Tephra Miriam is an avid thought leader, author of middle-grade novel ‘Escape to Clown Town’, graphic artist, photographer, musician, producer and entrepreneur with a passion for change. Tephra grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and moved to Chicago, Illinois when she was 18 years old, where she currently resides. Her search for adventure took her far and wide at a young age and she continues to mentor, learn, work and speak all over the US. Tephra is a firm believer of redefining the way we think and live. She is a wellness advocate and often blogs on organizational development, challenging the status quo and creating a holistic work environment. Tephra believes that creating space in your life to play, imagine and dream is vital in problem solving, stress management and innovation. As a product of 12 years of homeschooling, Tephra started out at Harold Washington College in Chicago, Illinois before transferring to DePaul University and receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Communications and a Master of Arts degree in Applied Professional Studies with a concentration in Authorship and Entrepreneurialism.
Where did the idea for Tephra Miriam Publishing and Productions come from?
I’ve always had really high standards for people that I worked for in the past, and I was starting to develop new ways of thinking, living, and working that I just wasn’t seeing in the workforce. It dawned on me that I needed to pave the way, and it’s easy to have these ideas of how things should be, but if I can’t demonstrate leadership in this space, then my ideas are worth very little.
This led me to what I could do in the communications space and how to add more value and creativity to any and all communications mechanisms such as corporate communications, social media, and even marketing, PR, and organizational development. All of these areas require strategic planning and campaigning, whether internal or external.
I then began to develop my business platform, which is and always will be Service, Education, and Thought Leadership. My business is founded on more than just revenue. It’s about serving and building up communities, leaving a legacy, and influencing thought for the better. I view business as an eco-system that requires balance, almost like farming. If you take from the earth and never plant seeds, you will deplete your resources. As businesses, we cannot only consume–we have to give back.
My journey into the world of writing and production led me to launch Tephra Miriam Publishing and Productions, and all started with a cause. My cause turned into my business, and my business gave birth to publishing the first book in my Clown Town Adventures series for tweens, teens, and young adults.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are usually packed from sun-up to sun-down. I spend a lot of time on the computer doing strategy, execution work, marketing, and business development. Then I also have meetings, calls, events, and I work with a few non-profits in my area. Being grounded in the reason why I do things helps me to stay focused and productive. Volunteering is also a great reminder that there is so much work to be done in the world and that people need real help. It drives me to keep going and help to somehow reduce human suffering in the world and pave the way for other women and minorities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am a very visual person. This is how many of my books come to life. I can see it all play out in my head. Vision also guides the business side of what I do as well. I have to have a vision of what I want to do, and then I just piece together the ‘how,’ which is the strategic element. Then you architect and build one step at a time.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that excites me is this movement away from command and control management in the workplace. The reason being is that it’s opening up creativity in organizations and a whole new way of living, thinking, and working. I am really passionate about bringing creativity to the workplace because it is becoming an issue of life or death. Workplace violence and mental health issues are on the rise, and companies have to learn how to conduct their work holistically.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m really active, and that helps me to manage stress. I also meditate and volunteer as much as I can, which helps keep me centered. It’s all about getting out of your own head and seeing other people’s perspectives. I always walk away inspired and rejuvenated after I volunteer, and this helps me to stay productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell the younger version of me to focus on the bigger picture and remember that failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey. It might even be a qualifier in starting your own business. I would re-frame that entire perspective for my younger self and worry less about things.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I get the most push back on my publishing process. Everyone seems to have an opinion. At the end of the day, I’m a big believer that you could write a book for literally an entire lifetime and feel that it’s never ready. My advice is to get it out there and do some testing. Then you can publish another volume or rewrite later on.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Staying open to new opportunities can be difficult, especially after being burned a few times. It’s vital, though, to see the value of every opportunity and build authentic relationships.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Learn to see the opportunity in everything, and don’t be discouraged if you have to start small. Do what you can, how you can, and when you can. The key is to be consistent and to cultivate organic growth year over year.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I started my business, I always imagined that success would happen somewhat organically, but I soon realized that when you are first starting out, moving the needle on anything seems to take blood sweat and tears. I was really frustrated in the beginning then I started to find a rhythm. One thing always led to another, and one opportunity was a foundation for the next. Businesses and careers are built and architected, and it rarely happens overnight. It’s a 10-year plan, not a 1-year plan, and every step and experience counts, so it’s essential to learn to thrive in that type of environment early on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d love to start a deep frying service where people can bring in anything that they want, and we’d deep fry it. There you go!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent 100 bucks on a massage at a spa recently. Wellness is an integral part of my life, and I try to do all I can to create balance! Invest in yourself before trying to find people to invest in your company.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I depend on Trello and Google Keep quite a bit to keep me organized. Both of these tools are super lean but efficient at the same time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Jerry Colonna’s book ‘Reboot’ is phenomenal. It’s a genuinely holistic piece that digs into the core of who you are and will challenge any entrepreneur to reflect on why it is that they do what they do. After all, “Better people make better leaders,” as Jerry Colonna states in his book.
What is your favorite quote?
“Discomfort is fertile ground for growth.” Great words from Charline Li and so true.
- Keep failing, and do it as much as possible. It’s only in those times that we see what’s not working.
- Authenticity is your most powerful tool as an entrepreneur. Let that guide all of your dealings.
- Making it to the top of any mountain is never easy–enjoy the climb!
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.