The energy and tools necessary for creating a life of success,
An interview with Anne-Marie Faiola.
Interview: Nathan Conant
Photos/Video: Ben Bender
So obviously, I'm a single mom of two children and I run a company. There's no one coming to save me, I don't have any partners. So, fear is something I have to deal with on a regular basis.
So much about fear is really the worry about the unknown. You cannot "worry" the unknown away. Time is going to progress, things are going to happen, other people are going to do things to you. The market is going to do things to you whether or not you are scared about it. So, coming up with conservative plans is one of the key ways that I manage my fear.
Another way I manage my fear is to voice it. I'm a big believer in just saying the ugly things. So whether that's, "Hey, I'm embarrassed and I'm ashamed, because I did this wrong the other day and I'm sorry," or, "this is my kind of ugly thing that I'm embarrassed or ashamed about."
So I will just talk to people and say, "You know what? Our sales were down 42% in February of this year." And I think, "Oh my God, what happens if I can't make payroll? What does that look like? How do I deal with that?" Then from there, I talk out worst-case scenarios and I come up with, "Well, okay, if a worst-case scenario happens, what happens?" Usually, after thinking it through, it's not that bad and it's totally manageable.
So that's how I handle my fears. I don't want to say my fears are bigger than anybody else's, they're different than other peoples that aren't in my position. But everybody has fear and it's just a matter of continuing to put one foot in front of the other and not letting it paralyze you.
What success looks like
Do I feel successful today? Yes, I feel successful. Is there still a lot of work to do? There is so much work to do. I'm a work in progress all the time. I'm getting better and better every day (or trying to), but I still make so many mistakes. I don't know if even on my death bed I will say I felt like a success. Part of my joy every day is the striving and the trying, and trying new things and failing and then getting better and growing all the time. I don't want to lead a life that is stagnant and that isn't constantly expansive. So, I feel like I'm at a plateau of success and that there's always another level.
I'm not saying we shouldn't try to be outliers. Let's try to be outliers, let's try to be Bill Gates. I want to make $40 billion so I can change how we deal with vaccinations worldwide and save lives worldwide at risk of child malnutrition. Yes, I want to be Bill Gates, sure. But the reality of that happening is about the same chance as my son becoming a professional basketball player. So if that's the case, what do I need to do to impact the people around me right now that are living today, not 100 years from now?
A practice of personal habits
I am totally a habit-based person, that's how I keep going through everything. So my book about how to live your best day ever, is really just legitimately, "Here are all the habits I use in my life, and here's what I do to make it all work." So, I have a meditation practice and I have a spirituality practice. But the first thing I do to make sure that what's coming out of me is decent, it's garbage in, garbage out.
I don't read books that don't uplift me, I don't watch movies that don't uplift me, I don't watch violence. I make sure that who I'm surrounding myself with, are not "Negative Nellies", they're not dragging me down. I try really hard to create an environment of things that are going into my head that reflect what I want to come out, in terms of the values, in terms of the outputs, in terms of how consistent I can be with my day.
So, the daily habits I have are really very simple. I get up at the same time every morning, I am always reading my goals before bedtime each night, I meditate almost every single day in some way, shape, or form. So whether that's the Calm app and actually just sitting down, whether that's the Deepak Chopra and Oprah 20 Minutes app, I love that. Whether it's a walking meditation or whether it's just literally getting on the treadmill for 10 minutes and trying to say the same phrase over and over and over again. There's always some way I'm trying to center my brain so it's not going 1,000 miles a minute.
Community and Connection
Another big habit that keeps me going is building that sense of community and connection with people. So I try and do some sort of one-on-one, even if it's just half an hour, with someone that is in my peer group or in my community, each day. Even if it's, "Hey, let's grab a really quick cup of coffee, let's go for a walk really quick. Hey, I need to get my nails done, you want to meet and get our nails done together?" Just so I'm connecting one-on-one with a human being every single day about things that matter.
The goal is never to talk about other people. In my group of friends, we all have the same kind of philosophy, which is, "little people talk about little people, and big people talk about big ideas." So it's always, "what did you do today? What are you excited about for your week? Did you read this article? What's the last great book you read? Hey, what are you going to do this weekend?"
One of my friends just sent me her financials for last year now that she's doing her end-of-the-year books, because she and I have met so many times this year. One of the big questions is, "Hey, what are you doing with your business? How's your business doing?" So she felt so invested in that relationship and that conversation we've been having all year, she wanted to email me her financials. So another habit I have is trying to connect with people on a big picture thing every single day so that my mind keeps thinking big picture, as opposed to being in the weeds.
I love to teach and I love to share and if anybody wants to listen to anything I have to say, I am so honored and so delighted to do it. Because I have so many mistakes, if I can save someone from making those same mistakes, I love to do that. I also really like to connect with people. Someone just told me today, "Oh, when you have a chance, give me a call." I thought, "I don't want to call you, I want to see you in person." I like to connect with people. So one of the ways I do that is by teaching and by mentoring and by talking.
One of the things that I have long believed, is that you are the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with. Because of that, about 14 years ago, a group of entrepreneurs in Bellingham, Washington, (female entrepreneurs, because we do actually have different challenges than male entrepreneurs do) formed a group. We call ourselves a Mastermind and we base it off of one of Jack Canfield's Success Principles in his book, "The Success Principles."
There are some really cool business owners in there, like Sarah Rothenbuhler from Birch Equipment or Jody Bergsma from Bergsma Galleries and Patrice Valentine from Net Solutions, who are some very high achieving entrepreneurs. We meet every single month, and the format is really great. We read the same business book, so right now we're reading the new Mel Robbins book, and then we talk about the book.
By talking about it, it helps to really cement those pathways in our brains. Then from there, we do business high, business low, family high, family low, personal high, personal low. Then we usually round-table around one issue that someone's having, so we can "experience share". So an issue could be something as easy as, "I'm really struggling with how to deal with this paid time off rule that we're having right now. How are you dealing with it? What does your policy say about that?" We'll just round-table and share information.
Then once a year we get together and we work on our yearly goals and help keep each other accountable throughout the year. I think that's a huge part of not feeling lonely as an entrepreneur, is finding that peer-to-peer group just to learn from and to share from. Then we can all slingshot each other forward based on our successes. So I could have something good happen to me and everybody else gets really excited and they celebrate, and then they take that energy and they do something else really cool in their business. It's just this natural kind of self-perpetuating energy machine.
Defining Success and Legacy
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is very true. I spent the last five years asking, "If I can just feel joy every day, that means that everything's working, right?" But then I realized that you can feel joy no matter where you are at life, what's going on in your day, or what possessions you have. Joy is a choice, feeling happy is a choice. So, success to me has become the freedom to choose to do what I want to do with my time and my resources.
It's easy to say that now that the engine of business is going because if you had asked me when I was 20 what success would be like, I'd have said, "I want to make $454 a month because that's what my mortgage is. That's what success is for me." But once you have your basic needs met, then success becomes a much more glittery, colorful picture, where it's a "choose your own adventure" once those basic needs are met. So right now it's having the freedom to choose to do what I want to do with my time and my money, AKA my resources.
In terms of legacy, I am hyper-aware of the fact that no one remembers who you are 100 years after you're dead. Think about who your great grandparents are. Do you even remember their names? Do you remember where they came from? Do you know what they did? You probably don't. We have one life to live, and we're living it right now. It's up to us to make the most of it right now and leave our legacy for the people that are around us and alive today. It's not about a legacy 100 years from now.
Learn more about Anne-Marie and Bramble Berry:
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