Don’t worry, this post is rated G (sorry if you were hoping otherwise). But although there’s nothing racy that follows, there is a pretty inspiring story. As I mentioned last week, one of my big goals for the coming year is to push myself to do things that feel completely, totally crazy and out of my comfort zone.
This is not my natural tendency, at all. I always like to say I’m a small thinker, and maintainer, a meticulous tender. Big ideas scare me.
But this year, my wife, Alicia, showed me why I need to get over myself and start trying things I never thought I could do. See, earlier in the summer, Alicia and her friend, Molly, decided they were going to start a fashion pop-up shop. It would be called Niche – A Curated Life & Style Boutique.
Does that sound crazy to you? No? Well, think about this: they had zero experience in retail (aside from maybe working in retail stores as teenagers). They didn’t know anything about how to buy clothing in wholesale, how to price it, how to process payments, how to merchandize their … um … merchandise.
And, that’s not all! They had to apply for permits, incorporate as a business, build a website, design marketing materials, promote the event, and even learn how to price and inventory their products.
They were literally starting from scratch, and they weren’t thinking small, either. When Alicia let me know they were booking a trip to Las Vegas for a giant, two-day clothing wholesalers’ convention, I was like, “Ooohhhkay?”
(Mind you, they hadn’t sold a thing yet).
When she came back and said they were super excited because they had spent thousands of dollars (credit cards, people) on clothing, I was like, “Ummmmkay?”
BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BUY THAT STUFF?!!!! Is what my brain was screaming.
My mouth was saying things like, “It’s going to be awesome, honey. You guys are going to sell out.”
Because, I’ll tell you one thing, I may not be good at taking on big risky ideas myself, but I am good at supporting them for others.
And, although I had my reservations, I was actually pretty confident that Alicia and Molly’s big bets would pay off. Why? Because I trusted in their team. They’re both smart, resourceful, resilient women, and they work well together. Deep down, I believed they’d be successful.
So when the opening night of their pop-up rolled around in October, it was unbelievable to see what they’d accomplished. They had racks and racks of clothing, all priced and labeled with their own, beautiful branding. They had completely converted our studio space into a working retail shop. They had snacks and champagne and music and changing rooms and soft pink spotlights (because apparently pink lighting is the most flattering).
And guess what? In three nights, they almost entirely sold out their stock.
WTF?! How did they figure all that out? Isn’t retail supposed to be impossibly difficult to break into?
Well, they busted through, and now they’re quickly planning a follow up event in December, because the response was so great.
So… what does that tell me – little old me – sitting here behind my comfortable computer screen, sticking to the same things I always stick to, avoiding any big risks, reluctant to explore every last nook and cranny of my comfort zone?
It says, “SHAKE IT UP, BRUNO!” — try something you have no business sticking your nose into. Use that feeling of fear and discomfort as your barometer. If it doesn’t feel scary – scary in the real, down in your gut, what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here kind of way – then it’s not enough of a stretch.
Because, here’s the secret I took away from watching Alicia and Molly start their pop-up: you will succeed. You just will. One way or another, in large and small ways. Just attempting something that far out of your comfort zone, that’s a success. Even if the thing itself fails, you will have learned immensely, and that failure will turn out to be a step on the path to some greater accomplishment.
Now, trust me, I don’t say those things lightly. I know risks are real and the consequences can be real too. But, it’s not like we’re talking about jumping a motorcycle across the Grand Canyon here, folks. These are professional risks, financial risks, risks where your time, energy and resources are at stake. Not your life.
So, I think it’s important to take them a little less seriously. Time invested in a big goal is never wasted. Money lost can be recovered. And the reward is a path through life that is more fulfilling, more impactful, and, frankly, a lot more fun.
So, thanks, Alicia. You and Molly surprised me, you surprised everyone, and most importantly, you surprised yourselves.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to swing by the motorcycle dealership.