Ten years ago, I did a thing. I believed there could be a better and more rewarding career path for a working mom. And so, I took a gigantic leap of faith and started an agency. If I knew then what I know now, it would have been a much easier journey, but not nearly as rewarding. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and given more blood, sweat, and tears than I would have liked, but as I look back, it’s been a magical adventure and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Reflecting back on our 10-year anniversary, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the experience, the amazing people who came along for the ride, the ups, the downs, and everything in between. These are 10 lessons I’ve learned along the way…
1. Start with WHY
It may sound cliché, but staying firmly grounded in your WHY makes hard decisions a heck of a lot easier. It has to be bigger than money, success, or fame…it has to be bigger than you. My WHY has always been to be my authentic self and to inspire others to see something bigger and better in the world and in themselves. Throughout this journey, I realized that the only way I could stay true to my purpose while advancing my career was to create a space where I could live, work, and make decisions on my own terms.
2. Seek help – early and often
Coaches, mentors, masterminds, spiritual guides, truth teachers — guidance can come in many different forms. Surrounding yourself with those willing to impart their knowledge is a game changer. I’ve had many incredible mentors who taught me so much throughout this journey and I would have never arrived at where I am today without their support.
3. Get comfortable in chaos
The only thing that is certain in life and business is change. Even your most well-thought-out plans can shift in an instant. People sell magic formulas for success – and they might be true if your end game is money and profitability – but if you want to play the long game, you have to open yourself up to uncertainty and more importantly, possibility. Magic truly comes in the most unexpected parts of the journey. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable is the only true path to growth.
4. You are the problem…but also the solution
Energy follows thought and thoughts become things. If you need examples, I have tons I can share over a drink or two. Your mind is a powerful thing and it can carve your path whether you know it or not. You can choose to be the victim in any situation, or take your power back and become a creator. At the end of the day, you’re the only person who can choose to get out of your own way.
5. Don’t underestimate your impact
When you’re leading and ultimately influencing others, respect your power. Your actions (and words) can have a ripple effect on people’s lives and those around them. One single interaction can have a great impact, whether big or small. Speak and act with intention, always.
6. Perspective is everything
Work consistently on self-awareness. When you step out of your own box and broaden your perspective, you open up a wider range of possibilities and choices. This is especially true when leading people — see them first as humans, seek the truth, own your part, and always try to understand the other person’s point of view before you act.
7. Make time
You can have all the success in the world, but life treats everyone the same. Personal challenges and tragedy can happen at any time, you can’t plan for it and you won’t expect it. The opportunity to lead is a gift; in these instances, you always have a choice to show up for everyone else and yourself. Take the day off, sit with someone when they need it, show up when someone least expects it, be there when no one else is, and listen. Things go by in the blink of an eye when you’re hustling. Make time for the things that matter…connection, laughter, fun, loved ones. Tomorrow is never promised, live and lead with no regrets.
8. Enjoy the ride & flow with your business
Entrepreneurship is a journey, not a destination. It’s an infinite game and if you play only to win, you risk losing yourself and burning out along the way –- trust me, I found this out the hard way. Take your cue from nature…like the moon and the seasons, all businesses have phases. There’s a time to plant your seeds, pause, rest, and renew…and a time to push forward, put your foot on the gas, and harvest the fruits of your labor. If you can learn to honor and flow with the cycles of your business, let go of what you can’t control, and make space for new ideas, you can become the ultimate co-creator. Live in the moment, celebrate your wins big and small, take nothing for granted, focus on gratitude, and take time to acknowledge how far you’ve come instead of being so focused on where you’re going.
9. Find your people
Work with only the best and never settle for less, this is true both with your team and your clients. Be selective and find good people you want to be around, those who truly care — the rest can be trained or taught. Choose people who are aligned with your values, who are smarter, more talented, and more passionate than you are — you’ll never regret it. Great people make great companies and not the other way around.
10. Always stay true to yourself
It’s easy to get swept up in proving yourself, comparing, competing, questioning your decisions, and wondering what everyone else is thinking, but if you never let doubt get too loud and learn to trust your intuition, it will never steer you wrong. Do everything you say you’re going to do, show up even when you don’t have it in you; and if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it just because someone else is. Don’t second guess yourself, stay true to what you know is right, say no, stand your ground, and most importantly, keep your integrity. If you can go to sleep at night knowing you did what you believed in your heart was best for you and your business, you’ll save yourself unnecessary stress (and get some much-needed rest)!
Smarty was born from a small seed of an idea to a company built on heart, soul, and purpose — where amazing, like-minded humans could do good work that ignited their own possibilities. I am so grateful that I have been able to do this over the last 10 years, and I am looking forward to many more on this wild and crazy ride. To everyone who has joined me on this journey and taught me these valuable life lessons: THANK YOU for helping me make this dream a reality. ❤️