In Case You Need A Pep Talk
I recently hosted some friends visiting from out of town. We hadn’t seen each other in what felt like a lifetime, so naturally we spent the first night catching up by the fire pit with some good wine.
We are in very different industries: I in business, of course, and they in healthcare. I asked them about their jobs. They asked about mine. One recently joined a new practice, so we talked about that. You know, the usual catch-up talk.
But then the conversation took an unexpected turn.
They asked if I had plans to franchise Student Maid (not an unusual question). I said no (an unusual answer).
“If you aren’t going to franchise Student Maid,” my friend asked me, “why don’t you just sell it?”
Selling Student Maid is definitely a thought that has crossed my mind in the last eleven years of owning this business. But it only comes on bad days and only for a few fleeting moments. The truth is, I’m in love with my company. Like head-over-heels, couldn’t-imagine-doing-anything-else-in-the-world kind of love. And that’s why it infuriates me when people ask this question.
And people ask it all the time. Not just my friends: people I meet at conferences. People I meet on planes. Distant cousins. They assume that I’m a millionaire—I’m not—and wonder why I’m still working like crazy and running my business instead of sipping mai tais on a beach. Or they assume that because I’m not planning to franchise Student Maid, it doesn’t have high growth potential and therefore is weighing me down.
My friend went on.
“I mean, seriously. You have a book. You speak. You don’t need Student Maid anymore. You’re credible without it. Just sell it.”
I thanked him for his opinion, told him I wasn’t interested, and unsuccessfully tried to change the subject.
He kept pushing me.
“How much money is Student Maid bringing in a year? Isn’t speaking more profitable anyway?
I explained that yes, speaking is more profitable. Like way, way, way more. But that doesn’t mean Student Maid doesn’t make a profit. It does.
I explained that I love Student Maid for a different reason. I love Student Maid because of what we stand for. I love that we have a purpose that is extremely meaningful to me. I love that we get to help shape future leaders. I love the challenge of building a company that cares for its people despite having smaller profit margins. I love that our story gives other companies hope—that if a cleaning business can do this, any business can.
I explained that yes, I could sell Student Maid and make more money speaking and writing full-time. And I explained that doing so would make me very bored and unfulfilled. I told him that all of the content in my talks and in my writing comes from my experiences at Student Maid, and that while I might not need Student Maid to be credible, I do need it to be inspired.
I also explained that my leadership team and I are devoted to our company. That we have some big plans for this next decade of business we are stepping into, and it feels exciting and like a startup again. And while our plans don’t include franchising—not yet, anyway—they are plans we’re excited about. Plans that feel true to us
He didn’t get it.
He made me feel stupid.
He criticized my thinking.
He told me that my fear of letting Student Maid go was holding me back.
He made me question my decisions.
He made me go to bed—and wake up—angry.
I eventually got over it. He meant well. He wouldn’t have asked the questions and challenged my answers if he didn’t care. The way I reacted is my fault. I’ve learned that there will always be people who challenge you. There will always be people who ask questions that infuriate you. The key is not letting someone’s comments upset you or cause you to question what you know to be true in your heart.
And that’s why I’m writing this article, in case you need to hear this too: (Pretend I have a megaphone and am speaking directly to you.)
Dear amazing, brilliant, talented you.
No one gets to define what success looks like for you, you hear me? Only you get to do that.
No one gets to tell you what inspires you.
No one gets to tell you what opportunities to go after.
The world might think you’re crazy. You might talk about your dreams and get criticized for them. But don’t ever, ever, ever let that change what you want and what you know to be true
You are not stupid.
Your ideas are not silly.
Follow your passions and refuse to let anyone dim that beautiful light of yours.
You are the only person that gets to decide the impact you want to have on this world.
Get it? Got it? Good.
I’m rooting for you!