As the author of the upcoming Fire Starter Sessions and an entrepreneur, speaker, and blogger, Danielle LaPorte must be busy. Luckily, she had enough time to chat with us about her philosophy on life and business, her thoughts on branding, and her plans for the future, just in time for BBL’s Career Month. From her successes to her failures, Danielle has learned something every step of the way, and she’s shared some of this fantastic advice for those looking to start their own business or market their own brand.
Books for Better Living: Tell us how you got your start. Did you always know what you wanted to do or was it more of an organic process?
Danielle LaPorte: Organic. All the way. I was going to go into fashion design. I ended up in retail. I bartended. Somehow, I got into getting people radio interviews and articles in magazines, and I realized I’d started my own publicity agency. That led to me becoming the director of a Washington, DC–based think tank for future studies, consulting for the Pentagon on the dynamics of social change (long story). Then came my image consultancy “with soul.” And soon after, I was doing live “Fire Starter Sessions” with people in boardrooms and living rooms, even in a pole-dancing studio in LA—and then a few hundred one-on-one coaching sessions.
Big failures, big highs. The through line? I’m interested in liberating the truth, I get off making stuff happen—and I love to say a lot with few words.
BBL: You have a great brand. What is the most important thing to keep in mind for your brand? What tips would you give other women looking to position themselves as their own brand?
DL: I always ask myself three things: Is this useful? Is this inspiring? Is this as transparent as it can be? If I hit those three notes, I’m in the vicinity of making stuff that feels good to make.
Be yourself. Authenticity is magnetic and efficient. First figure out what’s true for you—package your soul—and then go look for an audience that will resonate with who you are and what you want to put out in the world. If you start out by trying to shape yourself to fit your supposed target market, you’ll get thrown off center easily. Being genuine will give you stamina—and you’ll need lots of it for the ride.
BBL: You wrote a great blog post about being YOU and what that means. How do you manage to maintain such authenticity in your brand as you grow?
DL: Being insincere is excruciating, so I don’t give myself much of a choice other then to keep it real. And besides, it seems to be working. I sleep well, people are digging the book, I get paid to do what gives me joy.
BBL: You are a queen of social media. How do you think it plays a role in your brand?
DL: Social media doesn’t influence my brand—I’m me and my message is steady with or without Facebook, as much as it carries my brand. Essentially, I’m in the wisdom business. I learn stuff, I run it through my own filter, and I broadcast it as widely as possible—from Twitter to print magazines.
It’s such a fantastic time to be an entrepreneurial artist. We’ve got the power of global communications in our hands. It’s a revolution of creativity.
BBL: What challenges did you face in becoming a successful businesswoman?
DL: Unending ceaseless challenges. Seriously. And unending ceaseless victories. Daily. That’s the nature of constantly creating and forging and growing. You’ve got to love both.
Raising money. Waiting too long to let staff go. Hustling for media coverage. Being of service. Lawsuits. Loan officers. Business plans. Inspiring people. Getting fired. Big sales. Standing ovations. Deep satisfaction. It’s so cliché, but every challenge is an opportunity. It all gets down to your values and depth of devotion.
BBL: Why did you decide to write The Fire Starter Sessions?
DL: I almost didn’t write this book. I was working on something else and it wasn’t flowing. When I sat still for a minute, I could sense something weighing on me, in a good way, like ripe fruit that’s getting too heavy for the branch. And I thought, If I don’t get all this “entrepreneurial stuff” out of my system, then it’s going to rot on the vine. I had a sense that if I didn’t write this book at the time, that I’d move on to the next thing and it would never happen. Now or never.
BBL: Any ideas for a second book?
DL: Ideas for the next book? Oh yeahhh, I can see my next three books. The second book is already burning a hole in my heart. It’s called “Desire.” And it’s going to be a gorgeous sister to The Fire Starter Sessions.
BBL: Any last words of advice for other aspiring businesswomen?
DL: Everything is progress. So make a decision and keep moving. Give yourself permission to want what you want, make a plan to go for it, and do something every day to get closer to it—starting today. And be kind as you go about it all.