DEAR FUTURE FEMENTREPRENEUR,
I have always wanted to start my own thing. Perhaps I was inspired by my mom who ran her own successful real estate company in Hong Kong for decades. Perhaps I was inspired by my paternal grandmother who survived the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII, then went to night school, and became one of the most successful real estate agents in her area working into her 70s in LA.
Whatever the case, it was in my bones.
"How did you start your own thing," Andrea asked, in her thoughtful and curious manner. Andrea and Catrina and I had met in college. We had all been part of CORE (Community Outreach Effort), a group that volunteered at soup kitchens and helped the community at large. We had decided to spontaneously meet up in Denver for the weekend.
Lounging in the living room of an AirBnb, after getting spa pedicures, we chatted away about life, work, money, men, and everything in between. I thought about her question, deep into the night, and wanted to do it justice, as well as inspire her and Catrina to do their own thing.
Here's what I came up with.
1. Hit the PAUSE button
Ok, so I know not everyone has the freedom to hit that button whenever, but in whatever form that can take for you at the time in your life where you are, whether it is a weekend, an hour at a coffee shop a day, getting up a little bit earlier in the morning, create some space in your head to think about what it is YOU really want.
2. Align, align, align
So the question I get asked the most is "How are you so happy all the time?" Let's think about that question for a second: is anybody ever happy ALL the time? Ok, maybe the Dalai Lama, but other than him? Yeah, I don't think so. The question to ask is "How do you align your core values/purpose in life so much that you can live a balanced life?"
3. Reasons to not start your own thing -> Excuses -> Action Plan
When I was thinking about starting my own thing, I hired a life coach who was doing something similar to what I wanted to do. I thought I had come up with the perfect reasons as to why I shouldn't start my own thing: I am not good at numbers, my Korean is not fluent enough, I don't have business experience, and the list goes on. My life coach called me out on those reasons, and renamed them EXCUSES. Whoa. For every EXCUSE I had, she was like, "You can outsource that so you can be in your zone of genius (the stuff you're good at)." So turn those reasons into excuses, and then come up with an action plan of you how you're going to move forward with each one.
4. IT Savvy ≠ Business Savvy
I talk to a lot of women (including myself) who will say stuff like, "Oh, I don't know how to do X,Y, Z on a computer" or "I don't have tech skills, or social media skills..." I have definitely been there a time or two or gazillion. You know the AirBnb guys? Well, the original 2 founders were art students from RISD (The Rhode Island School of Design). They had absolutely no tech background whatsoever. And now AirBnb is a $30billion dollar company. What?!
5. Brainwash Yo'self
I grew up believing that I was not good enough. I went to Harvard. Not good enough. I won multiple teaching awards. Not good enough. And the cycle would inevitably repeat itself. On a call with my life coach one afternoon, I began crying. "What is that all about?" she asked in her usual tough love kind of way. "I have spent most of my 40 years on earth believing I am not good enough." Her advice? Brainwash yourself into believing that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. Whether you recite positive affirmations, journal how awesome you are, ask others what you're good at, a great business starts with a greater mindset.
6. Cheerleading Squad
Do you ever have those moments where you think: OMG, what have I done? I have gone so far outside of my comfort zone, and I don't even know... I think FemEntrepreneurs have those moments all the time. After you've brainwashed yourself into believing you are good enough, and you still have some moments (because you're human) where you think something you've done is crazy, make sure you have a tribe of awesome cheerleaders around to cheer you on. Not in an externally validating kind of way, but in a supportive/empowering kind of way. YOU CAN DO IT!
I often look to co-interview inspiring individuals for my FriYAYs WITH Kyla FB live episodes. I am always super motivated after speaking WITH these individuals: stuff they have overcome, stuff they continue to do to create change within, and how giving they are to others as well as themselves. Recently I chatted with someone who had come to one of my Happiness Workshops. She was an incredibly inspiring individual: out of poverty, she had overcome a plethora of career challenges all with grace, humor, and compassion. I was completely inspired. Then I thought, inspiration isn't just one way. It's two way, but we can also INspire ourselves WITH ourselves. Is there anything you've done lately that's inspiring? It doesn't have to be anything big. And remember, even though you may not think this is happening, you may just be inspiring someone else around you just by being you!
8. Tough Times + Purpose = STRENGTH
I once met this Finnish woman who told me she was going to run across New Zealand to raise awareness of IPV (Interpersonal Violence). What?! Then something she said struck me even more, "My purpose is greater than me. My body is just a vessel to carry this purpose out." Whoa. In tough times, because being a fementrepreneur is not always about rainbows and flowers, when you think about your purpose, it will help you stay the course. No matter how tough it gets.
9. 60% it!
A while ago, I read research in Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In that stayed WITH me: women only apply for jobs when they meet 100% of the job qualifications whereas our male counterparts apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications. We assumed it was due to a lack of confidence, but further research suggests that it is about our perception of rules around hiring. Check out the Harvard Business Review article here. Whatever the case, 60% it!
10. Be Shameless about Help
I hear a lot of FemEntrepreneurs say, "Oh, I don't know how to do this or that." Well, in addition to outsourcing stuff (from No.3), shamelessly ask for help from your mother, your brother, your mother's brother, your cat--you get the idea. But also, GIVE help out as well. Once you master something that could save a fellow FemEntrepreneur time/money/tears share that. You will be surprised at how awesome it feels, but also how much you will learn/grow once you teach something you already know!
And never forget: YOU ARE FUCKING AWESOME!
*Dedicated to + inspired by my college buddies Catrina + Andrea, FemEntrepreneurs in the making.*
SpeakHER. InsipireHER. TraveleHER.