[quote style=”boxed”]Make your own opportunities. Every time you hear yourself whine over someone else’s good fortune, identify that envy for what it is—your own inner critic and resistance.[/quote]
A stay-at-home humorist, Ann Imig writes essay, fiction, and shtick after her two young boys fall asleep at night–before she collapses.
Ann managed to conceive of, direct, and produce LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER (live readings in celebration of Mother’s Day in cities across the U.S.), despite the fact that she barely has time to shower.
Ann’s written for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, BlogHer, College Humor, Errant Parent, Funny Not Slutty, Women On Writing, and various other humor and writing websites, and Babble.com named her the #1 funniest Twitter Mom of 2011. She was featured in Brava Magazine in May of 2011, has spoken at conferences across the country (Blissdom, BlogHer, Creative Alliance) and was a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Veronica Ruekert Show in 2010. Ann also serves on the Board of Directors for Violence Unsilenced, a website dedicated to giving survivors of abuse a voice online.
Ann began her career as a stage actress (office temp), eventually earned a master’s degree in social work, and completed a trifecta of lucrative careers as a writer. After one too many requests for more treats and more TV, Ann named herself national director for Listen To Your Mother (LTYM). Ann faintly remembers making good money for a few years in TV ad sales, where she learned a lesson that would carry her through the darkest of parenting moments: No matter how colicky the baby, it beats a “Glengarry Glen Ross” themed sales meeting.
What are you working on right now?
LTYM just finished an incredible 10-city season, and I’m already in the planning phase for 2013. In the off-season I have more time to focus on writing, and plan to spend July and August working on rewrites of a novel I wrote 18 months ago.
Where did the idea for Listen To Your Mother come from?
LTYM grew out of my blogging community. Hearing bloggers reading their work aloud as part of the BlogHer 2009 conference (the largest of its kind for online women) planted the seed. Several months later I decided I wanted to give my real-life community a taste of the creative vitality happening online, with a professionally produced live event in my hometown. The idea came to me eight weeks before Mother’s Day, and as soon as I made that connection, the name followed and I happened upon something extraordinary.
What does your typical day look like?
Given the summer schedule, my day involves a lot of repeating myself, counting to three, status updating, and sugar/screen recon. Day camp starts in one week, at which time I shall sound the sweet pan-flute of freedom.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I surround myself by talented trusted people who both intimidate and inspire me. They make my work better by motivating me to reach further than I ever would on my own.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Pantsuits! And also, women finding their voice through writing on the internet.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked for a notoriously difficult man in the TV ad sales business in the early 2000s—during the worst economic downturn the business had seen for 30 years—and with only one year of experience in a position that typically required 3-5. I can’t say it was the worst job because of all the skills I took with me when I left (negotiating, anticipating and role-playing outcomes, and, well, Chutzpah), but I learned the vital lesson that you can be really good at something that happens to make you miserable. The best thing about doing the worst job when you’re young? Perspective. I’d still choose any sleep-deprived, gastrointestinal-afflicted day with my kids over a day as a sales executive with my old boss in a windowless conference room.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I value every experience I’ve had because they all contributed to the person I am today (okay, maybe except for my only perm in third grade—the one that my crush Ben Schulenberg said reminded him of Animal from The Muppets).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make your own opportunities. Every time you hear yourself whine over someone else’s good fortune, identify that envy for what it is—your own inner critic and resistance. Step away, take a break if you need to, and then flip that energy into positive action, motivating you along your own path rather than expending that energy refereeing someone else’s journey.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I continually encounter problems and thank my mentor Deb Rox for her generosity almost every day. I’m realizing that sometimes if I look at a situation from a different angle, it’s less of a problem that needs to be fixed and more of my own ego or feelings that I can navigate toward a greater good for LTYM.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Read about servant leadership. Last year I read Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership by Joseph Jaworski, and it fundamentally changed my relationship with my project, helping me trust LTYM’s path and not let control and fear limit its potential.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Every answer I try to write leads me to a 1980s celebrity pop recording, so maybe that’s where we start. We need a new “We Are The World/Feed The World/Leave people alone and let them marry who they want to” rock anthem.
Tell us a secret.
In the break of Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long” he says, “Tam bo li de say de moi ya” which translates loosely to, “I wanted to say something Carribeanese or Africanesque here, so I made some faux-ethnic sounds out of my mouth!” You’re welcome.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Blogger, Facebook, and YouTube. Blogging sites, like Blogger and WordPress, and social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, helped create and sustain this entire project, bringing us thousands of both online and live audience members, as well as hundreds of past/future LTYM directors, producers and readers. Our YouTube channel allows us to share LTYM with a global audience. I love that these free platforms and so many more like them bring people together from all over the world to build community and creativity.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I rely heavily on authors like Melody Beattie, Pema Chodron and Anne Lamott to keep my faith along my journey. I keep Beattie’s More Language of Letting Go by my bed. Whenever I feel unhinged, her words anchor and inspire me.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@marinkanyc @wendiaarons @gonnakillhim tweet frequently, will make you laugh with every tweet, and link to good content. Bonus recommendation: @hotcomestodie for hilarious one-liners.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
About 45 minutes ago, my five-year-old said to his eight-year-old brother, “Want to play head vs. butt? I’ll be the head.”
Who is your hero?
My heroes are regular people who risk everything to help victims of persecution—especially those who hid Jews and others from the Nazis–because I doubt my own courage. Also, Trader Joe.
Ann Imig on Twitter: @annsrants
Listen To Your Mother on Twitter: @LTYMShow
Ann Imig on Facebook: Ann’s Rants
Listen To Your Mother on Facebook: LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER
Listen To Your Mother on YouTube: LTYMShow
Ann Imig’s website: www.annimig.com
Listen To Your Mother’s website: listentoyourmothershow.com
Ann Imig’s blog: annsrants.com
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.