I believe we’re here to do more than raise our kids and make money to buy stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with these, I just know we can do more. When we stay open to possibility, instead of letting fear determine our choices, we experience more joy, meaning and purpose than we ever imagined.
My mission is to inspire and empower others to create their ideal business and lifestyle
It wasn’t always that way for me. Once I figured out ways to open up possibilities in my life, I began teaching others to do the same.
“You’ll see it when you believe it,” says Wayne Dyer
Life’s possibilities are invisible when we operate from self-limiting beliefs.
Growing up, I was constantly told that I could never depend on anyone to take care of me. A single possibility shaped my world view — that I’d be alone and that I’d have to choose a practical career.
Like many people, I was afraid being “creative” meant I’d be a “starving artist.”
Back in the 1970s and early ’80s, I didn’t know about the many creative career possibilities that existed. So I did the “sensible” thing and worked my butt off so I could win scholarships, earning 3 college degrees, including an MBA in Marketing at one of the top business schools.
That set me down a fairly predetermined path after being recruited on campus to work in marketing for the largest packaged goods company. Later I moved to American Express so I could learn about direct marketing. This was pre-Internet but awesome training for the millions I made 20 years later creating and marketing my information products online.
Starting my business by age 30 was always a goal.
I had no idea what business to start so in the meantime, I gained as much experience as I could while keeping my eyes open. I looked into franchising, read books and magazines about entrepreneurs, and kept trying to figure out what my passion was.
Thirty days shy of my 30th birthday, at the start of the last great recession (1989), I took what felt like a leap off a steep cliff and quit my job as an Account Director in an ad agency to create my marketing communications business.
I knew I was passionate about marketing and I could see that corporations and ad agencies were laying off so many people there wouldn’t be enough support to get the work done. I decided I could be a freelance “suit” or marketing strategist, and make more on contract than I ever had as a full-time employee.
Having recently bought my first condo, failure was not an option
When you can’t rely on anyone else to support you, it keeps you pretty focused on your goals. During my first 3 years, I nervously compiled what I now call my “Bag Lady Lists.” This is where I calculated:
- My net worth.
- How much I could live on if I really cut back on all but necessities.
- How long it would take to live out of a shopping cart if I never got another client.
Years later, I continued to stumble on my Bag Lady Lists. I must have written dozens in my darkest moments!
Despite all my worst fears of homelessness, my list of blue chip clients grew, starting with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Ironically, there were no vacations in those first 3 or 4 years because I believed if I took time off, I’d lose my business.
I wrote a fairly regular marketing column for Profit Magazine (which helped establish me as an expert) and I continued to build my business from a home office. I didn’t want to start a full-blown agency with all the overhead (and relative lack of freedom) that entails.
After 10 years, and despite being a single parent with a thriving business, nanny and mortgage, I completely walked away from my 6-figure marketing communications business because I wasn’t passionate about it anymore.
At the time I was doing things like helping Bell Canada come up with strategies to sell more long distance plans. Well-paid work with a big marketing budget, but also the kind of thing that left me wondering:
Is this all there is?
Approaching my 40th birthday I became convinced that there was a way for me to earn a living using more of my creative talent. So I closed my company, fired the nanny, sold my home and most of the contents, and packed up for a new life in the countryside.
Cashing out bought me time to figure out what came next
Over the next 4 years, I bought, decorated and sold 3 more homes in 3 different cities. Along the way, I re-invented myself as an artist and home accessories designer. The Debra Gould Home Collection was featured in a book and 2 magazines (including a cover story!).
I figured out how to build my first website in 1999 and started selling my art and home accessories around the world. It was an absolute revelation to discover that someone in California or Australia would spend over $500 to order something from me in British Columbia!
In other words, I did the thing I was most afraid of, call myself an “artist” and I didn’t starve!
Convincing other artists to break free of the “starving artist paradigm”became one of my missions
Along with marketing my art, I created and marketed events that other artists could take part in with me.
Did I replace my 6-figure income in marketing communications? No, but I was doing more creative work that I enjoyed. By living in less-expensive cities I opened up new possibilities because I wasn’t on such a financial treadmill.
My passion for buying the ugliest house in the neighborhood helped my finances.
Discovering I had a true talent for decorating homes to sell (also called home staging), led me into a new career as a home stager with the purchase of my 6th property and the launch of SixElements.com in 2002.
One of the things that most fascinated me about home staging was that if someone made $10,000 to $100,000 more when they sold their home because of my staging, they would suddenly have a ton of new possibilities in their lives. One couple does credit me with a $100K gain and were debt-free for the first time in their lives after putting 3 kids through college because of the windfall profit they made on their sale. “I feel like we won the lottery,” was how my client put it when she called to give me the news!
Being creative and making a difference.
Finally I was using my creativity to earn a living and helping others have more freedom at the same time. My clients could take a year off to write a book, travel, retire, start a business, or whatever they wanted when they made more money from the sale of their home.
I found home staging much more personally satisfying than helping large corporations!
Money = Personal Freedom
Money has always been about personal freedom to me, not about getting a bigger house or buying a bunch of flashy stuff.
I was making up to $10,000 a month in home staging fees in the last half of my second year as a home stager because I had figured out the formula for making a home staging business work. It took a lot of trial and effort but I was also building on the marketing knowledge and experience I’d had as an entrepreneur for so many years before that.
Others reached out to find out how they could have the same success in their own business
Emails kept coming in from aspiring and struggling stagers wanting to know how they could enjoy the same success. That’s when I realized that while there were other training programs, they didn’t cover the required business and marketing knowledge.
At the same time, I was studying online marketing and learning about how to create information products and how these could generate passive income.
I created and launched the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program in 2005.
Since that time, I’ve taught over 7,000 women and men how to make a living from their creativity, sold millions of dollars worth of training, ebooks, coaching and memberships in 21 countries.
I’ve discovered the formula for leveraging my knowledge and I’m teaching others to do the same.
My household income no longer drops to zero when my child is home from school, there’s a family illness, or we decide to take a vacation— because I’m no longer trading all my time for money. Plus, I can support various charities that help the homeless, battered women, and people in the third world become self-sufficient.
What new possibilities do you envision for your own life? What is your biggest challenge in moving forward?
I want to inspire you and give you real-world advice and tips to get you where you want to go! Please contact me so I can help you on your own journey!