Photo of ironic set of street signs in NY taken by Joana MirandaWith the excitement of finishing my Design a Day year-long blog project, I got a bit behind in posting my Empire Building Kit reviews.  My goal (after this catch-up post) is to post these reviews every Friday.  If you are a wanna-be “Emperor” and are interested in what I’m learning from doing this project, please continue to check in on Fridays.  If Empire Building doesn’t interest you, then please skip this post; I won’t be offended!

Week 17 was all about creating information products.  In this day of  “get-rich-quick” and “buck-the-establishment” websites and blogs, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be  jumping on that band-wagon.  That said, I’m obviously a fan of Chris Guillebeau (the Empire Building Kit’s author) and Charlie Gilkey over at Productive  While both Chris and Charlie are striving to help people think for themselves (and yes, perhaps strike out on their own), they also recognize that striking out on your own can be as simple as making room for your passions within the structure of your current work situation.  And, both Chris and Charlie offer their message (a lot of it free) in a respectful and humble way.

Even though I don’t plan to offer an information product at this point, I did have an “ah hah!” moment of clarity and understanding over a concept this week.  Chris suggested that when creating an information product, you craft the offer first, then figure out how and what you are going to deliver.  To a rather obsessively organized person like me, that seems rather backwards.  In fact, that kind of action makes me quake in my slippers thinking,

“What if I’m not prepared, what if I can’t deliver, what if I’m a flop?”

Of course, part of the problem is that I’m trying to imagine creating an information product when I don’t want to create one.  Doing something you don’t want to do is usually not a recipe for success.  That said, my “ah hah!” moment came when I thought back over some of the risks I’ve taken in my life.  I realized that I HAVE crafted offers successfully before I knew how every piece of the puzzle was going to fall into place.

Case in point –

When I moved to Minneapolis in 1997, I did an interview at a prestigious community arts school.  During the interview, I demonstrated my musical artistry and competence by playing several difficult violin pieces.  The committee was pleased with my playing and violin teaching experience, but then asked about my teaching experience with the viola.  I confess that I told a little white lie and said that I was “very comfortable” with teaching the viola as well.  At the time, I was not fluent with reading the alto clef ; however, I did know that I liked the viola, figured that I could learn to read the clef quickly, and knew that I could deliver as a viola teacher (the offer) based on my previous success with teaching the violin.

I got the job and flourished as both a violin and viola teacher.

Three years later (and after some more hours spent alone in the practice room with the viola) I won a permanent section job as a violist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, one of the top 20 orchestras in the country.

The moral to the story?

A calculated risk may pay off far better than you expect.  If you have the passion, put yourself out there, assess the need, and then find a way to deliver!


  1. n says:

    As a faculty member at the community music school, I’m shocked to learn of your untruthfulness in the interview. 🙂

    On the other hand, I’m so inspired by how well you know your strengths, and how you were able to capitalize on your leap.

    • Hi N,

      Yes, I knew it was dangerous to admit to my lie;-) Next I’ll post about sharing a studio with you…although I can’t remember anything remotely blackmail-able.

      🙂 Joana

  2. I think I straightened up a pile of music on the piano, other than that wasn’t our studio too small to have anything else in it?

    Do you still have the poster of Sabina Meyer up on the wall? (She’s one of my husband’s favorite clarinetists.)

    🙂 Joana

    • n says:

      Sabine was a little tattered for the new building, so I have other fine clarinet art on the walls!

      • Wait, what new building? When did that happen? Where is the new building?

        Just got back from trip #2 to the laundromat. This time, the Chinese (?) lady who commandeers the place came over to help me fold a fitted sheet. I guess she took pity on me, and I learned a great new way to fold a fitted sheet!

        🙂 Joana

  3. n says:

    The new building is bodacious – near the river, near the new Guthrie. (there’s a new guthrie…)

    Check out the website.

    • Hi Nina,

      Andy and I did go to the new Guthrie a few years ago (just after the bridge collapse.) I didn’t realize that MacPhail had moved to that area, but I will check out the website.

      Did you know that when I was teaching at MacPhail, I once got a letter in my box addressed to Joana Mifanda. I thought it was very fitting…

      🙂 J

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