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I’m No Good At… (How to Build Your Business Skills)

by Sarah Juliusson on June 24, 2014

Ever notice yourself saying “I’m not good at… (fill-in-the-blank here, Marketing, Websites, Social Media, Networking Events)? I hear it all the time from birth business coaching clients, and part of my job is to help each of you find the sweet spot where you can thrive in these essential elements of self-employment.

My dear friend Jodi Egerton posted a great piece on Rejecting Rejection this morning. While we get plenty of chances to practice healthy responses to rejection in birth work when clients choose not to hire us, what troubles me far more is the nature of self-rejection in self-employment.

So often I see doulas & other birth pros limiting themselves with beliefs around what they can – and cannot do. I do believe there is absolute wisdom in recognizing your strengths and getting help when you need it, but have also experienced first hand the real gift of encountering aspects of self-employment that I never thought I’d be able to do, and moving beyond that belief by simply taking the first step.

I challenge you to identify one great big “I’m no good at…” belief,
and take one simple step forward.

1. No good at marketing? Whether you’ve been delaying working on new business cards, sending out another email newsletter, or scheduling an introductory workshop, get started! Marketing is one of those skills that really does get easier the more you do it and discover what works. Have a listen to my Holistic Marketing 101 call to get inspired.

2. No good at websites? Start by taking a critical look at your own website from the eyes of a new site visitor. Invite a trusted friend to do the same. Let yourself think through the information they will need to call you to learn more. The first step in learning website design is learning what makes a website effective.

3. No good at networking? Do you love what you do? Good. Now choose one new person in your community that you’d love to connect with. Before you meet, take the time to research their practice and identify 3 things you’d like to have happen from that meeting.

4.  No good at social media?  Take one hour this week to reflect on your presence on facebook, pinterest, twitter or another site.  What would you like to be able to share with clients there? How can you make it meaningful and authentic to your practice? Establish a calendar for yourself outlining the types of posts you’d like to do in one month.

Quite simply, we learn by doing. If you want to get better at something, there are so many amazing resources out there just waiting to help you take the next step. Perhaps my favorite thing about my role as a business & website doula is helping to awaken within each of you a new sense of capacity and potential as a business owner.

Get help when you need it, but also allow for the possibility of hidden talents. Certainly if you had told me 10 years ago I’d be doing business coaching & web design I would have enjoyed a very good laugh…

As Jodi so wisely shares…

I now see that any rejection offers a choice—I can choose to believe the rejection, or I can choose to face the challenge and create who I am. And it turns out, who I am is a loud-singing, poetry-writing, roller-skating, badass book writer.

What about you?

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Why I am Not a Midwife

by Sarah Juliusson on May 5, 2014

Happy International Day of the Midwife everyone! These 23 years of birth work have been quite a journey, and the incredible work of midwifery is a core part of who I am today. Given how many doulas and childbirth educators I meet who dream of “one day” becoming a midwife, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share why I am Not a midwife.

Little known fact: I was well on my way to becoming a midwife way back in May of 1995. I had completed 8 months as a midwifery apprentice and student at Maternidad La Luz birth center in El Paso, TX. I had just been accepted into the Yale University Certified Nurse Midwife masters program, my 2nd year applying to the highly competitive program. I had completed a full year of nursing pre-requisite courses and discovered an unexpected skill and enjoyment in the sciences. I was 25 years old, and had already been working towards becoming a midwife for four years. And yet…

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On the steps at Maternidad La Luz with my fetoscope around my neck! 1995.

Something didn’t feel right. The call had shifted, but I didn’t yet understand where it was leading me. I declined the coveted Yale acceptance, and instead decided to complete a Masters in Parent-Child Nursing at the University of Texas at Austin. The idea at this point was still to do a one year CNM program after I completed my Masters in Nursing, but I felt clear that I was not yet meant to become a midwife. A few years later in a strange twist of fate I actually met the woman who had taken my place in that year’s midwifery class at Yale. It was very affirming and powerful to see that each of us were in exactly the Right place.

I’m not really sure at what point I knew that the CNM thing just wasn’t going to happen, but somewhere over the course of those years I began to better understand where I belonged within the birth world. It became clear to me that my strengths, and indeed the skills I most wanted to be using with families, were based in the realm of emotional, rather than clinical support.

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Here I am at the birth center in 1996. It is clear from the smile on my face that I truly enjoyed this work, but understand now that it was about much more about connection rather than clinical skill.

And yet… I had a Masters in Nursing!!!! After investing that much in advanced education, one should generally get a job using it, right? Well, I tried. I spent time working in both labor & delivery and maternity nursing, and my husband literally had to PUSH me out of the car to get me to go to work, leaving me colorful love notes in my lunchbox to keep me motivated, reminding me that the women in there Needed me. Between the charting, the IVs and medications, let alone the politics of the nursing station, I struggled to find the space to offer the emotional and social support that I felt so deeply called to do.

I was blessed to be pregnant with our first son at this time, so his birth also allowed the gift of some time away from nursing to reflect on who I was becoming – now as a mother, and a birth professional. It gave me the opportunity to redefine my path and ultimately return full circle to where I had first started: doula care and childbirth education.

Twelve years have passed since then, and I am now crystal clear that I am on the right path. Midwifery is an incredible career choice, and I’ve witnessed dear friends take the leap and find true happiness in their new role with families. I know that I could have been a good midwife, maybe even a great one, but it was not my path to take. It makes me smile to now have the perspective of time, having found so many unique ways to apply my skills and passions to support not only birthing families, but now also all of you as birth professionals.

So here they are, my top three reasons why I will never be a midwife:

1. While I love midwives and all things birth, I am 100% clear that my true calling does not involve clinical care. It is the emotional – social – spiritual realm of support that brought me into birth work in the first place, and to this day that is where my true passion is found.

2. I have attended enough births in all these years to have witnessed some very difficult outcomes for both mom and baby.  I am deeply thankful for the skill and wisdom that midwives bring to each and every birth to guide a family safely through, and am keenly aware that I do not feel called to be in that place of clinical responsibility.

3.  I don’t have to be a midwife to work in birth.  I know this is really, really common sense now, but honestly when I first started out I had never met a professional childbirth educator or doula.  DONA was founded the same year as I started attending births, and it was many years before I met anyone who had a career in birth work without being a doctor, nurse, or midwife.

I Love how much the birth community has changed over the the 23 years I’ve been doing this work, and look forward to witnessing many more changes in the years to come.  I love the diversity of ways we can support families through birth and postpartum, knowing there is no single best path.  Midwifery used to be the pinnacle for me, the ultimate goal, and it seemed as though everyone I knew was working towards becoming a  midwife.  Now I recognize that midwifery is simply another path that I could have easily taken, but would not have been the best use of my unique skill set.  I am so beyond thankful for the those of you who have chosen the midwifery path; I know it’s not an easy one.  Gratitude.

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Featured Birth Practice: The Fourth Trimester Lactation Support

March 31, 2014

I’m happy to introduce all of you to Gladis & Emily of The Fourth Trimester, providing home-centered lactation support in Tampa Bay, Florida.  I was drawn to their vision for bringing a new approach to lactation support in their community, and their creativity with partnerships & marketing. You work as a team – I’d love […]

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Pinterest 101 for Birth Professionals, or.. How to Have Fun Marketing your Birth Practice

March 28, 2014

I enjoyed a great call with many of you this morning exploring tips & tricks on building your business presence on Pinterest.  The call recording is being released on Monday – if you haven’t signed up yet, be sure to do so and you will receive a link to the recording via email.  REGISTER HERE. […]

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Love Birth – Love Pinterest

March 24, 2014

Do you love Pinterest?  So do I.  I have gathered on my Pinterest boards a lovely collection of craft projects, recipes to try, gift ideas, homeschooling projects, and inspirations for my one-day, long-awaited, much-dreamed-of kitchen reno.  This is of course, my personal Pinterest page. Thankfully, Pinterest allows you to have both a personal page and […]

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The Long Labor of Birthing your Business

March 18, 2014

Yesterday I shared a website page created by one of my clients with another coaching client.  I thought she might be inspired by her unique approach to speaking to the topic of anxiety in pregnancy.  She was of course, wowed by what she saw, but the real magic happened when I sent her praise back […]

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Birth Work not Facebook: Six Tips to Simplify your Time Online

November 13, 2013

Ah… facebook.   I often hear comments of frustration and overwhelm from coaching clients trying to get a handle on how to use facebook effectively for their birth practice.  While finding creative ways to share and engage on facebook is a priority, learning a few of the tips and tricks to help make it easier […]

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Do you want to see the power of meaningful, supported, safe and healthy birth in a new video?

November 12, 2013

Would you rather see a new film about birth or about cars? What would your birth business do with $7,500 in video services? Based in Southwest Michigan, Birth Kalamazoo offers birth and postpartum doula services, childbirth and breastfeeding classes, birth doula training and in-home lactation consulting.  They are currently in first place among more than […]

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Meaningful Social Media & your Birth Practice

November 12, 2013

Would you like to use social media for your birth practice but don’t want to add to the endless “filler” content we see on facebook? When used wisely, social media can be both an authentic voice for your birth practice, and a powerful tool of engagement. Here are a few tips to help you serve […]

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Using Pixlr to Create Images for your Birth Practice Facebook Page

November 11, 2013

One of the big questions that came up the other day in our free conference call on using facebook for your birth practice was how to actually create visual images for your facebook feed.  My call cohost, Jeanette McCulloch of BirthSwell,  shared how visual images are far more likely to be liked, shared & commented […]

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