This past December, I was snowed in at my sister’s house in Kansas City writing out my goals and projections for 2021. I had just finished my last virtual keynote of 2020 (from her basement) and was excited to end the year strong when I realized
2021 marks TEN YEARS of owning my speaking/consulting business!
Wow! I couldn’t believe it. Where had the last decade gone? Whom had I impacted? What had I accomplished?
In those ten years I:
- Spoke in 45 states (still need Rhode Island, Idaho, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska! Know anyone there?)
- Addressed over 200,000 audience members
- Worked with companies like Tesla, Fidelity Investments, Newell-Rubbermaid, Garmin, MIT and more
- Delivered more than 50 segments for TV programs around the country including: ABC, CBS, Nickelodeon and others
- Delivered a TEDx Talk
- Designed apparel to accompany my “Dream It Map It Reach It” initiative that signifies it doesn’t matter where you come from, or what you have in your pockets, you can still dream big and accomplish your dreams
After a decade of both exhilarating highs and lows, I’ve learned a few things from this wild ride. Strap in, I’m taking you with me!
Here are the ten things I’ve learned over the past ten years.
1. Start with a solid plan.
When I realized being a motivational speaker and business consultant was in my DNA, I put together a plan. I hired a business coach, asked tons of questions and created benchmarks and mile markers to guide progress and results. I knew my plan may get derailed along the way, but because I knew what I wanted to accomplish, it kept me on the right track for success! Q. What’s your plan for 2021?
2. Mentors, mentors, mentors.
Every successful person has had a mentor, or maybe a few mentors, who offered advice, motivation, encouragement, emotional support and grace. I wouldn’t be where I am today without a few significant individuals who have walked alongside me over the past decade. It is helpful to have a fresh set of eyes and ears, especially when I’ve needed to make difficult decisions. Many times, my mentors encouraged me to stick with the plan, even when it got hard. But sometimes, they provided fresh insight and permission to walk the other way and try a new plan, when my original wasn’t coming together as expected. Q. Who do you look to for advice and encouragement along your journey?
3. When the tides change, learn to change with them!
This feels very relevant for 2020, but the truth is that we encounter obstacles every year (heck, probably ever week) that cause us to shift, pivot, roll with it and figure it out. Did you know that in the spring of 2020, when all of my speaking commitments cancelled, I went back to my sales career for a brief while to help distribute a product that was vital during those early stages of the pandemic? Was that part of my plan? No way! But when 2020 threw me those lemons, I learned to incorporate them until I figured out what would be next. When you deny change, you deny yourself opportunities and growth. And wow, have I grown tremendously in this past year. Q. How have you grown because you had to adapt to new realities?
4. There’s no one way to define your professional or personal life.
Every story I’ve heard over the last decade has been similar…. But different. There’s no one way to be the best employee, entrepreneur, student, mom, friend or spouse. However, there IS a right way for how you can define your life. It’s all up to you. You get to make your own rules. Don’t let anyone define that for you. Q. How do you describe yourself?
5. Hindsight is 20/20.
I probably should’ve written that book. Or created more online courses. Or said yes to more things. Hindsight is always 20/20. But, we can’t live our lives in the rearview mirror. We have to keep taking action forward! Q. How are you looking forward?
6. Every relationship matters.
I’ll never forget one Tuesday morning in October 2017. I was drinking my coffee and about to start the day when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but answered like I always do, “Hi this is Shannon!” On the other end was Brian, the president of an audio/visual company I had worked with a few years prior. We chatted for a bit and then he cut to the chase. He was producing an international company conference which included renting out Gillette Stadium in Boston for three days and they wanted me to emcee the entire thing. I was floored. His staff remembered me from another conference I keynoted and thought I would be the perfect fit for this event. It was a dream come true and something I will never take for granted. I’m certainly not perfect at it, but every day I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect. You never know what relationships will come back around in your life. Q. How can you reevaluate your relationships?
7. Nothing replaces work ethic.
You can study at elite schools, obtain the highest degrees and have unlimited connections, but nothing can take the place of hard work. If you are willing to work hard enough, I believe you can have anything you want. The best players on the field are not always the biggest, the strongest, or fastest. The same can be said about the workplace. Despite what the media and news often show, the best in the boardroom are not always the smartest, wealthiest or most educated. But are they the persistent! Q. How can you increase your work ethic and productivity this next year?
8. Criticism is tough.
There will always be someone who provides solicited (and unsolicited) criticism that makes you question your decisions and your plan. But it’s how you handle the critics that will define you. Detractors are just that – detracting you from your path and your plan. When you can, turn the criticism into fuel to keep you going. Q. It hurts to hear, but how can you turn criticism into a catalyst for you?
9. Your physical health impacts your emotional and mental health.
When I started my business, I was coming off the healthiest time of my life serving as an NFL cheerleader. I was in the best shape I’d been in, which allowed me to work round the clock building my dream business. However, over time running from airport to airport, eating meals out and not getting to the gym as often, caused my metabolism to shift. I felt the energy drain and realized I couldn’t offer as much to my audiences when I wasn’t feeling my absolute best. That’s why I’ve been on a mission to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily and drinking as much water as possible. Q. I know you know, but are you moving that body of yours?
10. When in doubt, follow your gut.
I’ve learned time and time again; your gut instinct is almost always right. Sure, we put parameters in place to try and guide us, but at the end of the day, if you’ve done the homework, you should feel confident about putting yourself out there and knowing right from wrong. It all works out the way it’s supposed to. Q. Do you trust yourself?
Gratitude – In Closing
Looking back, the one thing I can confidently say is that I am beyond grateful for the journey. The ups, the downs, the twists, and turns. All of it. I can send this note out today knowing that as nervous as I was a decade ago, I still chased my dream. It’s never too late to do what your heart is passionate about. Thank you for being on this journey with me! You inspire me to keep pursuing these passions. I hope you pursue yours! As a matter of fact, let me know what you are chasing. Maybe I can help you get there. Feel free to email me!
Looking for a virtual keynote speaker? A consultant for your team? A coach? Let’s chat! I would be honored to work with you!
Cheers to the next ten!