Whatever your aspirations in life, it’s often best to share your dreams and fears with supportive friends who can keep you going when you feel like giving up. Successful female entrepreneurs often credit mentors and BFFs with helping them grow their brands, moms turn to each other for camaraderie and questions through parenting apps, and solid friendships can keep your mental health going strong.

Headshot of author Andrea Pippins

Designer and illustrator Andrea Pippins’ new book We Inspire Me is all about how to build your creative tribe and create a community of fellow dreamers who work toward their goals. Pippins was inspired to write it after a coffee date with a friend where she shared the concept of a book. Her coffee buddy was so enthused about the idea that Pippins went home and wrote the proposal for what would become We Inspire Me. Her new book is a compilation of fantastic tips from Pippins and her squad, complete with inspiring illustrated quotes. Here, Pippins, a self-described introvert, suggests a way of building your own team who will cheerlead you through life.

Cover image for We Inspire Me

1. Recognize the importance of community for our own growth. Pippins strongly believes that anyone embarking on a creative adventure needs a team to pursue passion projects. “Our communities help us grow professionally, to evolve as people, and to support us in pursuing our dreams,” says Pippins. “Our tribe, our crew, community, are the people who connect us to the right people, help promote our ideas, and also tell us the truth when we need to hear it.” (Even introverts have strengths they can leverage collaboratively.)

Cover of We Inspire Me with Writing Tools

2. Nurture reciprocal friendships. If you’re wondering who are the people who should be part of your crew, Pippins suggests paying attention to who you can trust with your dreams and ideas and who has your back during the good and bad times. “I also pay attention to who I feel good about doing the same for in return,” Pippins explains. “My inner circle has grown and evolved organically over the years by nurturing relationships and watching some flourish while others fade.”

Illustration of quote: "When one of us rises, we all rise."

3. Give an honest no. Artist and designer Hadiya Williams, a contributor to We Inspire Me, says, “It’s better to give an honest no than a resentful yes.” In the book, Williams discusses ways to handle doing business with friends and family, which Pippins echoes: “We so often feel like we should do something because it’s for a friend, even when our heart isn’t into it.” (If you need help setting boundaries, here’s some advice on saying no.)

Illustration of quote: "Get out & have fun!"

4. Host a social gathering. Contributor and attorney Mavis Gragg recommends connecting with others in person. Ten years ago, she started informal wine tastings with friends; she continued with book releases, fundraisers, community talks, art trips, and dance parties. The secret to a good mixer? Bring together a rich mix of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and age groups. “Some of my most memorable and valuable conversations at social gatherings have been with someone who on the surface seemed we wouldn’t have anything in common except for knowing the host, but the more we conversed, the more we connected and ended up becoming friends,” says Pippins, who meet Gragg at a mutual friend’s cocktail party.

Interior illustration of "Your Support System" in We Inspire Me book

5. Spend time alone. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, quiet time alone can help you reflect on what you need to make your creative desires a reality. Says Pippins, “I am definitely an introvert in that I enjoy spending time alone, which is mandatory for me because of my need for time to reflect and rejuvenate. But I love social gatherings! Staying too long at a social gathering can really drain me. It’s important for my well-being that I balance hanging out with homies with spending time with myself.”

6. Remember no one gets anywhere without help. In the section of her book titled “Ways to Activate Your Tribe,” Pippins writes about how to ask for help, since it’s often so hard for people to do. “We have to remember no one gets anywhere without help,” Pippins says. “Asking your crew for help is a great way to build deeper meaningful connections within your friendships. Your crew wants to help you, that’s what they’re there for, so use them and help in return. By the way, I am horrible at asking for help, so these are things I also tell myself.”

Illustration of quote: "Listening is always a good place to start."

7. Don’t take anything too personally. In the course of working on her book, Pippins reached out to a number of her tribe to contribute, and everyone said yes. But a few folks weren’t able to deliver within her time frame for the book. “I was hurt,” Pippins admits, “but I had to remind myself that it had nothing to do with me. Of course, it’s always best for people to be honest and say, ‘Hey, I have too much on my plate right now, I can’t contribute,’ but we are all busy, things fall through the cracks, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth (we’ve all been there) — so I had to let it go and move on. In the end, it all worked out perfectly.”

8. Protect your spirit. When you’re heading toward your dreams, you might encounter some naysayers who will try to discourage you. Pippins combats negative people with this approach: “Protect your spirit by listening to positive messages (podcasts and audiobooks), follow people on social media who inspire you — and unfollow the ones that make you feel like you’re not enough, turn off the news, and hang with folks who wish you well.”

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(Illustrations and Andrea Pippins headshot via Chronicle Books)

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