Do you remember, in college, you had that one story that you couldn’t help but share at a party after you’d had two or three drinks?
You knew it was a little bit *too much* for polite conversation, but it felt so cathartic to get it off your chest. It was a little bit racy, a little bit shocking; it was abundantly clear to all of you drunk 20-somethings that a foolish decision was made but somehow you came out of it unscathed. Gnarly. It had a clear beginning, middle and end. Story-telling gold. It was like therapy for you to yap away to an easily-giggling audience, and was fodder for the kind of evening that left everyone piled on a futon somewhere at 3am -- new bffs until the sun came up at least, ready to start nursing your real hangover and your vulnerability hangover.
My desire to talk about my first foray into entrepreneurship, back when, is a bit like my desire as a new-drinking party-goer was to spill my guts. With ten years as an entrepreneur under my belt, I have a ton of business stories tucked away for just such occasions. My stories might not be as salacious, but my urge to yammer remains just as strong.
Sometimes I can’t stop because of the warm and fuzzy feels I get, thinking about all the dreamers and doers out there taking leaps. I, too, was a dreamer (am one -- can’t stop won’t stop); determined and idealistic. Sometimes, it’s my knowing place that makes it impossible for me to wrap it up. Like, I *know.* I can help. I wanna help. Let me help? I can speak from a place of authority. Knowing. Not like, an MBA knowing. But an I-was-in-it knowing. They both have their pros and cons!
Other times, talking about this stuff feels like bringing up battle wounds -- it’s that *knowing,* again. A knowing that is more akin to straight up commiserating. If YOU KNOW too, then we can give each other that wide-eyed side-glancing look. We can let our guards down and whine about the trials and tribulations of hiring, managing, customer service, firing, humbling cleaning (literal cleaning, scrubbing toilets and whatnot -- can you call yourself a Founder if you have not scrubbed a public toilet for one reason or another?) you never imagined yourself doing as a CEO and Founder, marketing, hosting, firing. It’s a beast, owning a shop. Owning a cafe. Owning a business. The best beast. But a beast, all the same.
We closed those shops. I’m still an entrepreneur, in business of a different kind (I’m a copywriter for creatives and coaches; and an artist myself). And yet, every time I sit down to start writing about my past learnings, I get all flustered. Maybe it’s because I call it “writing about my learnings” for goodness’ sake. I’m not writing a dissertation, after all.
Is anecdotal advice valuable? It's hard to assign your own anecdote value sometimes, but truly, what do I like to hear from others? What motivates me and lights a fire under me? Someone else's story! The collective idea that if I did it, then you can; if you did it, then I can. It's powerful! I mean, I acknowledge that anecdotal evidence has its place. When someone in a mommy-group on FB is trying to convince me that a bedtime routine worked for their kid and so, of course it will work for mine, I say "Come on, that's anecdotal! Baloney! My kids are different." But when you tell me an anecdotal story of triumph or changed perspective or something more romantic and hopeful, I say, "You know, that’s anecdotal, but… let’s apply it here, too!" Anecdotal evidence has its place when it can serve as inspiration rather than serving as a hard and fast rule.
In order to decide that it’s OK for me to yammer on about my anecdotal story (annnnd about my “learnings,” sorry), here, without even so much as a glass of wine first, I had to get over feelings that I was teaching from my failures. Was it a failure, closing shop? Was it a pivot?
Not to give away too many spoilers, but in upcoming blog posts, I’ll be using my anecdotes to talk about how it was *totally* a pivot, how validation from Queen Bey herself does not equate to the apex of your trajectory, how the quest for feelings of worth is always worth it, and how to include intense optimism as a brand value without grossing everyone out, among other things. Come back soon!