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!
As I walked past the large TV in the gym locker room, my son sat in a chair waiting for me to check him into the kids activity area before my yoga class. My day went on, but my mind kept rewinding to that sight. I tend to use yoga as a time for gratitude prayer. That day, I just kept asking what I was supposed to do to change this world we live in. The sight of the parents and students in tears, the sight of the college that had just become the next major news story, the sight of another day discussing these acts of violence just replayed in my head. As with most Americans, my evening went on. That evening I prayed for those involved, I prayed for the boy/man that felt compelled to kill and hurt other human beings, but I still felt with the rest of the world, confused and frustrated.
Then, this Sunday I went to church, as we do every Sunday, but this day was a little different. There was a guest speaker by the name of Samuel Rodriguez and he spoke on "light". While I love attending church, it is not often that I leave with written notes from the service. This week was again different there. While Reverend Rodriguez was speaking, he said something that really resonated with me..."For when light stands next to darkness, light always wins." Following this week and that vision stuck in my head from the gym TV, this is exactly the answer I needed to hear. So, how do we create more light in a world that is struggling with darkness?
From the very beginning of RuffleButts, I felt led to do something more than create adorable clothes for adorable kiddos around the world. While that job description is certainly an honor, I have always wanted to use this company as a platform to do good. Sometimes that "good" is obvious and other times it is not. Sometimes it is complex and often times it is quite simple.
While our business is a business for profit, which means we do have to make a profit to stay in business, it is truly built on a foundation of love, goodness, honesty, and optimism. While we mostly talk about products, as most companies do, this week, I want to do something a little different. Many would not consider this to be the best business decision, as it will not drive sales, won't contribute to our revenue goals, and won't help to spread the word about RuffleButts. With that said, I feel like it will do something even more important. We have the most AMAZING customers ever! Our customers have had my back since the very beginning. They have supported this dream, the business, they have sang our praises and decorated their loved ones in our creations. Even those that have outgrown our sizes still show their loyalty with baby shower gifts and notes on our social media pages. I know that our customers have so much light to shine, so this week, I am calling on you to shine it.
So, here is my simple request...do something kind for someone else this week. Shine your light! Show love, show support, encouragement. Pay for the dinner of a random stranger, maybe pay for their coffee ahead of them in line. Support a co-worker who you do not know well, who may need the support more than you know. Whatever it is, just shine brightly. Then take a moment to stop by our facebook page and share your story. It doesn't even have to have a result that you know of, just let us know what you did to join in our quest for light. Who knows, maybe we'll pay it forward too!
*When searching for his quote, I came across this post on Maria Shriver's website. Looks like she found him inspiring too. Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez was also nominated by TIME Magazine for their "100 Most Influential People in the World" list in 2013. After hearing him speak, I can certainly see why!
Also turns out that Gateway Church is doing a re-air of Rev. Rodriguez's service at noon Central today. If you would like to view, click here.
I do some of my best 'out loud' thinking in the car with Mark (my hubby), although sometimes, I must admit, I look pretty crazy, 'out loud' thinking in the car all alone! Anyway, on Friday, as we were driving to FedEx to drop off some last-minute orders, a discussion arose regarding some of our past vendors. Have you ever made a statement and then realized how right you were? Well, I had one of those moments...I turned to Mark and said "I think in order to think outside-the-box, you have to live outside-the-box." Then, I realized how true that statement really is. We pride ourselves on good customer service, but in order to provide that service, rarely can I follow the 'rules'. I often find myself driving Express orders to the post office because someone missed our order deadline, but desperately wants bloomers for pictures they have scheduled. Other times I have had products rush shipped from our factory in India for a customer that had her heart set on a particular style for a particular event (at our expense). I have literally driven to a customers house to exchange out a product and have personally sat on the phone for hours trying to track down packages delayed with USPS, even though they are completely out of my control. I am not patting myself on the back by any means, all of these things are expected, or at least I expect them.
You have a choice, you can be as successful as the industry standard, and if you are okay with this level of success, then that is your option. If you are someone not okay with this mid-level success, then you must think outside-the-box. You must rise above the rest, do things differently, not follow the rules, and leave your customers raving about how "different" you are from everyone else!
I'm sure I will, quite honestly, raise the ire a few sales reps with this statement, but in my opinion, the industry standard is no longer the best way to sell products. I think giving exclusivity of an entire chunk of the country to a sales rep that has never sold your products and has yet to turn in a single order is crazy. I also think sending them thousands of dollars in samples and paying monthly showroom fees without any sales requirement / minimum is crazy as well. I was in real estate sales, and if someone offered to give me all of North Carolina real estate transactions, no matter how many (or few) that I completed, and pay me monthly, regardless of how many homes I sold, I would 1st look at them like they are crazy, and 2nd, sign on the dotted line! Does this sound a bit ridiculous to anyone else? Don't get me wrong here...I am all about rewarding someone for a job well-done and paying them fairly for the hard work that they accomplish. That's why I love commissions! It is very black and white, you sell, you get paid. As my husband always tells his sales staff, and as holds true in the wilderness, "You eat what you kill". Who's going to provide better service and do a better job, someone who's hungry or someone who's sitting at a free lunch buffet?
Okay, so I'm an Entrepreneur. We are a bit of a rare breed and probably have a harder time following the rules than most. Sometimes I should probably do a better job of that, but for now, I strive daily to think outside-the box, and most importantly to live outside-the-box!