I try to make a list of at least 25 things learned each year. The truth is that the list always reaches a much higher number than that! And thank goodness, because one of my commitments is to always be learning and growing.
Here are 3 things learned from 2022 that I thought would be helpful for you (there were so many good ones to choose from, but the article was starting to get long, so I cut it at 3)
1. Be even more transparent
One of the coaching, teaching and marketing principles I’ve lived by since nearly day 1 of my business has been to be as transparent as possible – with my clients, with my students, and with my email and social media communities.
Even though I was told at the start of my business to not reveal too much of myself, to not necessarily always tell the truth, to not show imperfections or mistakes…within the first year of my business, I knew it wasn’t for me and shifted right away. It was a bit scary to put myself out there with such vulnerability, but I did. Over and Over again. And because of it, my reputation as a truth teller & trustworthy practitioner & leader precedes me.
This year, I decided to up my game even more in terms of my transparency with clients and community. I challenged myself to reveal even more of the messiness. I allowed myself to be even more transparent when I am imperfect and also to share even more when I am feeling conflicted.
In short, I committed to telling even more of the truth.
There were quite a few newsletter and social media posts that I definitely felt jitters about publishing.
The result? Not only do I get to reveal even more of myself and write about even more of what I want to share…but my clients and community get to learn even more from me (& my mistakes and my conflicts and my messiness). And I suspect, because of it all, my community trusts me even more. A total win-win.
2. Let go of subscribers who aren’t paying attention…and focus on community members who are
At some point in 2021, my team noticed that, while my email community had grown substantially, the open rates on my newsletters and emails were declining. This often happens when more and more people subscribe to your emails – it’s exciting when a big influx of new folks come in, but a good number of them usually lose interest pretty quickly and stop opening emails.
Even though I know this is “normal”, it would be a lie to say that it wasn’t painless to see this happening with my own emails. I know that we all have very busy lives and lots of folks subscribe to a lot of newsletters…and there’s only so much time in a day to read them. But when I think about the heart and soul I put into every word and every note that I send…when I consider that I see my email community as a beloved community that I am devoted to, and not a mere ”list”, it was a little hard to know that a good number of new subscribers simply weren’t opening my emails.
My team suggested starting to purge the community of subscribers who simply weren’t reading because it would help with deliverability. The idea of this made my stomach hurt. Let go of people? While I had never been one to pay too much attention to the size of my community (my motto has been “It’s not the size that counts, it’s how you use it”), it did feel hard to start slashing its size.
But then I started to think more deeply about the difference between a list and a community. And being part of a community means that participating in the community – i.e. reading the articles, getting value from the writing, clicking on other articles – is vital. I realized that keeping any subscriber who doesn’t open any of my emails for a number of months, isn’t about community; it’s about simply keeping them as a vanity number.
And so I took a deep breath, and we changed our system to purging a subscriber from the community if they didn’t open an email for 3 months (we send a number of emails first to make sure they’re truly not paying attention before purging). In the course of the last months of doing this, my community did shrink a bit. And it did make me momentarily queasy. But ultimately, I feel great about it. Everyone who has remained a subscriber is, not just a subscriber, but a beloved community member who I know is participating and receiving value.
(And p.s., if you’re reading this, that means YOU! Thank you for being a part of this community!)
3. Parenting a teenager has incredible highs and lows (and this also applies to leading a business)
My older daughter Penina turned 14 this year and the last eighteen months of this parenting thing has been a ride! (& that’s putting it mildly).
There are moments of parenting my teenager that are pure exhilaration – hanging out together and laughing so hard, watching her sing on the stage & also at our synagogue for hundreds of people (she is an outstanding singer & performer), witnessing her be incredibly kind to her younger sister, witnessing the miracle of her life.
And then…there are moments of parenting my teenager that, if I don’t watch myself, can feel depressing – having her get mad at me when I uphold boundaries around screen time, not always applying herself academically in the ways I’d like her to, witnessing her be not-kind-at-all to her younger sister.
Parenting Penina has – in all of its messiness – been the biggest, most profound teacher in my life. Being Penina’s mother has helped me have more realistic expectations of the people I love, has helped me see how amazing it is to have a child that is so different from me, has helped me more deeply individuate from my own parents, has helped me see more of my own projections.
It has also helped me really see that parenting will always have highs and lows…and that is normal and as it should be. And it’s reminded me yet again that the same is true of being an entrepreneur and of life. Whenever I get too perfectionist about how this parenting thing is supposed to look, a doozie is thrown my way. Whenever I get too perfectionist about how this business thing is supposed to look, a doozie is thrown my way. The more I can embrace the highs and lows of it all….that happier and more content I am.