Sunni Brown: How a doodling Zen student pivots in a creative career

November 21, 2021
Up Your Creative Genius
Up Your Creative Genius
Sunni Brown: How a doodling Zen student pivots in a creative career
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Show Notes

About Guest

Sunni Brown is a social entrepreneur who has been named one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” and one of the “10 Most Creative People on Twitter” by Fast Company. She is the best-selling author of Gamestorming and The Doodle Revolution, a keynote speaker, expert meeting facilitator, book coach and dedicated Zen student. Her TED Talk has drawn more than 1.6 million views and her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and WIRED, as well as being featured twice on CBS Sunday Morning and on The TODAY Show. She is currently the Doodler-in-Residence at MURAL. 

Links

Sunni Brown Website

https://www.sunnibrown.com/

Deep Self Design

https://www.deepselfdesign.com/

Follow Sunni Brown on Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/sunnibrown/

Follow Sunni Brown on Linkedin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sunnibrown/

Books written by Sunni:

Game Storming with Dave Gray and James Macafuno

Doodle Revolution

Books Sunni has read or attempts to read:

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan

Heroine’s Journey Workbook by Maureen Murdock

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett

Kiss Me Like a Stranger by Gene Wilder

Follow Patti Dobrowolski – Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/upyourcreativegenius/

Linkedin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/patti-dobrowolski-532368/

Up Your Creative Genius

https://upyourcreativegenius.com/ 

Podcast Timestamps

0:00 Welcome

2:40 How Sunni would describe herself

4:25 The importance of zen and how Sunni has applied it to her life

5:54 Trauma history and how it affects creativity

6:20 The art of the pivot

8:41 Deep Self Design, and what happened

12:13 The power of a true calling

13:54 Women and finances, financial self-worth

14:53 Sunni’s pivot to a book coach

17:03 What Sunni does now, and the support around life changes

18:30 Sunni’s qualified prediction of the future

19:27 The secret of the pivot

20:28 Energy fields and how to tap into them

21:37 Testing things out, spinning the universe

22:37 Cognitive rigidity, and how to overcome it

25:19 Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett

27:31 Resonance of the system

29:50 Sunni’s dream life 

Podcast Transcript 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, book, doodle, creative genius, called, life, workshops, sunni, pivot, patti, universe, field, practice, big, part, worked, deep, brown, zen, true

SPEAKERS

Sunni Brown, Patti Dobrowolski

Patti Dobrowolski 00:03

Hello superstars, welcome to the Up Your Creative Genius Podcast where you will gain insight and tips to stomp on the accelerator and blast off to transform your business and your life. I’m your host, Patti Dobrowolski. And if this is your first time tuning in, then strap in because this is serious rocket fuel. Each week, I interview fellow creative geniuses to help you learn how easy it is to up your creative genius in any part of your life. Hey, everybody, it’s Patti Dobrowolski. Oh, my God, I have like, honestly, one of my favorite people in the whole world here. Oh, Sunni Brown. I mean, you are like my superstar friend. And now we’re like, wow,

Sunni Brown 00:55

No, but you know, it’s goes both ways. Like you’ve saved my life. Many times.

Patti Dobrowolski 01:01

Oh gosh, that’s a nice thing to say. But I just want to first start by saying, Okay, I’m going to say that this podcast with Sunni Brown, is going to be really different and unique, because she is different and unique. And it’s not a traditional interview thing– I’m hoping that you’re just going to share. And we’re going to talk about some deep stuff here about change because you are a master of change. And you also fall into the slippery slope, and you get caught down there in the pit. And I want to talk about some of the things that have brought you to life. So anyway, thank you so much for coming on the show and doing the podcast. I appreciate it.

Sunni Brown 01:44

I love the setup and the framing. And I appreciate being seen. What I love about you, Patti is you always see me. And that means a lot to me and to most people, but especially to me.

Patti Dobrowolski 01:55

Yeah. Well, you are, you’re just so amazing. And so tell us if you would, I mean, I met you because you called me. We’re both visualizers. Right? That’s what we’re known as in the world. Yeah, but you couldn’t go and do something. And you asked me what I go, in your stead. And I learned —

Sunni Brown 02:14

That’s how we bonded.

Patti Dobrowolski 02:15

I know. And now we totally bonded over that. Now we’re, you know, now we’re like glue together.

Sunni Brown 02:21

We’re like, I think we were designed to be together over space and time.

Patti Dobrowolski 02:26

Definitely, you definitely know, right? But tell everybody else who doesn’t know who you are, and all that. Tell them a little of your story. You know who you were. Yeah. And the way you are now, right? Yeah.

Sunni Brown 02:38

Okay, cool. So I mean, I think there’s a bunch of words I could use to describe myself. And I think modern people are very multifaceted. And we get to be that now. So I’m not unique in that regard. But like, I think there’s an entrepreneur in there. There’s a writer, there’s a visual thinker and a doodler. There’s a facilitator. There’s a speaker, you know, and really, there’s a book coach, you know, so in a way I’ve embraced and I just dive into different disciplines and see what makes itself available to me.

Patti Dobrowolski 03:09

Yes. And then when it is available, you jump on it. But you were known as kind of Dr. Doodle, that’s how you were known. You’re on the news, and people will call you when they thought doodling was — remember when sketchnoting became this big thing, and then they would call you all the time. Can we have Sunni Brown on at NBC, please? And CNN, you know, yeah, so that was a big part of your personality. You had a very successful business in Austin, right?

Sunni Brown 03:37

Yeah, for 15 years, I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years. And part of that ended up having a little PR component and a sort of very public presence. Definitely. But that wasn’t intentional. And yeah, I mean, I’ve pivoted the business many times, because I like to respond to what’s needed, and try to be available for what’s needed and useful. I think that’s the change agent in me. It’s like, I’m not a fixed entity, you know, very dynamic.

Patti Dobrowolski 04:04

Well, you don’t feel like you have to stay in a particular role. That’s what you’re talking about, like, when you feel like you need to change or the public. Right? Yeah, people that you’re engaging with need something else, then you provide something else. Yeah. Right. Or you figure out what you need to know to do it, right.

Sunni Brown 04:21

Yes. And actually, a really important aspect of myself that I didn’t mention is the fact that I’m a Zen student, and really like you and I have this shared history of really deep dives into psychotherapeutic practices. So that always informs everything I do. And I think that Zen in a way is foundational to the capacity to pivot. For me. I think being a creative helps you pivot, but the Zen practice actually teaches you how to do that also, you know, so yeah.

Patti Dobrowolski 04:49

I love that.

Sunni Brown 04:50

We’re complex people, Patti.

Patti Dobrowolski 04:51

And but what’s true is you’re talking about this level of spirituality that you have honed and grown into and learn from as a daily practice, which allows you to pivot into this other space.

Sunni Brown 05:07

Totally.

Patti Dobrowolski 05:07

And, sometimes, it’s not always pretty.

Sunni Brown 05:11

No!

Patti Dobrowolski 05:11

I mean, are you? Are you ever not pretty, right?

Sunni Brown 05:13

Oh, no! Exactly! I mean, I think I’m the queen of messy processes. You know, I embarrass myself regularly, by needing to take time for mental health and needing to take time for emotional stability and stuff like that, like, I can’t function unless that’s a part of the recipe of my life. And that is, that embarrassing. No, but it’s just true about me. And I sometimes I’m — people that, for whom, they just wake up kind of stable. I’m like, What’s your secret? Like?

Patti Dobrowolski 05:47

Eight hours sleep thing? You know that? Yeah.

Sunni Brown 05:49

Right. I’m really good at sleeping. Yeah, I’m very good at that. But I also think that I have a complex trauma history, I think I have a very creative brain partly as a result of that conditioning. And I think I had a naturally creative brain. And I think modern life is fucking nuts. And I also think that, so for me, spiritual practice is a refuge. And it’s a requirement and mental health breaks, I guess, today’s mental National Mental Health Day. Yeah. So those are, I think they’re essential for most people, they just don’t give themselves permission to take them. You know, yeah.

Patti Dobrowolski 06:18

And so when you decided to pivot, because a couple years ago, you decided you wanted to stop being known as Dr. Doodle, and you want us to do something else. So a little bit about that. And then what happened after that, and after that, because you’ve had a couple iterations, but if you can speak about it from the perspective of what gave you the clue, or the nudge that you needed to shift? And yeah, how did you navigate that? Because most of us, we try to push down that tip that’s coming in about this too. And we just want to keep going, we want to go, keep going, go go go.

Sunni Brown 06:55

Right, yeah, we want to stay where it’s safe and familiar. And that’s understandable. But sometimes you’re summoned. And you can deny the call as much as you’d like. But I’m not really one to deny the call. I’m quite the opposite. I step in, you know, consistently over and over. And I think that’s partly just a resilience, history. And also, the deliciousness of the reward, when you do lean into uncertainty. For me, has consistently proven itself over and over and over. So my fear factor of uncertainty is lower than I think a lot of people’s, like, I’m willing to take risks because I know there’s reward. And you can’t know that unless you step in. That’s the whole trick. Like somebody can tell you all day long that something will change in your life that will be valuable. But you have to experience it, really understand that. And so, like going back to your actual question, yeah, I was known for being the Doodle Lady and Dr. Doodle and the Doodle Revolutionary and all that stuff, which again, was like, I look back and laugh at my life. Well, like it wasn’t planned, you know? But I did see a need there in the market in terms of visual, like permission to express ourselves visually in a meaningful way in business. So I just took that opportunity. But yeah, I mean, over time, I said, everything I needed to say about that, like, I wrote a couple books, and I did a ton of keynotes, as you know, and we facilitated together and Game Storming was a big part of that. And eventually, the truth of the matter was that that was one layer of my existence. And there was another undercurrent of deep Zen practice and deep spiritual exploration, and deep training and psychotherapy.

Patti Dobrowolski 08:41

Yeah, your Deep Self Design.

Sunni Brown 08:43

Yeah. And so that necessarily evolved. But I wanted to take with me all those skills I had cultivated, so the intention was to open the center for Deep Self Design. And using all —

Patti Dobrowolski 08:54

And that was the plan. That was the plan.

Sunni Brown 08:57

I mean, I invested, Patti!

Patti Dobrowolski 08:59

I was gonna say, like, the logo is beautiful…

Sunni Brown 09:02

I went all in.

Patti Dobrowolski 09:03

I mean it, you had stuff. You had collateral, you know.

Sunni Brown 09:07

I had real estate in downtown Austin, I had furniture and a website. I had teachers, workshops ready. I mean, it was ready!

Patti Dobrowolski 09:17

I was signed up to come and do one of the workshops. Yeah, no, no, that’s part of it. Like I love what you said is that you knew that you had run this course. Right. And so one of the books she wrote one of these are two of my favorite books Game Storming is one she wrote it with your writing partner can’t remember his name right now. Dave Gray. James Macanufo. Yeah. Dave Gray, and then the other one was Doodle Revolution. So if you are a live Illustrator, and you’re listening and you don’t have those books in your bookshelf, definitely get them because one: Doodle Revolution. You will learn how smart Sunni Brown is because, honestly, the truth is, like she doesn’t just write a book like I would say I write these books and boom, you know, I get them out and I do the research. Yeah, but yeah, you are like the glom on to the thing. And then you figure out what it works and put it together. And her writing is beautiful. Oh, so articulate, it really paints a perfect picture. And it’s got all the data you need to know about why you want to draw a picture. Okay?

Sunni Brown 10:21

Yeah, yeah,

Patti Dobrowolski 10:22

I’m just I’m just giving a little plug for your books. Because

Sunni Brown 10:25

But that’s also so sweet. Because you see me right. So like, I just soak that in. I’m like, God, I love that you really recognize what I’m good at. And you also know, things I’m terrible at. And that’s fine, too.

Patti Dobrowolski 10:37

I don’t remember that part. I just my memory, whatever. So alright, so you created Deep Self Design. And then you were going to host a whole series of workshops, and then COVID.

Sunni Brown 10:51

COVID nailed us to the ground. Like the first workshop, was people were registered for it. It was March 26 of 2020. That was the first workshop. Unbelievable. And basically, South by Southwest got canceled. I mean, that’s a huge, that’s like a small city shutting itself down. So at that point, we all knew like, Oh, this is real, like, yeah. And so everything collapsed at that point, like all the workshops in the real estate, I converted it back into Airbnbs. You know, we alerted all people not to fly, they weren’t going to anyway, we gave everybody their money back, like all the furniture is in cellophane, in the basement. I mean, it was like, unreal. Yeah, it was unbelievable. But I’m very glad that didn’t happen for hundreds of reasons. I’m really glad.

Patti Dobrowolski 11:36

Say why?

Sunni Brown 11:37

Because it wasn’t my path, actually. And I wanted it to be, I thought it should be. I was close. It was close. Right. But it wasn’t the thing. And I could tell well, from the fact that it just abruptly shut down. So the universe was, I mean, like the timing, you know what I mean? It was a universal signal was like, “And… that’s a no.”

Patti Dobrowolski 11:57

But you know what? Like that. But the other thing is, many people opened restaurants and stuff like that during their time, and they got shut down, but they reopened. So here’s the tip here. Is that, yes, it might get shut down, and it might get sidelined. But if you know it’s your true calling, you’re not going to quit.

Sunni Brown 12:15

You’ll be okay.

Patti Dobrowolski 12:16

It’s fine. You’ll be like whatever. Yeah, but if it is not your true calling, you will know immediately. You’ll be like, yeah, those things aren’t happening, you know?

Sunni Brown 12:25

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Because I didn’t spend that and see this is the pivot piece and the welcoming of change piece. I did not spill milk and cry about that. I really didn’t. I was like, okay, and now what? And like, that’s what Zen teaches. That’s what improv teaches. Yeah, that’s what facilitation teaches. And so, you know, I acknowledged the circumstances, I didn’t deny it, it wasn’t a denial thing. It was just, okay. This is not to be at this time. So what next? What now? And I always have gratitude for what I do have and so that it also has cultivated through practice. It’s not like I wasn’t had a good attitude my whole life. You know what I mean?

Patti Dobrowolski 13:03

I do I do. I so do. Yeah, of course you do.

Sunni Brown 13:07

And so I eventually started just well, you know, keep my eyes open, keep the antenna open, and I just sort of pay attention and intuitively explore and instinctively ask questions. And so, yeah, I haven’t. And, you know, I’m a pragmatist. And so I’m not a whimsical sort of dreamer in a way like I’m a weird blend of dreamer and pragmatist. So I was just, you know, keep in mind

Patti Dobrowolski 13:29

Meaning that she really likes to make money, that’s another she’s not gonna like, you know, just go off and then donate her services and sit on the top of a mountain and then do a practice up there and blah, blah, blah, that might be fun, but that’s not going to be what you do because you’d like to be out in the world you like engaging with people you like going home, and you like having a paycheck come in?

Sunni Brown 13:51

Yeah, and it’s required. For me it’s required and like I tell people often like I am a trailer park latchkey kid, I’m not from wealth. My family has nothing, they’ve given me nothing except for a lot of tragedy. And they did not financially support me, since from 17 onward. So there’s no part of me that’s like, flippant about money. But I also it’s not my driving compass by any stretch of the imagination, and I can live minimally when I need to, and I can be profligately expensive in a moment if I get a big paycheck because to celebrate something, so my relationship with money is not real fraught.

Patti Dobrowolski 14:26

Yeah, that’s good. That’s fantastic.

Sunni Brown 14:29

Yeah, well, I want to say to the women listening too, that women undervalue constantly, I know this is a stereotype. I get it. I’m like, I’m willing to be challenged on that. But historically, we undervalue and currently we do. And I did not also have that problem out of the gate. I was like, no my time this how much it costs. And I’m not going to apologize for it. And that’s also part of being a survivor. But anyway, yeah.

Patti Dobrowolski 14:51

Yeah. I love that. That’s fantastic. So your Deep Self Design didn’t happen, and then you decided that you were going to learn how to be a book coach.

Sunni Brown 15:01

I still want to! So deeply

Patti Dobrowolski 15:03

Did you? You did the training for it though, right?

Sunni Brown 15:06

Yeah, I paid for the training and give a shout out to Jenny Nash. It’s called Author Accelerator.

Patti Dobrowolski 15:10

Jenny Nash, she’s fantastic.

Sunni Brown 15:11

She’s incredible. She was my book coach in the past. Yeah. And I have a book client, actually, that I’m working with on a trilogy that is a phenomenal trilogy. But so, you know, it’s still there’s a parallel track there. But I got derailed by this doodler-in-residence thing, but I do plan to return to book coaching and writing as soon as conceivably possible. Because

Patti Dobrowolski 15:31

Yes, because you love it. That’s what’s true. Like, if you follow Sunni Brown on Instagram, you’ll see that she has, in the past posted these pictures of an entire wall filled with books that are stacked up waiting to be read. Because you’re an obsessive book buyer. You don’t, like, get it on Audible and listen. No! You like the book in hand, and then you marker it up, and you do all the stuff that you do with it, which is fantastic. Me too. You know, my wife Julie’s always like, “Are you getting another book? And this one’s on trust? So let’s read it together.”

Sunni Brown 16:06

Oh cool! Yeah, I got Atomic Habits because you recommended it. And it’s outstanding.

Patti Dobrowolski 16:11

Oh, good. Good. Yeah. Well, alright. So then you decided that you were going to do something completely different. And so it’s not completely different? Because you know, the thread of everything runs through. And this is the other thing if you want to pivot know that. You know, you think that you just have this job, and you’re doing it and whatever, right? And then suddenly, it bores you, you want to do something else. Or, you know, for me, I worked in the theater, but I worked all backstage in the theater, you know, and so I ran later, when I was not an actor– couldn’t act anymore–I was running slides for Holly Near! I was her projectionist up in the booth, because I knew how to do it. And so I think that’s part of it, is that you have always these skills in your toolkit, and then you machinate them up, and then boom, this opportunity happened for you. So say a little bit about what you’re doing now.

Sunni Brown 17:05

Oh, and I was gonna say, because I’m realizing that we’re giving people support around making those changes. Just realize that I want to say something about that, too. So a lot of times people have I have noticed people have a hard time understanding how their skills adapt to new environments. But to me, that’s just a creative design question. Because there’s no way that whatever skills you’ve been developing, even if you’re in a bureaucratic job that you loathe, there are skills, micro skills and macro skills that you are fundamentally developing that can be applied in many environments. So the invitation is to unlearn what you think those are for, and then apply them to another possible path. So I just want to acknowledge that.

Patti Dobrowolski 17:45

That’s fantastic. I love that. So unlearn what you think they are for and then apply them to the new path? Yeah, god, that’s so good. That’s quotable. Okay, good. All right. So then, then what happened? So what are you doing now?

Sunni Brown 18:03

What’s so crazy, Patti, is that again, so the world feels very topsy turvy for everyone. And I think it will continue. You know, I’m only one person I don’t have a crystal ball. I suspect the uncertainty of a

Patti Dobrowolski 18:14

You have a magic gape-hole and I have a sound machine and that it plays this. Yeah, people, come on! You are excellent!

Sunni Brown 18:25

So Oh, what was I saying?

Patti Dobrowolski 18:28

You were saying you don’t have a magic ball.

Sunni Brown 18:30

I can’t foresee the future. So I’m not saying that — you can take it with a grain of salt. But my suspicion is that ambiguity and uncertainty and volatility are part of our lay of our land. And people keep saying, Oh, I can’t wait for the new normal. And I’m like, There’s no new normal. It’s not static. It’s going to keep changing on you. So it went just like everybody else. In the beginning of the pandemic, I scrambled to figure out how to apply my skills in a different environment, online environment. So we all learned online facilitation as quickly as we could. But I was going to use it for doing like writing, writing workshops and things that were connected to creative contemplative writing practices, like finding your voice, and so forth. And then fast forward a few months in Mural, the online collaboration software is like, can you be a doodler-in-residence? I’m like, what is that? And so now, that’s what I’m up to. But I didn’t see that coming. You know? I don’t try to know anymore.

Patti Dobrowolski 19:26

Yes, but you do accept the opportunity, which is, I think the secret to being able to pivot is that an opportunity will arise and you may not realize or recognize that you’re looking for an opportunity, but let me just say this, you’re broke, and you need work. That’s when you’re starting to ask for the opportunity. But it’s not in the way that you think, which is we sometimes think, oh, now I’m gonna go online and I’m gonna apply for a job. In fact, it’s relationships that create the connections that create the next step. You know, if you can, you know being a doodler, you understand the importance of visioning, using a visual format, because it helps you to know what’s all messy inside, put it out there, figure out, okay, I don’t want that mess. But I sure would like something that looks like this, and feels like this. Right? And then things start to happen, right?

Sunni Brown 20:28

I think the imagination and the visualization of what you can imagine is, and this is actually not my belief, there’s evidence to support this: you’re playing with a field of energy. All of us are. Energy that’s in tactical, physical form, and energy that is about to become into form and energy that is formless. We’re all like Jedi, like with our lightsabers and different levels of mastery, playing with the field, period. There’s no getting around that. And so the question is, what are you receptive to, amenable to, what are you putting into the field? Because you’re going to get feedback from that energy, you’re going to get feedback. So are you paying attention to the feedback you’re getting? Can you move and change according to the information coming? You know, that to me is like being alive. That’s really being alive? When you’re like, I’m scared, but I got a signal, and the signal it has some information that I think I need to use. So I’m going to try it. I’m going to do a little experiment, doesn’t have to be all in. You don’t have to like sell your house and get a sailboat in like a day or two.

Patti Dobrowolski 21:33

You don’t have to go and create a whole website for something. You can test things first. Test the waters. See if you actually like what you think you got as a message. Do you like it? Is it right for you? What you’re talking about with the energy field, because, you know, my friend, Dawn calls this “spinning the universe”, that you spin the universe on your behalf. And what you’re doing is actually working with the energy field and testing things. That’s what design thinking is all about. That you come up with an idea, you figure out if you have a customer. And who is the customer? Whatever the idea you have, then you come up with, brainstorm with, a product or a process or consulting practice, or coaching or whatever it is that you want to do, or, you know, sports innovation, and then, you test it. You test it to see if a) anybody likes it and b) it’s something that you like to do for the next, you know, year or two years? I don’t know, right? a lifetime!

Sunni Brown 22:35

I know, I feel like, so what I call “cognitive rigidity”, meaning like an unwillingness to determine if something else is possible, or an unwillingness to ask a question or an unwillingness to be wrong or make a mistake. If I was gonna say, is there a fatal flaw in a human life, it would be cognitive rigidity, because there’s no staying the same size. There’s only just shrinking or growing or expanding. Yeah, there’s no static. So if you’re not open to new experiences, new ideas, new possibilities, if you’re not willing to put a foot in the little arena, then you’re going to get what you’re creating, period. There’s nothing that falls from heaven and says, like, “Oh, I know that you’ve been longing for this opportunity.” You have to meet it halfway. You have to play in the space. And yes, you will get your ass kicked. I mean, do you know how many times my ass has been kicked by the universe. I’m consistently ass-kicked all up and down. But it makes me strong. And it makes me feel confident. And it makes me feel courageous. And it gives other people ideas, and then I meet people like you, and then I get this like this feedback. And so my heart goes out to people that are too scared to try or have been conditioned by their lives and their parents and society, to not take risks because they don’t feel safe. Because I’m not blaming or judging them, I understand that I understand that mind state. And I would just encourage you to just kick the fucking door open seriously.

Patti Dobrowolski 24:02

And so part of what I’m just listening to right now is that it’s essential for you to take risks. If you want to create any kind of change. You have to go out on a limb and you have to risk doing something differently. And it’s scary, and it’s, but you can do it. You can do it. And it’s really like the biggest tip is, you know, one, get something that you think will be fun to do. Get an idea about something and then test it and try it, but pay attention to you and everything around you, so that you are in alignment with what is true for you. What is truth? You can’t dumb down, you know, or push down the fear about what you’re doing. You have to step into it and go through it. That is the place to be in. I think standing in your own power. Right. And I was thinking about this: Dan Sullivan, he said, “Personal confidence comes from making progress towards goals that are far bigger than your present.” Far bigger than your present. And for some people, those far bigger goals might be just a little tiny thing for you to do something different.

Sunni Brown 25:17

Yeah, right. That’s right. There is like in that book by Bill Burnett, it’s called Designing Your Life. Yes. He talks about micro experiments toward the goal. So like small hurdles, because it can be daunting to have, you know, like, if you say, I want to be a published writer, yes. Like that is too big of a I mean, I like the goal as a northstar. But there’s a million little tiny goals on the way to that that we have to be committed to showing up for.

Patti Dobrowolski 25:47

And he, Bill Burnett, talks about easy change and hard change. So those are like easy change that you can make. Those are the things that we do all the time. But you have to consistently do things that are hard, too, so that you get used to it. So that you can feel like, “Oh yeah, this feels hard. Oh, this is one of those hard changes.” That means I’m gonna have to step back, and I’m going to have to reflect, and I’m going to have to use every technique that I know, you know, every sitting practice that I use: any meditation, to try to get information and even then, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’ll want to make the record skip. Does that make sense? Yeah, I want to skip over it. I’m just gonna skip to the end. Can we get to the next song, and the universe will be like, “No, no. You better get this, girl, because I’m deeply embedded in this, as your self esteem issue. Or how you like to boss people around, you know.” And so you got to go in there. You gotta gotta dig that up, too.

Sunni Brown 26:55

It’s doing that makes you more effective in whatever function you’re actually going to lean into. So that there’s a reason why those things come up. They’re actually to support you when you actually lean into and start to get very–there’s a concept called burnishing. So like, you know, we come with all this, like, under coal, people’s piece of coal. Yeah, it’s like, we’re gold, right? But there’s like coal on the outside of it, or?

Patti Dobrowolski 27:18

Yeah you gotta get to the diamond.

Sunni Brown 27:21

Yes, diamond. So you got to shine and polish it right. And so you cannot skip the step, right? Because it defies the laws of physics if you do that. And so you have to lean into the resonance of the system. And trust that the lessons you get are required for you to grow into something.

Patti Dobrowolski 27:39

I love that: resonance of the system. So, Sunni was saying earlier, you know, if you want to be a best selling author, right, remember, you have to resonate with that system. And that means you have to do all the things to make you a good writer, understand what needs to go into a book, so it can be best selling, because it’s not easy. And plus, you got to be a PR person on top of all that. There are so many other–

Sunni Brown 28:06

There’s so many lightning strikes that have to happen for that.

Patti Dobrowolski 28:09

That’s right. Lightning strikes. I love that.

Sunni Brown 28:11

Because when I coach writers, that’s the first thing they want. Of course that’s what we all want, like a New York Times bestseller. And I very regularly tell them a paradoxical thing. I’ll say like, I want that for you. And I’m delighted that you want that. And the truth is that the probability of that is low. So it’s a weird goal, because it’s fundamentally discouraging, in a way. And it’s not an indication of the quality of your book. Because the marketplace for books is not about “this is actually the best book”. There’s —

Patti Dobrowolski 28:39

No, it’s about a tipping point. It’s, it’s really a tipping point in the system. And so yes, it would be a trending thing. Yeah, it’s the same thing. If you put something and you think “I want that to become viral!” I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve worked with, where they say, “Do you think we could post this? And it would be viral?” And I’d be like, “No.”

Sunni Brown 29:01

“You wanna put lightning in a bottle?” Okay. But the thing is, if you ask people, because I know a lot of writers and so there’s people who have orchestrated and designed a bestseller using, like SEO and algorithms and like paid functions, which are, that’s not the same thing as being an authentic New York Times bestseller. And when you ask people that have achieved that goal, they don’t have any fucking idea how that happened. They’re like, “I mean, we did a couple things that seemed like it was good.”

Patti Dobrowolski 29:19

That’s like what Bill said, you know, he was a self-published author. So that’s what happens. You publish one. And then these other things happen. And so I love that well, yeah, I love this conversation and all the pivots and now I want to ask you so when you lay awake in bed at night, and you’re dreaming your dream of your future, what’s it look like? What’s it feel like for you? What’s in there?

Sunni Brown 29:59

Yeah, I need to draw it because actually, I have a little drawing. I just pulled it out because I just drew this the other day.

Patti Dobrowolski 30:06

Oh I love it. So if you’re not seeing this, because you’re just listening to it, yeah. Have her take a snapshot. Yeah. Can we? I’m sure the show notes because they can be really great.

Sunni Brown 30:16

Oh no! it’s kind of a secret.

Patti Dobrowolski 30:18

It’s too much personal stuff. Nevermind. But anyway, what it is is that it says something in the center, the gathering, in the center, and then all these other cool things around the outside?

Sunni Brown 30:30

It’s like a little hub-and-spoke info doodle. But there is a dream there. And I need to draw it. Because I have drawn some sketches. But I think I need to be real specific about it. I know better. And I need to be real specific. And actually, Patti–

Patti Dobrowolski 30:43

Why do you want to be real specific? Why are you telling people or telling yourself, you need to be real specific? Say more.

Sunni Brown 30:50

You know, I think I need to be as specific as I can, knowing that there’s a play, like there’s a play that I don’t control. But I think the more specific that I am, the more I’m increasing the probability of those particular pieces coming into fruition. That said, it is a participatory process with the field. So if it’s about me, if it’s an egoic pursuit, if it’s like, sort of a distorted pursuit, if it causes harm to others, and like, you know, those variables are in the mix, too. So the specificity wouldn’t be so that I can like determine and predict the outcome, it would just be to say, in contact with the field, this is my most precise vision, and in the hopes that maybe if the system responds to it. But I don’t–

Patti Dobrowolski 31:36

There’s so many things in what you said, and I just want to rewind for a second because you say, do no harm. Because this is part of it. You know, this is one of the spiritual laws, is that you want to do the best you can. But you also, you don’t want to harm anybody in the process. You’re not interested in taking advantage of people in order for this to occur, if it’s meant to occur, if we’re supposed to have this experience. But this or something better is what I often will write on people’s maps, you know, when we draw the future, I’m like this or something better, because we don’t know! This is what came out of your brain today. But yeah, the universe is going to take all the things that it knows about you that you’ve put into the field from before. And it’s going to concoct an experience of boom, you’re going to have, right?

Sunni Brown 32:22

Yeah, totally. And that’s why it’s so beautiful and magical to be alive. Like when you really can play with that. Yeah, it’s a special thing. It’s not something to be taken for granted. And I want to acknowledge again, that my life is not charmed. I have a hell of a backstory, and crazy-ass challenges. And so I’m not speaking from a place of like, everything has gone my way.

Patti Dobrowolski 32:48

Or that everything will go your way. Or if you follow this protocol of Sunni Brown’s that X, Y, and Z is gonna happen. What’s true is everybody’s different. And so your process of change is different for you. And this is what works for you, which I love. Yeah. And so would you just tell us and this just I want to ask you two more things before we wrap up, is one: tell me what happens in your day. What do you do? Like what’s a day in the life of Sunni Brown? Like, what do you get up and then, then what happens?

Sunni Brown 33:20

I get up and I have three things in the morning that I’d like to do, which is meditate, walk my dogs, it’s required. And then hypothetically, exercise. It’s on the calendar. So it appears that it happens. I know.

Patti Dobrowolski 33:40

I know. It’s always a push-pull, you know, with that?

Sunni Brown 33:45

Yeah, I know, I’ll be watching your Instagram and you’re like, I just rode 20 miles on my bike. I’m like, of course she did.

Patti Dobrowolski 33:50

I know. But that’s not every day and you know, I’ll just post that for the day after, you know.

Sunni Brown 33:56

I know. But you’re very active. And we all know that you could, like if we arm wrestle, there will be just a disaster.

Patti Dobrowolski 34:01

I don’t know about arm wrestling. But if we want to bike up a hill, I’m I would be so compelled to beat you know I am. I’m competitive in that way. Alright, so those are the three things that you do. And then tell me what are you reading right now?

Sunni Brown 34:16

What am I not reading?!

Patti Dobrowolski 34:19

Give three books that you’re reading that you think are super cool.

Sunni Brown 34:23

Oh, Ishmael is awesome, which I know that you guys, it’s old school. It’s like from the ’80s or ’90s it’s about the narrative of the over culture, like the dominant narratives that I think is so important to be aware of how they tell us what to do and how to be. And so I love that book. And then I’m reading this thing called Brave New Work, which is like yeah, about just collaborative intelligence and how to be with a team in a non hierarchical way. And then oh, this book, this is like, oh, for the experience that you’re coming to soon. This one’s cool. Check it out. It’s called the Heroine’s Journey Workbook.

Patti Dobrowolski 34:59

Oh, that’s fantastic who’s author of that book?

Sunni Brown 35:02

Murdock. Maureen Murdock It’s crazy because people are obsessed with the hero’s journey, but there is a heroine’s journey.

Patti Dobrowolski 35:08

Oh, yeah. And it’s very different. It’s different. Just be very different. Yeah.

Sunni Brown 35:12

That’s fantastic. Yeah. And also, I was reading about Gene Wilder. I’m reading his memoir.

Patti Dobrowolski 35:18

I love Gene Wilder.

Sunni Brown 35:19

Who doesn’t?!

Patti Dobrowolski 35:22

That guy was so amazing. Imagine being married to the funniest person in the room. Oh, my God. Oh, God. Oh, amazing. Yeah, so many send up. So for I played her in so many different Halloween parties, you know? Oh, yeah. Yeah, always. Rosanna Rosanna Danna. So, um, that wasn’t really the name, though. Was it? Something like that? I think it is. Anyway. Yeah. So but here’s the thing, we have to wrap up, but I think you are so amazing. Do you see everybody what I was talking about when I said at the very beginning, she’s super smart. You are so smart, and you’re so deep. And those two things in combination, they make you just a pleasure to be with so I feel like well, I got to sit and have coffee. I hope everybody that’s listening Did you feel like you got to see and be with Sunni Brown? This is who she is. And she’s amazing. You’re frickin’ amazing and I love you. I love everything that you do in the world and those are such great tips on change. People are going to love them. Yeah, so I’ll put some show notes in about how you can connect with her on Instagram if you want to follow her and keep up with her you know notice cuz she she posts deep things, you know, I post salesy things sometimes and I’m doing this or that.

Sunni Brown 36:39

You’re probably more successfu!

Patti Dobrowolski 36:42

There’s a good, I don’t know about that. But I just think that I love everything that you’re up to so thank you so much for taking the time today. Well it’s amazing to be with you and everybody if you’d like what you heard and you want to hear more you know forward this to your friends so that they can get to know Sunni Brown too and me and then just if you do like it and you like it a lot write a review because that always helps where we are in the standings of the universe, right?

Sunni Brown 37:11

The universe is reading our reviews.

Patti Dobrowolski 37:14

It is! it notates all this stuff in the energy field. So we got to throw that out there. All right. I love you. And so everybody else go out and be your best self out in the world today and till next time Up Your Creative Genius, right?

Sunni Brown 37:35

Yes word.

Patti Dobrowolski 37:40

Thanks so much for listening today. Be sure to DM me on Instagram your feedback or takeaways from today’s episode on Up Your Creative Genius. Then join me next week for more rocket fuel. Remember, you are the superstar of your universe and the world needs what you have to bring. So get busy. Get out and up your creative genius. And no matter where you are in the universe, here’s some big love from yours truly, Patti Dobrowolski and the Up Your Creative Genius Podcast. That’s a wrap.

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