Most people read me as fairly non-emotional at 1st interaction. I'm not super social, but consider myself to be friendly. It is certainly rare that I get emotional in front of others. I want to say it is because I have spent the last 8 years as a CEO that has to pull it together and put on a brave face while we conquer goals bigger than ourselves. In an honest retrospect, I guess I've really always been this way, just mostly even keel, and ready for a challenge. When my closest friend heard that I started RuffleButts, her response was "of course you did." At the time, her response caught me a little off guard, but after a short explanation, I knew exactly what she meant. In a way, my life path prepared and led me right to this journey. In a way, I always knew what I wanted to do, without having any idea what that was...if that makes any sense to anyone!
Anyhow, there are many things about this journey that I completely expected and many more that I did not. One of the things I didn't really see coming was how much I would be impacted by those that signed up to walk along side me in this RuffleButt journey. They affect and impact me more than I ever knew possible. Back to my non-emotional statement earlier, while I may come across fairly non-emotional, I am actually affected quite deeply by those closest to me. As an only child, I don't have a large family, so in a lot of ways, this company has become my family. They are certainly the people that I spend the vast majority of my time with.
Today, these people truly made my day! I had no idea it was bosses day and quite frankly, what is "bosses day" anyway?! While I may technically fall under that definition in some ways, I don't ever considerate it my title in any way. While I may come across as bossy...let me try that again...while I do come across as bossy in many ways, I never think of myself as "the boss". I mostly think of myself as the captain, but a ship without mates would certainly not be a successful one. I carry the responsibility of captain quite seriously, considering that more than 25 people have trusted me enough to put their career in my hands. And, it goes without saying, that I absolutely could not do it without my co-captain (and hubby).
So, this morning our team told me that something was serious and we were needed in the conference room. When we arrived, this incredibly creative creation awaited on the table. As I looked up, our team joined us in the conference room to celebrate "bosses day". I was not only touched by the kind words, but also by the obvious effort that went into such a gift. I have to say I have never seen anything like this candy bar poster before, but what a great idea!!
To my team, THANK YOU!! Thank you for making this dream possible. Thank you for your loyalty to our vision. Thank you for your commitment to helping make it happen. Thank you for your forgiveness that I am far from perfect. Thank you for your understanding when we make mistakes. Thank you for your determination when our goals seem out of reach. Thank you for making us laugh with your clever slack commentaries. Thank you for the in-office entertainment. Thank you for your positive attitudes. Thank you for your lack of drama (seriously, this is a big one!). Thank you for all that you do!
I open with the 'think twice' subject not to scare anyone from taking a leap of faith, but I say that because we are often inundated with inspirational books and articles telling us to go for our dreams. I LOVE this, but I also think it only fair to lay out the truth. See, I 100% support anyone who is pursuing a dream, but I have found over the years that there is a big difference between a dreamer and a do-er. Dreamers are the ones who have grand ideas and see the path easily in front of them, do-ers are the ones that work hard for the idea, then work 10 times as hard doing the research and figuring out a way to make it happen. So, I have listed below the 5 characteristics that I personally believe are a requirement if you are going to take a massive risk and pursue a career dream.
1. Stubbornness - Okay, so hear me out on this one. So, if you are hard-headed, unwilling to value the advice of others, and arrogant enough to believe that you are right, always, then head for the hills now. You will fail many times before finding humbleness. On the other hand, if you are stubborn enough to plow through your challenges, determined to find a solution, determined to prove your naysayers wrong, then you have a leg-up on others.
I remember in my Junior year of high-school, I was way more interested in my career than high-school. I would often cut class and go log more hours at the dance retail store where I was working and very involved. My guidance counselor pulled me aside one day to tell me that I was going to be a failure and with this record would never be successful in a career. Funny enough, his little talk motivated me to 'quit' my high-school and head to the bad-girl school where I could sign in and out as I'd like, finishing my senior year in less than 3 months. This enabled me to carry multiple jobs, while going to school when I could work it around my schedule, including nights. I have still never forgotten that little talk we had, as it has pushed me to prove him wrong, even to this day. Thanks Mr. Nelson!
2. Work ethic - The one thing I hear over and again from entrepreneurs is that they didn't realize how consumed they would be by their careers. I am included in this, although wouldn't trade it for anything. Often, the most successful entrepreneurs are not the smartest, they are the hardest working. I didn't go to an Ivy League school, actually neither of my parents even went to college at all, but I saw them both working their tails off. To be 100% honest, when I am surrounded by other successful people, I sometimes feel a bit uneducated and not well-spoken, but I know if put to the test, I could likely hang with the best of them when it comes to work ethic. I recently read a book by Barbara Corcoran, the Real Estate Mogal on Shark Tank, and she is the walking billboard for what is really possible. She says it over and again in her book and also on the show, she may not consider herself the smartest, but she was darn determined to be the best and she did!
3. Willingness to sacrifice - Before pulling the trigger on your big idea, you need to write down a list of what you are willing to sacrifice for it, literally. How about time with your kids, your life savings, friends, how about time with your spouse? Does your spouse support the idea? As a mom, I do the balance dance just like every other, but I have to make a conscious decision to miss out on a lot of time with my kids. It is painful and often confusing. They grow up so fast, and I certainly don't want any regrets, but it is just a fact that you don't grow a multi-million dollar company while having a bunch of free-time and hanging out with the kids during the week. Every single day is a decision on how to best spend my time to maximize the results, both with family and in business. Maybe you have a business idea that is not full-time, and there is a different way, but so far, for me, this has not been an option.
4. Competitiveness - I can't think of a single successful person that does not have a competitive edge. For me, I am not competitive in a harsh way. I don't wish ill-will on our competitors or even our copy cats, but I do have a pure drive to out-perform them every single day. I firmly believe I would not be where I am today without this. I feel blessed to do what I do, and obligated to our customers and my employees do it better than anyone else.
5. Unselfishness - I think some other successful business people may disagree with me on this one. I have heard many times over that no one is watching out for you except for you. Well, this may be true in many ways, but I have found in life that the moment that you become the focus, the moment that you lose humbleness, and the genuine concern for others is the moment you fall flat on your face with no one around to support you. I started this business with a promise to God that I would use the success he gave me to pay it forward, to honor our customers, and to share my journey. I wouldn't be honest if I said there are not moments when I get completely caught up in running the business that I forget to take a step back, but there is not a moment that goes by that I am not eternally grateful for this opportunity that I have been given. If your only goal is to make millions, in my opinion, you should think twice.
With all of this, I will end with a quote shared by one of my favorite Shark Tank sharks, Lori Greiner, on her facebook page recently. I agree all the way!
Do you ever feel like you have turned into your parents? I feel like I lived so many years with my parents warning me that life goes by so fast, yet yearning to reach the next milestone, that seemed in the moment to take forever! It was just recently that I 'got it'. Yep, life flies by at warp speed and if you don't take just a moment to take it in, you will miss the beauty. Just yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed, a little like life was flying by, and I was too exhausted to take it in. It was at 1:00am, as I sat up still working, that I looked out our back window, overlooking a peaceful lake, and took just a moment to remember that this life is short-term.
I guess we all fight this internal battle between enjoying all life has to offer, while also juggling the responsibilities that propel us forward. I LOVE what I do, but at times feel like I am drowning in it just a bit. There's the designing, the selling, the managing, the running a growing business...then there are the kids, the hubby, dinner to be made, tennis lessons to go to. Oh and did I mention, we are about to put our house on the market?? So much to do, so many hours working, but then I must take a moment to remember how blessed I really am.
I am certainly not the only parent trying to 'do it all', so I know you can likely relate. It's funny, I now find myself reminding my 4-yr old daughter to enjoy every age, to take it all in, cause "life goes by fast". I guess my parents were right all along, with age comes wisdom. As I age, and the dark circles become more prominent, the wrinkles become a little deeper, and those darn grey hairs are just hanging out at the surface laughing at me a little each day. I take it all in stride because there is nothing more rewarding, more valuable than understanding and truly appreciating that each day, each week as a gift from God. I may not do each of those days perfectly, and I certainly have a TON to learn, but there is something freeing about living life for your own beliefs, values and achievements, over the expectations of others. Pushing myself everyday, yet understanding the value in my priorities. Life does go by fast and although I may drown in it a bit, the adventure is mighty fun!