I spent my twenties like most people do. I got a job doing business development on a hunch that it would be my thing, and it was accompanied by a fairytale daydream in my head that money would buy freedom. Let’s just say that pretty much the opposite happened. My soul wasn’t being fed despite having the best boss, the best people to work with and an extremely good paycheck I never dreamed of having. Then I got married, had a beautiful daughter and followed the standard path expected of women.
Only it wasn’t real.
Following the comfortable path didn’t feel too comfortable to me. Not to be disrespectful in any way to anyone following that tried and true path, but as I looked around I realized I couldn’t live my life without trying something different. Money didn’t matter anymore because, at that point, I knew without a doubt it had no tie to happiness for me. I didn’t feel free and I certainly didn’t feel daring. Routine is something that never gelled with me; not in school and most definitely not in my “adult” life.
So, in my very earliest days of being thirty, I decided to get real. I quit my job with nothing to fall back on and I can say to this day two things: First, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I had and still had the biggest head over heart debate in my life. I chose my heart. It was a blind leap of faith that led to what my agency is known for now. Second, I believe if I didn’t do it when I was young I may not have done it at all. Unless I had the same fearlessness one does when you’re young and full of optimism. That “why can’t I do that?” attitude was the make it or break it moment in my life. When someone says to trust in the universe, I say most definitely but it’s combined with not wanting to live a life with a huge “what if?” hanging over my head.
This is where I discovered the real me. The blind leap of faith was, “If I’m myself, the people I’ll attract as clients will like me for being myself.” This one thing was what I hung my hat on. I could be as creative, imaginative and in-charge as I wanted and things would work out as long as I stayed true to myself. It turns, out I was right. People respond when you keep it real.
I wanted to start an advertising agency because I loved observing people, but mainly what I was obsessed with was watching WHY people buy. What did they buy and what did they think it was going to do for them? What are the real reasons that people react to messages and how can I tap into that authenticity for my clients?
It was a grind, but I kept at it. When you have an office inside your home, you can (and will) check email at any time. There’s no balance allowed in your first year. I was all in and never once was failure an option. My hard work paid off and my agency, Rock Candy Media, has been growing ever since. I believe the reason that we’re successful all hinges on that decision to be real.
When I meet with a potential client, I tell them straight-up, “Our work is going to make you nervous and I’m going to push for what I believe in.” Rather than scaring them away, it makes people excited. Clients have seen the results that buttoned down agencies get (they aren’t great) and to see someone speaking authentically opens a new door in their brains. They realize, “Things don’t have to be the way they are.”
This might sound scary, but it works. My company has grown and grown, and with it, I’ve been able to get more and more real – in my personal and professional life.
There’s a tendency among people, and women especially, to think, “When I hit X goal, then I’ll have the freedom to be who I want.” That’s just not true. You have the freedom to be who you want – right now.
When you keep it real, people respond, people respect you and people want to follow you. If you’re unhappy where you’re at, change it. Wear what you want to wear, talk how you want to talk and do what you want to do. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.
This article originally appeared on HERdacity.org