Over the years, I've written about our husband and wife partnership as entrepreneurs building a business. I've covered living on the road while working and growing a family. I've discussed how to find your center when raising a family while building your empire. And I've shared work hacks to keep you on top of your game while traveling.
Across the board, I've emphasized the importance of a routine to ensure discipline and traction both personally and professionally when you're scaling a business and raising your tribe. I felt like my husband Buddy, and I had a leg up on working remotely and being productive.
If there were ever a time that could test my strategies and beliefs in my capacity for stress and change, it's government-mandated quarantine. Wow! Our family was sick with colds and cases of flu before the California COVID-19 quarantine, so at the time I'm writing this, we're actually in Week 5 of Sheltering in Place. Thank God it's Spring Break.
Seriously, I like my kids' schoolwork even less than they do, so Spring Break came at a much-needed time. I've always loved our children's teachers, but they have achieved a whole new level of greatness in my eyes. I don't know how you teachers do it. Then, many of you come home and do homework with your kids! I tip my hat to you all!
We lived in an RV with a toddler while I was third-trimester pregnant with number two, in North Dakota. We were 50 miles from the Canadian border, and it was the middle of December, yet we went to work on a construction site every day. Sounds grim, right? Well, I gotta tell you, that was easier than the past month at home with two kids doing "independent" online schooling — and a three-year-old running around trying to derail the train!
Our motto for many years has been, "the family that travels together, stays together." And now all I want is a weekend away with my girlfriends! Or better yet, a weekend alone, in silence, in an ashram. Do you remember silence? What I wouldn't give for a little silence.
In my last post: Finding peace amidst uncertainty, I explored some of the hacks we were using in an attempt to keep the peace in our little village! Fast forward a few weeks, and we've figured out a few more things, experienced some more failures, laughed, argued, had a couple of meltdowns, and learned more about ourselves and each other.
All of their lives, our kids have had front row seats for our American Dream-Chasing Tour. In fact, they've had backstage passes. So for them, watching mom and dad juggle schedules, tag-team work and chores at home, coordinate school pickups and drop-offs — along with work meetings and travel schedules — is nothing new.
What is new is that we've taken on the additional responsibility of trying to be teachers — and without the help we usually have (from a babysitter or family member.) Don't judge, or do if you want! But, if anyone tells you they keep their pace personally and professionally without any help —they're lying. Our life isn't one-size-fits-all, but we're fighting hard to design the life of our dreams, and most of the time, it works for us. When it doesn't, it can get a little messy.
As bootstrapping entrepreneurs, I think we are pretty nimble and innovative. But pack all five of us, and our French Bulldog Lovie, around the clock in a home with no office, garage or den, and even the greatest domestic diva would be tested. Oh, did I mention it's been pouring outside for days on end!
It's been a learning experience, and no doubt will continue to be for the foreseeable future. I think I can safely say we are starting to make a little more progress each day. As partners, as a couple and as parents, we're getting better at coordinating our schedules in advance to prioritize the kids and their school schedules, along with needs for physical activity and play. We're organizing our schedules to allow time for each of us to work on our professional and passion projects.
What we haven't mastered yet is much time together as a couple. These kids are ALL UP IN OUR BUSINESS! The big kids are still a little young to babysit the three-year-old. Besides, I'm convinced that if they were alone on an island, he would be named Lord of the Flies. Date nights are a nice idea, and an overnight getaway is a distant memory of days gone by. We have to shelve any real chance to connect until we get the kiddos in bed, schoolwork reviewed and uploaded, and the casa cleaned. Then we pour ourselves into bed, both exhausted from schooling, parenting, housework, and work.
Next week, we're going to work on prioritizing our time to talk, plan, and connect during the little man's nap time. Look out kids, mom and dad are going to start having a lot more "conference calls" midday, so no knocking on the door, it's an important meeting!
Sometimes, the days are long and other days seem even longer, and then there are days when I feel like we're in our element and could take the kids out of school, move on to a boat and sail around the world! For clarification, this feeling lasts for about 3.2 seconds, and then the baby spits milk across the room in an effort to make his siblings laugh, and I'm jolted back to reality. In all seriousness, though, I know we'll look back on this epic, scary, and crazy-beautiful time in our lives, years from now and long for these days with our babies. Humor is just one way I choose to find joy, and hopefully, bring a little joy to you as well!
At the end of the day, isn't how we choose to control our attitudes part of this whole endeavor? With so much out of our control, our perspective is one thing we can control. We have to work at it, but we do have choices. It's too soon to know what the future will hold or the shape of our "new normal." But one thing is already certain: There is an opportunity in this for us all. We each have an opportunity to learn, evolve, and to grow closer as a family and as a community. What will you choose?
Long Live the Adventure,
In life, there are occasions when no matter how much we’d like to avoid it, a difficult discussion is necessary with a teammate, coworker, family member, or friend so we can navigate a tricky situation or deal with challenging behavior.
As a business owner and manager of people for more than 16 years, this is familiar territory. In my last role I served as the president of a company with over 500 team members). Confrontation, coaching, corrective discipline, and sometimes terminations have been part of my regular responsibilities. I think I handled such interactions well at times — but I also bombed on some occasions. More than once, I recall walking away thinking, “Wow, that did not go the way I that I thought it would.”
I tried to learn from each less-than-stellar experience. Leadership development courses, reading, studying, trial and error, and a genuine intention to learn and improve in this area have helped. I’ve found a fbew strategic ways, over the years, to approach these interactions thoughtfully. And I’ve shared successful techniques with my teams and colleagues.
With a little pre-planning and the right intentions, you can turn what could be a difficult conversation into an opportunity to build trust, communicate needs and expectations, and foster an environment for growth and improvement.
For many of us, just the word “confrontation” carries strong negative emotions. We may fear that we will hurt someone’s feelings, create a difficult work environment or compromise a friendship.
Developing the ability to confront issues is essential in the workplace and in other areas of our lives. Addressing issues as they arise lets team members or coworkers have the information they need to meet expectations in relationships, job performance, and workplace culture.
You can foster communication by providing an opportunity for people to correct and grow with the organization, while also documenting your efforts to help them. Unfortunately, sometimes a manager's best efforts don’t make the needed difference, and documentation may be necessary to support a decision to terminate employment. However, many times I have discovered that an employee didn’t realize that their behavior was creating a problem. When given the information and an opportunity to improve, they made corrections and began to thrive.
I am sure you would like to avoid a conversation that leaves you asking yourself, “What just happened?” There is an art to approaching difficult subjects in a positive manner that will create an intentional environment for growth. I hope to provide a coaching opportunity to align my teammate with the goal. I’m not going to claim I win ‘em all, but I’m sure this thoughtful preparation will put you on a path to the most positive outcome possible.
When we confront, we are trying to bring to light something that needs to be addressed. Remember, that is our perspective, but the person you are conducting the conversation with may not see it the same way, or even be aware that there is an issue or concern.
Here are my tips for mastering difficult conversations:
1) Be the example
5) Avoid back-tracking
Take confidence in knowing that confrontation, coaching, correction, acknowledgment, and encouragement are all essential aspects of leadership. When performed well, these types of communication and engagement can positively communicate needs and expectations. They can help you improve performance and grow relationships and trust with colleagues, coworkers, and personal relationships — even parenting! Learning to embrace these communication essentials will inform your team, inspire and grow you as a leader, and create better communion within your organization.
If you got to the end of this article, keep up the great work! You clearly have a heart for inspiring healthy communication and expectation transparency within your teams! You are going to do great things!
Long Live the Adventure,
This weekend, our home away from home, Mammoth Lakes, and snow sports lovers the world over said goodbye to the godfather of winter recreation, Dave McCoy, who passed away at 104 years old on Saturday, Feb. 8. Dave was the visionary and founder of Mammoth Mountain. His ability to dream big built a first-class ski resort with some of the best all-around terrain in the world. He leveraged his passion to build a profitable business that created jobs for over 3,000 people and attracts visitors from all over, making Mammoth Mountain the third most-visited ski resort in the world in 2018 with over 1.2 million visitors.
Born in El Segundo, California, on August 24, 1915, Dave first visited the Sierra Nevada when he was just 13 years old and fell in love with the snow. After completing the eighth grade, he moved to Washington state with his grandparents because his parents had divorced. But once Dave finished high school, he headed south, back to the Eastern Sierra. He joined the Eastern Sierra Ski Club, where at age 22, he became the California State Skiing Champion. And he skied for a living, too, after he became a hydrographer for Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. His job was to measure snow levels so the City of Los Angeles could predict how much water would be available in the coming spring and summer. Some days he would ski 50 miles to take snow measurements.
His entrepreneurial story could, and should, be made into a movie. While working as a hydrographer, Dave met and later married Roma Carriere. Turns out, Roma was a clerk at the bank where McCoy sought an $85 bank loan in 1938 to set up a tow rope at McGee Mountain. McGee is located along the 395, just south of Mammoth. The bank turned him down because his only collateral was his motorcycle. Dave left the bank, but the story goes, the young clerk marched into the bank president’s office and proclaimed that if he didn’t give that young man a loan, she would quit. Well, they gave him the loan and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1953, the Forest Service awarded McCoy a permit to open a ski area on Mammoth Mountain, (where he had moved his tow rope to from McGee due to better snow) with the condition that he develop the mountain as a ski resort. In 1955, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area incorporated and Dave applied for another loan, but this time it was for $135,000 to purchase and build a chair lift. Again, he was turned down. That wasn’t going to stop Dave, he found a way to secure a used lift, that would become Chair 1, now known as Broadway, and he and some fellow skiers worked long arduous hours to install it themselves.
The dreaming, the trials, and the hard work continued as Dave faced economic struggles. Not only was he dealing with tough terrain as he expanded the resort, but Mother Nature didn’t always cooperate. But Dave survived the dreadful 1976-1977 season, when Mammoth only received 94 inches of snow, and he never stopped believing in Mammoth. He knew that once people discovered Mammoth they would come back and bring others with them. And, they did! When Dave retired in 2005, he’d been running the resort for 68 years. He sold the resort to Starwood Capital Group in a deal that was valued at $365 million.
Dave continued to ski until 2008, when he had a knee replacement. He became an avid and talented photographer and he and Roma enjoyed excursions into the backcountry behind their homestead in Bishop in their ATV. I’m only scratching the surface of Dave’s interests, talents, vision and contribution to Mammoth here. I could write for hours.
He and Roma were incredibly committed to the communities of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop where they raised their six children. They, along with a few friends, founded the Mammoth Lakes Foundation in 1989 to bring education and arts to the Eastern Sierra. They were instrumental in securing a permanent building for Cerro-Coso Community College. The foundation allocates scholarships for Bishop and Mammoth High School graduates to attend and obtain their AA degrees at Cerro-Coso.
My husband, and business partner, Buddy and I have been visiting Mammoth for years. We have always been inspired by Dave and Roma’s marriage, vision, courage, dedication, and most of all, the love of their team and their community. Dave was adored by his team, and with good reason, he adored them just as equally.
They took big risks, and in the end, gained huge rewards. All along, they were committed to, and invested right back into the towns that had supported them along the way. They are an incredible example of the power of humility, hard work and passion.
When we purchased our cabin in 2016, we thought our family was complete with the two of us, and our daughter and son. Turns out, we were wrong. We loved Mammoth so much, we soon found out we we’d be adding one more to our family in 2017. When we learned we were having a boy, we started to think of names. One day, while driving north on the 395, I asked Buddy what he thought of naming the baby McCoy. His response was immediate. He said enthusiastically, “That’s it!” And, from that day on, we awaited our McCoy.
We now split our time between our ranch in the Tehachapi Mountains and our cabin in Mammoth Lakes, where we’ve celebrated birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, rang in New Years and have had more epic pow days that one deserves! We’re often stopped by Mammoth staff when they hear us call out to McCoy. They’ll say something like, “Do you know you have the same name as a guy who’s pretty special around here?” I get the joy of telling them that he is in fact named after that “special guy” and their faces light up every time.
Mammoth Mountain will be a legacy that will live on with skiers and snowboarders now, and for generations to come. But, Dave’s kindness, generosity and love for his mountain, his staff, his guests, his athletes, his community and so much more will echo in the Sierra Nevada forever.
Dave, my heart breaks that we must bid you farewell. Thank you for dreaming, for dreaming so big, that most people thought your dreams were impossible. Thank you for staying the course in times of adversity. Thank you for being the example of servant leadership at its very best! Thank you for creating a paradise that has afforded me, and my family memories that will last a lifetime.
Thank you for everything!
I'm not going to lie, "I've gotta get out of this town," is something I've heard, and said, over the years. I live in the smallish town of Tehachapi, California. Tehachapi is a quaint mountain town in Central California, composed of about 30,000 residents, in the heart of the last conservative county in the state, Kern County. Kern County is frequently referred to as the Texas of California, so it's no surprise that in recent years, I have fallen head-over-heels in love with Texas. I've visited several Texas cities and landmarks for both work and pleasure, and each time I go, I find myself even more smitten.
Texas has a long larger-than-life history of cattle ranches, farming, oil barons, industry, US presidents, independence and pride. The state is known for Texan hospitality, out of this world barbecue and so much more. While Texas boasts a long line of impressive women in history, recently, some charming Texan businesswomen are staking their claim and taking social media, HGTV, their communities and the world by storm with their vision, style, spunk and entrepreneurialism. Joanna Gaines of the television show, Fixer Upper, from Waco and Aimee and Jolie the Junk Gypsy Sisters in Round Top, along with their families and teams are putting Texas in a new spotlight.
The phrase "everything's bigger in Texas" isn't lost on these spitfires. Their inability the think small has developed an international following. They are outspoken women of faith who have warmed our hearts and inspired us to express our personal styles in our homes, through entertaining and cooking and encouraged our desire to pursue our own dreams and the belief that anything is possible with a dream, taking some risk and putting in hard work.
During a recent trip to Texas, my husband and I were again blown away by what Joanna Gaines, her husband Chip and their Magnolia Team have done to completely transform their community of Waco, Texas. This is not an understatement, Joanna and her business partner and husband, Chip have leveraged the celebrity of their show and have invested in multiple commercial real estate business in Waco. At the center of The Magnolia Market at the Silos, is their gorgeous home decor store, Magnolia. On the property is also a garden store, The Silos Baking Co. and a bustling outdoor pavilion and courtyard that is home to numerous small business proprietors of food and beverage trucks. They opened a cafe in 2019, the Magnolia Press on the Silo campus as well. In addition to the Silo property, they have the Little Shop on Bosque that serves as a last chance retail shop at discount prices. In 2018, they opened Magnolia Table and have plans to open a store featuring their own furniture line in 2020.
Prior to 2015, an average of 25,000 average visitors came to Waco each month (those numbers are after two seasons of Fixer Upper had already aired). In 2018, Waco hosted over 2.7 million visitors. That's 225,000 people a month y'all! TripAdvisor ranked Waco No. 2 on its list of top destinations on the rise for 2018. Way to go JoJo!
After visiting Waco, we ventured southeast to the Texas Hill Country to visit my favorite "Big Time Small" town, Round Top, Texas, population 90. Round Top is the home of the Round Top Antiques Show, and the Junk Gypsies, two sisters who made junking a full time and prosperous endeavor. Their boho-meets-vintage-meets-yard-sale style has become all the rage. Their famous Airstream trailer renovations have garnered them national exposure and a reality TV show. They now have a gorgeous store, The Junk Gypsy, bed & breakfast, The Wander Inn and an incredible online retail endeavor.
Round Top has been home to the Round Top Antiques Show since 1968. It was founded by a visionary Texan lady, Emma Lee Turney. What was once a small week-long antique show with a handful of curated vendors, has now become a 2-week long antique festival, that takes place twice a year, and spans miles of Highway 237 from Carmine to La Grange, with Round Top at the heart of it all. It now attracts over 100,000 visitors each spring and fall.
While the Junk Gypsy Sisters moved from College Station in 2009 to raise their children in a small town, they didn't let their small town "fence them in." They'd been participating in the Round Top Antiques Show for years. One highlight of the event is the Junk-O-Rama Prom hosted by the gypsy sisters themselves. What started in 2004 as an ode to old prom dresses past, has turned into a star-studded evening with live music, dancing and outhouse-turned-photo booth, where fun is had by all!
Both sisters Amie and Jolie, have successful college backgrounds and were heading into promising careers in their fields of law and medicine, but the call to follow in their mama's footsteps and pursue the creativity of junking and design was too great. They quit their jobs in 1998 with $2,000 and a prayer to pursue their passion. That passion has landed them design gigs for the likes of Miranda Lambert and Green Day frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong. Their trash to treasure style, and Texan charm, also landed an HGTV show, Junk Gypsies, endearing them in the hearts of many of us, and putting Round Top in the spotlight for a new audience, including this small-town California girl. I'm currently planning my fourth trip back! Their style is so adored, they even have a custom line with Pottery Barn Teen!
The vision these women, their partners, families and teams share has spanned beyond their businesses and bank accounts. When driving through Waco or Round Top, there is no denying the impact these ladies have had on their communities. As a businesswoman, entrepreneur and developer, I reflected multiple times throughout the trip, and now back home, on the risks they took, the purposeful way in which they are living out their callings and the support of their families and communities in which they are thriving. After graduating from high school, I couldn't get out of my town fast enough. I needed to spread my wings and see what the world had in store for me. After my husband, Buddy (also from Tehachapi) and I started our family and business, the calling to relocate back to the roots of our hometown grew stronger and stronger.
We've been back home nearly nine years now and it's been a blessing. Don't get me wrong, there are some negatives to small-town living. I love the saying, "The nice thing about living in a small town is, if I don't know what I'm doing, someone else surely does." I know that people have always had their own opinions, but social media seems to have empowered people to more freely express their unsolicited negativity about our community's progress and our personal investments in it. I know that our town isn't unique to these rants. It happens everywhere. I read something recently that explored the concept that when you post online, versus speaking directly to someone you free yourself of receiving the expression on the person's face to whom you are speaking. You dodge the responsibility of witnessing the impact of what your cruelty has done to the other person. It really struck me. Daily, I've been reading more and more posts, primarily from women, encouraging one another to shake off such judgement and to "straighten each other's crowns." I love seeing this outpouring of encouragement, especially from our community of female small business owners. It's inspiring to see these ladies taking a stand, exerting their power, exercising their voices and loving on each other! You go girls!
Yes, the occasional, uninvited small town critic can be annoying, and downright hurtful, but my trip prompted me to consider all of the opposition and negative feedback these pioneers have surely received throughout their journeys. They didn't let it stop them. They didn't shrink or move to somewhere more metropolitan and ready for such visionaries. No, they stayed right where they were planted and blazed ahead in pursuit of the callings of their hearts. Not only did they and their careers blossom, but they undeniably enhanced the communities in which they live and invest.
I came home radically inspired. Inspired to pursue the desires of my heart and my family's, which involves continuing to invest in the community where we're planted, where we are raising our children, where we were raised. Where my family has resided for four generations and my husband's for six. We aren't going to make ourselves small, because some vocal minority on Facebook wants to criticize our design choices or investment strategies. And, neither should anyone else. We're going to stay right here and grow where we've chosen to be planted. As we journey into this new decade, my prayer for my family, friends and community members is that we'll all be inspired to meditate on our callings, to intentionally pursue that purpose, for relentless focus and to make 2020 the very best year of our lives. Heeding the calling of your heart can have a profound impact on your life, your family, your community and even the world! Let's go!
Side note: There are a couple of Texas ladies who aren't included in this blog, but I'd be wildly remiss to write a blog about today's strong Texas women and not to give them honorable mention:
San Antonio native and University of Houston powerhouse, Brené Brown is a professor, speaker and author who has written four New York Times Best Sellers. Brené specializes in studying, and coaching on, courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She works with C-Level leaders, high ranking military personnel and business organizations all over the world. Her philosophy encourages leaders to view and embrace vulnerability and transparency as strength and courage in leadership. My only wish is that I'd discovered Brené's books earlier on in my career. Her "no-nonsense" style gets right to the heart of addressing the responsibility of leadership when it comes to creating a successful or failing culture. Her philosophy and "grab the bull by the horns" tactics speak right into my heart. I encourage you to check her books out.
While Rachel Hollis, is a native Californian, she's originally from Kern County, so as previously mentioned, she's pretty much a Texan already! She and her husband chose to move to Texas as a strategic decision to headquarter their business and an emotional decision to choose the best place for them to raise their family. Our girl Rach lights the hearts of literally millions of women around the world on fire from her home in Texas. She has taken the personal development world by storm and is revered for her positive message that we are: Made for More! Her Texas roots continue to grow deeper as her company, The Hollis Co. announced plans at the end of 2019 to acquire land and build a large campus for their team in Austin. Rachel's daily social media videos, posts, podcasts, books, journals and emails are a part of my everyday motivation and have literally changed my life!
Believe it or not, both Brené and Rachel have their own documentaries. Brené's, The Call to Courage can be seen on Netflix and Rachel Hollis Presents: Made for More can be viewed for free with Amazon Prime Video.
We're a family who loves living life to the full. We try to live each day with intention in an effort to find gratitude, seek wonder, show love and a experience a ton of laughter.