I know. Unless I’ve struck it lucky on the coincidence stakes, it’s not your birthday. It’s ours! 5 years since Remarkable Women (formerly known as Somebody Inside) came into the World. Who knew we’d make it this far? Not me, that’s for sure.
These last 5 years have featured some of the greatest learnings of my life and some of the biggest moments of personal growth.
These are the years I learned that I know very little at all, and that, most of the time, that’s a very good thing indeed.
I’ve noticed recently we rarely share what’s going on behind the scenes. The reasoning behind our choices and the services we offer. On our 5th birthday it feels important to reveal our intentions in this beautiful ever evolving creation. To reveal that our decision making process is all about our daily experiments in creating a newer bolder way of living. There are gems to share with everyone for sure, whether you are an entrepreneur or not.
You see, HOW we create this business matters.
It matters because underneath a suite of products is a tiny, carefully constructed and well debated machine that is making decisions based on modelling and leading in a new way. A way that enables us to create impact in bold ways. It’s a way that fundamentally requires us to think carefully before we do the things and follow the formulas that ‘the World’ expects us to. Just as we are out in the World teaching YOU to create your remarkable life, we’re asking our business to be a key enabler in how we create ours too.
At the very heart of what we do is a fundamental commitment that we will never ask you to do things that we do not live and breathe ourselves.
That means of course, that whilst this business has been growing, we have been growing too. In each and every ‘growing pain’ we have found a masterclass that has enabled us to break new boundaries for ourselves and often discover, no surprise really, that once we get out of our own way, the path is easier than we imagined. Oh, can our humanness insist on making it hard first though!
A few months ago, on a long journey, my husband turned to me and apologised for ‘mansplaining’ how to run a business. With laughter in his eyes he beamed as he explained that he simply couldn’t imagine how things could possibly work the way we had outlined them and how we now realised that he had been placing limitations on possibility (this from a man who is more creative in his ideation than almost anyone I know). ‘It’s so exciting what you’re doing’ he said, ‘I’m so proud of you two for sticking with it, even when we all told you there was an easier way. We were wrong. You are showing us something different’.
From that conversation, many things emerged for me. I realised that, whilst our motives were clear in how we were building Remarkable Women, we had never felt the need to share it with the World I see now, it matters more than we thought. In fact, it’s at the very heart of everything we teach.
Showing you the insides of our decisions matters.
Even if you think we’re mad or it can’t be replicated anywhere else (I’ve had that feedback more times in my corporate career than you can imagine), in this birthday message to you, I’m simply planting seeds in your subconscious that may offer you new insights in how to create your remarkable life.
Let’s start here. With the partnership.
Yin and Yang
Nic and I have a long-standing commitment to building a business that we are in love with and that has a profound impact. It’s a high level sentence but it offers more challenge and stretch than you might think. It’s also where so much of the creativity and evolution unfolds from.
You see, it’s easier than you might think to build a model that has the potential to make an impact. But one we are in love with too?
That brings all kind of challenges. And it’s those challenges that bring the creative tension. They are the ones that birth a business like Remarkable Women, with two mothers who are aligned in their desires, but who act, think and do differently.
Nic and I are not the same people. We do not get our juice in the same ways. What energises Nic can often deplete me and vice versa. I am high action, she is high being. In addition, there are things neither of us want to do that most would say simply ‘have to happen’ in a business.
We say no to those things. Just as we say no to things that bring an unfair burden to one of us in terms of how we both want to live.
In that no is an opening to infinite possibilities.
‘If we’re not going to do it that way, then how on earth are we going to do it?’.
Then we sit in the mess and work it out.
We place small bets to see what happens and we run tiny experiments.
Running experiments, all the damn time. Sometimes, it’s even fun.
Actually, it’s a lot of fun these days. This realisation that nothing is forever and we can change our minds any time we like? Freedom right there.
The things we will not do
Back in the day, it was beyond tempting to do things the way we were ‘supposed to’ and, as we learned a new industry (that we did not understand at all back then), we tried a number of them. There was one at least that had us crystal clear from the start.
We were not tapping on the door of corporates to win consultancy and coaching work.
‘Madness!’ said a quite a lot of people.
I get it. We both had huge corporate pedigrees. We could easily have set up a consultancy and won work with big names. It was the obvious route. Many people shook their heads incredulously when we said no.
What was the no about? I can speak for me, suspecting Nic’s story may be a little different, although aligned.
I did not want to spend my time creating and debating powerpoint proposals and negotiating to win work that would rarely, if ever end up the way I had imagined it. I did not want to persuade. I wanted to do it my way. Having been on the other side as a powerful buyer, I know how I had behaved in those days, because that’s how we were trained to do it. I knew the inevitability of that path and I didn’t want it.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with consultancy in general, I am saying I knew it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t trust myself not to bring my chameleon to the table and mould myself into whatever was being asked for. I didn’t want the frustration I knew would come for me when I try to write a pitch that everyone skips to the price and works backwards from anyway. I could not bear the thought of toning down our work to fit what was ‘acceptable’. I did not like the thought of who I would become.
It was not that I would never work for corporates, it was that I would not trust myself to enter that world until we had found a way to create something that we loved.
I got scared too. I did take on corporate work. Sometimes with brilliant clients and sometimes with ones that I knew from the get-go were going to frustrate me and create problems. I needed money so I justified it. Of course, every time I did that, I learned more things. They weren’t fun lessons, but they were important ones.
In the main though, we put that option to one side. Corporates were ‘cash’ projects not ‘heart’ ones. And sometimes, like all small businesses, we needed cash. At least, I did.
It took us four years to work out a model that really enabled us to engage with businesses in a way that we could be in love with. Since this blog is definitely going to break the length rule, let’s make that a story for another day. It’s too good to condense. Suffice it to say, we landed on something that turned out to be bolder than we imagined and easier than we thought. We work with some huge names right now. Our way. It is a complete joy. It was worth the wait.
Ah, of course we fell for that one. At least I did. (Thank goodness for a business partner who is also a monk because that means she knows how to stop my inherent madness sometimes). The lure of ‘followers’ was too much at many points in the journey. We got off to a healthy start. Engagement was higher than almost anyone else we could see out there and we had a really loyal early following.
But creating clients? Ha! It was a lot of hours work to create very few. And hugely disappointing to see a growing base of followers who didn’t seem to want to buy anything at all (I’m also highly aware that we weren’t so good at explaining what we actually do, an ongoing thing that we have a different and highly effective solution to now). LinkedIn turned out to be the place that did make a difference. Facebook, not a bit of it. Don’t even get me started on my daft idea to ‘try out’ Instagram (because everyone is, so we really should).
OF COURSE it’s possible to make money using social media platforms. When you write to me (because you do) offering me social media help because ‘that’s a great opportunity we’re missing out on’, it must seem odd when we say, ‘no thank you, we like it the way it is’. I know that if we had stuck with it, we’d have worked it out in the end. But we were not having fun. We were not in love with it in any way whatsoever. In fact, I’d say, it was making our mood worse. That’s a big no around here.
Every now and then, we post something. If we feel like it. Has the business fallen over? No. It has grown exponentially. Will we ever focus on growing our Instagram platform?
We change our minds all the time and reserve the continued right to be utterly inconsistent in our decision making. We are 100% sure we are a giant HELL NO until it feels like fun.
Which leads me to my next point…
Leaving money on the table
Oh friends, yes, we do this ALL OF THE TIME. I know it drives loads of you mad. I’m not sure it’s going to make you feel any better when I say it’s deliberate (and I know makes no sense for those of you who know me well and know my fear of not making enough money to survive), but it is a CONSCIOUS choice.
The bigger game here is lives of impact AND joy.
That’s what we want for you and it’s what we want for us too. So when we ran experiment number eleventy-billion, ‘Shall we run a membership subscription business?’ it didn’t take long at all (although it did take a small bet investment) to realise, NO WE WILL NOT.
Because, we don’t want to run an IT business. We don’t want to become experts on learning how to create subscribers. It. Is. Not. Fun. For us.
And yet we continue to create subscription material. Yes we do. We have subscribers (we just don’t build our strategy around generating thousands more) and it has turned out to be a brilliant way for us to create tiny moments of learning on things we know can make a difference. It’s highly useful for us to have a library to draw down on when we want to explain a concept. The creation IS fun. And we’ve worked out a way to use it. Our way. Spotting the theme yet?
But you could get people to do this stuff for you…
Yes we could. In fact, that’s the obvious solution isn’t it?
Because here’s another decision we’ve made (that we reserve the right to change our minds on). We will not bring into our business mechanisms that we do not like or enjoy talking about. What we will do is find another way.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t jobs in the business that we don’t do ourselves. And of course, we are bringing in skill sets we don’t have. But we are not creating a business that means we spend time in meetings talking about things we simply have no interest in. Because if we aren’t jumping up and down with excitement about something the product or system itself is missing our infusion of infectious possibility and enthusiasm.
We want you to experience things we love and that are filled with love.
So we sit in the conversation of, ‘what’s another way?’ until we find it.
Has that led to sleepless nights and worrying about the money in the bank? Yes. It absolutely has.
It has also led to a business that is continuing to flourish in new and unexpected ways. One that we are falling MORE in love with each time we make decisions that are aligned to our heart and soul and our mission in the world.
It has led to Remarkable Women still being here five years on and me not escaping to something easier, more familiar.
It has led to a fundamental belief that OF COURSE there are different, more exciting ways to do things.
Where will it take us? We have no idea.
But here’s what I know. It’s one of the most exciting experiments I have ever been a part of. Because now I know IN MY BONES that we can find new ways to do things. Ways that allow us to be MORE human, MORE heart centred, MORE fulfilled, MORE alive.
I also know THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER WAY.
And that simple statement is our gift to YOU today.
Happy Birthday Remarkable Women.
Create your Remarkable Life.