burning questions with naomi dunford, domanatrix of itty biz
A straight-talking female entrepreneurial adviser, SEO cracker jack, with a giving heart who knows her value and has a proclivity for fishnets? How could I not be smitten? What I love about Naomi Dunford’s work is that it’s a) incredibly practical and logical, and b) it radiates an intention of “I’m really here to help you. Really.”
If you feel shitty, Naomi is there for you. If your customers are telling you they’re too broke to buy your great stuff, Naomi is there for you. If you’re scared that you don’t have an ounce of creative great stuff in your marrow, yep, Naomi is there for you. With the real goods – generous intelligence and the crack of her whip. Take that! She knows you need what she’s got. Bad.
1. What do you know to be true, unquestionably beyond doubt, certain with every cell of your being, completely, passionately, righteously certain?
You know, it’s taken me a week to answer this question and now, finally, I’ve realized that I can’t let you sit there waiting for my answers forever, while I think about what it is that I’m certain about. Perhaps it’s best to be honest and say… nothing. I don’t think I’m that certain of anything. I have been certain about so many things and the jarring proof of my wrongness has always been immediate and in direct proportion to the level of my certainty.
Maybe I’m most certain that it is wise to avoid certainty.
2. What was the dumbest thing that you used to believe in?
That I had to make lots of money to be happy. Then I made lots of money and, sure enough, it’s not actually a recipe for constant and all-consuming joy. Who knew? What is it the Grinch says at the end of the book? “Maybe Christmas DOESN’T come from a store… Maybe Christmas means a little bit more”? Yeah, same is true for happiness.
At the same time, having pots of money helps, if only to make you know deep in your own bones that it doesn’t do the stuff you thought it would. It’s one thing getting lectured about money and happiness by Oprah. It’s a whole ‘nother thing when you’re lecturing yourself. (Money is also nice to have so that when you fall into bed at 4:26 am, full of terror and existential angst, you will at least be crying on a very high thread count pillow case. Also, life was never made worse by having a cleaning lady.)
3. What are you positively addicted to?
Giving shit away. I have been quite ridiculously blessed over the last few years, and absolutely nothing makes me happier than giving stuff away. I read this amazingly sweet book by Debbie Macomber called One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity, and that encapsulates my thoughts quite nicely. I will give money to panhandlers and then walk to the bank to get them more. I go apeshit for Christmas toy drives. I scour my house for change when my church does its penny drive.
I have an anxiety disorder and for years it was crippling. After too long, I finally put the pieces together. When you share, you don’t feel like shit anymore. Eventually, I figured it out. So whenever I feel myself getting anxious, I go find something to give away. I swear, it’s better than cigarettes, to which I am also addicted but not quite so positively.
The other thing is education. I dropped out of high school to give birth to my oldest son and get married, and I never went back. Now I sit around scouring wikipedia and strange sections in the bookstore. I’m homeschooling my son and really trying to push my own boundaries with regard to learning. It’s so easy to go into the bookstore and end up in the section you always end up in through autopilot. But learning something completely and utterly new? Exhilarating.
(In related news, we were out in the backwoods of nowhere yesterday, picking up a puppy for a friend. Jamie says to me, “I wonder why barns are always red.” Out comes the iPhone and bing, bang, boom, here’s the answer. Who knew?)
4. In the mammoth sphere of all things on-line, who do you think has got it going on? Whose stuff do you actually read? And to put a fine point on it, would you pay to read any of it? Big question for a social media cat like you, I know.
Ahh, see? That’s the crucial question, isn’t it? What would I read when I had nothing better to do, versus what would I pay to read? Maybe I’ll take it out of the hypothetical… whose stuff have I actually paid for? Your stuff, but that’s a cheating answer, isn’t it? I’ve paid for Havi’s stuff, although I wish the bitch would get on with writing three books a year so I can really get my fill. I’ve paid for Charlie’s stuff, when he’s not being too philosophicer-than-thou. Goddess Leonie is blowing my damn mind.
When Brian Clark is on his game, he can’t be beat by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Jonathan Fields regularly makes me cry, the bastard. Michael Bungay-Stanier is like a brilliant, rare kind of star and his books are glorious. Chris Brogan can create real, honest-to-God beauty when he’s talking about personal stuff. Pam Slim, same deal. Gary Vaynerchuk, but only when he’s in ass-kicking mode. When he’s nice, I get bored.
Can I write you back when I think of everyone I missed?
5. What book(s) are you always telling people to read?
I don’t tell people to read books. The only books I think you should read are the ones that you adore, and screw anybody who tells you otherwise. If I hear “Oh my God, you HAVE to read Made to Stick” one more time, I’m going to shoot myself.
Although, come to think of it, if you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell, you might want to. I find him eminently useful for when I start thinking I’m smarter than I am.
Never mind. Forget I said anything.
6. I’m going to give you a word. Tell me what the first thing that comes to mind when you read it… Ready? The word is: SISTERHOOD.
One of the things I regret most about my life so far is that I haven’t known enough sisterhood. I lived with my single father for most of my young years, and through various combinations of my parents’ marriages, I ended up with two half-brothers and two step-brothers. We moved around so much that any fledgling relationships with girls were over before they started. And since my father had issues with femininity, I never really learned to bond with other members of my gender. No Barbie dolls and lipgloss in my house.
Then I grew up and gave birth to three boys by 25. Yowza.
Sisterhood is a big priority for me now. I’m thinking of joining a choir, God help us. I’m spending more time with my aunts. I’m trying to forge more female friendships. Most interestingly, my dearest friend is James Chartrand of James Chartrand — a woman pretending to be a man. I’m sure the analysts in your audience will have a field day with that one.
Bonus Q: What’s the best thing about living in Canada?
The lack of pretense. Maybe this is just where I live — southwestern Ontario, The Land Of Hicks and Farmers — but it seems like even in urban areas, we’re all total trailer trash underneath. We play hockey. We drink coffee from Tim Horton’s. “Double double” is literally in our dictionary. We can drive a rusty pickup truck while wearing a flannel shirt and a toque we got out of a case of beer, all without a hint of irony.
Also, there’s something very, very good about a country where men can marry men and women are legally allowed to go topless in public. It says something about a place, you know?