I am always learning how to be the future, better me.
Everyone has a story, right?
Well, here's mine. Every word of it is true. I hope that you'll see that if I can transform my life with the tools of technology and the Internet, then so can YOU.
The turning point in my life came in the mid-1990's when I bought my first computer and fell in love with the Internet. More specifically, I fell in love with all the possibilities that I could turn into actualities and I knew I could transform my life.
And I did.
Though I had dropped out of college in the 80's (communications and marketing major), to support my now-ex-husband, so he could pursue his dreams, and I could, one day, benefit from that and start to live MY dreams, it didn't happen that way. I ended up sacrificing 15 years to HIS dream.
Even though I could beat myself up, thinking I had wasted those years, in fact, every moment was necessary (including having a wonderful son and many happy memories) in order to achieve my future success.
You see, I wasn't always the Founder of a successful Online Marketing agency. I wasn't always an SEO expert/Website Producer/Social Media Strategist/Blogger.
I used to work a job that I just wasn't me: it was not my true passion or calling in life.
But even though I disliked the career path I was on at the time, I still took IMMENSE pride in my work and respected my employees and my customers and they respected me. I did my job quite well. Sound familiar? Are you in these shoes now?
I was a General Manager for McDonald's. I went to "Hamburger" University, which sounds like a joke, but it's actually one of the best places in the world to quickly learn how to be a great leader; a good mentor and coach to a variety of people from diverse backgrounds; and run a profitable, $3 million-a-year award-winning business. Ask around. Many great leaders today started out with McDonald's.
I learned a LOT about business and life because of McDonald's and the supervisors and franchise owner who coached me. Most of all I learned that, by loving and nurturing your customers (internal customers, too - your employees), you could grow your business. And I mean grow it through the roof, sister!
And because it was a franchise, there were systems in place. There was an Operations & Training manual. There were procedures to always follow and sometimes NOT follow if it meant your customer would walk away ECSTATIC at the quality of her experience in your place of business that day. (Read The E-Myth Revisited to see what its author, Michael Gerber, says about McDonald's and its operations.)
There were crises to get through and fires to put out, in order to learn what the definition of the words "True Character" actually mean. If you want to see someone's true character, place them into a situation in which it feels like there is no hope. Then see who shines as a leader. I did this many, many times. Not like a soldier. It was never life-or-death situations, of course. But some pretty challenging things happened that most people would have given up on instead of finding a way through.
Even though my inner creative shining brilliant soul was being stifled, I still grew.
To make a long story short, even though I was inwardly miserable because I thought I was STUCK in a job that just WAS NOT ME, I was actually LEARNING how to be the FUTURE ME - the one who's here now, running her OWN company; managing her OWN people; pleasing her OWN clients and making a very nice profit doing it, too.
I even got to create McDonald's first website before the corporation had its own website. I pitched it to my franchise owner and he believed in me. That was one of the first times I innovated or what is now called "Disrupted" and it felt GREAT.
Isn't life funny, sometimes? You think you're doing something that's useless or certainly not fulfilling your mission in life and it ends up being the foundation of your future success.
Even then, working three days on my business, it took me two years before being able to leave McDonald's. I gave birth to my beautiful boy. He has grown up with the Internet, too, digital since birth (DSB). I remember nursing him while sitting at my desktop computer, happily coding my first "Home Page" by hand. I learned how passionate and determined I was because I figured: if I can nurse a baby and manually write code at the same time, in order to launch my first website, then I could do anything.
There was no WordPress or other publishing platform that used the "Point and Click" or "Drag and Drop" method to create web pages back then. I took night classes once a week at my local community college to learn HTML and graphic design (they didn't have web design classes yet). I eagerly learned (on my own) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other things because there were no such things as "online courses" or blogs to teach me how to do anything like we have now.
That didn't matter because I just knew I was meant to do this. I was born to show others how to leverage the Internet to transform their lives.
I was ready to take my leap of faith away from a job that just wasn't me and to launch my new life.
But I was scared.
I was so scared. Here's why: I wanted to talk to my supervisor and ask if I could work four 12-hour days instead of five days. The reason was so I could work for three days-a-week on my (then) part-time business of designing and programming websites for business owners and eventually go full-time with my own company and launch the life of my dreams.
But I was scared she'd say no. Worse: I was afraid she'd fire me. And I just wasn't quite ready to earn a living with my part-time/side hustle yet.
God, The Universe, Good Karma - Whatever You Prefer to Call the Powers That Be, sent me one of many Angels to help me.
I just happened to have met a Personal Life Coach at that time in my life. Her name is Christine Thomas and she helped me (in just one session!) to face my fear and talk with my supervisor. (Christine is a dear friend and still my Life Coach. I highly recommend her. I highly recommend you have your own Life Coach or a Mentor).
So I did it. I faced my fear. Guess what? My supervisor said yes! In fact, she was afraid of something herself about our meeting. She was afraid I was going to resign and she'd be left suddenly with that nightmare situation of a well-run restaurant with 57 employees, five assistant managers and NO General Manager to run it at my level of expertise anymore.
That just goes to show you that it's true what they say about FEAR: it usually turns out to be NOTHING in hindsight.
Within a year, I had THREE job offers that aligned with my authentic self. I chose one and quit my job at McDonald's.
I still kept growing my business on the side (yes, it was a Side Hustle at first) I was working for my local newspaper in the Internet department, helping them get into the digital age with innovative ideas that have long since become standard operations for any good publishing company. I felt truly appreciated for my gifts of writing, designing, communicating, innovating with technology and helped that company become more profitable, too. Then September 11, 2001 brought a dramatic change to all we knew about the world up until that point.
Many people were laid off because revenue suddenly dried up, due to the advertisers, who felt it was in poor taste to advertise in their local newspaper when our country had just been attacked by terrorists and thousands of people had died. And they were right. Our nation was in mourning.
I was laid off but with severance pay. I found out later, I was one of the few who received severance pay. Again: an Angel was watching out for me and my family. My good work performance and good will had a lot to do with that, too, I'm sure.
Dearest, I cried and cried that day I was let go from The Greeley Tribune and The Fence Post Newspapers. I loved those folks who worked there and I loved my work I was blessed to do and be nicely paid for.
But, again, this layoff was part of The Plan of My Life that I could not clearly see at the time.
You might be going through something similar right now. You might be feeling lost or confused, as to what to do with your life right now.
Should you take a chance and go full-time with your part-time hustle?
Or if you already own your own company, should you invest in the best Branding, Packaging, and Positioning that will make you LOOK like the EXPERT YOU ARE, so that you can achieve your six-figure income or seven-figure income?
Only you can answer that question.
But I'll tell you this: I don't regret it. I only wish I'd had the courage to do it by choice instead of by chance.
I was "pushed" to take that step of going full-time with my part-time business.
I spent two hours crying and listening to the song that I play when I feel like there's no hope: "I believe I can Fly" and then, like any good mother and wife who knows what she's got to do, I wiped away my final tears and started making a plan.
I realized this was, indeed, a blessing in disguise. I chose to look at this lay-off as:
When one door closes, another one opens.
Fortunately, I had already been networking in my local area and I quickly let my people know I was in business full-time, baby. I worked so hard that first year and have worked hard and many hours since then but it doesn't FEEL like "work" because I do something for a living that I LOVE doing. I am being my authentic self.
Do YOU love what you do for a living? Yes? Great! Now it's time to LOOK the part you play: it's time to get professional help to make you highly visible to your tribe of perfect clients.
Back to the wrap-up of my story....Fast forward to a few years later...
I had been running my business as a one-woman operation - meaning: I was doing EVERYTHING. Marketing, designing, accounting, programming, networking, writing, and yes, I was chief cook and bottle-washer, too, and was also a mother. By this time my son was five years old and I was what is now called a "Mompreneur." I was at the point in time in which most business owners burn out and I had to make a choice: to, literally, GO BIG or GO HOME.
Around this time, I submitted a proposal for a very BIG project. It was to re-design the Better Business Bureau's website and database in my region of the U.S. I worked for many hours on that proposal and I had to do a presentation, too. It was my first presentation ever. That was about 12 years ago.
I didn't get that gig.
But I got SO much more. I got INSIGHT. I got to see WHY I didn't make the cut.
A local business woman, a rock star in advertising and marketing, was consulting with the BBB to help them choose the right agency to do this project. She was the one who let me know I didn't get the project. And she took the time to talk to me on the phone and tell me why she chose NOT to hire me but to hire a man who owned a similar type of business.
She gently let me know what I had been thinking anyway. I had to face the fact that I had to get out of my own way. It was time to hire my special team of talented specialists to design and program. It was time for ME to turn my company into one that could operate without me.
Is this where you're at right now? On the precipice of a going from a one-woman shop to a company with employees and making your first six-figure revenue?
I attended my first all-woman conference and met another woman who was doing what I wanted to do. She had employees. She used to be one person, doing everything but then she made the leap to having a team. It's the best way you can achieve your first six-figure income and certainly, you need a team working with you, in order to achieve your first million.
She mentored me for three hours in one evening, as I took notes, and it changed my life. She confirmed what I had been thinking of doing, what I had been hesitating doing.
I had to get out of my own way.
When I returned from that conference, I immediately went into action. I went from a ONE-WOMAN business to a company with a team of designers, programmers, copywriters who successfully create solutions for wonderful people like you. Thanks to my training and experience at McDonald's, I knew exactly how to hire the best people for me and my clients. I knew I had to look as expert as I was, so I got my professional branding completed, including my logo and my website. I increased doing the things that brought profits and I eliminated the things that didn't work well.
I tripled my revenue that year.
For the past eight years, after surviving the Great Recession and now entering into the thriving age of communications and technology, I'm ready to step up my game, once again.
Now I'm in re-design mode. I'm re-inventing myself. You're meeting Lori Gama, The Online Visibility Expert at LoriGama.com instead of Lori Gama, President of DaGama Web Studio.
I realized that it's time to truly be the change I want to see in my life, as Ghandi said. To be 150% my true self, I must speak to the heart-centered entrepreneurs of the world like YOU and let you know I'm here for YOU so that you YOU can help others, too.
For far too long, I lived with my "deepest fear... that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." (Marianne Williamson).
My playing small does not serve the world.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I hope that I have liberated someone today who has read this. Was it you?