If I had to pick two of my favorite words they’d be Unconventional & Freedom. I’ve been told my whole life that I see things differently than what’s conventionally done. At times it’s gotten me into trouble because I tend to question everything. But, overall I’m really happy with the results. I feel like I’ve been able to live a life I dreamed. A life with great freedom.
The key for me is that it has nothing to do with what others around me have dreamed. I’m not happy because I have money, live in a cool place or because I own fancy things. I’m happy because I’ve gotten to live my life on MY own unique terms. I became an entrepreneur not to get rich but to feel the freedom of creating things that could be of real value to my customers. To feel the freedom of creating an organization in my own unique way. To have the flexibility to vacation when I wanted (or not in the early days).
Growing up, the conventional wisdom was to follow the rules in school, go to a good college, and get a job/profession that could pay the most. Then it was get married, buy a house, start a family, and work to retire one day. It all seemed rather boring and pressure filled with expectations that didn’t seem to inspire me. Each time I tried to follow the conventional path, I lost energy and felt more lost than before. On the flip side, each time I did what felt uniquely right for me, I gained energy and felt inspired. I call that unconventional freedom.
I also found that in business when I did the things no one else was doing, I had more success (and it was a lot more fun for me). And when I did things because I thought I should, they didn’t turn out as well.
An example of this was when we were deciding on what to do for holiday cards for our clients. In the past we sent out thousands of relatively generic “Happy Holidays” cards “from all of us to you.” When my marketing manager, Cindy, came to talk details about that season’s cards, I said “I want to puke, these cards are so predictable and boring. What can we do different?” She came back with an amazing idea to do a company cookbook, with each co-worker who wanted to could cook their favorite dish that we’d photograph at a potluck lunch and then share those pictures and the recipes in a pamphlet-like holiday cookbook. We said, why not, wouldn’t cost us that much more, and we’ll have fun with it. Well, it was a BIG hit with our customers AND we all had a lot of fun doing it. I’m still reminded of it as a half a dozen or more companies I know are doing their own unique versions of company cookbook holiday cards!