On June 12th I woke up to a friendly reminder on my iPhone that read, “Anniversary!” It comes every single year and marks the day I signed my first freelance client in 2008, making 2018 the tenth year I have been at it. The tenth year I have been in business. There has been an item on my to-do list since January, “10 Year Anniversary Blog Post,” but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’d like to say I have been too busy but that’s not quite it. I have felt there’s nothing to say.
Ten years into anything and there should be an abundance of things to say. Ten years into a marriage or a relocation or… anything at all and you’re overflowing with wisdom, lessons learned, or even humorous reflections at that. Not me. Still, not even today. Yet, the two year mark, the five year mark, even the eight year mark were welcomed with countless characters of self-praise, reflection, and entrepreneurial wisdom — or at the very least a tweet.
Ten years feels like someone has a gun to the back of my head and is shouting at me to speak “or else” and I am just like, “Pull the trigger already. Please.”
Here, let me meditate on it.
I think about where I was — both personally and professionally — and find it hard to ignore the incredible trajectory of my career and how I achieved even this minute level of success. Most of my endeavors ended up being conceived, launched, and propelled by nothing other than my own finance, conviction, and determination to see their success. My consultancy practice came to life because I told a business owner flat out, “I could do it better than [the existing marketing agency was] doing it — but you’d have to pay me more,” and he did. My blog has been nothing more than a recap of the surely insufferable exploits of my daily life the past ten years. I had no proof anyone would care to read it, but they did. The magazine amplified my voice (in 2012) because I had an opinion and couldn’t keep it to myself. The clothing line launched and the store opened (in 2013) because I was passionate about design (fashion and digital).
Don’t ask how I did it all at once because I could never tell you. I don’t mean I can’t release the recipe to my secret sauce, I mean I could never put into words the amount of effort it took to build and manage all of the digital properties: My own. The consultancy group. Client websites [to keep food on the table]. The magazine. The clothing line’s corporate property and then the retail store. And all while creating content (blogs, media, social), writing articles (three a day for three years), answering emails (250 a day at the peak of it), managing 10+ social media accounts and engaging with every follower, designing seasonal styles (fashion), preparing marketing collateral, and whatever else it took to get the jobs done — and that’s just a birds-eye-view of it all. I guess it all boils down to passion.
Here we go:
If ten years in business will shine a light on anything it’ll shine an internal light on yourself. You’ll be pushed in the most unbelievable of ways. If you stick to it, continue to exercise your creativity and curiosity – in and outside of your industry, and remain focused on the general end goal (success, in whatever it is you’re doing) there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll walk away with a whole new level of self awareness. You’ll find indefinite limits to your adaptation, resilience, and intuition to simply accept the change that comes across the board. If you hire and/or manage a team, you’ll walk away with a new understanding of what it means to be accountable and responsible for the financial and personal success of another. You’ll learn, whether you like it or not, to trust the process; to relinquish control (if only for the sake of gaining it elsewhere) and to slowly find confidence in the reality that in the end it’ll all be okay.
Sure, you’ll see the darker things too. You’ll find out they weren’t kidding when they told you that entrepreneurship is “the loneliest career path one could take” and that even in a crowded room the silence can be deafening. You’ll rewrite your understanding of the concept of stress, anxiety, and doubt — and not for the better. But, at the end of the day or at the end of the road or just at the end of your time wearing the Leader hat you’ll find faith, hope, and a healthy dose of codependency in the very real acceptance of the fact that the darkness is always banished with the light.
I want to leave you with encouraging words of advice or a one-size-fits-all roadmap to “being the most successful person you can be” but I haven’t any (of any). Instead, I want to leave you with this — an opinion:
If you ever find yourself contemplating a notion — whether it be starting a new business, embarking on a new adventure, standing up for yourself, standing up for another, or just [in some other way] grabbing life by its balls — just do it. Set the deadline, strategize, revise, implement, [accept your failures, learn from the lessons (yes, the hard way), express gratitude for those lessons, share what you have learned with everyone and anyone who will listen,] lift those up around you whenever you can, and never settle for anything other than the dream of success you have always envisioned for yourself.
Thank you for being a part of these last ten years. Thank you for adding much-needed purpose, accountability, and support to my life. Thank you for being you.