Having someone else expose some ugly truths and weaknesses about your business isn’t always what an entrepreneur wants to hear. Read below to hear how Keisha Mabry took those words and used them to motivate herself and stay Brazen in her mission to revive and promote #friendworking.
During my first year in business I did what every entrepreneur is advised to do. I surveyed my target audience, I completed a business model canvass, I did a competitive analysis, I developed a go-to-market strategy and I made sure there was always a host of mentors, advocates, sponsors and coaches around me. I made sure of this, and one coach in particular gives me reason to reminisce.
On January 11, 2017 I received my first session of executive coaching. I remember the day being very cold but I was warmed by the thought of fine-tuning the mold for my newly incorporated coaching and consulting firm. Oh how I was excited to learn. I walked in, sat down, pulled out my pen and paper and was ready to go to learning town when my coach walked in with a frown turned upside down.
He was smiling from ear to ear and cheek to cheek and I could feel his energy radiating. He said hello, I said hello back and then we started to chat. We talked about my greatest strengths, the contributions I wanted to make to the world, the top three things that were important to me, the way I spent my time when I had time that was free, the person that made the greatest impact in my life, what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be and what made me happy.
We talked and talked and talked for two hours straight, but then he asked me two questions that questioned my fate. He asked me if I was a performer or a leader and if the goals, mission and vision of my newly incorporated coaching and consulting firm were realistic. Can you really make a living by traveling the world teaching people qualitative things like networking or should you shift your focus to quantitative coaching, he asked.
“Yes I am a leader and yes I can travel the world teaching people qualitative things because qualitative things are a need.”
He asked and I answered: YES. Yes I am a leader and yes I can travel the world teaching people qualitative things because qualitative things are a need. In a world plagued by no new friends, counting friends on one hand, transactional networking and where talking via tech is preferred over in-person chats—friendship is more important now than ever. BUT, the art and science of making friends is dying and I, Keisha Mabry, want to revive it.
The Connection Curator is a mission-driven connection agency or better yet a movement. A movement to get people to stop networking and to start #friendworking. A movement to make the world friendly again or at the very least friendlier than it’s ever been. A movement to change the world one connection at a time with hundreds of people in hundreds of days in hundreds of ways. So YES I can.
He looked at me, I looked at him, he looked at me, and I looked back at him. He was impressed by my response but he still wasn’t convinced. He wasn’t convinced that I could make a living by doing this — this qualitative networking thing. He wasn’t convinced so I grabbed my pen and paper and I left in a pinch. I left in a pinch, I left hard-pressed, I left upset and I left cold. No. I was no longer warm from excitement – I was now cold from self-doubtment and yes self-doubtment is a made up word. It means the result of doubt.
Sometimes we as women entrepreneurs can doubt ourselves. We doubt ourselves because the road is rough, the road is tough, the road is bumpy, lumpy, coarse, and lonely. Really lonely because a lot of times we are THE ONLY. The only woman, the only person of color, the only one in our family. We are the only and when we are the only, coaching can come across as insulting and not coaching, coaching can come across as discouraging not encouraging, coaching can come across as a downer not an upper and coaching can come across as more hurtful than helpful.
“We doubt ourselves because the road is rough, the road is tough, the road is bumpy, lumpy, coarse, and lonely. Really lonely because a lot of times we are THE ONLY. The only woman, the only person of color, the only one in our family.”
But in retrospect, coaching is meant to propel us forward not backward, it’s meant to keep us from reinventing the wheel and to help us learn from the mistakes of others instead of experiencing the mistakes ourselves. It’s meant to do just that but we as entrepreneurs can at times take coaching out of context. We can and I almost did until I reminded myself that I was brazen. I was bold and without shame and I was bold unapologetically. And in that moment I didn’t need to convince my coach of this – I needed to convince me. Me, myself and I.
And so I did.
I sat in my car, in my wonder woman pose, in my Olivia Pope clothes, with my head held high, with my eyes to the sky and I cried. But it wasn’t a sad cry. It was a happy cry to clear my mind. Crying cleanses the mind, body and soul and crying is my way of getting back to whole. So I cried.
And after crying I felt less cold. I felt less cold and I thought about my coach’s comments. Yes…I was a leader but in what ways was I a performer and how could I obtain the skills and gaps in my leadership profile to move myself from performer to leader in those areas? And secondly, but most importantly, yes I could make a living teaching people qualitative things like networking – or as I like to call it connecting. Yes I could but did any parts of my business model need adjusting and did my pitch need some fine-tuning?
For the next hour I had a brazen conversation with myself and then I left the parking lot, headed home, sat on my counter top and fine-tuned everything from my problem statement to my value prop. My coach had called my baby ugly and I didn’t like it but I needed it. And after having a brazen conversation with myself I finally was ready to receive it. And that’s it. That’s my brazen story.
My Advice to other women entrepreneurs who might face a similar scenario is to be coachable and be brazen, bold and unapologetic to others – yes – but don’t forget to be brazen, bold and unapologetic to yourself when needed to conquer self-fear, self-doubt and all of the other things that tell us that we are not worthwhile.
Follow Keisha and The Connection Curator on Twitter and LinkedIn @KeishaMabry and on her website, keishamabry.com
The Connection Curator is a connection agency with ONE GOAL “change the world one connection at a time.” We are a group of wooers, doers and social influencers committed to genuine, authentic relationships. Connect with us and we will equip you with the confidence, charisma and communication expertise needed to succeed from branding to sales training and everything in between.
Keisha Mabry is an author, speaker and social entrepreneur on a mission to change the world one connection at a time. She has been featured on National Public Radio, the Nine Network, Fox 2, NextStepU, The Business Journal and Blavity for her work in personal branding and networking – or as she likes to call it – connecting. Pretty soon she will be featured on TED.com for her upcoming TED talk Hello – A Bridge to Friendships, Relationships, Good Health and Good Wealth. In addition, Keisha is a contributor for the Huffington Post and Watch the Yard, and her new book Hey Friend: 100 Ways to Connect with 100 People in 100 Days is a movement to make the world friendly again — or at the very least friendlier than it’s ever been. It’s a must-read, a fun read and the ultimate guide to teaching people how to meet new peeps. Keisha believes that by connecting people to people and people to resources she can increase movements, access, communication and progress to get the right people in the right seats to end inequality. Learn more about this fearlessly free human being at www.keishamabry.com. #heyfriend