Remembering Why I Started

A brief note: I wrote this blog almost a year ago but was too scared to ever press publish for fear of being perceived as weak or giving up in my vulnerability. But privately, I knew I needed to write what I was feeling and I’m so glad I took the time to do it.  Writing this blog was wildly therapeutic for me because as I re-wrote my story on getting started, gave words to the true feelings I was experiencing as an entrepreneur and re-hashed “my why” internally, it help me clear the weird fog that had been clouding my brain to unveil an incredibly strong foundation I’d forgotten I had.  Today, things are A LOT different and because I wrote this post, it helped me problem solve my way to a whole new reality by identifying what wasn’t working and what was working in our business and create a task list of what I needed to do to change it.  A lot of things have changed as a result.  I’ll be sharing more of that soon!  

If you are a business owner who feels stuck, uninspired or just bleh – I feel you, I’ve been you and I’m here to tell you, this too shall pass.  

July 19,2016 – I have been having a difficult time lately. I know that’s vague and incredibly opened ended, but that’s the only way I can describe it.  A difficult time.  Time.  I have been wasting time having difficulty trying to find my purpose, trying to hear my authentic voice again, trying to remember my decision to do what it is I do on a daily basis because sometimes I just don’t remember.

I am no longer the young, eager go-getter that got me to this place and while I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I’m having a hard time giving the new me a name.  So where is it that I am?  What place is this?  It’s not a magical island I bought with my millions or the top of success mountain I’ve been climbing for so long – it’s today.  No different than yesterday.  Same email inbox, same to do list, same business, same dreams, same goals – different girl with a different perspective because of experience, life season, employee turnover, competition, customers, age. Different hue of rose colored glasses you could say and to be honest with you, they’re a little dirty right now. #truth

The “cool-ness” of being in business has changed dramatically since Andrew and I started our company in 2008.  Now, starting a business is the in thing to do. It’s what all the cool kids do and if you’re not hashtagging and keeping up with the conversation on social media you’re not succeeding – or at least that’s the way it feels to me.  I feel like an outsider because I don’t self-identify with what everyone else sees as being a successful business owner on instagram or facebook.  I’m not all #girlboss #bosslady #cantstopwontstop – I used to be but it doesn’t feel natural to me now.  So, what do I call myself then?

Do I even really need a designation?  Is that what’s an expected of entrepreneurs?  To have a brand, a message, a greater mission than just making our company work?  Am I the only business owner that feels pressure to be more than just a business owner?  I don’t know.  And I think I’m becoming a victim of comparison and the climate of “getting everything you want”  is way cooler to look successful than to actually BE successful.

And then I saw this on my friend Mandy’s Instagram….“Remember why you started” and thought it would be a helpful exercise to recall just what is was that made me do, what I do.  Here goes.  

In the beginning…

I have always had an admiration and affinity for the media. The sound of NBC Nightly news instantly brings me back to 693 Blueberry Drive and recalls the smell of my parents house, the concrete on my bare feet, the sounds of pots and pans, the hustle and bustle of after school play, my mom making dinner and the clank of the garage door that slams so loud when my dad arrives home from work.  I have memories of standing in front of the TV to watch breaking news with my mom that I will be able to instantly recall for the rest of my days.  Baby Jessica, Columbine, Princess Diana’s funeral, Hurricane Andrew, the OJ Simpson trial, Oprah, Regis and Kathy Lee.  It’s not just TV either.  Back then, the Palm Beach Post weighted 5lbs and was 4 inches thick. An institution and a staple on the breakfast table every Sunday morning.

Jim Sackett, the News Anchor for WPTV Channel 5 in West Palm Beach went to my church and it was like seeing a celebrity every Sunday during communion. You get the picture.

Media is an elusive, powerful force that I’ve always respected for its reach and influence.  But I never thought about having a career in media. To be a part of such an institution – I don’t think I ever thought it could really be done.

Truth is, I didn’t have a lot of forward thinking about how to be a successful adult while I was in high school – I was a terrible student. I just wanted out.  To work, to make money, to be free.  But the connection I made with choosing a strategic school based on my career goals and it’s effect on my ability work and make a substantial about of money was touch and go.  Maybe even non-existent.  Eventually I found my way to St. Augustine, FL and Flagler College by way of a failed relationship with my first real boyfriend who I definitely thought was “the one.”  Newsflash.  He was not.  (L.O.L.)

My desire to be independent and make my own decisions (no matter how bad they were) brought me to a beautiful small town that conveniently was home to an equally beautiful, small private college that had a “communications’ program.  I guess I’ll apply.  “WTF does communications mean?” I remember thinking.  Oh like broadcast. TV Stations.  Public Relations (what’s that!?) Ok cool.  Accepted. Sweet.

Fast forward through four years of college and the realization that – as it turned out – I did not have any interest in being a news anchor or anywhere in front of a TV camera.  Ever.  (Imagine my excitement watching social media turn into one big personal broadcast camera crew over the years – oh boy). And then, one fabulous college professional planted a little sales seed in my brain when he pointed me to the business side of media that ultimately altered my career path forever.

When I graduated from Flagler and did not find a job in the sales department of a TV station as I had envisioned I would, I accepted a position as the Marketing Manager at Debbie’s Day Spa. Little did I know, this job would teach me everything I know about myself to be true to this day.  Like:  I have chutzpah. I’m a doer, a problem solver.  I am creative.  I am a graphic designer. I love working behind the scenes. I treasure the close knit team of a small business.  I am a facilitator.  I like to make things happen. I am a natural sales person.  I am competitive.  I have big dreams.  I have good taste.  And, I can do anything I put my mind too.  More on that in another post.

Debbie hired me and unleashed me on a path to market her business.  That’s it.  No direction, just do it.  And that is when things started to fall into place.  When I took what I learned in school and put it to real life use, the thrill of getting published or featured in the news for me was no different than what I assume an olympian must feel when they secure their first place spot at the top of the podium (ok that’s dramatic). My affinity for the media became even stronger as my career developed and the thought of being on the other side – the deciding side of a media became increasingly interesting to me.  With my insight from the ad buying side of the table, I had a treasure trove of ideas that our business was looking for in an advertising partner but never found a solid match.  Light bulb: there are (were) no good local magazines (back then) in St. Augustine…..I should start one and then I could market multiple business and I could also be the person that makes decisions on who gets featured, facilitate community, create networking opportunities, help businesses spread the word….. THAT would be the ultimate thing.  And that’s when I knew I wanted to make a magazine.  Even though I had never worked for a magazine, designed a magazine, written an article, sold advertising… I just knew I could.

And I did.  (We did – Andrew and I).  It took about 4 years to get there, a whole new city, husband and inspiration, but a las I found myself running Atlanta Occasions Magazine.  A wedding & party magazine for metro Atlanta.  A far cry from my original “city magazine for St. Augustine” idea, but God has plans and I trusted them.

Here’s where I think started to forget….

Being an editor of magazine has it’s perks.  Respect is a big one as I eluded to earlier.  And while it was not the respect part that led me to start it, but the “I can do it and probably better” in me that did. There is (or used to be) very little competition in the world of media. Which means, there are very few editors (aka influencers as most are known as today) and it’s a powerful position to be in when you are a rarity.  It’s like when Andrew was a little boy riding in the backseat of his dad’s airplane.  When the air traffic controller came on the radio – you did not speak.  He’s told me several times that he wondered “who was this powerful man on the radio that my dad respected so much? I want to be him.” Now, I found myself in the position of authority I was so inspired by.  I took the responsibility seriously and immersed myself in our industry and made a name for our little magazine made out of our home (on my laptop) in Hampton, GA and that little thing grew to produce over $500,000/yr in annual review before we ever thought to expand into other markets.  

But it’s 2017 and the industry has changed.  Now EVERYONE PUBLISHES EVERYONE.  There are a bajillion blogs for every topic in the market.  There is too much noise. It’s not special anymore. Or it hardly feels that way to me at least.   Anyone can start up a blog tomorrow and be like XYZ media corporation, LLC. Inc. and all of a sudden they’re little blog posts are being shared on Facebook by a company who is proclaiming they are “proud to be featured in XYZ media corporation, llc, inc.” that no one has ever heard of before.  Suddenly, our very legit, very hard working team, very expensive to operate media company is being lumped in with the newest blogger-on-the-block and I’m like “Wait.  What?”  Everyone is getting featured everywhere by everyone.  It doesn’t feel special anymore.  

Sorry, I sound incredibly cynical, but somebody has to say it… so I did.  

Couple that with 8 years of maturity, motherhood, employee turnover and the fact that I’m the type of person that if everyone is doing it, I don’t want to do it at all – it doesn’t make it easy to keep the engines running like I used to. #whatnow

Today

As I write this and relive each moment I see that even in the beginning, simpler times of running a boutique media it wasn’t being at the helm of a magazine as the editor that fired me up.  It was just DOING – and having the fervent belief that I could – that got me out of bed every morning.

Here I sit realizing I have no emotional attachment to my role as editor, but I have a sincere connection with my role in running a business. Doing it what it takes to make a business work better.  I just know I can.  

When I remember why I started, suddenly the fog I’ve been feeling has lifted and I can clearly see our company and my role and I can let go of the cynical resentment to the changing climate of magazines, websites, blogs and social media that has been weighing me down. There’s nothing cool, hip or trendy worth #hashtagging about that. It feels natural, not forced and real.

I started because I am a doer. I can literally get anything done.  I started because I wasn’t afraid, I knew I was destined to create something great and I could do it damn better.  I could facilitate a community and place to help a mass amount of businesses vs just working for one.  It wasn’t a love of media that got me started (and kept me going), that was just the direction I went in.  I finally realized media wasn’t my why, making something happen was.  So, no matter the changing tides of the wedding media (or any media, or any industry) the fire inside of me that burns to DO…. hasn’t changed one bit.

And that is the greatest realization I have ever made.

I want to hear your story.  What’s your why?  Leave me a comment below to introduce yourself and tell me a short bit about your WHY.  😘

Image by Rustic White Photography

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