How do other people get the plum jobs; why does it seem so hard to get to where you want to go. Even though we’ve encountered our fair share of brick walls, we’ve got a few insights that may surprise you…
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We know how tough it is out there – as a bootstrapping tech startup we’re living a pretty tumultuous life every day.
Things are rolling along smoothly and suddenly – a speed bump jolts you off course. Sometimes it’s a quick stumble, a blip you can easily recover from – other times it may feel like a free fall into a very dark abyss.
After interviewing hundreds of big name business leaders, celebrities and gurus, like Rachel Ray, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Christopher Lowell, B Smith, Bille Jean King, Seth Godin, Dennis Crowley, Laura Fitton, Nicole Miller, and Carol and Mary Higgins Clark – as well as hearing your stories, tips and advice, reading a bunch and living through some stressful challenges – we can say emphatically – you can do it!
Here’s what we’ve learned along the way. Some tips you’ve most likely heard before; we hope one or more will shine a light, to help you better navigate through your own journey.
Hint: It takes a village to make stuff happen – you can’t do it alone. Sometimes help and inspiration come from unexpected places.
A. Hard times happen to everyone. Many times failing is the best thing that will ever happen to you.
B. You can’t control a lot, but you CAN change your direction (and the outcome) by changing your attitude.
C. Sometimes you will feel like you are mustering on alone.
D. Pursue your true passion. If you’re not sure what that is yet, no worries. You will figure it out.
E. Be yourself – delight in your uniqueness rather than seeking to conform. It’s really hard (and very uncomfortable) being a square peg in a round hole or vice versa.
F. Surround yourself with like-minded people of purpose and passion, and watch cool things happen.
G. Stay focused on your mission or goals.
H. It is a sign of strength to recognize your own shortcomings – ask for help when you need it.
I. Don’t whine. Give yourself a kick in the pants when you do.
J. Have a good cry when you feel overwhelmed. Then splash some cold water on your face and get on with it, stay on course.
K. Know that even your best friends may not “get” what you want or where you are going. Find one who does, you’ll need at least one shoulder to lean on when things get rough.
L. Everyone started somewhere, many of the BIG success stories we hear about started when one average soul had the courage to dream bigger dreams for themselves.
M. Nurture your spirit – by taking time off. Schedule “me time” and go to a refreshing or calming space. Listen to your favorite music. Laugh. Exercise.
N. Don’t skimp on employees – hire and work with people who are smarter than you, and increase your chances at achieving stellar results
O. Be remarkable. Seth Godin’s advice applies to everyone – whether you are marketing a product or yourself. If you blend into the background you won’t get noticed as soon as you could, or worse – you may be overlooked entirely.
P. Be savvy about the way the world has changed, and keep up with how business – and communications – are done now. That means being socially-savvy, getting up to speed and taking the time to update that resume, your website – or your WomenCentric profile – on a regular basis.
Q. Be prepared to change course a few times. Where you think you want to go may be totally different than where you end up.
R. Give back as much as you can, locally and beyond. Helping heals, nurtures and is contagious, for you, for your employees or co-workers and the people you aid.
S. Be nice and play fair; yes, it’s the right thing to do, but people respond better to fair play and to being respected. Happy people produce better results too. Plus, good karma has a way of finding it’s way back to you, and we can all use more good stuff in our lives.
T. “Handle it.” Those 2 small words were powerful game changers when I heard them for the first time. I did not need to lean on another co-worker or my dept. head – I could figure out what needed to be done and do it. You know in your heart what you need to do – so handle it.
U. Cut the dead weight out of your life. Toxic people & toxic habits will hold you back.
V. Use your energy to learn, to discover, to challenge yourself, to hang out with interesting people in all walks of life (success is not just about money). Push beyond what even you think you are capable of and extraordinary things can happen.
W. Respect nature, commune with and get refreshed by whoever you call God.
X. Hard work may not be enough. Cultivate real relationships with people who are forward thinkers.
Y. This may sound counter intuitive from a tech company CEO, but NO ONE can convince me that they will be laying on their deathbed wishing they spent more time online. Unplug. Every day. Live in the moment with the people who are with you in real time, as much as you can. Proclaim NO TEXTING zones/times for at least an hour at a clip – like at family meals and gatherings. Read a real book, newspaper or magazine. Hang out friends, sing along to your favorite songs. Eat a fabulous meal. You’ll feel refreshed and SO much more connected to yourself. And your phone, tablet and computer will still be there when you need them.
Z. Have fun. We get one chance to live each day and then it’s gone. Here’s to your BIG, bold glorious life!
A Postscript ….You can be the architect of a rich and full life.
For a fulfilling work life – build a strong foundation, upgrade your fixtures (skill sets) as needed, and make sure your curb appeal (image or brand) is appealing. Strategic choices can put you in the right spaces and places, to meet the “right” people, find out about new opportunities, etc. Some people call this luck – but per Beth Goldstein, author of Lucky by Design – most lucky people have had a direct hand in orchestrating their success by pursuing a series of strategic actions. It’s possible to figure out what you did right so you can replicate it. We agree!
All of these tips, insights, lessons and decisions have helped us grow and evolve in totally unexpected ways, opened doors and helped us persevere through some pretty rough times too. We wish you luck and bon chance in all your endeavors, and hope you can stay the course - you CAN create your own luck and a life well lived.
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EDITOR’s NOTE: I wrote most of this while listening to the soundtrack of “We Bought a Zoo”, which I just finished watching last night. Inspirational, thought provoking, fun, and yes, sometimes a little melancholy. We’d love to hear about the music, poetry, a breathtaking vista – whatever stirs your soul & spirit … and keeps you motivated to move forward. Share your thoughts below!