Double tap if you started your business either because you are passionate about the industry, or because you were naturally good at what you do? I can’t see you, but my heart tells me that most of you can relate to one or both of these scenarios. You know how, I know? Because not only is entrepreneurship too hard for anyone who doesn’t love their industry, but also because most of us have been doing what we do--- long before we knew or even thought about being an entrepreneur. Think about it, how many of my fashionista followers have been styling everything from their dolls to the families for years? Or how many of my fitness followers have long been the leader of your squad’s health goals for eons? Believe me, I can relate. Long before I ever dreamed up being a consultant or starting my primary company, The Outdoor Journal Tour, I was the de facto life coach to my colleagues, friends and family. I did it not only because I loved it, but also because I was good and that it made me feel good. You know the typical reasons.
However, one day, I felt compelled to make my passion my paycheck and stepped out to start my first venture. It was a book about my quarterlife crisis. It was very successful and was the subject of my latest Ted talk. The book did a couple of things for my life. First, it established me as an expert in my field, but secondly it catapulted me into the public arena. Now, I was no longer at the exclusive disposal of my friends and family. I had speaking events, workshops, private sessions and a host of other public appearances. And with all of that press come a whole lot of requests. In a matter of months, people were coming out the woodwork asking me for advice on everything from how to write and publish a book, to how to book their first keynote address. Quite honestly, it was exciting. All those private consultations made me feel valuable and needed (and you know how much we ladies like to feel needed). But eventually it also became exhausting.
Now that this was my business, I simply wasn’t able to provide the level of support that was being asked of me—and especially not for free. Around that same time, I also started to notice how those same people that were reaching out to me never bothered to post, publish, or speak about what I have offered them. Once they had published their book, or built their business, they never seemed to bother mentioning who had helped them navigate those waters. (waters that took me years and thousands of dollars to learn by the way). Now here’s the thing that's truly the point of today’s blog. I now know that it was my own ego that allowed me to think that having a gang of private conversations and meetings meant I was valuable to people. Now, I’m not arguing that I wasn’t—perhaps I was. But because I had taught them that my gifts and talents were free, they took that value for granted.
Plus, in many ways, we live in a culture of shame and hype. Meaning people don’t like to publically admit when they don’t know something or when they need help. Instead, they like to live in perpetual "fake it 'til you make it" land. This is especially true in a field like mine that deals with deeply personal emotions like depression, rejection, or relationship issues. I mean lets be honest, folks are much more apt to tell you about their stylist than their therapist. Because of that, I know that some of the people that consult me are ashamed of why they needed to and therefore feel uncomfortable speaking about it…no matter how impactful our interaction, was or is. But what I also know is that word of mouth is STILL the most powerful marketing tool and NOTHING is more valuable than the unadulterated endorsement of someone who knows firsthand what you offer. That’s why I make it a point to always shout out the people who help me grow. It’s my way of thanking them for pouring their gifts into me. Don’t I/WE/YOU deserve the same?
So, as much we (I) want to do what I do, because I am passionate and talented, we (I) have to start demanding that everyone in our lives "put some respect" on our name and business and co-sign where they can. Just to be clear, this isn’t about seeking external validation. It’s about requiring what’s due to you. If people have the reason to consult your expertise in private, they should have the respect to endorse you in public. (And you can tell them, I said it) lol.