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What a REAL 8 year business journey looks like

March 30, 2023

What a REAL 8 year business journey looks like

March 2023, I celebrated a milestone of significance in my journey to becoming what I endearingly term a Lifestylepreneur.

It's been 8 years since I turned my back on a crazy salary in a global giant, registered my business name and stepped into the great unknown that comes with building a business from absolutely nothing.

When I reflect back, I remember thinking:

  • Can I do this? 
  • Am I crazy? 

  • These are now two of the most common questions nowI get asked from prospective coaching clients who want to make a significant shift in their career, life or business.

    Within this blog and on two episodes of the Hacking Happy Podcast (part 1andpart 2), I expose what it really looks like to build  a business over 8 years.

    This is not your Instagram-filtered BS journey of how I became a millionaire in six months! It’s a journey into experimentation, expansion, reflection and the rollercoaster ride of emotion that goes with it.

    So, strap yourself in as I walk you through my experience in the hope that if you are on the precipice of wanting to make a shift into shaping your own purpose-led business you do so with eyes wide open and a sense of knowing you are not alone.


    2015: The year of no idea

    The key moments: 

  • $10k dropped on a website
  • $2k dropped on a business launch
  • Developed a product with no customer research
  • Soon realised I needed a better idea
  •  

    Do you ever feel like you’re caught in the year of no idea? No idea on what next or how to find the space to work it out?

    That year was 2015 for me.

    2015 BKindred (alias now HackingHappy.co) business launch.

    I remember at the time feeling terrified and excited in equal measure.

    At the age of 40, I had cleared the decks and created a blank canvas to shape whatever business I wanted.

    With 20 year’s experience managing multimillion-dollar businesses, budgets and change projects in a global organisation I thought to myself… 

    I’ve got some solid experience and amazing connections. How hard can this be?


    Damn how wrong was I?

    After a number of coffee conversations with purpose-led business owners, I came up with what I thought was a great idea.

    What if I could create a subscription platform to help purpose-led business owners get better at working on the business, not in it.

    Within 3 months I dropped $10k on a very fancy website platform and $3k on a launch party to get started.

    I mean seriously I look back now and call 2015 the year of no idea because that is the absolute truth. I had no idea what I was doing.

    What I created, to be honest, wasn’t great and required a stack of effort to just produce content let alone sign members and I was just one person.

    I didn’t even have a team back then.

    I soon realised I needed a better idea.

     

    2016: The pivot to experiment

    The key moments: 

  • Pivoted into helping women make career changes 
  • Recorded the FBOMB YouTube series with 2 other female entrepreneurs 
  • Launched a national panel tour of events called 'Leap into a career you love' 
  • Invested in myself and attend 99U in New York
  •  

    Enter 2016 year 2 of my 8 year business journey.

    This was the year I pivoted into experimentation and a journey of unlearning so much of what had served me in my corporate days.

    The irony of my first business idea was that whilst I was trying to get it off the ground all I kept getting asked was “how did you take the leap, step into the unknown and start trying to work out how to shape a life you love?”

    I could not ignore the curiosity in how I’d turned my life upside down in pursuit of happiness.

    So, I pivoted into helping women make purpose-led career changes.

    I launched a national panel tour literally called Leap Into A Career You Love and I called upon amazing female entrepreneurs I admired to come share their stories of transition from corporate to courageous.

    2016 helping women with career changes 

    I started a YouTube TV series with 2 other female entrepreneurs Kate Toholka and Sheree Rubenstein called the FBOMB to speak about the unspoken challenges of being a woman in business.  

    It lasted about 8 episodes as we all ran out of budget and the energy to continue.

    2016: behind the scenes of the YouTube video series. 

    I started getting asked to speak at events and share my story with other women and found I really loved what I was doing and how just showing up as who you are in all your truth can inspire others.

    The flip side was I was making hardly any money and was trying to work out what my product was and who it was for.

    I worried a lot about not making money at the time and used to wake at 2am thinking:

    • Can I pull this off?
    • Am I nuts spending my savings on trying to work out what next?

    It was exhausting and I knew that I had to shift my mindset if I was to stay the course and work this out.

    That was when I gave myself permission to invest in myself and my future just like a company would that was developing its talent.

    I knew that reinvention would take time, it took me 20 years to get to where I was in the corporate world and loads of someone else's money investing in my development.

    It was unrealistic to think I could sort this out in a few months.

    So, I carved out a portion of my savings and thought of it as my future fund. 

    Money that would return to me tenfold as I was shaping a future that enabled me to live a meaningful and impactful life.

    This was a game-changing mindset manoeuvre as it freed up my brain from worry and created the space to dream bigger.

     

    2017: Dreaming bigger

    The key moments: 

    • Hustled to run workshops in San Francisco 
    • Employed my first business coach 
    • Delivered a keynote in my bathing suit and went viral 
    • Landed a fully paid scholarship to travel to Israel 
    • Self-care went down the toilet, and I ended up with pneumonia and had to have surgery

    Have you ever stopped and wondered what would happen if you dream bigger?

    Does the idea of it scare and perhaps excite you at the same time?

    2017 was my year of dreaming bigger and here’s how it unfolded.

    Off the back of running panels and workshops for women wanting to shape purpose-led careers in 2017, I was able to secure clients like LuluLemon, Work180 and the Department of Defence.

    I started making an income doing what I loved!

    So, I invested deeper in myself and hired my first business coach to help me gain clarity on what dreaming bigger could look like.

    Soon after an opportunity fell into my lap to speak at the Level Up Conference in Melbourne. With an audience of 120 professional women, my topic was tactics for happy change.

    This was where I really stepped into my truth and vulnerability as I decided to deliver the keynote in my bathing suit to demonstrate that happy change is found when you learn to get comfortable in discomfort. 

    The moment went viral on LinkedIn and was covered in media around the world.

    It was a crazy idea that really shifted my visibility as a real and raw empowerer (is that even a word?) of women to make purpose-led change.

    2017: on stage in my bathing suit. 

    Off the back of this crazy moment, I was able to hustle and secure my first international workshops in San Francisco with General Assembly and LuluLemon. 

    This was off the back of a deal that fell through to run workshops in NYC. Rather than giving up I chose to try another location and guess what it paid off.

    2017: connecting others with happiness. 

    I also managed to land a fully paid scholarship to travel to Israel on a trip to connect and elevate 50 female leaders from around the world.

    2017: Israel on a trip to connect and elevate 50 female leaders from around the world

    Perhaps most importantly I didn’t listen to my body and after 20 years my Crohn’s disease blew up and I had a bowel resection smack bang in the middle of it all. Followed by 6 weeks of pneumonia thanks to lack of rest. 

    A wake-up call to say the least and a challenge to do 2018 differently…

     

    2018: Getting my groove on

    The key moments: 

    • Invited to speak in Amsterdam for Booking.com in front of 3000 people 
    • Invited to speak at Google Silicon Valley 
    • Delivered a TedTalk
    • Started my research into the role adaptability plays in making intentional change Released a whitepaper on my research into Intentional Adaptability (IAQ®)

    2018 hit with a boom! 

    A woman I had never met, who had been following my crazy journey on Instagram, pitched me to speak at her work conference in Amsterdam, unbeknown to me, and they said yes. Turned out that company wasbooking.com and I got to speak in front of my biggest audience of 3000 people and created perhaps my first serious revenue-generating keynote.

    2018: speaking for Booking.com 

    It was the first time I landed a 5-figure speaking fee and it gave me the confidence to next level my speaking skills and believe that my work could really make a positive difference in people’s lives. 

    And then as if by magic the universe delivered, and I landed a speaking gig at Google in Silicon Valley for Women In Tech. When I arrived back from that opportunity in Melbourne, literally at the airport, I got a call to deliver a Ted Talk within 7 days at TEDx Melbourne. True story….and you know what I said…HELL YES. 

    Another unplanned game changer right there. That talk to this day is the gift that keeps on giving. There’s an invisible quality stamp that comes from what is required to deliver a Ted Talk. It’s a journey and a craft to curate.

    2018: speaking at TEDx 

    2018 was also the year I decided that not having research to demonstrate the value of my work would hinder the impact I could have globally. So, I had a number of meetings with psychology-backed research companies and corporates around the work I was doing in empowering people to adapt with intention. 

    A few months later I had secured 4 business giants and a Grammar school in Melbourne to pilot my intentional adaptability programs. This opportunity provided the foundation to credibly progress my work at the intersection of intention and adaption. Again when I started my journey, this idea wasn’t even a thought bubble in my brain. I just couldn’t imagine it possible.

    From there a framework and psychologically validated assessment, to build skills in making intentional change in an uncertain environment was born. I called it an IAQ® (intentional adaptability quotient®) and commissioned a white paper to share the idea with my purpose-led leadership peers in corporate.

    It continued to grow from there! 

    2019: Accelerated dreams

    The key moments: 

    • Invited to speak at the SingularityU Global Conference in San Francisco 
    • Invited to join the faculty at SingularityU 
    • Took my 8-year-old son trekking through the Himalayas 
    • Invited into the first cohort of the Antler Accelerator program
    • Dropped out of the Accelerator program 
    • Received a publishing deal to write my first book 
    • Kicked off a collaboration with Deakin University to validate my research into Intentional Adaptability (IAQ®) 
    • Secured dream speaking gig in Las Vegas with Atlassian

    2019, it felt like the year that accelerated my dreams.

    I was invited by SingularityU in Silicon Valley after pitching my speaking to them to join their faculty and to speak at their San Francisco based Global Conference.

    2019: speaking on things I am passionate about 

    I took my son at age 8 for a few weeks trekking through Nepal up to Anapurna Base Camp completing 120kms in 6 days through some of the most magical natural landscapes I’ve ever seen.

    2019: Anapurna Base Camp, Nepal 

     

    I was invited into the first cohort of the Antler Accelerator and got paid to take my adaptability work and turn it into some scalable piece of tech.

    I then dropped out 5 weeks in as I realised I wanted a human business, not a SAAS (software as a service) business.

    I landed a publishing deal to write my first book off the back of a 2-page pitch.

    I kicked off a collaboration with Deakin University to further validate my work in IAQ.

    And to finish the year off I landed my dream speaking gig at the Atlassian Conference in Vegas. But then the world had other plans. 

     

    2020: Blowing up the dream

    The key moments: 

    • Finished writing my first book in just three months COVID hit with the first lockdown 
    • Dream speaking gig with Atlassian and every other piece of business I had cancelled! 
    • Published first book 'Hacking Happiness' when all book stores were closed 
    • Rebranded the business to hackinghappy.co 
    • Sold the rights to my book to turn into a TV show 
    • Published in the Harvard Business Review 
    • Started my degree in Psychology

    Where does one begin with 2020? 

    How about new year’s day when I jumped out of a plane with my beloved and used it as a metaphor to free fall into whatever 2020 threw up and man did 2020 through up what felt like some s**t.

    2020: Sky diving in Noosa 

    Three days after I wrote the final words on my book and submitted it to the publisher we went into lockdown. It felt like as if overnight my dream business that I had created blew up. 

    Atlassian in Vegas was cancelled and every client piece of work booked thereafter gone also!

    After six months trying to work out what the hell next, I rebranded my business and published my first book Hacking Happiness when every book store in Melbourne was closed along with the airports.

    I did all I knew how which was to look at the problem through a different lens and so I ran an online Hacking Happiness Retreat in collaboration with Lululemon amidst lockdown number whatever. I had over 800 peeps from around the world join. It felt like a win.

    2020: Launching my book, Hacking Happiness 

    On the side, I’d also quietly sold the rights to turn the book into a TV series which felt a little surreal. Then via a random LinkedIn message, The Harvard Business Review reached out and asked me to write an article on happiness for them.

    After a rigorous 3-month process of back and forth just before year endmy work was published by The Harvard Business Review

    This was the universe gifting me another thing I never imagined possible, it felt really damn good and provided another confidence boost to continue my work on Intentional Adaptability (IAQ®).  

    Then the fog started to clear. 

     

    2021: Emerging from the fog

    The key moments: 

    • Completed Yoga teacher training 
    • Went back to University full-time to train to become a Psychologist at age 46 
    • Continued to homeschool my son in lockdown 
    • Focused on maintaining my mental health

    What would you do if the one thing you really wanted was just not possible?

    How could you creatively find a different way to light your spark?

    This was exactly the challenge I faced when the year that was 2021 hit in my Lifstylepreneur journey.

    2021 came quickly and slowly off the back of a year of lockdowns.

    Longing for human connection in a locked down town I managed to realise a life goal and complete my yoga teacher training. 

    I went on to teach yoga in lockdown for free to friends, clients, random ladies I met in the park and my gym. 

    It certainly helped fill the void of connection in my life. 

    2021: Yoga teacher training 

    I was into year two of homeschooling my son, trying to keep him and myself mentally well and active in the longest locked-down city in the world.

    2021: lockdown with my son 

    I craved what I took for granted from those live speaking experiences in large rooms filled with energy back in 2019. 

    Speaking to a screen every day felt like it was sucking out my soul in a world where human connection was slowly being asphyxiated.

    I needed something to fill my cup in a different way. 

    So, I decided at age 46 to go back to University and become a Psychologist. 

    Another life dream I would never have created the space for back in 2019. It seriously became one of the greatest gifts of two years in lockdown.

     

    2022: Adapting with intention

    The key moments: 

    • Engaged a business coach to reposition my approach to business
    • Launched my group and 1:1 coaching programs with great success
    • Rights to TV show cancelled due to COVID budget cuts 
    • Started lifting weights to prove to myself I was stronger than I think
    • Got serious about coaching women who want to change 
    • Wrote 16 Psychology papers and used the learnings to empower my clients 
    • Embraced creating reels and dancing online, and my tribe loved it!
    • Spoke in Mexico on the same stage as idols James Clear and Jay Shetty

    2022 was the year I stepped into that question and truly took my own medicine and adapted with Intention.

    I invested heavily in a business coach to help me work out what else could be possible.

    Shortly after the TV Show concept for my book Hacking Happiness was binned due to lack of interest in a COVID budget cutting world.

    I started to get serious about lifting weights to show myself I’m stronger than I think.

    I caught COVID and was laid up for a few weeks. The old immune system being compromised by Crohn’s means that if I don’t rest it takes me a while to get better.

    I decided to channel my Psychology studies and my years of enabling change in large groups into the expansion of professional women wanting to shift from existing to living. I launched a one-on-one and a group coaching program with a great response and delivering it became a real joy. 

    Coaching expanded out my portfolio approach to my work and provided greater clarity on how I love my weeks to roll. A mix of…

    • growing my brain and my understanding of what it means to be human through Psychology studies,
    • speaking and workshopping with global audiences on how to reignite their spark in a burnt-out world
    • coaching amazing women who are wholeheartedly committed to making a shift toward their dreams
    • writing content that speaks to the pain my clients feel and how they can make a shift towards greater meaning, presence and calm
    • making new meaningful connections via social media
    • evolving my research and experimentation on intentional adaptability as a means to help others make change that is meaningful

    2022 also delivered 16 Psychology papers of which I soon realised through experimentation could be rebranded into white papers or even sold as programs. 

    So, with every paper I wrote I looked where it was relevant, to translate it into impactful content for my tribe. This approach further solidified my growing expertise and delivered a new revenue stream.

    I started dancing online in 2022 and created reels. Two things if you had said to me back in my corporate days I would have done. I would have said you were nuts. I would have worried about what people would think of me and that it might devalue “my brand.” 

    Anyhow the response to my being crazy online was magical. It seemed to make people smile so I kept on doing it and the more I did it the more fun it became. 

    The final kicker to 2022 was a trip to Mexico upon an invitation to speak at IncMTY, a huge conference for entrepreneurs. It was an honour and another milestone to speak on the same stage as Jay Shetty and James Clear of Atomic Habits.

    2022: Speaking in Mexico 

    When I look back, 2022 made the pain of two years in lockdown almost worth it. It left me telling myself I need to dream bigger and maybe this is the sign you need to do so too!

     

    2023: The year of expansion

    The key moments: 

    • Started the year taking a month off because that's why I created this business, to spend time with the ones I love 
    • My research into Intentional Adaptability (IAQ®) published in American Consulting Psychology Journal 
    • Running my first luxury transformation reTREAT 
    • Fully booked coach 
    • Expanding my group coaching program 
    • Heading back to Mexico to speak again
    •  Living my best life Who knows what else is possible...

    If your life is your story, how are you choosing to write the next chapter?

    If you’re still with me on my 8 year business journey my next chapter starts now in the year that is 2023.

    I’m choosing to call this chapter expansion. 

    I started the year taking a month off by the ocean because that's why I created this business so that I could spend quality time with the ones I love, connected to nature and fully present.

    2023: A month off the business 

    My research into Intentional Adaptability (IAQ®) has just beenpublished in American Consulting Psychology Journal – more on that in the future as it’s something I’m extremely proud of as it has the potential to change how we teach adaptability. 

    I’m a fully booked coach.

    I’m expanding my Calm Collective group coaching program thanks to the requests of my clients.

    I’m running my first luxury transformation reTREAT.

    I’m heading back to Mexico to speak at the amazing Wellbeing 36 Conference.

    I wake each day and tell myself I am capable of so much more than I realise and who knows what else is possible...I’m quite literally living my best life.

    The Life Reflection Map

    Now it is your turn. 

    When was the last time you held the mirror up to your life and reflected on the mistakes that have made you, the intentional actions that created a win and just how far you’ve come?

    Carving out the space to mentally travel back in time and reflect upon your journey and how it has shaped you provides a basis to understand your patterns and identify the next steps that can guide you towards greater meaning, impact and presence.

    It took my 8 year business birthday to force a moment of reflection that has become a powerful tool for the next intentional step.

    If your journey is a story and you want to write the next chapter rather than have someone else write it for you my Life Reflection Map is a great place to start.

    The Life Reflection Map

    Here’s how to create your own:

    • Grab a Pen and Paper and draw a simple timeline with the last 5 years at spaced intervals across.
    • Under each year list the highs and the lows for that year. Make sure it’s a combination of things you had control over that happened and equally things you did not. Just bullet point up to 10 under each year (but know that 5 bullets is ok too)
    • When you're done read over what you’ve written and leave it to marinade for a day or two.
    • Come back to your timeline and journal on the following questions:
    • If each year had a name that spoke to what that year felt like, what would that name be?
    • What are things that happened that I am proud of and would like more of?
    • What are the things that happened that I have learned from and what did they teach me?
    • If each year is a chapter, what do I want my next chapter to be called and what are experiences within that chapter I want to have to progress my story in a way that lights a fire in my soul?
    • What one action can I take this week to start to write my next chapter?



    Final thoughts

    With the close of this chapter of my 8 year business journey I want to say thank you. Thank you for listening, for reading, for being a part of this story, my story, our story.

    Your support moves me closer to realising my dream of teaching 10 million women by 2025 how to flourish on their terms.

    You can dream bigger too. See the exercise above. Start reflecting more and celebrating what is possible. 

    If you’re ready to write your next chapter but unsure where and how to start let’s connect. Book aclarity call to find out how I can support you in writing the story you deserve!