How Did I Get Here?

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  

I used to think that most people had a clear idea of what they wanted to be, but now it seems that very few actually do. There are some who just know what they’re meant to do, but for many of us it’s a constant journey to figure it out. I just sort of fell into my career as I was making my way through life. So, for anyone who wonders how I got here, here’s my backstory.

As I kid/teen, I enjoyed all sorts of things. I read, drew, sang in the choir, played viola in the orchestra, tutored other students, played the guitar, painted, studied photography, and built theater sets. I probably enjoyed the creative activities the most, but I also knew I wanted security in my life and didn’t think I should rely on any kind of artistic talent I may have had. 

When I turned 16, I got my first job at TCBY and found that I had an inherent curiosity about how the business functioned. I observed the systems that were in place and listened to the owner, managers, and my coworkers whenever they complained about something. I started to find solutions in my head for scheduling issues, inventory problems, and opening/closing procedures. It felt like pieces of a puzzle were falling into place and I could see the bigger picture. I started offering suggestions, and by the time I graduated high school, I was managing the store.

I started college as a Business major just because it seemed fairly universal in how it could be applied. I enjoyed learning the basics at school while also getting actual work experience, still at TCBY and also building spreadsheets for a customer who owned a real estate business. It was important for me to be independent, keep learning, and stay financially responsible. I didn’t get much sleep, but juggling the full-time job, part-time job, and full-time course load made me very good at time management and multitasking. 

When I was 21, I started getting a bit restless. I felt that if I didn’t force myself to make a big change, I might get stuck in complacency, which I definitely didn’t want to do. So without a real plan, I trusted my instincts and moved to LA, where I got a job as the business manager for a post production audio house. I had no idea what post production was, but I was happy to learn. I spent a year getting  their systems in order and developing a better understanding of the industry. I even took some music publishing classes at UCLA so I could help build a new division of the company.

But overall, my time in LA wasn’t great, and I came back to Vegas the following year. I started working at a production company that was barely functioning in a high level of chaos. So I jumped in, got everything organized, and became the Operations Manager, while also learning more about the different elements of production. A few years later, another production company in a similar situation recruited me to be its Director of Operations. I spent ten years there and pretty much worked in every capacity possible – manager, producer, accountant, coordination, casting, locations, post supervisor, etc. It was a lot of fun for the most part, but I still didn’t feel like I was doing what I was meant to do.

In 2015, I decided to go back to school to finish my degree, hoping I’d somehow be inspired. But what I found was that I already knew more than what was being taught in the Business Management program. It covered the basics, but it didn’t get into important things like how to set prices, how to interact with clients and employees, how much to save for taxes depending on your business setup, what deductions are allowed, etc. I talked to a number of people with MBAs who somewhat sheepishly admitted that, even though they had the fancy degrees, they struggled when they started working because their education didn’t translate as much to real world as they anticipated.

And that’s where Aardvark Girl was born. I realized that I knew most of what I knew because I was driven, determined, and I figured it all out for myself. And while I’m grateful I was able to do that, I feel like I can help others so they don’t have to do it alone. Running a business can be overwhelming, but it can also be incredibly validating. I still love production work, and I’m fortunate to have great clients who trust me to handle their projects. But the coaching/consulting (I still haven’t found a word I like for that) element came into play because I genuinely want to help people and make a positive difference in their lives. I get a different level of fulfillment when I’m working one-on-one with business owners and individuals to help guide them towards their goals. I especially like working with creatives because I’m able to handle the details while they can focus on what they’re meant to do.

So, it was never my dream to be any of the things I am now. It took a combination of hard work, intuition, and timing to get here. And even though I love what I’m doing, I’m also constantly evolving, looking for new opportunities and ways to expand what my career looks like. And I’m pretty sure I’ll never settle on just one thing.

So if you feel like you don’t have any idea what you should be doing, you’re not alone. Keep trying new things. Know that it’s okay to take chances. You’re allowed to change your mind, as many times as you want. Keep doing whatever you need to do to find the work that makes you happy. No matter how old you are, if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, just keep searching until you do. Appreciate learning along the way, knowing that the journey itself can be just as rewarding as the destination.

New Year - Time to do the Work

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.
— Ben Stein

Many look at the first of the year as a chance to start over. Whether it’s making resolutions, setting goals, or declaring an intention for the year ahead, you must first be clear about what you really want to accomplish. Be honest with yourself, focused on your plan, and dedicated to making the effort. It’s important to be both optimistic about your potential and realistic about what you can achieve.

But, most of all, you have to be ready and willing to do the work.

How often do we hear the stories of those looking for the magic solution? How can we get rich without effort? Lose weight without diet and exercise? Where is the quick fix to all of the world’s problems? The answer lies in the work. We can’t just sit back and wait for all the things to come to us. We have to go out and make them happen for us. We need to do the work and stop making excuses.

So what is your biggest goal right now? What is standing in your way? If you think you don’t have the time or the money or the talent, you’re probably wrong. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started.

If time is the issue, how can you prioritize to make better use of your day? Do you have to watch that TV show, or can you use that hour to work on your goal?

If you can’t afford it, how can you budget to make room for what you need? Do you have to buy that fancy cup of coffee every morning, or can you put that money away for your dream project?

If you need to improve your skills, how can you put more effort into practicing? Are you really applying yourself to the best of your ability?

So much of the work starts with mindset and changing your habits. Even small shifts in your perspective every day can get you closer to where you want to be. When you feel that ugly word “can’t” creeping into your thoughts, find a way to correct it. What can you do? You have the ability to make your wishes come true. You just have to believe it, and do the work to make it happen.

Tell me one thing you will do today to get yourself one step closer to the thing you want most. If you need a little help getting motivated, organized, or just being held accountable for your progress, please reach out. I offer private coaching for business owners and individuals in hourly session and long-term packages (1-month, 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year options), so you can choose the solution that is best for you. 

Let’s work together this year to achieve our goals!

"Out of My Comfort Zone" vs. "Not Right For Me"

I recently talked a little about getting out of my comfort zone after I ended up with a role in my friend’s play without any warning. It gave me a great deal of internal anxiety, but I survived it. And when my heartbeat returned to its normal pace, I was even proud of myself for doing something “old Amanda” never would’ve attempted. It led me to some self-reflection and the realization of what it took to get there. I was able to identify the actions that led me to do something I probably wouldn’t have done even a year ago.

Last year, I started teaching business workshops at The Voice Actors Studio. Helping others is a big part of why I started Aardvark Girl in the first place, and it was a perfect opportunity to help these students who are starting to build their own businesses. The problem, especially at the time, is that I don’t like talking in front of big groups. My voice doesn’t project well (maybe not the best trait when working with people who use their voices for a living) and I always feel like I’m awkward. But I knew it was something I had to get over.

Luckily, I was able to sort of ease into it. I co-taught the first couple of classes with friends (and other coaches at the studio) who helped me feel more comfortable. I did a few of those throughout the year, started working one-on-one with some of the students, and started teaching my own workshops as well. I still don’t love being at the front of a room with a bunch of people staring at me, but the more comfortable I became with the studio community, the less anxiety I got about these classes. In addition, getting so much positive feedback and appreciation made me realize that I am making a difference for these people, and that’s something I truly enjoy. I’m still awkward, but I don’t think anybody really cares about that. It’s just who I am, and that’s okay! 

Sometimes it takes a series of small steps to get to the next level, so you just have to make yourself try a little bit at a time until you get to where you want to be.

So I changed some boundaries of my comfort zone, but then I had another realization that I think is equally important. I was having tea with another producer friend after seeing “A Star is Born” (which is excellent, by the way) and we were talking about career moves and ideas. She had a suggestion for me that was great in theory, but it’s something that would involve a lot of networking and schmoozing. That is definitely out of my comfort zone, but in a different way.

Talking in front of a large group is uncomfortable to me, but it’s something I can get used to, and better at, over time. But taking on a role that would require me to regularly be in large groups, in loud environments, in more elaborate settings, isn’t just outside of my comfort zone – it’s outside of the personal makeup of who I am. My introversion makes it so that I do best in small groups. I can force myself to be social in certain situations, but there’s a certain point where I hit a wall, get incredibly uncomfortable, and need to get away to decompress. It’s not something I can realistically change, so a career path that would require me to be in those scenarios a lot just wouldn’t be a good fit for me.

So while I think it’s necessary for us all to push ourselves to do new things and challenge ourselves to accomplish what we’re not entirely sure we can, I think it’s equally important to be true to who we are. We need to understand when it’s time to improve or change an aspect of our lives, or when trying something new is going to cause more stress than it’s worth.

It’s vital to have the self-awareness to know the difference between what we’re apprehensive about and what is genuinely not right for us. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. When do you push yourself to get out of your comfort zone, and when do you decide something just isn’t for you?

Every Brilliant Thing

I consider myself to be emotionally neutral. I don’t feel too many things and tend to think too much. I rarely get excited, elated, or surprised, but I’m also hardly ever angry, sad, or scared. I’m just generally content. My mom gets irritated when I call myself a robot, but I don’t mean it in a self-deprecating way. I just have a more logical approach to situations than one based on feelings. My pragmatism has served me well in my life and career, but sometimes it makes it difficult to connect with others because I just seem to see the world differently than most.

I think that’s probably why I’m so drawn to artistic types, and why my business niche is working with creatives. Being around those who have freer spirits and know how to express themselves helps me understand a perspective I don’t always know firsthand, and in return I’m able to help them get more organized and grounded. Being around that energy keeps my right brain active and stops me from living TOO much in my left brain. It helps me keep the balance I find so important.

I also think that’s why music and art have always been such a big part of my life. Sometimes those are the only things that really make me emotional. I go to a lot of concerts, art exhibits, and other artistic performances in search of that inspiration, that moment of actual feeling, even if it’s fleeting. And even though I’m often told I don’t look like I’m enjoying myself, I truly cherish those moments. So when one lasts longer than usual, I take notice.

A couple weekends ago, I went to see my friend Marcus in “Every Brilliant Thing.” I didn’t know anything about the story, but because I know a few people who were involved in the production, I felt I should be there to offer my support. Imagine my surprise when I got there and learned it required audience participation, something which I typically go out of my way to avoid. Seriously. I’m that person who will slink down as far as possible in her chair and avoid eye contact, hoping that will be the precise moment I’m able to tap into some type of superhero invisibility cloak. So when Marcus handed me a piece of paper with a list of things I was to read during the performance, I was pretty apprehensive. But, in my ongoing quest to get out of my comfort zone (something I’ll elaborate on in a future post), I decide to just go with it.

As the play began, I was instantly drawn into the story about a boy who makes a list of every brilliant thing he can think of in hopes of cheering up his suicidal mother. This list becomes a guiding force as he navigates the ups and downs of his own life, eventually becoming the catharsis that heals him. Marcus had great material to work with, but it was his ability to connect emotionally, both with the character he was playing and with the audience, that really made an impact on me. He beautifully maneuvered from heartbreaking to humorous, and truly made everyone feel invested and included.

You can see it in this photo:

Marcus Weiss in “Every Brilliant Thing” at the Cockroach Theatre in Las Vegas, NV  Photo Credit: Melissa Moats, 09.28.18

Marcus Weiss in “Every Brilliant Thing” at the Cockroach Theatre in Las Vegas, NV
Photo Credit: Melissa Moats, 09.28.18

(We’ll skip past the fact that my role was not as simple as just reading a word on a piece of paper, but forced me into the center of the theater where my character proposed to his. So much for my invisibility superpower.) Instead, just look at the expressions on the faces in the audience – that is genuine emotion there. That’s real. I truly admire his ability to bring that out in people, and their willingness to let him.

The show also affected me because this concept, the idea of appreciating all the little things, is how I live my life. It’s why, when people ask me about success, I give positive mindset equal billing with hard work. My optimism is what guides me. The ability to find something, anything good in even the worst situations, is what keeps me moving forward. It’s what keeps me happy. It’s so easy to get lost in that search for something bigger, something better, something different, that we forget to acknowledge how many great things we already have.

So if you’re feeling stuck in some part of your life, why not start making your own list of every brilliant thing? The play covered everything from ice cream to Christopher Walken’s hair to the way Ray Charles sings the word “you” in “Drown in My Own Tears.” Your list can be anything you want. Even if it’s just one thing a day, find a way to be grateful for something. Actively focusing on the positive can have a huge effect on your overall state of mind. So decide to find the good in the world. Choose to be happy. Even if you’re emotionally neutral like me.

 In this moment, here are five brilliant things to me:

  • Seeing a friend for the first time in several years but feeling like no time has passed

  • When a song you’ve heard thousands of times still gives you goosebumps

  • Rainstorms

  • Watching your cat drag a toy three times her size across the house just to give it to you

  • When something is so funny it makes you laugh out loud even when you’re alone (there is a new Flight of the Conchords special on HBO that just did this, in case you’re wondering)

Remembering to Be Strong

One year ago today, I was getting ready for bed when I got a text message from my brother asking if I was okay. It was confusing at first, because it was much later than he normally texts, and he never asks if I’m okay (we’re not big on small talk; it’s assumed that unless we say otherwise, everything is fine). His wife had told him there had been a shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, and knowing that I go to a lot of shows, he was concerned. Fortunately, I wasn’t there.

I couldn’t go to sleep that night, as I kept reading and watching the reports of what was happening. Videos amplified the sounds of shots being fired while terrified people ran for their lives, tried frantically to help those who had been hit, and cried in disbelief at this senseless tragedy. One by one, people marked themselves as “safe” on Facebook. We heard from friends who were there but had decided to leave early. Friends who were supposed to be there but were running late and didn’t make it. There was an outpouring of love and support from around the world, people just checking in to let us know we were in their thoughts and they were glad we were okay. But so many were not okay.

The next day, there was a palpable feeling of darkness across the city, while we collectively mourned the 58 lives that were taken. Hundreds more were injured, and an uncountable number of people were emotionally affected. But what happened next, while so many were reeling from the aftermath, offered hope. The community rallied together, in a way I’d never seen before in 25 years of living in Las Vegas. People turned out in force to donate blood. They started fundraisers for the victims’ families, getting friends, coworkers, and anyone they could find to help. They reached out to each other, and gave everything they could. For most, this was a time to put all differences aside and just be there for each other.

In the weeks and months following, we remained connected. People started talking to strangers in stores, restaurants, and while passing on the street. “Vegas Strong” was posted on billboards, buildings, bumper stickers, merchandise, and social media. It became a slogan that bonded us, that let us know we weren’t alone. Our newly created underdog hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights, took it to heart, and paid tribute to the victims throughout the season. Some even say the sense of pride in this city is one of the guiding forces that got them to the playoffs.

#VegasStrong became much more than a fleeting hashtag. It became a representation of this city, which unfortunately is most commonly known for its excess and debauchery. Vegas became a real community, and a resilient one. We showed our hearts, our pride, and our unwillingness to let anything bring us down. One year later, it still shows.

There is so little we can control in life. Our choices and our actions are all we really have. Those who lost loved ones in the shooting will never be the same. And while no amount of optimism can take away the pain of what happened, we can choose to find hope where we can. We can make a conscious effort to enjoy life while we have it. We can be our best selves and offer help to those who need it. How we react in the bad times shows a great deal about our character, about our humanity. But sometimes we have to remind ourselves to choose kindness during the good times, too. Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to realize how capable we really are.

Sometimes, we just have to stay strong.

I Don't Plan the Future

Most people start businesses with a clear idea of what they’re going to do. That wasn’t the case with me. I started mine because I knew I needed a change, I was tired of the same routine, and I felt it was time to do my own thing. I wasn’t entirely sure what I should do, or even what I wanted to do, but I had faith that whatever I did was going to be right.

I spent nearly 10 years working for the same company, and I was bored. A job that started out as a lot of fun, working with a great team of people, just wasn’t the same. The work had become stagnant. People were moving on. I wasn’t being challenged or learning anything new. And as the company’s corporate owners started having more involvement, it became clear they didn’t actually value me or how much I did there.

It had gotten to the point where I dreaded going in every day. And when I had left my previous job, I made myself a promise to never allow myself to feel that way again. I already knew I had stayed longer than I should have, but the idea of leaving was a bit terrifying. Having worked full-time since I was 16, I could always rely on the stability and security of employment. But other jobs at my level in my industry at that time just weren’t appealing. My gut told me it was time to go out on my own and let my work stand for itself, rather than letting others get all the credit for it. 

Although I’m incredibly logical and analytical by nature, and can overthink just about anything, I don’t ever question my instincts. When I get that strong gut feeling nagging at me to do something, I do it. Even if it doesn’t make sense at the time, I know the reason will eventually reveal itself. It’s for that reason I also don’t believe in planning the future. This surprises a lot of people, because they assume I have a list of concrete goals, or a clear outline of my next steps. But that’s just not the way I work. I haven’t gotten to where I am today by forcing an idea of what I think I should do, but rather by being open to the opportunities that present themselves along the way. 

I may not have had a specific plan, but in the 2.5 years since I officially started working as Aardvark Girl, I’ve done so many different things, many of which I probably would’ve missed had I been too focused on one particular path. I was a project manager for the Presidential Debate. I got more involved in live events. I traveled around the world and produced a documentary. I rediscovered what I love about production by working with different people. I manage a studio for voice actors, where I also teach business workshops. I help individuals and business owners (from all over the world, thanks to technology) with organization, bookkeeping, figuring out how to get out of their own ruts, and so much more. And I have some pretty exciting new projects in the works, too.

Now when people ask me what I do, it’s not always a simple answer. I don’t have one job title. Instead, I’ve created my own niche, working with creatives in whatever capacity is needed to help them do what they love to do. It’s not clear-cut, and that’s what I love about it. Every day is different, and the only limitations are the ones I make for myself. And now I only work with people whose values align with mine, and those who respect and value what I have to offer. My belief in myself has paid off, and starting my business was definitely the right move. Now the only thing I question is why I didn’t do it sooner.

So if you’re feeling stuck in a situation in your life, please know that you have what it takes to make a change. It might be scary, and it might take a lot of work, but you owe it to yourself to live the life you want. Listen to your gut and take a chance on yourself. You deserve it.

You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.
— Richard Bach

Don't Underestimate Me

“You can’t do that.”

“You’ll never be able to get it.”

“There’s no way that’s going to happen.”

Statements like these don’t resonate well with me. They never have. I don’t like other people to decide what I’m capable of doing, especially when they don’t really know me. I’ve heard, and ignored, assertions like this most of my life. 

-      My high school counselor told me I couldn’t balance my classes and work, yet I had a full-time job the last 2 years of high school and still graduated with high honors.

-      Doctors said I couldn’t manage my chronic pain without multiple medications for the rest of my life, but that was 20 years ago, and I still handle it without prescriptions.

-      People thought I couldn’t enjoy working for myself because I’d miss the routine and security, but I’ve never been happier in my career than I am right now.

It seems like people have always made assumptions when they simply don’t understand the depth of my drive and determination. 

I think it’s easy for people to underestimate me for two reasons:

1.    I’m quiet.

2.    I’m nice.

These aren’t typically the qualities people associate with accomplishment. But I’ve never been someone to take the traditional path. I don’t find it necessary to be brash to be effective. Being quiet allows me to listen and observe others. When I do speak up, it’s because I have something important to say, and people tend to pay attention. And being nice is just an easier way to be. Most business involves people, and people are more likely to respond favorably to those they enjoy being around. It seems pretty simple to me.

It’s not that I’m a rebel, or inherently defiant. It’s just that I’m a problem solver by nature, and unless there’s a rational reason why something can’t happen, my instinct is to find a way. My logical brain is good for analyzing situations, and my creative side finds different ways of approaching problems and challenges. So while I’m not a very emotional person, I am pretty tuned in to human behavior and how to connect and communicate with different types of people. And again, most business really comes down to people. It’s how you present yourself, how you ask for what you want, and why it makes sense for them to help you.

I haven’t thought about this much lately, because I haven’t felt like anyone has doubted my abilities in a while. But it came up again during the finishing stages of “Dream Out Loud.”

-      “Bono is never going to participate in a fan project.” Well, guess what. Bono is in our film, and he took the time to give us some very thoughtful and insightful responses.

-      “You’ll never be able to get the licensing for U2’s music.” Okay, but we have 36 U2 songs in the film, including the master recording of their current single. So there’s that.

How did we get these things? We believed it was possible, we tried, and we didn’t give up. We didn’t let other people tell us we couldn’t do it. And we kept a few key ideas in mind, which are really the impetus for how I live and work:

-      Everything works out the way it’s meant to, but it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to get there.

-      You can never be afraid to ask for what you want, because you probably won’t get it if you don’t. There is a fragile line between patience and persistence, but both are imperative to success.

-      Always ask yourself, “Have I done everything I can possibly do?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to try something else. 

People will always try to bring you down, for a number of reasons. Sometimes they even think it comes from a good place. But you need to know yourself, trust your abilities, and decide for yourself what you can and cannot do. Believing in yourself is really the most important thing - because if you don’t, then why should anyone else?


April 21, 2018 - Interviewing Bono for Dream Out Loud (with David Barry) Photo Credit: Martin Alarie

April 21, 2018 - Interviewing Bono for Dream Out Loud (with David Barry)
Photo Credit: Martin Alarie

April 21, 2018 - with Bono Photo Credit: Brian Murphy

April 21, 2018 - with Bono
Photo Credit: Brian Murphy

End of Year Reflection

Around this time last year, I decided to make the effort to post more often. Then I proceeded to write only four entries (including this one) in all of 2017. I’m not surprised. While social media is a good way to stay connected, it doesn’t actually bring me business. So when I get busy, it doesn’t seem to be the most important way to spend my time. And that’s exactly why my goals are more fluid ideas than concrete plans. Because life happens, and sometimes what we set out to do doesn’t make as much sense as our priorities shift.

I had no idea what 2017 had in store for me when it started. I had just wrapped a 9-month project and was still figuring out what my business was actually going to be. I wondered if I needed a marketing plan, or to join some kind of networking group. I was looking for inspiration and clarity. I had a rough roadmap, but wanted a path that was a little more defined.

I spent some time thinking, and then I started doing. I found an opportunity to work with someone I’ve known and respected for years. I spent three months traveling around the world working on a passion project. I built new partnerships, strengthened existing ones, and fulfilled my main goal of helping business owners. I defined my niche of managing/organizing creatives. I taught some business workshops and got really positive feedback. I seized every opportunity, went on some adventures, and just generally enjoyed my life.

The year was not at all what I expected; it was so much better. I thought I had a logical plan, but my instincts told me to shift gears and I’m glad I listened. I’ll never negate the importance of setting goals and being prepared for the future, but you don’t always know how things may change. An intention you set today might not be practical in a month, and that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Maybe you just made a better choice or found a new direction. So while it’s not bad to make plans or strive for new achievements, please don’t get so focused on the end point that you miss other opportunities along the way. Listen to your intuition, because it just might lead you to exceed your own expectations.

I hope you enjoy these last few days of the year, and that 2018 offers more optimism and happiness for all of us!


One of my adventures this year took me to the beautiful village of Howth in Ireland.

One of my adventures this year took me to the beautiful village of Howth in Ireland.

When Work and Passion Collide

75 days. 25 cities. 5 countries. 190 interviews, with people ranging in age from 12-74, representing at least 25 countries. I spent my summer following U2 around the world, meeting incredible people, hearing inspiring stories, and immersing myself into an amazing community. Working on “Dream Out Loud” was a dream come true, and it’s no exaggeration to say it’s been life-changing. I’ve been home for a few weeks now, but I am still processing all that’s happened, and will probably continue to do so for a while.

I took on this project in the first place because it was something I was passionate about. I didn’t see a down side to mixing my work with two things I love – travel and U2 concerts. It turned out to be everything I thought it would be, and more. Of course, it wasn’t without its challenges – several long days of work and travel, dealing with heightened security at the different venues, fighting weather issues, etc. And, for some reason, the band didn’t invite us to travel with them on their private plane, so we drove thousands of miles across the US in a PT Cruiser. But, we easily overcame those obstacles (with the exception of the incessant rain in Berlin), and they won’t be what I remember when I look back on what we created with this documentary. Instead, I will cherish the experiences I had, the connections I made, and the lessons I learned.


“Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”

One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with my entire life is accepting help. I’m stubborn. I believe I can do everything myself, and have worked really hard to prove that I can. As I get older, however, I have started to accept and appreciate help in the right circumstances. Throughout this journey, I was blown away by the kindness of others. People in every city went out of their way to help – many stopped by to see how we were doing and offered us kind words of support; some brought us food, raincoats, or helped carry the gear; some even gave us concert tickets to thank us for our hard work. Those in the U2 fan community often say, “We get to carry each other” (from the lyrics to “One”). I witnessed this first-hand, and felt what a difference it made to embrace the assistance rather than push it away.


“This is Where You Can Reach Me Now

I am always urging the importance of clear communication in business and personal relationships. This was especially significant while working on this film, due of the volume of people and locations that I needed to coordinate. In addition, many of our subjects were not native English speakers, did not have American cell phones, and/or did not have access to WiFi or cellular data on the interview days, which surely complicated matters. We often had to make last minute changes, and I had to figure out the best way to notify each individual – I couldn’t just send out one blanket email and hope everyone got it. But, I applied my standard communication rules – be clear, concise, and friendly – and everything ran pretty smoothly.


“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

One of the main reasons I went into business for myself was to have more freedom and control. I wanted the ability to work on different types of projects and to surround myself with the right people. This summer was a profound reminder that I made the right decision. It was also a strong motivator to keep searching for work that makes me feel the way I did while making “Dream Out Loud.” It’s so easy to get complacent – to get used to a routine, a job, or a method – instead of pushing for that thing that really makes us feel fulfilled. As we navigate our lives and careers, I think we’re always searching for clarity about what that is. Now that I’ve had a taste, I’m more excited than ever to keep looking for more.


Wrapping production was bittersweet. We accomplished so much in such a short time, and I’m proud of what we did. But, it was also sad to say goodbye to all the new friends I made along the way, and to return to “reality.” I am happy to be home, however, and am ready to start the next chapter, whatever that may be. Throughout this project, whether it was about an achievement or a challenge, people often heard me say, “It’s all part of the adventure.” Ultimately, that’s what I believe this was – one truly great adventure that I’ll never forget.

With the Edge in Santa Clara, May 2017

With the Edge in Santa Clara, May 2017

With Adam Clayton in New Jersey, June 2017

With Adam Clayton in New Jersey, June 2017

Dream Out Loud

How did it get to be May already? This year has been a bit of a whirlwind so far, in the best way imaginable. I just passed the one year anniversary of operating Aardvark Girl full-time, and I haven’t looked back once. Every day, I appreciate the freedom to control my own schedule, to choose the people with whom I work, and to take on projects that enlighten and challenge me. If any of you out there are contemplating taking a similar leap, please let me encourage you to believe in yourself and do it!

It is that newfound freedom that has allowed me to pursue a longtime passion project, producing a documentary about the U2 fan community, entitled “Dream Out Loud.” For years, my friend David Barry (a filmmaker and fellow U2 fan) and I have talked about how special U2 fans are, and how great it would be to tell the stories about their connection to the band, the music, and each other. Then, with the announcement of the Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Tour, it seemed like the right time to make it happen. So we launched a Kickstarter campaign in February to see if others would support the endeavor. U2 fans from around the world answered the call, and now we are making this dream a reality.

Most people who know me know I’m a huge U2 fan. I grew up listening to their music with my family, and went to my first U2 concert when I was 11. Since then, I have seen them 21 times, a number that is about to increase with the JT30 tour. In 2008, I met Bono and the Edge at an event honoring BB King, where they played “When Love Comes to Town” with him. I will never forget standing backstage waiting to watch them perform, when suddenly the Edge was on my left, and Bono and BB King were on my right, and I was just in the midst of their conversation. Later, I was in a small room with them, just a few feet away from my musical heroes, while they were being interviewed about the blues for a project Dave was working on. At the end, one of the crew members asked for a picture. Bono looked at me from across the room and excitedly said, “I want to take a picture with her!” He and the Edge came over and took a picture with Dave and me, and we got to chat with them for a little while. That was one of my top life moments so far.


But being a fan is not the only reason I wanted to be involved in this film. Right now, one of the things I’m most attracted to in life is community. I feel there is so much negativity in the world these days, and so many people are fighting to hold each other back instead of being supportive and lifting each other up. The U2 community is an extraordinary group of people who are kind, encouraging, and inspiring. The way they came together to support this film was truly special. I’ve seen the interaction on social media, and have gotten to know many of them throughout pre-production, as I’ve scheduled more than 150 interviews in 25 cities and 5 countries. I know making this movie is going to be an incredible and rewarding experience.

It’s also something I never would’ve been able to do if I was still working for someone else. It’s funny how everything ties together sometimes. I started this company not quite knowing what my dreams really were, but once I focused, my dreams started presenting themselves. It really is that concept of dreaming out loud, something we should all do a little more often.

So wish me luck on my adventures, which are already underway and kick into overdrive with the launch of the tour this week in Vancouver. If you’re interested in following the film, we have pages set up on Facebook and Instagram where we’ll post updates throughout production. And if you'll be at any of the shows, please come by and say hello!

And you can dream, so dream out loud.
— U2, "Acrobat"
She’s gonna dream up the world she wants to live in. She’s gonna dream out loud.
— U2, "Zooropa"
 /* Style Definitions */
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
    One highlight of this experience already was making the trek to the area outside of Death Valley where the actual Joshua Tree (from the album photos) is located. It has fallen (and has become a fan shrine of sorts), but the symbolism could still be felt out there in the middle of the desert.

One highlight of this experience already was making the trek to the area outside of Death Valley where the actual Joshua Tree (from the album photos) is located. It has fallen (and has become a fan shrine of sorts), but the symbolism could still be felt out there in the middle of the desert.

New Year, More Optimism

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect upon the past and set expectations for the future. And, based on what I’ve seen on social media, more people than ever are ready for change in 2017. I have enjoyed reading all the posts today about everyone’s resolutions and goals. And, while I’ve never been one to put much pressure on the new year (mine is more of an ongoing process, not just once a year), I appreciate the sentiment. It seems to be the one time of year everyone seems hopeful.

A common practice in yoga is called “setting an intention,” which is basically the idea of identifying a specific quality or behavior and then mindfully incorporating it into your life. This is a great way to start the year, but the key is to continue to cultivate that purpose (while also developing new ones), throughout the year. And I have always been convinced that the trick to making that happen is to maintain a positive attitude.

Focus on the good experiences, and look for lessons in the bad ones. Appreciate the people who are encouraging and supportive, and let go of those who try to keep you down. And always try to make the best out of every situation, while helping others do the same. Sometimes all it takes is a smile or a laugh to turn someone’s mood around, and a person who feels good tends to do good, and that behavior can be contagious.

2016 was actually a pretty exciting year for me. Aardvark Girl became my full-time job and I quickly discovered how much I enjoy the freedom and control over my own schedule. I worked on some rewarding projects (one of which allowed me to go home to Colorado and spend some much-needed time with friends and family), and met some great people along the way. And, I exceeded my net income goal by 20% in my first year on my own, which helped justify my intuition that had nagged at me that it was time to do something new. I don’t believe I could’ve done it without my positive attitude and faith that it would all work out.

So, whether you make resolutions, establish goals, or set intentions for the New Year (or do nothing at all), try to think optimistically every day and see the impact it has on your life. I hope we all find the positive change we are looking for in 2017!

Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening, or love.” – Deepak Chopra

Millennial Behaviors I Can Actually Support

There is a lot of talk about the generational differences in today’s workforce – baby boomers vs. Gen X vs. Millennials. Then there are those of us in between the last two, because no real consensus seems to exist regarding the cutoff year. This in-between generation has been given several unofficial names (my favorite being "Generation Catalano" because of my love of “My So-Called Life”), all mostly stemming from the fact that most of us on the cusp do not want to be classified as millennials. We don’t feel that we subscribe to the negative traits (e.g. a bloated sense of entitlement) associated with the youngsters, and we are proud of the hard work we’ve done to get where we are. That being said, however, there are some “Millennial” behaviors in business that I definitely support and encourage. So maybe we shouldn’t protest quite so much after all.

They rebel against outdated norms.

Just as we must adapt with new technology, we must also expand our mindsets. Millennials are great at this – they don’t just accept “this is the way it’s always been done, so this is the way we have to do it.” Instead, they push for change. They don’t want a set daily routine – they know what needs to be done and by when, so it doesn’t matter if they’re working at 1pm or 1am. They don’t wear suits to the office every day, because they know they’re more productive when they’re comfortable. Some don’t even go to an office every day, because technology allows them to do their work from the comfort of home, the local coffee shop, or anywhere else they’d rather be. It doesn’t mean they are lazy so much as they want to use their time in better ways than staring at the clock waiting for 5pm.

They demand reciprocation from their bosses.

Traditionally, bosses are in the power position. They make the rules and decisions, and control the work lives of the employees. Meanwhile, they often aren’t held as accountable themselves, especially when they own the business and don’t answer to anyone else. I’ve seen many with the attitude that they are doing the employee a favor by giving them the job. But the Millennials are turning the tables. They now recognize that they have the talent the business needs, and they are the ones doing the favor by accepting a job. They are demanding that employers make the effort to keep them happy, and not just the other way around. This may be frustrating for some, but I think it’s beneficial for all to have a more reciprocal working relationship.

They push for work/life balance.

The concept of work/life balance wasn’t around when I started my career. But it’s probably the Millennial agenda I respect the most. Work is important, but it isn’t everything. People who are happy in their personal lives are better workers than those who are frustrated at home (or worse, who aren’t even home often enough to be frustrated there). There are so many ways to improve this balance – telecommuting, flex schedules, better benefits (beyond insurance), etc. These solutions don’t always work for everyone, but business owners and managers need to look for potential ways to help. Employees with more flexibility tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction, and happy employees care more about their work.

So what do we (Gen Xers and in between) do?

It’s easy for the older generations to scoff at this behavior, to think these kids don’t know what they’re doing and need some good discipline. But times are changing. The overall business culture is changing. And the last thing we want to do is to get left behind. So why not embrace these new work attitudes? We can still demonstrate our values, teach our work methods, and share our experiences. But, we can also learn from new ways of thinking, even if they seem contradictory to what we’ve always known.  

If you’re not willing to evolve or accept this new normal, be prepared to defend your systems with logic. If your way is better, show and explain why, and help people understand. As a business owner/manager, you might feel that your employees should just do what you say and not question you. But, if you want engaged workers, they need to understand why things are done that way. If it doesn’t make sense to them, they won’t do it effectively. I once argued with my high school chemistry teacher after he said I couldn’t sleep in class (I worked full-time, so I was often tired). I pointed out that I had an A in the class, so it shouldn’t matter. He didn’t have a logical comeback – my naps weren’t negatively affecting anyone – so he let it go. Maybe I do have a little bit of millennial in me after all. The point is, if you turn down an employee’s request for flexibility, make sure it is for a valid reason and not just because the traditional 40-hour work week is what you’ve always done.

Finally, please understand that you may lose some great and valuable employees if you’re not adaptable. If you won’t compromise, they will seek opportunities that better align with their priorities. Instead, be a positive role model and encourage their growth and ideas while also giving your own guidance. We might not agree with all the Millennial behaviors, but we do have to work together. So why not give them a chance and discover how we can all learn from each other?

The Debate is Over, But the Lessons Remain (Not a Political Post)

For the past seven months, I have been working as a Project Manager for the Presidential Debate that took place at UNLV last week. It was an amazing opportunity to be involved in such a high-profile event, and to see how much behind-the-scenes effort goes into putting together a project of that scope. I was fortunate to work with an incredible team who persevered through months of hard work to deliver a successful outcome. And even though it was stressful and demanding at times, I am grateful for the experience.

The Debate was definitely a unique project, unlike any I have worked on before (and probably unlike any I will work on again). Even so, it served as another reminder of a few key principles that are important for any job, regardless of size, nature, or objective: communication, teamwork, flexibility, and a positive attitude.


Effective communication is vital. Always. Whether it’s two people or 200, the ability to convey and interpret messages is essential to success. The bigger the project, the more difficult this can be, because it involves more people, more information, and more potential for errors. Be clear and concise, but also be prepared to offer more detail when needed, or to explain in a different way if necessary. And ask questions! It seems many people are afraid that admitting that they don’t know something, or don’t fully understand a request, is a negative quality. But, asking for clarity shows that you are making the effort to do it right, and can also save a great deal of time and energy.


Nearly all projects, regardless of scope, involve multiple people working together. And while combining different personalities can cause tension and other problems, it can also expose you to new (and sometimes better) ways of working. The key is to remember that everyone is trying to achieve the same goals – a successful project and a happy client. A team is strongest when people focus on the tasks they do best, so don’t be afraid to speak up when something is out of your wheelhouse. It’s great to be ambitious and want to expand your skills, but it’s also important that you don’t hold up the rest of the team while you figure it out. Take your ego out of it, and embrace the opportunity to both teach and learn from others.


In business and in life, change is constant. You can plan to the best of your ability, but the slightest detail can change and throw it all off course. But, rather than getting hung up on how things were supposed to be, or how they should have been, you’re better off going with the flow and adapting to the new direction (which will probably change numerous times along the way). Most of the time, these changes are out of your control anyway, so the best you can do is remain flexible, accept the new challenge, and show off your problem-solving abilities.


I’ve always believed that a positive attitude is one of the most important assets a person can have. Behavior is infectious, and the way you carry yourself (good or bad) can have a huge impact on those around you. This becomes especially important in high-stress, busy situations. You can complain about what is going wrong and bring others down with you. Or, you can remind others that, even when situations are not ideal, the best you can do is let it go of any negativity and keep focused on doing the best job you can do. Not to say that a good venting session isn’t therapeutic, because sometimes just verbalizing your frustration is the best way to move on. But, the longer you dwell on adversity, the longer you will stay unhappy, and likely bring others down with you. Instead, if you can take the challenges in stride, keep a smile on your face, and maybe even make someone laugh, you can keep the team moving forward in a positive manner.

Whether you are working on a small project with a few people, or a huge project with hundreds, these simple concepts are essential. No matter what the situation may be, if you communicate efficiently, collaborate well with your team, remain flexible, and keep a positive attitude, you are setting yourself up for success. And, you never know who you might meet along the way, what new skills you might learn, or what overall impact it could have on your career. I hope the Presidential Debate is just the first of many unique, challenging, and rewarding projects I will work on as I take Aardvark Girl into the future!

What Do I Do?

I’ve always felt a little like Chandler Bing from Friends. It seems that even people I have known my entire working life don’t really know what I do. And my recent journey hasn’t exactly made the answer any clearer. When I formed Aardvark Girl, I thought I was on a pretty clear path. I was focused on helping small businesses, especially those in creative fields, get organized. But then I landed a huge opportunity to be the Project Manager for a high profile event (more on that later in the year). I now realize that I prefer to manage multiple projects rather than holding one full-time management job. It keeps me challenged, motivated, and engaged, and allows me to continuously learn and develop my skills. There is also something to be said, however, for keeping some work that is comfortable, with people I have been working with for years. So, I am still in the production/post production field, producing and helping others produce various video and still projects. So now, when people ask me what I do, my answer is that it is really a hybrid of project management, production, and business consulting. For now. Who knows what the answer might be in six months or a year. I like to think I am constantly evolving.

My situation, and several recent conversations, has led me to think about focus. There was a time when job roles were clearly defined. People had distinct titles that identified what they did, and they were encouraged to find one specialty. Those with too many interests and talents, the jacks of all trades, were often at a disadvantage because employers wanted those who were masters in one area. Those who excelled in multiple areas were too “scattered,” and their “lack of focus” was a weakness. But, those unwavering lines in each person’s specific responsibilities made collaboration especially difficult, and often interfered with the company’s ability to grow and improve. In addition, employees with broader interests would get bored with doing the same thing every day and seek out more fulfilling opportunities.

Fortunately, many work environments have changed. Employers are understanding that multiple talents lead to multiple benefits, and they can often hire one person to fill various roles. It can help businesses operate more efficiently, while also keeping workers more satisfied. Not that having one specialized talent is a bad thing by any means, but why not let people explore all of their passions if they want to? Some of the most successful people I know got that way by not letting roles define what they are able to do. They seek out more opportunities, think outside the box, and prove why a broad skill set is a huge asset.

I have always been someone who will do whatever needs to be done to make a project successful, whether it is in my job description or not. I feel that having the ability to do multiple things well is a strength, and doesn’t mean I lack focus so much as that I don’t like to limit my abilities. So maybe what I do isn’t simple to define with one title, but maybe that’s okay.   

What do you think? Is it better to have one defined focus, or a variety of talents? Let me know your thoughts!