Monday, September 21, 2009

Figuring out what to do about this blog

So I'll try to keep the post-modern navel gazing to a minimum, but I am trying to figure out what to do about this blog. It's been so long since I've posted anything here (despite Kate's gentle encouragement) that I couldn't even remember my password to log in. Thank you if you are one of the 2 people besides my mother-in-law who is still checking back here.

We now have a Facebook site, we Tweet, and in the meantime we try to grow a new business, so it's been hard to know how the blog fits in. 140 characters is more manageable to share news flashes (like Anne Hathaway visiting us at Julep last week!).

And yet. I DO want to share the inner workings of building a great enduring company with you. In a more grown-up way than the chick-flick-style "OOPS she dropped the flan on the floor again!" manner in which I started out. When I had my first child, I thought his every bowel movement was fascinating, and when we first opened our first parlor, I thought our washing machine disasters were just mad cap zany fun! (Hilarity ensued!).

Now Eli is 8, and our laundry is just laundry. Which are both very good things.

But this new phase has it's own new joys and challenges, which I'm just learning to appreciate. As I've been out in the world talking about our ambitious plans for bringing Julep to women across the country, I've been asked a lot of questions about my motivations, my abilities, and my mortality (you always get the "what happens to Julep if you get hit by a bus" question). This causes one to THINK. Which then causes one to log into a long-neglected blog.

The thing I've been thinking lately is that starting a company is like falling in love - giddy, inspiring, eye-opening, and tingly. Secretly mind-blowingly exciting, but it all looks kinda mundane from the outside (I married an anti-trust lawyer! And started a nail parlor!). But buliding a company, like building a family or a marriage, takes more. Courage, tenacity, creativity, intelligence, and faith. Weaving these together to be who I want to be for myself, and who I need to be for those around me is my life's work.

If I were to write a business book, it would be called a catchier version of something like, "Everything I learned about growing a multi-million dollar business I learned from dating and marriage." (Come to think of it, maybe the subject itself is inherently un-catchy. . . and yet I persevere).

Here's one concrete example: "Know what you need and don't apologize for needing it." Applies equally to personal and professional relationships. I remember the profound a-ha moment I had with my first college boyfriend when I agonized and then finally worked up the courage to express an important need (for phone calls and some very basic form of verbal communication) - and lo and behold the earth did not shatter. It wasn't that he didn't care, he really didn't know that I wanted him to use his words and call once in a while. Because he did care, he rose to the occasion, and life was very sweet and lovely for the rest of the semester (which equates to decades in non-college time).

Although it's decades later, I still think of this moment often in asking for what we need from colleagues, trainees, vendors - everyone we work with. How can anyone know what Julep needs if I don't ask for it? What if they do care but they don't know we need them to call? It's the only way to give the other party a chance to help us achieve our goals.

This lesson works hand in hand with one that I'm currently working on, which is practicing more expansive generosity each day in making assumptions about the intent of others. Assuming positive intent is part of our "Rules of Engagement" at Julep - and it's one that I am passionate about. Asking for help is also easier and more fun when you assume the best in people.

So I'm going to reflect on both of these lessons as I present tomorrow to a local angel investor forum. I know what we need and why, I am passionate to the core about our future, and I will assume until told otherwise that everyone in the room is smart and dying to be part of Julep if I would only show them how.