THE ART OF FEARLESSLY DOING BUSINESS: Michelle Micalizzi – Owner of Fearlessly Deliver, LLC


Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
(All Rights Reserved)


10% of the proceeds from the sale of this work benefits The Arizona Consortium for the Arts



I received an email from minister Richard Maraj of Unity of Phoenix yesterday. He wrote about “Devine Audacity”. The timing was perfect for me – because this weekend I knew I was working on this first blog and updating my website. To me being fearless is truly audacious. Rev. Maraj does an excellent job of describing that basically one has to be audacious and fearless to live their dreams. Of course he is a believer (and so am I) that faith in God or whatever Higher Power you believe in is essential to not only making your dreams happen but to survive the bumpy road most of us have to take to survive our circumstances. (See the Link to Richard’s full sermon at the end of this blog.)

I grew up in a family business. The biggest thing I know about being a serial entrepreneur is that it is not the easy way out. However, after years of looking for a good company that I could stand behind, I realized as much as I hated to admit it, I was my father’s daughter. Just like my Father discovered before me, I would work just as hard making someone else’s dreams come true as I would my own. I really never found a company that I felt was worthy of that kind of sacrifice quite frankly. Not that the companies I had the privilege of working with did not have worthy missions. They did. It is just that my dreams are my own and only my dreams deserve that kind of effort! The real crux of the thing is that this fact about my dreams AND the economy and my circumstances forced me over and over again to be self-supporting. When my girlfriends from high school tell me how brave I am I tell them – “Don’t give me that much credit, I’ve really had no choice but to be brave.” As many of us who educated themselves have found out, talent, drive, a masters degree and hard work does not always promise you a corner office. I always have known I was meant to do great things. In fact, I think we all are. I could never settle with just punching in and punching out for a job that did not light my soul on fire and allow me to be the worker I knew I had in me to be. So – the reality is that I am a reluctant entrepreneur who embraces the fact that (like it or not) being fully self-supporting is my journey. The universe has taught me this fact many times.


In all honesty, my first dream was to be a self-supporting artist. However, I always felt that I needed enough money coming in the door first to completely make a true artist’s leap. Rev. Richard Maraj used this quote in his most recent email summarizing his sermon – “Jim Carrey once said, “So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.  What we really seem to want feels at some level impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never even dare to ask the universe.  I’m a living example that asking these things is possible.  My father could have been an amazing comedian, but he didn’t think it was possible for him.  He made a conservative choice and decided to have a ‘safe job’ as an accountant.  And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from his ‘safe job,’ and we had to do everything we could just to survive.  I learned a lot of great lessons from my father, and one of them was that you can fail even trying to stay safe … so you might as well take a chance, be bold, and go after what you really love.” I too have made “safe” choices and have found there is no safety. Jim Carrey is a smart man!

At almost forty-eight years old, I’ve finally discovered three very important facts. I have put off my art waiting for the moment I felt “safe” to make it and the reality is, if I keep waiting for that magical place called “safe” I will die with my dream left in me. Wayne Dwyer and Joel Olsteen both talk of this tragedy often and every time they say it I say, AMEN! I do believe it would be a tragedy if I get to the end of my life and the art that has been in me waiting, never sees air. I also fully recognize that I am equally right and left-brained. I am not just a right (creative) brained artist doing what I have to do to make money. I am also, maybe by default but for sure by both formal education and life experience left (logical) brained as well. The last thing I have fully embraced is that art is business and business is art. Unfortunately business is a dirty word when you are in Art School. Artists (like doctors) are not taught how to be business people and that is why many of us never realize our true potential as artists or business people. When I was in art school in the 90’s I did not realize that. I also did not think I had enough talent. Over the past thirty years every time I walk in to a gallery and I see other people selling work that I feel is equal to my work, I cringe and get a little dizzy. I would kick myself and then I’d wait some more. I believe that one of the most revolutionary things a person can do – is to be a self-supporting entrepreneur actually doing the things they LOVE to do and what they are called to do.

Not waiting for “the safe moment,” utilizing both sides of my brain, and embracing my art are instrumental in my actualization of that belief.


Over the past two years, something very powerful has happened. I’ve lost a lot of people too soon to deaths that were either from an unexpected illness or a tragedy. The youngest was twenty-five, the oldest sixty-two. I have been to a lot of funerals. I am just about right in the middle of those ages. All this death around me has me thinking deeply about the legacy I have not yet left in my life professionally and personally. It has me truly asking myself what I want the world to be able to say at my funeral in relation to both the right and the left parts of me and my contribution to the world.

As a result, I spent some time thinking about what my left brain strengths were and how I would reinvent myself, hopefully one last time, using them. Upon reflection, what I am best at is survival. True entrepreneurs know what I mean when I say that. As a self-supporting person whether you making 50K or 5M, you have to be able to survive. I know because I have had five businesses and I grew up in a family business. I know that there is a time for every entrepreneur where they are up late at night and they say to themselves – either “Crap I wish I had someone I could just hand this part of my growth off to so that I can get to this other thing that I know will REALLY help me to grow.” Or “OMG I am so overwhelmed I just wish I had someone to help me get through this thing! Someone I can trust to do the job like I would do the job (or better)!” Thus Fearlessly Deliver, LLC was born and launched on January 1, 2015. I feel confident that finally with Fearlessly Deliver, LLC I have found the right direction for my left brain where I can be of service to the most people. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am doing the work I am meant to be doing. I have helped and am about to help A LOT of people! I know that if I were in the foxhole – I would want me with me. So I have made myself available to other entrepreneurs to help them get to the next level. I also committed to doing one doodle a week so I could get my art brain functioning.  Then more loss as other people passed this year. I found that the time I committed to set aside for my personal art was not enough. Most weeks my left brain was once again stealing the show.


Then a truly incredible and painful thing happened. I went to my home state of Vermont to see my folks this summer. I finally got to deciding what to do with the boxes I left in their basement six years ago when I came to Arizona. The boxes were full of personal and business taxes, keepsakes, thirty-seven years of journals and all my early art; art I could not take with me on my first trip across country. I made some calls and found out that it would cost me $2,500 to get them shipped to Arizona. I thought for a day, maybe I will just keep the best of it all. I had started to go through the journals one by one and I was in a puddle on the floor in about three hours. I just did not have the heart to go through and pick out the good poetry. My early years, my young adulthood, and a lifetime of my heart being broken was just far too painful to sift through. After some time in prayer, I decided it was time to let go of that little girl whistling in the dark. The next day, in a burst of energy, I shredded everything. Boxes and boxes and boxes of journals from the time I was five till forty-two years old, and all the art I had left behind. The guys at the shredding place knew the hugeness of what I was doing. They just stared at me blankly when they asked “Can we help you get everything out of our car?” I declined the offer. I just had to put my life in the bins myself. They told me after the process that my journals would become one of two things: facial tissue or toilet paper. This fact oddly made perfect comedic sense to me. Someone would either be wiping their tears or their asses with the good, the bad and the ugly of almost my entire life. The blessing is that something about that process actually freed me to allow myself to stop waiting to be an artist. I realized I had been treating my art and my writing like it was nothing but an afterthought. When I shredded so much of it – I realized my art is not nothing… it was actually EVERYTHING.

After I spent several days on a motorcycle riding through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and several hours napping in my in-laws hammock in Northern Maine. I became internally quiet about the decision to shred my life. On our way home to Arizona, my family and I could not sit together on the plane for the longest leg of the trip. I had the luxury of a chunk time to myself after a huge personal event. I just opened my notebook and I started brainstorming. The Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Project was born in about four hours on that plane ride to Arizona.

The short YouTube video below tells you more about the project and how the next thirteen weeks will unfold for thirteen fearless business owners and me. Basically the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business is a melting of my two biggest passions Fearless Entrepreneurism and Fearless Art.


The date of the Gallery Opening has changed since the shooting of this video to Dec 18th from 6-9PM still at the {9} Gallery in Phoenix. I have also chosen to keep my maiden name “Micalizzi” since the time of this video. 


For the moment I am committed to doing this show and all of the details have fallen easily into place. Laura Dragon of the 9 Gallery agreed to show my work and support this project just based upon the concept, what I am trying to achieve and some images of my former work on my phone. Elena Thornton the founder of the Arizona Art Consortium told me she was thrilled to receive the support that this show will provide. My husband and I have found a new home with a 20×20 studio, which are strangely the same dimensions of the panels that I have chosen for this show 20×20. So far ten fearless business owners have agreed to be interviewed. I have confidence that the other three that have been invited to participate will say yes. I have completed the first panel for this blog. The next thriteen videos, blogs and panels will follow.

With the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business, I am ultimately practicing REAL time what I preach. Which is another one of my strengths– the ability to genuinely have an honest true experience and to share it from my heart with others. With this project I get to share with you the amazing stories of thirteen fellow Fearless Entrepreneurs and Self-Supporting Business People. By hearing their stories I am once again reminded of what I am personally and professionally up to and why. I also get to educate other currentor future Fearless people about how to apply the lessons the thirteen business owners have learned to their own life and business. For me personally, I love speaking to fellow mavericks. They make me feel less alone and they inspire me not to chicken out and to keep striving to be the woman that God intended me to be. Most importantly for me – I am not allowing my dream of being an artist to die in me anymore. I can now say I AM AN ARTIST not “I went to Art School and I plan to make more time for my art some day but for today I am paying the electric bill with other things…” I also am not only an ARTIST, I am a proud FEARLESS Business Owner. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Now I will get on with telling other people’s stories!

Click here to listen to Rev Richard Maraj’s excellent Sermon “Devine Audacity”, Sept. 13, 2015.

Note from the Artist:

So this is my story – the story of how this gallery opening came to be. This illustration has a bit more detail than the others because it is me and I am in my head. This is a drawing that would have stayed on my own home’s wall or in my journals. This is what my journals looked like; more than just words and poetry – they were images that told my story.

The first layer of this painting is comprised of the logo’s of companies that I have previously worked for tiled upward so they are not clearly evident. They are my past so it is unimportant to name them. However, there is one that I will name, which is Schwinn. My parents owned a Schwinn Bike Shop in Vermont. That shop, Vermont and my family’s business definitely shaped me in all aspects of my life.

I have been drawing the pregnant lady with no face and a briefcase in her belly since I was twelve years old. When I was a gymnast in Vermont, we trained using the Romanian drills. The illustrations of those drills were all of faceless gymnasts. These drills were very sacred to me as a gymnast and for that reason I have never drawn faces on my figures. It is an homage to a time that changed my life. Gymnastics taught me everything I ever needed to know about discipline and that impossible things are possible. Being a gymnast is one of the biggest gifts of my life. I carry the lessons I learned in the gym with me wherever I go. I also think I knew that I would eventually have to choose to not have children of my own. I wanted children very, very much. My choice not to have children was the most difficult choice I have ever made. I do think I knew from a very young age that my legacy would be my vocation and the contribution I make to society.

The light bulb to me is the universal symbol of entrepreneurship. Of course there is the obvious: light bulb = ideas concept or the idea of turning the light on by flipping a switch. Additionally, this quote that I heard a long time ago also reminds me of a fundamental aspect of being an entrepreneur.

 I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~Thomas Edison

Anyone who tries to invent something from nothing gets this idea. Entrepreneurs and artists know that failing is part of succeeding. Even if we are temporarily discouraged, we know that if we just keep on trying something will stick. We have to know that or we would not keep trying. A light bulb is meant to shine but it had to be invented to do so. Essentially, we are all intrinsic optimists. I am wholeheartedly an intrinsic optimist. Yes, I even own! 😉

The number 13 is the date of my only sibling and brother’s death, Sept 13, 1984. This might seem like a morbid inclusion but, it is not a morbid number for me. It is a powerful, joyful number. The number 13 is a very sacred number to me because it is an indication that my brother, who was also an artist, is always with me. The number 13 comes up in all areas of my life quite often – ask anyone who knows me how odd it is that it comes up at every concert seat, airplane trip, the number in line I am. It is a constant thing – so the number 13 is a tribute to my brother. I am telling him that I am making, showing and selling the art he never got the chance to make, show or sell. When you put it in that context, it is really hard not to be fearless now, isn’t it?

The five stars are the five members of my family who have died too soon. My brother David and then my cousins Skip, Moira, Lauren and Jesse. They all left the planet before they had a chance to live all their dreams. My making art is for all of them and all the dreams that died with them. I have no right to allow my dreams to die with me because I have that knowledge and this life that they were denied. This is the only piece that has stars and that is because they are for my family.

The diver is part of the Fearlessly Deliver logo. I have already talked about Fearlessly Deliver in the blog so I will not expand upon it here.

My artist heroes are also noted in the painting. To name just a few; Louise Nevelson, Frieda Kahlo and Robert Rauschenberg. All of them taught me something different about art. They all validated my art. Kahlo allowed me to see that feelings could be part of art. The kind of real feelings that are usually tucked away in your private journal. Nevelson taught me about design, shape and being truly audacious as a woman. Rauschenberg taught me that art could be about a thought, concept or a moment in time. Those of you who are art historians will find them in there.

When I was on the way back from Vermont as I describe in the blog, I read an article in MORE Magazine titled, “Melissa McCarthy: The Art of Living Fearlessly” by Allison Glock. It was an ironic title. I truly believe that Melissa is fearless and under estimated by some as just a comedian, but she is much more. My undergraduate degree is in Fine Art with a concentration in photography. The reason I did not become a fashion photographer when I arrived in NYC was because I did not want to take pictures of little girls who were starving themselves to be pretty. I starved myself to be a gymnast and knew how painful skinny really was. I wish there had been more women like Melissa and more magazines like MORE when I graduated in 1989. If there had been, my life would have gone in a very different direction. There is nothing more beautiful than a real woman confidently being herself while belly laughing.

There was another article in that magazine called, “Bringing a Business Sense to Art” by Judith Stone. It was the story of how Anne More, the first woman to serve as CEO of Time Magazine, had retired and started the Curator Gallery in NYC in March of 2014. Ironically, the show opened featuring artists from Maine. The gallery is devoted to helping new collectors buy art work from newly emerging and mid-career artists.

The oddly prophetic aspect of reading these articles is that I had already developed the outline for the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business project. Reading these articles gave me more fuel to flame the concept. It was almost as if God was saying to me, Michelle this is not a wacky idea – just go do it.

So I have – since you are reading this story. It is clear that I got out of my own way and the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business became a reality. With this show, my dream has not died in me. Thank you for being part of making my dream come true.


Work was shown from December 18, 2015 – January 04, 2016  at {9} The Gallery

Thank you to our 2015 Partners:  Peg Quinn | The Arizona Consortium of the Arts | Photos by Elena & Jim | Bradford JonesBradford Jones Photography Jackie Wszalek, Splash Print & MarketingDennis Frazier, Cater Phoenix | Tony Medlock, PJ’s Florists

#Fearless #AoFDB #Entrepreneurship #VisualJournalism #Art #OneThing #Artizona



Entrepreneurs and inspiring stories of all kinds are Fearlessly Deliver’s muse and focus. As an artist, a business woman and a visual journalist Michelle Micalizzi paints with a purpose. The Fearless Art Projects are collaborative social practice art engagements that connect art + business + community.

THE ART OF FEARLESSLY DONG BUSINESS is an unprecedented and unique project celebrates the fearless entrepreneurial spirit by highlighting thirteen unique and fearless business leaders.

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