Why I’ll never succeed in business

Today I was offered share in a company while I worked the StartupPrincess swag table at the Seth Godin lunch for Haiti. (Think of that as background information, not name-dropping). A man approached me, saying he felt impressed to tell me about his great idea for a Twitter/Facebook-type networking site that would fill a niche for online moms.

I said that sounded good, in fact there are already several (probably hundreds of) great sites out there (including #gno and TwitterMoms.com on Twitter and pages on Facebook, and Today’s Mama and the Motherhood, and various ning social sites, not to mention local message boards and forums and pretty soon it was clear that he didn’t have a clear vision for his company, and he hadn’t done any market research (how sad is it that I think I used that term correctly in a conversation) to see what’s already out there and what he could offer different and special.

What he does have, basically, is the domain SuperMom.com, and the conviction that this could be big, really big. And you know what? It could be, with the right person (a woman who happens to be a mom probably), the right vision, the right strategy, a higher purpose (donating 10% to charity or something), the right relationships with social media gurus, and time and luck.

He wanted me to be that person. I said I’d work on it if he’d pay me. He offered me a share in the company (which is basically, share in the domain SuperMom.com), which might be an opportunity, I suppose, if I could make it my passion.

But it’s not, and I can’t.

I told him about Kalli’s quilting bee I went to last month and Sue’s new blogger charity posse and how the “networks” I participate in are all “organic.” I’m on Twitter, yeah, but only because I enjoy it and there are fun people on there who have interesting ideas or happenings to share. (Yes, a lot of it is beyond banal, but how about this tweet from @QueenScarlett yesterday: 5YO:I like going to Church to have a play date with Jesus. Me:What? 5YO:Church is His house. It’s a reverent play date & Jesus is not whiny.)*

Then I said, to be honest, (prepare yourself): The name “SuperMom” is kind of off-putting to me. I have no interest in being a SuperMom, or an AlphaMom or a Type-A Mom. I even lost interest in being a What About Mom? Mom, though sometimes I think of going back to that.

He still insisted that that person with the vision could be me. I demurred, told him about the social media club of slc and Utah Valley, where he could go and meet people who might be more visionary.

He handed me his business card, told me to think about it, and let him know if I was interested in being a part of the next big thing.

I’m interested, all right, in what people do and think they can do online.

But I lost his card somewhere on the ride home.

Here’s what I learned at the Seth Godin thing, for Lauren (@supermomcentral), because I told her I was writing a post about said event, and this post really isn’t much about that, except to say that I know it’s important to have passion, if you want to succeed in business (life). Seth Godin says if you can write down what your job is then “they” can find someone to do it cheaper. And that public school is a scam perpetuated by factory-minded people who want to produce a compliant, obedient, not-thinking-for-themselves workforce.

And that fear is what keeps us from doing great things, from creating great art (the kind that is being awesome at whatever you do because you’re doing it your way). And then he said that the emotionally hard work of being an artist (again, not a painter but a DO-er, a Create-or, etc) is doing it even when you don’t feel like doing it, which I need to think about a lot because I haven’t felt like writing or doing anything lately, and I like to blame my evening pregnancy sickness for that, but really it’s probably also fear — fear of failure, and also fear of success. (Which is nonsense, because really, who fears success?)

The other big take-away I got will be the subject of my post “Lessons for being a Mom from Seth Godin” if I ever get around to writing it, but since I might not, the upshot was I started thinking that probably I can be an artist as a mother, I can do it the way only I can, I can do it my way, a way that can’t be written down in interchangeable parts. I can stop demanding blind obedience (not that I am successful at that) and instead encourage making good choices and trying new things, and I can see that the messier my house is, the better, because it means those kids are DOing something.

A lot of what Seth said sounded like Ayn Rand to me, and I wonder if that means I didn’t get it at all or if he is a not-so-secret Galtist. Because he talked a lot about giving and generosity, but it sounded like non-coerced giving, not namby-pamby “giving back.”

And finally, Seth actually asked me a question, but I didn’t know the answer. I did, however, know the answer to the number one question asked at events like this: “Where is the bathroom?”

* If you’re on the fence about Twitter, (and Seth Godin today said it was terrible, that it was what kept people from creating their art (not arty art but whatever it is that you do that no one tells you to do), but you could say that about any distraction that has the potential, if misused, to become a time-suck), consider this:

Fun Happenings that were a direct result of Twitter:

That time I spoke at BYU about Twitter because Kelly King Anderson asked for a substitute on Twitter.

That time I met @sahans on Twitter, who happens to live just 30 minutes away and then she fed my family one night and another night we got to go to the Timpanogos Storytelling Winter Concert for free because she knows how to Direct Message me on Twitter.

All of the times I have discussed meeting at Barry’s in Spanish Fork for Malibu Chicken and the best French fries in the world, and yet the one time I drove down there I was too grungy to ask anyone to meet me on Twitter.

That time I heard about the #gno at Seo.com and I took Chrysanthemum and we ate pizza and laughed with @jet_set and @petitelefant.

That time I attended the Wasatch Woman of the Year luncheon and got all inspired because Pam Baumeister asked for volunteers on Twitter.

That time I attended the Start-up Princess Seth Godin lunch because KKA asked for volunteers on Twitter.

I can’t list all of the Utah people I follow on Twitter because I am lazy, but here are the ones who were at lunch today. Just go to Twitter.com and add these fine folk: @jillkaufusi, @sahans, @inevergrewup, @sweetlifeinth, @JoanieAtwater,@emihill, @makeitworkmom, @wasatchwoman, @startupprincess, @bigbags, @thomallen, @newspapergrl, @cuteculturechic, @JylMomIF (I didn’t see her but I’m believin’ she was there), and if I forgot anyone it is because I am a terrible person and you should forgive me (if you even see this because probably if you read me, and if I know that you read me, I would probably have remembered seeing you there today, and so really it’s your fault. Not that all of these people read me religiously, but they should.)

You should also follow @LauraMoncur, because she is the first person in social media that I met in Utah, she’s really nice, and she makes a living online. I know! Crazy, huh?

21 thoughts on “Why I’ll never succeed in business

  1. Oddly enough, it was blogging that taught me how to better to my job (the one where I write and they PAY me.) I used to force myself to post to my blog on a schedule, which made me write even when I didn’t want to write, writing even before I had the inspiration. All of that comes in incredibly handy when you are asked to produce content even if you don’t feel like it. So the art benefited the business.

    Oh, and Twitter? I just love Twitter.

    • My conviction that you’re right about the benefits of writing even when you don’t want to (as I learned when I did NaBloPoMo once) is only matched by my seeming inability to make myself do it. So I’m jealous.

  2. Seth Godin was a great speaker and he made a lot of great points that hopefully I will remember.

    I do love twitter, though. And thanks for the twitter recommendation:)

    • I want you to know that as I was falling asleep last night, I realized I left Camille off this list, and it bothered me so much, I had to get up and fix it. Next time, I would like inspiration to strike at 8 am.

  3. Wonderful recap! I love the behind-the-scenes story as well. I guess you’ll never be uber successful if you don’t take every super-domain-name-owning guy up on his offer. Losing his card was the end of that dream. (You know I’m kidding, right?) I’m not sure I’ll ever be okay with a messy house even if it means my kids are creating and not simply wreaking havoc, but I will try! No matter what, it’s always a great event if I get to see you and the rest of the group there. πŸ˜‰

    • Now, why am I not surprised you have a clean house? People who look as good as you always have clean houses. *sigh* *going to stuff myself with comfort cookies now*

    • Um, did I say my house was clean? All I said was I’m not okay with a messy home…which means I’m not okay 99% of the time! It’s only clean when I know someone is coming over other than family and friends who’ve already seen it torn apart. I think I’ll stuff myself with some comfort cookies too. When *will* those Girl Scout cookies get here?!?!

    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you were one of *those* people who always have a clean house. And good to know, otherwise I would be too intimidated by you. πŸ˜‰

  4. There are times when I have a hard time with Twitter and social media simply because I feel overwhelmed. But I’m so with you. How many awesome people and opportunities have I met and had because of blogging, because of twitter? I can’t count.

  5. Thanks for sitting with me today, and putting up with all of my interrupting comments during Seth’s speech.

    P.S. You are forgiven about the Barry’s incident. Just don’t forget me next time.

  6. Thanks for the plug for the charity thing – I can’t wait to get started. I really hope that it grows and grows and that we accomplish amazing things.

    I’ve been a late convert to Twitter, but I’m definitely converted. I just have to keep my online activities from interfering in my real life. Balance, balance, balance.

    • Sorry, I realized you have, like, an official name and everything — Bloganthropy. I’ll try to use it next time. (and a button? Jeez, you guys are SERIOUS!)

    • It’s not actually my name or button – Bloganthropy.org is a national group of bloggers who are trying to do charitable things with their blogs – they share ideas and resources, and I joined so I could get some ideas and get involved with helping on a national level. Therefore I get to use their clever name and button πŸ™‚

      But yeah, I am serious.

  7. I’m definitely on the fence with twitter. Sounds like maybe I need to change that…and no offense, but Seth Godin sounds like he’s full of crap. Just my opinion, though. πŸ˜‰

    • He was really quite inspiring. The history part, about Henry Ford making the assembly line so profitable by making interchangeable parts and therefore interchangeable people was convincing, to me, and I think he’s right on about fear stopping a lot of people (myself included) from doing what they really want to do. Think about even testimony meeting. How many people get up and say their heart was pounding, they were so scared, blah blah blah — and then of course they feel so great and the Spirit works through them, etc, all because they did what they were so afraid to do. And repentance. What keeps us (me) from repenting usually? It’s fear — fear of shame, guilt, regret, having to change, having to do something new instead, the unknown, etc.

      Not that I’m an expert on Seth Godin, or anything; I’ve never read a book or blog post by him, but he is a powerful speaker.

    • Yeah, some of that makes sense, and I know fear keeps me from doing some things. But really it’s just a lack of passion I think. I just don’t want it bad enough. But the stuff he said about education I don’t agree with. I just don’t think we should give up on education.

  8. You are probably passing up an opportunity of a lifetime! Dang that lizard brain! πŸ™‚
    I’m with you. He was rather motivating, but I left with a tich of guilt – for having registered my oldest in Kindergarten just that morning!
    Sidenote – My Spanish Fork friends constantly talked about Barry’s, and the time we finally went, they were closed! Was it worth all the hype?
    P.S. thanks for adding me to your list πŸ™‚ even if it was in the middle of the night! πŸ™‚

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