Lessons From a Very Stormy Year
As we close out 2017, I cannot help but reflect on the year a bit. When it was starting, I had so many hopes, dreams and visions of how the year would go. We were turning the corner of getting our first major global client live at Billaway. We had worked so hard over the last few months to accomplish building a platform that could handle multiple languages, multiple regions and so much more. My personal investing was kicking in and I had a couple of aspiring CEO’s that I was feeling good about. Personally, I was settling into a good routine now that I moved back to New York City and was beginning to believe that life was about to get a little less crazy. But 2017 turned into one of the craziest years of my life. I learned a great deal and am happy for the lessons the year taught me.
The 10 things I think I know based on what 2017 taught me:
1. You really don’t know people until you witness them go through hardship. I learned a lot about people in both my personal and professional life as the year went by. I learned that the person you meet first in someone is not necessarily the person who is actually on the inside. People have layers and they will peel off as you push them to be better to themselves or to you. When you force people to treat themselves, their work or you better, they will show you who they really are.
2. People in large companies rarely get fired for saying “no”. I always knew this. What I learned is that “not yet” is the same thing. Hearing “not yet” is a “no” to me now. “Not yet” is a subtle way of learning what you do, seeing if they can replicate it at worst, or keeping you on the shelf at best.
3. I used to think company culture mattered a lot more than it does. However, I have come to realize that people are sometimes hidden in their embracing of good culture, but lacking in performance. Just because someone is doing a good job and fits the culture, it does not mean they are good for the growth of a company. Culture fit has to be accompanied by grit and a desire to grow.
4. Time is not kind. Twelve months have gone by in 2017. What have you accomplished?. Too many of us assume tomorrow will give us more time. Sometimes, when you think “I would rather not talk about /do that / be that today”, you never get another opportunity. You cannot sit and stare one morning and simply say “let’s not talk about that today,” because that moment is all you can guarantee.
5. When you least expect it, amazing things happen in life. Several times last year, life was incredibly challenging. When it looked to be the most challenging, something happened that made things so much better. Not only did the right people enter my life, but the people who did not belong close to me, left it. The right people opened up new doors I did not see. Great people can also be the wrong people for you. Keep your eyes open for the right people to help your life improve, your business to identify better opportunities or to open you up to ideas you never considered. I learned not to assume that what is here now is always best or right.
6. Be consistent. Consistent in focus, consistent in action and consistent in words. People respond to consistency and when you focus on it, you can see massive inconsistencies in others. Stay focused on what you know you want and need to be consistent with.
7. Nothing is forever. You have the ability to recreate your life, your business or your product at any given time if you understand what is real – not what you think is real.
8. Follow your gut. When you slow down and listen to what you really think and feel, decisions come fast and easy. Get quiet in your head and you will see what and who really matters.
9. Be upfront and present. As an entrepreneur, I have often thought that saying “no” or telling the brutal truth will hurt someone too much and slow rolling the honesty is better. When dealing with people in a personal or professional role, I am continually reminded to be brutally honest with them. I learned that lesson for the last time this year. I will never slow roll honesty again. Brutal openness is all I am now.
10. The best lesson I learned last year was to not let anything or anyone sway me from being the person I am. Knowing who you are as a person is so important, and stress, success, people and circumstances have a tendency to pull you away at times from being the real “you”. I ended the year much different than I started it. I am “me” and ready for what 2018 has in store for me and the people, businesses and charities I support.
All in all, 2017 was both the most challenging and most rewarding year I have had in a very long time. Today is all that is guaranteed and it’s up to me to make it better than yesterday. As I embark on 2018, I am looking forward to learning new things each day, celebrating each day and growing each day. As an entrepreneur and person, if you are not looking within yourself to improve each day, you are missing out on opportunities that will never happen again. I often say that if you are not growing in life, in relationships or in business, then you are dying. Growth does not happen naturally in the real world. Persistence in fostering that growth is what makes me excited!
Here’s to a new year! Thank you to those who made 2017 incredible. You know who you are and you know what you mean to me. You will be a big part of 2018 and I could not be happier about taking the lessons of last year into the excitement of this year along with you!