I spent years cutting off my limbs to fit into a box made of preconceptions and societal rules, not knowing what is possible for me, and how I could express myself – fully and unapologetically – without ending up on the street… until, finally, the Misfit Rebel Maverick in me busted out and screamed “no more!”
I had always done well in school – the “positive feedback” for excelling academically might have extended the time I spent being “straight and narrow.” I studied design at Yale College and went onto getting my Master’s of Architecture degree from Harvard University. When I got out of school, I followed the “traditional path”, got a job at some prestigious New York City architecture firm and started my life as cubicle dwelling CAD drone.
I was miserable. I was not cut out to sit at the computer from 9 to 9 executing other people’s ideas while breathing in re-circulated air. I sucked at my job. I got pink-slipped when the economy tanked. But I didn’t know better because “job after school” was all I knew… so I went on to look for another job, and ended up in the online marketing agency world for 9 years. I learned a lot during that time, but my inability to sit tight at a desk executing other people’s visions became painfully apparent.
I could not do it anymore. I walked away from a 6-figure New York City ad agency job and started my coaching business. It was a big jump – there is zero entrepreneurial blood in my family and I had no idea what I was getting into. But it was inspiring, and it suited my adventurous personality. Even with my extensive design background and experience working in creative projects, my years as an entrepreneur are definitely one of my most creative times.
I soon discovered that I am very good at identifying opportunities, synthesizing information and developing creative solution. I left my coaching business and started a successful venture to help coaches build their businesses.
However, something was bugging me. I love marketing and I was doing it quite well to promote my business. Like many entrepreneurs, I bought trainings and programs to grow my business. The more I did so, however, the more I felt like I was being put on some factory assembly line, punching out materials that look just like everybody else.
I was spoon fed a bunch of information and told to execute (“just do it!”) without asking – where was ME in this whole picture? I was given blueprints but because of my maverick rebel personality, I could rarely “do as they say.” When things didn’t work “as advertised,” I fell into the comparison trap and blamed myself for being “too creative.” Like, geez, why can’t I just be like everyone else and be happy with what I get… why can’t I just settle for cookie-cutter mediocrity?
My good intention of furthering my business through trainings was in fact stifling my creativity and growth! Something was not right. I was doing what everyone else was doing and no longer felt the FIRE because my individuality has taken a back seat!
I missed that fire, the excitement, the drive – the secret sauce got it all started. My mission, vision, and passion got diluted along the way. I also realized there was no turning back to cubicle-ville and my business won’t be sustainable if I can’t fully express myself in it.
Something different needed to happen. Even though my business was going well, a big part of me wanted to create something more, something innovative, something to help others approach their businesses from a different place, a different perspective.
Staying within the confines of a prescribed way of doing things was oppressive. After a load of gut spilling and soul digging, I made a scary decision to stop listening to what others say, and listen to my own heart and guts.
I decided to take the leap and put all of me in my business. I decided that there would be no compromise. I decided to jump off the cliff while still looking for the “how to make a parachute” manual. I decided to walk away from what has been working and create something new, inquisitive, rebellious, and different.
When I took the leap, I had NO idea what the next iteration of my business is going to look like. I still don’t – not fully – maybe I never will. It is unfolding and in a way, I am enjoying the possibilities offered by the uncertainty.
All I know is, I want to do ME in my business with INTENTIONALITY. To create MEANING; to make ART have FUN.
During this process, I learned that mustering up the guts to jump off the cliff and let go of the “what is supposed to be” is where the real challenge is. The taking action and marketing bit happens after there is inner alignment and clarity.
Finding my clarity and conviction changed the way I do ME in my business. And I realized that it’s my gift and therefore obligation to help others do so. To help them find their WHY, get to the SOUL of their business, and turn it into marketing communication that sell.
There is a paradigm shift in the way we do business – it’s no longer about following a blueprint, banging out some stuff so you can “get away with it.” Success does not come in a blueprint and system with no purpose nor personality.
Becoming an entrepreneur is an EXPERIENCE – it is as much the outcome as what happens and how you do YOU during the process.
Changing the direction for my business and stepping up to fully own it took me a good 9 months. It’s not about tweaking some copy on the website and call it a day. It’s a constant inquiry and evolution to get into alignment.
I had to face my fears. I had to undo many preconceptions and limiting beliefs accumulated over the years. I had to go deep into the darkest parts of me and confront pieces of the past that I didn’t know still lingered. I had to work through deep-seated emotions that sent me curl up on the floor sobbing and bawling until I had nothing left.
But it’s all worth it. I now know, heart of heart, that I am doing what I am destined to be doing. I now TRUST, for the first time, that if I stay the course I will get there. It’s a deeper sense of peace and knowing that bypasses the logical mind and embraces the Heart & Guts.