Helping Creative People Create

Danielle LaPorte on the Fire Starter Sessions

interview with Danielle LaPorte and her Fire Starter Sessions

If you don’t know Danielle, than you seriously should. She’s one of my favorite people online. Quirky, fun, and man does she know how to kick entrepreneurs in the arse. My kinda lady.

Are you doing what you love? Why aren’t you? Danielle has helped countless people figure out how to make money doing what they truly love.

Seriously, I can’t say enough about the lady. She recently launched the Fire Starter Sessions to the tune of massive success, then for her birthday generously let people pay whatever they could for the kit. Another massive success.

The FSS is something I would recommend to anyone who wants to a) figure out what it is they love and b) how to make money doing it.

Anyway, here’s her awesome interview. Take notes, kids. This is pure gold.

Glen: So Danielle, how does one truly figure out what their IDEAL occupation should be? Can you give us a little bit on your “metrics of ease”?

Danielle: Your most valuable currency is what comes most naturally to you. This is a radical concept for so many of us. We’re trained to fit in, to be well-rounded, to multi-task. We tend to push our way through. Fuhget it! When I stopped trying to be great at the things I was merely good at, I freed up my creativity and my intellectual power. And then I got it, I really got it: when I was doing what came so naturally to me, I was more productive, more innovative, more…at ease. Conclusion: easy is right. The “flow” is where the power is.

So when do you feel amazing? What activities cause you to feel useful, vital, better-than-before? When do you have that “there’s more where that came from” feeling? What feels so good and so easy to give that you give it generously? Do more of that — and get paid to do it — until that’s all you’re doing with your life.

Glen: In the FSS you make a huge emphasis on making money NOW. How can putting an emphasis on bringing cash through the door help with the creative process?

Danielle LaPorte, author of Fire Starter Sessions

Danielle: No money. No business. Simple. I’ve seen so many solo-preneurs get tripped up on getting their branding just right before they can go after clients, or having business cards printed so they can start networking, or putting staff policies in place so they can give great customer service. Once you know what you have to offer, just go get the business. Start. Pick up the phone. Work it. Move the energy. Take the risk. THAT’s creativity.

And there’s nothing like prosperity to fuel your creative fire. Pressure is useful, you know, “necessity and invention” n’ all that. But a zero PayPal account or an empty store will chip away at your innovative spirit. You’ve got to see it working. You’ve got to be eating. Even the most maverick artists need proof of love from their audience.

So my formula is this:

In terms of business growth, FIRST, focus on doing what makes you the most money, the fastest.

Get the money in the door. The whole point of the first three years of business is to SURVIVE.

Simultaneous to doing what makes you the most money the fastest, your SECOND line of action is to focus on doing what makes you the most money. The fast money may not be the Big Money. But you need to make time to work on the Big Money-making projects, though they tend to take longer to manifest. And they require the greatest creativity and innovation juice.

Glen: Money and Art seem to always be at odds. This is a massive deal for MANY wanting to stay true to themselves, but still make money. Good money, even.

So here’s the Million Dollar Question: How do you create a personal brand, without selling out?

Danielle: If you’re making art, you are not separate from your brand. I make my livelihood as an artist (of words, philosophy and strategy), and I always cringe a bit when people asked me how I developed my “brand.” I didn’t. I developed my self, my art, and then I put it on display and trusted that the “right” people would dig it, and pay for it.

If you create a personal brand that isn’t deeply personal, you’ve already sold out.

The vast majority of artists I know (from writers and craftspeople, to software developers and designers) don’t have any quams with making money – and lot’s of it if possible. What makes them all weird is the marketing of their stuff, they don’t want to sell out and become an infomercial. It understandable, because we live in a culture of false advertising and the slick, hard sell. It’s dangerous turf for sure. But this is where you need to diligently carry your personality forward. It’s not enough to have an authentic, integrity-driven offering, you need to sell it in a way that is true for you. If you’re slick, be slick. If you’re subtle, be subtle. Just be consistent. And above all, be passionately proud of what you’re bringing to the world.

Glen: What’s your number one tip for creatives who want to make a career out of their dreams?

Danielle: 1) Know what lights your fire and go out of your way to fuel that fire.
There’s a reason why every mystic and rocking CEO says, in one way or another, that passion is The Key to success. Because it is. Passion gets your endorphins pumping, it feeds your brain, it supports your soul and gives your life meaning. And passion persuades – and persuasion generates financial freedom.

2) Know how much money you want to make a year.
This makes things very, very real. Dreams and purpose are only one part of the equation. When you anchor the creative to the practical, you’re wielding some serious manifestation mojo. Would $50k or $150k a year float your boat? Great. What do you need to do to bring that in? How many units do you need to ship? How many workshops do you need to fill? What can you do by the end of the day to get where you want to go? Do it.


Thanks Danielle for a wonderful interview. So whatcha think? Is she spot on? Have any questions? Post ’em below.

Check out the Fire Starter Sessions

If you’d like to learn more about the passion + art = money process, check out the Fire Starter Sessions.

It made the hallowed list of my favorite creative tools, so you know it’s something awesome ;)

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth June 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I’ve always had a certain degree of ambivalence about the counsel to “do what comes naturally to you”.

On the one hand, it’s true that “doing what comes naturally” is an expression of your uniqueness, and of course, it is gratifying to excel at what you’re doing.

On the other hand, it also feels good to improve the areas at which one naturally sucks.

An example: I am a very good singer. It comes easily to me. I find great joy in it.

But, I am not a good athlete. Actually, I’m not an athlete at all.

But after some big life changes, I started to hike, then run. And now, I am a trail runner. A very slow, very easy trail, trail runner. But still. I ran 10+ miles on Sunday. And I’m adding mileage slowly and sustainably.

And I feel so awesome about my trail running. I feel strong and confident. I feel if I can work with my stubbornly not athletic body, and be disciplined, that I can do almost anything.

Singing never made me feel like that, because it came naturally.

Of course, I know I’m not going to make a living from trail running (I’d have to be about a zillion times better to make that the remotest of possibilities).

So my question (for Danielle, or anyone) is: How does one (do you) balance this concept of “doing what comes naturally” with pushing one’s (your) limits?

Thanks for the thought provoking interview.


Danielle LaPorte June 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm

most excellent question. I think it matters “why” you’re pushing your limits. In your case, it sounds like it’s pure personal growth – an inner expansion that comes from stretching your physical bounds. Cool. (inspires me to get off my ass. seriously.)

And, like you say, “I’d have to be about a zillion times better to make {living off of trail running} the remotest of possibilities.” And in this context — being an entrepreneur, making the coin day in and day out — you need way more than remote possibilities. Which is why focusing on what you’re naturally amazing at, and leveraging that, puts you so much closer to success (happiness + cash.)


Ruth June 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Thanks Danielle,

That makes perfect sense.

And awesome if I can inspire anyone in any way.

What I most especially love about trail running (or hiking) is that I get to push myself physically, while interacting with nature, while experiencing the most delicious kind of solitude.

It makes it much easier to keep at it for me than if it were purely physical.

So even though it “doesn’t come naturally”, passion definitely comes into it. I am truly passionate about connecting with nature and solitude.


ABCcreativity June 22, 2010 at 7:28 pm

ruth, i am working with the fss and that is really one of the things that has struck me the most, and been the most powerful for me.

by stopping doing what i’m just good or competent at, to focus solely on what i am amazing at – i become more amazing at those things. and so i am really pushing myself to be the absolute best i can be, at the stuff i am the absolute best at.

the bar just keeps being raised.

this one thing has totally transformed how i approach my work and how i build my business and i will be forever grateful to danielle for that.


glen June 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Whoo hoo! Another satisfied customer ;)


Sue June 22, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Loved this. Short and sassy. It crazes me how we get stuck thinking the work we do has to be full of struggle and suffering. Following our passions is easy, once you figure it out. I liked the balance of knowing how much you want to make in a year. Practical advice that often gets forgotten. Thanks.


Carmen Torbus June 22, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Wonderful insight. I adore Danielle.


Rasmus June 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Awesome interview. Great questions, kick-ass answers. I got a few fresh ideas, just reading this. And a dose of motivation to boot.

I am certainly guilty of not being good enough at going for the money. I tend to focus on “building content” or work on long term projects, because they are “more important”. This was a great reminder that there has to be a balance there. Especially in the money department, since money also happens to be one of the biggest stress factors.

Thank you!


Manisha Thakor June 25, 2010 at 3:43 pm

“Know how much money you want to make a year.”

BRAVO! Sooooo true, Danielle. Such wise words you speak. And I find that for women entrepreneurs / solopreneurs this can be extra tricky turf because so many women grew up with mixed messages about money. Here’s to business people of all genders putting their true selves out there loud & proud.

If you are adding value to your clients – there is nothing wrong with earning a health revenue stream in exchange. Creativity, Art, and Money can be stirred together – and still taste sweet as honey!


Kip June 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

This is an awesome interview and great information.

One thing that I don’t see here seems to be the initial building block. How do you monitize your passion. I think a lot of individuals out there want to be entrepreneurs, but try to hard to generate the cash and compartmentalize their passion, or claim that there passion is just making money. Their leisure time activities are just that, for leisure and they do not make the connection that their leisure activity can generate money.

I often find that unless you point it out to them they don’t get that ah ha moment on their own.


glen June 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

Exactly. Leisure activities usually come easily, so most people don’t realize that what comes easy to them just might be there passion.



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