On Monday, we launched www.beplucky.com, which is Plucky's official site. I also got my new business cards in the mail, fresh from the designer who created my brand/identity over the past month. That was pretty exciting.
On Tuesday, I got up before the sun and drove to Boston, where I spoke at a conference for the first time as Plucky. Prepping for that conference was anxiety-inducing, but it was perfectly timed with starting the new business because I had to really think about what I was pitching to the world. What was Plucky about? Why does it matter? And how could I translate some of those thoughts into a slide deck and 30 minute presentation to other people in the industry?
It went well, though I had a vulnerability hangover for the entire 4 hour drive home that night. Some of it was due to the immense public presence I'd had to maintain for the previous few days... but some of it was fresh from the cocktail hour after I gave my talk.
I was introduced to a guy, the leader of a small product firm. "Hi!" I said. "Would you like a fresh business card?" I was being kind of funny, but also just myself.
"Sure!" he said, and then he took my card and looked at it. "So do you want to know what's wrong with this card?" he asked.
Slightly thrown off, but still friendly, I said "sure."
"Well what is this, in the middle of the P? Is it a lightning bolt, or...?"
"Yeah, I think so," I said. "It's like, a spark. Like energy."
"It looks like a crack to me."
"Ah," I said.
"And these cards are too shiny, I can't write on them. What if I wanted to write 'wow!' to remember that we had a great chat? I couldn't do it with a normal pen."
"Ah," I said again. "Well, thanks for the feedback."
Luckily someone stood up to announce the winner of the conference's drawing and interrupted us before he could tear into my soul a little more.
I thought about that guy a lot on the ride home. I wondered what was going on in his life that he had to greet someone who had just launched a business with such random criticism. I wondered why that energy was threatening to him, why he had to tear it down. It's not that I'm against feedback, but he'd had no time to build trust with me before he leaned into me. I realized that most of that conversation wasn't about me or the card... but probably something he's going through instead.
Don't get me wrong, though. I'm glad he couldn't write "wow" on the card. Because I could write on his card. And "wow" was not the word that I used in my annotation.
This morning I was emailing with a publication about writing an article for them. The editor asked some questions about my topic, prodding me for more details and questioning some of the core concepts I'd be writing about. It was so hard to read those questions.
It was hard to read those questions because they are questions that I, myself, am afraid of!
Does culture really matter at organizations? Is making a nice place to work really the right way to run a business? And on and on. She was challenging me, asking me to think through the proof of these assertions. I could have let it bury me, could have let it defeat the project.
Instead I came to a cafe and ordered a coffee and opened my notebook. I wrote two pages of things that I'm afraid of, things I'm afraid are not true, things I worry will end me and Plucky. I have no paycheck at the moment. NO MOOLA. I'm a woman who watches Oprah religiously and is trying to apply the psychology of vulnerability to organizational development. HELLO CLICHE! Does my message boil down to, simply, "be nice to others"? What is this, church?
What a rush to see everything I'm afraid of staring back at me! Instead of a list of fears, it looked like a "to-do" list! My message is SO MUCH MORE than "be nice to others." I know that using vulnerability and coaching in an organization changes the way people produce work and work together. Now, the job becomes proving these things -- through writing, through speaking with others, through speaking at conferences, through research.
What a surprising way for that to end up.
People have been so supportive of Plucky's launch. A friend told me I'm "good at new adventures"; another emailed to ask how I do it.
The truth is, I'm afraid. I'm so afraid of all of it. But I feel like a pathetic sap going through life being afraid. I feel like a loser when I let things that make me afraid run my life. So I muster up whatever I have and I apply it to that which means something to me. At the moment, that's Plucky.
Thanks for the votes of confidence, here and on Facebook and in my email inbox and when you run into me on the street. It means so much. It helps keep this vulnerable operation in business one day longer and my hope is that it'll be one more day at a time until I'm earning a living at it.
Fingers crossed, we'll see how this goes.