In case we have never met, and you are wondering who this woman is teaching about starting your own business, well let me introduce myself! I want to tell you a bit about my journey to where I am today.
In 2016, I saw my face on a billboard.
Yes really. My dad, my mom, and me and my daughter in 2016 when I got to see with my very own eyes myself on a billboard. Yes, I had to see it to believe it. But I am no overnight success. There’s been a lot to get to where I am today.
Let’s start at the beginning.
If you are feeling stuck, I have been in your shoes. I remember what it was like when I was stuck in a job I hated (financial management). I wasn’t happy and fulfilled in my career and it was keeping me up at night. I was so stuck and I would apply to jobs over and over again online with no luck. Monster.com was my best friend at that time, even though I absolutely hated online job searching. I just didn’t fit in my job.
The problem was I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.
For Years, I Was Stuck in a Job I Hated
I would literally come home crying to my husband, and some weekends I just couldn’t relax. All I could think about was work and how much I dreaded Monday. I didn’t want to face what was on my plate on Monday morning.
The only thing keeping me afloat was I had picked up a side project, which helped me realize what I was passionate about. I was able to teach a “How To Navigate Your Career Class” as an Adjunct Instructor at my company that I LOVED.
It was in my own time, and I didn’t get paid for it. I had to put a lot of extra hours in, but it didn’t matter. It was work that fit me. I realized I wasn’t in a full-time role that fit my interests, strengths, personality, and motivations.
This photo is one of my very first events in 2011! I got a CCG banner and I was so excited to have my very first booth at Girls World Expo.
This is a photo of a thank you note, the first one I received from Amanda Tarlton, a college student years ago at Wake Forest University who invited me to my first speaking event in 2011.
It was such a lightbulb because I finally was learning more about myself. I realized then that I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny and have my dream business. But I had no idea how to make that happen.
I Started By Going Back To School
While I was trying to figure it all out, I decided to get my MBA. I thought by getting my MBA I would finally figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I also thought it would open up a lot more job opportunities and the prospects of working for a different company really intrigued me.
What I didn’t realize is how exhausted and burnt out I would be by working a full-time job and also going to school at night. And this was no easy school. I went to the University of California San Diego, and there were plenty of times that I felt like the dumbest person in the room.
My classmates were incredibly smart and worked for incredible companies. It was an honor to go to school with so many of these intelligent people. But, that meant that I had my work cut out for me. With group projects almost every week and team meetings all while working a day job, I was barely treading water.
This was before kids for me. Some of my classmates had kids, and I have no idea how they did it. It was all I could do to give my husband a kiss in the morning and good night. Many times I would get home around 10:30 pm and he’d already be in bed. After never seeing me for a few months, he decided that he should get his MBA too. I think he was bored being home alone and saw how much fun I was having with my classmates, so he went to a different school.
And then we really didn’t see each other for a few years.
We Were Laying A Foundation for Classy Career Girl
The foundation was being laid for us to go into business together, and we had no idea. I saw him work on group projects and saw where he excelled. He was really good at things that I wasn’t. For example, I hated the operations class and I was the dumbest person in my group.
We submitted answers and I had no idea how my teammates got the answers. I just nodded my head and said yes. I would put in the work; I would study. I even went to a team meeting after I ran a marathon because I didn’t want to be seen as a flake. But I was of no help at all because I didn’t get how it all worked.
And then I watched as John got an A+ in his operations class. He loved it, and his team won his competition. Intriguing. My husband is pretty smart. But I watched him be used by his job. He was so smart and talented and his boss and the people he worked with didn’t challenge him or even promote him. It sucked. He hated his job. He kind of hated life. For a while there I pretty much hated life, too.
We were not a very happy couple at all. And we were busy. You didn’t see us if you were our family or friends for a couple of years.
Then we graduated. All of a sudden we had free time. We had time that we used to devote to school and now it was free. But we couldn’t just do nothing with that free time. We were so used to being productive and getting ahead and learning that going into business together all of a sudden sounded like it could be a reality someday.
We had no idea how, but we knew we made a great team. We knew that we had our ups and downs in marriage, seeing a counselor, etc. but we made it through a lot of hard times. What couldn’t we do together!?
I often get asked how my degrees helped my career and starting a business. I learned a ton and gained so much confidence. The best class in my undergrad was organizational communication, where I learned how to create a resume, create a portfolio and do an informational interview. I was in love with that class and it was life-changing.
It was so practical and really helped me get setup for success. I know not everyone has a class that helps them with these things but I did because I was a business major. I had two favorite classes in my MBA program, Public speaking and marketing communications. Public speaking I dreaded. I hated it and it was definitely not a class that I enjoyed while I was taking it. But because we had to give a speech every week, I got over my fear of public speaking which has helped me a ton in my career as an entrepreneur.
My second favorite class was marketing communications. Now, most of what I learned back in 2010 is very outdated now because of how much social media and the internet has changed. BUT here’s why I loved that class. I had to write a paper every week, and this was another example of something that sucked at the time. You might think it was easy because I am a blogger and author, but let me tell you something. I used to hate writing.
My college roommate would tease me when I had to write in college because I would write a few words and then hit the delete key OVER AND OVER. Writing was a struggle for me. I was definitely not a natural born writer….until I was forced to write three pages every week.
At first, it sucked. It took me far too long to write three pages. Like days. After the first two weeks, I was like I can’t take days to write this paper any longer. I have two hours this weekend, and then I want to have some fun by the pool for the rest of the day since it was a Saturday.
So, I challenged myself to write the three pages in two hours. I did it. I cranked it out. I just wrote down whatever I was thinking. It didn’t have to be perfect. And that one paper, who knows what it was about, changed my path. I started to think of myself more of a writer and starting a blog didn’t seem crazy to me, because writing started to come more naturally. And clearly, I had a lot of thoughts in my head that needed to come out. As an introvert, I think a lot but I don’t necessarily say a lot. I found that with writing I could start to communicate what I was thinking but maybe never said.
Another plus about that marketing communications class was at the end of the class, we had a group project and we had to do market research to help a real company grow their sales of baby clothes. This was real life and it totally intrigued me. My job on the team was to research blogs to see how we could use blogs to get the word out and grow sales for this company. I started writing other blogs for this research project.
No one wrote me back with any help but my eyes were opened. Real people in 2011 were making a living writing their blogs. Real people made blogging their full-time job. Real people got to collaborate with brands and sponsors and be their own bosses doing what they loved every single day. Oh my goodness. I could do that too!
So after the group project was done, we had a 1-week break off of school. I just had my full-time job to go to so at night I got bored with no class to go to and decided to start a blog. And that’s where it all began!
There Are No Overnight Successes
When people want to figure out what they should do with their careers, and they want their lightbulb to happen immediately, I love sharing how long it took me. Nothing happens overnight and the only way I could have made that first step and into a career and business I love is by taking action and trying new things.
By learning and making changes and being very, very uncomfortable. That speech class was not comfortable. Emailing bloggers was not comfortable. Going to networking events with my classmates who were geniuses was not comfortable. Applying to jobs and putting myself into the MBA shark tank where ten alumni reviewed, analyzed, and critiqued my resume and elevator pitch was one of the worst experiences ever. I almost threw up.
But it got me ready for my next step, which was speaking at Universities around the country and even my first international speaking engagement in Brazil. All of the little steps I had to take to get to where I wanted to go. I hated public speaking and that required speech class, thank God I took it so I was ready when a reader of my blog came and asked me to speak at Wake Forest University.
I had a work trip coming up and I just tagged a few vacation days on the back and stayed with family. I was so incredibly nervous and almost threw up. But I did it. And it helped the students. They were thankful. I even got a thank you note. While still working my full-time job and going to school at night, I was now doing speaking events. I look back, and it’s a little crazy at how hard I was hustling and how I was not saying no to anything. I just took all the opportunities that came my way.
Another Year Went By, I Was Still In The Same Position
I got comfortable. Nice salary. Promotions.
But something was just off. Letting life pass me by. I was dealing with a lot of frustrations you might be dealing with right now, lots of ideas but no solid plan, bored and stuck, don’t want to regret not being all that I was capable of being. I knew I had more to offer the world but I had a lot of fear and self-doubt.
It’s so sad to think of that time in my life because I just let go.
But I knew I had a message. I knew I had a purpose. My thoughts can be found in the quotes I was posting on Instagram around that time. This photo I posted on Instagram in 2012 with only three likes. I was inspired by this quote I posted that said, “Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.”
I knew I had more potential than my day job. Another quote I posted on Instagram was “I guess the only way to make 2013 ‘your year’ is to get off your butt and do the things you didn’t do in 2012.” It’s a big reason we share daily quotes on our Classy Career Girl Instagram page because I know how much one quote can change your life when your life is in chaos like it did for me.
But there was this whole other side door opening that I wasn’t aware of. There was this door of happiness by working on my blog. The door to work I loved and complete personal fulfillment. But, I didn’t know what was through that door. There was a step or a major leap that I needed to take. But, I almost didn’t take that step until my life took a turn and I learned what was truly important in my life.
Through 2011 and 2012 when I was working and struggling to turn my blog into a business, I suffered the loss of two babies in early miscarriages. Our precious little ones devastatingly forced us each time to hope more, grow more, trust more and love more, I remember each of them by the impact they had on my life. Each of them causing a drastic change. They each were activators that reversed the direction we were headed. They live on now in everything John and I do, how we live our lives and in every decision we make.
I finally learned not to care what people thought, and I suddenly had this mad determination and fierceness to change my life and the world so there was some reason and purpose for my pregnancy losses. Trust me everyone thought we were crazy when we both quit our jobs to work on our business full-time, but we didn’t care!!
The only reason I can talk about this dark time in my life now is I have I have a beautiful, miracle daughter, Mila. My miracle happened when I wasn’t expecting it, and all happened as I was pursuing my purpose and path and let go of what was holding back in my life and making me stressed and unhappy.
And let me tell you she was worth the wait.
Ever since that moment I have had this fire in me. I have had a purpose. And I beg you not to let as much time go by stuck in a job that isn’t the right fit for you as I did. Please, if you are feeling discontent in your current role, it is time. You don’t need to hit rock bottom and have a major life tragedy like mine to give yourself a jolt to make a change. I am here to tell you that I know you can feel it if I am talking to you; your time is now. That is why you are here today.
Lots of people want to know and ask me over and over about my journey to start a business. How the heck did I get started?
The truth is, I had no idea I was starting a business when I started. I was just starting a hobby blog to write down some stuff I was learning at my job.
Then, my world started to open up. I started to learn about email lists and see other people making a living online.
Found my calling:
- Sharing what I was learning: I started with a blog. I started writing about what I was learning at my day job.
- Trying new things: I started taking new opportunities at my day job. I volunteered to be on the training team. I volunteered to become an Adjunct Professor and teach a course.
- Commitment: I started to see that I could make this my living. And I committed.
My blog tagline originally was a Consultant by day, MBA Student by Night. Journey with me in my final year of business school. I stole a picture off the internet and put it on my header. I didn’t know you couldn’t do that. I started on blogger. I didn’t even own classycareergirl.com, and it took me a few months to purchase it.
But I started somewhere, and my mom read it. Haha.
Then, we graduated a few months later to another re-brand. I wanted it to be more professional, and I decided to move over to WordPress and invest in my blog. So I hired a designer and we made a new look to match my professional corporate look. Then, I had the legs and I was a girl on a search for success, happiness, and balance.
No pinks. Can you believe it? I was in a male-dominated environment and at the time I thought classy was strictly manly. I dressed in suits and very professional at all times. It was my brand at the time. But things can change, and nothing needs to be perfect when you start. You just have to get started!!
How I Started a Business
- I produced blog content consistently. I answered questions. There wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t have a post up. I wrote about what I was excited to write about. It could be getting out of debt or the Insanity workout challenge or how I felt about my miscarriages. Often it was tips and articles about my day job. How to handle work trips. How to nail interviews. Mistakes you are making on your resume. I would do this on the top of my day job and some times if I was lucky I could get out a few posts per week.
- I engaged with others on social media. I used whatever social media platform was popular at the time. It’s always changing. When I started in 2011, Twitter was popular. Eventually, I also added Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. I think my ability to learn new things and dive in and just use it to get to know it really helped. I will figure it out. Don’t count on someone else to do it for you. I’ve had interns who do my social media but engagement is always best when I do it myself. I know my brand and my vision for CCG better than anyone.
- Eventually, I created my first online course. There were four people who joined that first course called The Get Unstuck Bootcamp. From there two people upgraded to individual coaching with me. I’ll never forget sending the email and going to my day job. I got the first sale while I was in my cubicle. I wanted to jump up and down when that Paypal order came through
- I started an email list. I’ll never forget the feeling of that first person subscribing for my 30 Day Networking Challenge Guide. It was a topic I had written about and lots of people enjoyed it so I started on MailChimp and just started growing my email list.
I knew I wanted to teach and I wanted to quit my job.
So I came out with a plan to launch the Get Unstuck course with some pretty ugly colors. I am glad my branding and creativity have changed, so we don’t have promotions like this anymore, but who cares what it looks like. The fact was I was taking action, moving forward with baby steps, getting over my fears, finding the time and putting my work out into the world!! Following my dreams with Classy Career Girl’s Get Unstuck Course!
So Classy Career Girl (with her legs), was on a mission to help women become successful, happy, and balanced, and I sent out this little email to about 100 people.
Here’s the thing, I did this in the morning before I went to my day job. I would wake up one hour before I had to go to work every day and work on my dream business. So it probably was sent out at about 6 am in the morning and then I rushed off to work at a job I was stuck in.
Yes, I was teaching about getting unstuck while feeling stuck myself! I was sharing what I was learning!
So the sign-up link to the course was buried in the email. I think I was hoping no one would buy because I hadn’t created the course yet. It was in like the fourth paragraph. Hidden.
I am sitting at my cubicle. Bored. Checking my email and seeing what’s happening in the blog world. Kind of forgot I even sent the email that morning.
And then I see this. Notification of payment received from Paypal. Oh my goodness, I was ready to jump up and down. The first sale I swear is the hardest but after that, I was on fire because I knew I was going to make it happen. I was useless at work for the rest of the day but who cares. I had to make this course! This woman halfway across the world bought something I hadn’t even created yet!
So let me tell you, I got in action and started putting it together. By the end of that first little launch, there were a total of 4 people in my first Get Unstuck course. I was charging $97 a piece.
That’s where I started.
Of course, I wasn’t going to make a living on just that, so here’s the key. I didn’t stop. I kept improving the course and tweaking it with what we learned from surveys and doing more individual coaching with my clients. Then, turn it into a 90-day group coaching program.
And today what that little course has turned into Love Your Career formula membership site and community. In 2015, we completely revamped the course so it is now Love Your Career Formula 2.0 which I am so incredibly proud of. It is a membership site with hundreds of members around the world and I get to help women determine what their ideal career fit is and help them land their dream job step-by-step.
Here’s the thing. It’s not easy. You know that. That’s why you are here. There’s no easy button. But, it is easier when you have a mentor and guide telling you what to do, and that is when my business changed almost overnight.
When I started getting coached, and invested in myself and my business and learning from someone who knew how to do things quicker, easier and better than me, my business quickly transformed into a self-supporting business that now supports my entire family and a team.
Today I can’t get enough about learning about business, marketing, social media, business coaching, time management, personal growth, and development. Even though I have an MBA, I am continually reading something new and teaching myself how to grow businesses and help others. I built my business from the ground up but realized I still wanted to help educate and train, so now what I do is help other women do exactly what I did. Ditch their day jobs and transition into their dream businesses. And now’s a good time to do it.
I am at the point of self-growth and development where I know what I love doing. I know my strengths and I put all my attention into doing what I want to do, what inspires me and that’s it.
Our mission is to help 1 million women each year find career fulfillment. I hope you see this is me being totally transparent with you.
Make sure you register for our Freedom Workshop www.corporaterescueplan.com/freedom
- Should You Start a Business - May 25, 2020
- How To Do a Founding Member Launch - May 18, 2020
- Productivity Challenge Day 3: Vision and Making of the Create Your Future Planner - May 11, 2020