Upstream is the name of my weekly newsletter and podcast I co-host with David.
I’ve had aquatic and fish themed puns throughout my years in business (School of Minnows was the name of a short stint in family photography).
I tell a story of why I called my newsletter Upstream, and it had to do with this surprising fact I found when researching about salmon:
“In northwest America, salmon is a keystone species, which means the impact they have on other life is greater than would be expected in relation to their biomass. The death of the salmon has important consequences, since it means significant nutrients in their carcasses, rich in nitrogen, sulfur, carbon and phosphorus, are transferred from the ocean to terrestrial wildlife such as bears and riparian woodlands adjacent to the rivers. This has knock-on effects not only for the next generation of salmon, but to every species living in the riparian zones the salmon reach.”
Those knock-on effects were such a great analogy to the work we do as creators and leaders. There’s an inherent generosity built into the hard work of swimming upstream.
For us as creatives, we are swimming upstream in a river. A river that’s been called self doubt, the amygdala, the Resistance, or the Censor. It’s the voice that screams at us, shaming us, calling us imposters, and stopping us from taking a risk and spawning our art. Art that can create knock-on effects to serve your people.
I wrote this story when I first started this newsletter, before I discovered coaching. Over the last few months, there’s another way I’ve been seeing this meaning of “Upstream”.
So much of our time and energy are spent on things that are “downstream,” like tactics, tips, formulas, hacks, how to’s, etc. It’s those things that are easy to digest and stay busy doing, but many times we do things without asking ourselves why. We do many downstream actions that didn’t start properly upstream.
Clients usually come to me frustrated about why all the work they are doing isn’t effective in gaining and audience or earning revenue.
The privilege I have is to take them on a journey upstream through the hard work of relearning, rethinking, and reimagining what they are doing. It’s going against the current of what we do or are expected to do, and go back to where the calling was first heard.
It’s usually about working on mindset, values, and casting a vision for their work. Everything else falls into place downstream.