I get these questions all the time…how did you start? How did you prepare to leave your full time job? Do you still fear failure? When did you decide it was time to hire a team? How do you balance it all? Leading a team, mommyhood, being a wife, being involved in ministry and growing a thriving multi-branded business. And I LOVE these questions because I can share the honest, un-polished, real life answers that help others to know they can do it too. That while we are SO blessed to be able to do what we love every single day and I absolutely wouldn’t change a single thing…that some days are hard! That many days I need my husband to speak encouragement to me louder than the discouraging words I’m speaking to myself. That I wonder if we are making the right moves, the right hire, setting the right goals and SO much more!
There’s a meme on the inter webs about being an entrepreneur and it’s SO true! I’ll link it in the show notes so you can enjoy it for yourselves but it basically shows the genuine roller coaster ride that happens in the mind of an entrepreneur….I’m so excited—Ugh! This is hard!—Wait, It’s working!—Dude, I messed up—I think I’m going bankrupt—Look how many sales we made this month! Haha! Every time I see this I just laugh because I have felt every single one of these emotions in the last 72 hours….really! The highs and lows are so vast!
I honestly never planned to be an entrepreneur. I’m a planner and everything in my life is planned with a color coded calendar! I had a life plan and I fully intended for my sweet little vision of the next 20 years to go as I had in my head. I was going to graduate college, get married, get a great job at a big hotel, work my way up the ladder to be the general manager by 35 and then have my 1 single baby girl which would then make my life complete! And to be honest…most of this went to plan. I graduated from the University of Central Florida, I got an incredible job on the opening team of the Gaylord Palms Resort, and I married the man of my dreams! I was climbing, climbing, climbing the ladder of success at Gaylord. I was determined to make every minute of every day count toward getting me closer to my goal. I came in on my days off to attend meetings with our director so I could just sit in and learn, I took on extra assignments so I could work with different managers….I remember nights when our director would look over the wall of my cubicle and say “Brandee…..it’s 9pm. Go home!” But I was loving every second of this journey and I didn’t want to miss any opportunity to grow!
About 3 years later, in 2005, I had been through 4 promotions, Ira and I were enjoying being newlyweds and the shock of all shockers….I found out I was pregnant! Now, I say this knowing that it makes it sound like having a child was a bad thing which couldn’t be further from the truth….however, at the time, in full transparency, I didn’t see it that way. I was legit freaking out!! What was I going to do?? How was I going to manage a career and a baby?? When I told Ira he was ecstatic….like jumping up and down, giddy excited and I remember being upset with him. Hello?? Are you not hearing me? A baby is going to change everything!! Everything! Everything!!! And can I tell you one of my strongest memories from that night?? As I laid awake staring at the ceiling I started crying as I thought about our baby’s due date….I think our baby is going to come in December which means I’ll be on maternity leave during 1st quarter and that’s the busiest quarter at the hotel…I’m not sure how I’ll make it all work!” Whoa! What?? My FOMO was in full effect! I couldn’t imagine missing 3 months of my career. It just didn’t all fit into my plan.
Of course, I did end up getting on board with the idea that I was having a baby and I was very excited BUT on the last day before my maternity leave began, we had a big leaders meeting with vision casting and such and I remember walking out of that meeting with tears in my eyes and I thought….I won’t get to be here for 3 months. How much will I miss in 3 months? Will they forget about me? Will I be up for the next promotion? How much training will I miss out on?
Our oldest Gaargoyle, Emmalee, was born 2 days later and she was perfect! In every single way she was perfect! She had so much hair it looked like she was wearing a tupee and her skin looked like a china doll. She was mesmerizing! And while my love and complete adoration of this little being was immediate, I still naively thought that nothing was going to change.
3 months later, it was time to go back to work and I had this pit in my stomach that I just couldn’t imagine a day without being completely attached to this tiny human! How was I supposed to go back to work all day for LONG hours while she hung out at a day care all day?? But was I really going to give up my career that I’d worked so hard for and wanted so badly just like that?? I was so torn! But the day came and back to work I went, excitedly but this time with hesitation.
It was Spring of 2006 at this point and I would say it was in those first 3 months back to work that I realized EVERYTHING had changed! I didn’t want to stay for long days any longer and miss her going to bed. I didn’t want to come in on my days off any longer and miss a day not playing with her. Gaylord was INCREDIBLY encouraging for families and they were so flexible with our time. If we had a show in house and worked 8-9 days straight, we took 3-4 days off in a row. Which was such a gift as a new mom but I couldn’t shake the idea that every time I had a show in house, I would go 6-8 days in a row without seeing her awake. And while the extra days off were amazing, I was missing huge chunks of my daughter’s life that I knewI would never get back and my spidey sense was telling me that change was coming!
So guess what I did?? 10 months later I gave my notice at Gaylord!! I couldn’t believe it myself! Now the story of how we started, how we prepared and all of the logistics and blessings behind our start up will come in future episodes but what I will tell you that this is when I found my why. I have my own business so that I decide when, where, how, how long and how much I work so that I can be present for my girls and my husband. While I often say I think I actually work more now than I did back then, I have full control over when it will be. If one of the girls has a field trip, I can chaperone. If one of them is sick, I can work from home. Last year, our 2 littles had a folk dancing morning at their school which was a little strange but a lot of fun, and Ira and I both got to go and dose y do with them! Our schedule allows us to be fully engaged in our kids lives. Both of us. Now don’t miss that I said I work more now that I did at Gaylord. That’s truth. As I prepare for this episode, I’m in my bed at midnight after coming home from a wedding. And I have missed a thing or 2 here or there because the nature of my job (wedding planning) has me scheduling most of my weekends 18 months out and I just can’t seem to get the intramural sports teams to get on board with Tuesday morning gymnastics matches! I was always that mom in a black cocktail dress, heels and pearls on Saturday at 10am on the soccer field cheering at the very top of my lungs as our girls ran their tiny legs down the field to score a goal….and then I’d run off to make a bride’s most important day come to life! There are still sacrifices in owning you own business but you choose what they are.
About a year ago, I was talking to Emma, who is now 13, at bedtime and she was telling me that she was having 2nd thoughts about her career decision. I know, this sounds silly coming from a 13 year old but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree ok?? This girl is driven and will be the most talented at anything she does! But she’s wanted to be a surgeon for quite awhile now and she said she was 2nd guessing it now because she really wants to be a mom and she wants to make sure she can have a job that will allow her to be really present for her kids so she can be fully part of their lives. And in the mommy guilt that I put on myself every day, I immediately thought…so she can be different than me. She wants to be able to be present because wishes I was more present. So I said, I wish I could be here more sometimes. I know it’s hard when I’m gone for a wedding. And her response was…mom! No way! You’re literally always here! I want to be able to be a mom just like you!! Ugh! Be still my momma’s heart little one. THIS is why. This is my why. Time is the only thing we all have an equal amount of….we can’t get it back. We can’t have more. And no one has less.
Do you know that people who love their work are more productive and way more creative? It makes sense right?? If you’re doing something you love, you WANT to do it more often. You don’t feel forced. You LOOK for ways to do it better. When you LOVE what you do and it feeds your why, you WANT to tell others about it so they can have it to! You sell without even knowing you’re selling. It’s just a natural output of who you are! When you love what you do you create loyal customers and devoted employees.
So I ask you…what is your why? What drives you and inspires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be? Do you love what you do so much that you’re excited to wake up each morning and slay each hurdle that comes your way??