Make Business Boring Again and Embrace the Mundane

by | Apr 7, 2021 | 4 comments

Building a business brings with it all the frantic, anxious energy of an Act 1 finale number.

There’s hope! Setting up a new offer, bringing in your first clients, executing marketing plans!

And there’s trepidation… Am I good enough? Is this working? Can I really charge this much?

And all of that energy is hurtling toward—wait for it—the most boring part of the show: the intermission.

The biggest challenge I see in this production number isn’t the number itself -it’s intermission.

The boring, hot, slow, quiet, uneventful, waiting. It’s standing in the wings and being tempted to go over and touch that prop that isn’t yours, because OH MY OH, PLEASE MOVE IT ALONG.

We love the excitement of new ideas, new vision, and new plans in the business. I don’t know about you, but when I get that flash of “this is what we are doing next” there a new spring in my step emerges.

When I develop a new offer, realign myself with my commitments, or come up with a great new workshop, I want to get that thing from page to stage, like, NOW.

I’m actually living out Arthur in the Afternoon, but without the whole male escort thing. (Or maybe with it – you do you.)

Inevitably, however, the hustle has to exit stage left, and becomes hot-humdrum, and I find myself going from “on” to exhausted. Today, I’d like to take some time to call out that friction between the energy of the show-stopper and the exhaustion of intermission. I’d like to give you a tool I use to get through the boring parts of waiting in the wings.

Imma share with you one of the mantras I use to ground myself in motivations for working in the ebb and flow of hustle and humdrum, so that it’s sustainable for the long term running of my business.

Say it with me: “Laundry and Tosca.”


Laundry and Tosca

When I was in seminary [Yes, I have a theology degree. Long story. Bring wine.] I met filmmaker and writer Lauralee Farrer, and she mentored me throughout my stint in LA. She taught me about my voice. Not my voice. My VOICE.

One of her most relevant films for you and me is a documentary she made, Laundry and Tosca , which I was honored to be by Lauralee’s side as she submitted it to film festivals, and did the nitty gritty of getting it out there. [Another long story. More wine.]

It’s the story of Marcia Whitehead, who was just a lady with a $10/hr office job, who had nothing but a dream and a voice. A damn fine one that people told her would go nowhere because she didn’t take the path one is “supposed” to take.

I’ll spare you the details, as you can watch the whole thing here. It’s about 30 minutes.

Anywho, near the beginning of the film, we learn that Marcia lives in a world very much like we do, oscillating between the “sublime and the ridiculous.”

I often think of Marcia as I prep for big things. And when it gets hard, and boring, I just say this mantra, “Laundry and Tosca. Laundry and Tosca.”

For me, that oscillation came into sharp repair when I began pivoting the type of voice client I worked with. I was working a lot with dabbling artists, “testing the waters” middle schoolers, and some random older gentlemen. This was a wonderful fit when I was in seminary. I needed the flexibility and freedom.

When I moved to Santa Monica, and it was time to get consistent, I had to change who I marketed to so that I could be aligned with people who wanted a more consistent experience. I went alllllll the way. Sent emails, made phone calls, networked my butt off, had hubby code a website circa 2007. My Blackberry was full of contacts and I was a beast on that tiny keyboard. It was SO delightfully nerve wracking. I loved the hustle.

Until… there was nothing else to do except… laundry. And dishes. And waiting. It was torture. No matter how exciting it was to build a new thing, I still had to make dinner and take out the trash and clean the toilet. Talk about sad trombone.

So how did I get through it? Let me share two ways I experienced “Laundry and Tosca” and how it came to mean so much:

I embraced the magic in the mundane.

At some point, I realized that if this was going to be anyway sustainable, l’d have to find the magic in the mundane and let the mundane keep me grounded in the WHY and CAN. The endless emails and text messages, the website snaffu’s, having to do the dishes in between clients, and getting the laundry switched over before that online workshop begins.

For me, finding the magic allowed me to move forward on the crappy stuff I wanted to do, because they became part of the bigger picture and the reasons I had for developing my voice studio in the first place.

Without the what-seems-like endless emailing, I forget what it is to be in relationship.

Without the vacuuming, I miss the joy of silent work time.

Without the argument with WordPress, I fail to embrace the sense of accomplishment that comes with solving a problem.

Every dirty dish is a reminder that I have food on my table because of MY hustle, my choices, and my work.

Connecting the waiting backstage with preparedness and readiness (two different things!) is the best way to decompartmentalize all the bits of your identity that you need to run your micro-business. When getting the laundry done is directly connected to having your costumes all ready to go, it just makes more sense, and your brain will allow it to be easier for you.

Additionally, I had to reframe the mundane into something that connected me to the type of person that I wanted to be, since I had previously connected the mundane with being a boring, unimportant person who “just” taught voice lessons, and “just” directed choirs and shows.

I made mundane the enemy of Imposter Syndrome.

Every trip to the grocery grounded me in the fact that every human is working toward some personal mission, or calling, or quest. The trips to the grocery allowed me to uncover my inner critic and see, with my own eyeballs, that everyone still has to eat.

Everyone still has to make boring decisions. Decide between the two brew of coffee, or betwen the blueberry and vanilla scones. Everyone still has tiny choices – even George Clooney. I know this because I bumped smack into him at Peet’s coffee on Montana Ave in Santa Monica. Yes, he is that good looking in real life.

We all have to invoice, and budget, and go to the dentist.

Even the “important” people.

If important people can spill coffee, so can I. If important people can exit stage left and trip in the dark during black out, so can I.

So I made my mundane the enemy of my imposter syndrome. If important people do mundane, that makes ME, and YOU, important people too. And so maybe I am not an imposter after all! and neither are you.

Make Business Boring Again

After the frenetic energy of putting up a show – all the rehearsals, and costume fittings, and tiny arguments during tech, culminate into a burst of awesomeness that is, eventually, rewarded with the slog of performing the show over and over again.

It’s so easy to confuse the energy of starting something new with the energy of building and managing that new thing. The hustle and high that comes with getting our act together so easily becomes habit, that when we stop feeling that way, we think something has gone wrong. We aren’t doing enough.

I’m here to tell you that it’s 100% A-Okay for business to be boring.

The mundane can be a place where you find magic moments of grounding joy and connection to your goals. The mundane can be a place where you find strength and confidence.

And when you find yourself in the back and forth of the ridiculous and sublime, you, too, can repeat with me, “Laundry and Tosca”, “Laundry and Tosca.”

All my BeastyBoss,

Michelle Markwart Deveaux blog signature

P.S. A new-to-my studio voice client mentioned the other day that they thought the FAQ section of my website was funny… have you seen it? I’m so curious what y’all think, because FCK is in the middle of a total makeover, and I am trying to decide on whether to keep the FAQ’s or not. Check them out here, and leave me a comment below.

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4 Comments

  1. Heather Statham

    Not that I don’t love and appreciate you already, but for the simple fact that you reference “Arthur in the Afternoon” as part of your ideal circumstances makes me soooooo happy!!!! And on top of that, this wonderful reminder to make special the every day things we have to do is right on time!

    Reply
    • Michelle Markwart Deveaux

      😂😂😂😂 best comment ever. Thank you for appreciating my Kander and Ebb love. Even more so- thanks for commenting and sharing that this was timely and helpful!

      Reply
  2. Sarah Bucher

    I think I shed a little tear, and I am about as far from sappy as you can get. Seriously, I’m not a gusher – ask anyone. But THIS hit home for me. I haven’t been to your site in a very long minute, and wondered over today. So glad I did! Thank you for verbalizing some feelings for me and making them acceptable. You rock!

    Reply
    • Michelle Markwart Deveaux

      It’s really my pleasure. I think it’s about time we normalize what it means to run a micro-business. Like REALLY run a micro-business. Especially as people who have responsibilities and/or caretaking outside of the business. Somedays, it’s agony. Other days, a welcome respite.

      You aren’t alone!

      And thank you for thinking I rock! That feels great!

      Reply

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