I love a good story.
So here’s mine…
If you’ve never met me then you likely don’t know my story and it’s important to know who I am and what I’m about, especially if we get to work together.
In the beginning…
So when I was baby I sat on my asslet. My twin brother was walking around and I was sitting… on my asslet.
And then, when my mother had lost all hope, I stood up and started walking around.
Yeah, that’s me.
But also interested in making sure I have all the facts before I dive in which is why I ask a lot of questions.
What you really want to know is whether or not I’m qualified. The problem is I’m over-qualified… for lots of things.
At 15 I started my first job as a dental office assistant… sort of. My dentist hired me after school to answer phones, autoclave tools, clean up rooms, pour molds, etc. He’s still my dentist.
When I was 20 I was assistant manager of a small video rental business, remember those? I was totally into movies. At the time I was going to college for movie and television production. The owner of the store loved how I took care of the customers so he made me an assistant manager. I was very proud.
After a couple of years, I decided to step it up and started working in law firms as a legal receptionist then legal secretary and assistant. Interestingly, the first law firm job was landed because I was sitting in the reception area waiting and one of my video store customers walked in. He was a lawyer at the firm. He put in a good word for me and BLAM new job.
When I wasn’t working… I was in school.
After I graduated with my movie degree I moved to Los Angeles. Wowee was that an experience.
My first job in LA was working at the mall while I did temp work. The temp work lead to a position at Playboy in Beverly Hills.
Los Angeles was an interesting adventure but although I had been accepted to Cal-Arts and USC, I didn’t get into UCLA – the one college I could afford. I decided that the film people in California were not really my peeps. Living in a car as a waitress didn’t appeal to me.
Back to Phoenix…
At that point my Dad was re-opening his business and it was decided that my brother and I would help him. I was 25 when I became CEO of Custom Architectural Woodwork. We build high-end custom commercial millwork for hotels, banks, retail stores, and luxury residences.
While I don’t work at the factory everyday anymore, I still put out fires, handle negotiations, do contract review, and manage difficult issues.
As you might imagine, working in a male-dominated field, being 25 and green, was a challenge. I learned how to handle conflicts with older male general contractors and learned how to negotiate with them. I had always been fearless when it came to dealing with people but working in construction definitely forced me to refine that fearlessness.
Growing the millwork business from zero to million dollar contracts with Neiman Marcus, Radisson, DoubleTree, Hyatt, Ralph Lauren, W Hotels, and many more was a learning experience and rewarding. I decided, because I get antsy, to get my Bachelor’s degree. So during the day we constructed beautiful millwork and then I’d go to school, again. Two and a half years later, I graduated with a degree in business and communications from Arizona State University.
After 10 years of building and growing the millwork business, and finishing school, I decided, with my then partner, to start another business.
Car, cars, and more cars.
He was an automotive technician working on Porsches. I drove a Porsche. When I first met him he was standing under my car working on it and I thought, “he’s cute”.
We started a Porsche-only repair boutique in Phoenix. It took us only 4 years to grow it into a ½ million dollars in sales. And… I was in another male-dominated field. It was long hours.
At the millwork business we didn’t do any kind of advertising. We still don’t have a website. Our quality and attention to detail resulted in a constant stream of referrals. No marketing necessary.
I was sure I could apply this same strategy to build the Porsche business, and I was right. The tactics were different but we never spent money on advertising.
After 6 years we were “By Referral Only”. Yup, no appointment unless a customer referred you. It was effective and we stayed busy.
It was the experience of building businesses based on referrals that prompted me to build a course called Red.Hot.Referrals. And it was the experience of working as a woman in male-dominated industries that led me to write the Kindle book, “What to Say, How to Say It”.
But after 20 years, my partner and I parted ways. He bought me out and I was now a solopreneur. This was not an easy transition.
The first few months after the buy-out I took it easy. I tried to help a couple of guys build another automotive service business. This time the shop was filled with Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys, Maserati, and Aston Martin. Beautiful cars but cars just the same.
I had learned after 11 years that cars are cars. Sure the high-end cars are built differently, higher quality, tighter tolerances, but still… just cars. Brakes are really just brakes for the most part. The only difference was the technicians. The ones who worked on the high-end cars thought they were more special than the ones who just worked on Jeeps.
So… I moved on.
I kept consulting, writing, working with the family but I really wanted to try something different. This time I decided to find a job.
Working alone at home all the time felt a bit claustrophobic. So in September of 2014, I went to work for a local business as an office manager.
My job was to evaluate the office procedures and streamline. I spent the first couple of weeks learning each administrative position. Then I went to work. I worked on streamlining processes, I put into a place a system for customer complaints and effectively reduced them by 90%. Then I evaluated each admin person and removed three positions, effectively saving the business 100k in wages. I replaced people with better suited employees and raised morale. People were happy, people were working, complaints were down, and money was saved all in the first 90 days.
And then it happened…
I found the lump around Thanksgiving. The doctor appointment led to the mammogram which led to the ultrasound and then the biopsy. Ten days before Christmas, what I had called “boobie-gate” turned into cancer. I felt fine but things weren’t fine.
A flurry of appointments ensued and at the end of January 2015 I underwent surgery. I was decisive from the beginning. The boobie is broken, take it all. The other side isn’t broken, leave it alone.
The mastectomy resulted in an infection which landed me back in the hospital and back under the knife. Another surgery but the infection resolved.
Finally, I was on the mend. After a couple of weeks, I was given a release to return to work part time.
I really wanted to work. I wanted to get back to normal. But in December, when I’d told the business owner that I had cancer and needed surgery, his attitude changed. He began to treat me poorly but I endured. At that point I needed the insurance so I took the abuse.
When I tried to go back to work, he sat me down, outside, and offered a new position and pay cut. As you might imagine, I was pretty angry. I kept my cool but I said I didn’t think that the new deal was appropriate.
Well, once I got home and started looking into my rights, I told him I wanted my position and paycheck back. They avoided me. Finally, I emailed and said I’d take the pay cut and position but that I was going to look into my rights. By email, they fired me because I had intended to contact the EEOC.
To make matters worse… my tumor had been sent off for lab work and because of the type and aggressiveness of the cancer, I had to have chemo.
I really dreaded chemo and for good reason.
It was yucky, I looked terrible, I lost my hair, I gained weight, I made it through 2 ½ months of treatment and then I called it quits.
It took a month to recover from the last treatment but I was determined to find some work.
During chemo, when I felt well enough, I took coding classes and learned web development. In August 2015 I scored a job as a developer, and won a settlement with my ex-employer.
My “job” was really just contract work but the work was guaranteed so I could do my own client work as well. The problem was… I was tired. I just didn’t have the bandwidth for more that 30 to 36 hours of work each week.
As I write this, a year has passed.
My energy levels are up, I feel close to normal and I’ve decided that it’s time to get back to doing what I do best… being an entrepreneur.
I’ve spent over 20 years as a business owner. The trials and tribulations offer a huge amount of experiences that deserve to be shared.
I’m on a mission to help small business owners, new business owners, and micro business owners grow their businesses. Whether it’s building an effective and attention-grabbing website or teaching marketing strategies, you’ll find me doing whatever I can to help.
I remember what it was like starting a business and what it takes to succeed. It isn’t easy. My goal is to help with great tools at prices that make sense for small businesses.
Started working at 15.
Worked at Playboy.
Operate, as CEO, custom commercial millwork business that grew to 1 million in sales.
Co-own and operate Porsche-only repair facility that grew to ½ million in sales.
Work with lots of men.
Fix my own Jeep.
Legal battle with employer.
Full-fisted battle with cancer.
Learn web development in 4 months.
Still kicking asslet as an entrepreneur.
Whatever you’ve got…
I think I can handle it.