Dealing With Heartbreak While Running A Business.

I thought of the idea for this piece last night while lazying around in the tub. Sometimes it’s easy to find things to write about, sometimes it feels like the ideas are right there at the tip top of my brain but I can’t access them. Isn’t it strange? Now I know why so many writers before me tried vodka or whiskey to loosen up a bit and get over the keyboard jitters.

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dramatic photo for a dramatic topic?

Don’t worry. I don’t drink, anymore. Enough of my rambling though. Dealing with heartbreak is never fun, ever. It’s always messy and you end up on your bed at 2 am with  melted chocolate smothered on your pajama bottoms; crumpled up tissues littered across the comforter.

“I loved him” … “How did this happen?” … “It wasn’t suppose to turn out this way”.

All things I’ve sobbed into the phone while my best friend says “He was an absolute ass hat.”

 

It’s tough, it’s really tough if you’re heartbroken over a lover. It can happen for any reason, perhaps you simply weren’t meant to be or perhaps something more tragic happened and someone you loved dearly passed away.

It’s even harder when you have a business to run and you’ve got to stay strong. You are the last line of defence, employees come to you, customers come to you, your dog comes to you looking for comfort. It can be even harder when you’re just starting a business and your only employee is yourself.

You have to keep pushing on through the grief. You must keep putting one foot in front of the other despite the black glob of grief that has lodged itself in the centre of your chest.

It can be a great for a few brief moments to distract the mind and it’s even better to dive into something and use all of that emotion to fuel you and fuel the business. Growth can often be seen in times of struggle.

Don’t let anything stop you. Sure, you may have just been dumped by who you thought was the “love of your life” or maybe you did the dumping (you powerful goddess you). Your business, the thing you are passionate about, that thing you’ve been working so hard for… it’s still there and it needs you. Take life’s challenges and be vulnerable, get real, help others through the same damn things.

The things in my life that I thought were terrible misfortunes always have a way of ending up to be huge blessings in disguise. It might take months, it may even take years, but one day you’ll be glad it happened and you’ll be glad you put all that fierce energy into your business.

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This isn’t really a “how-to” blog post because I believe everyone processes grief differently and what might work for one person won’t necessarily work for the other. So do whatever you have to do in order to get back to grinding, to step back into that hustle and focus.

Have a personal talk with yourself in the mirror, you are a badass after all. Listen to music, put your headphones in and drown it out. Go for a long walk and just breath. Do some yoga and read something spiritual. Do what you have to do.

This is more of a reminder blog post… reminding you that you won’t feel bad forever. That the business is there for a reason. That you can and will hustle through it and your competition should be scared. That you are a badass goddess and should treat yourself as such.

Cry, eat the chocolate, feel the grief, inhale deeply – exhale it all out and focus baby, focus.

 

Love to you from the bottom of my heart,

Carlee. xo

Find me on Instagram @theselfcareenthusiast 

Write me an email on anything you’d like me to write about: theselfcareenthusiast@gmail.com

 

 

Gossip Is Not A Form Of Connection

I just read Lauren Evarts Instagram post about emotional intelligence and the last indicator of EQ was that those who have emotional intelligence do not view gossip as a way of connecting.  

THAT has to be one of the best things I’ve ever read. I’m going to be straight up honest with you, for a long time that’s exactly how I connected with people, especially other women. Gossip was just an accepted form of communication amongst high school girls and even later in office settings.

Wherever I have worked it hasn’t mattered the age or gender of the person there has always been gossip.

The truth about gossip though is that it never comes from someone who is on their A game. When you are the one giving out the gossip you immediately put yourself at a disadvantage. You are showing weakness and plain bad character.

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Why is gossip so bad? 

Aside from ruining someones reputation or day, you will NEVER be able to build a relationship of trust from gossip. Immediately it puts you in a place of distrust and any relationship built with it will have no solid foundation.

Your leverage is gone, you have no credibility and you are choosing to communicate with literally the lowest form of communication there is. Why would anyone want that?

We all saw the movie Mean Girls and it was called Mean Girls for a reason. The movie might have been okay to watch but in real life everyone just thinks you’re a bitch.

Positive, successful people all share traits of kindness, empathy, and optimism. Truly successful people help each other to succeed and give positive feedback. It is necessary to be truthful and straightforward and sometimes that’s going to mean saying something abrupt, but it will never be deliberately gossiping or spreading falsehoods about someone else to get ahead.

To close this short, but important piece I will say anyone who is striving for more in life will do themselves a huge favour by focusing on engaging – thought provoking – inspiring conversations and cutting the gossip out completely.  When you go to sleep at night at least this way you will feel good about who you are as a human being and so will many others.

Carlee Lloyd

*Connect with me on LinkedIn, seriously it’s awesome over there.

What Attempted Suicide Taught Me About Living & Thriving In Business

I had been in bed for 3 consecutive days only getting up to relieve myself and grab more alcohol from the fridge. After the third day the liquor was getting scarce and I was left with my own thoughts. I had moved away from my family for a man. Adventure, excitement and  love were all things I thought would be speeding into my life, just as I sped down the highway away from everything I once knew. After only a few short months it was apparent that I had made a gross misjudgment of the situation…it had been a long standing joke that I lived with “rose-colored glasses” and this time was no exception.

 

I had been an alcoholic since the age of fifteen. The moment I had taken my first drink I felt alive, more alive than I had ever felt before and any self-conscious  limiting beliefs seemed to melt away. I felt invincible. Of course, that too only lasted for a brief moment before the drink took over my life and consumed my every thought. Naturally, as any alcoholic would, I found a partner that wouldn’t be turned off by the whiskey glass glued to my right hand.

 

On the morning of my attempt the air felt heavy and I couldn’t stop crying. It felt as if years worth of emotions were coming to the surface and spilling over the top uncontrollably. Trying to explain depression to someone who doesn’t have it is challenging, if you haven’t experienced it there’s no way to truly grasp the feeling. It is like an emptiness,  the most empty feeling you could possibly imagine, there is no happiness or joy or positivity. A void as dark and grim as any monster in any fairy-tale we read as children.

 

The details of the event aren’t at all spectacular, in fact for something as pivotal as suicide they are actually quite boring. I thought taking an entire bottle of acetaminophen would do the trick but I was only able to get a handful of them down before resting for what I thought was only a few moments…  hours later I awoke to myself vomiting all over the bed. I was cold, achy and felt like I couldn’t move. The goodbye letter I had written before lay crumpled into the sheets, dripping of guilt and shame and “I love you’s”.

 

To make what could be an incredibly long and tumultuous story into a nice little article, I’ll move right along in telling you later that evening I checked myself into the Woodstock General Hospital – Psychiatric Ward. I was given an exquisite psychiatrist and stayed there for three weeks in a small room, like the movies go it had four white walls and a window that overlooked the dumpster.

 

So, what did I learn from this experience that can be transferred to business? What did one of the lowest points in my life teach me about living authentically?

 

  1. Knowing what you stand for is easier than knowing “who you are”

 

I fell into the trap of trying to “find” myself instead of just sitting down and figuring out who I wanted to be and what my values were. Not having those things narrowed down made me open to making unwise decisions like moving across the province of Ontario in pursuit of love. The business world is full of strong personalities and unless you know exactly what it is you stand for, unless you have a solid set of values and a strong conviction to those values, you’re going to get pushed around. I had to take the time to ask myself “okay, who do I admire, how did they become so successful, and what values do they have?”. The people I most admire hold values of kindness, consistency, authenticity, compassion and work ethic. It was then a matter of holding myself to a higher standard than before and emulating those values in my own life.

 

  1. Everybody has a story, everybody is trying to make it.

 

Rich Cardona, CEO of Flybys Media, actually said this to me a few months ago and I immediately remembered the moment I too came to this realization. “Everyone’s just trying to make it. I’m trying to make it, you’re trying to make it, Claude is trying to make it” he said.

 

It’s true, it’s so very true. Even Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Office of VaynerMedia posted on his Instagram yesterday: “want your life”, meaning everyone admires all of these amazing people, everyone wishes they could be someone else…but someone out there is wishing for your life. YES, this is another “be grateful for what you have” paragraph, but until you truly grasp what that means you’re going to be so deeply unfulfilled that nothing will ever be good enough. That emptiness I spoke of previously will consume you and you’ll be fighting to hold onto any amount of happiness from any direction (drugs, alcohol, food, porn) until you are simply depleted.

 

Alternatively because everyone is simply trying to make something of themselves in this world, we can be a little kinder, judge less, thank often and help whenever we can. Be kinder to yourself too, someone out there sees you hustling, grinding, putting in the effort and if you just keep going despite any setback things will come together for you.

 

  1. Strength comes from within. You were probably born with it, you just didn’t know it.

 

Can you think of a time when you were strong? Perhaps as a child when you stood up to a bully or found the courage to do something daring. Perhaps it was a few weeks ago when you overcame fear and spoke to someone new for the first time in months. Whatever the case, you probably realize you have had moments of being strong for quite some time. It wasn’t until after I had overcome addiction that I realized no one is weak, no one who is actually trying for something greater is a weak person. We all have strength, true grit, determination. How we put that determination into action is what matters. Many successful individuals have the burning desire to win…they feel it in their bellies, the fire consumes them so greatly that it is all they can think about. Their nature and fierce will makes them strong enough to overcome any obstacle in their path. And so this too brings us to the realization that strength cannot be from any outside source, to truly stay consistent in our strength it must come from that vulnerable and fierce place within.

 

Mark Metry, host of Humans 2.0 Podcast spoke with me yesterday and said “We all have the Humans 2.0 Version inside of us at all times, it’s just a matter of accessing it. I can look back in my own life and see moments where I was that version 2.0 as a young child. At 6 years old I would collect and trade baseball cards and Pokemon cards, and that’s how I got money to buy food because I didn’t want to ask my parents for money, we were very poor.”

 

You can come back from the lowest point in your life and make something out of it. You can inspire other people and create a lasting change in the world around you. And if nothing else, you always have a cool story to tell.

As my friend Wayne Mcleod once said “Don’t forget, everyone likes a comeback story”.

 

Carlee Lloyd.

 

The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work

A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018 I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”

I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude. For the past year I have been following her content and engaging with the individuals who have crossed her path.

Claude’s content drew me in  because of how emotionally real it was. If you’ve ever had to drag yourself out of bed, start your car mid-winter and drive to work holding onto an ice-cold steering wheel, just to be greeted by a boss that doesn’t value you… you’ll appreciate Claude’s work as much as I do.

The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.

That message spoke to me on an emotional level and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia had been changed by her work there.

A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart, with the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation. Although business can be a challenging, tough and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.

So how exactly is the CHO of VaynerMedia changing the way we work?

  1. By being unafraid to share her own story

Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths. When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without it’s challenges”.

Claude is openly gay and is living proof it doesn’t matter your sexual orientation, nothing matters but your character, your track record and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business  leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.

2.  Committing to a strong value system

VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by each and every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining. With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individuals talents but most importantly their own heart”.

Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:

“To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself”.  

Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit too and live with a strong value system will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.

3.  Listening with action

As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.  As a woman who wears many hats she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors. Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene, sometimes challenging wilderness.

Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Rich Cardona founder of Flybys Media and Host of Flashpoint shares the moment he connected with Claude, ” I will never forget when Claude said ‘I trust you’. It meant so much to me, for her to trust me and allow me to be a part of her journey”.  The two now share a deeply personal bond as Rich documents Claude’s process.

Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.

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To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. These are the answers I received:

“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia

“If I could say one thing about Claude that I think is a little under the radar, it’s that I admire her relationship with our CEO. I have a great one with Gary as well, but she is intrinsically wired to him. I think every person at every company should want to have a relationship with their CEO, and I think their relationship is there for all to see and emulate. I suppose in a lot of ways, you couldn’t have a Chief Heart Officer, without that person being deeply connected to the CEO.” – Joe Quattrone, Senior Vice President VaynerMedia

“Work is life; your passion should eventually become your profession to achieve true fulfillment.” – James Orsini, President at The Sasha Group

 

I tried looking for images of Claude on her website…and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life. From this piece it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards and to truly impact an entire organization the “soft” skills are humongous strengths.

“Holding space for others is something I enjoy, it is where I feel I am most living in my purpose. Gary and I see people as hearts, we don’t see people as resources.” – Claude Silver.

 

Carlee Lloyd

 

Why I Started A Yoga Studio At The Worst Possible Time.

I couldn’t think of a great title for this piece, hopefully you, the reader, isn’t a “judge a blog piece by the title” kind of person. I guess I’m thinning out the herd.

I recently embarked on a grand adventure. I started a yoga/movement studio and I have never been more scared, energized and happier. I had wanted to have a space to offer “self-care” type activities for quite a long time. Looking back in my journal I had written about opening a boutique training studio three years ago.

So, you ask… do I believe in manifesting your own reality? That’s a hard yes. 

It was the absolute wrong time in my life for many reasons. I was really developing a good writing career when all of my electronics either broke or malfunctioned a few months prior which meant I had lost all of the amazing interviews I had just done. The ceiling in my apartment was leaking, and my landlord wasn’t fixing it until it was flooding my bathroom…he then just tore the ceiling down and left a gapping hole. I was looking to move to a better apartment, I had only a part-time job, my mother had just suffered a stroke and my grandmother was needing help after leaving the hospital from open heart surgery.

There was a LOT going on. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was crumbling around me, but I had a strange sense that there would NEVER be a “right” time and that perhaps…surrounded by the chaos it was actually the perfect time. So, like in some kind of freakish twilight zone I searched for an affordable space and opened within 2 months of deciding to go for it.

I used a lot of my savings and created a space that would be inclusive of everyone, this meant having a sliding scale for pricing so that individuals on social assistance, ODSP, or in recovery could afford to take regular classes. It honestly felt good and made me feel alive to be doing something productive. It took 2 weeks to paint the entire studio, get the equipment needed and put some workshops together for the first week.

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We are now going into our third week open, so still very new. We already have a lot of regular people coming in to enjoy the classes and it has been so wonderful to see a tribe forming before my eyes of supportive, enthusiastic people wanting to experience yoga and movement to heal themselves AND live those practices off the mat as well.

We now have Zumba, Kickboxing, Euphoric and Bootcamp.

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My manifested dream is unfolding before my eyes… and today I really thought about how the timing was COMPLETELY off. How sometimes you just need to take one of the biggest risks of your life amongst the chaos, because if you’re not willing to take a risk then…when will you be?

My mom has made a full recovery, my grandmother is getting stronger and stronger each day, I still don’t own a laptop or voice recorder again yet but eventually I will and I will continue to write, AND I’m moving in June to a better apartment.

The struggle is here still as I juggle running a business with working a job, and running a business means trying to earn an actual income in the first year.

Honestly though, I have never felt more free or more focused…or more living in my “purpose” as I do when I help others feel good… and then of course write about it.

 

I hope you follow along on this journey with me because I will be sharing my take on entrepreneurship, yoga and self-care.

 

Remember: you are loved, you are worthy, you are blessed.

 

Carlee. xo 

 

Entrepreneurship: The Come Up Is Lonely But It’s Worth It

The honest truth is that entrepreneurship is a lonely process. No-one will care about your business the way that you do and you’ll notice. You’ll be the one staying late and coming in early and the one to pick up the pieces if something goes wrong. It takes a lot of responsibility, determination and pure hustle.

In the beginning it will most likely be you all by your lonesome working as the sales person, the secretary, the designer, the marketer…and whatever other position your business holds. It will be super challenging and guaranteed a little bit scary but when you land your first client or start to see your business grow to include your first employees it will be rewarding.

Entrepreneurship by nature is lonely. Yes, you can still spend time with friends and family and that should definitely be a priority in your life, but no-one will truly feel the emotions of the process as much as you will.

“If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It defines you. Forget about vacations, about going home at 6 PM – last thing at night you’ll send emails, first thing in the morning you’ll read emails, and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. But it’s hugely rewarding as you’re fulfilling something for yourself.” – NIKLAS ZENNSTROM 

In 1994 Jeff Bezos quit his job on wall street to start Amazon out of his parents garage. Back then internet usage was growing at 2,300 percent per year, so Jeff came up with an online marketplace for books and within 60 days he was making $20,000 per week. This isn’t the average story for startups but it is important for two reasons. 1) Jeff took a leap of faith and quit his job to pursue something he believed in with no guarantee it would work. Although his parents did loan him the startup money, no-one cared about the project as much as he did. 2) He started something when it was still relatively unknown and worked extremely hard to do so.

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“Entrepreneurs must be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time” – JEFF BEZOS

If you’re not okay with being the last stop for any problems than true entrepreneurship isn’t for you. Part of the loneliness comes from knowing that anything that happens, good or bad, falls on you and at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make the heavy hitting decisions and take full responsibility.

The upside of loneliness is that after a long period of time in which people misjudge you, underestimate you, or cheer you on from a distance, you are the one that will see and feel the reward.. and the satisfaction of proving everyone wrong. This won’t happen though without the ability to overcome failure and being able to see the reward.

Entrepreneurship has an amazing upside that comes with being able to live your passion. Waking up everyday and doing what you love is what each of us should want for ourselves. By redefining what life means and creating our own realities we can actually become happier more productive people. To stay happy, keep your priorities in check, know that friends and family are wildly important and that the loneliness you feel now won’t be forever…and it probably doesn’t feel like normal loneliness. It’s a different kind, a hopeful kind, one that holds the silver-lining of success.

“Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life, into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.” – RICHARD BRANSON

For a long time I’ve known I was meant to work for myself. I never could stand when I had a boss telling me what to do. I understand how that sounds…but it’s the honest truth. Customers are one thing, when they need a product or service and request it a certain way it is your duty as a profession to give them the best you possibly can. That to me still feels like working on my own terms. Having a boss dictate when I could go home, when I had to sweep the floor or never have time to listen to my ideas was just something I couldn’t stand. I had a LOT of different jobs before I realized working for another business just wasn’t for me.

Now that I’m growing my own business I want to be the type of leader someone can openly share ideas with and hopefully feels good about working for. But I’ll also understand when someone is truly an entrepreneur at heart.

Entrepreneurship is scary and tiring and it comes with long hours but it is the only thing that has ever felt right for me and so if you’re reading this and you understand the different type of good-weird-wonderful loneliness I’m talking about, I’m just here to say hi… I understand and I salute you.

 

Carlee.

 

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