Wednesday night, Fred Goodall and I hosted little blogging workshop at the Four Seasons hotel downtown (thanks to sponsors Blogalicious and Kellogg's, and extra-special thanks to those of you who came, it was wonderful meeting and seeing you all!). The session was designed for beginning bloggers, two questions came up that I haven't stopped thinking about since.
The first question had to do with creating a niche in blogging. "I've always heard that in developing your blog, you should have a niche," she said. "I'm not sure that I have a niche -- I just write what I write. And I'm a little uncomfortable in developing one. Am I wrong?"
And secondly, another attendee offered a question related to sponsored work: "How do you avoid PR people and brands defining your work? How do you keep them from taking over your site?"
I loved both these questions, because they were ones I wrestled with when I did my latest site redesign -- and turned to my friend Asha Dornfest as a sounding board. "Karen," she said, "we're always trying to come up with how we can be new, different and fresh, but we forget that we, ourselves -- each of us -- is what's new, different and fresh. We're unique."
Asha's words returned to me as I answered the questions in the room that night. "You are your own niche," I think were my exact words. "Simply be very clear about your passion, and why you're blogging -- write it down, if it helps -- and use it as your guidepost and your touchstone. Don't let anyone decide who or what you're about. You are your own niche."
Since that night, it occurs to me that this goes way beyond blogging or social media -- it works for every single profession we're in. No matter what your work, in whatever career, there are obviously rules -- but then, there are also ways in which you approach your work where you have some creativity and leeway: how you use your own unique talents, strengths or even idiosyncrasies to make your job one that you enjoy, that harnesses your passions.
The trick is figuring out what those are, right? Figuring out what you stand for.
You are your own niche.
In seemingly-unrelated-but-maybe-related news, this week I received my August issue of my American Bar Association Journal, and in it there's an article with the words "Attorney as Healer" scrawled over its feature photo.
I know. I was sort of stunned myself.
The article discusses "the burgeoning integrative law movement, which views law as a healing profession." The attorney in the photo, Sean Mason, who does estate planning and divorce mediation, says he helps "clients express love for the people who matter most in their lives," and uses this as the guiding principle in his practice.
Right on, man. I love this idea of turning a traditionally competitive profession on its head. And I'm particularly excited to hear that the concept of integrative law is catching among my fellow attorneys.
You are your own niche. And let's face it, if attorneys can change the reputation of our profession as being cutthroat, shark-like and highly stressful to one that is contemplative and collaborative, you have to think anyone can create a niche within their own careers.
In even less-related news, this week I also stumbled across the work of artist Soo Sunny Park, an installation artist whose work, "Unwoven Light," is currently being featured at Rice Gallery at Rice University here in Houston. I love all art, but I think I particularly love installation artists: I love how they take anything -- yarn, license plates and beer bottle tops, or even chain link fencing, like in these photos -- and turn them into experiential art: art you can walk around, and in, and under. I love how their work so often defies definition. I love how their work adds new dimension to any space.
I love how they are their own niche.
Alex and I went to see Soo Sunny Park's work in person yesterday, and truly, my images don't do it justice. The colours are so vibrant, sparkling at every turn -- and honestly, I bet it's even more spectacular later in the evening, when the bright, midday sun isn't competing with the incandescent spotlights in the gallery space. Alex and I were gobsmacked.
If you're in Houston, it's definitely worth a visit, especially since the gallery to view the art is open to the public and free.
And the 6-minute video below will give an even better taste of what it feels like to be there (click on the image below, or this link here, to watch).
And on that note, have a spectacular (and sparkly) weekend, friends. See you on Monday.