Is Work-Life Balance a Myth For Entrepreneurs?

I think this is a subject I’ll explore in more detail in my upcoming LinkedIn series (more on that later!), but a few posts I’ve seen this week triggered this thought, so I wanted to write about it at least on a surface level.

The saying goes something like “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s a simple enough concept that implies that when you enjoy what you do for a living, it doesn’t feel like a chore and you do it happily. Many of us who decide to leave Corporate America and start something of our own (or work on our “passion” after hours) go into it with the mentality that we want to be our own bosses and be in charge of our destinies, but the illusion of freedom that comes with owning a business quickly devolves into the reality that we are now more than ever tied to work, it’s just OUR work.

Do What You Love

This Instagram post from @bymarieandrew was one of the things that triggered my stream of thought on this

Everyone wants to be a celebrity or a YouTuber, but when push comes to shove, many give up. Or as the Marines say “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” No one creates a successful business overnight, and I think we’ve all become obsessed with seeing the final packaged result that gets curated on social media or TV, because not many people show or talk about the actual journey that got them to that point.

At first, it’s exhilarating – you’re the captain now, you get the talking stick, you make all the decisions, and because it’s your passion, it’s all you think about. And then, reality sets in: you ARE the captain now. It’s ALL you think about. EVERY decision is ultimately up to you, no matter how many opinions you ask for, and depending on the scale of your small business, it’s your face/name/reputation on the line every.single.time.

Another post that I read this week that was very much in line with this idea was one from a college friend who is a trained pharmacist and is currently building a brand around his expertise. Inspired by Gary Vee (because who isn’t?), Richie decided that in order to turn his ambition into reality, he would dedicate the four hours after he gets home from his job until he goes to sleep (#10to2), and would invest them into working towards his brand and business. Again, simple concept, but one that requires a solid vision and some serious discipline. He admits to many lifestyle changes and sacrifices, but it’s something he’s happy to do in order to see his vision come to life – and it works for him. I’m really invested in seeing his journey, reading his articles, checking out his podcasts and videos, and I can’t wait to see the results that his dedication will yield!

At the end of the day, I really don’t need to look too far to see how entrepreneurship takes years of around-the-clock dedication before you can really sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. My parents started a business (and went into bankruptcy pretty quickly with it) the year I was born. It took them about seven years of constant work (weekends? holidays? what are those???) for us to go on a family vacation, and once their business really solidified, we were all able to reap the rewards of their tireless and admirable work ethic. But those work-work-work-work-work-work years are the key, and it’s wild because from the outside, people don’t see the struggle and just focus on the summit at the mountain, not the arduous journey to the top.

Entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing, but when it comes to work-life balance you can expect to have a lot more of the work, and a lot less of the life – at least for a few years. And that’s ok, because as my friend Gary likes to say “you have to love the process.”

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It’s All About A Mouse

I’m coming back from a week where I lived in two of my worlds: immersed myself in the corporate, tech setting as I attended the SAPPHIRE NOW conference put together by SAP every year, which brings roughly 22,000 people to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. And at the end of that three-day conference, I headed to meet my new colleagues at Nytro, who were also gathering in Orlando to discuss strategy and goals for the upcoming months. I’m just here, re-defining two for ones, one week at a time.

One of the activities that inspired me the most was one where the team got these Disney quote cards (fitting, since we were in Orlando) at random, and we were asked to interpret them in a way that made sense to Nytro or our roles. The card that I got was:

It all started with a Mouse

I know this is extremely specific to Disney, but when you think about it, it can really be applied to anything. Thinking of the Disney enterprise – the characters, the parks, the movies, etc. it’s hard to understand and remember that it all came from an idea in one guy’s head. Walt Disney, like many of us, had an idea, the talent to translate it to paper so that others could visualize it, and the drive to see it through. And that’s the same basic formula for most successful people/companies today: Bill Gates/IBM, Jeff Bezos/Amazon,  Steve Jobs/Apple, Elon Musk/Tesla, etc. They had an idea, and they got to work on it. Everything that informs how society works today came from needs that led to thoughts for solutions, that in turn became ideas – which are a reality today. They all faced obstacles and failures along the journey, but they kept going and now they are industry leaders who have shaped our lives and will continue to do so for the future.

Check out this profile on Walt Disney – his childhood, how persistence paid off for him and the unusual path that led him to create one of the biggest empires to date. It wasn’t easy and he failed many, many times, but he made it happen, and it was all started by an idea. We all have ideas, every day. It’s up to us to fight for them and keep fighting until we succeed. The next big thing could come from your head, because – why not?

Some food for thought for you all from my Nytro team! Get your ideas going 😉

Entrepreneurship, Empowerment and Being a Shark: Women’s Business Symposia, Presented by Chase

I’ve had the chance to attend a number of educational workshops, retreats, and seminars throughout my life, and regardless of the size or nature of the event, I’ve always walked away with a few nuggets of information that impact my actions and decisions at some point down the line. Whether focused on leadership, communications, or any other important topic, there are just some events that stand out to me more than others based on the organization, content, agenda and flow, and the Women’s Business Symposia presented by Chase is DEFINITELY one of them.

Seriously, I couldn’t wait to get home to write this blog about the event, that’s how good it was! Let me take you through the basics:

– These Chase #WoBiz events are annual and tour around the US. This Broward one was the last stop for 2015.

– The invitation promised “an evening of insight and inspiration” with a keynote by Inventor, Entrepreneur, QVC Regular and Shark Tank Investor Lori Greiner; a panelist discussion featuring successful female business leaders, and a women-centric experiential networking reception.

– That’s basically all I knew from beforehand, but seeing Lori in person was a big deal to me because I’m a huge fan of her as well as Shark Tank, and an even bigger kicker: attendance was free!

Starting with the beautiful location of the Diplomat Resort & Spa, the event was set in its inviting and spacious convention center with different areas set up for the multiple sections of the evening, creating a great flow. The registration attendants were very cheery and helpful, and handed us the name tags, which marks the beginning of my mind being blown by the event. These name tags (besides being very nice) had a little pouch in the back with customized business cards they included for all registered attendees with our information in the front, and in the back it said “We met at Women’s Business Symposia” to facilitate the networking portion of the event. This was such a nice touch, and I personally saw a few people that ran out of their own business cards, so this was incredibly thoughtful and one of the many nice points of the night.

WCB WoBiz 1

Name Tag + Red Wine / Pouch in the back / Custom Business Card front / “We met at” back

After being offered wine post-registration (I’ll take a red, thank you very much!) we had a bit of a chance to mingle with some Chase executives, and I met fellow business owners with whom I stuck for the whole event.

Once we were ushered into the keynote and panel room, each chair had a symposia goody bag, holding Lori’s book “Invent it, Sell it, Bank it!” as a gift to all guests. What a treat! Whenever I watch Shark Tank, Lori talks about getting patents so easily, I’ve always wondered what it entails, and this is part of the information she includes in her book. Also, prior to the event I had no idea whether there would be a chance to interact with Lori, but our handy dandy name tags also included the event agenda, where it said Lori would be autographing books later on in the night… Seriously?! My prayers were answered to the 10000th power.

The event kicked off with some words from prominent Chase women, including Teresa Boyd (Market Manager), Jenn Piepszak (CEO of Chase Business Banking) and Laura Miller (President of Business Card for Chase), all with some great insights into the business world, work-life balance, and women in leadership. Afterwards, Laura moderated a panel with three women from different industries who also shared their experiences and advice in such an honest and relatable way that the whole audience was really engaged from start to finish. I live-tweeted some of the quotes that struck a cord with me on my biz account, check them out! FYI the hashtag for the night was #wobiz.

The Panelists: Laura Miller (moderator), Toula Amanna (Founder & CEO, Flashback Diner Chain), Alexandra Anagnostis-Irons (Founder & President, Total Marine Solutions), and Carmen Montalvan (Crowd Favorite, VP & Co-Founder, Montalvan's)

The Panelists: Laura Miller (moderator), Toula Amanna (Founder & CEO, Flashback Diner Chain), Alexandra Anagnostis-Irons (Founder & President, Total Marine Solutions), and Carmen Montalvan (Crowd Favorite, VP & Co-Founder, Montalvan’s)

Then, Lori came to the stage to give her keynote address, and I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually love her even more now. With great poise and creating lots of opportunities to connect with people in the audience, Lori shared her entrepreneurial story from her very first idea and took us through the process of turning it into a reality, while making some great points about the most important things to keep in mind to succeed in business (a few of which I tweeted as well) and also being extremely honest about the obstacles she faced and how she overcame each one. Lori’s key advice? “You CAN make ANYTHING happen.” That simple. Lori is a firm advocate of a ‘can do’ attitude and never taking no for an answer, but rather always asking “how can it be done?” instead. This concluded the keynote and panel discussion, and gave way to the rest of the night.

With books at the ready, we lined up outside the signing room, and everyone had a chance to get a few seconds of interaction with Lori. She was super graceful, posed for pictures and held as much of a conversation as possible with everyone in line. I exchanged a few words with her and I can’t wait to sit down and read my very own autographed copy of her book!

WCB WoBiz 3

Across the hall, the reception was in full swing and the energy was fantastic. There was great food, an open bar, lots of people mingling and overall a great ambiance. This is where Chase stepped in with a magic wand and made it all even better… At the reception room, you could also:

– Meet Beverly Johnson: American model, actress, and businesswoman who made history when she rose to fame as the first African-American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974.

– Get a mini Spa Treatment at the Contour Day Spa: getting pampered during a networking event? Yes please!

– Get a new headshot: how many of us put off new headshots because of lack of time/money/space/contacts? Chase took care of that, also free of charge!

After mingling, taking a few bites, another few sips, and visiting all the stations around the hall, the event came to a close and it was time to go home. But wait! There’s more!!! To close this beautiful event that didn’t need much more to make everyone in attendance feel special, they handed each and every participant a ‘Thank You’ bouquet as we left. How do they keep topping themselves?

WCB WoBiz 4

Headshot Section / Meeting Beverly Johnson / Thank You Bouquet

Chase absolutely knocked it out of the ballpark with this event, and I am so happy to have been a part of it. From the great content shared to the perfectly timed agenda, I truly see an incredible value in this symposia tour and I can’t wait for 2016!