Getting Out of My Own Way ~
Linda and I were in our home kitchen in Portland, filling orders for chocolate jars, laughing while totally high on cacao. A thought flashed through my head…what if I end up having a real kitchen and providing jobs for many amazing friends? The door on that thought slammed shut just as quickly as it had opened. Why? Not because I didn’t LOVE the way it felt. It simply seemed completely, totally, utterly impossible. Looking back I realize that I just wasn’t able to dream that big. Fear isn’t the right word for what held my dreams at bay. I’m actually not sure how to describe it. Almost like it just didn’t occur to me that I would ever be capable of success. I was at peace with teaching yoga and waiting tables, the chocolate was just my passion. It took me a very long time to accept that my passion would lead me to becoming the woman who writes to you today. This week I take a break from my Evolution of Lulu’s Chocolate chronology to ponder this.
The Unlikely CEO
I had never taken interest in the world of business as a way of life. CEO sounded to me like the prognosis of a possibly terminal illness. You could even say I considered myself “allergic” to business. I’m all about human equality, peace, love and freedom. Not about the rat race and chasing down dollars. I had no idea that I was creating a successful, lasting brand while becoming a pioneer in the raw chocolate movement. I was a hippy chocolatier and it wasn’t until last year (9 years in) that I even felt the slightest connection to the letters CEO. I still hug plenty of trees and lay around on nude beaches (I got married on one) but at some point it clicked that these things are not in conflict with money and success. I also realized that technology did not need to be an enemy that disconnects me from the natural world and I got over my resistance to FB and Instagram. Obviously balance is needed when it comes to spending time in cyber world, but before last year I never would have believed someone if they told me that I would decide to take over 100% of our social media. It’s a great way to stay inspired, feel appreciated and connect with the people who support what I’ve created instead of just seeing them as numbers on a chart. I’m also in full control of my website’s customer service. I take this personally and feel truly honored that my product is worked into one’s budget. Being CEO means that I have to deal with my bullshit ideas about the “evils of money.” As a child, night after night, my parents fought about cash and I grew to think of money as a problem. Of course wealth doesn’t equal happiness, but neither does being broke. Now I practice honoring it as flow and energy, accepting that I need cash for my dreams (I want to take care of my family and do great things in the world) and lifestyle. I remember when it seemed impossible that Lulu’s could ever pull in six digits a year. That happened and then the goal became one million. When that goal was born, achieving it seemed akin to pigs flying, but this year it’s going to happen. As I work on our five year business plan, which includes growing the company to eight digits in annual revenue, again it seems impossible from here. But now I have the past evidence of how many “impossible” things became my reality. Reluctance to dreaming big is all in my head and on a good day I can muster up the compassion to laugh at my limiting thought patterns. Being CEO is thrilling as it forces me out of my comfort zone, challenges my self imposed limitations and asks me to be a better me, dreaming beyond fear.
I’m in Sedona right now with my beloved crew, the Dream Team. That vision I had in my kitchen back in 2007 became reality and my payroll has a dozen amazing souls on it. They call me Boss Kitty and I prefer saying they work “with” me, not “for” me. We are a family…a very high on cacao, loving family. As with most families, there are challenges, communication being the biggest. This one is exasperated by the fact that I now live across the country, in Asheville, North Carolina. So I’m here working on this and we are all beautifully growing together. Being away from my company has benefits as well. It required more delegation, which has given me space and time to figure out what being CEO means. For example, we don’t have a marketing budget this year (its getting out of debt time, yay) so I get to figure out how to do that. B-School starts today and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from that journey. As I wrote about in my last post, overwhelm still comes but I am getting better all the time at channeling it into curiosity. Curiosity is juicy and leads us to find answers whereas overwhelm inspires self-pity and feeds insecurity. Choose wisely. Being in Sedona in the arms of my “Oompa Loompas” pulls at my heart strings and I want us all together again. So here I am trying to talk them all into moving to Asheville and searching out commercial real estate to not only open a second Lounge, but to move the entire company. It may seem crazy that I left it all here to move to Asheville, but the only reason I’m where I’m at today is from following my heart and I’m not about to quit. Logic only gets one so far. Magic works miracles. I recently had a marketing miracle: to my delighted surprise, our Love Truffles were highlighted as best healthy chocolate by both Health and Natural News for Valentine’s this year. They have a collective FB following of over 6 million people, not to mention their even larger subscriber list. So perhaps this marketing thing is going to work out just fine. On that note, I do hope you will join me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I’m honored that you’ve decided to join me here and truly hope that you’ll find inspiration in my journey. I pray that you find the courage to dream big and take action. Don’t let old conditioning or overwhelm get in your way. If it arises, don’t deny it…move through it towards the evolution of your own soul. I leave you with this video from Marie Forleo, The Power of Following Your Fear. With Love & Inspiration,