I was at a loss for how to bring together the thoughts running around in my head in these few hours before I take a very needed vacation for a few days with my family. A few days ago I showed up at the airport to fly to a conference very early in the morning. I got out of the car, thanked the driver and headed to my gate. It wasn’t until I was well inside the airport that I realized it was the wrong airport. I went back outside and my next Lyft driver was worried for me. He did want to make sure I made my flight but more than that, he felt my brain needed a break. So in the spirit of taking a break, I give you these random thoughts without a clear through line as I close out the summer.
What would Tommy Shelby do? Last month, I heeded the lessons of the U.S. Soccer Team for business and this month I turn to the fictional gangster who is the protagonist of the Netflix show Peaky Blinders. Tommy Shelby, the leader of the Peaky Blinders, a violent gang of bookmakers turned businessmen in early 20th century Birmingham, was raised in Irish caravans but is determined to make Shelby Company Limited a legitimate enterprise. The show is incredibly violent so I don’t recommend it to everyone but I will say, I take note of a story that treats women with respect and agency, despite the testosterone fueled jockeying for power that drives the plot. (Mental note to do a whole post on shows like that). One scene in particular has stuck with me as a business owner since I saw it. Because of his upbringing in the caravans, Tommy and his family are maligned by the British upper class, cops, and even other gangsters as “tinkers” and “gypsies.” At one point in Tommy’s ascension to power, he buys a race horse and hires a member of the landed gentry to train his horse. When she introduces Tommy to her upper crusty horseman, “the best in England,” Tommy challenges him for spending 2 quid on worm medicine for the horses. He explains that horses get worms from the water trough and if you put goldfish in the trough, they eat the worms; no need for the medicine. He points out that the goldfish are a penny each, much cheaper than the 2 quid. The horseman sneers that it must be “gypsy” magic. Tommy replies, “No, it’s just accounting.” I think about that when I have to spend money on fees or extra things (like a second ride to the airport in one morning. Oof) and weirdly enough, it is helping me to stay focused on the dollars and cents of my business.
Go to a Demolition Derby. The county fair in Wayne County, PA has a great one. Earlier in the summer we’d gotten a flyer about the fair, which I go to every year with my husband and our two boys. We see the animals and have ice cream but our son was interested in the demolition derby so we thought we’d go. I haven’t been since I was very young and had mentally filed it into one of those “things you do for your kids” categories. Readers, it was a doggone blast. During the first heat, I had no idea what was going on but figured out pretty quickly that the idea was to simply crash into the other cars until there was only one left that was able to move. It was deceptively simple but the more I watched, the more I started to root for a car seemed to have it all figured out like, for example, the car driven by a 15 year old girl in the teen category. Yes, she did win that one. It’s not lost on me that the drivers of these cars put in tremendous effort and at no small cost to their cars and bodies, come out to give families a good time. They do their best to prepare for impact but the collisions inevitably come. They win some, they lose some. As summer wraps up, I’m going to keep them in mind as I prepare for the ups and downs of the next year and most of all, knowing there will be minor crashes. Most of all, I’m going to try, TRY, to keep it simple.
Get dressed up. This might seem like the opposite of keeping it simple but stay with me. My business partner for Diversity Masterminds, Heather Cox was picked to pitch at the WBENC conference this summer and she made it to the semi-finals. She compared having a certification to having a superpower and, like a superhero, a business owner needs to learn how to use that power. So, when we had the opportunity to do a workshop for newly certified LGBTBEs at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Conference we knew that we had a tool in our toolbox to make sure people got our message and were able to absorb it. We dressed in matching Wonder Woman dresses. We stood out, people remembered us, and they wanted to get to know what our outfits were all about it. We were able to market without saying a word and most of all, we had fun.
I plan to pick back up on the business books, the articles, and the stats that help fuel the decisions I make in my business but for now, I’m going to give my brain a break and a chance to re-fuel. I look forward to seeing where childlike wonder, keeping it simple, and simply having fun both inside and outside my business will take me this month.