Ladies, it is my pleasure to introduce Dynamic Duo, Steph Young and Jill Dickman! Meeting at a dance studio where Jill was an instructor, they quickly became friends and have remained so for more than 10 years. (The photo featured is from when they danced together. Aren't they adorable?!) Not only did they notice similar dance styles, sharing ideas and familiar writing styles brought to fruition No Plus One, their published book that helps women every day and promotes self-love.
In addition to the book, both women encourage other women through their own outlets. One of Jill's methods is leading 'positivity sessions' by incorporating "The Awesome List" from No Plus One into the workouts she teaches. Jill compliments each women during the workout then has them compliment themselves. "It's easy to pull positivity when doing something that makes you feel good about yourself."
How did it all start? What made you decide to pursue this path?
A few things came together. We were roommates at the time, Jill was in the living room giggling to herself. She started reading me excerpts from her old journal about past dating disasters. I realized that I had many of the same stories in my own journals so we spent the afternoon reading to each other and laughing at our mishaps. We were then like, “We should write a book.” Aside from that, we were always notoriously single and our friends started to come to us for advice on what to do. Many of them were asking questions around boredom, loneliness, how to flirt, etc. We wanted to make single girls who feel uncomfortable being single feel better about themselves. We were living healthy, single, confident lives and wanted to give others a template to go by.
What was it about each other that made you feel that you would make a good team?
We both had a love of writing and often turned our experiences into entertainment. We also had similar writing styles and humor. Once we started writing together it was hard to tell when one started and the other stopped.
What steps did you take to make your dream a reality?
It took years to make this dream come to life. There was a huge learning curve. We needed to learn the process of how a book is written, published and sold. When the book was halfway written, we pitched the idea to agents for a while, but eventually grew impatient. Finally, we discovered is that there really was no one path to publishing a book so we decided to finish the book rather than sell it to a major publisher. From there, we really just dove into the writing process – one chapter at a time. We hired an editor who’s done best-selling work then we wrote and re-wrote for another year and a half. After the final manuscript was complete, we printed, published and marketed the project, which is still an ongoing process. A lot of research went into choosing a path. We both talked to authors who had signed book deals and learned pros and cons to each method of publishing. Some ways allow more control but require more work and capital, others require less work (only writing and a bit of marketing), but relinquish final control.
How do you manage to stay away from envy, ego or jealousy from getting in the way of your friendship/partnership?
Our personalities mesh really well and there’s little competition for accolades. We also both realize that together we are better. To help manage workloads and expectations of the other, we clearly defined our roles within our partnership and have a contract that we both worked on and agreed upon before we started the publishing process. It felt weird to ask a friend for a contract but above all we realized it would ultimately protect our friendship, which still is the most important thing. Other qualities that help: Self-awareness. Open communication. And understanding what each partner wants out of the project. Understanding that it’s about the vision and not about the end accolades or profit. We both really believe that our message can help others and so that’s always been our guiding light.
What qualities must a good partner have?
Honest communication, work-ethic, strong commitment to the final outcome. For our partnership, Steph is very excited about the business end of the project while Jill loves the writing process. We complement each other and in the upfront knew what kind of partnerthe other would be.
What do you love most about your profession?
Writing is a side profession for both of us, but it allows us so many opportunities to reach new people. It’s a direct way to make content that holds a message. We both write regularly in blogs, articles or in a journal. Writing is a platform but also and outlet. As an art form, it allows each of us to work through emotions, feelings and keep perspective of our lives. It’s really interesting to go back and see where you were a year ago and what you found important.
If you were to pinpoint a few tools for success, what would they be?
Using your resources effectively. Whether they are people, relationships, online tools, talent, etc. You’d be amazed at the information you can find from Internet research. So many people have gone through what you are going through and love to write about it. Use other people’s lessons before you venture out on your own. Second is commitment and passion- there were times during the writing process that felt like torture and like you’re have to sacrifice your friends, fun times, sleep, etc. If you don’t have the passion for your message, you’ll probably quit before you make it through.
What advice would you give a young girl about getting out in the “real” world?
Be brave. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t feel intimidated to say what you think. Speak up. Be professional and treat people fairly. Always do good work and don’t get caught up in drama.
Finding a mentor is key. Did you have a female mentor or idol growing up who has significantly impacted your lives? How?
Idols and mentors are so different. We both take mentorship and lessons from just about everybody in our lives. There are tidbits everywhere if you open your eyes to see them. Both men and women can help navigate through life. Steph has taken a lot of inspiration from business and spiritual leaders while Jill looks to her sisters and family as inspiration. We both have found people who are doing what we want to do – living the way we want to live – and asked them for guidance.
As far as Idols, pretty much any woman that’s making waves and gives us the confidence to step outside the box – Beyoncé, the characters from Sex and the City, other writers. We are both dancers as well, so anybody who is a phenomenal performer is incredibly inspiring. Janet Jackson is a great example of a trailblazer who leaves it all on the stage for the sole purpose of entertainment.
What/who inspires YOU to get through each day & overcome every challenge?
Our peers. We both have such inspiring and amazing friends. Each time one of us triumphs, it’s a boost to the whole group. Also knowing that at our lowest somebody will be there to help pick up the pieces is comforting. We’ve made some great found families that offer the support system to get through everyday life.
What is your definition of BEAUTIFUL?
Awe-inspiring. Something that takes your breath away. Makes you stop what you’re doing and be in the moment.
What is your favorite shade of Lipstick?
Red Orange. It’s called persimmon and/or chapstick.
Why do you think women organizations like Lipstick Sister are important?
Women need women. It gives us a support system and sounding board to work through issues we face uniquely as women. It gives us peers and mentors. It provides inspiration and a blueprint by learning how other women have approached certain aspects of life. It also reminds us that we are not alone.
Do you have a favorite quote that empowers you? If so, share it with us!
The journey is the destination.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!