Homeless and unemployable to successful business owner

To truly understand my philosophy, how I work with clients and how I run my business you’ll have to understand who I am as a person. That means sharing the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Truth be told, I share this with you so that we are on the same page from the start. If who I am doesn't work for you, then I’ll save you a lot of time.

The Beginning

I grew up in the South Bay area, as the youngest of three girls. As women, we were not supported to pursue college or a career, being led to believe that learning how to type would serve us well so we could become secretaries.

(Given the amount of typing I do as an author and information product creator, this was actually a good thing).

I was fairly enterprising, even at a young age, doing everything from babysitting to running a lemonade stand. I even started my own neighborhood newspaper at the age of 8 where people would pay a penny for a listing!

I was raised in a traditional religious upbringing and from as far back as I can remember something didn’t resonate with me with what we were being taught. It seemed there was a lot of hypocrisy. At the age of nine I had a death and dying experience and from that point forward I felt like the religious teachings did not resonate with what I intuitively knew to be true.

For me it was a pivotal experience in shaping my spiritual beliefs and a lifelong quest for deeper knowledge.

The Middle

Although I was raised in a relatively conservative, middle of the road home, somewhere along the line I got way off track.

I barely graduated high school. I took occasional college courses, most of which I received in-completes in, and more or less “drifted” from day to day. To say I felt like a victim is an understatement. I was convinced I had been dealt a bad hand in the card game of life. Throughout my teenage years and my 20’s and 30’s I lived a very “fast life” and made poor choices that resulted in my being both homeless and unemployable.

I may have continued that way had it not been for a spiritual awakening that allowed me to discover more for my life.

It was this awakening and the guidance of some amazing mentors that invited me to step into my higher purpose. Granted, it didn’t happen in a day. It was a long drawn out process to get from the streets to the boardroom. But I knew my purpose was to help others step into their higher purpose and also make a lot of money in the process.

But what does a homeless, thirty-something with no college education and no job record do to start making money and a difference in the world?

Life as an employee

The answer I discovered, was in getting my hands dirty. Literally. I began work doing whatever I needed to feel good about myself and generate money to put a roof over my head. That meant I cleaned yards, cleaned homes, ran errands,  and doing basically anything anyone asked of me that aligned with my new direction and focus. I intuitively knew it was an important part of my journey to prove my willingness to do what it took to clean up my life. I realized that part of getting to the other side was going through, not around.

After some time, I craved getting an RJ (real job). I wanted to work in an office, and got a job at a small radio station in Santa Rosa, California, to sell airtime. With no experience and no track record, my first sale was convincing the sales manager that she should hire me. When she asked, “Why should I hire you?” I told her, “I will be the best sale person you have ever had!”

Those words became the cornerstone of virtually everything I did from that point forward – “I will be the best _________ you ever had.”

Not only did I become their best salesperson I could be, every other job I had after that I shined. This included a stint working for GTE Health Systems, where I was awarded virtually every award possible in the three years I was there including Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year more than once.

And while I loved my job I became super restless due to not being able to fully express myself in that environment. More on a professional level than personal. There were lots of rules and regulations and a creativity ceiling that killed my spirit a little every day.

With two major health scares only a few months apart at the age of forty, I knew it was time to take a leap of faith.

An entrepreneur is born.

It wasn’t long before I went out on my own, and started a business. Without having the first idea of how to really run a business, I was running on passion and a dream.

My first offerings were that of a corporate trainer. Shortly after I started my business I got a contract with a national seminar company. It was only a matter of time before I became a very successful trainer. Out of hundreds of contracted trainers I was ranked #1 in all my topics. I worked very hard during this time and was on the road a lot without much time to myself.

I had learned a lot about structure and discipline (Something that was sorely lacking in earlier years.).

After four years, I was worn out. Although I loved the speaking and training, had received tons of achievement awards, a change was lurking just around the corner.

Life as an employee (Part 2)

Not sure what was to come next, I let go of the gig with the seminar company. The sign I made the right choice was when I got a call to join a career development company as a branch manager. I actually thought the call was a joke until I went for the first interview.

I was offered a very nice salary ($65,000) that was more money than I had ever made up to that point. Within a month I was promoted to VP of Operations and guaranteed $100,000 a year plus stock options.

I suspended my involvement for my current business. My partner Karen was in the business almost from the start. While I was at the career development company she was designing websites for other speakers and trainers. Little did we know how instrumental her expertise would be to the success of our business in the coming years.

Meanwhile, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I got the corner office, a team of 25 people and all the leeway I needed to test out creative marketing strategies to build the business.

I really shined in this environment. We increased customer satisfaction, quality clients and we grew the revenues nearly 80% the first year I was there. (went from $1.2 million to over $2 million with much higher client retention and satisfaction.)

How did this happen? I was willing to make the tough decisions that best helped the business, even to the dismay of many employees. It meant creating standards for our sales team and benchmarks to monitor their success.

I set new standards of the way we paid our sales team and put incentives in place for the trainers. We extended credit only to those clients who were a great risk. In the past, the sales team got paid on signings and anyone who could fog a mirror got credit, The lack of collectables reflected this.

Many people loved this new approach. Those that did not were invited to leave.

The business thrived. I felt very complete with the job at the career development company. That is until I found out the owner was stealing from investors for a dot com company he was launching.

The owner was running the financial health of the career development company into the ground.

I discovered that vendors were not getting paid, that our healthcare premiums, social security and taxes were not being paid despite money being taken out our checks. It was a huge mess. A total house of cards.

I was devastated. And when I spoke up I was basically told “this is how real business is run” and to be a good girl and keep my mouth shut.

The problem is I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. It was in that moment that I truly understood that integrity is the cornerstone of a successful business.

I did all I could to expose what was happening. Once the company hero, I was now the lone ranger and the bad guy. Most every employee refused to believe what I was uncovering. Many of these same people lost tons of money due to investing in a sinking ship.

When it all came crashing down and I made the decision to move on it was a hard pill to swallow.

“How could I have been so stupid? Who do I think I am to come from where I was in my life only a few short years earlier? I am such a failure,” were the thoughts that kept playing in my head.

I went from $100k to nothing overnight. I had no idea what I was going to do. My world felt like it was crashing in.

After sitting on the pity pot for about a month with no idea as to what came next one day I made an incredibly important decision. I was NOT going to let this eat me up. I would get into action.

An entrepreneur is reborn

I had a rough road ahead, but rather than wallow in self-pity, I dusted myself off and put a plan into place that launched the next level of my own business. The whole experience turned out in my favor.

What I learned from the experience is that no matter how bad it gets there is always a solution. And…sometimes the most messed up people and experiences turn out to be the greatest blessings for our growth.

The experience at the career development company was the catalyst for me committing 100% to our business. Even during 9/11, when our business took a serious hit, I discovered that commitment was the key to success, even if it meant reinventing ourselves.  I discovered that each time we took bigger risks, had more faith and did whatever it took to turn things around, somehow, someway, things work out better than ever.

When 9/11 hit, I created my first full signature product, Street Smarts Marketing, How to Market a Business on a Limited Budget. I basically locked myself in a room for 30 days and created a full blown physical product. It was the cornerstone of countless other products I would create over the next decade.

Since that time I have written several books, co-authored dozens of books, created countless eBased information products, have been a featured guest on countless teleseminars, webinars, radio interviews, and more.

In 2002 our business was recognized as the #1 home-based business in the state of Utah by the Governor and Department of Workforce Services.

Over the next few years receiving awards and recognition for speaking, business innovation, creativity and community involvement had become a very common occurrence.

By 2009, Business was booming. Life was good. I had just turned 55, was training for a marathon and felt confident that my time had come. I had arrived. So I thought…

Then all hell broke loose. In the eighth mile of a training day I broke my ankle. Shortly after, my father was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer. Four weeks later he transitioned from this life. Then my mother became deathly ill. Not knowing what was in store, I became one of her primary caretakers for the next two years.

What did that entail? Driving 500 miles to and from her place and back to mine. I was willing to do whatever it took to keep the business afloat, take care of my mom and refused to let any excuses hold me back.

Never did I falter in my responsibilities to our business. It was during this time I became a product creation maniac. Staying at my mother’s bedside, I created product after product. This gave me the opportunity to generate great revenues, serve my market and most of all, serve my mother at the deepest level possible.

The time with my mother taught me more about trust, foot work and willingness to show up then virtually any other experience in my life. There wasn’t time to complain. There wasn’t room for excuses. There wasn’t anything to do but answer a calling.

In many ways I learned a lot about patience. In other ways, my patience has worn thin. What do I mean?

One of my pet peeves is when people don't have much at all to complain about and yet, they do. They say, “I don't have time, money, knowledge, connections, etc. so I can't succeed.”

Or those who try to get something for nothing and then wonder why their business is not working.

I know people who have incredible obstacles and yet, make things work.

I know, to the core of my being, one of my greatest purposes in business is to lift people up who are willing to answer their life calling regardless of what challenges lay ahead. I also know I am to call people on their crap when all I hear is excuse after excuse. I’m here to help push them to points they didn't think they could go and when they succeed, to enable them to experience a great sense of accomplishment.

It is a philosophy that I use for myself to be successful, and what you can expect of me for your own business.

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