Inspired by the larger principles of feng shui that helped her improve her energy and lifestyle when she needed it most, Dana now teaches others the principles of feng shui through her artices and course offerings found on her website and MindBodyGreen. Dana’s interview inspires us to be patient with our own online course creation and to avoid burnout by building our businesses on a normal work schedule – regular breaks included.
What inspired you to create The Tao of Dana?
It was an experiment. Feng shui was a tool I found and used at a very low point in my life when I was very sick and needed to dramatically alter my energy and lifestyle. It wasn’t just “feng shui” that helped me, though…it was the layers of lessons I learned from the concepts and larger principles of feng shui… And I wanted to share it with everyone in the world. Literally. So I started a Tumblr as an experiment. That Tumblr became bigger than I imagined in very incredible creative circles, with cool kids and awesome people of all ages. It was impossible not to follow its lead and start creating a universe on top of all of this great stuff.
You were recently featured in Athleta’s 100 Women to Watch in Wellness. What has been your road to success and the most important success factors along the way?
Deep love for the whole of what I do, to the point where I’ll stay up past midnight filling out interviews (!) and brainstorming and reading books on everything from romance novels to re-wiring your brain books, all in the service of expanding what I can share every day.
Friends. Real friends, not “networked” friends, who share common interests and passions and missions. In my world, there’s support and collaboration, no competition…. But beyond that… there’s so much synergy. It’s so important to realize that even if you are a solopreneur you’re never working alone.
You have some beautiful online course offerings, such as your Catalyst Camp and Life Detox Jump Start Course. Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs developing their own courses?
It took me a very long time – probably 3 years from my first thoughts – to realize exactly what my audience could really benefit from, how I could deliver it seamlessly from a tech standpoint, and how I could keep expanding their experience. And I’m still learning.
Kajabi is a great platform, and I’m super-excited about Kajabi Next that is being tested now to deliver video courses.
I would focus heavily on creating quality at a price point you can afford. You can do so much now even with iPhones (with tripods and programs like Filmic Pro) and inexpensive cameras to make quality video… but always invest in proper mics for sound and proper lights for a set. It pays to get this right. My video producer is someone I consider critical to my success. I wouldn’t spend insane money, but don’t try to do this on the very cheap and sacrifice quality. People will listen when they can’t watch and if the sound is bad, it’s not going to be a satisfying experience.
Doing courses is very realistically expensive and time extensive. Don’t rush in without a solid sense of what you want and the research under your belt to feel great about your choices. There are so many ways to provide services to people these days and I love my amps dearly but it’s not for everyone.
You also recently launched a Feng Shui course through MindBodyGreen Video Courses. So inspiring! What’s your biggest tip for creating relationships with powerhouses in the wellness space such as MBG?
I’ve been writing for MBG since they started. It was just an energy thing- they got me, I got them, we all became friends and under brilliant leadership their site grew and grew and grew and grew. Write and collaborate with people who you believe in who have a vision, even if they have no traffic yet but they have their head on straight and they’re ambitious. I just designed the new MBG HQ in Dumbo with the founders and it was a very big moment to be finished and to realize in that moment how long ago it all started…!
I think if you’re doing great work that’s original in synthesis at the very least and you’re savvy about getting it seen, big sites will seek you out. That’s been my experience in many other arenas.
Is there a certain strategy you’ve found to be the most effective for growing your audience?
Create outrageously. And ceaselessly. People who tell me I blog too much and “waste time” with the blog don’t receive the emails and comments and incredible connections that I do… And that makes it all worthwhile.
Were there any initial mistakes you made that you would tell a new entrepreneur to avoid?
Take more breaks and work on a “normal” work schedule. Working 24 hours a day is not something I’m proud of, even though I pulled it off in the past… it was totally unproductive. It also caused me to burn out quite a few more times than I’m proud to admit. You really can have a balanced life and still work with great passion…!
What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?
If it feels wrong it is wrong. I can’t do things I’m not interested in doing. There are a lot of right-sounding things I’ve said no to in the last two years, especially.
What is your morning routine?
I’m a Buddhist & I chant morning and evening, so I try to make that very first thing. Also, I have green tea while I go through a list what I have to create for the day, sort through emails, floss like crazy and I write Morning Pages a-la Julia Cameron.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
My grandma’s homemade pasta.
Last book you read?
The Lotus Sutra. Still working on it.
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Olives and cheese. It’s an addiction.
What is your go-to breakfast?
Green tea and sunflower seed smoothies.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
The fact that anything can happen if I create it.
Dana Claudat is a feng shui master and lover of Modern & Contemporary art. You can find out more about Dana and her business, The Tao of Dana, by visiting www.fengshuidana.com.