“You must expect failure as part of your journey of success, failure and success go hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other.” – Richard Parkes Cordock
Failure sucks. Thoroughly, painfully sucks. No one wants to fail – we all want to succeed. And we talk about success all the time – about how it’s not really failure, it’s just a pivot. “I’ve never failed, I’ve just pivoted.” That’s cute – pivoting is actually what we learn to do from failure.
It’s amazing how much we hear about success – but rarely hear about failure. We hear about how people made it but not the parts where they almost didn’t. It’s always so glamorous when someone writes a book about how to do it the right way – and then you wonder how they figured it out – and then wonder what’s wrong with you. It’s disheartening for struggling business owners and CEOs to think they’re the only one failing because “everyone else” is a “huge success.”
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10.So, let’s hear THOSE stories. Then we won’t feel like we’re failing alone.
I’ve made it WAY past my own definition of failure – QUITTING – mostly because, for me, there is no Plan B. This business doesn’t look anything like it did when I started. I’ve quit parts of it, failed at other parts, and succeeded more than I ever expected. All of that led me to pivot hard and do something much more in line with who I am as a human. (read: Give me 1 hour, I’ll give you 9 years)
When I asked my Crew what they wanted to get out of our first real company retreat, every one of them said “defined vision & defined roles for every person.” Even ME! I want to know where we’re going and what everyone is doing to help us get there. I don’t have an exact plan myself since it’s been evolving so much. I want to make sure I have a Crew that will help me define where WE want to go. They will help me put the pieces together but at the end of the day, I’m still the Boss Lady.
Speaking of Boss Lady, it’s almost been 10 years of being her. Being the boss comes with SO many ups & downs and typically ends up being quite lonely. I’ve failed SO miserably and succeeded in ways I never thought I could. I’ve had lots of cash in the bank, while other times I’ve had to pray for it. I’ve always made payroll but not always for myself. I’ve made bad hiring decisions AND really amazing ones. I thought I knew where we were going and then realized I had no idea. I quit my business twice – and still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next.
When you start your business in your 20’s, you look back and wonder how anyone thought you were smart enough to do any of this. I never wanted to be the “boss,” but over time I’ve realized I ACTUALLY never want to be a manager. I fully believe everyone should do their job, make their paycheck, and keep growing. I hustle my face off, so why wouldn’t everyone else? Oh yeah, because if I don’t show them how to, give them the opportunity to do so, and give them an incentive to do it, why would they bother?
We all have to show up for ourselves. Whether we’re the boss, the assistant, the manager, or the helping hand. We’re all human – no one is BETTER than another and no one person is MORE IMPORANT than another. We all have to do our jobs in order for the whole business to work. We all have to put in the time & effort and keep growing. As the boss, we set the example for everyone else. When we set a bad example, it’s up to us to own it and grow from it so our teams can follow along with us.
This week we host our 4th SPEAK With Confidence – an event I never planned on creating, a methodology I never planned to write, and a course I never wanted to create. It was never in my plans, yet it’s been the most rewarding business venture we’ve ever taken on. It fits my skillset and my team does an amazing job of supporting me in it – even those who come in from other businesses to share their own expertise.
Now that I own the fact that we’re doing this, I’m starting to see the holes in my planning. I’m starting to see that as much as the event is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, it drains every bit of my energy and adds way more stress beforehand than anything else. And there’s a reason.
A goal is just a wish without a plan.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When I asked my entrepreneur mom for feedback for our corporate retreat, she said: “At the end of the day, Melanie is the boss. And she needs to be respected as the boss, referred to as the boss & regarded as the boss.” Now I want that on a t-shirt.
The biggest reason I have never been “the boss” is because I made a decision 10 years ago that I never wanted to be a “boss.” I didn’t want to be the quintessential horror reigning over everyone with an iron fist. The best bosses I ever had never acted like the “boss,” but I never knew if they regarded themselves as the boss either. So, I never owned my own boss-ness.
I wanted to build a company and I felt like everyone I hired would just own their shit & do their job. Why would they need a boss?! We did everything we were “supposed to do” like create job descriptions, set up processes & systems, and make sure everyone knew what to do. I made all the big decisions and owned all of the failures while being grateful to my team for all of the successes, but I missed the biggest piece of all. I guess I kept waiting for the real boss to show up and take over.
Which left me sitting here wondering how I’ve had a company this long without being the boss. It was actually really easy – I WORKED MY ASS OFF. Hustled my face off. And learned how to live in a constant state of stress. I built myself a perpetual job instead of building a sustainable company that was focused & set up so that everyone was able to succeed. Including me.
Guess who’s owning their boss-ness now?! *raises both hands** YES! Me!
Maybe it took my mom saying something – or even my team mentioning it (over and over and over) for me to realize they would follow me wherever I went – as long as I finally took the reigns and got us somewhere.
So, what does it mean to own my boss-ness?
Being the boss is however we want to define it. There is no ONE way to be the boss. As long as we own being the boss. It really comes from who you are as a human – and I have a big idea of what I’ve been missing this whole time. So, I’m going to write it down and own it – and you can all hold me accountable to it. (You can write yours down too – I am more than happy to help you own it!)
MELANIE IS THE BOSS LADY
In order for Melanie to be the boss lady, she has to:
1. Slow down.
– Be willing to put herself first.
– Block time on the calendar just for what she wants to do.
– Make time for creativity.
– Learn to be proactive, not reactive.
2. Create real, tangible goals for herself.
– Understand what her perfect life looks like.
– Set deadlines for each goal.
– Set up regular calls with her mentor.
– Create accountability for herself.
3. Create real goals for her company.
– Work with her Crew to create tangible, big plans.
– Set up processes & systems for all aspects of the business with her Crew.
– Write job descriptions for every person on the team (even the future ones.)
– Create accountability structures for everyone, including herself.
4. Keep growing.
– Learn something new.
– Read the books on her bookshelf.
– Write the damn book. (Gisell, look!)
– Take a walk & enjoy time away from the internet.
5. Inspire her Crew.
– Make sure everyone is in the right place.
– Create team goals for growth.
– Set weekly/monthly meetings for check-ins.
– Schedule fun trips throughout the year for brainstorming & relaxing.
Success & failure go hand-in-hand, sure. Yet, when you have the right team and the team is inspired because the boss is inspired, success is inevitable. Which means I have to own up to being the boss & give my Crew the success they deserve.
Hi, I’m Melanie Spring and I’m the Boss Lady.
Now, what are YOU going to do to own your boss-ness?
THIS EPISODE SIMPLIFIED: We’ve come to the final chapter of the SPEAK With Confidence podcast series. You’ve collected your IP, written and memorized your talk, got all the language to sell yourself and are ready for the final step: Practicing!
Let’s jump into Chapter 7: Practice Your Face Off (but not literally). Just because this is the end, doesn't mean you are done. I know – practice does NOT make perfect – but it sure makes you more comfortable on stage. It’s important that you never stop practicing – even when you’ve given your talk a million times.
I’ll share what I’ve learned over years about stage presence, being an inviting speaker, and how to get your audience engaged. But before we get started on all the things to DO on stage, I have one big DON’T to share.
Listen to the podcast to find out my big DON'T:
You can watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on power posing here. And check out how SPEAK With Confidence alumni, AJ Gibson, uses the stage in spite of his height to be more inviting on stage: (also, grab his book: Flipping The Script – I'm in it!)
SPEAK With Confidence: Stop wishing you were on that stage & write the dang talk: ispeakwithconfidence.com I'll even send you the fancy-schmancy workbook you're hearing about.
SPEAK With Confidence CLUSTER: Listen to this Cluster of Awesomeness here
Have you ever started something you really wanted to create & found it later unfinished? A blog post? A love letter? An art project? A room of your home? A relationship? A business? Maybe you start it, get part-way through it and say you'll come back to it only to come back to it to see it's incomplete.
We've all done it. We get hyped about something we want to make a reality and leave it when something shinier comes along. And that something shinier doesn't always do us a favor – it can distract us from what we really need to do.
As an entrepreneur, my brain is going 100 miles an hour all the time. (Side note: you don't have to be an entrepreneur to have a busy brain.) When I wake up, I'm staring at the ceiling thinking about work. All day, I work on work. After work, I'm talking about work. Entrepreneur life is not the most conducive to thinking about stuff outside of work. Balance or integration is not easy but it's necessary for a healthy focus. Which is NOT something I've ever been good at – until recently.
When I get bored or run out of things to do, I create more work for myself and my Crew. I start new companies, pivot old ones, build new products, put together new services, create more content – and get way off track. This helps no one – not my clients, my Crew or myself. The business waters get muddied and no one really knows what to do.
I did this exact thing again recently. And it almost wrecked me.
Let me back up for a moment. I started Sisarina, a web marketing agency, in 2009. I NEVER wanted to be the face of the company. I was called “Boss Lady” because I wasn't really much of a boss. I was the leader but I would even use that term loosely. I did EVERYTHING wrong and managed to still come out on top. I had very little focus – we did all sorts of stuff. Websites, marketing, social media, branding, content, brand strategy – lots. I had a hard enough time to getting my own work done while growing a team of incredible professionals. Until I realized how much I hated checking my email wondering who was mad at me and what fire I had to put out.
A year ago, my Crew convinced me it was time to do what I wanted to do instead of what I felt like I “should” do. I decided to focus on the two things I loved the most – speaking & workshops. I was ready to focus – and it was time to become the face – a personal brand, a public figure.
At first, I tried to hide behind the name Branded Confidence. It was ok to have my face on it but it was a company – right? I didn't have to be “the thing” I sold. Then I decided speaking and workshops weren't enough so I thought “let's start another company to focus on corporate work!” WHAT?! WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS!? I kept overwhelming myself because [you'll get a kick out of this] – I was afraid of success. <READ I wanna see you be brave>
I wasn't doing it on purpose but I realized that if I kept myself busy and kept doing more, I'd keep from being successful at any one thing. [WHY!? What's the point of that?! Oh yeah, MOST of us do this… It's not just a Melanie thing. Jane of all trades, Mistress of none.] I kept looking around and finding that I was even confusing myself with what I did.
I'm a brand strategist who helps companies tell their brand stories. That's what I'm trained to do. And I'm really good at it – but it doesn't bring me the joy speaking & workshops bring. All I wanted to do was write a book about how to rock your life and teach people how to share their stories. I wanted to share their stories from big stages so others could learn to tell their own stories. But, what do you call THAT? There's no college degree for this. There's no official title for it. The closest I could think was “motivational speaker” but really? #lame
Then, my right-hand-gal (Gisell!) held a mirror in front of me & asked me what I saw if I got to just speak & host workshops. JOY! She told me she'd follow me whichever direction I wanted to go, but we had to focus on one direction – not two.
BAM. So simple, yet so profound. My personal brand + kickass workshops + big stages to share the love = win/win/win.
And I don't have to sit behind a computer all day – I can be with the humans who need what I have to share. YES! Which brings me to this moment right here.
When I started writing this post, I was incredibly UN-focused. I sent notes out to my speakers about getting testimonial videos, started editing an email, got into conversations with my booking manager, checked and posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and even called my mom to celebrate a big win. I started a different blog post altogether but after watching my lack of focus, I knew I had to write about focusing.
After finishing the first draft, I took a walk and listened to The RobCast with Rob Bell sharing his Brief Guide to the Undernet – the underside of the internet. He was talking about how we have to choose what we want to do, post, share. And then he said exactly what I needed to hear to focus this post.
“A yes always requires a no.” – Rob Bell
We're always choosing. One thing for another. And when we say yes to something that doesn't serve us, we're saying no to something that could help us get where we need to go. Am I willing to say no to those things that don't help me focus on my goals?
If I look at my list of projects, I have an overwhelming amount of things going on – unfinished. At least 15 other blog posts sitting in Evernote, Quip or Google Docs somewhere. My computer desktop has a folder called Desktop Stuff where I dump everything I had on my desktop so I can keep it clean – but it's sitting there disorganized anyway – another project. My iPhone photos are in a Dropbox folder unorganized and completely lacking in any search-ability – I even have a person who can organize it for me when I'm ready to pull the trigger – or next time I'm on an airplane without wifi it might get done – if I'm not exhausted. There's a canvas I left in DC that's still white with a sketch on it and paints ready to color it in but I never bothered to paint it. I have a closet full of stuff that needs to be sorted & organized since my move – but it can wait until tomorrow. I need to shave Griffin so he can have a summer cut – maybe after work. I have to write my content for my updated brand – and it's slated for this afternoon but it's been on my to do list for at least two months. My car needs a bath and the office needs to be painted. Sigh.
I've left a LOT of things undone but saying yes to the ones I need to do requires me to say no to the ones I don't need to do. Kacy Paide, my professional organizer friend, would tell me to throw out the stuff I'll never finish and finish the things I want to finish. <Read How to be organized enough> Right now, I'm focused on getting shit done that NEEDS to get done. Getting shit done that requires my attention and that fits my overall goals. FOCUSED on it.
I may not ever get the focus to clear out my to-do list and that's ok. I'm creating and continuing to create things that make me smile, laugh, and grin at random times. All of this gets my inner 7-year-old bouncing around. As Kacy would advise, I'm making a promise to myself to finish everything that gives me joy. And throw away anything that isn't helpful or useful. Because what's the point of this life? To find joy, live in gratitude, and take care of those around us.
So, now it's your turn.
What is unfinished, incomplete, or getting undeserved attention? What do you need to throw away? What are you doing that doesn't fit your goals? And what do you need to start doing so you can be the huge success you were meant to be? Say yes as long as you are willing to say no.
Go – you incredible human – and enjoy this life you're creating. No matter what it looks like. Focus on everything that brings you joy.
"There’s something to be said about starting and committing – Let’s finish this first."
– Kacy Paide
Have you ever met someone who lives their brand so well that no matter when you catch up with them, you feel like you jumped in right where you left off and everything is just as wonderful as it's always been? That's how I feel with Kacy.
Kacy is the master organizer who focuses on all things paper – and she runs The Inspired Office. She’s been organizing since she was a kid but started a business instead of getting a job in 2001. She knows that organizing can change lives (truly) and bring calm in ways you wouldn’t expect – she's even done it for me.
In this week’s podcast episode, Kacy Paide let us in on her affinity for dusty hands, being covered in someone else's cat hair and why clients take photos of her while she's organizing their lives. Even though things have changed in her industry, she's really focused on the people she's helping and how to help them best.
Think you’re the only one who hasn’t gone digital with with your documents? Kacy has seen it all and has proof that humans of all ages and sizes collect paper – even in this digital age. We shouldn't have shame around our things – and there's a big loneliness of being trapped by our stuff. Kacy is ready to let you off the hook whenever you're ready to let go – without all the guilt that comes along with it.
“Organizing is choose your own adventure.” – Kacy Paide
Want to know how to start getting organized?
Kacy has the answer:
I've known Kacy's love for Evernote for years and FINALLY got a chance to ask her how I can use it better – now that I have her captive on the podcast. Want Kacy's ten-minute organization method to determine how hectic your life really is? Press that play button and get inspired to pull your paper together!
She’s a Kickass Human who is ROCKING her brand, taking names, and leading a kickass life.
As the head of strategic marketing at Gerberich Growth Strategies, Holly is focused on helping businesses grow and creating tailor-made strategies to get them to the next level. A DCer of over 15 years, she connected marketing and growth before big brands like Coca-Cola even realized they were related.
In this week’s podcast episode, Holly Gerberich lets us in on working with crazy human beings who feel things, taking a step back to see where you are, and the importance of having business goals. Holly drops some truthbombs for business owners who are trying to grow and goes through how marketing can light a business on fire- or make it fizzle.
Listen in to find out the secret of Holly’s master growth strategy superpower, how she brainstorms crazy into tangible in her business, and where her ideas come to her. Also, Holly and I dig deep into how the universe can take charge – bring you to places that you never thought you would end up, and sometimes name your dog FOR you. Ernie and Bailey – thank you, Universe.
“I wanna blow doors off for my clients.” – Holly Gerberich
Want to kickstart a brainstorming session, but feel stuck in a rut?
Holly has the answer:
If you want to know how NINE dogs, meditation, and TEN Oscars events have changed Holly’s life, you’ve got to listen in. [HINT: It’s the plot of a Seinfeld episode and a life exercise of knowing how to be in front of the right person at the right time.]
You need this wisdom in your week today – your brain and your business will love you for it. Get her wisdom in your ears – HIT PLAY.