This blog post is the second in a series of three about my journey to Narrative Science, my journey to starting my own company and how my work, my contributions and my life have gotten exponentially better as a result.
“The average person has 21,500 days between the day they graduate college and the day they die.” said Miki Agrawal, to me, via the bluetooth speaker on my rental car as I left my last customer meeting of the day.
I had gotten in the routine of listening to audiobooks on my long and frequent drives/rides between San Francisco and San Jose while managing some of Narrative Science’s strategic accounts on the West Coast.
Everything in my world stopped on a dime. WTF? 21,500 days??? I quickly did the math on what I had left. “Oh lord.” I thought.
My life routine of doing yoga, going to work, coming home to cook dinner and watching Netflix flashed before my eyes. Is this it? I thought. With the exception of the novelties like this business trip I was on and the occasional vacation, life kinda seemed like an endless loop of Tuesdays.
A little voice inside of me whispered to me “Psst, you are meant for more.”
What I realized in this moment, was that somewhere between campus and career, I had stopped dreaming. I was living the good life, for sure: great job for a great company, great husband, great home, cute dog, great family, great friends and yet here I was feeling like … something was missing.
“Dreams bring us to life. Dreams animate us. The pursuit of dreams creates passion, energy, enthusiasm and vitality.” – Matthew Kelly
I started tuning into my inner dialogue, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I started talking to my family, my friends, my co-workers, my communities and I uncovered something terribly unexpected – I wasn’t alone. So many of us had gotten caught up in the race of career & keeping up with the Jones’ (err, more like keeping up with the Kardashians these days) that we had stopped living in our authenticity, we had stopped dreaming.
So, I sat down and scribbled some of my biggest dreams down on paper: build a business that connected women and inspired them to go after their dreams while holding them accountable to doing so and supporting them with a community of like-minded, ambitious women; write and publish a book; finally do yoga teacher training I had been wanting to do, and the list goes on.
“Maybe one day when I have enough time, money, and knowledge of how to start and run a business,” I thought.
Shortly thereafter, I met the founders of a multi-level marketing company that distributes wickless candles through their community of mompreneurs and learned that they started the business when they were on the verge of bankruptcy and had nearly $1M in debts to pay off. “Well, if they can figure out a way to start and build a company worth tens of millions,” I thought, “then I can certainly find some extra money to set aside to start building the business I’ve been dreaming of.” So I sat down and I built out a budget and plan to profit. If I could commit to sticking to the budget and selling a certain quantity of tickets to my first event, I would not only be able to totally rationalize this investment, but maybe even make some money right out the gate which I could re-invest in the business.
As if by divine timing, weeks later I connected with a dear friend for coffee. “I’m about to publish my first cookbook,” she said. “I’ve been working on the recipes for years and all the content editing and photography just wrapped up. I’m talking to publishers and working out the logistics of the printing business,” she added. Seriously, what??? This friend of mine was a badass in the kitchen, for sure, but until now, she reserved her badassery for dinner parties with friends. Her meals were to die for, but she had no formal culinary training. She worked in sales for a tech company and here she was about to publish a cookbook??? “Well, if she can write a cookbook without having ever been a chef in a restaurant or going to culinary school then who am I to hold myself back from starting this business for lack of knowledge (in the form of certifications or credentials)?” I thought. “If there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that I am a master connector and I know how to put on incredible events.”
And with that, the little voice in my head was back. “Not one day,” she said. “Today.”
I called my best friend and I asked her if she wanted to pilot the business idea with me. “I want to host a daytreat for ambitious women looking to connect with other ambitious women and collectively up-level and I need your help. We’ll do yoga, we’ll do goal setting, we’ll talk about burnout and our self-love practices and we’ll pamper them with hair, makeup and an empowering photoshoot. We’ll plan everything over the Christmas holiday so we don’t have to worry about taking any time off work. We’ll sell tickets in January and do the event in February. Are you in?” She was in.
And that’s how Manifest was born.
Well, fast forward two years and Manifest has turned into a book, a lifestyle and a thriving community of ambitious women in Chicago and beyond. We’ve helped hundreds of women manifest some of their biggest dreams:
Dreams from writing & publishing their own books to buying their dream homes, from manifesting a relationship and dream wedding to manifesting a furry friend, from going back to school to finish their degrees, to making big career changes with commensurate salary bumps, to getting promotions and negotiating raises, dreams from starting their own side-hustles to going full time into entrepreneurship and much, much more.
Our community has become one of ambitious women up-leveling together and unconditionally supporting each other on the way to manifesting their biggest dreams and it is absolutely inspiring.
More important than our direct contributions, is that by helping these women come alive around their dreams, they in turn have helped their communities come alive around their biggest dreams as well.
“Teach yourself to dream without limits and you will achieve without limits.” – Cara Alwill Leyba
With the global pandemic forcing businesses to go 100% virtual overnight, we’ve had to reinvision how Manifest moves forward in the new normal, and we’ve done just that. In February 2021, exactly two years after our founding event, we will be launching our re-imagined virtual experience- Practical Manifestation School: an eight week e-course with eight live coaching/mastermind calls (via zoom) crafted to give ambitious women a roadmap they can follow to bring their biggest dreams to life, while receiving support and accountability from a community of ambitious women doing the same.
While I hope that some aspect of my story or the founding story of Manifest resonated with you, I hope more than anything it made you pause, even if just for a moment, and dream a little. If it did, I hope you will connect with me in a way that feels authentic to you. I would love to hear from you. Tell me: What’s your dream?