I entitled this “a new journey” but I really don’t know that it’s all that new. I think I’ve really been on this journey since 1996, but back then there was not GPS, so I’ve obviously taken a lot of detours. Here we are 26 years later, and the paths are looking more clear and my GPS I’m learning is not just an app on my phone or in my car via a touch screen, but it’s also the goals I set, the plans I write down and the support team of friends, family, colleagues that I have around me.
Here’s a little of my story, which I think also needs to be written down. It’s been said, everyone has a story… well here’s only a quick-take of mine and there will be more to come.
I said the journey started likely in 1996, but I’ll back track just a little further to high school. I graduated in 1991 and my senior year was by far, THE most fun year of academics as I only had two classes required for graduation and due to making the cheer leading squad for the first time ever, I had to stay in school the full day and therefore I filled the rest of my schedule with electives. I discovered I loved to write, so I continued with my 4th year of Journalism and writing for the school newspaper. I also loved to sing and continued with Chorus. I had also taken Drama as I was determined to overcome my fear of speaking in front of people. I achieved this as my highlight of my senior year was earning the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music musical we performed that year.
My senior year also gave me the opportunity to take a self-study course in Desktop Publishing with Adobe PageMaker. This is a key moment in my life. I had been introduced to it during a class my prior year and decided that it was kind of fun and interesting. Remember, this is the early 90s when desktop publishing is just really getting started. I used that class to typeset and layout columns in our newspaper and to study some graphic design as well. After graduating, I didn’t want to go directly into college as I was geared to start earning my own money and become independent, so I took a retail job at Hills Department store (a retailer before the huge Walmart came into town). I found myself to be ambitious, and wanting more. I eventually went from early morning stocker to department head of the infant and girls department. I didn’t maintain that position long, however, because I had wanted to put the skills I learned in my senior year to use and soon I found myself leaving that position to take employment at a place called Computer Wizards as a typesetter. I learned more there and was introduced to the printing side of publishing as well.
The Journey Begins
In 1993, I took those typesetting and publishing skills to work at an Episcopal Church taking a care of all of all their publications and then also helping out the Diocese as well with their Consecration Service Booklet for a new Bishop.
‘Drop a pin’ in 1996. I decided I wanted “more” out of life… a place to grow and excel. I left the Episcopal Church for an architectural/engineering firm, but offered to continue to help the church by helping with their printed publications. My first business was born. I took out a ~$7000 loan to purchase equipment: my first home computer, laser printer and scanner. I did those things and some other side publishing jobs here or there until the church finally had someone to fulfill those needs.
I did enjoy my work at the A/E firm. The very first week, I was introduced to the computer animation department, and was completely determined THAT was what I wanted to do! So over the course of the next year, I expressed my interest and made known that I had experience with Apple computers (which was what the animation department used). When one of the men decided to leave the company, I was ready to slide in as his replacement. This happened around 1998…
‘Drop a pin’ in 1998 as well. Before the move into the computer animation department happened, I took a devastated blow in my journey. My first husband whom I had married in 1994, decided to leave our marriage. I won’t go into tons of detail about this portion of the journey, but I will say that I would never wish divorce on anyone. It was truly one of the biggest valleys of my life. However, it was also a very pivotable point in my life. See in 1996, I had started my first business. My thought was that I had wanted to grow that into something that would sustain me and allow me to work my own flexible hours and have more freedom being self employed. My first husband said I would never be able to do it. At the time, I took that as “truth” and didn’t pursue it further. You see, I didn’t have the confidence because someone told me I couldn’t do it!
I went to a counselor after the divorce, not because I thought I needed it or that I was having any other issue, it was simply a way in which to talk to someone who was non-biased. Through this therapy, however, I learned things. I learned new things about myself, and things I should be aware of if and when I began to date again. It proved very helpful. I realized, also, how much I had been stifled and how much of my self-confidence had been chipped away.
Transferring into the animation department at the A/E firm in 1998, I had A LOT of technology to learn. The .com website building was now in full swing, and our company hired someone to build out our company website. I began learning that as well. It was invigorating learning new stuff (and often still is). Over the course of the next 10 years, I would learn more. I would meet and marry my second husband and I would give birth to both of my children.
I truly had a great work place and a great boss and a great team. It was like a second family and a job in which I didn’t mind going to work for every day. I truly thought that one day, I would retire from there. But life, wouldn’t have it that way.
10 Years later, another detour
‘Drop a pin’ in 2008. In 2008 came “the economic downturn” and our firm (that I loved so much) decided to merge with a larger global corporation. It was all ‘we’re one big happy family’ at first, but before long, things were shifting and cuts where being made. Any employee who was labeled “corporate” was now in danger of losing their job due to “duplication of services”. Myself and my colleague, Stephen, soon found ourselves in the cross-hairs. So we decided we would attempt to start our own business, a partnership. So you can now drop a pin in 2009 as StudioThought was born.
StudioThought offered computer animation to any and all architectural and engineering firms. However, the downturn was rather severe and while firms would love to have had our services, the money was not there to pay us to do what we loved. However, the skills that we had nurtured doing website design for the company became the the bread and butter that would fund this newly formed business. We talked to small businesses and many NEEDED websites and then NEEDED people to find them online. We learned first-hand the importance of small businesses and how they really are the backbone of America. The work still was not there to sustain the both us full-time or even one of us full-time. I took a job paying HALF of what my former salary had been and Stephen took full-time employment elsewhere also. We continued to nurture our business little by little doing a website here and there, so it was more like a side-gig for the both of us.
In 2015, I had thought that I’d found a replacement for the job I loved at the A/E firm so long ago. I took employment at another engineering firm. However, after the first week or so, I remember thinking I had boarded the Titanic! One day, while scrolling Facebook, I clicked an ad about marketing with some guy named “Billy Gene”. He dropped some serious fire and offered me the opportunity to enroll in his “Clicks-into-customers” class. It was rather expensive, I think $997 that I paid in payments, but I decided to INVEST in myself and invest in learning. WOW! It was enlightening! I learned SO MUCH about Facebook advertising and landing pages, and marketing!
Here we go again
Soon there were rumors of “merger” once again, and during a company meeting we were told that the new firm would take 90% of us with them. It was a smaller company, and as I did the math in my head, that 10% would take out our entire Marketing and Administrative folks. I was in the Marketing department, so I knew I was in the cross-hairs yet again.
Thankfully my small team in the marketing department looked out for each other and one of my colleagues sent me a job ad one morning that she thought sounded right for me. I read it. It DID sound a lot like something for me. It read something along the line of a startup entrepreneurial company looking for a content manager. I literally pulled into the parking lot one morning and did a video cover letter (the job ad requested it) and sent in my resume and video from the parking lot of my job there at the engineering firm. Within an hour, I had a phone call requesting an interview. I interviewed at lunch that Friday. I had a second interview the following Monday, and a job offer in my InBox by the next morning.
The next morning, I was called into a meeting at the engineering firm with a box of tissues sitting on the table with the news that I would NOT be moving to the new firm with everyone else. I found bravery and confidence inside myself and pushed the tissue box aside. I would NOT be brought to tears by this news, and was a little insulted that they just assumed that I would cry tears. I made a firm statement to the staff, “I will NEVER work for another engineer, unless it is on my OWN terms.” I walked out with my head held high. I knew there was something better ahead for me. That was December 2016, drop a pin there, too.
Better roads ahead
December 2016 was my start to being an independent contractor. The job I took, I did not take as an “employee” which meant I was also free to take on work from other clients, to build upon StudioThought. And I did. The knowledge I had gained from Billy Gene’s Clicks Into Customers helped me to get the new gig and helped me offer those skills to other people. I found myself not only becoming more independent in my work, but also more confident in what I was capable of with the skills I had attained.
Since 2016, I have been self-employed. Remember, I was told 20 years before that I would never be able to do such a thing? Say I won’t! 😉 Due to this new change in my employment status, Stephen and I quickly realized that he was going to be paying 1/2 my taxes as StudioThought grew unless we restructured the business, so the partnership then became an S-Corp with me as the owner and it was renamed StudioThought Marketing & Design, LLC.
I connected with several wonderful people through Billy Gene’s community and again invested in myself by investing in the “School of Geneius (SOG)”. I found a community there that was uplifting, there was NO negativity allowed or else you got the boot from being part of the group. I found the knowledge there to be amazing. I met people like Stephanie Dove Blake, Chris Patterson, Matt Plapp and many more. And continued my learning through his programs. At the end of 2019, I found myself with an opportunity to attend a mastermind in January of 2020. It was put on by Chris Patterson and Matt Plapp. I hemmed and hawed and drug my feet about whether or not I should attend. Finally after talking to Chris, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse to get me there and promised me I could meet his Mastiff dog, named Bentley. I invested in myself once again, and paid the travel and such to attend. Drop a pin in January 2020, because that was the best thing I’ve done from my business ever.
The mastermind in Florida gave me a jolt of positivity, energy, boost in attitude and confidence. I’d already been following Matt for a while since meeting him through the SOG. Everything he laid out in our trainings was “golden“. Things Chris trained on… golden, and things others shared as they spoke… full of golden nuggets. I had invested in part of Matt’s programs he offered and decided to sign on and invest in his full program of the ROI engine.
I also came back home with a wild idea… what if I started a Facebook page and YouTube channel called “Small Town Floyd Girl“? It would focus on small businesses and general fun info in my hometown and offer a way to share a business’ story and enlighten those who travel through the town about all it has to offer. I ran it by the group (“my people”). They all said it was a great idea and so in June of 2020 I launched the page, and as of this writing in January of 2022, I have over 3500 people following the page!
This is NOT the end of the journey, but let me say we are likely to drop a pin in 2022 because I continue to surround myself with people who will lift me up as I work towards the HUGE goals I have set. So let’s track them with more Pins on the journey!
Things to remember:
- Invest in YOURSELF!
- DON’T let other people tell you that you can’t achieve your goals!
- Surround yourself always, with people who will lift you UP, not put you down!
Stay tuned and have those pins ready!