Tag Archives: networking marketing

New Year. New Perspective. Galloping Forward.

So it’s been well over 6 months since I posted last to my blog. My best laid plans would have me posting at least weekly and I even wrote ahead at first to get that going but alas….life got in the way. What in life got away exactly? Well, that’s what this blog is for…to discuss just that.

 I’m officially 18 months into entrepreneur existence. No more corporate role, no more daily commute, no more wardrobe rotation of J.Crew, Club Monaco, Banana Republic business Barbie outfits, no more 9 to 5/Monday to Friday life. Does that mean I’m completely zen in my yoga teaching/work from my kitchen island wearing leggings new lifestyle? (Retirement as my old colleagues like to say) Again..it’s not that simplistic. It has been a ride to say the least! Terrifying (often). Amazing (often). Deflating (sometimes). Testing (always). Challenging (always). Satisfying (often…and must remind myself of that more often). Most of all: I’m learning all the time and I have to repeat what I said as I entered university back in 1992..I still have a lot to learn.

 I come back to posting now for many reasons but mostly because along with the challenges of my business journey in the last 18 months there have been personal challenges and most recently some issues with my family and health. I made the decision that (despite limited funding) I’d spend most of July of 2013 in the UK visiting family driven by the fact that my uncle was very ill. I have a large family on both sides and I’m quite close with many of my extended relatives so spending time there is very enjoyable, in fact my pipe dream is to own property over there in the future to spend even more time there. Again I can write later at length about the experience as quite a bit happened but I will forever cherish the weekend I spent with my uncle because it was precious time getting to him 1:1 and sadly by Nov 2103 we would lose him. Come Jan 2014, we’re now dealing with a health scare with my father….a health issue causing us more anxiety then it should simply because the uncle who died is my father’s brother. Fingers crossed we find out in a few weeks that my golf loving/gym rat/life of the party father is just fine. Fingers crossed he’s truly as healthy as he feels. In the mean time….all we can do is wait.

Here’s the thing, as I wait (impatiently) for those test results I realize that going through something like this as an entrepreneur has it’s pros and cons.

Big Pro: I was able to take all day today ‘off’ to take my dad to the hospital, walk arm and arm with him to his test, chatter away about random stories to help keep him calm before his procedure, and then hit the local Ikea for lunch with half the seniors of this city.

Big Con: I’ve been a bit of a hot mess since Dad was rushed to the hospital at the beginning of the month. When you work for a big corporation you can take sick or personal days to deal with this. Or you can go in every day and just ‘get by’. When you work for yourself you don’t get sick days and there is no ‘getting by’. Especially when you’re so new to it and you have a giant mortgage (and you’re a household of one)

So what do you do? You put one foot in front of the other, you really dig deep into all the self improvement work/research you’ve done to get some positive thinking/vibes going on and you move forward. You have to. It was Martin Luther King Day recently so I think a quote from him sums it up best as inspiration for any journey (be it business, health, life) since his was extraordinary.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

 We’re a week away from the year of the Horse. The year of the Snake was certainly challenging, but rewarding at the same time. I don’t begrudge the low points because I learned so much…it’s a year I won’t soon forget. That said, I’m ready for the year of the Horse to come galloping in. My skin is currently shedding like crazy thanks to a week in the tropics at the beginning of the year. I’m molting like a snake. It’s almost symbolic as I shed off the last year and move into the new one. I don’t know what’s coming: to me, my business, my dad, my family. I do know this….I still feel in my gut that I’m on the right path. So onwards and upwards…..bring on the horses, saddle up and ride forward. 

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What’s in it for me?

What’s in this job for me?  How will these roles round out my resume? Who can I align myself with to move ahead in this organization? How can hiring this person make me/my team look good? Ever thought like this? I have.

As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t love my job, it wasn’t my ‘life’s work’ if you will. That said, I stayed with one organization for 12 years because the great people I worked with at times made it not only bearable but fun (I would add that it was the other folk I couldn’t stand that drove me out….but in that sense I owe them some gratitude for that) A one time colleague and now good friend called this week in mid revelation: She may not be able to stay in the corporate world either. She is about to start a new role in an area of interest to her so initially this job was an occasion to get excited and celebrate. However the start date is upon us and already she is a pawn between two senior leaders in a pissing contest over ‘turf’. A war of words over who had the authority to choose my friend and a rather unprofessional grilling via telephone to see if she can really do this job…is she really smart enough? (READ: As smart as these two ‘geniuses’ is what they really mean) Did I mention my friend already has the job? Has already signed paperwork with HR and a start date has been agreed upon? This sort of egomaniacal posturing in my old corporate world drove me crazy! This notion of “I’m the savior of this department and I will decide if you’re smart enough to work in my empire’. Did I mention this empire is often simple a product category, or a line of business and not the whole company? No matter.  It’s all about the positioning in the end. Hey, I’m all for leadership at any level, taking pride in your chunk of the business no matter how small because it does matter to the overall good. However there is a big difference in pride of work, raising a team’s spirits up to deliver their personal best/team best VS thinking you are solving world hunger by brow beating your team into double-digit returns at the expense of moral, increasing stress levels and in general just acting like an asshole. The posturing, snarky comments and raging egos: all behavior that is encouraged to get those double-digit returns (They make movies about it: see Wall Street, Boiler Room etc.). I was often met with a smirk or scowl when I made the comment that at the end of the day if you worked in the business of merchandising/marketing for retail (which I was in): You’re in the business of getting people to spend money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need. Period. No world hunger solution, no cure for the common cold and no lives were saved in the making of this week’s retail flyer. Trust. Now you can pretty this scenario up with speeches about building trustworthy brands, understanding your customer, serving your customer, blah, blah, blah. Hey I’m a happy retail customer spending money I don’t have on crap I don’t need but I recognize that and here’s the truth: if you don’t get them to buy your commodity them you’re out of business!!

 

So where does that leave you and your career? I don’t’ know. I can only tell you where it led me: A totally different approach, change in my mindset.

I love what I do now. My whole business (all three streams of income) is about how I can serve you, help you, what can I do for others. I don’t scrutinize based on your bullshit interview skills (no disrespect-I was extraordinarily good at bullshit interviewing) , or your fancy degree (I have a one of those too). Multiple degrees don’t always equal ‘super smarts’ either: some of the smartest business people I know don’t have a higher education and I’ve met a whole lot of average folks with MBA’s who think they walk on water but couldn’t come up with an original thought to save their life! I love that in my daily interaction now I come across all walks of life from all levels of education, class, and background. I love that I’m either helping people work from home & build a million dollar business or find some calm for an hour in my yoga classes or helping an old friend build a start-up company into a force to be reckoned with. I basically live to help others now. I’ve met more bright, positive people with creative ideas and had more support in this last year from so many amazing people then I had in my 15 years of corporate life. The best part…the opportunities keep rolling in and my businesses keep growing.

A shift in mindset is a powerful thing. During my whole corporate career it was a focus on ‘how can I get ahead’, ‘what’s in it for me with this role’, ‘how can this person help me’? By shifting gears to supporting others, helping them succeed-you will be amazed at what happens.

Exodus: June 2012

So the pieces of my long-term plan came together…the house was purchased, I had moved in, set up as much as I felt was necessary to make it feel like ‘home’ (i.e.: painted, decorated, the furniture I needed in place to live in place etc.), the Arbonne business was up and running with 2 active team members, my yoga teacher had come forward and proposed the idea of me teaching in his new studio in the fall…only one thing left to do: resign from my corporate job. It’s funny, you dream about the moment, quitting, finally ‘getting out’, moving on to this ‘dream’ life where you get to decide what to do/how to live but when the moment finally arrives: it can be a scary one. I already knew what the date would be-June 30, 2012 (as a last day of work). I had committed two years in the role to my vice president and that would be me just over two years. I had even already decided to give a month’s notice because it was a huge project with a go live date for a software implementation in June with new people coming aboard to help with that I figured it would be easier to transition my responsibilities as they were sorting all of that out (A guess that was correct on my part as they didn’t replace me: they farmed out my responsibilities to assorted teams).  The first week of June came way faster than I expected it to and it was time to tell my VP what I planned to do. I had no idea I’d be so nervous/scared to tell her. In fact the guy I was dating at the time had even told me to be prepared for some emotional ups and downs through this as it was like ending a 12-year relationship (Was he ever right!). I almost threw up the night I sent the email requesting time with my VP to tell her in person and my stomach was doing flip-flops when I walked into her office after hours that night to tell her I was resigning. I had known Jane for years and she is a lovely woman, had been very good to me…we both got a bit misty eyed in our conversation but in the end she was very happy for me.  We had got to know each other via a lunch time yoga class we attended with some fellow colleagues so it was only fitting we discussed me leaving the organization to follow a dream of teaching yoga and building a health & wellness business. Little did I know that getting a little misty eyed with my boss was only a taste of what was to come?

That was the first week of June, what would follow in the next few days, weeks, months would lead me to creating this blog. I was in no way prepared and completely surprised by the reaction I would get from people as word started spreading throughout the organization about the girl on the 12th floor who was leaving the company to pursue a career in health & wellness and teach yoga.  I spent the next 4 weeks transitioning my responsibilities, tying off loose ends with the project and going for a lot of coffees, lunches and visits to say good-bye to the many, many folks I had met and become friends with over my 12 years at the company. Many of these conversations were very business like: “nice working with you, all the best etc.” but many of the conversations went very differently then I was expecting them too! I had several folks burst into tears, several get misty eyed, and even a couple heated discussions one of which resulted in a woman storming away from me in the hallway. I recognize these reactions had little to do with me (I’m in no way saying these people were crying because I was leaving), rather we would get to talking about their lives, where they see themselves in a few years and then…that’s when I’d get the reaction.  I am not a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, a social worker, or counselor but I can tell you this: when you get really honest, and start telling people what’s really going on in your head, how you really feel you’d be amazed at how honest folks get with you! I also discovered that most people felt the same way I did…. they didn’t love their jobs per say but weren’t quite sure what they wanted to do with their careers lives etc. Finally I discovered that I was in fact very lucky, I had discovered what I was passionate about and had (bravely I’m told) decided to pursue it. I was a very lucky and grateful lady.

That brings me to the ongoing theme/what I’ll be writing about in this blog going forward. More heated debates/discussions, crying, raw honesty and laughter. General networking, meeting more like-minded folks, building relationships and the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. Hopefully I’ll hear from some of you out there, your journey, your ups and downs because if there is one thing I know from all of this: I’m not the only one out there taking this journey and there tons of folks out there who want to/or will in the near future…and I for one will be cheering those folks on just like the folks cheering me on right now.

An Action Plan

So in my last post I spoke about making decisions and about opportunities showing up. This amounts to nothing if you don’t have a plan in place and action said plan (something I was learning day-to-day in my gig in change/project management). I put myself on action plan for my own life. I knew I needed to plan my exodus from corporate life but there were some things I had to consider. At the time I was living in my first piece on the real estate ladder-a condo I had owned for 5 years. I loved my little condo, the community in the building and the maintenance free existence. That said, if I was going to plan a new career as an entrepreneur a lot of my ‘work time’ would be spent at home. Part of the reason I loved my little space is that I was not in it a lot of the time (long hours spent at the office), the thought of living/working in a small (565 sq ft) space with no outdoor space started to get suffocating so I made another decision in addition to changing careers–I decided to buy real estate. Make a decision to leave your lucrative career AND buy a house with a bigger mortgage? Are you crazy? Yeah…not a lot of people thought that call was ‘brave’ rather….crazy, naive, doomed etc. (Insert your comment here) The thing is this…big banks don’t like giving mortgages to people with their own business unless they are already successful or have a whole lot of money in the bank! That was not me. So I put my action plan into place which involved 3 major pieces of the puzzle in the summer of 2011.

1) Arbonne: This is my network marketing business. I’ll be talking about this a lot on this blog because there are lots of misconceptions about networking marketing (is that a pyramid scheme?) and most people in my city/network have never heard of Arbonne. Arbonnie? What’s that? I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again (many times) Arbonne is a Swiss, vegan certified health and wellness company. They’ve been around for over 30 years, and some impressive folks at the helm (see past posts or google them). My old friend who I annually surf with down south is a driven, focused, successful corporate communications background businesswoman. When she told me she had started her own business on the side and told me about the company I decided in August of 2011 to start my own health and wellness business under her (and our up line’s) guidance. Expect to hear lots about my Arbonne journey in this blog. The highs and lows of building your own network marketing business and all the things I’ve learned about myself since I joined. One thing I’ll say about them for now: I needed Arbonne to get me on track for my own personal development and I will always be grateful to Ellen (my sponsor) and the Arbonne community I’m now a part of for that. They are a class act, and I’m loving that I’m a part of this organization. I launched and ran my business on the side while still working full-time at my old corporate gig for almost a year….a very low risk way to venture into entrepreneur land….something I highly recommend if you’re thinking about it. There will be lots more on this theme in this blog too. (clearly I have a lot to say) Having this business up and running for 9 months before my departure from my corp job gave me a sense of where the business could take me and help me project whether or not I could make a living doing this full-time.

2) ‘Get my house in order’: Cuz when you’re planning to walk away from a big salary why wouldn’t you? 😉 I hired a real estate agent in the summer of 2011 and the long search for a new home for me would begin. I had a limited budget and was stubbornly committed to keeping my search area to my beloved neighborhood. (A rather expensive neighbourhood and I’m the sole income earner in my household of one) This would prove to be a long search….to the tune of 6 months. It was a slow time in real estate but I had a patient agent who very quickly assessed what I was looking for (thank you Emily) and only brought me to see houses that I would seriously consider. As a woman with a busy career AND  side business now I didn’t have time to screw around looking at 50 houses a week. I actually bid on 2 houses and lost throughout the process. Have you ever lost a bid? It’s heart breaking! I was lucky to have a friend who came with me to many of the houses, inspect them and talk me through the decision-making process as well as talk me off the cliff when I lost bids (Thank you Graham). I have an old friend who also happens to be my mortgage broker help me through the process of figuring out what I could afford/what I could live with etc….he suffered many long conversations with me about ‘okay, how much more can I get? Is that reasonable?’ (Richard, extra thanks as you probably half that fall on the phone with me..xo) They say when you meet the right person you just know…I’ve heard the same about a house. I saw the open house listing for a cute little semi with 2 decks off the back, a garden, just over 1000 sq ft (so bigger then where I was but manageable for just me) move in ready and in my beloved neighbourhood. My agent and friend who been accompanying me on my house visits couldn’t join me that rainy November day when I went to the open house. The house was awash in earth tones (I’m not an earth tone kind of girl) and it wasn’t set up the way I would but I knew from the minute I walked in I was home. I was in the house less than 10 min, I could telling the selling agent was trying to keep me at the front door to ‘sell’ me more on the house….I left and called my agent the next day: I told her to bid. We bid 2 days later (the first day they accepted bids) and we won. I was at dinner with my mortgage broker and his partner when I was waiting for the call and I wasn’t that nervous because I knew in my gut it was my house to have. I moved into the house 3 months later….after having the entire house painted white (good-bye earth tones) to further bring out my old beat up dark hard wood floors, and spending most of Dec/Jan planning & shopping for the extra pieces I would need to furnish the new place. I worked like a mad woman but by the end of Feb it looked like I had lived there for a year already. I was home.

3) Now that the business was up and running and the house was on the books I called my old friend and told him it was time to do business with his new mobile marketing company. As it turned out the project he had in mind for me had the same timing as my preferred date for leaving my corporate role behind. The wheels were in motion.

Now came the part that gave me palpitations: putting a date in the calendar and working towards that. The friends and family who knew what I was planning were supportive but I know behind the scenes were worried or thought I was nuts. One conversation in particular stands out. My Mum was very worried about this decision now that I’d declared it, I’m her baby (I’m the youngest) now matter how old I am. She did (as she should) say to me “Do you think quitting is a good idea dear? You just bought a house and that’s a big mortgage”. I tried to put her mind at ease but she worries…she’s my mum and I love her for that. My Dad called me one night and also tried to talk me out of it (I’m guessing Mum put him up to it, although I know he was worried too..I am a Daddy’s girl after all, always was). I had a particularly depressing week at work and was beyond fed up so I responded in the most honest way I knew how…I said: “Dad, this job is sucking the life out of me bit by bit every day. I can’t live like this anymore”.  My Dad’s response? In his thick Glaswegian accent he said: “Well hen, you have to dae it then.” The subject was never brought up again. That’s my parents, I’m a lucky lady.

What’s next? A leap of faith and date on the calendar……gulp.