When we hear the word ‘No’ in our professional and even personal lives, for some of us, it often elicits crippling emotions that are not always easy to deal with. For some people, it may be easy to compartmentalize and move on, but to others it may be a little more challenging.
When I wrote my second book in 2015 and made the decision to become an entrepreneur, I found myself wearing the event planner hat. As an employee at my day job years ago, I planned smaller events and really loved the creative process and reaping the fruits of my labor. I realized that I had a passion for planning events and making others happy, especially when I saw just how much folks enjoyed them and looked forward to the next one. So I decided working for myself, it should not be too hard.
I was wrong.
As a new start-up, you often find yourself having to do lots of things – marketing, sales, admin, courier, HR, event planner, the list is endless. You may not have a passion for all of these things, but you must do it anyway if you are to survive the first few years.
But the part I couldn’t come to terms with was hearing the word – No. Now, this may seem a little over the top to the average person, but in my mind, hearing the word no, was akin to swearing. I’ll explain why. Growing up and even during my early adult life, I did not hear the word no very often! I know it may sound a bit spoilt, but that was my reality, until I stepped into the real world and got a rude awakening.
I am still awakening every day to the cold harsh truths of life and conforming to the ways of the world, where people come in all different disguises and rarely say what they mean and mean what they say. But that’s another chapter you can read all about in my book!
Part of my challenge with rejection was the fact that I could not separate the business aspect, from the personal part. I thought a rejection of my products/services, was a rejection of me as a person. Because in my mind, I think my product or event is just super wonderful and I would love for everyone to experience it, because the proof is in the pudding. That’s why I have so many repeat customers. But after a few rejections, truth be told, I actually started to lose my zeal and soon the doubts and depression crept in. I began to ask myself, “Am I really good?” “Would people really pay to hear me alone speak? Who do you think you are, Oprah?” Oh, the agony of entrepreneurship!
These are the things that people seldom talk about. And no one would ever guess that I had these fears and doubts, because I managed to get it together and keep the excitement building, no matter how crappy I am feeling on the inside. It’s all about making customers happy and fulfilling your purpose. I don’t have a choice – this is my destiny. I am thankful for my supportive customers turned friends who serve to remind me of the value I bring to the world.
From the outside, when the public sees a successful event, they really don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. That’s why you should never judge a book by its cover and compare your life or ‘successes’ to others, because everyone is fighting some sort of battle internally.
Let me paint a picture so you can relate. Sometimes folks would express interest in your event or your product/service, then for a reason unbeknownst to you, they bail or worse yet – stall. A few others would never respond to you and all you hear is – crickets. And yet others would outright tell you, “I am just not interested.” I guess it depends on who says it and how they say it. But lemme tell ya, you got to have a thick skin in business in order to push through the veneer and take your brand to the next level.
I remember saying this to the audience at my first ever paid public event in April 2016 at The Chancellor Hotel in Trinidad and I would never forget what one woman who I had only just met told me afterwards. She said she could relate to what I was saying so much that she had to fight back tears. She even whipped out her notepad to take notes and took some shots with her phone. A couple others were recording video with their phones.
This was one of the first times, it became real that I indeed had a Divine purpose to touch hearts and lives in a personable way, regardless of my many imperfections and how difficult the ‘No’s’ may seem.
What I have also learnt is to not take everything so personal. Observe a pattern over time and try to diversify your offering or try a different approach with your customers. I’ve found that some of the same people that did not respond initially, can later turn out to be your best customers and supporters. This has happened a few times and I realized what my former business coach Carissa Daniel said was true: “Everyone has a unique life with different things going on, you can’t possibility take things so personal.”
So indeed, the theme of my most recent event rings true: ‘Follow your Passion, Shine like a Star’ because you were created for a deeper purpose. Don’t let anyone or anything dim your shine and cause you to lose speed or undervalue yourself and your contribution to the world.
By Carolyn K. Correia
Carolyn K. Correia is the author of Thinking out Loud, How To Find Yourself and Claim What’s Yours and she missed the boat on love. She is also a communications consultant, freelance writer, blogger and motivational speaker. Learn more here www.carolyncorreia.com or stay updated on Facebook –CarolynCorreiaAuthor.