Creativity, Yenta and Magic: Feed Your Soul with Carlota Zimmerman
ENTREPRENEURS, LISTEN UP because we have found you someone so magical! Meet Carlota Zimmerman, The Creativity Yenta. What’s a yenta, you ask? If you’ve ever seen Fiddler on the Roof, then you’re probably a little familiar with the word yenta. For those of you who have not, a yenta is a busybody, a nag…a coach! And nagging, brainstorming, and coaching is what Carlota does best, ergo: Carlota the Creativity Yenta...a unique and powerful alter ego. From the time she was SEVENTEEN (!!!) and her first play, "Man at His Best" won the 1991 Young Playwrights Festival to when she graduated with a degree from Indiana University-Bloomington Maurer School of Law in 2007, Carlota pursued and embraced her entrepreneurial spirit head on. In the process of starting her business, she did not have a vacation for 7 years. All she had was a list of everything she didn’t know; the dreams of what her business could be. What really feeds Carlota’s soul? Taking risks.
As mentioned above, when Carlota Zimmerman was just seventeen she wrote a festival winning play, earning herself a large sum of grant money accompanied by an entire production of the play and a review from the New York Times. Throughout this process, Carlota reached out to member of Young Playwrights’ Sherry Hursh for some advice, and made an important connection that has stuck with her throughout her career. “All entrepreneurs know, when you’re in the early years of small business, it’s basically like a fantasy in your mind. You can see it, but everyone else thinks you’re crazy. Those are the times when you figure out who your friends are.” Women judge each other and themselves so harshly, conditioned to be so unpleasant to each other, and Hursh was somebody who made Carlota feel empowered, that all of her ideas were fantastic. And doing what creativity yentas do best, Carlota learned an important lesson from her encounters with Sherry as a young entrepreneur: you must learn how to ask for help. “If you’re reading this interview and you’re thinking about making changes in your life, you have to learn how to value yourself and your dreams enough that you can ask for help even when you want to vomit and cry simultaneously. Allow yourself to believe that your dreams are worth help.”
Any New Yorker knows that it seems almost impossible to consistently “maintain a sense of inner peace.” The same goes for Carlota, so when we asked her how she keeps the peace, she answered, “frankly, for me, my whole coaching business. This whole business brought me back to the person I wanted to be and helped me achieve, for a New Yorker shall we say, some sort of inner peace.” Carlota started toying with her business idea in 1999 when she was 26 years old. But it wasn’t until 2007 when she graduated from law school, crushed by debt, “miserable and crying every morning,” confused about life, did she realize that she did not like the person she had become. “Coaching was the only thing that made me happy. I had no idea how to do it, but coaching and nurturing myself as much as helping other people brought me back to the person I wanted to be.” She went on, “I have a very type A personality and I could not be the type of person that had a job I hated. I had to do this to fulfill me every day.” As most people can agree, it is so easy these days to get caught up in the silly aspirations of being able to buy endless amounts of new clothing and fill up on expensive brunches every weekend, all weekend. Zimmerman is a firm believer that we as humans are capable of feeding our souls with more than new clothes and a photo of your salmon eggs benedict. What if you woke up one morning and realized that’s all you really did with your dreams? Carlota says, “Blek. What’s the point?” So if you’re out there feeling like Carlota did, with your back against the wall and nothing to lose, take a little piece out of the Creativity Yenta’s playbook: refuse to live by your fears.
Not only does her company as a whole keep her grounded, but also her clients play a role in her day-to-day attitude. When she finds herself in a rut, the yenta explains she must turn her focus to the men and women whom her business has brought into her orbit. “I think to myself, ‘put the blinders on and get through it.’ Because there are people who have to get through some horrible atrocities that I don’t today.” See what we’re talking about, all you entrepreneurs?? THIS is the ultimate mindset! Carlota’s clients also assist in the brainstorming of her own ideas. Trading ideas with clients is key to her creative processes. “I really enjoy trading ideas. I love helping other people brainstorm, because invariably those ideas in some way or another lead me back to ideas for my own business.”
Carlota also has a keen eye for any inspiration that can be drawn from writers, poets, playwrights, and films. During her time in law school, American novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote best-sellers Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five, passed away. When Carlota visited the university’s museum exhibit in honor of the author she learned that early that on in his career, Vonnegut had received over 800 rejection letters. And he kept them all. “At that point in my life I was so depressed and uninterested in my life…and I’m looking at this man who wrote through all this rejection. He got the first one and kept going, he got the 300th and kept going, the 650th…” How many of us would have given up on the first one? The Creativity Yenta says: “If you keep going, you can eventually craft the life you need." Zimmerman’s go-tos also include The Wizard of Oz, in which Dorothy realizes she had what she needed all along to be happy, "The Simpsons" for comedic relief, and Stephen Frears’ 1987 Prick Up Your Ears: a movie about playwright Joe Orton and his journey through the working class with nothing but his writing to make a name for himself. “I realized you can do it if you are going to have the courage to fight to be the person you want to be. That’s what’s inspirational.”
If you navigate over to Carlota’s Facebook page, CarlotaCreativityYenta, she always gives a free consultation to those who like her page! She’s helped people do everything at this point, from starting a small business to getting a new job to fixing relationships. Basically, she will keep you from sabotaging yourself.
You can also follow her on Twitter, @kittenmagix, for stimulating convos and also cats.
Written by Katie Girouard.