Meg Biram designs a creative career

Does it look like hanging out with Meg Biram would be fun? Well, it is! She is fun (and gorgeous!)  very smart and super down to earth! Meg is a social media and branding  strategist, life style blogger and artist! I was surprised to learn that she got her start at Hallmark. She says she learned a lot working for a large creative company and it shows. Meg knows how to get things done, work with big brands and how to expertly adapt to the changing world of blogging and social media.

You can keep an eye on her as she starts up the Creative Collective in D.C.  grows the B-Bar and as she has fun and paints on instagram! Smart cookie for sure! Meg is one to watch!



You can follow Meg on instagram here  



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Passion, Skill and Talent

By guest contributor Tom Henell (Today’ topic is a hot one in our home  and I would love your thoughts xoxo Monica)


Have you ever watched American Idol, or a similar reality TV show?  You know the early season where they show the excruciating auditions, because they think it is entertaining?  There is inevitably at least one contestant who is terrible, but genuinely doesn’t seem to know it.  The judges, either gently or harshly depending on which show you are watching, will tell them singing (dancing, juggling, comedy, etc.) is not for them and they should pursue another passion.  The contestant storms out and tells the cameraman, “those judges don’t know talent when they see it, I’m going to be famous.”  We cringe and wonder, who ever told them they have talent?  Then we realize it was us!

Our generation has embraced the “you can do anything” mindset.  We tell our children, and ourselves, to pursue our passions, don’t listen to the criticism of others, and persistence will triumph over talent.  But, what if this is not true?  What if we have been telling lies, and have created a shroud of delusion over reality?

I don’t mean to be a cynic.  I believe in pursuing our passions more than the average person.  However, I believe we have confused the differences between passion, skill, and talent. 

Passion is the easiest.  It is the enthusiasm or excitement we have for something, or the act of doing something.  It is our primary instinct that we love something, and although it can be fueled by others, it has to arise out of our inner desires.

Skill is something you earn.  Skill is the physical execution or performance of a task.  Skills can come more naturally to some than others, but is only developed and refined through repetition (practice).  Skill is best exemplified by the “10,000 hour rule”; made famous by Malcom Gladwell in his book, Outliers, and based on a study by Anders Ericsson.  The premise is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any particular field or study.


John Lavery

Talent is the hardest because it is cannot be earned or faked.  Talent is what we are born with.  It may be a higher lung capacity to run or the delicate coordination required to draw and paint.  It is the natural capability we have to do something better than others.

Now that we understand these three elements, there are certain formulas that can assist us in finding our best paths in life.

Passion does not equate to skill or talent.  The simple fact that we are passionate about something does not mean we can succeed at it.

Skill is required regardless of passion.  It does not matter how much we love something, there are no shortcuts.  It is always required to put our time in and earn the skills for whatever endeavor we are pursuing.  I’ve heard it said, “There is no glory in practice, but without practice there is no glory”.

Finally, success is usually when our passion, skill, and talent align.  We need to understand that sometimes we have talents in areas where we do not have passion.  Simply because we have the talent does not mean that we should pursue something.  Furthermore, often talents go undiscovered as we have not explored those particular areas.

The key is to keep trying. 

Explore different things until you find that you have both the passion and a potential talent.  Then work hard to develop your skill.  It is when these three areas come together that success happens.

My thoughts-The words Passions, Skills and Talents are words we are so closely married to as creatives and it was an interesting when Tom handed me this post. I have a funny (and often uncomfortable) relationship with the word “talent” since it has been assigned to me by my family since I was young. I had always believed that you were not “born” with it but it was something you nurtured which by Tom’s definition might be considered skill. When I read Tom’s definitions below, I immediately thought of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with his long arms and body made for swimming. What if he had never jumped into a pool? Is there something you have not tired yet? When I have a tough time defining things, I apply it to areas outside of my own genre so I can look at it objectively. Tell me what you think in the comments below! You can read more of Tom posts here.


Who and What I am into this Week: The New Sweatsuit


I love it when a good old friend returns to the fashion scene. This season I have seen more choices in our snuggly, washable favorite, the sweatshirt. Just as the air is beginning to chill, to warm for wool but too breezy for tank tops, I have seen variations of sweatshirts that are cut perfectly for a girl who is doesn’t want to be squeezed into her clothing all the time. This is not about buying a new sweatshirt next to a tub of pretzels at a warehouse store (just say no to the old Champions and the pretzels) To make sure it feels up to date, keep an eye on cut, color and fun details.

I am DYING for these “jeans” that are really sweatpants above! Yup, those are sweatpants! Brilliant. I would be happy to sport those around town AND sit in them all day at my desk! Genius from the women who invented the velour tracksuit at Juicy Couture. Now Pam and Gela have developed a new line in it’s 3rd season, yum. These women truly understand what someone wants to live in!

Zara (Love the side zip details and the pleated hem!)



If you are at all familiar with the concept of cost per wear then you will be all over this because you know you will gravitate towards these yummy sweats everyday. It’s all in the styling, ladies. Dress them up and go to dinner or tuck in and read a good book!

JCrew (I just bought the bottoms and am pretty sure I need that shell pink top!)



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Jaclyn Carlson from Blog Society

My guest today is blogger and creative community leader, Jaclyn Carlson. Jaclyn is an expat with a super cute accent who pulled up stakes in the US and moved to Australia. She was in search of creative folks to hangout with  so Blog Society was born! Jaclyn is another fabulous example of a women gathering like minded people in her community and via the internet. Her community is not just growing in the country she resides in but It IS possible to hang out “in person” with people that love the same things that you do! The catch is YOU might have to be the person to put it all together! Think bravely and listen into this interview where Jaclyn talks about how she built this passionate online and offline community! She has SO many ideas, tune in! If you are listening from Australia, Jaclyn wants to meet you!!




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Jessica Swift creates a Pattern Camp!

Tuesday Sept 30th! One day only Jessicas is offering a FREE copy of her e-book JUMP RUST REPEAT if you sign up for Pattern Camp!



Today I am talking to Jessica Swift about her new program, Pattern Camp It’s a fun weekend online event where you can virtually meet up in your jammies and let Jessica teach you what she knows about making patterns in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Ms. Swift knows quite a bit about making patterns! Her lovely art has graced fabric, totes, rain boots, journals, all sorts of cute stuff!

Registration begins on Thursday September 11, 2014. TODAY!! 


When: Saturday and Sunday October 11-12, 2014  //  8am – 4pm PST each day

Where: the course takes place online, at

Price: $189 USD (except if you sign up before 9/15 then it is $159!!) 

What: Pattern Camp is an intensive, 2-day online workshop that will teach people how to create their own repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in just 2 days. Live participation is not required — all the lessons are video-based and written, so participants can work through the material at their convenience. Access to the course and all the lessons will be available for one month after the end of the weekend. A private Facebook group will also be available and encouraged.

Click here to view more details! (It’s an affiliate because I love and believe in all things Jessica!)




Jane Hamill from Fashion Brain Academy

Jane Hamill is my guest today and she is on a mission! Jane Says, “My goal is for every designer to make a living using their creativity while becoming business savvy – even if you hate sales and cringe at the idea of a marketing plan.”

As a former fashion designer and retail store owner, she is a woman with experience and she wants to share her experience with YOU. I loved talking to her-she offers such great wisdom even if you aren’t into fashion-she is offering up advice to any creator, maker, and artist in this interview. She talks about her own start which is a  fabulous, gutsy story! Fashion Brain  Academy offers online training courses and private coaching for fashion designers and creative entrepreneurs. She has a live bootcamp event this week in Chicago (and I get to go!) Too fun!

Tune in to today’s episode and soak up some of Jane’s wisdom for the savvy creative business woman in you!



Failure IS an option

Tom Henell is the husband of Monica Lee-Henell and chief marketing officer of our household. Recently we got him to share his wisdom over on the atly platform via a course titled Marketing 101. He is guest posting this week while Monica runs around NYC.


If I could provide you one piece of advice it would be to marry someone who is smarter than you.  It makes life so much easier when your spouse identifies your issues, challenges and solutions for you.  Now for the record, should you feel you may have already gone down the wrong road on this decision, don’t make any drastic changes.  Take pride in the fact that your spouse followed this advice…one of you had to.  But, I’m not here to provide marriage advice.  My intent was to talk about how we make decisions…big decisions!

The other evening, my lovely wife pointed out to me that despite my professional success, I have always worked either for someone, or with someone, and I have not undertaken an endeavor that was completely mine.  She further alluded that when you work for someone, it is easy to point the finger when things do not work out as expected.  When we are not completely in charge, we can blame others for limiting our potential.

The truth is, even when we are in charge, we tend to blame others for limiting our potential.  Specifically, we create excuses why things won’t work out even before we attempt them.  We may understand that we are not completely satisfied in our current role, but we blame time, money, and circumstances for why we cannot chase our dreams.  These excuses can be summarized as the fear of failure.  We are so afraid of failure, that we convince ourselves not to try.

My question for you is, why are we afraid?  Often times we mistakenly assume that staying loyal to the status quo is safer than forging our own trail.  I have news for you, there are no guarantees.  No guarantees of security if you continue doing what you are doing, and no guarantees that a new venture will be successful.

Considering that you only live once, would you rather stay stagnant and build a lifetime of regret, or would you rather take a chance and see what happens?

Too often we exaggerate the potential impact of choices in our lives (other than that choice to marry someone who wasn’t smarter than you).  Our lives are not a trial run for the next run around.  Given the option, I like to think I would choose to take a chance and fail, over the option of playing it safe and living a life that did not live up to my full potential.

There are numerous historical examples of individuals who failed, yet continued on to significant success.  Consider this quote from basketball legend Michael Jordan, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”  Failure is like jumping off the high dive.  It’s scary and everyone is watching you.  But, once you do it, you realize it’s not that bad, and you are ready to try again.

Accepting that failure IS an option is the first step to breaking out and living the life that you really want.  To be clear, I am not saying we should expect failure.  I am saying that we should not fear it.  For anything that we fear, controls us.  If we can loosen the control that fear of failure has over us, it gives us freedom to explore our dreams.

This won’t happen overnight, and I’m just exploring it myself.  But, I do believe it.  I believe that failure is not the opposite of success, it is simply a stepping stone in the process.


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