Laura Tadd is an internationally known psychological astrologer. She is so passionate about her work and loves teaching astrology, giving guest lectures, and doing private consultations (thank you web!) with clients.
Meet Dr. Laura Tadd!
Tell us about what you do. As an astrologer, I wear many hats, but primarily I work with clients in a consulting capacity, teach and write on how astrology is an invaluable tool for understanding ourselves, our relationships and/or cultural events. One of my goals while earning my PhD was to help restore the prestige this field once had; that the back page of Vogue, where it has been relegated to, is an over-simplification of a profound tool and source of information. In truth, one’s astrology requires using the time, date and location of their birth so that a chart can be drawn-up indicating where every planet was in the sky at the time of our birth. This is then interpreted in such a way that it is both confirming and liberating for clients in a whole host of ways.
What inspired you to launch your web-based business? I love my work, but I’ve never been someone who stays in one place very long. Having the freedom and flexibility to continue working with my clients, wherever I am, is invaluable. Since I started working as a psychological astrologer I’ve relocated three times; most recently moving from Seattle to the greater Atlanta area. Being a Wild Web Woman has meant I could move across the country and not lose clients. The web has allowed me to cast a wide net, and not limit my reach to people who are only within my geographic community; or feel that other parts of my life are held back or in limbo do to wanting to leave somewhere but fearful of how it would impact my business.
How has your previous employment experience aided you professionally? This could be a really long answer. But briefly, the work I have done with kids as a nanny and preschool teacher has contributed hugely to my passion of looking to astrology to understand the parent-child dynamic and working with people in this way.
I have also spent many years working at a university where I sat on boards and strategic planning committees, as well as helping to run a bi-annual week-long conference. That work has been instrumental in my being able to work effectively on the boards of national and regional astrology organizations. As well as being part of the planning committee for the 2018 United Astrology Conference to be held in Chicago this coming May. It is an astrology conference co-hosted by 5 international astrology organizations, with 170+ speakers from around the world, and up words of 1200 attendees expected. Having worked academic conferences for years my ability to work effectively on this current conference is greatly improved, knowing the ins and outs and complexities of hosting such a project is really something that is only learned by doing.
The jobs I have held over the years have also exposed me to people from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds. This experience means, in my capacity as a consulting astrologer, I am as comfortable working with someone who is on government assistance as I am with an A-list celebrity. Being comfortable threading that needle has allowed me to work with a variety of people; which in addition to growing my work, is simply really interesting.
Do you weave your values into your business? I would not know how to divorce my values from my work. Authenticity is probably one of the things I value most in others, and do my best to live up to that ideal myself.
I value truth with kindness, and hope that is how my clients experience my work. I may point out actions or behaviors that are not in their best interest, but hopefully they hear it as helpful and not as judgment.
I believe in taking care of oneself, mind, body and spirit. And working with clients on this type of self-care often comes into the counseling process. When I stumble on these things myself, as I too have my human frailties, my ability to be effective with my clients is compromised. But at the same time acknowledging where I struggle helps me to work with others as it reminds me that we are all works in progress. And when I, at times, share my own challenges clients are often encouraged, as my own journey shows that it is OK to stumble, as long as you keep going.
One of my values is creating high-quality work. And I have at times not done things that could grow my work because I could not afford the level of quality I feel comfortable with putting out into the world. For example, I have thought of having a video-blog and/or YouTube channel. But unless I have quality equipment to shoot it with, and what feels like a suitable place to film, I have found I would rather do nothing than create what I see to be a mediocre product. This is, of course, a Catch-22 as video content would grow my clientele, increasing my revenue, making buying high-quality video equipment more affordable, and not doing so has meant it takes more effort to build my practice. So, although my desire for high-quality may be a value that is upheld, I can end up compromising outreach.
What is the best part about being a web-based businesswoman? I used to say that it was I could work and still be in my bathrobe, and none was the wiser. But as more and more of my work has become remote, I find I am more productive if I “get ready for the day. So really, it’s tide to freedom.
As long as I’m online I can work with people all over the world. I love to travel, and have to work with clients. But there is something liberating to be able to work with someone in Paris, San Francisco, and Atlanta all in the same day from the comfort of wherever I may be that day.
For example, about a year ago I was needing to get my hot water heater replaced. But the only time that the plumber could come was when I had a session with a client who lives in upstate New York (I was in Atlanta). I knew that the work was going to be noisy and that the plumber would likely have to turn off the power to the house at some point. So rather than reschedule my client last minute, as is the nature with getting plumbing work done, just before her session I climbed in the backseat of my Honda, made my iPhone a hotspot for my MacBook, logged into Skype, and did the session from there. The client had no idea and by the time we were done I had a new hot water heater.
Unrelated, but also important, is limiting my carbon-footprint and all that comes with that. Not commuting a long distance also leaves me more time in the day, making it more feasible to interweave self-care like exercise, meditation and healthy meals into my daily routine.
What is the most challenging part of being a web-based businesswoman? It can be isolating. As the only person in my business the lack of regular interaction with colleagues can be hard. This has become increasingly clear in recent years as I’ve relocated twice in the last three years. Work is often where, as adults, we make new friends. And when I have found myself in a new city it has been hard at times to find friends, a social group, without having the built-in network of a traditional office setting.
What is your favorite way to unplug from work? Working on creative projects: knitting, collage, singing. Dinner with friends.
How do you maintain your health? I grew-up on integrative medicine and still use that today. I eat organic vegetables and meat whenever possible, and do cleanses a few times a year. I do yoga and meditate- although not as often as I know is good for me.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments? The sense of being proud has always made me somewhat uncomfortable. People complimenting me has always made me uneasy, I rarely fully trust or believe it at first, so it’s hard to access a sense of pride, but here is an attempt.
At the age of 9 I was diagnosed dyslexic, and in the early 1980’s the general consensus among the professionals was that this learning “difference” (as it is now called) greatly handicapped people in leading productive lives. Fortunately, my mother, in particular, believed otherwise. She got me the help I needed, and I went from a girl who was barely reading at the age of 11, to skipping the 11th grade, and eventually getting a PhD.
I can sometimes lose sight of just what an accomplishment that is; that I made that leap. That even though I cannot spell anywhere close to my level of comprehension, I wrote a nearly 300-page dissertation. I think part of the challenge in seeing this as a big-deal is, in part due to the fact many of my close friends are people with whom I went to graduate school. Consequently, a disproportionate number of my good friends are also PhDs, skewing my sense of normalcy when it comes to just what an accomplishment it is to get an advanced degree.
Also, the hard part for me in feeling pride is a good number of people I know, particularly women, have navigated what I see, to be tougher roads than I feel I have had. Thus, I struggle with acknowledging my own triumphs in the face of those who may have overcome more difficult circumstances.
What is the wildest thing you have ever done? It’s always so interesting to me what people think of as wild. I’ve driven across the country by myself twice, but that never felt all that wild to me (although for some it is a terrifying undertaking). I’ve camped on Sioux reservations as a teenager, and backpacked my, then 2-year old sister, into the canyons of Utah at the age of 15. But this too, it’s just been my life, it doesn’t feel like it was particularly wild or courageous on my part.
I don’t really think of myself that as wild, I’m just me. I’m not trying to be a wild child, but by a lot of conventional standards, I am. I have a nose piercing and tattoo. In my 20’s I shaved my head, but that was in part due to a horrible haircut and the quickest way to remedy the situation was to shave it all off. And then, of course, I have a PhD, but work as an astrologer. All of this is, the nose piercing, the tattoo, the PhD astrologer, and the relatively fearless traveler, it’s all just who I am when I am living in authenticity. And maybe that is really what makes me wild. It’s not my business, or body-art, but that the notion of being one’s authentic self. That, in-and-of-itself can be radical and wild in a world were so many of us look to fit into a cultural mold to have a sense of belonging. And the idea of bucking that system – saying I rather be me than have the illusion of belonging, that has come to be a wild act.
This way of being wild makes me think of Sojourner Truth. I am in way comparing myself to her resiliency, power and dignity etc. But I think she helps to illustrate my point of the wildness of being true to one’s self. Her profoundly powerful and wildly riveting speech “Ain’t I a woman?” was just stating truths. She, a black woman born into slavery, spoke with profound power of her authentic self. This was such a wild thing for her to do, both the speech itself, and for her to speak at all, in the face of the oppression, racism and misogyny of the mid-1800’s, that we are still talking about it today – more than 150 years later. Here’s a little excerpt:
“Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place! … And a’n’t I a woman?”
And what did she do, really? What was so wild that she is still studied in universities across the country today? She gave voice to her authentic self in a world that tried to define her in a way that was untrue to who she knew herself to be.
What three web tools can you not live without?
- Skype and the recorder plug-in that comes with it: Working with people all over the world this has been essential. And for $25 a year I have a phone number with them so that I have a business number for people who don’t want or know how to use Skype.
- Acuity: Working with people all over the world this has, among other things, solved the issues of confusion around time-zones. For years, when I was still living on the West Coast I would be awoken by a call from a client at 6-AM thinking they had a 9-AM appointment. This platform has solved the whole “9 for me, 12-noon for you” confusion. And I no longer have to go back and forth with someone to find a day and time that works for both of us, I send them a link and they book – done and done – easy peasy.
- WunderList: I’ve just started using this list maker, but I love that it gives me both notification and email reminders. When all I would get was a notification with other apps, if I could not deal with it in that moment I would often forget about it all together. Having an email about it too keeps it in my mind, and so less stuff is slipping through the cracks.
What helps you increase your productivity the most? When it comes to doing things other than working with clients or teaching – music is key for me to stay on task. Music has always helped me focus. I’m someone who has always done better with ambient noise, when it’s too quiet my mind wanders and I’ll get lost in Facebook-Land and the likes for hours. Even as I’m typing this I’m in a coffee shop. The hustle and bustle around me keeps me on task.
Do you have any personal “wild web” role models? I’ve known Lorrie Thomas Ross for more years than I’ll say here, so I don’t date the two of us. 🙂 But I remember sitting in a coffee-shop with her chatting about her work when Web Marketing Therapy was just an idea. It’s been exciting to bear witness to what it has become, particularly this new offshoot of Wild Web Women, that was part of the early vision. As her friend, it been inspirational to see this part of the vision take shape. And as a Wild Web Woman it has been a good reminder to trust in the perfection of timing.
As far as in the astrology world, I have to give a shout-out to Kelli Fox. She no longer owns it, but in the early, early days of the internet, 1995, she started astrology.net that then became astrology.com after they partnered with iVillage- which was later acquired by NBC. It would be hard to overstate the impact she has had on my field and its online presence. As far as I know astrology.com is the only astrology website with an IPO. I share a good mutual friend with Kelli and got to interview her for my doctoral dissertation. So, although I would not say we are close friends, I do know her personally, and I find her to be an inspiration as to what is possible in my industry. A lot of astrologers get caught up in a poverty mentality. There can be the idea that because of how astrology is seen by many, in this part of the world, and because many who go into it do so to help people it is not a lucrative field. But Kelli has really disproven that notion. She as demonstrated that you can work for the good of others and still make a huge profit; financial success and the healing arts do not have to be mutually exclusive.
What are some risks you have taken that resulted in positive outcomes? A few years ago, I was invited to speak at the corporate retreat for the fashion and jewelry company Alex & Ani. Prior to this I had only taught and spoken in an academic setting. Suddenly I found myself flying across the country to speak on how astrology is a useful tool in business, standing on a large stage, being filmed, in front of several hundred people. In addition to that being an icebreaker for public speaking, that talk led to my working with a number of their upper-management employees, and contributing to their blog on a number of occasions.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date? Because a lot of my work involves a kind of counseling, the biggest takeaways have always been to not make assumptions beast on external factors; everyone has a story, everyone has something that they struggle with. People of all ages and backgrounds have had challenges in their life, some have handled them better than others. And although age, gender, race and socioeconomics are variables they are not the whole story. Some wealthy 70-year-olds struggle with self-confidence more than some broke 20-somethings. I have learned to assume nothing and just be present with the person with whom I am working.
How do you maintain a work/life balance? My work is my life, but not in the sense that I am always at the computer writing or working with a client. But in the way that my work is inseparable from my worldview; how I see and understand life. And astrology is a language, so I’m always thinking through that lends. Even if I’m reading gossip about a celebrity on Facebook, one of my first thoughts is: “what’s going on with their astrology.”
I guess how I would see it is that it is more about having a balance between my public and privet -self. The part of me my clients and students know, and the part of me that I save for the close people in my life. And that’s all about healthy boundaries, being open and receptive while maintaining a professional distance with clients.
That can get tricky when I work with someone who is a friend. There is a level of vulnerability that is required as a client to go into any kind of consulting work, but that kind of vulnerability can get complicated between friends. To that end, I do tend to work differently, even unintentionally, with friends than I do with someone who is strictly a client.
This isn’t really getting at the question. I guess the other thing is to spend time with friends socially, but astrology often becomes part of the conversation. So, again I never really walk away completely.
Business-wise, where do you see yourself in ten years? I’ve been working on a book on astrology as a tool for parenting, and would love to get that out in the next few years. A mini-eBook version is on my website now but I’m greatly expanding on that.
Part of why I got a PhD was to help bridge the gap between the astrology community and the rest of the world. It can be a very insular community, where we mostly just speak, counsel and write to and for each other. But if the work is truly going to live out its potential, a wider net must be cast. I would love to get my work, my field out to a broader more diverse population.
There is so much more to astrology than just what is on the back page of a fashion magazine. I can sometimes forget just how much there is within it to share. In addition to being a way of looking at the world, it is its own language. Because it is a language I am fluent in I can sometimes take for granted that certain things are not common knowledge. For example, we get the word Lunatic from Luna (Moon in Spanish) and as such the idea that we can be more emotional on a Full Moon is something that has been observed for thousands of years. One of the things I am working on as a writer is to find that sweet spot that does not trivialize astrology nor have it too academic, or speak only to people who speak the language. I’d love to get a good handle on that in the next few years.
I would want to be teaching and working with people all over the world, and not just online. I remember when I was first in college, part of what I struggled with in finding a career direction was that I wanted to get paid to travel the world, but didn’t see how to make that happen without being in the travel industry, which held no appeal to me. Working remotely has met I have clients all over the world and when I do travel I can work with people wherever I go. I’d love for this part of my work to grow and expand in the coming years.
Where’s your favorite place to work from? I’m in the middle of moving and living in a construction site –so stay tuned. In the past, it has often been my kitchen table.
How do you make your home a productive space to work? I have to take breaks. According to neurological research in the last 10-years or so, our brains click off – go into a daydreaming unfocused state about every 45 min for a moment or two and getting re-focused takes metal effort. But if we take a break around that same time, getting up to stretch, go get a glass of water, shift gears in some way our ability to stay focused is greatly improved. These breaks don’t have to be long, a 5-minute break every hour or so can help with overall productivity.
Also, my surroundings need to be clean. If my workspace is not clean, I can be distracted by the need to clean it. A professor in grad school told me that her home was never cleaner than when she was writing her dissertation; I get it. I think it’s tide into this piece of needing a break. If I am needing a break and there is clutter around me I can fall into the rabbit hole of organizing my desk, cleaning the kitchen, or doing laundry. When what I really need to do is get out blog post, work on the book I’m starting to write, do client outreach, or work a class I may be teaching soon.
What is the #1 piece of advice would you give to someone who’s aspiring to run a web-based business and be a Wild Web Woman? Do what you love. Staying motivated is hard, and as an entrepreneur, if you are not passionate about the work you do, your business, and more importantly- you, will suffer.
Thank you, Laura!