Majority of my focus last year was on building my wellness business, I decided to shift gears in the fourth quarter to dip my foot back into the accounting world. Actually, once I made up my mind that I would be leaving my corporate job, I immediately created Luellen Consulting Services LLC which of course provides accounting services. I made this decision for several reasons a) I have an amazing skill set and a wide range of experience b) I have always been mindful of not burning bridges and maintaining good work relationships c) I am professional and relatable. This means I allow others to see my authentic self and others can connect with it. I can see a task to completion and not be afraid to recite trap music while I’m doing it. I can run a department and share a funny story about my perspective on life. Years ago I thought you could only be one way at work and you had to hide your true identity until after hours. Transparency requires you to live both lives at the same time.
Transparency has no parameters, it’s freeing to the spirit. It’s, even more, freeing when you can share your story about balancing your real life journey. My current journey involves me being a hyphenated hustler. I am a full-time entrepreneur that on occasion works a corporate 9 to 5. I am a planner and like to think ahead. I maintain a certain financial threshold that I consistently check to make sure I am on track to keeping a roof over my head and being able to run a business. I also know as a new business owner, which means everything you make the first couple of years has to be reinvested immediately to ensure longevity. While I made pretty good income from my business in 2017 ($40K), it was a bit inconsistent and I had to use some of my savings. Prior to 2017, my business income never surpassed $10K so I’m proud of my progress. I would also like to keep the momentum going and gain more consistency. In order to do that I have to keep my business funded. Funding will allow me to continue advertising, marketing, and networking to keep my brand relevant. Needless to say, I had to think about what can I do to raise a lot of money to sustain my wellness business as I go into 2018. The answer was of course to moonlight in my old vocation.
I initially had mixed emotions about it. I was concerned about how I would balance full-time entrepreneurship with a corporate 9 to 5. I have gotten used to a more open schedule but I reasoned with myself that it’s short term so I could push through the fear. I spend the first 2-3 hours of my day working on my business before I head out to the 9 to 5. I also work over lunch and after work to keep things going. When you are passionate about something, it’s hard to sleep without pursuing it. I do my best Monday through Friday then use the weekends to do everything else.
I was also concerned about how others would view my choice. Here I was planning a Quit Your Job Conference but working a 9 to 5 to help fund the event. The truth is all of my decisions are related to staying in business. Rather than go out of business due to pride, I had to let my fear go. I could either temporarily balance the two or deal with the consequences of not surviving and having to permanently go back into the corporate world. The lesson learned was most people judging my decision have probably not ever stepped out into entrepreneurship and would only understand once they had the experience. Living your dream is a process and very humbling, yet every step is rewarding and takes you out of your comfort zone into the unknown. The beauty of consulting is I still have the option of leaving once my goal is met without creating bad ties or burning bridges. I also have the option of working with the same company at a later date if I choose. In a full-time position sometimes your soon to be former employer take your decision to leave personal and will shun you because they are disappointed or upset. Being a consultant says my time here is limited and I don’t have to hide it. You also earn a lot more per hour as a consultant. My ultimate goal from a consulting standpoint is to hire a couple of people and eventually only serve as manager. Therefore, the connection I am making today, I can use at a later date as well. As a hyphenated hustler, you always have to think five steps ahead. I’ve made peace with my decision and I’m looking forward to 2018 being better than 2017.
Peace and Blessings
It is officially turkey day and never before have I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am pretty sure this blind faith mindset has a lot to do with my feelings of gratefulness. I have always believed myself to be a spiritual person but like most I believed my Creator could cover me until… Until can be any limitation you think is bigger than what is possible for your life. What do I mean by that? I mean that in my mind I put limits on what was possible because of the things I had seen or not seen happen in other people’s lives. For a long time, I didn’t make the connection, that the Creator operates from a different space and has a different set of plans. I also learned that just because you want something or think you deserve something does not mean it’s always for your highest good. I think you are always provided with your highest good. The seeds you have sown also play a role in your harvest. In some instances, there are some things you have to learn to be properly equipped to maintain that harvest. Once the harvest comes if you have no means of transporting or storing the rewards, then it becomes wasted effort. Since the Creator’s vantage point is better than mine, I have to trust the process more often than not.
A month ago I created a list of all the situations that at the time I didn’t know how I would resolve them. I immediately had 8-10 examples of situations which worked out better than I could have imagined. The moment I stopped worrying and start allowing, forward movement occurred. That’s not to say those things happened overnight. When I look at my pattern, my resolution timeline is up to two years. That means from start to finish, it can take up to two years for a resolution to appear. Most situations clear up in less time than that but rarely has it been over two years. Patience and gratitude come in handy in the stillness. I’ve learned to take up my ‘do nothing’ posture while the universe moves mountains on my behalf. My prayers and meditation are reaching the ears of those capable of helping me to bring forth what’s for my highest good. When I’m praying I try to end it with some variation of “whatever is of the highest good for myself and all those impacted by this request”. There are times when I am afraid that these things won’t appear. There are times when I get impatient. There are also times when I remember to just be thankful for, however, it turns out.
As I create my vision for 2018, I am also reminded to just be thankful for what already exists. I am reminded to take a moment and reflect on all the good things that have occurred thus far. I also reflect on those areas that were truly meant to teach me a lesson. I can now reflect on the times I got it wrong. I try not to see negative experiences without reflecting on the positive aspects of them. When you interpret an experience as negative only, you miss the bigger picture and will most likely repeat that experience. Repetition creates a pattern and patterns can lead to stagnation. Purposely being thankful for the season is what attracts more things to be thankful for in the coming seasons.
Peace and Blessings
A Sister’s Siesta: Mental Rest In A Safe Place is a monthly platform for connecting women of color to discuss relevant issues in our workplaces and other settings. Every month is a different theme to tackle.
I attended my first A Sister Siesta event last night which was an open discussion on our accomplishments for 2017. I honestly didn’t know what to expect but it ended up being the most empowering two and a half hours of my year. I sat at a table with Jasmin, Certified Professional Career Coach and at least fifteen women. We were tasked with taking some time to write out our accomplishments in the following categories; professional, spiritual, physical, relational and emotional. Although at the end of the year I write out my accomplishments, it never dawned on me to break them out into these categories. However, Bianca K. Hughes, Associate Professional Counselor, and facilitator pointed out most people only focus on professional accomplishments while the other areas remain in the shadows.
As I was writing I realized I had so many first in 2017 and all of my accomplishments for this year were a direct result of having the courage to quit my job and step out on faith. My family and friends have been overwhelmingly supportive and share how proud they are of me, however, this was the first time I actually sat down to take inventory of my success. I came from an era and culture where sharing your accomplishments was seen as arrogance. As a woman, I also learned to dim my light to keep other people from feeling uncomfortable. This is an old mentality that no longer fits who I am. I want others to know that finding your path and purpose won’t allow you to stay hidden from other people. I’ve gotten into a space where I want to tell anyone who will listen and my truth has nothing to do with anyone else’s life. My truth is meant to reach, inspire and motivate those that look like me and anyone who aspires to find their happy. Our ‘happy’ might not look the same but it only takes one person, message, or thought to inspire change in someone else. If my courage and journey only help one person then my work here is done. My legacy is forever etched at this time because I had the courage to follow my spiritual promptings and walk out into the unknown.
So when the facilitators asked who wanted to share their accomplishments I damn near stood up and pushed the table over. I was that excited and I wanted to be heard. In my head, this task was all about me. I’ve gone from hardly sharing anything to wanting to authentically sharing everything. That alone is an accomplishment. Below is a partial list of what I shared with this group.
- Actively practiced walking on blind faith and pushed through my fears in 2017
- Increased self care regimen and feel more rested.
- Gained insight on areas I still need to heal especially as it relates to my immediate family
- Allowed my family and friends to support me, previously I was very private and wouldn’t ask for anything. Now I chose to share my journey with them. I choose to be open to them supporting me spiritually, mentally, emotionally and financially.
- Connected more and for longer periods of time with family and friends
- Reconnected with someone from the past. I am open and available for love. I am able to verbalize what I want and need and this person has been open to meeting me where I am.
So 2017 has truly been a good year for me. Last weekend I was up writing my vision for 2018 and I got so elated about the possibilities. Everyone must attend an empowerment event like A Sister’s Siesta, it might change how you view who you are.
Peace and Blessings
I am not a Buddhist but I believe in some Buddhist principles.
I am not a Hindi but I believe in some Hindi principles.
I am not a Christian but I believe in some Christian principles.
I am not Muslim but I believe in some Muslim principles.
We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. JONATHAN SWIFT, Thoughts on Various Subjects from Miscellanies
Love is my religion. I believe in a higher power that goes by many names. My religion of love has many faces and messengers. A few years ago, I researched the differences between the major world religions and concluded that the essence of the message is the same. Each religion promotes its ideology in a context that’s understandable for their culture. After my research, there was no need to judge which one was better. I allowed myself to accept and respect all religions. My acceptance and respect are not in contradiction to my own belief system, it actually expanded my perception of who I was and how I fit in the world. My only choice was to make love my religion. Love is a universal concept that’s bigger than my individual beliefs. Love expands my heart so that I can accept who stands before me.
Now more than ever we are being asked to exam our belief system. The time has come to eliminate the ideology that keeps the world separated and stagnated. I don’t have to recap current events for this statement to resonate with others. The only solution is a shift from divisiveness to loving unity. In truth divisiveness is a distraction, it has always been a distraction from authenticity. Love does not diminish it actually lights the path to finding your place in the world.
Never be angry with your neighbor because his religious views differ from your own; for all the branches of a tree to not lean the same way. WILLIAM SCOTT DOWNEY, Proverbs
I had the experience this past weekend of being judged by the symbols I surround myself with. I had a booth at an event in North Carolina. This was my first time in the city and I received an overall positive reception. However, I was also shocked by the response to a Buddha statue head that I displayed in my space. My intention is always to display peace and enlightenment. In a world with so much noise, I want others to experience love and peace in my presence and in my sacred space. A couple of people openly voiced their hesitation in approaching me because of the Buddha statue. When I was allowed to respond, I shared what this symbol represented for me. These teachable moments are what inspire me to keep showing up as my authentic self. Perception is based on either personal experience or lack of exposure. As I continue to walk in love, I allow myself to be used as a vessel to change perceptions. I accept my mission. I am a spiritual being having a human experience and love is my religion.
Peace and Blessings
In addition to networking events, I try to attend conferences that either inspire, empower or educate me. My intention is to continue to push forward by surrounding myself with those who have much more experience and exposure as business owners. Earlier this week, I attended the 15th Annual Moving Your Business Forward conference hosted by the Atlanta Tribune. The event started with a panelist of representatives from several big named corporations including Home Depot, AT & T, Grady Hospital, GoDaddy and of course Atlanta Tribune. The panelist provided insight about how small business owners can present themselves to big corporations and the importance of preparation for the opportunity. The topics ranged from professionalism to scalability of your business model.
Afterwards, there were breakout sessions that focused on new technology, live business pitch, and branding in the current social media climate. Shawn Pfunder, Senior Communications Director for GoDaddy was the highlight of the event. Shawn also interviews small business owners for Steve Harvey’s Funderdome show on ABC.
Shawn’s been working with freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners for more than 20 years. He’s consulted companies large and small on communication, social media, and marketing strategies. At heart he’s a small-business superfan. He believes that working for yourself is one of the most courageous and creative moves anyone can make.
Three small business owners were selected to share their pitch with the audience who would vote for a winner. After each pitch, Shawn Pfunder asked a series of questions about each company to gauge their marketing strategy to create and expand their online presence. The winner Yvette Pegues owner of Your Invisible DisAbility Group captured the audience with her passion for her business. In addition to sharing her business model and strategy, she shared her real life experience about what it was like to live with a disability. Although she is paralyzed she discussed her refusal to allow her disability to take over her life. Yvette has a very active life that includes skydiving. Her words were inspirational and spoke to the courage that all business owners need to find their passion and follow their purpose.
The last segment was a presentation by Shawn Pfunder as he shared the importance of finding your identity as a person and incorporating your uniqueness into your brand. He provided multiple examples of how creating your authentic story and allowing yourself to be less than perfect is what makes your brand unique and relatable. He discussed how social media is key to your future growth potential and provided tips on how you can share your uniqueness over social media.
The more human you are, the more likely you are to standout. – Shawn Pfunder
I walked away with a lot to think about. I immediately sat down to think more about my personal and business identity and how I could marry the two. I created a list of the top ten things that identify or define who I am. Then I did the same with my business. I almost instantly saw the advantage of this exercise. I could see where I am not connecting my uniqueness with the service I provide. I instantly started thinking of ways to rectify this. This event was very eye-opening and I definitely walked away with more than I expected. If you are trying to create your brand start by making a list of the top ten things that define you and your company. I’d love to hear your feedback below.
Peace and Blessings
I recently personally thanked a friend for attending one of my classes. He curiously asked if I hadn’t expected him to come. I explained my view on expectations, basically, I had none. It is my belief that all who should be there will be there. This allows me not to focus on attendance but beyond that, it keeps me in a constant state of gratitude. It’s an authentic gratitude because I know at that moment a person has many options on how to spend their time. It is not my right to obligate anyone or to tie my success into someone else’s actions. When a student appears I see it as alignment. My choice to lead combined with their choice to attend is alignment, not a coincidence. Whenever I get to share a part of me with someone else, I am thankful.
Not everyone operates under this belief system. We often assume family and friends know we appreciate them. It takes two seconds to acknowledge someone’s effort and help free them from guilt, sorrow or feeling they’ve disappointed you because of expectations. Not everyone in your life is meant to serve in the capacity in which you want them to. They may want another role or serve a completely different purpose. Letting go of expectations and allowing others to show up how they choose reduces internal and external conflicts.
When you operate from a space of no expectations, you allow the universe to send who is supposed to be there. After class, I could call everyone to find out why they didn’t make it to class. I could get so caught up in the drama of expectations that I miss the opportunity to see the people who have a genuine interest in what I do. Expectations become a distraction and could cause me to miss out on the person who wants to explain the impact my class has had on them. I do not focus my attention on what’s not in my control instead I focus on what is presented to me in that moment. The moment someone appears I instantly become thankful. I feel gratitude for being allowed to guide them. I openly show my appreciation but I also silently send blessings as well. Whether we accept it or not we are being guided. Therefore I purposely thank people for their time and acknowledge the light that guided them into my personal universe. The people that choose to come to my mindfulness classes are making an investment in themselves. The alignment is bigger than me and I am honored to be their leader. My gratitude is sincerely to encourage them to keep following their light even if that light does not lead them back to me.
Peace and Blessings
In one of the many events I’ve attended over the last few days I met a former yoga instructor. She spent a lot of time talking about how she transitioned from yoga to specializing in pain management. She also spent a lot of time explaining to me why she was no longer a yoga instructor most of it centered around how it was somewhat beneath her now. She’s advanced her career so much that now she was a paid speaker. Listening to her rant didn’t have me convinced enough to go look for her events. Clearly we talked about what we do but she was set on tell me how their was no money in my industry because people didn’t value the service. Much like any uninterested party I began to tune out her message. It didn’t apply to me and I had no need.
The next morning her words began to echo in my head. Then it came to me that maybe the people who came to her didn’t value her as an instructor because she didn’t value her own service. It’s also possible that she started down a path to get her somewhere else. Meaning her experience was part of the journey but not the destination. Instead of having an awareness, she was projecting on to me her unsuccessful experience. Projecting ones’ experience is an unconscious coping mechanism used to deal with unhealed emotions and unresolved experiences. Rather than acknowledging our own fears, feelings and wounds we make them someone else’s problem. Or we provide them with a platform on how that person should expect to a similar outcome, uncertainty or fate.
We are the sum of our experiences. It seems to me she changed vocations but hadn’t changed her mindset. In fact her message of empowering others through awareness of the body was similar to my own. The only difference is I value what I do. I find purpose in my message. I find purpose in helping other people create a purposeful life. I find purpose in hearing other creators’ stories. We are all creating something whether we are conscious of it or not. I find purpose in being supportive and positive. When I learned to myself and my experiences, I found purpose in my thoughts, words and actions. I learned to value my gifts and experiences. Therefore the people attracted to me will have the same qualities.
When someone is projecting their experiences, fears and uncertainty pay attention. As you hear the message determine if it’s positive and uplifting or negative and unuseful. Become the observer and listen for the underline message. Notice the messengers’ body movements and facial expressions. Think about the following
- Does the person seem to be a subject matter expert?
- Is the focus on their view of their experience? Did they have a positive outcome?
- Does the person seem comfortable with their experience?
- Is the person self-absorbed? Is the person even listening to you?
- How is that message tied into the messengers experience?
- Is the person explaining what you should expect?
- Is the message about protecting you from harm or preventing you from making a mistake?
- Are you being offered unsolicited advice on how to run your life and/or business?
- Does the message seem logical or anyway tied into what you have already experienced?
- If still in doubt after you leave the person does any part of their message resonate with you?
- Did it inspire you forward or bring you to your knees in fear of the what ifs?
If you are still unsure find a quiet place and ask your inner self if this was a projection of the speakers fears and how can you learn from the experience. Then send love to and thank the messenger. That person provided a crash course in how to deal with unsolicited projections from other people.
Peace and Blessings
Location made this event worth a peak. It was hosted by a new group and it was five minutes from my house. I love how this place is decorated and I’ve been here quite a few times. The space however always seems empty. I would put this on my list of places to go to read a good book. You can sit for hours undisturbed. It was the same with this event. However, I did like the host. He was very personable and took time to make me feel welcomed. The welcomes stopped there.
The other attendees kind of had a low vibe going. There was no eye contact and not many people seemed friendly. I immediately scanned the room and b-lined to my spot. Which basically meant I found a corner and blank stared at the other attendees. I started to do my typical body scan. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. So I started to body scan other people. We have the ability to listen to and/or read the energy of other people in the room. It will seem as if your imagination is running wild and you are making up a story about a stranger. However know there is a lot of truth in what you intuition and imagination are providing to you.
I could tell the lady in front of me had some insecurities. The guy to my left seemed angry. A couple of people were chatting but it felt very inauthentic to me. I shifted my attention to the bar. A lady approached me she was upbeat but blunt about why she was there. She was looking for customers and steadfast on getting to the point. I decided to listen to her spill at least she was talking. When she got done the angry guy let us know that he thought this event sucked. It was a small group and he felt like he was wasting his time. He was beyond annoyed and said he was leaving. I turned back to the bar and they both drifted off.
Hunger kept me in place so I ordered food. Ordering food also meant I would be stuck at this event for a while longer. A couple of people arrived and a few others departed. The few people I met had the same ‘I’m just here to get customers’ vibration. I received about four cards in total and expended absolutely no effort toward getting them. I can’t remember a name or face. I turned my attention inward and toward the other people at the bar.
What I learned
- Eat before you leave home that way you aren’t tied into a waiting game.
- I observed more of what not to do. I didn’t like the “I’m just here for clients” vibe so I decided to spend more time focusing on my approach.
- It is also time for me to set some realistic goals and objectives to my networking plan. The host mentioned how he read books to learn how. I believe shifting will create better results for me.
Peace and Blessings
Next week’s Networking Challenge is quickly approaching. I wanted to set the parameters around what I consider to be a great networking event vs a mediocre one. I tend to start off as an observer. When I enter a room I am looking to see who looks most approachable. The approachable person usually has a happy disposition and is already engaged in a conversation. If the person is not engaged in conversation they at least smile or nod at your presence. If I walk into an event and everyone is cold or reserved my time will be limited at that particular event.
Beyond what I can see, I’m scanning the room for a feeling. The subtleness of what surrounds me. Everyone has had this feeling at least once, where you walk into a room and it just don’t feel right. You can’t verbalize why it doesn’t feel right but ‘something’ tells you to leave or you feel uncomfortable enough to leave. The ‘something’ is your inner voice or intuition. It’s what you can’t see but naturally guides you if you listen. The act of listening is what I call attunement.
Attunement requires you to check in with your body. That can be done by a simple body scan. A body scan is where you notice how your face feels, then you move on to your neck, shoulders, on and on, down to your feet. As you scan you might want to ask yourself a few questions. Take the shoulders for example, we tend to hold tension in our shoulders so ask yourself the following questions. Do your shoulders feel tight? Did the tightness take form once you entered the room? Is it ok for your to relax and enjoy the moment? Our bodies will give us the clues. Or you might notice that you naturally get uptight when you are around strangers so the awareness of how your body feels can make you relax. The awareness alone can also help you resolve a fear or anixety that you no longer need.
Next do an emotion check. Do you feel happy, sad, angry, etc? Does the event seem like it will be pleasurable or worth your time? Do the people in the room look angry, sad or happy? Does the audience seem engaged? There are times when the mood of the room can change your mood. If you spend a few moments doing a body scan it will help you gauge the room.
After I check the pulse of the room I am ready to network. It only takes me about ten minutes to make my assessment. I also check the pulse throughout the event. If the energy of the room shift then I can make a decision on what to do next. Many things can create a shift including arrival of more attendees, someone makes an offensive comment, people start to get bored, temperate of the room gets uncomfortable or someone you felt connected to left the event.
Below is my list of top five characteristics of any event that need to be in place in order for me to have a successful experience.
- Warm and talkative host/hostess who consciously work to make attendees to feel welcomed and included. The host will usually greet you as soon as you walk in the door or at least make their way to you within the first thirty minutes. The person will do a quick introduction and ask for you to do the same.
- More than one host/hostess. The additional hosts tend to be floaters who continuously break the ice and work the crowd pass any awkward pauses or transition between activities.
- Creative icebreakers that engage the audience. I love ice breakers that force you to have at least one intimate session with another attendee. Mastermind themed ice breakers are also very good.
- Interesting speaker with a relatable story. Everyone has a story but not everyone is a good storyteller. I like to walk away knowing that I can keep pressing forward as a result of the speakers authenticity and transparency. I want to feel inspired by the speakers journey and words.
- Connection with other attendees. I am more focused on quality so if I make one strong connection then it was time well spent. Usually there is a common theme or bond to link you with the person. You can see the person as someone you wouldn’t mind being friends with in real life. You exchange information and/or agree to contact each other outside of the event.
Networking is a great opportunity to meet new people and make future business connections. Not all experiences will be positive but the hope is that the great ones outweigh the mediocre ones. Join me next week as I detail my experiences in the land of networking for the attuned.
Peace and Blessing