While walking around at the COSE annual conference last fall, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program once again jumped out at me. I had heard great things about it from some colleagues, but little did I know what I was getting myself into when I applied!
When I found out that I was accepted that first week of January, I was both elated and terrified by the intensity of the schedule. Then on DAY ONE walking into a room full of strangers, I thought to myself, “What am I doing here?!?”
As many of you know, I am a highly relational person. But ironically, in situations like this, it takes me a while to warm up. I NOW look back and laugh at my initial judgements of those around me that first meeting: one who was extremely quiet, one in the automotive industry with long hair, one who was artistic, and one that seemed the most personable to me (yes, that is who I gravitated to).
Over the next several months, I realized how vital it was for me to get know these amazing business owners. I felt both challenged and inspired, but most of all I was grateful as these relationships continued to deepen and grow.
During the last week, we had two full days together. We each took turns giving business pitches about our growth opportunities and what we had learned. This was one of the most impacting experiences in my entire professional life. I watched successful business owners show their vulnerability, not only talking about their highs and lows, successes and failures, but also sharing about the gift of the program itself. The majority of the presentations were christened with tears.
The overarching theme became quite evident: “I am not alone!” As business owners, CEO’s, company presidents, co-founders and partners, we often feel isolated and alone. But I sat in this room feeling understood, heard, valued and connected. I now have a deeper confidence, and I also know that I have 33 other business owners who are MY cheerleaders, who have my back and want me to succeed. Here I felt welcomed to be vulnerable and share my visions and my fears…I could BE ME!
What this program gifted to me was something way more than professional tips and tools, financial projections, analytics and legal advice. It bonded me with 33 other business owners in a way unimaginable on a journey I was privileged to travel.
What can you do today to get outside of your comfort zone? Where can you lean in a little further, go a little bit longer or challenge yourself a little bit deeper to bring out the gold within you? Maybe it is a program like the one I just finished, maybe it is taking the time to take a writing class or maybe it is something different altogether? But if you rise to this challenge and after a little while, I am pretty confident that you will discover that you are NOT ALONE.
Jennifer Chernisky is the Founder & President of Jennasis and Associates – a virtual business of seasoned professionals who are ready to take on your business challenges specializing in social media, web design, creative and virtual assistance. She also launched Jennasis Speaks – a different kind of speaker’s bureau matching speakers to your event needs.