Friday, April 29, 2016

I was an Epic Failure at Direct Sales

I don't know if I've every actually acknowledged it, certainly don't think I ever said it out loud, but the truth is, I was an epic failure at direct sales. It was painful and humiliating and really hard to get through. The crazy thing, is that the only person who really saw it was my husband. 

Everyone around me saw me as a success. All in different ways, and for different reasons. And that made it all the more painful. 

I started my direct sales experience like a freaking rocket. I promoted to the first significant leadership level and earned the annual company incentive trip both in my first 3 months in the business. I was invited on stage for huge regional events to share my story. The big names in the company all heard my name and connected with me. And I connected with them. I saw myself in them SO much. From the first big meeting, I totally saw myself as those top level earners. I really got it, I did. AND I did the work. I did SO much work. My husband will tell you, I did some crazy stuff. My leader would tell me to knock on doors, and I would literally knock on doors. My leader would tell me to go to the mall and talk to strangers and I would do JUST that. She herself at one point said, "I'd NEVER do the things you've done."

But the bottom line is that I never got there. I earned an OK income and it definitely got our family through a tough financial time, but I never got there. I was never able to replace my full time income. I actually lost my leadership title and gained it back 3 separate times. The weirdest thing is that because I worked so hard, because I never gave up, more and more people saw me as successful. Cool amazing inspirational people who I looked up to and respected, they became friends. They learned my name. From the home office people, to the trainers, to the top earners, to industry trainers.

And when I left one direct sales company and joined another the same thing happened. 

But why couldn't I make it? I could never figure it out, and it broke my heart. It made me feel worthless. It made me feel like a failure. I could talk about the things outside of myself that contributed to the low points, but that's so not the point. I failed. I couldn't make it work for me. No matter how hard I tried.

It wasn't until I stepped back, and later had a conversation with a friend who made one of those innocuous comments that are so profound and deep that I saw it. 

*PLEASE TAKE NOTE* I love the industry. Anything I say about why I found it not a right fit for me is meant in no way to disparage the industry. I believe in the industry and its ability to change lives in a huge way.

I am insanely proud of the fact that I am unique. I don't follow pop culture, I reject it. I've never followed the clothing fads or the music trends. And if you hear me talk about that, I am really proud of it. I'm really glad that I'm different. I really kind of strive to be different. 

As I worked in the direct sales industry, I tried to create a brand and a business that was bigger than "just" the company I rep'd for. First it was Wine, Women & Wax and after I changed companies it became Whole Self Nourish. I felt bigger than the container I was in. Not in an arrogant or self indulgent way, but in a way that felt in-authentic to me. 

The thing that makes the direct sales industry awesome is its rinse and repeat model. It's a totally accessible way for people to reach the business ownership model and level with low investment and overhead and minimal training. 

It turns out, I'm not so much a rinse and repeat kind of girl. And you know what, that's totally OK. In fact, it's better than OK. It's kind of awesome.

So now, I'm carving my own path. I'm figuring out what comes next for me and how being me is going to change the world, and next I'll figure out how to get paid for it. 

Why Do (or Did) You Want Out?

There is a statistic that 80% of U.S. workers are unhappy in their job. 

Of those unhappy workers, only some will take action to find another job. 

Maybe just a different boss. 
Maybe a different position.
Maybe a different company.
Maybe a different city or state.

Of those unhappy workers who take action to find another job, a small number will make very definite decisions and take targeted specific actions to find a new direction in that next job. 

Maybe they will seek out specific workplace environments they want to be a part of.

Maybe they will seek out a culture that is more in line with their personality and their values.

Maybe they will seek out a company that is working towards a goal that is more in line with their personal goals and a purpose that is in line with things that they believe, or really want to align themselves with.

Of those that are making definite decisions and taking targeted actions, very few will decide another job is not the answer.

Those very few will begin another path altogether, and start the journey of an entrepreneur, or a small business.

Many of you reading this are in that last group, even if you haven't left that unhappy job yet, you're on that path, that journey.

But it all has to start somewhere. You have to want out.

For me, it started years ago. (You've heard many versions of this story over the years, so I'll stick to the high points.) My husband had been laid off from a job that he had grown to despise that had driven him into depression. We had made the decision as a family to take another path, and to follow his passion and his childhood dream to become a professional pilot. This required a financial risk and commitment as well as a lot of lifestyle changes. I started a "side gig" with a direct sales company to help bridge the financial gap. 

That's when I saw the possibility of something different for my future. 

I grew up with a Mom that worked full time, for a job she didn't love, but it had good benefits (yadda yadda yadda), and a Dad in sales, which always seemed to be a cyclical success. We'd have good months and bad months, and it seemed that my Mom always wished he'd just "get a regular job".

But as I was exposed to more and more in the direct sales and later entrepreneurial worlds, I grew more and more hopeful that the 9-5 gig wasn't the answer for me.

But what was wrong with the 9-5 gig? What made me different? What moved me from the 80% that are just unhappy to the very few that start that other journey? 

It's all about the why you want out. 

What is it that makes you unhappy in that job? 
Is it the position? 
Is it the boss? 
Is it the company?
Is it the culture? 
Is it the environment (do you hate cube life)?

Or is it more... is it harder to describe? Does it feel more nebulous? Do you feel a little embarrassed to talk about it?

For me, it was (and still is) 2 major things. 

  1. My job doesn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, if no one was doing this job tomorrow, the world wouldn't be any worse off. It doesn't make the world a better place in any way. If the whole company went away, the world would barely notice.

  2. I want to enjoy my life, my husband, my time. NOW! I don't want to wait until we retire to really live our lives. I don't want to have to ration my enjoyment, I don't want to have to ask someone else's permission to go do the things I want to do with my husband, my family and my friends.

What about you? If you have left a "job" that you were unhappy in for something else, why did YOU want out?

I'd LOVE to hear your story! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

What Difference do you want to make?

People are bombarded every day with ugliness. The media focuses on it so much, that many people simply adopt the belief that that's really all the world is. Whether it's the violence and mistreatment of humanity pushed by the news, or the social sadness of the latest Hollywood breakup pushed by all the grocery store magazines at the checkout counter.

So people start to live their lives in quiet capitulation. They just accept that they are surrounded by ugliness, that the world is getting worse and that there is nothing they can do to change any of it.

They start to believe that they aren't supposed to be happy. That life isn't supposed to be good and exciting and amazing. They start to believe that those moments of happiness are only brief respites from the obligatory doldrums of life. They wait days for the brief happiness of the weekend. They wait weeks for the brief happiness of a vacation. They wait years for the hope for the promise of happiness of retirement. 

What difference do I want to make? 

I want to help people see that it's not only their right, but their obligation to the world to be happy every day. Not just on Saturdays. Not just on spring break. And retirement? The statistics are terrifying on just how many people make, how soon they die once they retire, and the quality of life they find once they "get there".

I want to change that belief. Life is not meant to be endured. Life is meant to be celebrated. Life is meant to be enjoyed. 

What about you? What difference do YOU want to make? I'd really love to hear about it. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What makes you angry about the world?

In my blog challenge, I managed to miss the writing prompt on Day 2 so I'm making up for that one now...

Maybe it was kind of fate to allow me to miss this prompt because it's not something that resonates with me. 

I can't stay mad.


I can't tell you what the exact date was, the month, or even frankly the year, but I distinctly remember the details and the feeling of the day in my mid-twenties when I was driving in my car on a country road when I had an earth shattering revelation. 

My mom and I have had a challenging relationship most of my life, as many girls and their moms do, especially through those teen and early 20's years. 

That day, driving my car, it simply dawned on me that the only person I was hurting by staying angry was me

The person you're mad at often doesn't know, or care that you're angry or why. They often will never apologize for the thing that they did that hurt you or scared you or just plain pissed you off. They are off living their own joyful, or at least oblivious life (that part is NOT directed at my mom, just at people in the world in general - just to be clear). In the mean time, you're sitting there, feeling horrible and basically poisoning yourself with the bile you continue to manufacture. The only person you're hurting by staying angry is YOU.

I used to be that person, I used to stew on something after it happened and get 
more and more upset, more and more indignant, more and more furious. 

But that day, that moment, it all just melted away. I just let it go. 

I still get angry, sure! Hell, I have Irish and German blood in my veins (haha)
It just doesn't stay around. There are even times when I try to stay angry and I just can't. It feels yucky and I just don't like it.

So, I can't really answer the question, there are plenty of things that irritate me, drive me crazy, make me sad. I just guess I like myself a little too much to let anger poison me.

What do you do?

As a woman who has been actively engaged in the Chicagoland networking community for going on 15 years now, I used to love this question. 

I used to live for this question. 

I worked painstakingly as my business evolved to craft a brilliant "60 second commercial" that would capture the attention of a room full of other networkers who had likely tuned out of 90% of the introductions they heard that day.

Over the past 6 months or so, I have grown to kind of hate this question. I feel like the latest evolution of my business has become positively schizophrenic. When affronted with this question of late, I always start with "Oh my gosh, I do A LOT" and then I rattle through a high level description of the myriad of pies I currently have fingers in, from my full time day job gig (which I hate talking about because I've been questing to get out from under it for the past 10 years or so) to my various side gigs which felt so aligned to me at one point but now feel completely disconnected.

Probably like many of you who are reading this, I have become a lifetime student of personal development. From Napoleon Hill to Tony Robbins, to the latest weekend conference to help me uplevel my skills in one area or another, I'm constantly trying to improve my brain, and myself. Often, as they say with success, the path isn't as straight or linear as one might expect or hope.

Also, probably like many of you reading this, I'm trying to figure out what comes next for me. Knowing I'm meant for something so much bigger than what I'm currently doing. Believing that I am destined to make a significant impact on the world, and eager to start doing that. Dreaming of a life on my own terms.

With my extreme penchant for making real connections with people and loving to hear their stories, going forward for myself, I'm going to change my language at upcoming networking events and new interaction opportunities (I'm sure some of you see where this is going) from "What do you do?" to "What are you excited about right now?". 

If you happen to be in a great place in your life and business, this may prompt you to share why you are so passionate about your work and what makes you excited about it and brilliant at it. 

If you're not in that place, maybe you're completely bored or burnt out in your current position, it leaves you wide open to talk about anything in your life that turns you on. Maybe that's your kids, or your spouse, or your garden, or your favorite sports team, or an upcoming vacation, or a crazy home improvement project... the list is endless and certainly starts a more fun and engaging conversation than "I'm an accountant".

Today, I'm really excited about being a light that shines on women that illuminates their brilliance and reminds them of their true genius. 

You know how we all have that mean voice inside our heads that tells us all kinds of lies about how we're too much of this or not enough of that? Imagine the cartoon with the devil and the angel, that voice, the one we've all tuned in to, is the devil. I help women to tune in and turn up the volume on the voice of the angel. The one that not only tells you that you're pretty, and you're smart, and you're enough, but what your true genius is, your gift, the thing that you were put on this earth to share with the world. 

Yeah... that's what I do. 

How about you? What are you excited about right now? I'd really love to hear about it in the comments below.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What's one thing you're proud of?

As much as I don't like to brag ... see the previous post about how I don't like to be the focus of attention I think I have to break this into categories.

When I look back at my life and think of moments when I've felt the most proud of myself in the moment, each one of my athletic achievements are there. 

My 1st Half Marathon

My 1st Full Marathon

My 1st Chicago Marathon

My 1st Triathlon 

My 1st Spartan race 

I feel proud when I say out loud that I have accomplished x number of these athletic feats.

But I also recognize that when other fuss and make a big deal about those events, that I feel like 'eh, they are really not that big a deal.

I'd have to say that the thing I'm most proud of is bring to reality Whole Self Nourish Day. An idea that sprung out of a coaching session with my amazing business coach Christine Suva became a reality through me moving through immense fear of failure. Working with her amazing support and encouragement, I put something together that benefits a lot of women and was a huge risk personally and professionally.

I've just done my third and I learn more and get more proud each time.

What's one (or two) thing you're proud of? I'd love to celebrate you in the comments! 

What do people thank you for?

It may or may not surprise you that I've embarked on yet another journey of learning/personal development/discovery. 

If you have been reading this blog for some time, you may have noticed that I kind of disappeared. I had been writing weekly, and sometimes more for quite a while, but then as life does, I became overwhelmed and when I get overwhelmed or frustrated I tend to just stop. 

Stop pretty much everything. 

Stop working out regularly

Stop eating right 

Stop my daily work to build and grow my business 

Stop my daily work to get to be the person I know I'm really meant to be. 

So, when I found the Live Your Legend team, I was totally on board. As part of the work I'm doing to reconstruct the business model around Whole Self Nourish and figure out what that is going to look like for me going forward, I'm re-devoting myself to the practice of regularly writing to this blog.

You are welcome and invited to tune in or tune out as this blog and I progress and evolve into the next stages of what is to come.

So, enough with the preamble... on to the topic of today... 

What do people thank you for? 

Those of you that know me in person have witnessed that I'm not very good at being the center of attention. Weirdly, I am not afraid of public speaking, I actually quite enjoy it, but I like it as a means to the end of promoting and acknowledging others.

I'm one of those people who has something about them which draws stuff out of people. All kinds of stuff. Like, total strangers tell me their entire life story, including some really personal details that often make me a bit uncomfortable. But, I'm a really good listener. I'm really good at being completely present with the person I'm connecting with and leaving my agenda at the door. I'm also really good at hearing the things that people are saying that they aren't actually saying, and relaying that information back to them in a way that allows them to acknowledge it for themselves. Finally, I'm good at seeing what makes that person completely brilliant, genius and unique and helping them see that for themselves. (All of this is kind of funny to me as of course I'm horrible at doing this for myself.)

That's what people thank me for.

How about you? What do people thank you for? I'd love to hear it in the comments!  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Make Space

For a lot of people, life is spent in quiet acquiescence.
It's a lot of time spent waiting...

Waiting to grow up.
Waiting to be on your own.

Waiting to find that perfect person.
Waiting to finish school.
Waiting for the next promotion.
Waiting for the weekend. 
Waiting for vacation.
Waiting for retirement.

And for those, for many, for most, that time waiting is spent doing "what you have to do", "what is expected of you". It's what we were taught. You go to school, you get a job to support your family, and you plan to enjoy your life in your retirement.

If you're reading this, you're probably not one of those people, or if you are, you don't want to be any more and you're most likely working to change it.

For some, for those who make a different choice and walk a different path, every day is about discovery, about following your purpose, your passion, your path. Every day is about making the most of the life you have TODAY, not tomorrow. 

But that's not an easy path to walk, and for a lot of us, the path isn't clear. You may not know what your purpose is, or you may not be sure what your passion really is. 

If you want to walk that different path, that path of joy, of impact, of passion and purpose, the first step is to make the space to figure out what that might look like for you. 

Give yourself some space at least weekly, better if you can make a tiny daily habit to dream. It can be 5 minutes. It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. Let yourself think about what you'd like your life to be if anything was possible. What kind of a difference you'd love to make if anything were possible. Picture yourself receiving an award for having achieved something you'd be so very proud of. Picture yourself at a banquet where people are honoring you for a lifetime of ______. What goes in that blank for you.

You don't have to know how to do it. You don't have to know what it takes to get there.

Just give yourself the space to dream about what that could look like for you if you let it.