in with other theoretical models they are familiar with. My right people are also quite skeptical of their beliefs and anything that gets into the mystical side of life, even though they have a strong sense of their faith, and are excited to learn more about the ways faith and logic can play nicely together. So again, they are ready to do more deep dives and can handle the complexity; they seek it out. I can see a self-study course possibly happening at some point!
Tell us briefly about a product, service, or offer you’d like to share with The Voice Bureau’s readers. How can you see your Voice Values playing out in this offer, either in how you created it or in how you’re presenting it?
My core service, the Weather Report & Course Correct: Strategy Session, is for mature professionals who are in the midst of transition. I’ve noticed they find themselves surprised and then deeply frustrated that they aren’t better equipped to manage the rough waters since they’ve already had so much experience under their belt. They’re ready to stand at a different lookout point and finally see this deeper skill set that is trying to emerge. I’ve designed the session so that they walk away with a solid strategy for learning the new skills being called forth. I love doing this session for people because it really highlights the best of what traditional astrology has to offer with startling clarity. Plus I get to see people brighten up as they remember all that they have to offer and find their strength again for moving forward with intention. People can get a taste of the work if they sign up for my newsletter. They’ll receive “Decision Making with the 4 Elements,” which outlines the basic framework.
My Voice Values shine through every part of this offering. We are going deeply (Depth) into this person’s motivations and core desires but always keeping in mind a simple structure (Clarity) for seeing the characteristics and developing strategy. It is very intimate (Intimacy) work, and while I move through the session with my own structure for translating the information and developing the strategy, the work is always totally unique to each session, absolutely dependant on where the client wants to go or focus. Clients often find my unique perspective quite helpful (Helpfulness) for getting unstuck and typically leave the session feeling inspired and seen (Enthusiasm).
What 3 words best describe your lifestyle?
Slow, delicious, thoughtful.
Among your close friends, you’ve been called the girl who . . .
can make the best salad and can spot the pattern with the least information.
Back in high school or college, you were (or could have been) voted Most Likely To . . .
hold Elected Office — for real. I was so embarrassed. I can be just a little opinionated.
What do you love to do or where do you love to go that would surprise us?
Stay home. After all of my travel and adventures, I really am a total homebody.
Finish this sentence: I can never get enough . . .
time to read.
The iPhone app I wouldn’t want to live without is
Well, I’m still a Blackberry user — I love real buttons. I wonder what I will do when I have to switch to the iPhone or Android world. Eeek!
Process & Atmospherics
Tell us about your creative process in your business. What does it look like?
I read a lot, so I keep notes on interesting ideas that have occurred to me — a link between two ideas or something that is fundamental. I am always keeping an eye out for fundamentals that others are overlooking. So then, the way my business is developing happens at the cross section of the stuff that I find most fascinating or crucial and the ideas or solutions that I don’t see enough in the marketplace for issues that keep cropping up. I don’t want to do what anyone else is doing — I want to fill in a gap or suggest a path that has been forgotten. I look for those and then pay attention to the trigger in my gut which tells me where the creative edge is within a subject. I try to just follow that. I can get pretty detoured by red herrings, which is great when I’m exploring a subject or even a blog post. But the editing process is where I try to stay true to that gut-level sensation about where the focus needs to stay. Once I’ve really found that focus and can bring that into the mental field, the editing is easier — the big idea emerges.
How do you get yourself creatively unblocked, if/when you ever are?
Go for a walk and look at beautiful things along the way, or clean the house. I get unblocked by doing. Come back to the big idea of whatever it is I am working on. I work back up from fundamentals when all else fails.
Any have-to-have inspirational rituals you partake in, or totems you must have nearby, in order to Do Your Thing?
My breakfast and coffee in the morning and my excursion outside in the afternoon. Plus I need to be able to see outside. I find I can’t get much done when I can’t see the sky. I had a tough time the couple of times I worked in offices where I couldn’t see outside. Didn’t last very long in those settings. And I have so much inspiration stored up from my years working on the ocean and living abroad. I tap into those places when I need something.
Give us your faves.
• Music to work or groove by: No. I must have quiet – only the sounds coming in the window, whatever those may be.
• Thing to wear for ultimate working comfort: Jeans, a t-shirt and a cardigan. I am not the biggest fan of summer = no sweaters.
• Pet to have within arm’s reach: Sadie the cat. I’m convinced she has a lot of Gemini in her chart.
• Snack to keep you fueled: Nuts: roasted almonds and pecans + my Nalgene liter water bottle
• Your other favorite thing: Web Sudoku Evil Level — doing numbers really fast unlocks some strange place in my brain and gets things to click in a way that words or other books or websites don’t.
Branding & Biz Dev
What iteration of your website/business/brand are we looking at? (If you can remember!)
I would say this is really the third major iteration. The first was me as a coach and intuitive guide. That didn’t work so well and I felt stupid and wrong — the intuitive thing on its own was too flow-y and unstructured. The second was the ‘09 launch bringing the astrology and coaching together. Ah. Yes. Exactly right — now it just needed to have time to take shape. And now, mid-2013, I am in the midst of a relaunch. Started working seriously in January to get it all together and focused. It feels perfect and authentic. I couldn’t be happier with the results, and a little surprised at how much I love it all.
How long did you operate your business before you felt you’d really hit your stride?
I worked for a couple of years and hit my stride in ‘09, but now, this year, I am hitting a stride that is even deeper and truer. I can’t wait to see where this leads to!
What does being a values-based business owner mean to you? How does it show up in your business/brand?
It means that I am working to continually bring the very best of my talent and skill to help other people solve real problems and be the best they can be — be the most whole that they can be, warts and all. It means I am digging deep into my integrity to see what is right, without hubris, and working to offer that up to my community. It shows up in my brand with the slower pace, and the courage and delicacy I work to exhibit in my blog post topics.
What does empathy in marketing mean to you?
Working as hard as I can to meet the needs of the people who would be most likely to benefit from my work. Otherwise, if I am not working to be of service to those people, I am just full of ego, thinking that if I just put it all out there it will be brilliant and stand alone. No one ever stands alone, and true leaders are those that are able to listen deeply to all the voices, even the ones that aren’t making much or any sound.
What big mistake did you make (maybe more than once) in your business that, in hindsight, really held you back?
Losing my cajones a while back and trying to be too nice and vanilla. I still do it sometimes. The trick is for me to funnel all of my courage and conviction into where people most need help intersects with my abilities. The vanilla isn’t all the world needs out there, and there is already plenty of vanilla. We need the rest of the flavors we know, as well as the ones we don’t even know exist yet. A part of this has also been not even seeing my colors in the first place — it took me a long while to even recognize my unique qualities. I was a little too scared to admit they might be there.
What’s the best business or branding advice you’ve ever received and implemented?
To get specific. I didn’t get it at first and was scared and resisted. Now I can’t get enough of being specific.
What business, productivity, or creativity book — or two or three — has been a revelation to you?
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I just “Amen, Sister”-ed every section of that book or was furiously making notes for things that would certainly help (and did!). She just spoke my language.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Just a huge reminder about pacing and one step at a time.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I know it doesn’t seem like a business book, but I read this at least twenty years ago and still hold some of the ideas in my heart about how to hold integrity and faith as one moves through one’s work in the world.
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. This book is totally responsible for me having the courage to initially step out, network, and market myself when I first got serious about my business.
Do you have a business Achilles heel? If so, what is it and how do you work around it?
Social media. I am not a small talk kind of gal and it has really stretched me to understand social media as more than small talk. I still really struggle with this. I am really working to understand how to write powerful headlines and Facebook or Google+ updates. I have not completely dove into Twitter yet for this reason. My workaround is to do what I can for each week and be happy with the small ways I can stretch myself in this arena. It is a work in progress and I have a firm belief that if I am to have continued success I will either figure it out or it won’t be so crucial. I don’t know which yet so I am still fighting the good fight on that one!
What’s a color you wish was in your visual brand identity but isn’t (yet)?
Well, I just re-did my visual brand and I love it. For the first time ever, I am absolutely in love with my visual identity. It is complete and solid for now. Maybe someday there will be space for some burnt umber or dark rusty orange, but not for a while. Or possibly some aubergine, or some raspberry.
Blogging. Talk to us about your intent or strategy there.
It is still developing and I can not wait to get into the thick of your Content Strategy DIY, but here’s what I know: Stick to the brand proposition that I have developed. Let every post relate to it SOMEHOW. And then otherwise, tell the truth. Say what I believe to be important. Find my conviction and share it. Help others benefit from my studies and travels. I’ve currently got three subject areas to focus on, but we’ll see how that evolves over time. And don’t be afraid to experiment every now and again.
What two or three software programs couldn’t your business function as well without?
1. Solar Fire — My astrology software. I am looking at between 10 and 20 charts for a birth chart consult and I can’t imagine calculating them all by hand.
2. Photoshop — I’ve gotten pretty handy with this program, and love it for being able to do my own graphics for my website or other promotional materials.
3. Word — I know it is totally old school, and someday I will be happy to learn a new program, but I know this one and I rely on it heavily for all of my writing. Aside from my browser, these are the three programs running right now on my computer.
Who’s your secret business mentor or inspiration, or two, or three? What do you appreciate about these brands?
Was a big fan of Seth Godin in the early days, and still check him out when I just need some straight talk. He is inspiring and cuts to the chase.
Jac McNeil. I love her heart and soul. Grounded and knows what is truly important: the people!
The Voice Bureau! You guys are quickly becoming my total go-to source for all things marketing and even biz strategy. I really trust your frameworks and tools; they have helped me get further than I ever have in my business (along with Jac) and I am forever indebted and deeply grateful.
Penelope Trunk and Erika Napoleatano. More straight talk with big sides of vinegar. I appreciate the smart plus smart ass combo that both these ladies present.
And actually, my boyfriend is a secret weapon for me. He has worked in business his whole life and can not only do strange and wonderful things with 100,000 line spreadsheets, but also facilitate growth in his managers and negotiate win-wins with his corporate clients. He is Mr. Strategy. I run a lot of my ideas by him. We come at business very differently and if we can get past the argument part where we don’t understand each other, there is gold.
I used to think I had to be X or I needed Y to succeed in business, but now I realize that’s not true. What’s X and/or Y for you?
X = super chatty and comfortable at networking; Y = corporate background
What’s your next big business or branding challenge?
I’m launching a group coaching program later this fall for a mid-winter start. I am neck deep in the curriculum formation for this course. I’m thankful to have found someone who is brilliant at curriculum framework to help me get the coaching work I do to turn into modules and handouts. It has been a very amazing process so far to realize that I have a methodology that is proprietary. Who would have thought? I’ve loved learning about the curriculum building process and I’ve still got further to go but am so excited to see it taking shape. It is absolutely in line with my brand at this point, without even trying. This tells me that I got the brand right. But the challenge will be to have the course be just the right amount of knowledge, skill-building and motivation for my peeps. I am excited to learn how to market and sell it as well!
What’s your best advice for other smart people who’d like to do something like what you’re doing?
Stay connected to your heart and your head. And then just go slow. There is all the time in the world and life just works itself out. When people look back, they can always see how the little events needed to happen along the way so that the big events could be so rich and meaningful. But when we are in the midst, we forget and we get scared and anxious. For god sakes, don’t lose your common sense. From my 4 element work: to keep a strong connection to your heart and conviction; hold your mind with calmness and firmness – don’t let it run the show; keep a human pace — go slower that you think you should, but keep moving; and nurture yourself — have compassion for all of your foibles but avoid getting stuck on them. You are perfect in your imperfection and the world needs your specific art and science.
Right People Rules
Give us one or two traits you really appreciate or value about your Right People readers and clients. What makes this type of person such a good fit for the way you deliver value?
They are hard working and curious. I love this combination, because with a little structure and understanding, they go so far. They are people who’ve really delved into some portion of the world and are an expert there. They tend to have really deep knowledge in one or two areas, though often are not so familiar with my world of faith and intuition and communication and logic, so they appreciate my hard work and curiosity, too. They are able to “get on board” pretty quickly since they are often pattern-spotters, too. And then we just go to town, so to speak.
Give us one or two of your “Uh-Oh” Client red flags. As in, if a prospective client says or does this, and you know it’s not going to be a good fit.
When they just want me to tell them what to do. “Oh, well, I don’t have time for that, just tell me what to do.” Or, “Well, you’re the astrologer, I just want to you tell me the answer.” I’ve had that come up a few times during the initial consultation with prospective coaching clients and I know now to put the brakes on. I learned the hard way about ignoring those comments and don’t do it anymore. I’ve got a way of managing that situation now that have served me and the possible client quite well.
I don’t have any answers, except hopefully my own. I can help a person find their own answers. I know where to go look and can teach a person how to translate the information patterns that lead to their answers, but it’s the client’s work to unearth an answer or decision, not mine. So that’s a very clear red flag when they are looking to put me up on some pedestal of knowing.
What, secretly (up until now), is your favorite thing to do for a client?
The prep work for the birth chart consult. I love seeing the symbolic patterns. I get to be in my faraway place of pattern and symbol — in the pre-verbal part of myself where I totally get it. The universe and God are infinitely creative, so to do the prep work and see so many patterns, and then hear clients talk about who they are in real life — I just can never get enough of seeing the symbols come to life right in front of me during the session. Just a magical thing. It has actually become a big part of my spiritual development. A tiny miracle every time. Like seeing a breathtaking sunset or flower.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten from a client?
“No one’s ever seen that secret part of me before and now I feel like it is real for the first time. It matters.” “I never realized that if I showed this part it could help me be successful” This happens from time to time and if I can help a person bring their whole self to the game, my work is done. I feel honored when my clients let me see them so fully, so that I can show them how to use what they’ve got.
What sorts of joint venture or collaborative opportunities are you open to in the foreseeable future? What sorts of people or businesses are you looking to link up with?
I would love to do some collaborative efforts where I can add value for my Right People — or for someone else’s Right People. Seems like the key here is to really understand the solutions a business is offering and then work to strategically build on that rather than just working with my best buddy cause I love her. Now, I might still work with a couple of my very closest friends in the long run, but now I can see doing it from a business standpoint, if I can make the business case for it from the standpoint of my Right People’s needs. I have always loved working in the business sphere — which is why I don’t do just straight life coaching — so maybe even something that has to do with business communications. Also, I have a secret desire to work with an academic or two. I read these fascinating books and wonder why these people aren’t more well known. I’d love to collaborate with a couple of academic historians or cultural anthropologists to get their stuff out there — it is so needed!
In the comments, we’d love for you to:
Tell us what you can relate to from Molly’s Q&A? What really resonated? We’re listening and looking forward to saying hello.