Unapologetic: Nadeena Seodarsan of Art and Anthem

 
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Welcome to Unapologetic, a monthly series designed to introduce you to millennial leaders doing badass things in the world. Unapologetic women are fully owning their space, their voice and their vision for a better world - and taking massive action to bring those dreams to life. They also believe in building up other women along the way, and are kind enough to share their life lessons with us here!

I've been a fan of Nadeena's work at Art and Anthem for a long time now - her creative eye is truly unparalleled (I mean - how beautiful and buttery is the image below?!), and I really respect how she uses her digital platforms to share her voice. Today, she's giving us a behind the scenes look at her life as a creative entrepreneur and what keeps her motivated and inspired. Spoiler alert: it's pretty simple and magical stuff. 

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What does being a leader mean to you as a creative entrepreneur? Standing for something. More than just the work I create, I think being a leader means caring about the world outside of my industry. How can I make it a better place? What groups of people can I help? How can we use our voice? Also, in relation to people who are closer to me --being someone who motivates them to grow and reach their full potential. Where is this person struggling?  What can I do to help facilitate his/her growth while strengthening their belief in themselves? What are they afraid of, but need to face? How can I help them with that?

What keeps you inspired and engaged in your work? Two things: people and art. The creatives I’m surrounded by and cross paths with whether in real life or virtually. They have something they want to put out into the world, what they feel is their purpose and that alone, being surrounded by people like that -- you feel like you’re surrounded by kin. I think this is why it’s important for us to be really intentional about the people and forces we allow to influence our lives--personal or work. Understand who you are and understand what you need.

Second is paying attention to what I consume, what I let filter into my mind. I like reading autobiographies, watching documentaries, visiting art galleries.  Giving myself a day to pick a random stop on the train and bus, getting off and exploring it, taking pictures. Not for anyone else but me. Most definitely not for Instagram (ha!). Photography is my mode of expression (there’s the commercial aspect of what I do, then the creative + personal that I have to always be mindful of) but people, humanity---our world, I think that’s what ultimately inspires me. It’s my job and responsibility to keep reminding myself of that or I’ll get lost in the world of creating simply to make a profit which is soul sucking work.

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How do you start your days? Walk us through your typical morning routine. Oh I love this! I love morning routines and my days have definitely gotten better after I attached some structure to them. So after waking up I normally grab a warm cup of my AVC drink and head up to my little work space. My desk is right by the window so at this point I have natural light soaking up the entire space and it just lifts my mood right up (unless it’s the dead of winter, but let's not talk about that).

I turn on the Deep Focus playlist on Spotify and use this time to brain dump into a notebook which can take anywhere from 30-45 mins some days and 10 mins on others. I then read for about 15 minutes--I have a specific criteria for books that I read during this time--they have to be mentally stimulating but also motivational (simply reading positive quotes doesn’t do much for me). I’m currently reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Ignoring the cheesy cover and title, I’m completely in love with this book and plan on ordering a copy for my personal library. It’s slated to become a morning routine favorite because it’s concise, to the point and packs a whole lotta knowledge that gets my mind working.

After that point it’s movement/exercise time. I’m not super strict on this area, the main thing is I’m just supposed to move my body so it’s either between circuit training, yoga/stretching or going outside for a walk. During this time I’ll probably listen to a podcast--never about work but about things I care about outside of work (ie. Pod Save America, Pod Save The World, 2 Dope Queens, Help Me Be Me and a bunch of others I can’t remember right now). Then I shower and sit down for about 7 mins of quiet + meditation before grabbing breakfast and starting my day. That’s it!  

What role does personal development play in your life? Huge. It has to be a constant and it shows itself in the books I read or the podcasts I listen to. It’s important to me that I keep growing as a person--for myself, the people around me and for what I put out into the world.

What's the most valuable thing you've learned from a mentor? 1) Trust my gut. 2) Have 3 people in the industry you listen to, turn everyone else off. 3) Focus on profit generating tasks.

What are you unapologetic about in business? In life? There’s this popular opinion that on social media, if you are a business or a freelancer then you should only share things specifically relating to your work. It works for some people. I’m trying to find a balance between sharing my work and speaking about the issues we are surrounded by everyday that deeply affect us.  I think the era of drawing those strict lines between work and social issues is slowly coming to pass.

When I do address something, I try to talk about it in a way that either educates or inspires action (I can only hope). And it’s not just about hot button topics but just sharing more about the world I see, because I think it’s different that the world you or someone else sees. I’ve learned so much because of social media and this digital era we live it. It’s up to me to decide how I want to use it. If there’s an issue I think people need to hear about I talk about that (ie. the refugee situation in Paris, a fellow photographer who is a domestic abuse survivor and wants to help other women learn to love their bodies through self portraiture, the topic of inclusion in the beauty industry, etc).

I’m taking my time to understand how to use my voice most effectively and how to marry it with the art I create (outside of my client work) but it’s something that gives me a deep sense of purpose. There was a quote by Nina Simone that I stumbled across recently and it settled right into my heart-- “You can’t help it. An artist's duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”

Thank you, Nadeena - for sharing your thoughts, photos (all photography in this post is Nadeena's!) routines and lots of new podcasts for me to get caught up on! I so appreciate and am inspired by you! If you don't already, make sure you give her a follow on Instagram.

P.S. Do you know someone that HAS to be featured on an upcoming edition of Unapologetic? Send me an email at info@thewellsupportedwoman.com!

 

It's true: Being lazy in yoga class made me a better leader

 
A self proclaimed 'lazy yogi' shares the connection between her love of restorative yoga classes and how it lead to her biggest breakthrough in leadership (both in her personal life and her business!).

I like to poke fun at myself every now and then.

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that being willing to laugh at yourself is one of the greatest things you can do as you forge your personal development path - and it makes the entire process more fun (ie: it's a win-win!).

I’ve always found self-deprecating humor to be joyful and liberating (in moderation). I’m not talking about negative self talk, but rather the ability to separate our ego and sense of self from our actions. Sometimes we need to chill the f out and let go of our attachment to our behaviors, our successes and our thoughts - because holding onto everything so tightly is exhausting and crushes any creative inspiration that comes our way. 

When I first started my yoga teacher training, I used to joke that I was the world’s laziest yogi. I would only ever go to fast paced yoga flow classes so that I could give myself permission to attend the restorative classes - the ones that were all about dim lighting, breathing, essential oils and stretches that made me want to fall asleep on the mat.

I hated the flow classes because they made me sweat, tested my endurance and showed me unflattering angles of myself in the classroom mirrors. You've been there, right? Yoga pants aren't the most flattering things in the world.

Of course there was a small kernel of deeper truth as to why I preferred restorative yoga to yoga flow classes - it was because I initially came to yoga as a means of stress and anxiety management. Learning how to breathe and meditate and slow my heart rate had been major coping mechanisms when I was feeling overwhelmed and constantly on edge. The flow classes tended to trigger more anxiety for me, rather than less - so of course I preferred the slow stillness of restorative classes! 

In fact, I still remember one of the first restorative yoga classes I ever took, and how changed I felt leaving that tiny studio in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, riding my bike home through the darkened streets. I felt free, and safe, and totally calm.

It was such a blessing. In 40 minutes, I'd learned how to center myself, how to be present in the moment rather than stressed about the future, and how to find deep wells of strength in that stillness (when I thought I’d tapped out every single source of strength I had left). There was more power, waiting for me below the surface. There was everything I needed.

Like those fast paced yoga flow classes or highly scheduled days, traditional ideas of leadership can stress me out (and I know I'm not alone here). So much of the philosophy around traditional leadership harps on things that feel heavy - responsibility, pressure, discipline. The word leadership itself can feel outdated, unrelatable and boring. 

It's not, though. Leadership is all about identifying and commanding your personal power with intention. It's about trusting and honoring yourself enough to honor and trust those around you. This is in now way unrelatable or boring - it's everything we look for in personal development! 

I was reflecting on those early days of restorative yoga recently, and I started to wonder - what if we could practice a different kind of leadership? What if we embraced an ascendancy of power that felt rooted in restorative practices, like those nourishing classes that first taught me the power of yoga? A restorative fueled leadership would be one that encourages us to shift into our present moment, to find strength in our stillness and intuition, and one that rejects competition and comparison for the far more community nourishing practices of truth speaking and powerful presence.

What if being a leader wasn’t scary, outdated or boring? What if it simply meant that we could show up as the best version of ourselves, for ourselves and for others? Here’s the great news: it can. It starts with understanding yourself - doing the deep inner work of true self awareness and knowledge. Once you are acutely aware of yourself, you’re able to develop clear intentions for your restorative fueled leadership style (and they won’t look like anyone else’s!). The more intentional we are as leaders, the easier it will feel.

Even though I love a  bit of humor, I have never been a 'lazy' yogi - I've always been conscious of choosing an option that feels life-giving, rather than one that feels overwhelming. Although the yoga flow classes have grown on me over time, I'm always going to be drawn to restorative options in yoga AND leadership - because I believe that they nurture possibility, rather than keeping us focused on limitation.

That, my friends, is what restorative fueled leadership is all about - and I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to go back to another way.

 

I'm an introverted Aries (and other 'truths' that limited my growth!)

There's a fine line between using tools to understand ourselves, and using those same tools to define and limit ourselves. 

Wondering what I'm talking about? Stick with me for a minute and I'll lay it alllll out. 

About three years ago I embarked on a journey to get to know myself more. I was committed to getting in touch with my intuition, claiming clarity for myself and my future, and doing things the way I wanted - rather than the way I was being told to do them. 

That sounds lovely and freeing, doesn't it? What most people don't tell you is that the reason so many people live by the status quo is because going against it is really hard. Sometimes it's nice to have someone else telling you what to do all the time, because it means you're not required to think. You can check out, mind your own business, and not be actively engaged in life. 

Well, I decided to screw that. And I'm so glad I did - but this journey has been much more difficult than I anticipated. Suddenly, I was the one responsible for figuring out what I wanted, how I wanted to work, and most importantly - how I wanted to feel. 

I turned to every mode of understanding I knew about (and many that were new to me). I did personality tests, I read my horoscope, I had my birth chart done, I asked for divine guidance in meditation. I prayed. I asked my trusted mentors and best friends. I was seeking direction from anyone and everyone, hoping that some bit of insight would suddenly click and help me understand who I was. 

I thought I was opening myself up to new potential. And I was, in a way. What I didn't see was that I was also doing exactly what I said I didn't want - allowing others to tell me what to do and who I was. It was just in a sneakier, less obvious way. It was cloaked in the appeal of wellness and new age sparkle, rather than the traditional corporate model I was used to rebelling against.

There's a fine line between using tools to help you understand yourself, and allowing those same tools to define you.

I now knew that I was an introverted Aries with a penchant for creativity and a desire to do good, and that my struggles were likely to be mostly internal. I discovered that I was a classic martyr archetype mixed with a Taurus rising sign. I knew which crystals were designed to heal my root chakra, and why I needed to be doing ten minutes of meditation and tapping everyday. The problem? I still didn't feel KNOWN. Deep down. 

All of this 'self knowledge' just became another distraction - and it created it's own limitations. After all, one can't be an introverted Aries, right? If that's what I was, then I must be broken. The archetypes couldn't be wrong!

The psychological phenomenon whereby people accept general personality interpretations (Barnum profiles) as accurate descriptions of their own unique personalities has been given the name “the Barnum effect” after P. T. Barnum, a famous circus owner whose formula for success was always to have a little something for everybody (Snyder & Shenkel, 1976). Barnum profiles consist of a variety of statements: “Vague, e.g., ‘you enjoy a certain amount of change and variety in life’; Double-headed, e.g., ‘you are generally cheerful and optimistic but get depressed at times’; Modal characteristics of the subject’s group, e.g., ‘you find that study is not always easy’; favorable, e.g., ‘you are forceful and well-liked by others’” (Sundberg, 1955).
— THE 'BARNUM EFFECT' IN PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE' DICKSON & KELLY 1985


If you're going on a self-knowledge crusade and feel overwhelmed, consider this your permission to stop. To rest. To know yourself as the quiet, searching soul, and to let that be enough.

 
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Personality tests can be fun, but they also create limiting beliefs when we accept them as truth - instead, we need to learn to define and celebrate ourselves, for ourselves. Read more on The Well Supported Woman's blog!
 
Personality tests can be fun, but they also create limiting beliefs when we accept them as truth - instead, we need to learn to define and celebrate ourselves, for ourselves. Read more on The Well Supported Woman's blog!
Personality tests can be fun, but they also create limiting beliefs when we accept them as truth - instead, we need to learn to define and celebrate ourselves, for ourselves. Read more on The Well Supported Woman's blog!
Personality tests can be fun, but they also create limiting beliefs when we accept them as truth - instead, we need to learn to define and celebrate ourselves, for ourselves. Read more on The Well Supported Woman's blog!

Unapologetic: Liz Forkin Bohannon of Sseko Designs

 

Welcome to Unapologetic, a new monthly series designed to introduce you to millennial women doing badass things in the world. Unapologetic women are fully owning their space, their voice and their vision for a better world - and taking massive action to bring those dreams to life. They also believe in building up other women along the way, and are kind enough to share their life lessons with us here!

As you may be able to guess from my company's name, women supporting women is at the core of my belief system, and it's also a core component of the work that Liz and her team at Sseko do.  When the chance to ask her a few questions came up, it was impossible for me to pass it up. Not only does Sseko Designs create beautiful products, but they employ and empower women in Uganda to pursue collegiate educations. Talk about a serious win-win.

(Psst, in case you're wondering - I am a fan of Sseko and am sharing this message because I love what they do, and what Liz stands for. In full disclosure, they did send me a beautiful tote bag to rock around Nashville, and I cannot WAIT to do so! But I won't receive any monetary compensation for this post or for any purchases or participation in Sseko Designs and/or its programs. Just like to keep it real!)

I believe that by listening to and working with the women around us, our experience and our work in the world actually get better and more fulfilling - so you'll want to grab a notebook and jot down the words of wisdom Liz is sharing with us below! 

 
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Liz, tell us what inspired you to start Sseko. I moved to Uganda after university because I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to write and report on issues facing people living in extreme poverty and conflict zones. The only trouble was...I couldn't find anyone to hire me to do just that! So, instead, I moved to Uganda on my own to learn first hand about the realities facing women and girls across the globe. So, I suppose, Sseko was inspired by rejection! HA! No, although that is what lead me to Uganda, Sseko was inspired by 25 of Uganda's brightest, most courageous women. These women quickly became my community and after meeting them and learning about not only where they'd come from, but their dreams and vision for the future, I was inspired to create Sseko.

What has been your biggest "I feel like a real boss" moment? Oh, well, you many be looking for a more glamorous 'real boss' memory here but truthfully my biggest 'real boss' moment was probably the first payday where everyone else got paid and my paycheck that month went to paying unexpected duties on an incoming shipment or something glamorous like that! That's when being the boss feels for real! You realize that in your crazy dreaming and scheming, other people's (who I guess are as equally as crazy-in-the-best-way for joining you!) lives will also be affected by your decisions. Don't get me wrong, I love being a boss, but there is also a ton of responsibility and not-so-fun moments behind the Big Boss scenes :)

What keeps you inspired and engaged in your work? Oh my. I feel so inspired by our team. Our team in Uganda, here in the U.S. and especially by the Sseko Fellows who are a team of impact entrepreneurs who are building the Sseko brand alongside of us in their own communities. Truly, when I need a dose of inspiration, I hop on our private social network and soak up inspiration, encouragement and bravery of this women in this community! It's truly a remarkable sisterhood of dreamers and doers who are co-creating alongside me every day!

Who is in your support network? Oh, this is an area where I feel FILTHY STINKING RICH! I'm a community fanatic--meaning, I prioritize and work on having authentic, transparent and committed relationships. I lived with six women in college who still to this day are my ride or die women. I'm in nearly constant contact with my sister. I share daily life (and property!) with my besties here in Portland. And through organizations like Praxis and 4Word, I've got a rich community of other entrepreneurs and business mentors. I truly believe that the only reason I am able to withstand the roller-coaster of emotions that is entrepreneurship, is because of my amazing and steady community--both personally and professionally!

 
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What's been the most valuable thing you've learned from your mentors? One of my mentors, Diane Paddison, is an incredibly successful Fortune 500 global executive and non-profit founder and she, by example, has taught me so much about the beauty of pairing boldness with generosity. She is literally not afraid to ask for anything (which is why she's been so successful!) but she is also the first to be bold and use her platform to help others succeed, too. (Myself included!) It's made me realize that there is really no such thing in being too bold when you're generous with your success and intentionally create a rising tide!

What are you unapologetic about in business? In life? I am unapologetic in both business and life with my belief that each and every person was created with and for and on purpose. The world needs more people who believe this and who are committed to figuring out their why and then living unapologetically and courageously into that calling!

P.S. Do you know someone that HAS to be featured on an upcoming edition of Unapologetic? Send me an email at info@thewellsupportedwoman.com!