You might remember I had mentioned signing up for this conference earlier in the year. About time for a recap, right? THIS was officially my FIRST out-of-town-2-day business conference, the very first time I was investing my emotions and my business dollars into genuinely growing my company. Not like the time you’re attending a conference for the big fancy corporate organization you work for, you know… the one that you wear high heels and an uncomfortable pencil skirt for. Nope, this was GENUINE. The kind of conference that you go in to knowing no agenda, having no clue what you will REALLY do, and actually coming out learning the complete opposite of what you thought you will be learning. The kind you wear jeans and a comfy shirt for, and then spill your heart out in front of complete strangers.
If you’re still with me, awesome, stay for the ride! Let me tell you this – if you’re a small business owner or plan to be one shortly, please put this conference on your business bucket list. I put it on mine a long time ago and (sort of) patiently waited till I felt ready. And boy, was it worth it.
I came across information about this conference more than a year ago on Pinterest. Via the pretty gold background image (seen here below) that caught my attention. And I’ll be honest here, my first reaction was “Wow! I wish I could invest that kind of money into personal and business growth right now”. And that was it, it slipped out of my mind soon after. But Ms Lara Casey (the creator and heart of MTH!) kept coming back to me in some way or the other. It might sound cheesy but really that’s what happened. I started following her blog shortly after, and was surprised to find an online entity that seemed to be reading my mind! It was kind of scary and refreshing and invigorating all at the same time!
Image via makingthingshappen.com
Initially I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the plethora of amazingly generous content that she shares on her blog. For free. Because she genuinely believes in helping other small business owners conquer their fears and march ahead. At first I was skeptical. She wants me to read her blog post, do a bunch of soul-searching, write down difficult answers and come back to report on her blog? How can this possibly work? As unsure as I was, her words really resonated in my heart and I decided to give it a shot. And oh my goodness. Through early to mid 2013 I continued to follow her online exercises and encouragement, and it made a HUGE difference to my way of thinking and working. I decided MTH was calling my name, and I found myself in Chapel Hill, NC in October of this year.
Now here’s the funny part. I expected to FEEL a lot more during the conference, considering the many changes that had happened in my heart just from being a blog/IG/facebook follower (almost stalker!). After what I had read and heard from other MTH alum, it was supposed to change my life. But surprisingly, I felt no major epiphanies or lightbulb moments as I sat with what seemed like 100 other women (and 3 gentlemen!). I was actually a little overwhelmed and disappointed! NOT in the conference or the speakers (they were so wonderfully amazing and honest!) but in myself. I had spent all this time and been so excited about this investment in myself and my business only to feel… nothing?!
Fast forward to 2 months post-conference, and NOW I can honestly say a lot has changed. I had to get down and get dirty and DO the hard work. That’s when the life-changing part happened! Small business owners can never truly separate themselves from their passion. This is why our lives have to fuel our businesses and vice versa. My business had to fit into the gaps of my family time, my personal time and life in general. And as easy as all of this sounds, it took a lot of soul-searching and digging deep to figure out my core and how I can use it to fuel my life and my business. And where I want to be in 10 years and 20 years and hopefully 30 years down the road. And what really matters to me. And how I can make what really matters to me physically HAPPEN in my daily life. Because I don’t want life to pass me by, or my kids to grow up while I obsess over the perfect shade of fuchsia. You see now how trivial that shade of pink seems in the big picture?
I truly learnt how to shrink all my seemingly endless worries into the big picture of LIFE. I understood the value of being present NOW. Making things happen starts with first making LIFE happen. With the things that fire YOU up. When you live life inside out, you make your core happen. When you make your core happen, you do the right things to grow your business. Which means you naturally attract the right kind of clients, the ones that reflect your core and connect with you immediately. When you connect with the right clients, you are able to do your best work. Sounds so good, right? I’m thrilled to put it all into action!
Lara, Emily, Gina, Rhi, Amber and Nancy – Thank you so much for sharing your hearts so openly. These are the things of life that you don’t read on pretty blogs, your in-the-moment honesty is much appreciated!
Most important thing I took away from the conference? There are REAL, LIVE, EMOTIONAL people behind those pretty blogs and beautiful websites and small businesses that you see everyday on social media or Etsy or similar. All of us have our own unique stories to tell, our own fears to kill, our vulnerability to protect and our creativity to grow and share. Everyone started somewhere and had to travel a long way to get to where they are. So if you’re just starting out, don’t compare. You belong right where you are, at every stage.