1. Meeting my up line for the first time; the fabulous Allison!
2. Attending the Directors Meetings with our CEO Jessica Herrin
3. Meeting Jessica for the first time. Basically I couldn't talk. I just kind of shook her hand and stood there smiling. Real cool Tegan.
4. On stage at Directors Day receiving my Heart of Leadership Star Award
5. Kicking off Hoopla with my team of Chic Executive Officers (the CEOs)
6. Walking the fashion show stage at HOOPLA as an Associate Director
7. Meeting our head of design, Blythe Harris, who has the best style ever!
8. Heading to the Directors Cocktail Party with my fellow directors on our team
So what is HOOPLA? HOOPLA is the annual convention for Stella & Dot Stylists. We receive training, the most amazing life coaching, attend a fashion show to see the new line of product, and dance our hearts out at the best events. This was my first year attending, since last year I was stuck in a three day training for my day job, and let me tell you it was absolutely amazing!
As a die hard academic, I was totally ready to rock my educational process at this conference with a fresh notebook, and arsenal of pens, and plenty of potassium/bananas in case my hand started to cramp up from all the writing. I was prepared for the training specific to my business; how to identify future stylists, how to train them to be successful, how to talk to people about their style (which often times is very wrapped up in how they feel about themselves in general and can be very emotional), and more. What I wasn't prepared for was the wealth of knowledge I gained about how to live a successful and happy life. I work by day in the STEM fields, and we have lots of trainings. Those trainings, however, are entirely technical. I have never once been to a training that focused on how to create a happier life for myself as part of my JOB. At HOOPLA, I received so much training on how to create goals for my life, how to go out and get what I want, how to see the positive in situations, and how to continue to grow as a person and business leader.
I wrote down lots of amazing things that have stuck with me since attending, but what I want to share with you now are some of my favorite takeaways from HOOPLA. And to be honest, none of these are really specific to my business. They are just wonderful nuggets that I hope will help you in your life as they have in mine.
What you focus on is what you create
There is a lot of truth to how visualization and other exercises can help you achieve success. Actually creating an image of you reaching that goal and watching it play over and over in your mind really does help you get there. But the opposite of this is true as well; if you focus on the negative things you wish to avoid you will find more of them in your life. As someone who tends to be a bit of a worrier, this was HUGE for me. I need to spend less time focusing on all the things that can go wrong, and focus on all the things that can go right instead.
You will always have naysayers, but you CHOOSE if they sit in the front seat
Our CEO said this very powerful statement during one of her presentations. We've all got people in our lives who think our goals are crazy. "What is this thing you are doing now? You are selling jewelry? Why would you want to do that? Don't you have a degree and a job in engineering? Can't you do something with that?" Ummmm... why would I NOT want to do this? I had a moment when I first signed on to be a stylist where all I was hearing were the naysayers. In fact, I almost gave up that first month because I felt so beat down by it. But you know what, this was something I wanted to do for ME. I needed that time for myself to do something purely because I enjoyed it. It didn't have to make sense to anyone else but me, because it wasn't for any of them. I controlled where those naysayers sat and I took them from the front row and moved them all the way to the back row cheap seats.
Things aren't going to happen when you choose
Ain't that the truth. Something I hear all the time is "now just isn't really a good time for me to do X". Well one thing I have learned over the past year or so is that the universe doesn't provide things at the ideal moment. In fact, I'm trying to think of any time in my life where something has just plopped into my lap and I've been like "oh, that's perfect timing". I signed up to be a stylist when I was overworked and out of energy at my previous day job. I then switched day jobs to a new, fabulous one when I was in labor. Like I was doing the job application when I went to the hospital to have my baby. And then I interviewed for the position (and got it) two weeks after giving birth. Was that the idea moment in time to be doing any of that? Absolutely not. But was it the most perfect job opportunity and am I beyond happy that I pulled my ish together and went for it? You betcha! Things don't happen on our schedule. You have to be ready to just bust out your lady balls and make things happen when the opportunity shows up.
True leaders don't create more followers, they create more leaders
I've worked with several kinds of people in my life, and by far the better of the group are the ones that actually want you to surpass them. They are happy and proud to teach you everything they know so that you can go on to soar and create something beautiful and successful in your own life. They aren't threatened by your success but instead proud of it! The best leaders in the industry are those that rather than ask you to follow them, will give you the tools and training to become your own leader.
Be open to learning something new
The most successful leaders I have seen are the ones that are constantly working to learn. They read books in their spare time to improve their craft. They ask for feedback so they can continue to improve their business processes and approaches. The worst thing you can do in any type of business or industry is remain stagnant and repeat something because it has "always worked before". It is so important to be flexible and willing to try new ideas so that you can continue to grow as business leaders.
HOOPLA was such an amazing experience for me. I learned a lot about myself and the person I want to be when I grow up (because I refuse to consider myself any version of "old" or "adult"). I also got to meet so many wonderful people in person (finally!) who have impacted my life from afar. I am already looking forward to all the amazing experiences I will have next year. And I can truly say that the experience has made me a better version of myself.
I am going to start by telling you a story.
When I was in college, I had a friend who wasn't very nice. She would make fun of people when they weren't around and expect the rest of us to laugh. She would also make fun of you when you were there. At first they seemed like the typical sarcastic comments people make to their friends in jest, but eventually her comments began to take on a sting to them. They were the type of comments that made you feel worse about yourself after spending time with her, rather than better. However, despite this, it was really important to me to maintain this friendship, so I tried to overlook it and make things work. My college program was primarily male dominated, and there weren't a lot of other women to hang out with. She was also part of a larger group of friends that I actually enjoyed spending time with, some of whom are my nearest and dearest now. And finally, she was in my study group, and if you've ever taken a class that challenged you to your core in terms of what you were able to do, you know how valuable a study group can be. So for many reasons I worked hard on to get along with this woman.
We had one day before a very, very difficult midterm when we were all suppose to meet at the library. We had been working our behinds off trying to prepare for this exam and planned to get one last cram session in before the test started. We were going to pump each other up, help each other with last minute questions, and walk over to the classroom together. I gathered all my things, packed my books and snacks, and waited. And then I waited some more. And no one ever called me.
Okay, so maybe they decided not to meet? I decided studying by myself was better than nothing and started my walk to the library. We always studied on the second floor, and had a location where magically a table would be available. Tables can be hard to come by, so out of habit I walked that way. Well when I got there, everyone was there, and no one had called me. I couldn't understand what was going on. At first I was shocked, and then I was mad. They had promised to call me. What in the world was going on? I needed to study too. I walked over to them to grab a seat so I could join the cram session. But no one would look at me. When I finally asked what was going on, this woman looked at me and said something along the lines of 'oh we must have forgotten to call you'. But she was using her tone. The one I knew indicated she was 1) lying, and 2) making a joke with the others. They hadn't forgotten to call me. They had purposely not called me. And she was the instigator.
I tried to ignore it, gather what little pride I had, and pull up a seat anyway. But no one would make room for me to fit, and she made a big deal of ignoring me and engaging everyone (except me) in working on the next problem. I had become an outcast, exactly one hour before one of our largest midterms. I stared at them for a while in disbelief and finally gathered my things to leave. I walked to the testing room alone and took my seat. No one else was there, so I sat alone and cried. I was embarrassed. I was hurt. I was stressed. And I was freaking mad they did this to me RIGHT BEFORE A HUGE TEST! HAVE YOU NO HEART!
I sat for my exam and I rocked it anyway. I got a really great grade. I found out later the reason she was so mean to me was because I had been having a hard time in the class before our group started studying, and her and the others had helped me. I had then proceeded to score much higher on a previous exam than her, and she was upset. She felt that she deserved the higher score and no longer wanted to help me. She was competitive and she was mean.
Several weeks passed. I found a new group of extremely nice people who didn't bat an eye when 3/4 of the way into the year I showed up and asked to join their group. They were genuinely nice people. They never said mean things about each other or others. They welcomed me with open arms. And years later this group introduced me to my husband. So in summary, this girl being mean to me actually ended up working out for the best.
After several weeks had gone by, this girl approached me and said "We aren't ever going to fix our friendship if we don't talk about what happened". I looked at her for a few moments, took a deep breath, and said the most freeing words ever. "Actually, I don't want to be your friend anymore. I'm not mad at you, but you aren't very nice. And I don't need a friend like that". And then I walked away.
This is a long winded way for me to explain the approach I take to my life now. I only have time of nice people. With so much stress and negativity in the world, I choose to surround myself with people who will support and build me up. And my life has been so much better ever since. And it is with this perspective that when I read the viral Scary Mommy article when it first hit my Facebook newsfeed a few weeks back that I was appalled. Having surrounded myself with such supportive friendships over the past decade, I had forgotten how mean people can be.
I find this article nothing more than a way for a group of individuals (the woman who wrote it and those who shared it in support) to tear down other women. For me, there are two distinct components of this article. The first, is that this woman feels that people who participate in direct sales, or multilevel marketing, expect to profit off their friends. Those of us in this industry have varying approaches, just like there are different types of people in any industry, but for me, personally, I have never once expected someone to buy something just because they are my friend. If I am being completely honest, I was actually nervous when I first started that a friend would buy something only because they felt they had to. In truth, I only want them to make a purchase if its for something they truly want. I'm not in the "business" of collecting charitable sales. I am a business woman. I make my income by providing a service. I help people find great jewelry to complete their outfits. If you need my help, great! If not, no problem. Just like if I were a hair dresser or a nail artist or whatever. We can still be friends even if you don't need a hair cut. Or even if you have someone else cut your hair. That's cool too. I think her overall premise that her friends expect to profit off her is misguided. And to be honest, if she really does feel that way, she would be much better served talking to her friends in an open and honest fashion in private to explain how their approach makes her feel. I am sure they would be horrified if she expressed she felt used. And if you truly are friends with someone, you should have the type of relationship where you can talk to them about these things.
Second, and why this reminded me of my own frienemy experience, is the way in which she goes about expressing her discontent. She uses a sarcastic and hurtful tone. She bashes their product. She belittles the friendships and experiences these woman have had from their business. Everything about what she says is aimed to tear them down, make them feel that the world hates them, and to bully. And this is the type of individual I have no time in my life for.
Being in direct sales is both exciting, rewarding, and hard. It takes making yourself vulnerable the same way it does when anyone opens their own business. You put yourself out there and stand behind a product you believe in; something that has improved your life, and you think will improve the lives of others. I am truly proud of what I do and the way my company has bettered the lives of many woman who have joined. However when I first started, it was difficult to be that vulnerable. Every time you post something, every time you offer your service to someone, you are opening yourself up to rejection. Instead of tearing women down who are putting themselves out there and working hard to create a better life for themselves and their families, we should be lifting them up. Does this mean you have to buy their product? Absolutely not. You should only buy something or host a show if its something you are excited to have in your life too. And I'm confident if you asked any other direct sales individual who has respect for themselves and others, that they would say the same thing.
I wish we could exist in a world where we worked harder on being nice to one another than making catty, "funny" remarks at others expense. It's easy to watch someone else pounding the pavement and laugh every time they fall, but its much harder to get out there and do it yourself. We should all work hard at creating a more loving world, where we treat each other with kindness and respect and don't tear each other down.
All photos via my instagram account (@enlovewithlife)
It has also been a gift because it has really been a time of reflection for me. Honestly, I have never had this much time off before. From as far back as I can remember I have always been working away, nose to the grindstone, trying to prepare for the future. In high school I was in all advance classes and working reserve college credits so I could "get into a good school". And then in college it was all about learning my craft and building my resume so I could "get the good job". And then after I got my job it was about working as hard as I could to "get the promotion". All of which would eventually lead to a happy life. Now I'm not saying that plan didn't work out. I am happy with where all my hard work has gotten me. But what I will point out is that even on summer vacations I spent my time working to save for school or get job experience, so having three months off with the only focus being enjoying life and time with my family has been absolutely amazing. I have finally caught up on my sleep (ironic, I know), started organizing my house, spent days doing nothing but watching netflix and snuggling my baby and puppy, and really just savored every moment.
What I have discovered about myself during this time has been invaluable. I am a much different person now than I was a year ago. And even more so than I was two years ago. I think my journey to discovering my authentic self started when I signed up for Stella & Dot. And before you think this is a post that is going to talk about why everyone should join my team (which you all should by the way - it's awesome), this isn't about recruiting. I bring up Stella & Dot because it was the first time I did something just for me, regardless of what I thought I needed to be doing for my day job. See before this, all of my 'extra activities' were things tied to my day job. Volunteering for professional societies, attending networking events, reading research papers, etc. Signing up for Stella & Dot was the first thing I did just for me, and quite honestly because I needed to find something to spend time on that wasn't in any way tied to my day job. It was also my first time working with a group of primarily women. As someone in the STEM field, my day job and college education (heck, even a lot of my high school classes) were primarily full of men. And while I don't mind working with them, I didn't want to allow myself to stand out too much. It may seem silly, but I was scared to wear leopard print, or lipstick, or high heels, or admit that I don't know much about football, because it would highlight that I am different from them. And there seems to be this weird thing where people assume if you enjoy fashion and being girly then that means you can't be good at math and science. Finding an outlet where I am surrounded by strong women encouraged me to start being myself. My true self. And that person enjoys wearing hot pink lipstick and jewelry and leopard.
It also allowed me to really identify things that I do enjoy, and things that I don't. I am not going to start listing out the things I discovered were causing stress in my life, because I don't want to dwell on that kind of stuff. But I did discover that aside from fashion, I like lazy days with nothing to do but snuggle my family. I like organizing my house and decluttering. I really really enjoy my instagram account. I have so much fun taking pictures. Its such a creative outlet for me. And I love my blog. I love creating a space of the internet that is just mine. And I love cute stationary. I mean, it's not practical - I don't need monogramed thank you cards, but I love them. And I love custom notebooks. And planners. And I love going to the bakery. Not super healthy, but I don't really care.
It's also allowed me to reevaluate the way I view myself. At one point I was so focused on my size. Lets be honest ladies. I think we all have been there. I shouldn't eat this donut because I need to be a size zero instead of a two. But really, why does that matter? Now I am not saying you shouldn't be healthy. I am working out. I am eating fruits and veggies. But I also eat donuts. And if after I drop my baby weight I end up at a four or a six, well then okay. I just want to know that I am working out, have a strong body, am healthy, and am enjoying life. Because that's all I need to do. My body is here so I can hug my baby, go for walks on the beach with my husband and family, and enjoy life. And I am pretty sure I don't need to be a size zero to do that. Right now I am just focused on getting in shape so I can be at whatever my post baby size is so I can buy some clothes. Nothing fits. And I have a new job to go to (more on that later).
I've also had a lot of time to think about what I want the next thirty years of my life to look like. I want to have a good job (or jobs in this case, because I have my day job and my Stella & Dot). I want to have time to spend with my family. And I want it to be good time. I don't want to be stressed out and unable to enjoy life. I want to really, really be happy in the moments we spend - not worried that I am behind on something else I should be doing. I want to sleep in on the weekends. I want to watch movies. And I want to wear pink lipstick when I want to.
People always say having a baby is life changing. I just assumed they meant because now you have this precious life to care for and that it meant your time would be spent differently now. Where you might have gone to the club before (although I never really went to the club, but just stick with me here...), now you would be home with bath time for your little one. But I think what having baby has meant to me and why it has been life changing is it has really allowed me to reevaluate what I thought was important before, and reprioritize. I have a new vision of life. A new idea of what I want it to look like, what I am willing to sacrifice, what I am not, and how I plan to create the life I want for me and my growing family.
And now if you'll excuse me, my sweet baby needs more snuggles and kisses. I need to soak up all the lovings I can get before I go back to my day job. Seriously though, I think she gets about 100 kisses a day...
Well, I've been gone for a few months. My guess is you can figure out what happened. Blogger gets pregnant, nine months pass, and then she disappears for three. We had our beautiful baby girl! I had every intention of keeping up my blog while I was out on leave, but you know... life. Dirty dishes, lack of sleep, lack of showering, etc. I just haven't had a chance to sit down at the computer. Actually as I type this our little one is sitting next to me (propped up against the couch, but in a seated position) staring at the computer as a type. Just us girls. We are going to do some online shopping next. You know, really introduce her to life's greatest pleasures. But before we move on to that, I feel like I need to chat with you about something. Something important. I need to talk with you about why you won't be seeing her on my blog.
As a lifestyle blogger, this has been a bit of struggle for me. I have really enjoyed sharing my life with all of you, connecting with you, and creating this space of mine on the interwebs. It was one of the first things I did for myself that really felt like a step towards being authentically me, and not the me I felt like my profession required (i.e. super serious and not at all fancy and sparkly). So this blog means a lot to me. BUT, I have reservations about putting my little girl on here. Basically what it comes down to is that while I love sharing my life, I haven't had a chance to ask her if she feels the same. Does she want her whole life documented publicly? She might not care at all. Or she might feel like something was taken from her she had no ability to control.
While I love blogging and I love this community, I've decided to leave that decision to her. Something for her to choose when she is older. I have to admit, life was a lot simpler when I was a kid. I'm not talking about walking uphill both directions to school in the snow without shoes type of thing. But it was really nice to not have the internet as prevalent and for there not to be social media when I was young. Would I want all the bad decisions I made as a kid documented? That said, I was pretty much a goodie goodie, but I did have some not so great hair and wardrobe choices that I am glad you can't all see! This is something Husband and I will have to talk with her about as she starts to grow up and wants to have her own Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (do people still use Twitter?). But for now, she's an infant. She just like to snuggle and sleep. And that's fine with me.
So while I will continue to share my life on here and create new friendships, I hope you can understand why you won't see our baby. She may make appearances here and there in a Christmas photo shoot or family outing. We will see. But she won't be on here much. It doesn't mean we don't love her and she isn't with us wherever we go and totally being spoiled. It just means we chose to keep that part of our life separate.
I'm glad we had this chat. I feel so much better knowing we can just lay it all out there and be honest with each other. You are all such great friends.