The Power Of One (And Why Mentors Are Awesome)
Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to talk about the power of having one example, one mentor, one person you can point to and say, "Look, she did it, so why can't I?" I'm talking about making BIG change - namely, starting your own business and leaving behind a job in Corporate America - but you can apply these principles to any big change. If you know just one person who's already made the big change you're dreaming about, you will be much more confident in your decision to go for it. I didn't have a mentor when I made the leap from lawyer to jewelry business owner. But I was given a very stubborn, persistent, determined personality. That's what pushed me to say, "I'm quitting being a lawyer and I'm going to try opening a jewelry store, and I don't really care what anyone has to say about it." I do wonder if I could've made the leap much sooner if I had a mentor (side note: I wasted 11 years practicing law even though I knew I hated it from the very start). But that's neither here nor there, it all worked out for me in the end. If you are at the beginning of a similar journey, however, I would highly encourage you to find a mentor because that person will be your anchor when things get rough (and, trust me, they will) and he or she will be able to support you in ways that your significant other, family members, and friends cannot.
I remember when I still lived in Chicago and grace + hudson was only about one year old. I lived downtown and each morning when I walked my dog, I saw droves and droves of people dressed in their business casual attire sprinting towards office buildings. On days when I felt doubtful about the future of grace + hudson (and that happens a lot in the beginning), I remember seeing these people and thinking to myself, "Am I crazy?! It seems like everyone in this city is going to the office right now. Are they right and I'm wrong? Am I the one who's crazy to think I can be different?" It messes with your head, it really does. But thankfully that persistent nature of mine kicked in, I knocked those doubts out of my head, and I went home and had a productive work day, because now grace + hudson is making more money than many of those office workers. So here's the point: if you are surrounded by people who are NOT doing what you want to be doing, please find at least ONE person who is because it's really hard to go against the tide. And if you don't have a persistent and stubborn personality like mine, it'll be even harder. Believe me, there will be tons of times where you'll want to quit, but having just one mentor to look to can make all the difference. A big change requires a big break with conventional ideas and expectations and, frankly, the norms of society. Most of us were taught that we get an office job, we work it until we're 65 whether we like it or not, and then we retire and start living our dreams then. And chances are that your family and your friends were taught that too. When you try to depart from that very ingrained storyline, people will look at you like you're crazy. When you have your first difficult day as a business owner, they will tell you, "It's ok, just go back to your office job." They will think you're "playing jewelry" until you prove in hard numbers that your "jewelry hobby" is making more money than they do at work. They'll be secretly wondering not if but when you'll crawl back to you office and ask for your old job back. They don't mean this in a negative way of course, but they don't know any other way. Unlike you, their minds aren't open to the possibility of a different way of life. How did I deal with this in my own life? A lot of smiling and nodding. A lot of "in one ear and out the other." A lot of looking the other way. (This could be the topic of an entire journal entry! I promise I'll address dealing with the support, or lack thereof, from significant others, family members and friends in an entry soon.)
So what is it that you want to do? Do you know someone who's vaguely done a similar thing? Maybe you want to quit being a lawyer and start designing jewelry like me, or maybe you want to quit being a teacher and start a bakery, or maybe you want to quit your graphic design job at a big company and start your own graphic design company. Whatever it is, do you know anyone who's gone down a similar route? It doesn't have to be someone with exactly the same dream. Maybe you have an awesome family friend who owns a small pizzeria. That works! You just need someone who can identify with your new path as a small business owner. If you leave it up to time and chance, you'll definitely meet many small business owners along your pathway (heck, I hardly have any attorney friends left!). But the problem with this is - you won't know them in the beginning and the beginning is the hardest part. The beginning is full of doubt and confusion, but you'll overcome that phase if you have a mentor who once stood where you're standing, knows exactly how you feel, and not only lived to tell about it but is a thriving example of where you'd like to be someday.
And here's where I come in! I've been wanting to serve as a business mentor for some time now. I already talk about my journey ALL the time (you know this...) and I've wanted to offer help in a more formal way than these journal entries and my Instagram posts allow. Dare I say it, I actually like talking about career change and start-up businesses more than I even like making jewelry! This week I'll be announcing my new mentorship program and there will be different options and tiers to choose from at different price points, so hopefully there's something for everyone. I'm also launching a virtual book club! There were definitely some key books on my journey and I'd love to read them again with you and share how I applied the knowledge I gained from them. I hope that whether you need a little or a lot of support and encouragement in 2020, you'll connect with me through my mentorship program. And when things get shaky, and you know they will, you'll have someone to contact, someone who knows exactly how you're feeling, someone you can point to and say, "Heck, she did it! So why can't I?" And you'll be able to stick with it, move beyond the doubts, and see your dreams and goals through to the very end.
Watch out for the sign-up details this week!
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