I am a classic case study in faking it until you make it.
At 26, I launched the biggest women’s digital magazine in Chicago, CheekyChicago.com. I partnered with countless brands to reach hundreds of thousands of women, and grew to half a million in revenue. With no business experience.
If running my own business garnered me my “real life MBA,” then I got all my prerequisites on Google.
I can’t tell you how many times a prospective client or partner would ask if I could make “X” happen, and having no idea what “X” even meant, I would declare: “Of course we can make X happen!” And then I would search it, learn it, execute it, and repeat.
This kind of “everything is figure-outable” attitude was no doubt one of the strongest keys to my success, and for a long time, on paper, I looked like a star entrepreneur. (At least that’s what my ego thought).
Two and a half years ago, I walked away from it all.
After running a business from the ground up for seven years, my entire identity was wrapped up in this thing I created, and in full transparency, I was terrified to separate myself from it. It took some severe circumstances and a major health issue for me to realize that I was totally out of alignment with who I was becoming, and where I was ultimately going. Cheeky wasn’t me, and I wasn’t it. It was something I created; it was separate from me, and that was okay.
This was terrifying to accept, let alone say out loud.
This breakdown led to a breakthrough, and I found myself (literally) sitting in the most cliche of circumstances. It was a perfectly sunny day in May 2013, and I was perched upon a grassy knoll in a Chicago park, trying to meditate while holding back tears of overwhelm. Sitting cross-legged, palms up… I looked down at the tiny tattoo on my wrist. The tattoo that read “simply be.” and had been there for years. I didn’t know what my next steps were going to be, or what my next business would technically do, but I knew in that very moment that that’s what I was going to call it.
In December 2014, I launched my solo venture and digital agency, SimplyBe.
A lot of people still associate me with that magazine and consider it my biggest accomplishment. But as I sit here today, I would say my biggest accomplishment has been following my heart, starting from scratch, and reinventing myself…and in turn, helping others do the same for themselves.
After consulting with countless brands, taking a stab at Corporate America, traveling to 20 countries in less two years, I relaunched SimplyBe at the beginning of 2017 to focus strictly on personal branding services. In less than six months, we have reached over a quarter of a million in revenue, hired a rock star team, secured dream clients, and officially got acquired by a parent agency and one of Chicago’s most esteemed creative think tanks, Idea Booth.
So what’s the moral of the glory?
That YOU are enough.
That you really can have fun, make money, live your passion, and create powerful impact in the lives of others by simply being YOU, not someone else’s idea of you.
This is how you become rich. Rich in life, rich in love, rich in fulfillment, rich in inspiration, rich in friends, rich in creativity, and yes, rich in money.
You don’t need a perfect resume, a perfect body, or even a perfect amount of experience.
You just need focus.
Ask yourself: what is it that you have to offer the world that no one else does? Come from a place of authentic service. Know that the world doesn’t need another gadget, widget, business, or logo.
What we DO need is more humanity, more connection, more vulnerability, and more people showing up as their fully expressed, authentic selves. Know that your authenticity is your hottest commodity, not your Google Analytics or how many followers you have on Instagram.
When you focus on your value, and what you specifically have to offer the world, the sky’s the limit. So, how are YOU measuring your success?
Fun: If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.
Building a brand, platform, business, or even a feeling should bring you joy, not misery. Find the fun in your day-to-day tasks, because feeling good helps motivate and inspire. Is what you’re offering the world fun? Is how you’re making them feel based on fun or fear?
Revenue: It’s easy to let someone else handle the numbers, or to cringe every time you look at your bank account.
Instead of being afraid of money or how you’re going to monetize your business, figure out exactly what you want to make every single month, and work backwards from there. The money already exists, but your revenue stream doesn’t. So what premium content can you develop and offer authentically? What services can you provide that will bring in extra revenue streams you haven’t even considered? Creating revenue doesn’t have to go by the book: Get creative and capitalize on your unique talents and interests to create more, not less.
Impact: What kind of impact are you making?
If you could sum up your business or brand in one word, what would it be? Think of the type of difference you want to make in the world — whether that’s on a single person or an entire nation. How are you going to get there? Is what you’re doing currently working? Look at other businesses whose impact mirrors your own wants and needs. Think about personalized ways to bring more impact into your life and business.
Remember: You’re not supposed to be anything or anyone else. You’ll hit your goals by simply being you.
What could be easier than that?
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde