FOR THE LOVE OF TEAM
Being in business for over 16 years, like being a parent, has a lot of memories. Ups and downs, ebbs and flows, successes and failures. Opening a business in my thirties as a relatively new mother of a two year old, trying to understand the skill set necessary to operate a successful operation has lots of moving parts. Besides the obvious of providing great client care, there is the important development of a great team and the actual economics of understanding the financial and important implications of managing cash flow so you actually have a business to run. I have learned much. I have learned from mistakes along the way and this is the best part of owning a company- the daily schooling of a living breathing operation.
For sixteen years, team development has been one of the highlights of owning my own place. I have learned what I don’t love about owning over the years, minutia, maintenance, such as having to buy light bulbs, scheduling maintenance services, the seeming trivial but important in the background one of many elements I never really thought about when I fantasized about owning my own company. Developing and coaching and mentoring women though has been the best part of my female entrepreneurship.
I had the pleasure of working for Aveda when it first got off the ground, way before Estee Lauder bought it and dumbed it down. When the founder of Aveda actually privately owned the company, the one and only late Horst Rechelbacher, I was exposed to guest speakers like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Candace Pert, Pamela Peeke. I was able to learn about Demming management, organic farming, and environmental issues well before the environment became the hot topic it is today. The list is endless and this exposure formed my entire view on how to think about what my intention would be when I finally opened my own. What I did know hands down was that without a strong and dedicated team, there is no business and lots of businesses give this a lot of lip service, but their action does not match the reality. After surviving a divorce, a flood and a two time we caught it early breast cancer diagnosis, I feel unstoppable as I reflect back and march forth.
I love planning my annual team meetings. I try not to over meeting the team, but a well planned organized and energizing team gathering is one of my top three favorite parts of business owning. I plan for weeks, writing the handouts, figuring out the swag bags, inviting guest speakers and of course no meeting would be complete without a full day of homemade food. Fuck the healthy, though I do weave that into the day, mostly it is comfort food, macaroni and cheese, Dolly Parton potato casserole, (seriously this will change your life) and challah bread white chocolate bread pudding. Israeli clementines, salad with homemade dressing and roasted vegetables to top it off. Grazing all day, learning, laughing and connecting with each other in a way that is impossible in a day to day environment as we share and learn together.
Yesterday was our first meeting and if I do say so myself as much as it was jam packed and over scheduled, it was my favorite meeting. I let them know that I took personal responsibility as their fearless leader to “make them smarter.” The theme this year was FITNESS. Not just physical fitness, but the importance of financial, home, food, relationship, life and work too. These were the topics throughout the day and the guest speakers to support this did a stellar job. I invited Chris Anasoulis from Lisa and Sousa speak about wills, trusts, health care proxies, power of attorney and the awkward subject of death because let’s face it, no one gets out alive. Besides me, only one of my fifteen team members had a will. No one really knew the importance of having the conversation with either their partners or their parents and they were enlightened. I gave them each a fifty dollar credit towards the fee too. A great swag gift if you ask me.
Our next guest was Cortney Serbst Lancaster, a female SUPER chick from the Bristol Fire Department who came and spoke about fire safety, how to use a fire extinguisher, where to put them in your house, how to talk to your kids about fire safety, what about your pets and a fire and so much more. I gave each of my team member, as one of their swag gifts, a fire extinguisher. In the middle of all of these speakers, I taught them the importance of positive self talk, affirmations, breathing exercises to help ground and center them. They shared their ideas and their challenges, offering up vulnerabilities because they felt safe to do so.
We ended with Adriana Ferns, a local and wonderful personal trainer who spoke about healthy eating, nutrition and daily planning for health. She said something that really stuck with me and I hope with the team as so many say that eating healthy is expensive or takes too much time. She used the analogy of buying your first expensive car and washing it, keeping it maintained with considerable care and putting in high test gas and the irony of caring more about a piece of machinery then the actual one you are born with. This stuck with me. I have watched my young team parade in with 16 oz iced coffees, expensive and sugar laden lattes and fruit filled low fat yogurt over the years not only affecting their mental and physical health but their financial health as well. I taught them how to pack snacks ahead of time for their week in their workplace. I challenged them to test their fitness prowess by attempting to hold a plank for a full minute, or do as many full body pushups to see how much opportunity there is for improvement.
All of this yesterday added up to a chock full day of smarter chicks and most important to me, independent ones. So often my team of wonder women rely on their partners who in our case are all men to fulfill the traditional (and outdated) nod to men to make these grown up decisions likes wills and fire safety and IRA contributions. My hope yesterday was to increase their self confidence that they are the caretakers ultimately of their destinies. They have a choice, they have the knowledge and the brilliance to decide and take action when these basic life skills perhaps have been put off into the we’ll get to this later as so often we hear.
My mission yesterday was to spark their minds to take action and learn new knowledge that propels them as women and mothers and colleagues so they ebb and flow in my workplace as the superchicks they are and will become. They may feel lucky to work for my company, but I am the lucky one because I get to wake up every single day and call my workplace my own with a team of women who I am so proud to call my employees. I know I make a difference and this is the most satisfying part of my personal existence. To serve. To inspire and to be charitable. #luckiestsuperchickever