Welcome back Think and Grow Chicks (and Think and Grow Bros :-)). We are officially in December, 2017, which means we are marking off another year in the history books.
It’s funny, I was going to say, “Oh man, this year flew by!” I feel like I always have the tendency to say that, but to be honest, this year didn’t fly by- for me at least. I mean, there were times where it moved by quickly but I’m going to be real and say that I felt every. single. month of this year. Not that it was bad or that it dragged on, but I was so busy and there were so many new things that I was working on. I spent a lot of time getting my feet wet.
Honestly, there were a lot of mistakes that I made and this is not one of those years that “just flew by”. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready to put 2017 in the history books. I’m really looking forward to the fresh start of 2018. What about you?
As the title suggests, this is going to be my 2017 in review. I wanted to do this for two reasons:
(1) I know a lot of you have questions about the things that have been going. It’s been over a year since I quit my job, (a year and three months to be exact), which is crazy. I cannot believe that I am truly self-employed! The lights are still on, the bills have been paid, and everything is still gravy. I feel like I just quit my job a few months ago, so to think that I’ve been doing this for more than a year is insane.
(2) You’ll see that there’s a new kick that I’m on. Everybody always asks me how do I get ideas for Think and Grow Chick, whether it’s on the blog or the podcast or social media. I always have to tell them that honestly, it’s kind of selfish in that whatever kick I’m on, meaning whatever interest I’m focusing on at the time or something that I’m really into, I just make everything about that thing and bring you along on the journey. There are a few new kicks that I’m on and so I wanted to do this to really set up what some of my future episodes are going to be focusing on.
For the full audio from our personal interview, please check out the podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.
So, let’s start with what I did wrong, what I did right in 2017, and what I’m doing next.
Just because you don’t have a traditional 9 to 5 structure doesn’t mean you don’t need some sort of structure.
I think it’s a little bit like when you first go away to college and you’re on your own, you’re not under your parent’s supervision and you can do whatever you want so you find yourself eating chips and pizza every night. You’re staying up until 2 and 3 AM, you’re running back and forth to the boys’ dorm, girls’ dorm, and without a care in the world.
For me, it was the same way when I quit my job and I didn’t have to be at a place at any certain time. I finally didn’t have anyone looking over my shoulder. It was very liberating for me to be honest because when I was working my 9 to 5 and building my business I kept an insane schedule and an insane routine.
Every day without fail I was getting up at 5 am, which I had to do because I needed at least a solid 2 hours to work on my business before I clocked in at 8 am. If I was working on a big project, or if I was launching a product or doing a big challenge or some huge campaign or whatever it was not uncommon for me to get up at 3:30 am (NO JOKE). I’d do that a lot to make sure that I had a lot of time to get things done. I was waking up crazy early, going to work and then I always used my lunch break to work on my business.
I’d take the bus often on my way home, deliberately asking my job for a bus pass as opposed to a parking tag for free parking because the commute is insane. On the bus, I’d open my laptop, fire up the hotspot on my phone and just work on my business. And then when I got home, I’d make dinner and give my husband some attention but then I’d still try squeezing in just a little more work for an hour or two just to keep things going. That’s what I mean when I say, I kept a crazy routine!
So, it comes as no surprise that once I quit my job, my time was 100% my own. I reveled in the fact that I didn’t have to have a structure if I didn’t want to. So I started getting up at 8 or 8:30 am instead. I know for some people that’s not bad, but a lot of times if I woke up at 8 am I wasn’t working until 10 am. I had no routine because in some ways I felt like I needed the reset. I felt I deserved it and I needed to get over how hard I was working when I was at my 9 to 5.
Without any routine, I didn’t have a clear sense of what I should be working on every day. For months, I spent the majority of my time putting out fires and doing what was urgent versus what was important because I didn’t have a set schedule. Regardless of the times that I was working, I didn’t know what I should be working on. I was more so chasing the most urgent thing to do that day. Then I would focus on that, which is not good because that leads me to the second that I did wrong.
This was something key that I learned throughout the year. Having no structure around your work is not good because while you’re working IN the business, it doesn’t give you the time to work ON the business. I did that for majority of the year and finally figured it out towards the end of this year.
Statistics show that most new businesses fail within the first three years. Michael Gerber discussed this in his book called “The E-Myth Revisited”. The main reason why most new businesses fail is because people are passionate about a particular thing. You’re passionate about the craft of your work and you start doing that work for somebody else and you’re like, “man, this isn’t that hard, I should be doing this for myself!” Then you start your own business and do it for yourself, but you get so focused on the craft that you actually forget the business of the business.
In order to be a successful business person, you need to not only be good at your craft but you need to be good at business. You need to be good at business systems, structures, marketing, and most people don’t realize that. A lot of businesses fail because they spend so much time focusing on the craft of what they’re doing instead of focusing on the broader vision for the business and what the business needs to succeed.
Here’s a hint for you: in order for a business to succeed you need a lot more than a high-quality product. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a high-quality product but there’s a reason why some companies are more profitable than others. They’re so focused on the craft of what they’re making that they’re not focused on the business and the vision and expansion.That’s not to say you can’t be both. You can have an amazing product but you also need to have an amazing business mind. It’s really important that entrepreneurs focus on the business, not just in the business.
When you get into the mode where you’re always focusing on what’s urgent vs. what’s important, then you’re just another employee. You’re not really being the CEO, the visionary who is setting plans for the future and the direction.
I always have this recurring conversation about finding a balance between grace versus grind as part not of my business journey but also of my personal journey. Speaking from a philosophical standpoint, I don’t believe in grinding. It may be necessary at times, but not as a lifestyle. It is super popular for entrepreneurs to do and as someone who has done it and keeps slipping back into it, because it’s an old pattern that’s hard to break, I see what grinding can do especially for ambitious women. It’s just not pretty in the long run.
I don’t think grinding is sustainable. I think there’s a better way to be productive. I’m always working out the kinks to try to figure out what that is but even from a philosophical standpoint I do not believe in grinding all the time. Grinding is not good.
In 2017, I found myself slipping back to grinding because I didn’t have a routine, I was working in my business versus on my business all the time. I had this nagging feeling of guilt that I wasn’t doing the right things. That caused me to swing to extremes where I either put my head in the sand because I didn’t want to deal with all the fires and just watch Netflix all day because everything was so stressful. (Not a good extreme to be on).
Or I would throw myself into hustle mode trying to clean things up and get the next project going. That was completely unsustainable and really had me on the verge of burnout.
My personal life also suffered, I was getting grumpy and I wondered if I made a mistake in some ways. I found myself not answering the phone, leaving messages ignored – even from family. It was starting to get worse because I felt like I didn’t have time all of the time. I would think to myself, “This is not what I signed up for. I didn’t quit my job to be stressed and feeling like I didn’t have time.” Honestly, it just brought me back to square one.
If there’s one positive thing that’s resulted from all this craziness that I was on, it’s my spiritual life that actually led me to the first thing that I did right.
(1) I sought out people who I could be open with.
To be honest, I didn’t seek them out as much they saw what was happening and they came to me. I have small groups at our church that my husband and I are a part of and some of the women in the group meet every week. I wasn’t answering the phone for them and I would commit to doing things for them and then I wouldn’t do it. We were supposed to be doing all kind of stuff. I was being just generally unavailable and unreliable. They really called me on it.
I’m so grateful for that experience because it really snapped me out of my madness. I was so focused on the time I thought I didn’t have and what I had to do. I was like, “wow they’re right!” It’s such an important thing to have people in your life who will challenge you if they see you going off the deep end because in that moment I could have been really defensive.
I’m happy that it was my church accountability partners who called me out because that was an opportunity to remind myself to seek God for direction in my life. When I slip into the grinding phase, I get into a place where I’m trying to do everything in my own strength. That’s what I mean in terms of this grace versus grind. There is no grace because there is no God. It’s just me getting everything done and I just have to do it by myself and there is nobody that can help me. Then I become a martyr for my goal. It was really a call to take a leap of faith, to lay all this stuff down, and truly seek God for direction.
For a week, I went on a detoxification phase where I detoxed myself from reading information that doesn’t concern my business. All I did was pray and read scriptures. It was really a great time for reflection. I came out of that season refreshed, with a lot of clarity on what I needed to be doing next, which led me to the second thing that I did right, delegating.
(2) Empowering my own people and my own team.
I would say that I was collecting employees before. Whenever I needed someone to help me with something, I would hire. I was still keeping a lot of things to myself and I wasn’t taking advantage of the opportunity to delegate. They had their assignments, their activities, and different things that they could do but when a fire came up I was always under the impression that it’s something I needed to do on my own. During my detox, it was an opportunity for me to take baby steps and try to delegate certain things on a very small scale. I would tell them to let me know if you have questions but let’s see what will happen if you take true control of this task or project. I was just really amazed. Again, when you have talented people around you who care about you and empower you – that is really what a true team is.
Think and Grow Chick is about empowerment and before I wasn’t even empowering my own people. In empowering them, it lifted a big load off of me and just really started to make things better.
I also got a routine together and the ship really started to turn around.
(3) I made myself a priority.
I stopped all the self-sacrificing madness. Before, I just knew that the idea of me sacrificing myself on the “altar of success” was not going to work anymore now that I was pregnant. I don’t know if it was just the hormones but I got really protective over myself because I knew that taking care of myself was the only way that I was going to be able to take care of this baby. I straight up decided that if I’m going to be successful, then I wasn’t going to do it in a way that left me stressed.
It’s funny because I’ve said this before. If you can make anything happen that you put your mind to, then put your mind to making things happen in a way that doesn’t leave you burned out all the time. I had the attitude that said, “Here’s what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to go two days in the same pajamas because we have to work so hard and get this done. This is just not going to happen.” I literally just stopped stressing. I simply just – stopped.
I took an inventory of what was stressing me and I decided that I wasn’t going to allow that stressor in my life anymore. You’d be amazed at all the things that we think we have to do, that we really don’t have to. We just assume that we have to do them because we’ve been doing them for a really long time or we’ve seen other people do it in this specific way. Decide how you want to get the outcome. Like the saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
There is more than one way to skin a cat. If the way you’re skinning a cat is stressing you out, think of another way that you can get this outcome without doing it in a way that adds stress!
I’m currently being really intentional about what I want my life to look like. I got a lot of clarity with my spiritual information fast, and if you’re following me on Instagram you know that I got a lot of clarity from my recent trip to Vegas for an exclusive PR event with Selena Soo.
Being there gave me a lot of clarity about who I want to be in the marketplace, what kind of projects I need to be working on to be the kind of person I want to be and to live the type of life that I want to live.
Ultimately I want to be a thought leader. I don’t want to be just a coach or just an internet person or “that girl I follow on Instagram.” I want to be a thought leader when it comes to women empowerment and women financial empowerment, specifically in the area of creating income for yourself versus only saving and all of the traditional money management tips. I want to focus on financial empowerment from a place of entrepreneurship. I want to be a thought leader in that specific space.
I want to be out in the world, visible and speaking, writing and being really well known for that work.
I took inventory of everything that would be required to hit those goals and I came up with a weekly structure that allows me to work towards them but still incorporate self-care because I’ve now realized that it was absolutely mandatory for success.
I’ve learned that growing a strong network is important because at the end of the day you can’t do it all by yourself. Even when I had my little breakdown, I had people in my life who really came and helped me out and that was on the personal side. You need that even on the business side. You need people to help you get to where you’re going. I forget that a lot because I feel like I’ve been a bit of anomaly and that I’ve been able to build my business mostly organically and on my own.
Most people when they grow their business they usually build the network first and then they use the network to grow the business. It was the opposite for me. I just straight up built the business and just organically put my content out there and just worked really hard.
Now I’m taking steps to connect with more people for everything. Whether it’s just mentorship or just general support. I put together actually a personal mastermind group not too long ago. All these ladies are in my mastermind group and we meet every two weeks online and then we go on trips together and talk about our businesses in person.That’s what I mean in terms of just having a general support group.
I want to connect with more seven-figure female entrepreneurs. That’s ultimately where I want to go and I want to connect with those who are doing it in a way that doesn’t leave them burned out.
TV and mass media still has a bigger reach than individual Instagram accounts or blogs or whatever so I want to go to where my audience is. I want to reach all the women that don’t listen to podcasts if you could believe it. I know for our community it’s unbelievable. I’m always listening to podcasts but there are people when they plug in their headphones they’re listening to Spotify and that’s it.Or when they get on Instagram they’re following celebrities but they don’t follow personal development entrepreneur types or they’re watching TV or whatever. They’re not in this world so I want to reach all of those women.
I also want to do more conference speaking and corporate speaking as well. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to network with people at big companies who are interested in having me come out and speak to their millennial women.
Yes, I do have a working title but I don’t know if that’ll be the final title so I’m not going to share it just yet. I’m excited to be writing a book that’s really about two things:
(1) First and foremost it’s an A to Z guide to monetizing your gifts and talents and using that to create the life you want for yourself. It’s also going to be a book that’s incorporating all these lessons that I’m learning in terms of how you can be successful without grinding.
(2)This whole grace versus grind viewpoint and what it looks like to be a successful businesswoman in today’s day and age where you want it all. You don’t just want the success but you want the family too, you want the friends too, you want the lifestyle. You don’t want to be burned out.
I know this sounds like a lot, especially because I’m about to be a new mom and I know some of you are giving me the side eye. You’re thinking like, “mmm..when the baby comes out, how are you going to get all this done, especially now that you’re committed to stress-free success?”
Call me naïve but I believe that it can be done and I’ve got a game plan to do it!
That’s all I got for you for now. Thanks so much for being here at the Think and Grow Chick blog. Stay tuned, we’ve got more coming for you next week. I am really excited about some of the things that are coming out and I hope to see you soon.