10/17/2007 10:54 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Ladies Who Launch : You Could...but Should You?

The Ladies Who Launch series gives members of the Ladies Who Launch Incubator a platform for sharing their stories of giving back and doing good through their business'.

I once had a brilliant idea that at its best had me brokering deals between investors and real estate developers. I saw myself "doing deals" and wearing power suits. I would be featured in Forbes as one of the most powerful women in business and do lunches at Michael's or the Four Seasons. I embarked on the adventure with all the enthusiasm of an early bird at a Pratesi sample sale. Eager was my middle name. Problem was, my first deal was a painful exercise in balancing ego's and long, expensive legal fees designed to protect me from whatever it was I was about to create, which turned out to be absolutely nothing. The deal fell through, I hated wearing head-to-toe gabardine and nothing about it utilized my writing, marketing or creative abilities, to say nothing of a penchant for jeans and Converse by day.

Adryenn Ashley makes this point beautifully as she talks about her road to writing her just released book, Every Single Girl's Guide to her Future Husbands Last Divorce. Ideas come in many shapes and forms; and sometimes the most brilliant thing you can do is follow wherever that lead takes you, but be smart enough to know when the same idea needs a different platform.

Amy Swift, Editor in Chief,


Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

By Adryenn Ashley
San Francisco, CA

I am often referred to as an "idea bunny," because not only am I frequently blessed with light bulb moments, I act on them quickly. But a good idea can't be a great idea unless it fits your personality, conforms to your values, and helps you meet life goals. I didn't get that at first, and not for a long time. Here's how I finally figured it out...

In January of 2001, I was a busy, happy, High Tech Priestess about to marry the love of my life, my husband, Jim. Divorced, Jim had two wonderful children from his previous marriage. Clueless about the consequences of marrying a divorced man, I was not prepared for the events to come. We spent the next two years consumed with legal problems. Even the birth of our beautiful son Jack was overshadowed by court proceedings and endless hours of research and paperwork. I was already a finance expert, but I'd learned so much about family law, I decided to put my knowledge to good use and became a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in 2003.

My "brilliant" idea came when I realized that since I was also an award-winning film producer, I had all of the equipment needed to make a documentary film about some of the issues divorced families face. I honestly felt I could shed some light on the subject in a meaningful way, and so after collecting mountains of documents, we began filming in March of 2004. I was excited. For about five minutes.

Filmmaking was my passion, and yet the process of making this documentary was anything but exciting. It was depressing. As the months and years went by, I became more and more unhappy, even angry. It wasn't the genre; it was the subject matter. All of my time was spent mired down in negative experiences, trying to create a piece of art that ultimately provided no solution to the problems I was illuminating. On top of that, nothing seemed to work. I changed course a dozen times, and was faced with frustrating obstacles at every turn. At Sundance, I shared a ride with Robert Hawk from the airport. He told me that documentaries take their time, they tell you when they are ready to be done, and that working 10 years on one film was not unreasonable. My heart sank. My "good" idea had become a thorn in my side.

Everything changed in September 2006, when I attended a Ladies Who Launch LIVE event in San Francisco. There I met the leader of the event, Alison Covarrubias, who helped me to see that my project was not aligned with my personality or values. I am generally a perky, positive, glass-is-half-full type of person, and yet I had been devoting myself to a documentary that was not just dark and depressing, but hopeless. No wonder I was having so much trouble finishing the project!

The film was not good for my psyche, and my Ladies Who Launch incubator group encouraged me when I came up with an idea that fit my "cheerleader" personality, while allowing me meet my professional and personal goals. Even though I was heading off in an entirely new direction doing something I'd never done before, this time, my brilliant idea was in alignment with every other aspect of my life.

So I put the documentary on hold and started writing a book focused on the positive steps women involved with divorced men can take to protect themselves financially. It was the perfect union of my personal experience, skill set, and professional goals. This time, when I got revved up, I stayed there. Because my book had a positive message, I was able to sustain my enthusiasm, and plow through until I typed the last word on the page. I'm proud to say my book, Every Single Girl's Guide to Her Future Husband's Last Divorce, was just released this month!

It may have taken me four years, but I finally figured out that just because I was able to make a documentary, didn't necessarily mean that I should. While a brilliant idea may, in fact, be brilliant, it may not be right for me. If you're full of great ideas, and have a varied set of skills, you may have also found yourself stuck in a "great" idea that you had no business taking on. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!

In my old life, I spent hours in a dark room editing footage of people talking about dark things. Now, because of a little sisterhood support I am out in the world helping women protect and grow their assets -- and their marriage. Sure, it's fun doing the talk show circuit and being interviewed every day, but the most important thing for me is I am spreading a positive learning message, rather than a dark foreboding one. My life is fun, and my mission feeds my soul. Not bad for a day's work!