I received an email blast today from Zim Ugochukwu, CEO of Travel Noire, via her regular mailer of stories and life inspiration from her journeys as an entrepreneur. Typically, when I receive these emails, I smile, accept the inspiration it provides, and proceed forward to the next of dozens of emails in my inbox. Today, something different happened. There was a deeper connection I felt to her story and her testimony than ever before, primarily because I find myself at a similar crossroads that she shares. Her story reads:
I wanna share a story with you. Right off the heels of giving thanks and spending some much-needed time with loved ones, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey as an entrepreneur.
The day I became an entrepreneur was completely unexpected.
It was June 2014, and I was working full time as a producer for a tech conference. I had a sweet schedule — I’d work at my house for two days a week and for the the rest of the week, I’d work at the home of the lead producer of the conference.
At that point, I had been running Travel Noire for about 9 months. And don’t get me wrong — I loved the job, it just wasn’t where my heart was.
But let me tell you about the day I was fired.
I was sitting in a coffee shop in downtown San Francisco. I sent a note to my boss early that morning — I wasn’t feeling my best.
I’ll never forget the moment in that coffee shop when I received this email:
That email came two days before my 26th birthday, over email and two weeks before my summer vacation — talk about soul crushing.
I told myself that at the end of July of that year, I was going to put in my 30 day notice. My plan was to move on and make Travel Noire my full-time gig.
But I thought that I’d be the first person to shoot my shot and tell my boss I was leaving. I didn’t expect it to happen the other way.
I remember sitting in the coffee shop shocked that I was officially fired. But you know what? It wasn’t the first time an employer let me go.
Before I got the job as a producer, I had four jobs in San Francisco, and I was fired from most of them. And before that? I spent 6 months looking for a job, pretty much begging someone to accept me and give me a chance.
I’ve been fired from most of the jobs I’ve ever had, for one reason or another. But getting fired from my job as a producer felt like it came too soon. I didn’t feel like I was ready to jump into entrepreneurship.
But there I was at 25, with this growing thing called Travel Noire — and no full-time staff.
I had to make a choice.
I could be uncomfortable, put on my entrepreneurship hat, and try something new. Or I could play it safe and try to find another job to make ends meet.
As scary as it was, I decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
And then something cool happened. I decided to take that vacation I had coming up. I hopped on a plane to Amsterdam and France.
After 10 days of soul searching, it was time for me to head back to the states and get to work.
While away, I learned a couple things that have helped me push through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.
I realized that you’re never going to be ready for whatever you’re put on this Earth to do. Never.
And, of course, you always have the option of staying in your comfort zone and living a life that doesn’t inspire you. But is that really living?
Margie Warrell, keynote speaker and bestselling author, says there are four harmful things people do that prevent them from taking risks and accomplishing more than they ever imagined. People:
- Overestimate the probability of something going wrong.
- Exaggerate the consequences of what might happen when something does go wrong.
- Underestimate their ability to handle the consequences of risks.
- Discount or deny the cost of inaction and sticking with the status quo.
A lot of people tell me that I’m a risk taker. I tend to take more risks than a lot of my friends and family members because I’ve learned that without risk, there’s no reward.
But most importantly, I embraced the power in feeling the fear and uncertainty and doing it anyway.
Nothing is ever as bad as we make it out to be. As long as you consistently put in the work — despite how gruesome, scary, or discouraging the work may be at times — you’ll always be equipped to create the amazing life you dream of having.
DeAndrea, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Go ahead and shoot your shot.
Never had I ever responded to Zim’s emails, but today, I felt compelled to share with her the impact that her story had on my day and heart. In reply, I wrote:
Thank you for sharing your story. Right now, I needed it more than ever before.
This week, I turned in my 2 weeks notice to the plush museum job–my comfort zone for the last 4 years–to which I have been employed. I did it for various reasons (including racial unrest and insensitivity that erupted with its current exhibitions), but moreso in realization that so much growth, accolades, and momentum had been escalating with the work that I was doing outside of my role.
This week, I finally took the risk and leap of faith to pursue Civic Creatives, keynote lecturing, and creative changemaking full time. Not just as a career, but as a deeper commitment to my life’s purpose. I decided to step into my own potential to actualize my dreams with the same diligence, tenacity, and commitment I gave to my job. It already is unfolding to be the best decision I could ever make.
I want to stay in touch with Travel Noire, its team, and its tools, as I seek to find time/space to retreat, reflect, and refresh as I embark this ambitious transition. Thank you for continuing to share your tools, and if ever my team and I could be of support and inspiration back to you, please do get us involved.
With vision, forward.
Right now, our society needs more people connecting and sharing and being vulnerable with each other. More than ever. I am thankful that Zim shared her story, and as my journey continues, I hope to keep paying forward the vision and inspiration I gain from these encounters.