Getting Real and Being Real – Is it all Rainbows and Unicorns?

It’s difficult, I think, for folks who have never experienced any turmoil or adversity in their lives to understand just what it takes to persevere. I had a boyfriend during an extremely stressful time in my life who had never experienced any loss — of a job or otherwise. He couldn’t relate, and all he could do was to tell me not to be stressed.

I just watched a vlog – Day 118 on his road to 300 – by Demian Ross. He had a different plan for the video, but it took a turn to a really personal story for him. A REAL story about the real, not-so-positive-life-turn for him a couple of years ago.

This video got me thinking about my own situation and low times for me in the past. Things are not always rainbows and unicorns, and it helps to share realness, because it shows people they aren’t alone.

Social media does tend to be this place where we show the good. People will assume all is well and perfect if all you ever show appears perfect. Clearly, everything is not always good!


In 2001 I was laid-off from a dot-com. I made it through three layoffs, but couldn’t escape the fourth. Three months earlier I had to be out of an apartment I was renting because our lease was up, and my roommate and I were both moving on. I was in the process of buying a condo, but hadn’t closed yet, so I stored my stuff and was living with my boyfriend for what was supposed to be a few weeks. Well, the sellers ended up taking it off the market!

Needless to say, it seemed I was “lucky” I didn’t get that condo, but now I was jobless AND homeless. It was the beginning of 2.5 years of my belongings being in storage, and me living with friends and family. I was unemployed or underemployed for most of that time before things finally came together for me. It was a daily struggle of trying to make ends meet. Of relying on others to help me.

People I’ve worked with since then can’t believe I went through that–that I managed to get to where I was, despite that. At the time friends would say to me “I don’t know how you’re doing it”… my response was I had no choice! I was simply dealing, continuing to look for work, and taking each day as it came (ending with having three jobs at once before finally moving into my own home again).

Cut to today…

I’ve had my business for nearly five years, and the past three months have been particularly difficult. The loss of a large client who shut down his company. Flakey potential new clients. Hopes being raised and then dashed over and over. Verbal agreement for new business, which was then taken away. While I’m not in the same spot I was in 17 years ago, I am in a low. Struggling financially is not unusual for business owners, this I know! It has had me wondering how much to share… do I remain optimistic or do I share the hardships?

I did just take a very big vacation — it was planned and about 2/3’s of it was already paid for (before losing the big client), so I went anyway. But I know how it looks… it looks like I’m flush!

I did try to make the absolute most of it, including soaking it all in as I am in this photo.


What’s the lesson?

That you never know what people are really going through. If you didn’t know Demian’s story before today (and he only shared part of it), you would never think such a funny, smart dude would have gone through what he has so recently.

If I only post the positive, everyone will continue to believe all is positive.

I know things will get better… I know there are some amazing businesses out there that will benefit from my skills and experience to help them improve their communication and sales!

If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. If you need someone to lend an ear, reach out. We’re not alone, and support from others will help us all.

Best of luck!

Do You Hire For Culture-Fit or Skills?

Having your work life disrupted causes the wheels to turn about what job and work environments should look like! Finding good employees is hard, right?

I find most work environments to be narrow and restrictive. I believe in everyone having their roles, but pigeon-holing people is a huge mistake a lot of organizations make. On more than one occasion I’ve had an employer who totally lost sight of my background. I am a writer at my core, and being in a position where that skill can be utilized is a bonus for anyone I’ve worked for.

But most of the time we’re told to stay in our lane (like being told writing “wasn’t my job” in the past). If you look at my career holistically, you’ll see I have many lanes. Someone introduced me for a speaking engagement recently, and she created my bio from my Website homepage… It sounded ridiculous when read all at once, the variety of things I do, but it’s reality.

Part of the reason I absolutely love owning my own business is because I’m not limited. I was referred to teach an association management company about social media, and they asked for a photographer referral so they could get their headshots also that day… Well, you’re in luck – I can do that too!

Why do employers do this? While I fully understand having job descriptions makes the Human Resources element of owning and running a business easier, I think more companies should be open to allowing their staff to color outside the lines.

People Matter

This is also why I believe companies should hire for the PERSON. If you meet a person who fits your company culture, but you don’t have a position they “fit within” at the time, why let that person get away? Hiring for a culture fit should be a priority because so often someone checks the boxes for appearing to be right for a job, but if they don’t fit in, you probably shouldn’t hire them.

Hire for the Person

When I interviewed for my first “real job” out of college they included a personality assessment. I made it through the in-person interviews well, and was told there was “this one more step.” If the assessment determined I wasn’t a fit for the group I’d be working with and around, I likely wouldn’t get the job… I was told it had happened before.

At the time I thought – wow, that’s harsh! I did get the job, and ultimately, I was given a copy of my results — they were fascinating. I still have that assessment many years later! I love to go backand read it, along with my performance reviews over the years, because they show a couple of things. First, they show how I haven’t changed personally, but it also shows how consistent I’ve been over the years. I now fully believe that assessment was a great tool because personal compatibility is crucial for teams to work well with each other, which ultimately makes for greatness in the organizations we work within.

I’ve also been on the end of the “didn’t get the job” after some pretty intense testing (think SATs all over again, but more cerebral than academic), and an interview with an occupational psychiatrist. Is that taking it a bit too far? Maybe. And I was crushed at the time because I felt like everything else in the process went well. Perhaps I wasn’t a good cultural fit for them, and I’m more understanding of that now.

Flying Solo

I consider from time-to-time whether I would like to work for someone else again. In fact, I got to thinking so much about it I started making a wish list of what would have to happen for me to take that step… it’s a pretty lofty list. The people I’ve had work for me over the years were hired because they were competent, but more than anything because we are compatible, and I know I can trust them.

Trust. That’s a big word in business, right? People do business with those they trust… and when we hire people we’re also trusting they will do a great job for us. What if you got that trust first, and then figured out how they could make a huge impact on your organization? Sounds like a great direction to go as far as hiring is concerned.

Finding good help is HARD. I’d love to see more organizations make it easier on themselves!

Change is Certain… And Painful

Three words I never thought I’d say: Mom is terminal.

Three crushing words. I can start crying at any given moment. It’s amazing how many things make me think of her and how my life will never be the same again.

I’m in a unique spot, being the youngest of nine children… And still single with no children to boot–no family of my own. Going home for holidays has been everything to me. Whenever anyone has asked me “Are you going to San Jose for <fill in the holiday>?” My answer has always been “yes, of course.” Because, really, what else would I do? Now I find myself dreading the holidays ahead. Dreading the thought of no longer having “my place” to go and that support system that has always been at 1124.  I know I’m welcome in my friend’s and family member’s homes, but it isn’t the same.

Seeing my Mom decline so quickly is dreadful. I know she doesn’t want to be a burden on us, but I wish I could do more. It’s just something you can never imagine going through. At moments feeling like it isn’t real… and others feeling it is TOO real.

Don’t ever take your parents or your family members for granted because you never know how much time you have, regardless of their age.