I think it's important to be intentional about all things, but carving out time to reflect should definitely be on that list. As we wrap up the last year of this decade, this is a big reflection opportunity.
Let's start with a 2019 recap with a quick rundown of the major milestones from this past year, both personally and professionally (because while balance feels near impossible most of the time, it's still important to at least try).
- I became an Adjunct Professor at Marquette University. Teaching is so hard. It's one thing to guest lecture for an hour or hold a speaking engagement, but to teach for three hours every week to college students and get them to not only try but maybe even care, woof. It's so hard. But it's also incredibly rewarding. I felt like such a proud mama bird by the end of the semester watching all my baby birds fly off and start their careers.
- I became a national speaker. I had the great privilege of speaking at Content Marketing Conference in Boston and Content Marketing World in Cleveland and spoke over a dozen times throughout the year.
- I became the President of 414digital. This was such an honor and I had so many grand ideas and hopes and dreams to bring to fruition but realized sometimes we have to prioritize given our resources.
- I joined TEMPO Milwaukee's Emerging Women Leaders cohort. I found my ladies. Man oh man, being surrounded by ambitious, business-minded women really gets me going. I really love these women.
- I found a mentor. Shout out to Lori Richards, President of Mueller Communications and shout out to TEMPO for matching us up. To all professionals, especially entrepreneurs, I really recommend finding a mentor. Lori has saved me from myself numerous times this past year but I also think I've been able to help her a few times as well. I'm so insanely grateful for our relationship!
- I traveled quite a bit. I somehow found myself in Florida four times this year, almost entirely for work. Traveled coast to coast on behalf of Brainchild Studios, from San Francisco to New York and Washington, D.C. Traveled to Atlanta to join O-Cedar in a Habitat for Humanity build, an absolutely incredible experience. Spoke in Boston and Cleveland. Vacationed in Quebec City, Arizona, and Iceland.
- I crossed off a few bucket list items. I hiked the Grand Canyon, competed in my third sprint triathlon, and visited a new country (Iceland).
- We won a few awards. Most notably, Brainchild Studios was awarded Business Services Company of the Year with 10 or less employees. 25 nations and over 1500 nominations were submitted to the Stevie Awards, and we walked away with four awards, sweeping the Stevies. It was incredibly humbling. We were also listed as a Wisconsin Inno 50 On Fire, awarded the 414digital Trailblazer award, and I was nominated as one of BizStart's Inspirational Entrepreneurs this year.
- I hired my first full-time leadership position in my company. I always knew hiring this position would be a pivotal point for me and I'm so thrilled to have a COO helping me run Brainchild Studios now!
Major lessons learned in 2019:
(Courtesy of my friend Rachel!)
- Say no. I got to about April/May of this past year and realized I had bit off way more than I could chew and I needed to find appropriate ways to downsize my commitments and focus.
- You can have it all, just not all at once. I've been juggling a lot of balls in the air for the last three years, specifically entrepreneurship, financial, health, personal relationships, personal development, giving back, and me time. While I do believe women can have their cake and eat it too, I don't think anyone can have the full dessert tray and hoover it at the same time without getting sick. So for the last few years, I've focused on building a strong company to create a foundation for growth. But in the process, I've gained 15 pounds, developed some bad habits, and lost track of being a well-rounded human. So this summer, I learned to golf and trained for a sprint triathlon. I made a promise to myself to keep up with five minutes of Duolingo every day this year and I've done a pretty good job at that. I also read 24 books this year and realized that's something I need to do consistently because I just really enjoy it.
- Spend your life doing things you believe in. Yes, just like Cher. This year, Brainchild Studios pivoted and added a focus of working with nonprofits that support women and children because we so wholeheartedly believe in this work.
- Life is short. Love the life you live and find a way to contribute to the world in the process. Just in the past few days, I've learned of the loss of a 3-month-old and a 47-year-old whose lives were cut way too short. While heartbreaking, it's a reminder that we should make every moment we have on this earth count.
As for this decade...
This decade is responsible for almost the entirety of my professional career. I worked at a number of companies, started three of my own, traveled to over a dozen countries, earned my MBA, and really began to dive into understanding more about the life I want to live.
I think what it boils down to is intention. Be intentional in your words, your actions, your investments - whether they be hobbies, assets, careers, or people. Live your life with meaning and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. Their life intentions don't have to align with yours. You are uniquely positioned to be you and bring your gifts to the world in a way that no one else can. So do the work to understand who you are, what makes you tick, the things that matter most to you, and figure out how to bring that to the world. And be unapologetic about it.
For this upcoming decade...
My goal is to be a better and healthier leader, significant other, daughter, sister, and friend. I vow to continue creating opportunities for women, supporting equality, being an advocate for those whose voices may not be heard, growing as an individual, and seeking life adventures.
I also hope this upcoming decade teaches me how to be a great mother, which I'm assuming will turn into the biggest adventure of them all. Fingers crossed! (No, this is not an announcement, just saying a decade is 10 years...these will be my babymaking years if I have them!)
My wish for all of you is to be the best version of yourself. One of my favorite quotes from an improv diety, TJ Jagodowski, is "all that improv asks of you is to be everything that you are - just all at once." I wish for everyone to be their best daily improviser day-in and day-out. Love yourself and push yourself to be the best you that you can be.
Happy New Year!