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The real story of my business: part five

Previously, in Part Four of The Scandalous Truth (aka: my business story)… 

After spiraling deep into the dark abyss of online marketing, I realized that the “experts” I chose to follow were actually scam artists. Yikes. It’s not that online marketing is “bad,” but I fell in with some sleazy people, and a lot of the techniques they taught just didn’t feel ethical to me. I ran away—fast. But then I found myself feeling a bit lonely, craving new mentors, business friends and collaborations. Which brings us to… a much happier era! Out of the darkness, into the light!

If you missed Part One of my business story read it HERE, Part Two is HERE. Part Three is HERE. Part Four is HERE.

Here is Part Five…

Over the next several years, I made an effort to make some new business friends. I felt a little bit like a kid on the playground, swinging all by myself, peeking at all the cool, funny, smart people and wondering, “Will you be my BFF? Please?”

I plugged myself into some new online communities, attended new conferences, cozied up to new peeps on social media, and expanded my horizons.

During this time, I met a whole slew of really inspiring women like Angela Jia Kim, Marie Forleo (I was a first round B-Schooler and proud of it!), Alexandra Franzen (one of my best friends and all-around most amazing woman ever), Susan Hyatt (a total badass, whenever I need a lift—I go to Susan!) and so many other rockstars.

What I loved is that all of these women did business in their own way, on their own terms. They broke all the conventional rules. They treated their fans and customers like “family,” not like “sales prospects.” They trusted their intuition instead of following somebody else’s business blueprint.

Angela was a concert pianist who started mixing skin creams in her kitchen for fun after breaking out in a rash before a concert. This led to creating her own organic skincare line and NYC spa that’s now celebrated in every major beauty magazine.

Marie brought dance moves into her YouTube videos and threw conferences that included choreographed dance breaks. So rad!

Alexandra dropped off social media because she just didn’t like it. Then she wrote an erotic novel and released it to her mailing list—for free. Just for funzies. Uh, who does that?!

Susan bucked all the business rules that say “you’ve got to specialize and focus on one thing.” She runs programs on body-positivity, programs on money and professional goal-setting, fancy tea parties and dinner gatherings, and retreats in Scottish castles. She does whatever the hell she wants—and her fans love everything she puts out!

Meeting these kinds of women totally re-invigorated my business over the years. I started wondering, “If I ran my business exactly the way I wanted, without worrying about any of ‘the rules’, what would that be like? What would I change? What would I create next? And how could I bring even more personality and fun into my biz?”

Hmmm! My wheels started spinning. I decided I could start by focusing on my personal obsessions. I’ve always been obsessed with pop culture and celebrity gossip, plus racy romance novels and scandalous TV shows. So, I could write about those topics on my blog! I started weaving Ben Affleck and Twilight references into my blog posts—and my readers loved it! My writing went from “pretty good” to “way more sparkly and entertaining.”

In 2014, Alexandra invited me to hang out with her in Sweden for a couple weeks. Her grandpa was born there—the youngest of 10 kids, all from a tiny farming community—and her family still has a tiny cabin out in the middle of nowhere, right by a beautiful lake. We’re both half-Swedish, so this was going to be a legendary trip. Maybe it was the beautiful scenery, or the jet lag, or the amazing Viking-sized cheese platter that we ate, but that first night in Sweden, I got struck by a lightning bolt of inspiration. While Alex was passed out sleeping, I was wide awake, furiously typing away on my laptop into the wee hours of the morning. I had a brilliant idea for a totally new business/marketing class that I wanted to teach, and it was going to be called…

OBSESSED.

Yesssss! I could see it perfectly. A 1-year class with about 100-ish students. A nice-sized community, but not *too* big. Small enough that I could still get to know everybody on a first-name basis. I would spend an entire year teaching people how to build a fanbase filled with clients and customers who are totally OBSESSED with you.

I started outlining all the topics and lessons I wanted to cover. Everything from “building trust and loyalty” to “successfully launching a new product” to “infusing your business with tons more personality” to “figuring out what your customers actually WANT in the first place.” So many ideas, gushing out of my fingertips. By the end of that Sweden trip, I had a fully-fleshed out vision for OBSESSED, and I was determined to make it happen. I opened registration a few months later—and the class was completely sold out a few weeks after that!

OBSESSED remains, to this day, one of my favorite things I’ve ever created. It all swirled into my brain during a work-cation (working-vacation) and… that’s why I constantly tell people, “You’ve got to play, travel, and have fun. That’s always when your best ideas will arrive.”

When running your business feels like a “guilty pleasure,” that’s when your brainpower gets cranked up to the max and your creativity goes through the roof. Like my friend Susan Hyatt often says, “The more fun I have, the more money I make!” True dat!

Also during this chapter of my life, my husband and I were itching to travel and see the USA. We’d both lived in Jersey most of our lives, and we really wanted to explore the rest of the country. We decided to buy an Airstream trailer and head out for an epic road trip. I could work on my laptop while Gary drove. We could make it work! And… we did.

We packed our entire lives—plus 3 dogs—into a trailer and traveled to 46 states. We saw the rolling hills of Montana. We hiked through Lake Tahoe. We ate pancakes at roadside diners. In between our travels, our “homebase” was a gorgeous farm/vineyard in Napa. It was an INCREDIBLE adventure, and we made so many memories that we’ll never forget.

Eventually, we both felt ready to settle down and find a new home. Things in my biz were going really well—I was running my OBSESSED program, plus working with a tiny handful of 1-on-1 clients. My schedule was pretty chill. Money was flowin’. Things were great.

And it was around this time that I started feeling another little inkling in my heart. Like, “I’ve built a business that I really love… but now what? What’s next?”

Launch another program? Start a second business? Go back to acting and do TV commercials again? Something else?

My heart was yearning for a new challenge. Some new, exciting type of creative project. But I wasn’t sure what it ought to be.

Until one day… I knew.

Stay tuned for the final chapter of my career coming next week… including Hollywood schmoozing, lots of well-meaning (but terrible) advice, and one piece of GREAT advice that changed my whole life.