I did something crazy last week.
I flew across the continent to learn about making digital products for my business. Now, I had a lot of sound reasons for doing it: I wanted to add another revenue stream to my business, and learn how to help my own clients to do the same, and I wanted to learn from the best.
I totally did. I am SO excited about offering up a new product to you all very very soon.
But there were some other lessons I learned along the way, and they’re pretty cool too. They will probably change my business just as much as the (awesome) stuff I learned on purpose, actually.
So I’m going to share them with you today, because I know they’ll make a difference to how you do business too.
1. It’s all grist for the mill.
So I got my passport all ready to fly from wee little Moncton, New Brunswick (Canada), all the way to San Francisco in California.
And I packed my bags ahead of time – putting together fun outfits for each day and making certain that I would be prepared and calm. I even made sure that I had a whole set of clothes in my carry on, in case something happened with my luggage.
I grabbed the adorable Kate Spade notebook Bri bought me to take notes in, and tossed my big red K into my carry-on too, so I could take some #MeWithaK photos on the trip. I was SO excited!
I booked my flights carefully – making sure to give myself lots of time before I had to be somewhere on arrival day. One of my wonderful friends offered to drive me to the airport at the painful hour of four in the morning, and another amazing friend was all ready to pick me up at the other end.
All loose ends were tied; all boxes were checked. I was uncharacteristically prepared.
And I love to travel. Flying is basically an enforced you-must-relax situation, in my mind. There are snacks and movies and books. What’s not to love?
So I got to Toronto International airport – the first stop on my trip – and went through customs. It was mad and busy and some folks were getting frazzled. I was lucky though, and my stop was long enough that I wasn’t worried about getting to my gate on time. I’d just skip my planned breakfast until my Detroit stop in another hour or so.
I got to my gate and popped onto my plane, lickety-split. I had a window seat and a sparkly, silly book to read. All was well with the world 🙂
I settled in and read about a chapter in said sparkly book before I realized (no breakfast yet, so I wasn’t too quick on the uptake) that we weren’t actually going anywhere. A lovely, chipper voice peeped over the speaker to let us know that there was something kind of funny with one side of the de-icing controls on the plane.
The voice got less lovely a little bit later, as she told us that we were being “deplaned” until they figured out what was up.
“Deplaning” is a sucky thing, it turns out. It means bad things are happening to your travel plans.
For us, it meant that our plane wasn’t going anywhere near Detroit anytime soon. We all piled into the terminal again…and we waited.
I made the stereotypically Canadian mistake of being overly polite. I did not rush the gate attendants when we came into the building. I did not holler about the connection in Detroit I would miss in an hour. I lined up carefully and quietly and said all too many “Pardon-me”s and “No, that’s ok”s, and found myself 3 people away from the end of the line.
Long story short? We waited in that line alone for about 2 hours before we found out what would happen to us and our trips
(I ended up having a total travel time of about 21 hours by the time I arrived in SF).
During those 2 hours, I went through all of the stages of grief. At one point, my usually optimistic nature fell away and I went into a brief but powerful pout, certain that I would never make it to San Francisco, that it was all a total wasted trip and that I should just go back home and give up on my adventure altogether.
Then I got some coffee and a pita and felt more like myself. I started chatting with the folks in line with me and made some great airport-terminal-buddies. We swapped stories on our way to the front of the very slow-moving line, and I learned a lot of interesting things. I even got some *advice from a gentleman ahead of me when my daughter’s brand new boyfriend texted me by mistake, thinking I was her.
*Turns out that you should not pretend to be your daughter in that case and “mess with him”. Although it is a funny idea, and my line-friend agreed that I would probably get lots of dirt, he informed me that my daughter would never forgive me, and the poor boy would no-doubt be scarred for life.
Thank you, line-friend guy from Ontario, going to Orlando! I was a better mom because of you!
I can’t tell you all the stories from that day, but I guarantee my other line-buddies will pop up in future blog posts (the two nutty professors from Detroit, the young girl trying to get to Tokyo on her own and the engineer dad who helped me understand my brother better are all great), and there was a hilariously perfect grumpy Irish-Canadian border guard who will likely be a character in a book at some point, because she really was hilariously perfect.
The point is this: it’s all grist for the mill, kitten.
All of these difficulties – every bump in the road – these are the things that make us interesting. They give us character and they give us opportunities to learn from others. They also give us opportunities to laugh instead of crying, or laugh after crying, or laugh while crying.
They give us a chance to share in the experience of being human with other humans, and they make really great stories.
How should you apply this in your business today?
– Make a list of the 3 worst things you’ve gone through in your business or your life.
– Then make a really cheesy joke about each of those awful, awful things (don’t say you can’t, because you definitely can). You can feel free to keep the joke to yourself, but you have to at least try to get a chuckle out of yourself.
– Finally, think about the people who helped you – even in the smallest of ways – during those crappy experiences and give your story a moral: what did you learn and how can it help others?
Make every bump worth it, because they are some of the best classes you will ever get the chance to take. Enjoy your mistakes (after a short but powerful pout) and get on with the storytelling. This is when it starts to get really good.
2. People are almost always as awesome as you think they are.
She’s made a happy-face shaped impact on my life and my business already, but the biggest and most wonderful part of it has to be the community she has created online for women like me to get to know each other and support one another on our missions to change the world – one washi-tape craft at a time.
One of the things about this trip that made me most giddy was the idea of meeting and spending a nice chunk of time with a handful of these amazing friends. They coached me into taking the risk to apply for the course, and then they made me feel like actually getting there was totally possible.
In fact, the reason I was able to swing the mad adventure in the end was because of the generosity of one of my super-friends – Jen Scerri – who opened up her home to me and another out-of-towner for the whole week. She just offered up her life and her home (and her excellent, excellent coffee) to us. Crazy generous. Crazy awesome. Crazy Super 🙂
I got to have breakfast every morning with women I’ve been talking to online for months. We got to have hugs for reals and do happy dances and jazz hands together in the same room, and I gotta say: they totally were as awesome as I thought they would be.
In fact, they WAY over-delivered on their awesomeness. Every last one of them.
How you should apply it in your business today:
Simply? Surround yourself with wonderful people and just be wonderful to them too. It sounds like I’m going back to my granola, hippie roots, and maybe I am, but I think that the only important thing in the world you can do is affect people around you in a positive way.
If you work all alone (like me) and you feel isolated, you have to reach out to a community. I found a super nice neighbourhood online, and my neighbours totally rock. I know you can find a great home too.
I mean, you’re here already, right? Comment in the comments section, and I betcha you’ll hear back from at least one person. We LOVE more neighbours! All the more people to borrow sugar from when we’re throwing a tea party.
Cupcakes for everyone!
3. If your message is genuine and you share it out of love, people will respond in kind.
I have lots of long stories about why I think this is true, but I really felt it during the taping of this course.
All I did was show up and try to tell my story genuinely. I answered questions honestly and spoke from my heart, and the reaction of the people at Creative Live and the support and love from all of the folks who found me online as a result? Mind-blowing.
The experience totally solidified my entire way of communicating in small-business marketing, and it made me feel so so SO happy to be a part of such an amazing world.
How you should apply it in your business today:
Find your story – the one that tells the world, honestly and with absolute sincerity, the reason you need to do what you do.
Then tell your story – in the voice you know is yours. It’s yours and it’s legitimate, and you owe it to us to share it.
4. Keep it simple, sweetheart.
This one is ENORMOUS! It will change every single thing.
While we were brainstorming ideas to work on, I realized that the thing that holds me back is the over-planning and over-idea-ing I do when I think about new projects. I get SO excited about the process of creating a new thing and I come up with eleventy-seven ways to do each possible project.
And then I can’t imagine completing anything, because it’s all too big and perfect in my mind, and I’m sure that I’ll ruin it if I try to make it a reality.
At night, after our brainstorming day, I was talking with one of the awesome ladies I got to hang out with all week (you might remember Sarah Shotts; she is one of my favourite humans). She reminded me that we should find the thing that is easy and start there.
My head exploded with jelly beans, confetti, and clarity (it is possible to have clarity and exploding jelly beans and confetti at the same time; don’t argue).
How you should apply this lesson in your business today?
Allow an idea to stand alone for a minute, before you start decorating it with all kinds of shiny “And then”s.
Let yourself create a simple thing first, and let some things just stay simple. Not every idea must be huge and complicated to be allowed in your body of work: all the simple pieces count too.
5. It’s all possible!
With all of these lessons, came a solid and sudden belief that it is actually possible to do and have the things I dream about: all of the things I have on my list of “How I want to change the world” projects, and all of the things on my list of “Wouldn’t it be nice if?” aspirations.
If I slow down and let these lessons sink in, I know it will all happen – in it’s way.
What an amazing thing to learn, right?
I can’t thank April enough for what she offers to us creative makers and potential world shakers.
She gives us clear and pragmatic advice and she connects us to one another so that she not only fosters a beautiful and supportive community – she demands it.
Then, she sets fire to that community and we start a crazy-cool chain reaction of inspiration and support that I can’t even describe here without sounding like a total Woo-Woo cheese ball.
She is like jet fuel and peppermint hot chocolate at the same time, and she has officially changed my life.
Then, while you’re at it, you should sign up for her next 6-week course in January, and if you sign up in the next few days, you can even do a payment plan that makes it totally affordable.
If you are new here and participated in Bellelive last week, comment below with your biggest takeaways.
And introduce yourselves! I love new neighbours 🙂
If you think these lessons could be helpful to any other small business friends of yours, click your favourite “Click to Tweet” or share the post on Facebook, Pinterest or Google+.
Thanks for reading, kitten! I know it was a long one. I’ll see you next week for more Tuesday Tips With a K!