Taking Imperfect Action & Closing Creative Gaps – TJ Walsh – Episode 61

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Artist and Licensed Professional Counselor and Creativity Coach/Artist, TJ Walsh joins Sarah to discuss the importance of taking imperfect action + tips to close the creativity gaps of effort, skill, and quality in your career, and on your team.

THIS EPISODE AT-A-GLANCE

  • The common gaps holding us back
  • Become more creative
  • Approaching imperfect action
  • Bouncing back and staying motivated
  • TJ’s GROW model
  • A key takeaway

Full Podcast Transcription

TJ Walsh:
The one thing that is super common and even non-negotiable for human beings is to feel like they have support from other people around them. They have relationships. Th8ey have connections. They have, um, people in their corner. And so I place a really high emphasis on community learning, on teamwork, on, um, accountability partners to use kind of a cheesy term, um, and mentorship. Because without people who have gone before you or who are moving alongside of you, it’s gonna feel possibly really isolating and really alone and really like a fish out of water more than it has to. 

Sarah Panus:
Hi, my name is Sarah Panus. I have spent the last two decades driving digital content for billion dollar brands. Now I help content marketers build winning brand storytelling strategies and reduce feelings of overwhelm and confusion. Join me as we discuss strategy, creativity, confidence, and building a better connection with your audience. Think of this as a creative content marketing jam session mixed with chicken soup for the soul. This is the marketing with empathy podcast. 

Sarah Panus:
Hey, Hey, Kindred Speakers. Welcome back for another week of the Marketing with Empathy Podcast. Today, we’re gonna talk about being more creative and specifically the importance of taking imperfect action and closing creative gaps and figuring out well, what are those creative gaps. So joining for the discussion is TJ Walsh. He is an internationally exhibited artist who has nurtured creativity in people’s hearts and minds for decades. He received his BFA in graphic design and an MA in clinical counseling psychology. 

Sarah Panus:
So we’re gonna get a real nice blend of the approach with creativity with him. He regularly writes and speaks about art, culture, faith and mental health. And is an expert in human relationships, human creativity, and the creative process, fear and procrastination. Over the past 20 years, TJ has worked at the colorful intersection of creativity, art, therapy, and education. He’s an innovative of out of the box artist, creative clinician and coach. He’s a clinician coach and licensed professional counselor who helps others nurture their creative life so that they can be the powerhouse of an artist and human that they’re created to be. And when we talk about being an artist, we talk about that today and being the literal sense of art, but also the creative sense of art as we practice every day in our marketing careers. Before becoming a therapist and coach, TJ spent more than a decade working as a designer, art and creative director himself, and a fundraising professional. 

Sarah Panus:
He currently lives in Philly with his partner and two sons, a dog, and a cat, 65 house plants, as well as a very robust and growing collection of artwork from emerging and rising artists. Um, just recently in 2021, TJ created the Bold Creatives Collective to help artists and creatives get over their stuff, envision their dreams, develop innovative pathways to make those dreams a reality, which is why I wanted to have him come on the show and chat with you all. And in January of 2022, TJ launched the GROW, your creative life program that helps artists launch themselves to the next step in achieving their creative dreams. And we’re gonna talk more about that program today as well. So great line up and, uh, I’d love to welcome you to the show. So welcome TJ. 

TJ Walsh:
Hey Sarah, it’s so awesome to be here with you. I’m so grateful for this time where I can come and talk to you and your audience. And I’m really excited to have this conversation. 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah, me too. You know, your background is super interesting. What do you enjoy most about like helping people tap into their creativity? 

TJ Walsh:
Thanks. Well, I think my favorite part about helping people tap into their creativity is honestly helping them realize that they are creative human beings to begin with. I mean, I think from a very early age, we show up on the scene and we are just making things and imagining things and putting things together in really weird and wacky ways. Um, and we don’t care about what’s going on. We’re just creating and making and generating things. And then over the course of our lives, that kind of disappears for one reason or another. Um, and it takes a lot of work and effort and, and really intentionality to find that creativity sometimes once again. Um, and I think your audience, um, is a little bit different in that maybe they never really lost that creative spark or, um, they were fortunate enough to have people in their lives that nurtured it. 

TJ Walsh:
Um, but even when we’re working in marketing or when we’re working on strategy for marketing for clients, right, it can really become pretty, I don’t know, stale sometimes or difficult to come up with fresh concepts for, for them. And we have to really remember that, Hey, we are creative. We have I in us to come up with some really fresh things. Um, if we just take time to spend with ourselves and be present with ourselves and tap into that deep well that we have personally, so that we can bring it out, uh, into the world, um, and, uh, help our clients or help our accounts succeed. Right? So helping people remember that they are a human being and just being a human being means that you’re creative and the ability to do some amazing things creatively. 

Sarah Panus:
Mm. Sounds like you and I have the same, um, philosophy as we look at creativity too, then, because, you know, there’s, there’s that question of, you know, are you born creative or can you become more creative? And, and I always say, and I hear you saying it right now, too. Every single person is creative. I just think some people need more prompt than others or more techniques or things just to bring that out of them. Right. And so that’s, and obviously that’s what you do for a living is you help people realize that, but you know, in, in the marketing space, we’re, we’re paid, like you say, we get to be in this creative space, thankfully. And, but we’re paid for creative ideas that drive business results. But, you know, sometimes you just don’t feel creative. Like the juices just aren’t flowing. Right. It happens to all of us. Yeah. Or the ideas that we’re sharing, maybe aren’t landing right. Yet, like you work and coach with a lot of creative people. So what do you see as the most common gaps that hold us back creatively? 

THE Common gaps holding us back

TJ Walsh:
So there are a number of gaps that show up for creative people. Um, in specific, you know, I work with a lot of people who would consider themselves who are artists, right? Who work in studio spaces or in more, uh, traditional fine arts spaces. But, um, these things are not, um, uncommon to people who work in the more, uh, commercial creative spaces or in marketing spaces. And so the three gaps that I see come up, uh, pretty often, um, are gaps of effort of skill and of quality. So the gaps of effort, skill, and quality are things that kind of layer on top of one another. Um, but really can be individual gaps as well. So when we think about the effort gap, right, and these are, these are things that, that we all come up against and it’s, uh, they can come up at different times in our life as we are, as we are learning, or as we are developing different, different, uh, skills or learning new platforms or, uh, developing different ideas, getting new clients, right. 

TJ Walsh:
Um, so we’re, none of us are immune to it, but anyway, the effort gap, no matter how great your idea is, there’s always energy that you have to spend and effort that you have to put in, um, on relatively boring work sometimes to deliver this more creative or this larger idea out into the world. And sometimes that effort where that work that you have to put in just doesn’t happen too often, uh, when we’re feeling tired or when we’re feeling, um, burnt out. And, uh, we might say to ourselves, we just don’t really wanna work that hard. Right. We don’t wanna work that hard. And so, um, that’s the effort gap, right? Not wanting to work that hard, feeling tired, feeling burnt out, but the only way to possess the idea, um, and to make it come out and put it out into the world, um, so that your clients can have wild success, um, is to close the gap and to put that effort in. When we talk a little bit later about imperfect action, right? 

TJ Walsh:
That has a lot to do with, with all three of these gaps, but really the effort one is a, is a big, big one that taking imperfect action helps to helps to close, helps to close that, um, that gap. It also helps to close the quality gap, which I can talk about in a second. Um, but before we get to that more subjective gap of quality, we have to talk about skills. And so once we’ve kind of decided that, okay, we’re gonna put our time and our resources and our energy into coming up with creative solutions, uh, for this problem that we’re tasked to solve. We have to really work to understand whether or not we have the skillset to do it right. And the natural assumption is oftentimes that the ability to have the idea, right, sitting around the table, coming up the different concepts, putting together the different, um, ideas for how to roll things out, we can have all these ideas. 

TJ Walsh:
And the assumption is that if we’re able to have the ideas, we have the required abilities to execute on the idea and the distance between the skills required to execute on the idea may be very different from the ones that you actually possess individually. And that can be pretty crappy, right? To think that man, I have this idea in my head and I know that I can put it out there and it can be really successful, but for some reason I just, I just can’t do it. Um, I haven’t been in the space long enough to have learned what I need to learn to get it out there, or it’s just not in my wheelhouse. Um, and we have to kind of be humble enough to recognize that sometimes we need to bring some other people in alongside of us to meet that gap or close that gap because they have the skills or they have the experience to help us out. 

TJ Walsh:
Or we have to take some more time, right. And learn those skills, um, before we can actually execute on the idea. And sometimes that requires a lot of patience, right? We’re not going to develop some of these skills overnight. Um, and I don’t know really, you know, your audience is pretty wide in terms of the roles that they play on these teams. And so I don’t know what it looks like for each individual person. Um, but sometimes we’re just like trying to go so fast and accomplish so many things at once, um, that we can become frustrated. And we don’t understand, man, why am I working so hard, um, at trying to get this thing, uh, to look right or sound right or, um, present correctly. It might just be that you’re not able to do it right now because you don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge to do it. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s just, you need to, uh, recognize that is the case and do something to kind of close that up so that you can accomplish it. 

Sarah Panus:
Definitely. And I think, you know, in, in organizations and as professionals as this is where professional development is key. Yeah. And identify, understanding where your gaps are, or maybe something that’s uncomfortable and you need more coaching on. So smart organizations invest in their people and they help close those skill gaps through courses, through conferences, through mentors. You know, that’s why I’m a huge advocate. I know we’re gonna get into your program later too, of how you coach people. But I have my own program too, where I can help coach internal content marketers through my Brand Storytelling Academy, because you just don’t know what you don’t know sometimes. And by closing that skill gap, it gives you so much more confidence and it reduces that insecurity of being able to speak up and share that awesome idea. Yeah. Or being able to do your job better and advancing your career and feel like you’re killing it, you know, and feeling great and excited about work every day. Like that, that’s an amazing feeling. It sucks when you’re like, oh, I’m a fish outta water. I really don’t know what I’m doing right now. Right. That’s, that’s not a good place to be. 

TJ Walsh:
That’s not a good place to be. And Sarah, like everybody learns differently and everybody has a different way of really taking information and integrating it and, and then utilizing it. Right. But I think the one thing that is super common and even like a non-negotiable for human beings is to feel like they have support from other people around them. They have relationships, they have connections, they have people in their corner. And so I place a really high emphasis on community learning on teamwork, on, um, accountability partners to use kind of a cheesy term and mentorship be because without people who have gone before you or who are moving alongside of you, it’s gonna feel possibly really isolating and really alone and really like a fish out of water more than it has to. And so, you know, my program that I’ll talk about a little bit later, or the way that I work in general is really through relationship and community and teaching through really immersing yourself alongside in the water with other people who are, who are doing the same thing and learning the same stuff. 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah. And I think with the skill gap too, the other thing as professionals for everyone listening right now, and I’ve talked about this previously on the show is you have to take charge of your own development. Like you have to understand and be honest with yourself about where you want to develop what you need to enhance in what you want to continue to grow and, and invest in yourself because that will invest in your life and in your career and the outputs. And so I think it’s a, it’s a huge thing about really being very planful, like your plan and your marketing plans, be planful with your development each year, too. How are you going to enhance these things? What things are you going to do with additional, um, support metrics like you just mentioned are, are, are, there’s so many things available now to us, especially, I feel like with, um, with the pandemic happening, even more things went online. Feel like it, it opened up even more opportunities for people to be able to go, cuz now you’re not limited to have to fly somewhere or have to fly someone in and meet them face to face. You can do so many things online now. 

TJ Walsh:
Yeah. I think access is definitely access to learning access to all these different tools and things are so much more at our fingertips now than they were even even a couple of years ago. Like you were just mentioning Sarah, but I think the thing now to keep in mind is because there’s so many opportunities for us to learn or to put our, our training money. We have to be even that much more specific and really clear on what we want to do, where, why we wanna take this training or learn this thing. Right. And just like throw stuff out there, um, that, you know, sounds cool, but how, but may not actually service on the other end. Um, right. And so just like when we’re talking about goal setting, we’re planning needing to be really, really specific where we put our time and energy in terms of learning and investing in ourselves also needs to have a purpose and also needs to be really specific. Otherwise that could just lead to more frustration down the line and wasted time and money. 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah. Okay. So then you talked about the effort gap, the skill gap and what’s, and then the next is the quality gap, right? 

TJ Walsh:
Quality gap. That’s a subjective one. So the other two, the effort and skill right, are, are kind of really objective meaning, you know, if you’re not putting enough time into the process, right. You can’t complain when it doesn’t for lie, right. Because you haven’t put the time in the skills are man, like you have this great idea you’re putting in the time, but you just keep coming up against the wall because you don’t have specific things needed to accomplish the task. Quality is more subjective. Um, it’s about the quality of what is made or what is put out into the world. And honestly, some super successful people never actually closed the quality gap, at least not on every project and all of us likely won’t be successful in closing this gap every time either. And that’s fine. And maybe it’s even good, right? That we aren’t successful all the time at closing this quality gap. 

TJ Walsh:
Um, because if we wanna continue growing, if we wanna continue pushing forward, we need to have some challenges. Right. And we need to see things differently at the end of the process then when we started in order to grow. Um, so like in the very things that you’re finding are lacking, or you wish you had done differently, there’s where you’re gonna find the motivation for that next project or that next iteration, that next plan that you need to put in the place. Um, and so when you put the effort in, you’ve developed some skills, you have this thing at the end of the, at the end of the day that you know is good, but isn’t perfect. Or you see some, some is where it could be improved. That quality gap might not be all the way closed, but you have the opportunity then to take a look at it and say, Hmm, you know, next time, this is what we could do differently. Or next time, this is where we can spend a little bit extra time on this area of it so that we can take it up a notch, you know, next month or next quarter. 

Sarah Panus:
Got it. Okay. So now we know the three gaps, then it gets into naturally then what are, you know, things we can do to be more creative. And what I see is cuz I do, I do a lot of, um, I like to look at online data to inform like content plans. And I see a lot of online searches from people being done around various forms, really of the same question, which is how to be more creative. You know, I see searches, can I learn to be more creative, how to be more creative at work, how to be more creative in writing in music and art and graphic design and for photography in life. Like these are all searches, people are looking for on a regular basis. So tell us like what, what are things that my audience can do to be more creative in their careers? 

Become more creative

Sarah Panus:
Yeah. So I’ll go back to like what I was saying a little bit at the beginning of the conversation in referencing, you know, when we were younger or when we were little, we were more creative than maybe we are or think we are today because we were more free. We were more in touch with our imaginations, uh, with our artistry, with our creativity in general, we were naturally attuned to being in abundance right when we were younger. Um, and we had no problem believing that the world that we were living in, um, was there and open for us. So basically our minds and our just overall sense of ourselves and other people in the world were less restricted when we were younger. But as we got older, as we become adults and professionals and we have different, um, restrictions put on our time and our energy and um, our society requires us and culture requires us to do things really quickly. 

TJ Walsh:
Those beliefs and experiences begin or began to wan right. To fade away and to venture, you know, things like cynicism, jadedness, uh, loss of faith and belief in ourselves showed up. Right. And we start saying things like, we can’t be as creative as we were when we were younger. Or we were told that, you know, we have to really be more serious about things or we have to like keep our eye on the bottom line and not mess around. Right. Um, and so those things really get in the way of being creative. And so when you ask about how can we be more creative? How can we bring some creativity back in our life? How can we reinvigorate our creative energy? I like to go back to getting in touch with that younger part of ourself, right. That part of ourself that we knew a long time ago. 

TJ Walsh:
So I say some things are, remember, try to remember what we like to do, uh, when we were a kid, right. And to try to do that thing, do whatever you enjoyed doing as a child. So I don’t know those so many different things, wild, wacky, crazy, even sometimes dangerous things could be really effective at stirring that pot of creative energy that lives inside of all of us. Another thing to do is ask a lot of questions. So I know as, um, as, as marketers, as content creators, as strategists question asking is something, um, that we do all of the time, I would assume. Um, at least that’s what I was really doing a lot of the time when I was working in the space, but even even more so asking more questions, I have a three year old kid and the word that gets run into the ground more often than any other word is why, right. 

TJ Walsh:
Why this, why that, why do you want me to do this? Why should I do that? Why is it, why is it this? Why is this thing, this color? Why, why is this thing that color? What if it was this? What if it was this color instead? How about that? Right. Asking tons of questions and asking questions that don’t make any sense on paper maybe. Right. But that can open up and unlock a different pathway for you. Um, scheduling play. People are like, why do I need to schedule, play? Why schedule it? Um, that kind of is counterintuitive to playing, right. Well, not really when we’re super busy human beings who have jobs and who have families and who have all these things to do, uh, and demands on our, on our life. Um, scheduling play is really important. We need to set aside time and this is what I like the best about functional teams, uh, is that the leader, uh, the team leader or someone over all of us little ducklings will schedule some time for us to play in some kind of way, right. 

TJ Walsh:
Where we are maybe a little bit less focused, um, on the task hand and exploring, and just doing off the wall things, um, that actually does have benefit to that project that you’re working on the end of the day. So really taking time regularly, uh, to have fun. Come up with stupid, impossible, or even dangerous ideas. I reference, I mentioned that of I’m minute ago, you know, nothing too stupid, nothing too dangerous, but you know how kids are, you know, my kid does things that, um, scare me every day. Um, but he does it with reckless abandon. Right. And he learns from it. Um, and that is building his creative muscles. Um, and his imagination. 

Sarah Panus:
Yes. I have two kiddos under 10 myself. And I think that’s, I, I regularly say that kids are our greatest teachers as adults because you can learn so much just by looking at how they look at the world, how they approach it. And it’s, it’s a nice reminder of what we used to be like, and it doesn’t have to be only in the past, like what you’re saying. So those were great tips of how to unleash our creativity now as adults. Yeah. That was great. 

TJ Walsh:
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. So those are a few things that you can do and, you know, I can always talk to you about more think really just being open-minded and doing things that gets you outside of your typical guardrails, uh, that you’ve set up or that people have set up for you, um, is where you’re gonna find the ability to be a little more fluid and creative. 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, this is great. We’re gonna take a quick commercial break, TJ. So stick around folks. After the break, TJ and I are gonna dig more into imperfect action. What that means, um, how you even think about that and balancing your expectations with work. We’re gonna get into if your ego gets bruised and your, you know, I, creative idea gets shut down. What do you do? And then of course, discuss more about TJ’s grow model. So stick around. 

COMmercial Break

Sarah Panus:
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approaching imperfect action

Sarah Panus:
OK. TJ. So I’d love to dig into imperfect action. I always say I’m a recovering perfectionist myself, and I know a lot of people in marketing are. Um, but first of all, like how do you approach imperfect action yourself? 

TJ Walsh:
Sure. So this is a term that different people use. It’s, it’s not my original term, right? I’ve learned it from coaches I’ve worked with. And so this is not my original term, but for me, the way I define imperfect action is really putting something out there before it’s ready, not sitting on my hands in fear of it being rejected, or it being, you know, not super shiny and polished. Uh, now I know that that could be a little bit like, yeah, well, I don’t have the opportunity because my clients demand it to be super shiny and polished. But in general, if we’re not putting things out into the world, we have no idea whether or not they’re good, or if they’re going to fly and we have no ability then to make them better. Um, and so if we’re just waiting for things to be a hundred percent perfect or waiting for the exact right time to do it, do something we’re not going to get anywhere. We’re not going to grow. Um, so that’s how I define in really broad strokes, what taking imperfect action looks like pushing into the resistance to not do something. And then once we’re pushing into that resistance, pushing through it and facing our fear of the unknown, uh, when we put it out that put our thing, our work, our project, our idea out into the world, um, and then learning from it. 

Sarah Panus:
So what does the balance look like though? You know, like when you, you have the demands of work and you’re, you need to produce good work and you’re, you’re pressured around that piece of it, but you also are putting something out that maybe isn’t as great as it could be, like talk us through that because I think it’s, it’s definitely an ongoing thing that I see always in the marketing space. Um, but what I see is when you hold on something too long, you miss the opportunity to learn from it, to get some actions, um, that will benefit the company. Um, but like tell, talk to a little bit more about like that balance and like what you see with folks that you coach and, and some advice for my listener. 

TJ Walsh:
Right? So you, you make a good point, right? We have demands put on us all of the time to, you know, make sure that whatever we end up presenting to a client or launching into the, into the broader world is super good, right. Is effective. Will have a high return for the money that was put into it. That is really true. But when we are planning or ideating or conceptualizing strategizing, that’s where we have the opportunity to really put stuff out there that doesn’t feel totally Gell, that doesn’t feel totally, you know, put together that might be off the wall and wacky. Um, that’s the space where we don’t wanna sit on our hands, right. Where we aren’t going to, um, where we’re not gonna hold back. Right. We’re gonna see what happens, see how it is responded to, I think, in the space that you and I are talking about right now, that’s where that is possible. 

TJ Walsh:
Another area where it’s possible, right. Is, you know, we’ve done all of the work that we can possibly do to meet the, the, the brief for the standard that, um, the client is looking for, but we might not be totally a hundred percent comfortable with it ourselves. And so we have maybe some time to hold onto it before, before giving it over. I say, give it over. Right. And see how they respond to it, see how it flies. That’s where you’re gonna really learn more about yourself and your process as well as about what, what the clients are looking for, what the public is responding to, and you get closer next time. Um, and I think for the sake of our conversation, the balance is really in that space where we’re playing with our team, right. And where we’re, where we’re thinking about things and exploring, um, so that we can get it as close to ready and possible and able to be successful, you know, as we can. Um, yeah. When it launches. Right? 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah. I also think it’s like, as you were talking, you know, it, it’s, it’s good to serve like early iteration of something to temp check. Like you were saying, like, Hey, here’s the first round would love your thoughts. What do you think? What do you like, what do you think we can on? What don’t you like? Like that helps the creative juices. I see, like this huge mistake that some teams, some agencies, some partners do on both sides with corporates and partners. Right. Cause I’ve worked on both sides. Is that they think they have to have it perfect before they show it. Yeah. Right. And that actually usually ends up in it not being as good. It’s the time when you can be iterative and communicative throughout the process together that yeah. Cool. The fourth version of this is so much better than that one version that you were holding onto. 

Sarah Panus:
Right. When it’s like, just look at it as a collaboration. And I think there’s a lesson there of how teams work together too in setting that expectation with each other and just saying, you know, we wanna be involved. We wanna be part of this process, like run early ideas by us. Like let us know what you’re thinking. Like ask questions, like how you’re saying, ask lots of questions. Yeah. Those are, those are ways to like kind of, um, bridge that gap. Okay. So I think this is a great segue into an next question, because let’s say, okay, you’ve shared, you’ve put your creative idea out there. Um, and it gets ripped apart and your ego and your self confidence totally take a hit. We, I, I hope that everyone listening has experienced this. And I say that because if you haven’t, you’re not sharing enough of your creative ideas and know I’ve had this where it’s like, I thought something was so good and it just got ripped apart. You know, when I was on the corporate side and thankfully that was not the norm, but it happens. It happens to all of us, if we’re gonna be sharing our creative ideas. So TJ, like how do you bounce back and stay motivated when you’ve put yourself out there and you’ve shared your creative idea and it just bombs. 

Bouncing back and staying motivated

TJ Walsh:
I don’t know how many of your listeners, um, went to art school. And so hopefully I have some kindred spirits out there, but I went to art school for initially. I went for painting. I ended up getting a graphic design degree, um, because I lost some of the, some of the nerve to like follow through with that painting pathway. Um, I’m back to it now I paint and I show and I sell all all the time. But anyway, art school is like baptism by fire. When it comes to who, uh, putting yourself out there, hanging your stuff on, on the wall, uh, and having a whole group of people look at it and pick it apart.

TJ Walsh:
One by one, one element by one element. It just starts to come apart. Um, and that can be a really, that’s a really humbling exp at first. And maybe always, but if you kind of give into that discomfort and let yourself really take it in, you’re gonna be so much better for it. Um, your work is going to be so much better for it. Your ability to hang in there and be sustainable in your career is going to be, uh, helped so much. Um, but what do you do it’s really pay attention to what’s going on in your body during that time? What am I responding to? Why am I responding to this particular feedback in this kind of way? Um, am I too attached to the work that I put up there? That’s oftentimes a real big roadblock to receiving criticism is that I’m too attached, right. 

TJ Walsh:
Especially in the space where we’re like, um, making stuff for other people specifically. I’m too attached to this work, I’m holding it too tightly and it’s gonna hurt a lot more when it gets kind of opened up and examined if it’s too tight and, and close to me. So loosening your grip on things is really helpful. I mean, in art school, you know, I’ve been in studios where a professor would take a blade to a canvas of a student. Right. And throw it out the window. Oh, like that’s extreme. Yeah. Right. I do not, you know, I hope no one has had that experience. That’s not constructive criticism or, or, or teaching what, what is, is when we come alongside of somebody and offer them feedback in a way that they can take in and integrate and contemplate, um, and ask other questions for the purpose of getting further down the, down the track. And that shouldn’t be, um, a super painful experience. So oftentimes I say, check in with yourself, are you holding this thing too closely? And if you are, um, it’s an opportunity to let go of it a little bit. 

Sarah Panus:
Definitely. Okay. So I want to switch then now to talk more about your grow model, G R O W, like what is it, how can creative marketers benefit from it? Tell us more. 

Tj’s GROW model

TJ Walsh:
So I broke grow down into goals, realities options, and ways, a word. Um, so goals, right? When you work with me, we’re going to connect with your own inner knowing and your core creative spirit to get to the heart, right. Of what you really want and desire, um, which is the source of your motivation that’s gonna sustain you along the way in kind of your journey towards whatever goal you are looking to accomplish, right. And goals need to be really specific. They need to be time limited. They need to be all of the things so that you can actually achieve it. Not too big. At first, it’s almost like the way I look at these goals are more like objectives, right? Towards a bigger goal. So very specific. And, and then once we kind of have that handled, we, we look at realities that are keeping us stuck from reaching the goal. 

TJ Walsh:
So I use a process, uh, with people that looks at both the past and present, uh, to understand patterns of belief and behavior in our lives that kind of get in our way. And then we uncover them and reprogram them in so to speak, right? So that we can see ourselves more clearly. And the path is more open for us to, you know, move down, uh, move down towards our goal and then options, you know, uncover our unique creative expression. How do we actually work and what passions really drive us and motivate us to push those realities. And those stuck points out of the way towards achieving the goal. This is what makes us stand out from the crowd and attracts people to us and our work. And then ways forward, helping people take the big steps in life at are being asked of us and help us become the artist or the marketer, the strategist, the business person, the entrepreneur that we are. Um, and this can look like setting boundaries, making time for our own personal creative work and art, um, or taking big leaps, uh, to put ourselves out there, taking more imperfect, uh, to get us out there and seen more so that we can, um, achieve all the things that we want to achieve in our professional life. 

Sarah Panus:
Great. How long does it generally take to go through the grow model? 

TJ Walsh:
So everybody is kind of different. Um, it really depends on what they’re seeking to accomplish, what their goals are. So I have people that work with me or, you know, a full year through this. I have other people that come to me and they want like four sessions, right? One package of coaching to really kind of become clear on some really specific things that are getting in, getting in their way around one particular, one particular thing that they’re facing in the moment. So it’s really a, a model that is tailored towards, um, each individual person. Um, the program that I’m talking about right now, um, is under a bit of, of a re-work maybe. Um, but the way it’s set up right now, I have people in cohorts that a are going through a year long process. So these are bigger things. Um, but I work with tons of people who are with me for like four to six weeks. 

Sarah Panus:
Great. And if someone wanted to look more into this, where would they go online to, to find more about your grow model and your program? 

TJ Walsh:
Yep. So they can go to tjwalshcoaching.com/growprogram. Um, that is, uh, where you’ll learn about the grow model and about the program itself. Um, and so that’s where I would ask them to go right away. I also had a summit a few weeks ago that they can now, uh, get replay access to, uh, where we met with experts of art culture, marketing, mindset, creative mindset, uh, and talked about, you know, moving ourselves forward. So you can go to TJ wash, coaching.com/growthsummit, and get replay access to that summit. So that’s another place to kind of get a taste of what I do, but the real place, uh, is at that first, uh, website that I mentioned. 

Sarah Panus:
Okay, I’ll make sure I put links to all of those in the show notes. So everyone listening, you can, you can click through into the show notes and, and see all of those. So before we wrap up TJ, what’s one takeaway you wanna leave my listeners with? You’ve shared so many great tips and, and things to really think about and how we can be more creative, how we approach imperfect action, what our creative gaps may be. Um, but what what’s one takeaway you wanna leave? 

a key takeaway

TJ Walsh:
Sure. One takeaway would, would really come back to that point that we are all creative and we are all able to show ourselves to the world. If we take that step towards putting ourselves out there and really, uh, put into fear. So I think the takeaway there would be that oftentimes instead of running away from discomfort or fear, um, we actually need to run towards it and through it to see the results that we want. Um, so when you feel scared or when you feel hesitation, move towards it and not away from it. 

Sarah Panus:
Beautiful. Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. This is important stuff that we all need to think about as creative and, and everyone listening. I hope you get something out of this to assess for yourself, whether it was assessing where you fall in the creativity gap, spectrum with effort, gap, the skill gap, the quality gap, or ways to unlock your creativity. Um, TJ gave a bunch of great examples of how to help us just step outside of ourselves a little bit and get outside of our heads and remembering that everyone’s creative. I, I agree. So thank you so much, TJ, for coming on. This was great. 

TJ Walsh:
Thank you so much, Sarah. This was really fun and I hope that everyone can take something away from the conversation. 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah. Anywhere else online? Any, I know you plugged, we have your two online sites, any social sites or anything you wanna let us know about where people can find you as well. Sure. 

TJ Walsh:
So I’m always up for connecting with people on Facebook. And I have a group called the Bold Creatives Collective. Yet you can hang out with me. And right now we have about a thousand people in there. So it’s a newer group, but, um, it’s, uh, it’s an alive group where we talk about our stuff that we’re having trouble with and sharing ideas and, uh, things to be able to push ourselves creatively. So that’s a nice little place to go and hang out. So that’s Bold Creatives Collective on Facebook. Okay. That would be where I recommend people finding me. And then we can go from there. 

Sarah Panus:
All right. Okay. Everyone that is TJ Walsh and we’ll wrap up today’s episode and we will talk with you next week. So until next time, kindred speakers.

Closing Remarks

Sarah Panus:
Hi fives for finishing another episode. When faced with an obstacle, you’re the type of person who gets better instead of bitter. I hope you feel creatively inspired and invite you to check back often for more goodness from me and my guest. If you want more actionable advice and inspiration head over to kindredspeak.com for show notes, all discount codes from today’s episode, and to sign up for my newsletter. Subscribe now to the Marketing With Empathy Podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify and wherever else you get your podcast. And if you’d be so kind, will you please leave me a review. This helps my podcast get noticed by others. Keep smiling.

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ABOUT SARAH PANUS

Sarah Panus is a brand storytelling marketing strategist, Minnesota mom, and owner of Kindred Speak, LLC, a remote consultancy that helps corporations attract upper-funnel leads that drive bottom-funnel results through storytelling.  Her mission is to add value to the world by humanizing brand+consumer connections. Her online courses teach content professionals inside corporations think like Editorial Directors for their brand to drive stronger results while enjoying their jobs more.  She’s spent the last 20 years helping brands including Sleep Number, Starbucks, Nestle Waters, Christos Bridal, Game Crazy, Cone Inc, and others, speak a kindred language with their audiences, driving brand advocacy and millions in revenue and brand engagements. Learn more at www.kindredspeak.com. Follow Sarah on Instagram and LinkedIn.