Learn more about our featured presenters: Elizabeth Méndez Berry + Holly Kearl

Email kira.zmuda@gmail.com to register.


Photo Credit: E.Leigh Photography

When you were four-years-old, Y was your favorite letter. With a name like Yessica, your affection was understood. The obsession with Y quickly moved to why. You repeated it back to your indulging parents – heck, you repeated it back to anyone within a playhouse’s length from your dimples. Yes, your dimples and chub were your weapon, and you were adored despite the incessant repetition.

Why transformed from a simple word into something more revealing. It evolved into a question once you developed intonations. Why? led to lengthy explanations and tales from decades ago. Why? became your education and your source for wisdom and often times, dirty secrets.

Years have passed. Your dimples don’t glow as they did years ago. And the chub – well, the chub is cellulite. Lately, you’ve stopped asking why? Blame it on stress. Blame it on the lack of jubilee in your life. Blame it on your toxic job or even your beardless ex-boyfriend. Blame serves no purpose. Not here.

Instead of missing your old crush, you move forward. Call it an hour of empowerment or the result of a dirty martini, but you change. You find a new three-letter accomplice – How?

You know why you aspire for more innovation in your career, but you now ask, how? Help is needed. The task at hand is larger than you, Yessica.

You explore NYC until you capture the When I Grow Up Coach, Michelle Ward. Yes, Michelle is a certified life coach, but her talent, perspective, and personal experience far outweigh any framed document. She is exactly who you need.

How did Michelle become a Creative Career Coach in New York City?

“I went into life coaching because I wanted to be the person that I needed when I was 26 and trying to find my new career – so passionate about performing musical theater. After figuring out it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore, it was hard for me to find someone that got that – that got that it was really a mourning period for me to let go of my childhood dream. I needed someone that believed it was feasible for me to find something else that I was equally passionate about,” Michelle shared.

Similar to many other gifted New Yorkers, Michelle is a Renaissance Soul. Performance is ingrained in her laughter.  Michelle accessorizes with a BFA in musical theater from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts, and she was featured on “Saturday Night Live”. Michelle admitted, “I miss performing at the level I used to do it. I always have a cabaret show in my head. I always think about what I can do to sing more. I’d love to start art journaling and writing even though I’m not a writing coach. Writing is such a big part of my marketing with my blog and newsletter.”

How do you successfully skate forward once you know what you want from your creative career?

Without the ease and ability to shove her executive assistant job into the port-o-potty, Michelle made a plan. Since authenticity is the core of Michelle’s ideology, she didn’t want to hide the less-than-glamourous aspects of her early business beginnings. “When I started coaching, I kept my day job hidden. … Once I exposed my day job and once I started documenting where I was in my business and how I was able to make it work, I became transparent. I’ve heard more than once from people that they like the fact that I’ve done what they aspire to do, and I’ve done it recently. Clients know from working with me that I’m not someone who comes from this wealthy family and sits at home and decided to become a life coach one day.

“I always tell people, ‘I don’t have magic fairy dust, I didn’t have three wishes granted to me, and I didn’t win the lottery’ – I literally decided that I was going to be a life coach, and then I figured out how to do it without falling flat on my face the first week. I built myself the biggest safety net I could possibly design, taking baby steps every day. My clients find their own way to do it – not my way. Not everyone needs to get an executive assistant job and work there for 2 years and 7 months while they get certified and build their business.”

How can you build your own creative career when your time is limited?

Michelle advises, “Be clear about your goals and do something every day. It’s not about waiting around for a free afternoon and inspiration. … While I was limited to my cubicle and building my business, I knew I had to blog, I had to tweet, and I had to start talking to people online. I did that every-single-freaking-day. It was great because it wasn’t torturous or horrible. I really liked doing it. It is important to figure out what marketing aspects work for you. Commit 15 minutes here and there.”

Designing a tailored career can lead to endless options. Michelle suggests, “You don’t have to put yourself into one box. Thank the Lord it is 2010 and there are so many options out there for us.” Touch upon the basics – your essential oils of pleasure, e.g. hobbies and interests. “I’m really adamant about still performing. It is hard to find opportunities in NYC when you aren’t super serious about acting full-time. … I’m still so new in my business that it would make my head explode if I had to rehearse and audition every day. My husband writes a show, new episodes of 80’s and 90’s sitcoms, and I pretty much force him to cast me in whatever part I want – I’ll sing a lot of the theme songs which I love – so that’s sort of how I get that fix. I’ll probably start taking improv classes. I’d like to start doing something more visually creative. I’m not an artist in any shape or form.”

But Michelle is an artist. Her palette consists of questions, insights, and intuition. As she adds layer upon layer of truth and strategy with clients, vision and sweat align. Creative careers are fertilized.

How do you stay true to yourself and your vision?

“After Danielle LaPorte’s Firestarter Session, my big takeaway was simple: no one else is going to be able to tell me what I need to do for myself. I’m very big on listening to my gut. Ugh I’ve turned into such a hippy!  It’s always important to follow your instinct,” added Michelle.

How To Find Michelle Ward:

1. Discover Michelle’s first e-course, The Declaration of You
2. Tweet, tweet, SQUAWK
3. Surf the web
4. Wander over to Facebook
5. Delight in Spring – Inspiration in Bloom


We reside in the neighborhood of Blogville, USA. It’s fast growing
and an extremely social community. Darwin weeds out the weak quickly.

Some yards have been abandoned for months. Some yards are bustling
with personality, mouth-watering barbecues, and engaging conversation.
You’ll even find a few ambitious homeowners laboring in their yard
often (and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning).

I’ve noticed that inquisitive visitors stop by Ms. Domain’s address
often. Ms. D’s following is larger than the others on my block. What
her lawn more appealing than the rest?

I’ve studied her mysterious moves from afar and learned a thing or four:

1. Ms. Domain fertilizes and mows her lawn regularly. You will not
find a single weed. Branches are trimmed and excess is eliminated.
Without hired help, her touch is on everything.

2. The white picket fence does not exist. Ms. D tore it down a year
ago during a fit of rage. No barriers. All are welcomed.

3. The backyard evolves. The trout lilies enrich the land on Monday
and are replaced by red maple trees on Tuesday. Diversity and depth
are delivered regularly with wild surprises hidden under leaves.
Visitors have spent hours in Ms. Domain’s yard seeking and finding.
It’s like an Easter Egg Hunt every single day.

4. The lawn adapts to the volatile climate. Regardless of exterior
conditions, neighbors know that they can depend on Ms. Domain’s

If you treated your writing like your backyard, how would you groom
and grow it?
What would your visitors look for in the bushes? Some
yards are more wild than others. Some are meticulously manicured.
Some are plain dull.

If you’re dealing with too many rocks, get some daisies. If your pond
is full of algae, clean it. If you’re hanging out on the lawn chair
with a margarita by yourself, bring a new friend over!

It’s your yard. Play with it until you actually want to spend hours
in it. When in doubt, install a kiddie pool, and splash the neighbors
that bypass your address!

*What would draw you to a (blog) address more often?  Should I install a sculpture in my front yard OR serve pastries to visitors?

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