Chapter 001: Find Your Believers (Starting with You)
“Believe in your own myth, your own glamour, your own spell. A young woman who does this (even is she is just pretending) has everything.” – Francesca Lia Block (via @words_of_women)
Last week I got to catch up with my dad. When he asked about Coeo and our progress I said “We’re getting there.” And he replied, “You’re already there.” His reaction within this casual conversation stopped me dead in my tracks. For the last few weeks I have been pitching, pushing, creating, and networking. So often I’m talking about where we can go, what we can do and the impact we can make. When looking forward it’s easy to get caught up in the future and forget to recognize the power and joy of where we are today. Those three words from my dad meant everything in that moment. This is my 6th month devoted full time to Coeo and we HAVE already done so much. I needed that reminder the other day.
In the days since I’ve taken stock on what we’ve accomplished already along with who and what has been most impactful in getting us there. I’ve come to realize that finding our “believers” has the greatest source of acceleration in the last months. In addition to my dad, in September Coeo gained a COMMUNITY of believers when we joined the Babson WINLab accelerator, a women’s-only accelerator focused on pushing women entrepreneurs to think bigger. When we joined WINLab we joined the “sisterhood” of the 5th cohort, 23 women-led businesses looking to disrupt the market. After an intense 3-day retreat to kick off the year, it was clear that our group of women from many different countries, neighborhoods and backgrounds were ready to bond together and lift each other up, which we have done every week since. My favorite moment happened a few weeks ago when a few WINners were discussing paying for college for our kids (quite a few of us are moms). When I groaned at the cost of sending my 3 young kids through college fellow WINner Veselina Arangelova turned to me and said, “don’t worry, by then you will have succeeded wildly with Coeo and you won’t have anything to worry about.” Again, I was stopped dead in my tracks. She really BELIEVED in me and what I was building. There was no sarcasm. It may sound like a simple statement, but it got me choked up with incredible joy that I had found a community of believers.
That moment where I choke up with joy and happiness has happened quite a few times since we launched into Coeo. It’s a sob that comes out of nowhere and goes away almost as quickly as it comes. (The only other time I’ve felt it is at the end of an incredible race.) It struck me in September when I was walking through Harvard Square and I got a text back from Kris from B/Spoke (she also led my 200-hour yoga teacher training at Core Power) saying she was up for being profiled for Coeo. Her words exactly were “Hell Yes!”. I couldn’t believe it. We had created the Coeo Instagram handle only a week before and she was up for the commitment, risk and adventure. I stopped walking, took a deep breathe, and attempted to just “feel all the feels”. I felt alive, scared, supported and thrilled.
Alive and scared. That’s probably how my husband felt when we sat in our house in Cambridge that April night this Spring when I declared that I thought it was time for me to leave New Balance and launch a new endeavor. The business didn’t yet have a name and the idea was rough. The spring had had its highs and lows. Our 3-legged 14-year-old standard poodle (Batman Batchelor) has just died a few weeks before, just before I completed my grueling but amazing 200-hour yoga teacher training while being a full-time working mom of 3. I think we felt both alive and mortal and we had been talking for many months about my entrepreneurial dreams, and when we would know it would be the right time for me to launch. The conversation was long, but ended with a decision that I would resign from New Balance the next day. There was full recognition of the risks, but it was clear that Sam believed in my dreams and abilities and was ready to roll the dice. This was no small gesture as it meant that our family of 5 would go down to just 1 income for the foreseeable future and we recognized that there would be highs and lows, and stress and thrills. But we had a track record of success in these crazy adventures. 15 years before we decided to get married just out of college and had successfully supported each other and grown together ever since. 10 years before we decided to ride our bikes from Seattle to Boston when we were moving here for my MBA (because we had already driven in the opposite direction 2 years earlier… ha!). And 3 years before we had bought our house in Cambridge and just completed a full renovation that he designed and his friend built. We believed in each other and we believed in ourselves. It was time for the next chapter.
So in Coeo’s first chapter I have found believers in my husband, my dad, my teacher, and my new WINLab cohort (and many, many, others). But, what is most important to me each day is that I have found a believer in myself. Each day brings new challenges, new opportunities, and new adventures. At moments I am overwhelmed with the possibility, the tasks, the schedule. But when my heart rate climbs and my breath gets choppy I remind myself that I’ve got this. I am well prepared. And it’s time to convert my dreams into reality.
I have this quote from @theclassbytt pinned up above my desk and I look at it often:
It is hard.
You are strong.
I love you.