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If we are connected on LinkedIn, you probably know a lot about what I have been up to over the past few months! Between mid-September and mid-December, I gave a TEDx talk*, led a meeting for my networking group*, released my first book*, became an international best selling author (and a #1 US bestseller)*, and ran a sub-2 hour half marathon*. Even I have to admit that that all looks impressive as a list but, as you can imagine, there is quite a bit more to the story – hence the asterisk on each item!
I have been calling it my “Swan Quarter” – beautiful and graceful above the surface but with feet paddling frantically below the waterline. In fact, the only way I was able to present that swan-like image for so long was by promising myself that I would share the full picture, too. So here it is – the asterisk that goes with every item on the list and a glimpse into what it took to create that list!
Let’s start this list off with a rather large confession – one of the first things that happened to me on my journey to the TEDx Pleasanton stage was a miscommunication where I thought I had been accepted several months before they selected the final speakers. Oops!
The very first thing I did after “learning” that I had been selected was ask Doris Pickering of Silicon Valley Speaks to help me prepare. The very first thing I did when I realized my error was to send a very chagrined message to my family and close friends but the second thing I did was to decide to honor the engagement with Doris. I knew that there was a very real chance that I would be preparing to give my talk to a camera for my website instead of for a TEDx audience but I still wanted that talk to be the best it could.
Jumping ahead in the story, I posted a bit about this after the talk happened but there is no way I would have been on that stage without her help. Doris listened to me explain what I wanted to convey and showed me how to restructure the talk to do so. She helped me tweak and refine and even gave me multiple venues to practice with an audience. As a result, I had my talk finished and memorized before I was actually accepted as a speaker.
It still took a lot of work to polish and prepare in the weeks between acceptance and delivery but nothing like the amount of effort I would have had to put in if I hadn’t made my embarrassing error or if I hadn’t had Doris by my side from such an early stage.
This asterisk is a bit different because the reaction to Alay Yajnik giving me the chance to lead the September gathering of the San Ramon 3 chapter of ProVisors caught me completely off guard (in a fabulous way). Many of you are likely quite confused by that sentence. To get everyone on the same page, ProVisors is an amazing networking referral group that I joined in March 2020. It is a community of expert advisors, mostly in professional services, who lean on each other to support our clients, colleagues, friends, and family with everything from estate planning to operational efficiency.
Within ProVisors, there are many chapters that are called “home groups” and I belong to two. San Ramon 3 was the first chapter I joined and it is a room full of amazing people. When I attended my very first San Ramon 3 meeting, days before the first stay at home orders hit, I distinctly thought to myself, “Oh, this is where they are hiding!” I had found the CPAs and estate planners and fellow consultants that my network needed to know.
Since then, I have spent a lot of time attending ProVisors meetings and building up my own network within the organization. I participate regularly in almost ten meetings every month and am on the leadership committee for several of them. But September was the first time I stepped into the spotlight to truly lead one of these sessions.
Alay does such a fantastic job of planning the SR3 meetings that taking over was honestly pretty straightforward and I didn’t think much of it. But not every group is nearly so lucky in how their leader plans and not every member is nearly as comfortable as I am taking on the dynamic challenge of keeping dozens of professionals on an agenda for 90 minutes. So here is the second giant asterisk – Alay made this really easy. His work and preparation since April 2020 all built up to make my moment in the sun successful, smooth, and fun.
Let’s start this section with the truly gigantic asterisk that belongs on the very first word of this section header: “I” was definitely “we” when it comes to anything related to Generation Innovation because my incredible co-author Lisa Levesque was by my side every moment of this journey. We have posted on LinkedIn already about how we met and how much we have enjoyed working together but it bears repeating here. I asked Lisa in our very first 1:1 conversation if she would like to write an article with me and she jumped right in!
Coming back to my swan quarter, even though the book came out in November 2023, we had a complete first draft in May of 2021! Of course, that draft bears incredibly little resemblance to the version that was just published but that is thanks to our fabulous pre-readers and the editor we hired to help us keep everything in perspective. From that flimsy first draft, we finished a full second draft that formed the core of what we eventually published by early 2022.
Then I had a baby and everything paused for almost 6 months! That break was a huge boon to our writing effort as it gave both of us the space to decide that we really did believe in what we were creating. We had both been feeling a bit burned out but by the time we came back and read Generation Innovation after the time away, each of us realized that we genuinely thought it was a good book! That’s a pretty cool feeling.
But it still took us many months of editing, learning about Amazon and self-publishing, and promoting the book to actually get it into the hands of readers. There is no way I would have made it without Lisa and the incredible community around us.
Ok, but at least running is a solo sport, right? So how much of a caveat could there be for this one?
Well, remember the part in the last section about having had a baby? That means that training and running was only possible with the support of my husband, the daycare, our families, and the broader community that helps us ensure that the little one is cared for even if I am out for a run. Even maintaining the motivation to get out regularly enough to hit my goal for the year has relied on others in the form of the friends around the country who form my accountability group, and running buddies at Disney.
Running was once a very individual activity for me but I am realizing that, at this point in my life, there is basically nothing that happens without a little bit of help.
Plus, I ran the sub-2 half in November but I was within 2 minutes of that goal in February of 2023. It took me building back up my strength and fitness steadily from mid-2022 to be able to come anywhere close to my target time before the close of 2023.
By now, you may have realized that there are really only two caveats that I have repeated over and over in different ways. 1) Timing is deceiving and 2) Success stems from the right support. Despite the showy, public culminations all happening in a close cluster, each of these accomplishments took years to achieve. And none of them would have been possible without the amazing community of family, friends, colleagues, clients, coaches, consultants, and more who have lifted me up over the past few months.
Hmmmm, maybe I should have just called this article “Thank you”.