The wind whips the snow around as I walk towards the Cub Room where Becoming a Boss (#6) is being hosted. Is it spring? I question my sanity as Sarah Knight (dressed to the nines, thanks to BB6 sponsors, Panache Consignment Boutique) greets everyone with a cheery "Merry Christmas!" It appears it is just another spring that is uniquely Rochester in its stunning similarity to winter. Fuego's strong coffee and Boxcar's delectable donuts provide me the energy I need to pretend like it wasn't January outside. Ok, maybe the mimosas concocted by the Cub Room's capable bartenders help a little as well.
Nevertheless, here I am with 150+ (bundled up) women - all ready to listen to some of the most successful female business owners of Rochester share their experiences. You can hear connections being made and sincere compliments being exchanged. The positivity and sense of community in the room is a breath of fresh (almost spring-like) air.
We start off a warm welcome from the always witty Sarah Knight. She introduces the keynote speaker: Helen Miller of Scott Miller salon. When she steps up to the stage, I immediately sense her strength. This is a woman who has fought for her success and is a force to be reckoned with. She speaks about her roots in Brooklyn - how one had to be tough, resilient, and perhaps a touch aggressive. It is refreshing to hear an honest perspective about what it takes to make it in a highly competitive field. Her pointers for her twenty-something self are timeless.....
- Don't take things personally. Things we get upset about are often not about us.
- Be more concerned with whether you have given enough vs whether you have been given enough.
- Communication with purpose and optimism are key to engage with your network - be it work or personal.
- Celebrate everyone and come from a place from abundance. Believe that everyone wants to do their best at their job.
Then the rest of the panel: Jodi Johnson (The Cub Room), Damaris Pinedo (Just Juice), and Eliza Sullivan & Ashley Cellura (Evenodd Creative) shared their knowledge. Sarah pulls no punches in asking the gritty questions - from finding the capital to start a business to the challenges of growing your business and dealing with rejection. Everyone is exceedingly honest in sharing their struggles (and joys) of starting a business.
Eliza and Ashley discuss how they started their business in a closet (literally) and chose to use the materials they had (vs sourcing what they perceived as the "perfect" materials) to get going with just their savings. Eliza later says her advice to someone starting out is to just do it. Even if you don't think you are ready, just start. Jodi mentions an issue that women often deal with everyday. She speaks about walking the line between being nice and being too nice - how it is important to be nice but equally important to stand your ground.
Damaris shares how the biggest hurdle she had to overcome was her lack of confidence in herself (ladies, I know you know that we all suffer from this!). She proceeds to talk about how rejection can lead to growth - a perspective that I will adopting. Helen talks about having the courage to let something go if it is not working for your business. Just because you put time into it or it used to work does not mean you should hold on to it. We break briefly for brunch. The Cub Room provides quite the spread of brunch bites. The savory chickpea cake bites and gianduja dipped waffles are my personal favourites.
At the end of the panel discussion, I have an interesting realization. For almost two hours, I heard these women speak about their challenges and the hurdles they overcame to create their businesses. This may sound like it was difficult and overwhelming but yet at the end, every one of these women love what they have created. Their ability to power through the hurdles and keep going to achieve what they wanted speaks to the strength within them.
Helen's reminder to be tough but be kind, Damaris' suggestion to "Let that shit go", Jodi's encouragement to be confident, or Eliza & Ashley's advice to take on the tasks that are unfamiliar and scary are all things we can put into practice today to get us closer to our goals. So, let go of the negative, face the unknown with confidence, and take the leap into making your idea a reality. You got this.