The First Step is Getting Off the Floor: Naomi Dunford Interview

For those of you who don’t know Naomi, reading her blog is a real treat. She’s been called everything from genius to bitch (including a genius bitch and bitchy genius). In October 2007, Naomi launched IttyBiz and within the year, the company was bringing in a six-figure income. So, whatever people call her, she’s doing something right. In today’s interview, we see how Naomi went from the bathroom floor to where she is now, and where she wants to go next.

Who: Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz
Naomi is a buzz-cutted, homeschooling — slightly potty-mouthed –mama and who spends her days helping itty bitty businesses get a whole lot bigger using dirt cheap marketing and promotion techniques.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
One moment? I have to pick one? I thought you said you read my blog! 🙂

About 4 years ago I was working in corporate communications for a Very Big Company and was hating every minute of it. I was doing nothing but watching Law and Order in my spare time and I was skipping more work than not. Zero intellectual stimulation except from my poor husband who by that point was sick of listening to me bitch. I got fat. I felt poor. (In Toronto, it’s a municipal law that everybody has to feel poor.) Basically, wrong job, wrong city, wrong life.

Even our worst behaviors fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
I needed to hit rock bottom, I think. And not Lifetime movie rock bottom, complete with drugs and inappropriate relationships. Just my own personal holy-shit-is-this-all-there-is? rock bottom. Because I work a lot better when there’s only one direction to go, and when it’s that bad, the only way to go is forward.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
There were a lot of factors that went into getting me off my ass, but one stands out in my mind. I’m on the phone with my mother complaining and generally being woeful:

My mom: First, make yourself a cup of tea. Things are better with tea.

Me: I can’t make tea.

My mom: Why not?

Me: Because I’m in a ball on the bathroom floor.

My mom: Well then, the first step is to get off the floor.

And for some reason, “Get off the floor, Naomi” became a bit of a rallying cry for me, both literally and figuratively.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
Well, I felt good. Again, not Lifetime movie good. Just, you know, good. Hopeful. Because when you’re NOT on the floor, that’s one less step you have to take, you know?

As far as what results came from getting on with my life? Moved to London, had a baby, started a business, got my husband out of his lame-ass job and into the business, hired a few employees, got off antidepressants. That’s a few, anyway. 🙂

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I wish this one was deep inside, but it’s pretty close to the surface, actually. I want to start using my powers for good. 🙂 Each of us has a set of skills that can help to change the world. Mine happens to be the power of persuasion. Up until now I’ve been using that power to sell stuff, which is great for getting yourself back up above the poverty line. But it doesn’t exactly feed the hungry or save the whales, does it?

I’m in the process of getting my business to the point where it is more self-sufficient so that I can spend more time supporting causes that actually matter. Environmentalism and climate change are obviously huge issues. And there are people who can help in small ways, like not consuming so goddamn much. But there are also people who can help in bigger ways, like organizing OTHER people to not consume so goddamn much. I want to be one of those people.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
Right now I’m still in the examination stage. Along the lines of the rock-bottom we talked about earlier, I’m near the end of the phase of looking around and surveying the damage in the way I live my life.

We’re fairly low impact by North American standards — we’ve never owned a car, we don’t have an air conditioner, our family lives in a small basement apartment, we don’t commute. But right now I’m looking around me and I’m totally disgusted by our level of consumption. I think at the moment I’m just allowing that to sink in so I can move on from a position of knowledge and power.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Start putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. No matter what your cause is, start being aware of it. Start knowing exactly how bad the situation is. Read the books that make you want to close the cover. Watch the documentaries that tempt you to turn it off.

It’s very tempting to play the “every little bit counts” card, but that card was not invented to avoid action. It was invented to augment action. As in, “yes, I gave up my car and I’m ALSO drinking from a stainless steel water bottle and I’m not importing crap made in coal factories from China”. Not “look at me! I recycled my fourth water bottle of the day! Where do I sign up for my certificate of achievement?”

Find the courage to take big actions. And if you don’t have the courage, fake it. The courage will come.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
An army of minions and reliable child care.

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12 thoughts on “The First Step is Getting Off the Floor: Naomi Dunford Interview

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    Oh my god – an interview with my two favourite virtual personalities! Lovely.

    Thanks for bareing a part of your vulnerable side, Naomi. It’s great to see where you’ve been and more insight into where you’re going.

    And it’s great that we’re now on the same island…not that I’ll stalk you or anything. 🙂

  2. J.D. Meier says:

    Well posed questions Alex.

    I’m glad Naomi came out to play and I like the name IttyBiz.
    IttyBiz … IttyBiz … IttyBiz. It’s addicting.

    Mom’s always have great advice and getting up off the floor is sound advice.

    I like that Naomi plans to use her powers for good, although mischief is fun too, right?

    … and nothing beats an army of minions.

  3. This is cool, a side of Naomi we never get to see. (Or we do see on her blog, but this is kind of like the behind-the-scenes version).

    Plus she’s one of my favorite people. 🙂

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens´s last blog post..TweetDeck: Stacking Your Deck with New Tools

  4. Ross says:

    Hmmmm I think I’d like an army of minions, too! Someday…

  5. Narrf says:

    Great article, but isn’t the link to Naomi’s site wrong. It seems to have an extra ‘z’ in it, which gives a 404 error. Should it not be http://ittybiz.com/?

    Having Googled her, she’d just got a new subscriber! 🙂

  6. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Naomi and Alex – this is a brilliant interview. It sounds like you’ve really turned your life round Naomi, which is brilliant. I do think you’re a bit crackers moving to England – but the South is way better than the North.

    And I know what you mean re: hitting rock bottom. I’ve been there myself and in a lot of ways – I think it makes it easier to rise to the top, when you can’t sink any further.

    I’m also with you on consumption. There’s so much waste and needless crap in the world and it doesn’t do any good. That is what I dislike so much about Christmas. I’ve bought presents for the kids. But I’ve made stuff for the rest of the family.

  7. Awesome! There are so many great online marketers out there, but Naomi is at the top of my list. She has a way of cutting through the crap and making you listen. I’ve read a lot of her posts and I’m still learning on grabbing the readers attention as well as she does.

    She’s not afraid to f up and I think that’s the key, putting yourself out there and trusting that what you do is good and people need it.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog post..Personal Development at Work

  8. Zoe says:

    Naomi just gets more and more awesome, the more I read from her. “Make yourself uncomfortable” is what I try to live by, but I really need these kind of reminders to keep it up.

    Thank you both for this engaging interview 🙂

    Zoe´s last blog post..Community Contemplation: How Will You Choose to Filter?

  9. Alex Fayle says:

    @Andy
    When I first read that I thought “Naomi’s two people? Since when?” then I clued in. Thanks! Being vulnerable is hugely difficult despite the fact that 99% of the people we encounter will open right up in return – it’s that 1% that’s really scary.

    @JD
    I still call my mom from halfway around the world when I’m feeling stressed.

    @JD & @Ross
    As for minions I’m not sure I want any. They sound like a whole lot of work to me…

    @James
    Just think of me as Toto pulling open the curtain on the Wizard… 😉

    @Narrf
    Thanks for the heads up – typo fixed!

    @Cath
    I’ve bought exactly 1 present (for Raul) and split the cost for others in his life. Almost everyone in my life just doesn’t do presents these days and it totally works for me.

    @Karl
    It’s like Brett’s tagline of “fail early, fail often” – there’s so much to learn from fucking up, eh?

    @Zoe
    Living uncomfortably is one of my mottoes as well. Sometimes I let myself be comfortable for a bit, just to enjoy the fruits of all my labours, but then off I go again. 😉

  10. Kelly says:

    Alex,

    As always, great insights into one of my favorite people. This interview has a way of getting at some really great truths.

    Naomi,

    I love “get off the floor,” of course. Most of us have had a similar moment (even if we didn’t have it ON a bathroom floor). But the line that got me was “start putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.”

    We don’t do that enough. We look around and say, “I am uncomfortable.” But we aren’t really, deeply looking at things as they are and wondering what if.

    That’s a great sound-bite-sized reminder to respond to the little nagging voice in my head that says, “you can do better than this, you can do more.”

    Thanks for opening yourself up like this!

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post..The BK Kid: I Trust Their Clean

  11. Carla says:

    Call me living under a rock but I never heard of IttyBiz (probably because I’m so new at blogging), but this is a wonderful interview. This is exactly what I needed to read when I dont feel like I’m getting anywhere. Thank you for posting this!

    Carla´s last blog post..Green and Chic Blog | What is it?

  12. […] discussed this in an interview on Someday Syndrome No matter what your cause is, start being aware of it. Start knowing exactly how bad the situation […]

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