Posts Tagged: storytelling

I Didn’t Die, But My Way of Life Did

bluefeet, Lilli Cloud, intention, career, change, accident, PTSD, work, intentional life

It started out as a typical morning, but it turned out to be a day that changed my life forever.

That day I was on my way from Los Angeles to be with the staff I managed in Orange County, about 30 miles away. I was stressing about a client who was not doing what we recommended. Should I call her now? Later? I was rolling along in my favorite lane, the far left, going about 70 miles an hour.

It was much later that I understood the chain of events that changed my life forever. But it started with someone making a bad lane change.

They clipped the front of the car next to me, then she moved to her left, sideways, towards me. I turned the wheel — too far. Then jerked it back, lost control and sped across all five lanes of traffic until I made impact with a propane truck.

I hit the giant tire of the truck a glancing blow and went airborn, landed upside down and began the worst journey of my life back across the freeway, headed right for the median wall, the roof of my car scraping across the concrete at high speed.

It was at that moment I said: God, if you have something I’m supposed to do with my life, something needs to change, fast.

The scraping sound slowed and my car slid to a stop, a couple of feet from the wall.

Miraculously, I hit no other cars coming or going across the freeway. Miraculously, I walked away from the crash with all of my bodily parts intact. But my brain was broken.

It took over a year to dig out of the pit that is PTSD, but when I did, I was ready to make my life matter.

Before that, I’d just been along for the ride, so to speak. I started college with no idea what to study, but like most people I meet when I do workshops and coaching, I ended up in a career that made use of my talents.

I got promoted frequently and if I didn’t, I moved on to another job. I was even able to use my experience to work abroad for several years. When I came back to the U.S. I was at a fork in the road — one direction I could do well at, the other I really enjoyed. But I needed a job, and the one I could do well at called first.

After a few years, it was soul sucking. Then I freelanced for a year or so, but ended up at a similar, but better, company. I loved the incredibly talented and creative people I worked with at that job, and they gave me unconditional love and support after the accident and all through my recovery, but in the end I needed more meaning in my life, and career is a big part of life.

That was when I decided to quit riding the tide and live an intentional life. I’ve never worked for anyone else since.

You don’t have to have a near-death experience to be ready to have a career of intention. You don’t have to have your own business, become Mother Theresa or run a non-profit. To me, a career of intention is simply this:

  • Knowing what you want
  • Understanding your gifts
  • Sharing them with others

You can decide at any point in your life to be in charge, to be intentional. You may be at a point of transition, but transformation can happen even right where you’re at.

I’m at that point myself. I’ve helped a lot of people, and I can honestly say I’m proud of the work I’ve done in training, coaching, consulting and also with my team of designers and writers. I’ve been able to connect people to each other and causes to actions.

I’ve been honored to help people uncover their gifts and express their brilliance — to help them get the job that’s right for them and to succeed in that job by communicating in ways that are clear, compelling and authentic.

In 15 years of trying to live with intention, here are three things I’ve learned:

1) It’s easy to get off track.

Life happens. In ways good and bad.

A family tragedy, illness or other circumstances that require you to stay with the status quo. Time goes by.

A different opportunity comes along;  you go off and explore it. That can be a good thing, and you may find that it’s not your thing.

You forget. In the day-to-day of living life, you just forget your intention.

2) A regular refresh can re-energize and re-focus.

Ever get interrupted while you’re in the middle of something, go off to handle that thing, and then say: now, where was I? You pause for a moment and remember.

A regular refresh can help you do just that with your life and career.

Often, people do this at the New Year. Many religious traditions have a time to reflect and reset: for Jews, it’s Rosh Hashana. For Christians, it’s Lent. For Muslims, it’s the Hajj. We all love the idea of a fresh start.

That the opening of baseball season coincides with the dawn of Spring is fortuitous. Whatever happened last season is over. We are starting fresh. Hope and optimism are reborn in the wake of a cold, dark winter.

3) Someone needs to know and honor your vision.

It’s hard to believe in yourself if you don’t have anyone who knows your heart and mind, your intentions and ideas.

It’s true that having an accountability partner can make you more successful. But I don’t think it’s just about being accountable.

It’s about being heard and believed in. Someone to say, yes, that iswho you are. Yes, that would be awesome. Yes, I believe you can do that, be that. Yes. You.

It all starts with intention. My intention now is to help more people get and succeed in the career they want. That means taking my coaching and training online. I truly believe when we’re doing the work that’s right for each of us and expressing our brilliance in ways anyone can understand, the world is a better place.

Grandiose? Perhaps. But even if I can only help you make your corner of the world a better place, I will be grateful for the opportunity.

Would you join me? I’ll be launching the first of my online workshops (working title: Creating Your Ideal Work Day) later this year.

To get you started now, you can download a worksheet I use to help people get clear on what they want the world to walk away with when they’ve said yes to the life and career you want.

After all, if you’re going to go for it, it’s a good idea to know what it is.

Best Storyteller Ever

Vin Scully Dodgers bluefeet storytelling storyteller

By bluefeet Creative Director Kerry Seal


We’re saying goodbye to Vin Scully this season, the long time Dodger announcer. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a teen, years before I found my way to Los Angeles.

In all the celebrations and commemorations, it dawned on me Vin might be the best storyteller I’ve ever heard. Read the Rest

bluefeet goes to Harvard

Kim Perez, Harvard Sustainability Masters Program, bluefeet blog

This blog is a brag, a congratulations and a we’re-so-proud-of-you all wrapped into one. Our head writer, Kim Perez, was recently accepted to Harvard University’s Extension School program for a Master’s in Sustainability.

Woo hoo! Way to go, Kim!

Besides all the great material she creates for bluefeet clients, Kim is also studying things like urban planning, energy, land use, systems thinking, and even statistics.

Kim’s goal – to fix something.

She does that for bluefeet clients every day. People always tell her she takes the chaos in their brains and makes it clear. Over time she’s figured out what she’s drawn to is systems – making complex things simple. (If you’ve ever read her blog about efficient, minimal travel, you know she’s been simplifying things since childhood).

But what does this mean in the context of sustainability, and what is sustainability, anyway?

Global sustainability means making sure we humans are doing things in a way that ensures life today as well as tomorrow. It’s the ultimate design challenge for someone who likes to tinker with systems to make them more efficient.

Kim’s always looking for ways to be better, to grow and learn. So far, she’s researched and written about fair trade, visiting artisans in El Salvador and producing a short web film about meeting coffee growers in Nicaragua. She reported on delivering healthcare to remote villages in Malawi for, and wrote a white paper on rainwater harvesting for a client. She volunteered in a fair trade retail store.

A few years ago she looked out at 10-year goals and realized she could go deeply into an area of interest, be the academic she always wanted to be, and get a new degree with years to spare in her career. She was thrilled to discover the degree program in sustainability at Harvard, and she’s almost half-way through.

We’d love to put Kim’s knowledge and sensibilities to work for clients in this area. Let us know if you need help with:

  • Telling stories about what your organization is doing related to sustainability, so your customers, investors and employees know about your results.
  • Inspiring employees and partners to get excited about your company’s green initiatives.
  • Making the case for changing the way your company or community does things.

And anything else that involves turning chaos into clarity – finding a simple way to share your complexity.

Kim Perez, Harvard Sustainability Masters, bluefeet blog

Who’s Telling Your Story?

Who's Telling Your Story? bluefeet blog post by Lilli Cloud


When I was in college in the ‘80s, the worst thing a woman could do was start her professional life as a secretary. Once seen in that role, you were going nowhere.

I didn’t really believe this because I knew I was headed for a successful career. I knew who I was. Read the Rest

The Power of the Pause


“Go ahead … make my day.”  – Dirty Harry, Sudden Impact

“I am … the danger.”  – Walter White in Breaking Bad

“Louis … I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”  – Rick Blaine, Casablanca

“Bond … James Bond.”  – Need I say more?

Great lines, delivered by great actors, but made all the more powerful by the ever-so-slight … pause. Read the Rest

Treat Me Like I’m 11


Tell it to me like I’m a really smart kid. This is the advice used in bluefeet workshops and coaching sessions, especially when the subject matter is technical or the industry filled with jargon.

And it works – almost like magic.

I first discovered this when working with a stem cell scientist who was mired in academic speak, a fate even worse than corporate speak. He had a son who was 11, old enough to understand science, but still a kid.

“Explain this to me like you’d explain it to your son,” I told him.

Read the Rest

A Storied History

A Storied History bluefeet blog post by Lilli Cloud

“What I feel about history and leadership is that the best way to reach people … is to be able to tell a story.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and historian

If only my history teachers had known that.

History was always so boring. Facts and figures. Memorization. Stuff I learned for the test and mostly forgot.

The problem is, no one ever told me a story, at least not well enough to keep me interested. But in college, I took a class I didn’t have to attend and history came to life. Read the Rest

Japan’s Lifesaving Story

Japan's Lifesaving Story - bluefeet blog post by Lilli Cloud

Stats can be sexy, but stories can save lives.

Our recent tremblor here in LA reminded me about this beautiful story that ran on the op-ed page of the LA Times on the anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan.

Written by a professor of engineering, he describes how technology was overwhelmed by the quake’s magnitude, but a thousand-year-old story survived to save lives. Read the Rest

Career DNA


What kind of 6-year-old builds a wind tunnel to test his model airplanes? The kind who ends up being the first man to ever step foot on the moon.

I found this gem in Neil Armstrong’s obituary yesterday. Despite all of his many achievements – test pilot, one of our first astronauts and, of course, his famous first step on the moon – the wind tunnel is what fascinated me most. Read the Rest

Your Story in 10 Images or Less


Newsweek-Obama-at-50Is a saying a cliché if it’s true? In this case, that a picture really is worth a thousands words. Since we’re not willing to read a thousands words so often these days, it’s more apt than ever.

Infographics have always been popular. There’s even a site dedicated to them: But lately they’ve popped up as a regular feature in Newsweek, one of the most mainstream of media.

One of the most consistent relationships in my adult life has been with Newsweek. I’ve been a subscriber since college, when a journalism professor went down the long list of all the things I had to read regularly. I picked Newsweek because then at least I’d have a summary of the news when I didn’t get through the rest of his list. Read the Rest