“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?
My friend Frederique even has stickers that say so. She is not the type to tell anyone it’s easy to run a business but she also dislikes when people complain about what they do. Suck it up, Cupcake! You were excited about starting this and now you get to do this, so why are you complaining?!
I sat here writing a post about determination. About being determined to finish what I started. About being determined to run this "stupid marathon" this weekend. About being determined to make our 4th SPEAK With Confidence a huge success. About being determined to be a huge success myself. I started giggling to myself. Out loud.
Determined!? Yeah, right. That’s a load of crap. If I was determined to run the marathon, I have woken up & run the last two weeks – and I wouldn't be wondering if I can even walk 26.2 miles fast enough to finish in under the cutoff time. If I was determined to make SPEAK With Confidence a huge success, I wouldn’t have been wondering about Plan B for so long (btw, There is no Plan B) and I would have been celebrating that we hit the number of signups we wanted. If I was determined to be a huge success myself, I would figure out how to focus better instead of complaining about how many interruptions I have during the day. If I… wait a second. Why am I ragging on myself? Don’t I already do enough – work hard enough – not sleep enough?!
Determination defined is “firmness of purpose” – or “a tendency to move in a fixed direction.” Ugh. That means that as hard as I’ve been working, I should have worked harder. I should have done better. I should have gone bigger. I should…
STOP SHOULDING ON YOURSELF.
Just listening to myself is tiring. Yes, I can focus better. I can work harder. I can get more done in less time. I can read all the books & posts about productivity and learn how to do this all better. But in the end, I really need it suck it up and focus on what needs to be done instead of complaining about it.
I teach humans about manifesting – I even have a whole workshop called How To Get What You Want (subtitle: #manifesttatshit). Manifesting is about figuring out what you want, writing it down, creating a plan, and working on it every single day. And I manifest the HECK out of that shit. I’m a manifesting human – I love figuring out what I want. I love writing it down. I LOVE planning. And I am SO good at doing the work. But then I find myself just doing the work – and forgetting about the purpose of it all. The direction I need to be going. Like this stupid marathon.
My friend Shari sent me a message one day a few months ago and said “I just signed up to run a marathon. You should run it with me.” So, Dan & I signed up, too. It was that simple. Except it wasn’t that simple. We now knew what we were going to do but we had to write it down, make a plan, and work on it. And we did.
We made a written plan and put it on the calendar and put in the miles. Until we didn’t anymore. Until we got so tired we didn’t want to get up and go. Until travel got in the way. Until all of the excuses kept us from getting up and going the distance. And now it’s coming up – on Saturday. Now we have to suck it up and somehow get to the end of this thing so we can get the stupid t-shirt.
Yes, I keep saying stupid because I’ve never run a marathon before. I’ve never wanted to run one. And I have NO idea why I decided to sign up for it. No, I’m not one of those “I’m amazing because…” kind of people – especially not with this kind of stuff. I HATE training for this. I will NOT rub it in your face or tell you why you should do it. I don’t think anyone should run a stupid marathon. I love running but I HATE when I have to do something – especially when I know I’ll suck at it. I keep trying to find every excuse not to run – snow in the mountains, a rolled ankle, can’t find a dogsitter, I got sick – EVERY EXCUSE NOT TO RUN THIS STUPID THING.
But guess what ran through my head as I was sitting here thinking about determination? I realized – I am healthy. I am whole. I am a badass. I have all of my limbs. I have full function in my body to run this. I have an amazing partner who will run this with me. I am an incredible magical human machine. I am determined to get to the end of this thing.
As I was wondering about why I bothered to sign up for this stupid marathon, Shari sent me a message and said, “I didn’t realize this when I signed up, but the day we run this marathon is the 5 year anniversary of me losing my finger and my career. It’s amazing how different my life looks now and there’s nothing I would change.”
I’m running this stupid marathon for Shari. I’m doing it because I can. Because I GET to. I absolutely don’t have to do this. I have zero pride in doing it. I’m also not doing it for me – I’m doing it for her. To celebrate this amazing life with her.
I don’t have to do any of this. I don’t have to run this race. I don’t have to run this business. I don’t have to run this speaking retreat. I don’t have to go anywhere. And yet, I GET to. I get to run this race. I get to run this business. I get to run this speaking retreat. I get to travel. I get to inspire others. This is all a gift.
My mindset shifted this morning. That quickly.
I woke up today saying, “I absolutely can’t do this.” And now I just keep repeating, “I get to do this.” I GET TO DO THIS!
YOU get to do this. This life. This amazingly imperfect, hard, rollercoaster, crazy life – and it’s all yours. Your perspective, your heart, and your determination.
You are an incredible human being – a machine – made of magical components built exactly the way you were meant to be built. You are perfect just as you are. Even if you don’t look, feel, or act like what everyone else says or believes is perfect – you are PERFECT. You are right where you’re supposed to be. You are your own kind of magic. It’s to you to decide to be incredible. To wear your awesome. To be the beautiful human you were created to be.
You GET to be here. You GET to breathe. You GET to do the work you’re doing. You GET to enjoy the life you’re living. You GET to love the people you love. It is not a RIGHT to live this life – it’s a REQUIREMENT.
Congratulations for hitting the human lottery – now, suck it up, cupcake – and DO THE THING! I promise, you’ll change how you feel about anything when you realize that you GET to do it. I get to do it with you.
Now, I'm going to drive to Utah, run a stupid marathon, celebrate with my friends, and eat ALL of the cupcakes. So, suck it, cupcake. hahahaha
BE MORE. BE BETTER. BE THE BEST. BE WHAT YOU WERE MADE TO BE.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. FOCUS ON YOU.
DO LESS! DO MORE!
Everyone has an opinion. And you know what they say about opinions.
They either tell you to work harder or they tell you to take more time for yourself. And everyone has their own formula for doing it – thinking that it will be one-size-fits-all when it’s not and it CAN’T be. We’re all unique snowflakes (I know, I know – but it’s true!). We all need our own balance/integration/way-of-doing-life. As much as personality tests try to stick us in categories to tell us how to do things, we still have to figure it out for ourselves.
I saw a facebook ad that literally said (and I quote): "FACT If you are not madly in love with every area of your life, overflowing in every area of your life which matters to you… (continue reading)” with a physically fit bearded hipster guy sitting on a rock looking out over rocky terrain & a link for his program to upgrade your life.
I couldn’t even "continue reading" because first, it isn't well-written – and second, I wanted to hit him the face for putting that kind of shit on other people. Those words are out there making people feel like shit because he OBVIOUSLY does this himself. *insert eye roll*
Let me be REALLY clear: NO ONE IS MADLY IN LOVE WITH EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIFE. NO ONE IS OVERFLOWING IN EVERY AREA. NO ONE. ABSOLUTELY BLEEPING NO ONE. The gurus, the monks, the coaches, the trainers, the experts, the spiritual leaders, the ninjas – no one has all of their shit together. WE ARE ALL HUMAN! We’re not meant to have everything together. We’re meant to keep learning & growing. The reason some of us teach others is because we’ve figured out how to authentically be ourselves and our purpose is to help others figure out how to do the same.
So many are REALLY good at hiding their shit – and it ends up eating them alive. If you ever hear a “guru" say that they have all of their shit together & that they’ve found the fountain of _fillintheblank_ and you look at their life, their Instagram feed, and see that they live a spotless life – RUN! Don’t buy that program. Don’t read their blog posts. Don’t listen to their podcasts. Don’t fill your brain with that shit. Don’t feel bad about your life.
Phew – now that THAT is over.
Over the last two years, I’ve been building a program that is SO far outside of my comfort zone. This program allows humans to show up authentically on stages sharing their stories. It didn’t happen over night. And it has NOT be easy. I hosted it three times – training over 30 people – before I even admitted I was doing it. I denied that I was training speakers – when in reality, I’d been doing it for years. I’m a brand strategist so it’s been my job for the last 10 years to help companies tell their stories. I’d even written talks and created slide-decks for people and companies – and stayed fully focused on the fact that I’m “just” a brand strategist.
Every time we hosted an event, I would always say it was the last. Every time we had to get butts in seats, I said I’d never do it again. Every time we finished the event, I’d be SUCH a Proud Mom – telling every one of my speakers' stories – and how hard they worked to get on that stage. And yet, I WAS NOT GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN.
Then I moved across the country, built the online course, and wrote a 140-page workbook – and, what did I do? I did it again. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?! I’m NOT a speaker coach. I help people tell their stories, I don't teach people how to rock stages – AND this is REALLY HARD! Why am I doing this?!
This was until my Helpful Human, Gisell, looked at my ragged, weary, and proud face after our third event as everyone was hugging each other to head back home and said, “If you could hear what everyone says about you and this experience, you’d never doubt that you have to keep doing this.” So, we did it again. We posted a whole new event for October – added more days, made it all-inclusive, got a few signups, worked our tails off – and found that EVERYONE wanted to do the next one.
“I’m totally in for the workshop in April,” said the 53rd person.
Hearing this over and over, I took a weekend to decide if a handful of signups was worth moving forward with or if I should just wait until April. I asked my team to think on it, pray on it, and see what they thought. One of my trainers came back to me after the weekend and said, “I asked God for a word and although I wanted to play it safe and wait until April, He told me that you should listen to what He first told you.” So, we forged ahead with a new fervor.
Until I hit another wall.
I got up on stage in front of 300 women to keynote the Women in Business Network event. I’ve never felt more on fire than that morning in Dayton, Ohio. I shared the shit, I shared the awesome, and I gave them permission to take ONE step. Just one. To show up for themselves so they could show up for others. I told them “You are right where you’re supposed to be.” I made 300 new friends that day.
And the whole time I chatted & inspired, I was doubting my decision to make the October Accelerator happen – again. I was excited to be there and suffering inside trying to piece everything together.
A woman walked up to me & said, “I’m so glad I found you. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but while you were speaking earlier, God told me to tell you ‘There is no Plan B.’”
Talk about all of the air rushing out of my body. KEEP GOING! We jumped on it with even more excitement and decided that the people who were supposed to be there would be there. And guess what? THEY ARE! The Rockstars who have signed up for October are 100% right where they’re supposed to be. (Weird that I talk about this.) And this Accelerator would help me streamline every single one of the future ones – hosting more people and going even bigger. Because I was FINALLY COMMITTED! No more wavering. No more Plan B.
YOUR SUFFERING ISN’T FOR YOU TO KEEP.
Entrepreneur life is NOT glamorous. Anyone who talks about the hustle being sexy is lying.
Running a business is HARD. Building a team, managing your life, and making money is HARD. Especially when you AND your team depend on you for a paycheck. It’s not for the faint of heart. We can surround ourselves with incredible humans and still hit bottom over and over. We can be fully supported with a sound business structure and perfect marketing plan – and still miss the mark.
“It’s lonely at the top” is true AND false. It’s hard – there is NO doubt. And all of us have major decision fatigue on a daily basis. But it’s only lonely if we don’t reach out.
The problem is – when we reach out, people say shit like “everything will be ok” and “it’ll all work out.” We share where we are and it ends up being brushed it off as character-building. Which ends up reminding us to NOT reach out. Which reminds us that we’re lonely.
Encouraging words are all fine & good but most of the time we really need to hear “I’m with you” or “I’ve been there” or “I get it & I’m sorry it sucks.”
If you know me at all, I’m a HUGE encourager. I love helping people through rough times and reminding them to wear their awesome. If you need a hug, I GOT YOU! AND I’m also the first person to say “ugh, I feel that. I’ve been there. And I’m standing with you in it.” Because when shit gets hard, we really don’t want to hear that it’s going to be fine. We want to be validated in our feelings and know we’re not alone.
Sure, when we look back on the hard stuff, we may laugh at how silly it was. We may add it to a talk on a big stage or share it over coffee with a friend. Or we may just be glad we went through it because of all we learned. But when we’re in it, PLEASE knock off the “just smile & everything will be better” shit. It doesn’t help. A hug does. A listening ear does. An understanding note does. A word for the Big Guy upstairs does. Because it feels like no one really hears you when they say that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Screw the tunnel. Screw the light. Screw the great story this will make. Screw the character-building. Screw you for saying I’ll laugh about it. I’m just going to light that bitch on fire and we’ll talk about where the light and the tunnel meet.
Because what other choice is there?! Trudging?! Pretending?! Lying to myself and everyone else? THERE IS NO PLAN B.
I’ve been hustling my face off for 3 straight weeks without downtime, without sleeping well, and without feeling like I have all my marbles. I’m building an INCREDIBLE program that takes up almost all of my waking hours – and I know it’ll be worth it. It always is. And I’m tired.
I just turned off my wifi for two hours in a mountain town, put my noise-canceling headphones on, and pretended my business didn’t exist in order to write this post. I have a to-do list that’s bigger than it's ever been and I’ve delegated everything I can possibly delegate. I have zero phone calls on my calendar today and have been asked a total of 86 questions today alone. I’ve only responded to one email. And I finally got a note from my bookkeeper that said the sky wasn’t falling anymore. I am blessed – I get it. I REALLY do. And yet…
It’s been almost 10 years since I started my business. It’s been hard – and SO rewarding. I’ve transitioned, I’ve changed everything, I’ve revamped my life, I’ve moved multiple times, I’ve been through almost everything an entrepreneur can possibly go through. And yet, I’m still here. I’m still standing. I’m still hustling. I get it. It sucks and it’s so awesome – all at the same time.
If you’re in the shit right now, I feel you. I feel every particle of your being. I DEFINITELY don’t have all my shit together and right now, as much as I love celebrating all of the wins (and boy, there are some INCREDIBLE things happening), I’m also living in the shit. I need sleep. I need to delete my inbox. I want to go play. I sometimes wonder what it would look like to have a 9-to-5. And then I remember the impact of what I’m doing. The impact, the purpose, the stories, and the authenticity. I LOVE being me. I LOVE my life. I LOVE this shit. THERE IS NO PLAN B.
So, all that to say – I see you. My twitchy eye sees yours. My tight shoulders are wrapped around yours. I have a tissue box ready for you any time you need to just let it all out. And I will encourage you to LET IT ALL OUT. No matter who you are or where you’re from or what you’re going through, I’ll stand with you. Because that’s what we humans need – to know we’re not alone.
"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!
“I have too much to worry about to not be myself.” – Strother Gaines
Strother Gaines is full of glitter and wisdom.
He’s the head unicorn of But I’m a Unicorn, Dammit, LLC an entrepreneurial coaching company helping humans who want to build their next step. When I asked the Kickass Humans Club who should be on the podcast, Sarai Johnson, one of our recent Rock Your Talk-ers put her hand way up and suggested Strother saying “He’s AMAZING!” spoiler: she was right.
Strother is a Kentucky-born triple threat who is keeping busy as an entrepreneur, artistic director for TBD Immersive – a new theater company in DC, and the event director for Network Under Forty.
Oh – and one of his drag queen names is Joann Fabrics. (Like, the fabric store… Yeah, I love him.)
In this week’s podcast episode, Strother Gaines lets us in on the phone call from the IRS about his LLC’s name, But I’m a Unicorn, Dammit, LLC and how to network without being an asshole (this was fun). His bits about growing up in the rural south, coming into his own, and the glory of Southern Queens are what make Strother such a fabulous human being. He shares HIS story, which helps others share theirs. BRILLIANT!
“I get a lot of feedback on the beard.” – Strother Gaines
Looking to channel the magic in your career or business?
The next step is simple and the fabulous beard himself can let you in on the secret.
Ever wonder what the difference is between jackhammer careers and hummingbird careers? Maybe you’ve wondered how a career trajectory of cross pollination led him from being segway tour guide to entrepreneurial coach? Well, you get all of that and more – right here on the podcast.
My favorite part? Strother brings Joann Fabrics to the podcast – including the family inspiration for her and how he gets himself into character. (HINT: It’s a very specific swear word with southern flair.)
Why aren’t you listening yet?! This man has GLITTER IN HIS BEARD! Stop reading, start listening