Monday, February 11, 2013

Promoting My Friend's Business

June 2012 my friend Jos who I met at Toastmasters asks me to meet her at a coffee shop to discuss non-Toastmaster related things.

That day Jos introduced me to her "plan": A 2 day event that would launch her business aimed at promoting women entrepreneurs.

Being a two-time failed entrepreneur myself, I understood the difficulties women (and people in general who try running their own business) face today:

-You're friends look at you like you're an idiot
-Everybody doubts it will work
-No one gives you support
-You have to go to awkward networking groups that tell you not to talk about your business
-Your "boss" doesn't exist and the closest ones to that don't guide you
-You don't make any money
-You feel like a failure
-You give up and tell yourself in 3-5 years you'll try it again when you're "ready"

So I agreed to help Jos and started mapping out a vision for the event -noting things to avoid from past networking experiences that failed and things to incorporate to make the 2 day event more fun and interactive.

The vision was amazing. Then we started trying to implement it...

-We toured all possible venues and eventually chose one
-We got all the speakers who would talk during Day 1 signed on
-We started designing and creating the website to support the business for women
-Jos worked on getting Paypal synced with the website
-I worked on Flyers, promotional materials, the logo, the branding, and the general overview for the event

Then the event was post-poned and later re-post-poned. It's now set for September 2013. We realized trying to get 200 people to an event that only 20 people were currently aware of was a lot to ask for. We are now aiming at hosting mixers to get other women to join in -especially in the mentoring program which is at the heart of the entire plan.

Then Jos and I ran into issues with each other:

-I can support a business that supports only women -it's not easy since I have instincts towards being more "inclusive" than "exclusive", but Jos assured me that men wouldn't be turned away and could attend both the mixers and the event.

-Then Jos said she wants some women to be "tiered" above others if they were willing to pay more. Given an exclusive position.She also said she wanted to start dressing more upscale and being more cocky -since most successful women exude those qualities. She then said she wanted any and all successful women to speak at the event and the mixers -even arrogant/conceited jerks (as long as their rich and their techniques work).

I took issue with this one. One of my least favorite parts of going to networking meetings were the arrogant speakers who were successful at the business and being a**holes in life. I respect leaders who actually lead people and support people -not those who bully others into doing what they demand.

I'm feeling torn. I would do anything for a friend -including supporting a business I have no real interest in joining personally. I've been supporting this vision for the past 9 months. It's practically a child I've given birth to now. But it's getting old, and annoying. I have to dress up now and attend mixers and the planning meetings that have been ongoing this whole time (Monday-Friday after 3pm -6pm whenever Jos decides she wants me to come over and usually Saturdays from 11am-4pm) are still ongoing...

But I admire my friend for avidly committing to and pursuing her dream.

2 things bug me more than anything about this situation:

1. Despite the fact that Jos (a Cancer) was raised by an Aquarius and a Capricorn -she isn't spiritually/religiously oriented. She has no real interest in it beyond attending a worship center -mostly because it's what people are expected to do in general and less for any true value to herself she could get out of it.

2. She is so business-oriented. She worries worries worries and lacks faith. But all she's spinning her wheels over are things I don't really care about and don't think she should consumer herself with either.

At least I know where I stand. I go where I'm needed and do anything my friends ask of me -even if it's at my own inconvenience. It's not like I've gained nothing from this experience.

-I've learned a great deal about how much life sucks for others who don't let God in the picture.
-I've learned how to check out venues and their prices and services
-I've learned how to complete an HPL Project through Toastmasters (which is a stupid project some drunken Toastmaster must have designed while high on mushrooms)
-I've learned how to design a logo based on a companies brand and message
-I've designed what I think is the basis for an excellent mentorship program (based on the Zodiac)
-I've learned to be more open with someone I've been hanging out with frequently -which includes getting angry/agitated and expressing my views in that tone but also in a positive/considerate way
-I've gotten a lot of free meals since I'm not getting paid for any of this
-I've gotten many free books since Jos is cleaning her apartment and is getting rid of things left and right (including Seasons 2-7 of Buffy minus Season 5)
-I've learned when to compromise and be patient and when to stand my ground and be impatient
-I've learned that trying to help someone organize is difficult when they can't focus very well on anything at any one time and worry from topic to topic...
-I've also learned about 3 great non-profits in the area that support women in the community
-Lastly I've become more inspired to bring into fruition plans of my own that bring people together for a common goal/cause 

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