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my journal

Don't Let Your Boss Determine Your Future

Don't Let Your Boss Determine Your Future

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. I was inspired to write this week's journal entry from a conversation I had with a friend this week. We were talking about career choices and career trajectories, and it made me think about the reason most people end up unhappy in their careers. It boils down to unintentional career decisions. And by that I mean decisions that are made with out any intentional decision-making. They're decisions that are backed with the phrase, "Well, that's just what you do in my career field." For example, "Well, everyone who is a lawyer at a law firm eventually tries to become partner." No, no they don't. They leave for a lawyer job at a corporation, they go to work in politics, they leave the law altogether and do something entirely different. You see what I mean? But it's so, so easy to get trapped on the path that "everyone else" takes, especially when you are young and don't really know any better because of the lack of career experience. 

Think about your last performance review at your workplace. Chances are your manager discussed growth potential and possible next steps in your career, right? I hope so. But, chances are, there was something lacking in this conversation and that's what YOU want for your career. Chances are your manager assumed that you want to be promoted to the next level and assumed that you are going to take the "normal" career path that everyone in your role at your company takes, correct? It's hard to speak up, and much easier to just go along with the assumptions your manager has made, isn't it? But the absolute worst thing you can do in your career is live by default, do what's "normal" for your position or role, and allow your boss to determine your career trajectory. This is how we become unhappy at work, if we aren't there already.

Like anything in life, when you completely neglect what you want, you end up living by other people's standards or expectations. This is often a recipe for unhappiness or - at best - a mediocre feeling about your career. This is because you've had no input into the course of your career. And 40+ hours per week is a lot of time doing something you didn't intentionally decide upon. And, trust me, it feels even longer when you are very unhappy doing it.

I fault managers for this. They take a one-size-fits-all approach and just assume that everyone in Role X wants to next be promoted to Role Y, and so forth. We aren't all the same and people want different things. Why managers aren't taught to accept this is beyond my imagination, especially in this day and age when it's very common to only work at a workplace for several years before moving on. It creates secrecy in the manager/employee relationship and it leads to surprise when someone leaves the workplace. Perhaps if your manager knew, for example, that your ultimate goal was not to become a law partner in the law firm but to work for a legal department at a big company, he or she wouldn't be shocked when you turn in your resignation papers and have to scramble for your replacement. But he or she never asked and, furthermore, made it uncomfortable for you to express your desired career path by making assumptions. Both sides suffer here.

So my biggest piece of advice to you is to think intentionally about where you want your career to go. What do you want to be doing in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Do you want to stay full-time or go part-time at some point? Do you want to move to a different geographic location at some point - for example, closer to home to be near your parents when you start to have kids of your own? What do YOU want? Some people have never even stopped to think about it.

Once you've gathered your thoughts about your career desires, make career decisions from that point of view. Don't haphazardly take on responsibilities and volunteer for things in your workplace if they are out of alignment with what YOU want. Sure, there are some responsibilities we don't have any choice about. Some things we have to "go along with" until we move on. But I'm talking about the things you CAN change and the things you DO have input on. Don't just do things because "it looks good" and because it'll impress your parents or your co-workers. Make decisions in alignment with where YOU want to eventually end up in your career. Because if you don't - and this is a harsh truth - you will have no one to blame but yourself when you wind up unhappy and stressed out 5 years from now because you made very unintentional decisions about your career. Make your career happiness and your career goals your first priority, and take intentional, purposeful action from there. 

If you've been unhappy in your career for some time now, take a breath and think about this. Did you give up personal responsibility for your career decisions and just go along with what your boss assumed or expected of you? What intentional decisions can you start making today, to change your career trajectory? Get a plan in place - you don't have to do anything drastic or sudden. Book an appointment with a career coach if you really need some guidance. You can do it! 5 years from now, you'll be so happy you did.

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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How Are You Different?

How Are You Different?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to impress upon you the importance of being different when you start your own business. There are so many businesses out there. What makes yours different? Get very clear on this, or it's going to be very hard for you to succeed in the long term.

In this day and age, we have the ability to shop anywhere. Thanks to online shopping, I can as easily buy a sweater from a store across the country as I can from a store that's one mile from my home. Think about it - that wasn't always the case! That means we have a lot more choice when it comes to retailers. So, if you plan on starting a retail business, what is going to make someone choose you? The same goes for other businesses, whether you're starting a life coach business, a new doctor's office, or a business consulting group.

Too many people start businesses that copy the models that are already out there, and then they wonder why they fail after a year or two. You have to give people a reason to choose you, and you have to make sure you communicate that reason to them, whether that's with words or pictures. You wouldn't believe the number of people who forget that last step. Maybe the clothes you sell are all made in the USA. Or maybe the jewelry you make is from recycled metal and handmade by cancer survivors. Or maybe there's no bookstore within 10 miles of your home and you decide to start one because no one else has yet. You get the idea. Find something special about what you do and talk about it often, or do something basic (like open a bookstore) but do it in an area that doesn't offer it yet. Find the niche that you can fill. Don't just try to be another store offering similar items as the rest of the stores in your area. It will be very difficult to succeed that way. Why? Because you'll have a lot of competitors. The same goes for service businesses. If you're a life coach, what makes you different from the thousands of other life coaches out there? Maybe it's the method you use, or your own particular background. Point out the differences and emphasize them.

For me in particular, I decided to fill a niche. Think about the jewelry businesses out there. Aside from the very high end jewelry retailers out there, most jewelry businesses offer what I call "cool girl" jewelry. You know, it's the trendy jewelry of the moment that everyone is wearing. Right now it's gold paperclip necklaces and snake chains that were popular in the 80's and bold plastic statement earrings. I noticed there were very few, if any, jewelry brands that were very feminine and timeless. I also noticed there were very few jewelry brands specializing in bridesmaid jewelry (that's how I got my start!). So I decided to make a very feminine, classic collection that lent itself well to bridal parties but could also be worn again post-wedding.

You see, when you try to fill a niche in the marketplace, you have very few competitors. When you try to be like everyone else, well... everyone else is your competitor. Which sounds like a smart business decision to you?

xoxo,

Stacy

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You Don't Need To Go Back To School To Start A Business Or Switch Careers

You Don't Need To Go Back To School To Start A Business Or Switch Careers

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to encourage you not to get stuck in the mindset that you need to go back to school if you want to change careers or start your own business (or both!). That is simply not true!

So many people are under the wrong impression that you need to go back to school and invest in a new degree if you want to do something different for your career. But real life work experience is far more valuable to most employers, and there are so many things you are already qualified to do that require no additional schooling at all! You simply have to get a new perspective. You have to start looking at your skills and work experience in more general terms. I know this can be hard if you just spent a decade doing a certain job, but you can do it. Sit down with a trusted friend or family member and brainstorm how your current skill set translates into other positions.

For example, I know so many lawyers who say to me, "I want to quit the legal profession like you did, but I just don't know what I'm qualified to do." What?! Lawyers have so many transferrable skills. They are typically excellent writers, negotiators, problem solvers, and public speakers. They know how to do research better than almost anyone. And they're the most amazing critical thinkers. From day one in law school, they are taught to see both sides of any argument because, in order to win a legal case, you have to anticipate the other side's best points and know how to get around them. These days, the ability to analyze things from both sides is so valuable. Most people simply don't know how to do that. Lawyers today often have great data analysis skills too, since some cases turn on spotting small differences in digital data and digital documents. What are some things lawyers can do with these skills? Honestly the list is almost endless, but to start they can be a university professor, a real estate agent, a political researcher, a human resources executive, a CEO, or a business consultant. 

This brings me to my next point: don't get stuck in analysis paralysis. Once you get to work on your general list of skills and talents, you might become overwhelmed at all of the options out there that require those skills. There are tons of job titles out there, most of which we don't even know exist. And it can be overwhelming to look at job postings. This is where you need to engage in research. Rather than throwing your hands up in the air as you stare at the open job postings in your city, take a deep breath and pick out the ones that naturally look most appealing to you. Then spend some time doing a little research on what those positions actually do and what skills they require. This is not a five minute project. This might take you a few days or even a few weeks. But the goal is to expand your perspective on the options available to you, and to get out of the pigeon-hole of your current job title. I know, I know, it's so comfortable there. You know what jobs are available in your industry and you know in a split second whether or not you're qualified to do them. But you're a fish out of water here, exploring new jobs and new industries, and you have to expect some ignorance and discomfort at first. But don't get stuck there. Don't become so overwhelmed by all the options that you become paralyzed and give up.

If you truly become stuck in analysis paralysis, you can hire a career coach or a headhunter. These people are trained to help you find alternative careers that suit your skills so they are a great resource. Some are free and some charge a fee, so see what you can find in your area. You might even be able to consult the career office at your old university or grad school. Think outside the box and if you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it. It's better than spending 10 years in a career you find unfulfilling or completely draining. 

Sure, there are some jobs you cannot do without a relevant degree. For example, you can't be a doctor or lawyer or nurse or therapist without the required education. But most jobs don't require additional education if you are otherwise qualified and have translatable experience. So, if you catch yourself in the trap of thinking you need to go back to school, ask yourself - am I using this as an excuse to stay stuck and avoid the discomfort of a major career change? No matter how unhappy you are in your current career, changing careers can be scary and intimidating. It can feel like "starting over" and that's hard, no matter how much courage or strength you have as a person. It's simply a part of being human. So, unless you want to go from baker to doctor, or teacher to lawyer, check yourself and really determine whether additional schooling is required or whether your mind is just trying to keep you secure and avoid major change. And last but not least, do not under any circumstance think you need to go to business school to start your own business. I have quite a few friends with MBA degrees and let me tell you, they are clueless on what it takes to start a small business. People with MBA's tend to be groomed to work in higher level executive positions at existing large companies. They aren't really taught how to start a small business. So, please please please don't think you need a graduate education in business to start that bakery or catering business or book store or fitness coaching business you've been dreaming about.

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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The Top Reasons Why New Businesses Fail

The Top Reasons Why New Businesses Fail

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I wanted to talk about the common reasons new businesses fail. It is hard to start a new business and become successful with it. If it weren't difficult, almost everyone would do it! If you know the common reasons why businesses fail, you are more likely to avoid those pitfalls and build a business that lasts. These reasons are from my own observation and own experience, and the list is by no means exhaustive! Here we go:

1. No marketing or not enough marketing

This is probably the most common reason a new business fails. If no one knows about your business, no one can purchase your product or service. "Marketing" is getting the word out. It's the act of making people aware of your business. It can be anything from running advertisements on Facebook to participating in a local market and handing out postcards about your business. When you start a new business, educate yourself on marketing. It is crucial to your success. You simply cannot build a business and wait for people to come find you. You'll be waiting a very long time. You have to get the word out.

If you are uncomfortable with marketing, you need to outsource it. But be careful though - outsourcing marketing is very expensive and often not very effective. There are a lot of people and agencies touting themselves as marketing experts these days when, in all honesty, they aren't. Marketing in the digital space changes almost every day (that's no exaggeration) so unless you're hiring a person or agency that is on the cutting edge of digital marketing, I don't think it's worth a dime. Instead, I suggest you educate yourself well on marketing and then delegate it (if you really have to) so that you know whether or not the person or agency doing your marketing is doing a good job. If you aren't educated about it, you'll have no idea. And, chances are, you'll waste a ton of money.

2. Investing in the wrong things

Speaking of money, a lot of businesses fail because they spend money on the wrong things. For example, they use super fancy, expensive packaging that is going to get thrown in the garbage anyways. Or they spend thousands of dollars on a web designer, when they really could've hired someone for a few hundred dollars to set up a website for them on a reliable and well-established e-commerce platform like Shopify. Listen, I'm not telling you to have cheap packaging or an ugly website. But you can have pretty packaging and a pretty website at a much lower cost if you're smart about it. Do your research before investing in things. What are the alternatives? What do you need now... and what can wait for an upgrade later once you know your business is generating enough revenue to be profitable?

In my opinion, far too many businesses spend money on things that don't matter when they should really be directing those dollars towards marketing. From my personal experience, you want that marketing budget to be as high as you can possibly make it (because you are a new brand and NO ONE knows about you but your friends and family!). So spend that money on advertising and not the gold-foil tissue paper branded with your logo that's going to get thrown in the trash anyways. Later on, when you are booming with success, you can afford that custom tissue paper.

3. They quit when they don't get instant gratification

For some reason, people start a business thinking it's going to be easy. I have no idea where they get this idea from. It takes years to build a successful business, not months or weeks. And it's tough. You are going to have super, super highs and super, super lows. Weeks when you'll want to quit. Days where you start searching for a "real" job online. Months when you feel it's really over this time and finally time to throw in the towel. But if you want to ultimately succeed, you'll keep going and you'll figure it out. No matter what. A lot of people do not have this kind of grit and tenacity. They don't have the patience. They set up a business, run it for a few months or a year, and they abandon ship. That's not fair to you or to your business idea. That's like boiling 10 minute rice and throwing it out at minute 2 because it's not done yet. You feel me? If you go into business ownership, have the right expectations and give your business some time to get off the ground. Otherwise, you might jump ship on a business that could have been a million dollar business if you had only given it some time. There is no instant gratification in business.

4. Not enough money

Ok, ok, I know... more about money. But a business ultimately is supposed to generate money. And not having enough money is a problem. If you go into business ownership without much money, you're going to have a tough time. You have to be able to invest in your business. Think of it like a house. You have to put a down payment on a house, right? And, after you purchase it, maybe you'll need to inject a little money into a kitchen and bathroom renovation. The same with your business. And the idea is, that initial investment will ultimately pay off down the road and you can sell it for much more than you initially invested in it. So please, please, please don't expect to start a business with little to no cash. That is very unrealistic. And, on the same note, don't expect to draw a paycheck from your business right away. That might be news to some of you! But most new business owners don't get paid anything for some time. Any profit the business is generating needs to be put back into the business, so make sure you have enough savings or a part-time or full-time gig that can cover your personal expenses for at least a few months.

Sometimes people ask me, how much do I need to start a business? It depends! There is no one answer. Every business is different. You have to figure it out. For example, a service business (like a wedding photography business) probably needs a lot less money than a product business (like a shoe company). A wedding photographer needs a camera, a nice website, and a system for invoicing and contracting with her clients, etc. A shoe company, on the other hand, needs a lot of inventory. They need shoes in every size and color. Therefore, the up-front investment is going to be much higher. Word to the wise here: if you can't figure this part out, you probably don't want to start a business. Business ownership is hard and if you can't even get past the first hurdle of "how much money do I need?" there is absolutely no way you are going to successfully make it through the first few difficult months and years. I hate to be so blunt, but it is true and I want you to be realistic about business ownership before you waste a whole lot of money and energy on something that fails quickly.

There are lots of reasons why a new business might fail, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. But if you go into business ownership with your eyes open to these 4 common mistakes people make, you'll be more likely to avoid them!

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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The Most Critical Ingredient To A Successful Career Change

The Most Critical Ingredient To A Successful Career Change

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I'm talking about mindset. Mindset is, hands down, the most critical ingredient to following a passion. Whenever someone asks me for advice on how to start their own business or quit their current job to pursue one that's more in line with their passions, my first piece of advice is always this -- work on your mindset the most. Even more than you work on your website or your resume! If your mindset isn't right, absolutely no amount of work is going to connect all the dots on the path to a successful business or career. If you've been trying to make changes in your career but you feel like nothing changes no matter what you do, mindset is likely the reason why.

By "mindset" I mean, quite simply, knocking out all the fears that are keeping you in your current job and preventing you from following your passions. These may include the following: fear that others (such as your family) will judge you for quitting a stable job; fear of uncertainty; fear of giving up a steady paycheck; fear that you can't make enough money doing what you love; fear that it will take too many years to build a business that can support you financially. If you believe you can't earn a living being a writer or personal stylist or baker, you won't. Similarly, if you believe you can make more money pursuing a dream than in your current job, you will. It really is that simple, but it does take a lot of work to get to that place of true understanding and belief in these simple principles. One of my favorite quotes to sum up this learning process is from the Wizard of Oz, "You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself." We are our own worst enemies -- but the beauty in that is that we hold the power to change. You don't need to convince anyone else but yourself. 

The biggest difference for me between my first business (a brick and mortar jewelry store which ultimately failed in 2011) and my current business (grace + hudson) is my mindset. Back in 2011, I didn't truly believe I deserved a better life than working 80+ hours per week as an attorney, constantly arguing with others for a living (if you've come to know me, you know that doesn't fit my personality).  Now, I believe I deserve to earn a living doing something I love. I believe that I don't need to "sell my soul" to afford my living expenses. I believe that I can create a business that reflects my ideals and my authentic self, and therefore brings me joy on a daily basis. I believe that I can blaze new trails that lead to a super successful business, and that I don't have to be like every other jewelry artist on the planet, struggling to make sales any which way they can. When you truly have these beliefs, you receive out-of-the-box inspiration, you wind up in the right place at the right time, you come up with ideas that seem divinely inspired, you blaze new trails. For example, if you believe you can only make $20k per year as a baker, begging to sell cupcakes to passersby, you are completely foreclosing other possibilities. What if Oprah Winfrey stumbled upon your cupcakes, posted about them on Instagram, and you sold your entire daily inventory and received 1,000 online orders in 3 minutes flat? Your negative mindset is completely foreclosing that option, and other less radical ones that have just as much power to lead to a "sold out" sign. The mental momentum of out-of-the-box possibilities is a powerful thing, let me tell you!   

If mindset is holding you back, I would highly recommend meditating. Meditating helps stop negative, fearful thoughts and helps you get in touch with the amazing, powerful possibilities that come to us in stillness. I would also recommend reading a few books by some of my favorite thought leaders (listed below). This is the exact path that worked for me, and I continue to reinforce it everyday. It's the first thing I do in the morning. It doesn't need to take hours. Even a few minutes per day of meditating and reading a short passage will lead to gains. Or, on a really busy day, just set an alarm in your phone that goes off every hour and says something like "I welcome new possibilities for success" or "I choose positive thoughts over fear-based thoughts."  

Here are some of my favorite books to get you started. Financial fear is probably a big one for you, as it was for me -- and, if so, I'd recommend reading "You are a Badass at Making Money" by Jen Sincero (get it here). If you already meditate and/or believe in the law of attraction, I'd recommend reading "Life Visioning" by Michael Bernard Beckwith (available here). It'll help you get in touch with the vision you have for your life, and it'll help you understand only you have the power to make it come true. And, similarly, only you have the power to make it not come true. If you've never meditated before and need help with the constant stream of negative thoughts that hold you back from following your passions, I would recommend a 40-day practice called "May Cause Miracles" by Gabby Bernstein (find it here). It's a great place to start to end those negative, fear-based thoughts that are keeping you stuck. It only takes about 5 minutes per day -- get it on Audible and play it while you brush your teeth in the morning. Giving up these fears is a daily practice. A daily choice. But it does get easier the more you do it. 

If I know one thing for certain, it's that a fulfilling, successful business first starts in your mind.  Changing your mindset is the greatest gift you will ever give to yourself, and your future business or career!

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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I Don't Plan To Retire In The "Traditional" Sense

I Don't Plan To Retire In The

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to challenge you to think differently about retirement. When you stop to think about it - our American culture almost teaches us that life begins in retirement. It's when you can "finally start living" and doing what you want to do. We are encouraged from a very young age to stuff as much money as we can into our 401(k)'s and "plan early for retirement." Blah, blah, blah. You've heard it all, I'm sure. I have a real problem with this for multiple reasons which I'll share below. Why am I bringing this up? Well, when you start to look at retirement from a different angle - from a more practical, realistic point of view - it can greatly impact the decisions you make today about your career and your life path.

I started to question the way our culture thinks about retirement when I lost my father to cancer in 2014. He was such a planner. The 401(k) saver. Spreadsheets and trajectories about future finances. Plans to move and retire to the beaches in North Carolina. He did everything "right" by society standards when it comes to retirement. But you know what? He died one month after he turned 65 years old. He never got to retire. It really made me question the value we place on retirement because... what if I don't make it there either? Let's face it - not all of us will make it to the ripe old age of 65. Shouldn't we be enjoying life now

Back when I was a lawyer I heard so many people say, "Yeah I don't like my job but I'm just going to suck it up, work really hard now, and retire early." But there's several problems with that. First, you might never get there, like my dad. I think about how hard my father worked and planned for retirement, and he never got to retire. What a cruel joke. If I had remained a lawyer, I can think of nothing worse. With this mindset of "work really hard and retire early," you are giving up so much during the prime years of your life with the goal of "start living" at some older age that you might not even reach. 

Now let's say you do make it to age 65 and retire, or that you are lucky enough to retire much earlier. What are you going to do with your time? Sure, you may have grand plans to travel and such, but unless you plan on visiting every country on the map and have the funds to do so, travel isn't going to take up 365 days of the year. What will you do on the other days? The thrill of retirement might last a year or two, but what will you do in year three? Have you thought this through? If you don't have purpose and a plan, boredom can be a dangerous thing. 

Humans need purpose. They need a reason to wake up in the morning. Sure, it's fun to sleep in, travel, do what you want, but it gets old after a while. You need purpose on top of those things. This is another problem for people who "work really hard so they can enjoy an early retirement" -- when they don't have to "work really hard" anymore and suddenly have a lot of free time, they don't even know who they are. Work has comprised so much of their identity that when it is stripped away, they don't even know themselves. They've spent so many years building a bank account, they haven't built themselves and their identity. And they're lost when work is all of a sudden out of the picture. That's why I see a lot of people in retirement picking up part-time jobs. They were sold a lie in my opinion. Just work really, really hard for 65 years and save a lot of money, and then you can start to live and will be so happy. Wrong. Talk to a few people in retirement and you'll know exactly what I mean. This is also a big problem for people who are able to successful retire at an early age - say 45 years old. If you've worked hard enough to retire at 45, that means you've spent little to no time working on yourself. You barely know yourself. You've been distracted by work for years on end. Do you think you're just going to feel happy, comfortable, and safe when you give up the thing (work) you've been addicted to for so many years? The answer is no. You'll go through an identity crisis first.

And what will be the state of your health? I think back to the eleven years I spent as a lawyer in my 20's and 30's. I was sick all the time - nothing serious thank goodness, but I constantly had a cold, or a stomach problem, or this or that. Stress wreaks havoc on your body. I think about the condition my body would be in, at age 50 or 60, if I had remained a lawyer. When you are miserable, and stressed out, your body takes a beating and I can only imagine I'd be more likely to battle something like cancer or high blood pressure. I even look back at pictures of myself when I was 30 years old and still a lawyer - and I look older back then than I do today at age 42. Now let's assume that your health doesn't take a beating and you make it to retirement in excellent health. And, like everyone else, your plan is to move to the beach and travel a lot. Um, have you noticed that older people don't generally love to sit in the sun on the beach and would rather be indoors when it's hot outside? And travel requires a lot of stamina - do you think you're going to have that kind of energy - to explore and adventure outdoors the way you might now, in your 20's, 30's or 40's? Probably not.

And let's talk about one more thing - the celebrities we all know and love who worked until old age doing what they love. Betty White is the best example that comes to mind. She loved what she did and she did it until she died at the old age of 99. Tony Bennett is another person that comes to mind - he's still living at the age of 96 and he just performed his last concerts in 2021. I've always been inspired by the both of them. There are many more examples I'm sure, but the people who love what they do and keep doing it until the day they die are happier and more fulfilled and, arguably, live longer lives. Sure, as they age, they take on much less demanding schedules and work less (and they should!) but what a gift - to love what you do, to have found your purpose on this earth, and to keep doing it (on your terms and on your schedule) until you're in your 90s. Now THAT sounds like a good plan. And that's MY plan for retirement. I would love to get to the point when I'm about 60 years old that everything in my business is delegated to someone else, and I can work at my leisure, on my schedule, on my terms as much or as little as I'd like until the day I die. To have purpose and meaning, but also to have freedom and the leisure of doing whatever I please, whenever I please. That sounds like a healthy retirement to me. And that's what I'm working towards.

If you were to change your ideas about retirement, how would that impact the decisions you make today? Would you take that high paying job and run yourself into the ground for 25 years so you can retire early? Or would you spend more time now building a career (and a life) you love? If you don't want to give up the "traditional" ideas about retirement, that's totally fine! I just want to bring up this topic because retirement isn't all flowers and hearts. It can be a tough time psychologically when, all of a sudden, you feel you lack daily purpose. Do a lot of research on what retirement actually looks like and feels like, and don't go into it with this false sense of "oh my life is finally beginning!" because you will be sorely disappointed. Talk to people who are in retirement, find out the psychological impacts retirement can have, and be ready for those. It's not the dream your 401(k) company tries to sell you, believe me. I've seen it first hand. 

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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Life Purpose: Is It Tied To Career, Being a Mom, or Something Else? Get Clear On This Before You Start Your Own Business

Life Purpose: Is It Tied To Career, Being a Mom, or Something Else? Get Clear On This Before You Start Your Own Business

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to help you make the right decision regarding business ownership versus "regular" job. If you want to own your own business someday, one thing you should think about is how much time you want to devote to your career. Another thing you should think about is how important career is to you in the grand scheme of things. In other words, where does it rank amongst your priorities? If you get clear on this, you'll make a better decision regarding whether business ownership is the right path for you.

Let me start this week's journal entry by sharing a quick story. Back when I was a lawyer - I mean from the very, very beginning when I was in my mid-20's - I knew I wasn't fulfilling my purpose. I knew I wasn't doing what I was meant to be doing in this lifetime. I felt really out of alignment. And it was an excruciating feeling. I thought about it a lot. I felt stuck in a career that almost felt like a betrayal of my true self -- every day I had to put on this facade to be a "lawyer" and it felt so unlike me. I'm not aggressive, firm, and loud by nature. In fact I'm quite the opposite. I felt pretty lost. It kept me up at night, it gave me stomachaches, and caused me a lot of stress. A few years into my career, I met this friend. She was also a lawyer. One day, early on in our friendship, we were talking about work and I was sharing my deepest, darkest feelings about my job. You know what she said in response? She said in the most nonchalant way, "Hmm, you know, I've never really thought about whether or not I like being a lawyer." My mind was blown. I thought about it every single day, and she's never even considered the question?!

Maybe you relate to me, but maybe you relate more to my friend. Instead of career, maybe you can't stop thinking about children. You just know you are meant to be a mom. Yeah sure you have a stable, good job but it's not "central" to your life purpose for being here on this earth at this time. You just know it in your core. You spend more time thinking about how many kids you want to have, and how far apart in age you want them to be, and what parenting style is best, etc. If that's you, can I share something with you? That'll maybe help you relate to my side of the street? I have never, ever felt a strong urge to have children. I have never felt my "clock ticking" as they say. Sure, I think it would be cool to have a child or two, but I also think it would be cool to have a child-less life. And however life ends up for me, I'll be okay. I don't spend much time thinking about it. I never have. And maybe that's shocking to you, the way it was shocking to me that my friend never thought about whether she liked being a lawyer. You see, I think we all have different purposes here on this earth. If we were all the same, life would be boring, wouldn't it?  

So where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you feel strongly that your purpose during this lifetime is tied closely to career? Or is your purpose tied closely to being a mom and you'll have a career on the side? Or maybe your purpose is something else entirely? There is no right or wrong answer. And one answer isn't better than another. What is important is that you get clear on YOUR main purpose in this lifetime. Because if your purpose isn't strongly tied to career, I think you're really going to dislike having your own business. It takes over your life sometimes, just the way a child would take over your life for a few years. There is no such thing as 9-to-5 when you are the business owner. Sure, if your business is successful, you can eventually start to delegate duties and work less but those initial 5 years will take everything you have. Every last bit of you. So my advice would be to get really honest with yourself with the place work has in your life. And with the place you want work to have in your life. Is it your driving purpose? Or is work just something we all have to do, and you don't give too much thought to it? And that'll help you make a better decision regarding whether business ownership for you, or whether you would be more happy in a "regular" job that doesn't demand too much of you on the nights and weekends.

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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Owning A Business Is Like Having A Child (In Some Ways)

Owning A Business Is Like Having A Child (In Some Ways)

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I am sharing what it feels like to be 5 years into my journey as a business owner. I started grace + hudson in June of 2017 and it's unbelievable how much has happened in 5 years. It's also unbelievable how fast the time has flown by!

If you are a small business owner, you know how grueling the first few years can be. I would equate a new business to a newborn baby, in certain ways. It requires all of you. It requires long days and long nights. It requires you to sacrifice - your time, your money, your energy. Think about it... you are trying to create an entity - albeit a business entity - that has never existed before. A thing that you hope will be able to walk and talk on its own someday and grow into a healthy, thriving adult that you don't have to watch so closely all the time. And no one can care for it the way you - the owner who birthed it - can. It's hard to delegate some of the tasks and duties in the beginning - just like it's hard to let someone babysit your newborn for the first time. But then it grows and matures, and you learn to let go a little because - if it's growing and thriving - you can't possibly do everything that's required to maintain it all the time. You need a little help now and then. 

And that brings me to the point of this journal entry. I am at this beautiful, gorgeous stage of my business where I can finally let go a little. I feel like my business is a living, breathing, walking, and talking 5-year-old that still needs my attention and love, but isn't quite has needy as it was in prior years. I say "finally" but truly, the past 5 years have gone so quickly and - in the grand scheme of things - 5 years is really such a little blip on the radar. It's such a limited amount of time to work really hard to receive, in exchange, what I hope is a lifetime of being able to do what I want to do for work. Honestly, any career requires an investment of about 5 years upfront in the beginning before you really feel settled, right? I mean, if I had changed careers and went from lawyer to - I don't know - nurse or yoga teacher or realtor, I would have had to get the required education, get an entry level job, and work a couple of years before I felt settled and started earning better pay. Starting your own business is no different. You don't just create a successful business straight out the gate, and your take home pay isn't going to immediately be what you earned in your prior, established career. You have to have a little patience. Yes, you are starting a new business, but in more simple terms, you are starting over in a new career and you have to "pay your dues" up front. There's no getting around it. I think more people need to look at business ownership in this way because it would give them more realistic expectations of what to expect financially. It would have been incredibly foolish of me to expect that I would take home the same pay in year 1 of my business that I did in year 11 of my career as an attorney. That's just silly. But you know what isn't silly? And I'm starting to really see this now - there is no ceiling. Your pay potential is as high as the sky. As much as your business grows, is as much as your paycheck can grow. Sure, lawyers can make a lot of money, but there's always going to be a ceiling when your paycheck comes from someone else. There is no ceiling when you own your own business. And that's pretty cool to see, especially as a woman. I think back to all those people who asked me in the beginning, "You really think you're going to make more money selling jewelry than being a lawyer?" Oh, they were so negative. And it's also really sad that all they thought about was money. They spoke as if happiness has nothing to do with long-term career satisfaction.

Anyways, just like a proud parent looks at their child learning to walk, it gives you - the business owner - so much pride to see this idea you birthed come into being. In some ways, the business feels like an extension of your identity just like a child feels like an extension of you. And, just like a child eventually becomes separate from his or her parents, I'm also starting to separate my day-to-day "identity" from my business. Working so hard on this business of mine has taken up so much of me and my identity the past 5 years. I'm really consciously starting to separate from it, because it's no longer necessary for me to lose my identity in it. It's no longer necessary for me to be 100% wrapped up in it. It's something like having a child who's now in 1st grade and you can go to that 10 am yoga class you used to love. It's definitely a process - the letting go - but I'm finally embracing it. And I'm actually enjoying delegating things to employees now. In the beginning it was tough! No one can do it like I can do it. You know what I mean? I'm sure if you have a child you've said that quite a lot. But I have to delegate the small stuff so that I can focus more on the big, important stuff and also have time to take care of myself. I am getting better and better at that, and it's only a matter of time before I'm really able to step away from the business more and more and enjoy life more and more. It's only a matter of time before I have that complete and total freedom I've always craved in my work. I'm the boss and I can do whatever, whenever I like. It's a pretty great feeling, and well-worth all the work it has taken to get here. If you are familiar with the legal profession, lawyers have to bill their time to their clients and I was required to "bill time" in increments of 6 minutes at the law firms I was employed by. Which means that I had to keep track of every 6 minutes of my life for 11 years. To say that it's beautiful to have freedom in my career now is putting it mildly! I can't believe I used to live like that, tracking every 6 minutes of my life. It's no way to live.

Finally, I think it's important to note that starting a successful new business requires a lot. A lot of time. A lot of thought. A lot of dedication. A lot of late nights. It truly requires every bit of commitment that a newborn child would require. If you plan on working 9 to 5, think again. Business ownership might not be the right path for you if you are unable to make this sort of time commitment for several years. My hope is always to be honest and upfront with you about small business ownership so that you make the right decision for YOU and not every one is in the position to devote that kind of time. For instance, maybe you just had your first child. I see a lot of new mothers wanting to start new businesses - perhaps because they see it as flexible hours and work-from-home - and I would highly encourage you to wait. You simply do not have the time to give it all the attention it deserves. To be honest, I've seen quite a few businesses fail when the owner had a child. It's really hard! And to think you can do both WELL at the same time is not realistic. And, in my opinion, your REAL child deserves all the attention. Wait a few years, it'll be ok if you give it some time. 

If you're an aspiring or existing small business owner, I hope this journal entry inspires you to keep going... or to wait if the time is not right. I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experience. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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Social Media For Small Business

Social Media For Small Business

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I am writing about social media for small business. This journal entry is for all the aspiring and existing small business owners out there who know the importance of social media but perhaps are a little confused on how it fits into their overall business goals. Here are the top 5 things I've learned over the past 5 years when it comes to social media.  

First and foremost, social media is critically important to small business ownership in this day and age. You don't need to be on all the platforms (and I believe you actually shouldn't be on all the platforms) but you must have a presence out there somewhere. Customers expect it. There are millions of small businesses and some only survive for a few months, so I believe that social media is a way of indicating that you are alive and well. I know that sounds almost silly, but let me give you an example. I once found this gorgeous candle company based out of Brooklyn, NY. I found them at a holiday market and bought several candles from them. I wanted to reorder several months later and placed an order with them online. Several weeks went by and I never heard from them. I sent an email and received no response. I checked their social media and nothing had been posted for about 2 or 3 months. I emailed them again. No response. Thankfully I paid with PayPal and I was able to submit a claim with PayPal for a refund because this business had obviously shut down and wasn't even checking email anymore, let alone fulfilling orders. I suppose they forgot to shut down their website? Seems strange, but I guess it could happen. From that time onward, before I order from a small business, I check their social media presence. It's my way of finding out if they are still alive and well. So many people tried to start an online business during the Covid era and so many have already closed (it's not easy to run a business!!!). So, if nothing else, keep a social media presence so that people know you are an operating, working business.

As I said above, I don't think you should be on all the social media platforms. Pick two or three and do it well. It takes an incredible amount of time to be on all the social media platforms, so if you try to do that, you're not going to have a great presence anywhere. You're going to have an (at best) mediocre presence everywhere. For me, for example, I am most dedicated to Instagram and that's where I spend most of my social media time. But I also have a presence on Facebook and also Pinterest because I do a lot of wedding jewelry and a lot of brides plan their wedding using Pinterest. Pick the platforms that make sense for you and your business. It might not make sense for you to be on Pinterest - it might make sense for you to be on YouTube. Only you know where your ideal customers hang out, so get clear on that and then target those platforms. That's the second most important thing I've learned about social media.

Coming in at number three is something you're probably not going to want to hear. Most social media is "pay to play" these days. What does that mean? You have to pay the platform to get your content shown to new customers and even the people who follow you. You cannot rely on organic reach if you want to grow and scale your business. Let me boil this down in really easy concepts so you understand this point. Years ago, Facebook and Instagram started their platforms with the plan of building them up into the massive entities they are today. At first, they had to make their platforms "free" to businesses. But now that everyone is on those platforms (even your grandma!) they can charge businesses to be seen (in other words, they can charge businesses to advertise). That was their plan all along. They saw the revenue potential in these platforms long, long ago. I've been on social media with my business since 2017 and I've seen a lot change in that time frame. Over the course of the last year in particular - so from about early 2021 to the present day - Instagram and Facebook have become pay to play. So if you're not paying them to run ads, your content is being seen by very few people. And let me put in a little caveat here - when your business account on those platforms is brand new, Instagram and Facebook throw you a bone. You'll see a lot of natural engagement (meaning "likes" and such). In other words, Instagram and Facebook are actually showing your posts to your followers. But when your business account is about 6 months old, they'll stop showing your content to your followers. You'll see your "like" counts go from like 200 to 12 per post. Why? Because they want you to pay to be seen. They want you to advertise. Like it or not, it's the way the social media world works now. So, if you want to grow and scale your business, you MUST have a social media advertising budget. This is an absolute non-negotiable in my view. And honestly, advertising on these platforms is so much cheaper than, say, advertising in a magazine or newspaper. Think about it - that's how small businesses had to advertise back in the day! We are so, so lucky to have social media platforms at our disposal.

The next thing I've learned about social media is to ignore the vanity metrics. If you've educated yourself on social media at all, you've likely come across the phrase "vanity metrics" which are things like likes and emoji reactions. The unsophisticated business owner lives and dies by these. He or she is upset if a post doesn't get a certain number of likes. The sophisticated business owner does not even pay attention to likes. The sophisticated business owner pays attention to how many people visit her website. Let's think about it this way - think of your Instagram profile, for example, as a magazine. It's a digital magazine that shows a potential customer what you do, what you sell, what you have to offer. The point of social media is to get someone off the platform and onto your website where YOU can now control their experience. You are no longer relying on Instagram to interact with this person. That is the hope you should have when you post on social media. That someone will be interested enough in your "digital magazine" to click on over to your website to see what else you have to offer. Then, once they hop over to your website, you try to do things like collect their email addresses so you can control how they experience your brand through your newsletters, email offers, etc. Let me give you a real life example from my business. When I run a wedding jewelry ad on Instagram, my hope is always that a bride will jump over to my website to see more. Once she's there, my hope is that she'll sign up for my 20% off bridal discount using her email address. And then I take her through a sequence of emails relevant to her wedding - one email shows her all of our best selling bridal earrings, another email offers help in selecting bridal jewelry, and another email shows her that we also have pieces for her flower girl, bridesmaids, and the mother of the bride. So, in other words, Instagram is just the entry level contact I have with this bride. And then she comes over to my side of the world where I can control our interactions and not rely on Instagram. This is why vanity metrics don't matter. Think about it - if someone sees an ad from your company and she likes what she sees, she's going to click on the ad that says "visit our website" or "shop now" or "learn more." She usually isn't going to like the post and THEN go visit the website. Some people do this of course, but many people just click and head on over without liking. So, in a nutshell, this is why you should be more concerned with how many people are actually going to your website and not with how many people are liking your posts.

Last but not least, the fifth thing I've learned about social media is that it's important to show your face. You don't have to do it all the time, but several times per month will do wonders for your business. If you're a small business owner, I think people have a natural tendency to want to see or get to know the person behind the brand. It's really such a lovely thing, when you stop to think about it. If you shop at a big store like Nordstrom or Target, there is no person behind the brand. It's faceless, right? But a small business does have a face behind it - a person, a family, a story. And people love to connect. It's human nature. To me, we're kind of at this place in time where it's weird if I don't see the face behind the small business. Do you agree? There's a small jewelry company I came across recently on Instagram and they're completely personality-less. There is absolutely no indication of who the owner is. Maybe I'm weird but it felt so strange to see that complete lack of connection. Maybe it's just that I've come to expect that personal connection when dealing with small businesses, and I don't think I'm alone in that. So get out there - connect with the people you are trying to reach! If it makes you uncomfortable, practice in front of your bathroom mirror! And keep it short! It doesn't need to be anything long or elaborate. Or get a few professional photos of yourself and post those with a thoughtful caption introducing yourself, your story, and why you love running your business. 

If you're an aspiring or existing small business owner, I hope this journal entry sheds some light on social media. If you'd like to hear more about how I use social media, leave a comment below and maybe I'll do a follow up journal entry as there is so much that can be said about social media for small business. 

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experiences. My wish is for everyone to know the feeling of doing work that brings them joy. It truly is an unbelievable gift to not dread Mondays and hope for Friday's fast arrival. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I am writing about getting out of your comfort zone. The fact of the matter is, if you want something different - whether that be a different career or something else - you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. The unwillingness to do so holds a LOT of people back. If you want to see something different show up in your life but you've seen no progress, maybe this is the little thing that's been holding you back.

What do they say the definition of "insanity" is again? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result? Well that's kind of what it's like when you want to stay in your comfort zone, yet you want to see real change show up in your life. If you want to make a drastic change like I did - going from lawyer to jewelry business owner - you have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable. You have to be willing to strip yourself of your routine and try something new. I find that most people aren't willing to do this. And that's why they'll talk and talk and talk about switching careers or starting their own business, but they never make one inch of progress towards that goal. 

Listen, I hear you - a comfort zone is a comfortable, safe place to be. Especially these past few years when the world has felt strange and out of control. Having a routine keeps us feeling safe and sheltered from all the outside fears and worries and challenges. But it also robs you of potential, of joy, and of growth. We get one life on this earth, and do you want to be that person who spends more time watching Netflix than living life? I hate to be so blunt, but sometimes we need to hear it that way. Because, believe me, I hear from a lot of lawyers and other people who hate their career and want to do something really different like I did, but they complain that they can't find the time. I get really honest with them when I hear this and I say, if you can find two hours a night to watch Netflix, can you find 2 hours per week to research other career options or work on your new business idea? It's true, right? Unless you get really intentional about your time and how you spend it, you'll "feel" like you have no time, but what is really going on in the background is your unwillingness to get out of your routine and comfort zone. I remember seeing a meme a while ago that said something like, "You and Beyonce both have 24 hours in a day." Isn't that the truth! If you decide to spend 8 hours on Saturday watching Netflix, that's your choice, but please don't whine about how you feel stuck and don't have the time to make a career change or start a business. If you want to have something different, you have to be willing to do something different.

And it doesn't last forever! You don't have to live outside your comfort zone forever - just for a little time, while you make the change you desire. Soon enough after that, you'll find yourself in a new comfort zone. And chances are, that new comfort zone is going to be a lot more fun than watching Netflix. This brings me to my last point. When you hate your job (or whatever life circumstance you desperately want to change), we often find ourselves in a depressive state where all we can muster is the energy to watch Netflix. I get it. I've been there. Trust me I've been there. I was incredibly miserable back when I was a lawyer and I had zero energy in the evenings. If that's you too, you're going to have to be willing to also work on your mental health. Seeing a therapist (like I did) would be great and the most effective means, but you can start small with other things if you're not ready for that. Instead of turning on the TV at night, go for a short walk around the block or do yoga with a free video available on YouTube for 15 minutes. See how good that feels (trust me, you won't regret it). Pick up a new book you've heard has good reviews and promise yourself you're going to read for 15 minutes per night before you turn on the TV and zone out. It's these little efforts, these little changes that can really jolt you out of a routine. You might find yourself in love with a new book, or loving the way you feel more at peace when you go to bed if you do 15 minutes of yoga or go for a short walk after dinner, etc. It's these small choices - these adult choices (because sometimes we don't want to do what's good for us, but being an adult sometimes demands that) - that can set you on a new path forward. 

If you want to make a big change in your life but you've been feeling stuck, I wish you the courage to break out of your comfort zone and your routine! 

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experiences. My wish is for everyone to know the feeling of doing work that brings them joy. It truly is an unbelievable gift to not dread Mondays and hope for Friday's fast arrival. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe.

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past few years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!

xoxo,
Stacy

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