One of my dearest friends, Danika, is a well-known fashion designer and manages a creative team that specializes in Photo, Video, Makeup, Wardrobe, Event Coverage, Model Casting and Production called LovesickLA (check out her incredible work at www.LovesickLA.com). She is one of the fiercest human beings I have ever had the pleasure to encounter; her passion for her business, her commitment to achieving her dreams, and her willingness to do whatever it takes are beyond commendable. We met for lunch yesterday, and during casual conversation she started drilling me with questions: what are your sales at By Grace? How’s production? Why isn’t By Grace in boutiques yet? Why haven’t you reached out to the celebrity bloggers I recommended? Are you going to sell your goods at the ArtWalk Downtown LA? And so on. For almost half an hour I was on the defensive, making excuses for why we were only selling online or why we hadn’t ordered more of a certain dress or clutch. But then I stopped myself. Instead of defending myself to her, I needed to be 100% honest and tell her where we were struggling and where we were succeeding. By Grace is still a very new company, and we’re doing a lot of things right, but also managing to do many things incorrectly or haphazardly. As I started to discuss my shortcomings, she didn’t judge me or make me feel like a failure. On the contrary, she started to offer guidance, suggestions, and even encouraged me. This woman is a strong business owner, a successful designer, and an accomplished entrepreneur. She knows what it is like to fail and she knows how to succeed. Because of this she not only inspires me to be better, she provides me a path to do so.
I’ve heard from a number of sources that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. How do you feel when you hear this – surprised, excited, worried? Quickly make a list of the 5 people you engage with the most. Are they positive or negative? Do their views align with yours? Do they challenge your beliefs? Do they support you in attaining your life goals? Danika and I do not agree on every topic (quite the opposite), but she challenges me, pushes me, and motivates me. And I do the same for her. I do not let her compare herself to others, and I edit as much of her marketing material as she will let me! We both have strengths that allow the other person to be a more effective businesswoman and a more empowered individual. Having Danika as a part of who I am makes me stronger.
Unfortunately, I have another girlfriend who says she wants to be an entrepreneur, yet she surrounds herself with people who put down her ambitions and are naysayers when she shares her business ideas. In my opinion, it’s less important to attempt to get the cynics to stop being negative and more important for her to look within and ask why she is surrounding herself with these types of people and their unsupportive energy. We get to choose whom to spend our time with; time is our most precious resource, even more so if you are looking to run your own company. Those that we share our time with should be assets in both our business and our overall quality of life.
I have had times in my life where I felt like I was making little to no progress toward my goals, and when I looked at my surroundings, I realized the people around me were also headed nowhere. If you want to be successful, one of the most important factors is the people with whom you engage. This doesn’t mean that you can’t hang with someone who isn’t currently employed or who doesn’t have lofty ambitions, but the bulk of your time needs to be spent with those who motivate you to live out your dreams and can help you to do so. Perhaps ask yourself, “What do my closest acquaintances do with their lives? Do they move forward toward their goals? Do they encourage me to reach my dreams?” Hopefully, the answer is a resounding, “Yes,” because I think that everyone deserves a Danika in his or her life. Choose your friends wisely—our future companies and successes depend on it!
Until next time,