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Some things I've learned in business

Wed, 07/11/2012 - 13:45 -- Jess

The other day I posted the first in what will be a series of blogs that were inspired by a question asked by a Jessicurl customer.

Dustin wrote, “Can you tell us about the ups and down of starting a business from scratch and some of the things that surprised you? BTW, I met you at the Mountain View Farmer's Market about 10 years ago!”

It was a great question and as Jessicurl is swiftly approaching our 10 year anniversary in September, it seemed like great timing as well. (In fact, that farmer’s market Dustin mentions occurred during the first six months I was in business!)

The thing is, I could go on for DAYS answering this question, telling stories and providing anecdotes. It could end up the War and Peace of blog posts. :) So I figured it made more sense to parse it out into a series of posts that would allow me to better address certain aspects of her question. You can read my first installment here. 

Part of Dustin’s question is, “what surprised you?” I’ve really been spending a lot of time thinking about this over the last few days, as I was jogging yesterday, doing the dishes last night and diffusing my hair this morning. :)

There are lots of ways to interpret this question but the first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that as a result of Jessicurl, I have learned that I am good at public speaking. If you read my first post in this installment, you’ll see I’m quite able to list off all the things I’m NOT good at, so I feel ok in admitting what I am good at. :)

I had absolutely no experience public speaking prior to Jessicurl and honestly, no desire to. It is said that the majority of people fear public speaking more than anything else and while I was never that extreme, it certainly wasn’t something I sought out. The Jessicurl story is compelling, however, and after about 2 years or so, I started getting asked to speak to Rotary clubs, University business classes and various other public forums.

The first few times I did it, yes, I was nervous. Not the kind of nervous where I fainted or anything like that, but I had butterflies, for sure. I knew I’d only keep getting asked though, so I thought to myself, “Ok Jess. You need to get better at this and more comfortable with it. What’s the hardest, most challenging way to do that?”

Answer? Standup comedy.

So I started doing standup comedy (not very well, mind you) as a way to get more comfortable with public speaking in general. And you know what? It totally worked! :) Now I have absolutely no trouble talking to any size group, whether I’m prepared or not.

I can’t emphasize how thankful I am about this. I realize what a fear speaking to groups is for so many people and I feel really fortunate to feel the way I do about it, given what a huge part of my life it is now. When I was sitting on my couch (nearly) 10 years ago taping Rockin’ Ringlets labels on bottles I had NO idea how important that comfort level would be in just a few short years. I still can’t do the bookkeeping and I never will be able to. THAT causes a fear in me that causes dizziness and shortness of breath like nothing else. :)

I’ve included a few short YouTube clips from a keynote address I gave a few months ago at the North Coast Youth Summit. The entire speech was about 20 minutes long so I broke it into 3 more manageable pieces.

The first two are parts of the Jessicurl story you’ve likely heard before, but the third is something new I added for that particular audience of 200 high school kids. It includes a story I’d never told in public, that, while intense, really illustrates what I wanted to drive home to those kids: That sometimes you don’t know the impact you have on people you interact with, so do your best to make sure your impact is positive.

This first segment talks mostly about my teen years and my struggles with my curly hair, including some of the names I was called and the strange tactics I employed to tame it.

Part 2 tells the story of how I created Jessicurl in 2002 and what those early years were like.

Part 3 includes a pretty intense story, the purpose of which was to illustrate to the kids that sometimes you never know the impact that you have on individual people. It's a lesson we should all keep in mind as we go through our lives.