Lily and the kind ladies at May Martin, Inc care about their community. They care about women and about encouraging people to make things that fulfill them both personally and financially. That’s why they do what they do: which is running a beautiful jewelry line out of a quaint vintage camper (their shop is located at the Lab Anti-mall in Costa Mesa, CA). It’s also why they put on a Women’s Lecture series, and invited us to speak. Lily wants women (and men and everyone, for that matter) to be encouraged to build things that matter, that give them purpose, that give them purse money, and that give them freedom. So we shared with the group some of our top lessons we’ve learned as people, as women, and as entrepreneurs over the past 6-odd years. In that time, we started our branding agency, Hoodzpah (see our work on this site), because no one else would hire us. We then created our goods line Odds and Sods, a side hustle and creative outlet where we learned a lot about selling products as opposed to services. And in 2014, along with an amazing group of friends, we helped start Connecting Things, a speaker series for creatives and doers, so that locals could meet other capable people in their town, without having to attend an aggressive business-card pushing network meeting. Between those more positive timeline dates, there were also many epic fails and unfulfilled ideas, which taught us just as much as the wins we’ve had.
1. Happiness is a fleeting high. Gratitude is a long-term comfort. Be in the pursuit of gratitude. The pursuit of happiness is only as good as your last consumer purchase, pat on the back, or moment of pleasure. This is not sustainable when times get tough.
2. Diversify your income. Diversify your everything!
3. Seek out critique, it’s easier to receive when you’re ready for it. On the other hand, uninvited critique is no less valid. Open your mind to perspectives other than yours. You, and everyone you know, is addicted to being right. “Right” is relative. Make room for h0w unique human experiences shape our perspectives. Beware of seeing or speaking about things in absolutes. Beware confirmation bias. Go into any research project or endeavor with no moral to prove. Let the evidence lead you, don’t force the evidence to your narrative.
4. Despite your best plans, everything will change. Going in knowing this makes it all easier to bear. This is the basis of disappointment. There’s no ONE path for you. Many roads lead to Rome. Except Route 66.
5. Your comfort zone is a short term consolation and a long-term inhibitor. Setting healthy boundaries and advancing into new territories is rarely comfy or convenient. Do it anyways. Stop putting short term happiness above everything else. This makes for spoiled, short-sighted childish behavior. Be ok with the fact that some people wont like you. Some people will be offended by you. Change is rarely appreciated by all. That doesn’t mean it’s not important or valuable. Leave an impression. The world is full of equal and opposite forces. If you go through life avoiding conflict and friction, you will also starve yourself of potentially good change and growth. If you seek big change, be prepared for equal and opposite resistance.
6. Always do your research. When you go into meetings, pitches, phone calls – prepare for what you’ll do and say if you get a yes and a no. The no is more important.
7. Don’t negotiate with yourself. Make your case. Don’t undercut yourself by apologizing and doubting yourself in front of others. You project your own opinions about yourself to others. If you’ve done your research, and have based your thoughts on sound reasoning, then be confident in it. If you are fearful and unsure, your audience will mirror that.
8. Know what your value meter is. Money, time, freedom? Make decisions based on that.
9. No matter who you are, there will be people who underestimate and misunderstand you. They have the benefit of ignorance at first. If you have proven your value and worth, and they continue to mistreat you, their ignorance becomes willful. Approach them honestly about this. If they cannot change, find better pasture. Life is too short to waste your time and talents on people who don’t see the value.
10. If you know the answer, speak up. If you don’t know, listen up. Get comfortable sharing your story and learning. People need your perspective, and you need theirs.
11. Invest genuinely in relationships. This is your biggest currency.
12. Don’t live to your means! Financially, time-wise, etc. Leave room for “ifs”. People living in the roaring ’20s never dreamed the depression of the ’30s was right around the corner. The law of Entropy states that things tend toward chaos. Expect that.
13. Ask for help before you need it. Help takes time to train.