Susan and I get asked a certain question time and time again: “How have you done this?” What people are in search of is a deeper answer than the obvious. Typically, the answer would revolve around the nuts and bolts of putting together a business. For us, it is deeper and less than obvious and that is exactly what SHEEX is all about.
What first was an adventure of figuring out how to build a sheet out of athletic performance fabrics, a concept never thought of in the marketplace prior to SHEEX, has now become a quest of carving out a whole new category of bedding products and building a global mega-brand all about sleep and rejuvenation as it relates to performance. Susan and I have poured our hearts and souls into building SHEEX and although this was our brainchild, we have some key advice for everyone who wants to start their own entrepreneurial venture.
Susan and I have built SHEEX through relationships and networking. One meeting, one dinner, one phone call after another – asking questions, following leads, listening and making yourself available to anyone who will give you the time of day. You often hear the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That couldn’t be more true, but I’d add something to the end of that statement: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and how willing you are to follow through with each relationship.”
It takes a considerable amount to time, care and effort to cultivate and maintain relationships – they don’t happen overnight nor with the snap of a finger. So, yes, we have sexy-edgy-cool, cutting-edge products in SHEEX, which is vital to the success of any company large or small; however, our SHEEX brand has been built through people – so many who have been kind enough to reach out and help us.
Earlier this week, Susan and I attended the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit for the third year in a row. Many of our key relationships originated at the MPW Summit three years ago. A gathering of 450 executive women from around the world … and as humble as we feel when we are among these incredibly successful women, we have learned – from them – to reach out to others just as they have reached out to us. On, on!
I recall the moment I flipped the switch in my head and said “yes” to running the Chicago Marathon.
It was one of those things I couldn’t think about for very long or I would have talked myself out of it. It is something I have never done before. I have never even run past 13.1 miles in my life. Now I am running 26.2.
Am I crazy? I have a sprinter’s build and spent much of my life on the hardwood and track training as an elite basketball player: 30 seconds here, a 10-second burst there… So a 3.5-4 hour run seems to be a stretch for me… or is it? (More on my fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscle-fiber transition in future blog posts.)
I’ve always had the mindset that I can do anything I put my mind to. I reach high and learned to set goals as an athlete. I always knew that if I prioritized my days and stayed focused on the task at hand, I could accomplish anything – a successful formula that’s worked time and time again throughout my career.
But this is a MARATHON where I have to push myself past my comfort zone to a place I’ve never been. “Distance” has never been my thing! However, I am finding myself very engaged in training for this marathon knowing that if I don’t train properly, I will not finish. It is driving me. There are no corners to cut. There is a very specific training plan. I am four weeks into my training. It is tough no matter which way you slice it but I also travel three out of every four weeks each month for SHEEX, which makes it even more challenging with time zone changes and “road fatigue.”
I am fitting in early-morning runs during the week to mentally and physically prepare for my long Saturday runs. I just completed my 13-mile-long run last Saturday and am looking to finish my first 15-mile run this coming Saturday. A huge challenge for me but I am excited and gearing up to do it. The key is the preparation throughout my week – putting in enough miles to gain the confidence that I am ready for my Saturday runs. There are so many parallels in my marathon training to our everyday lives. Life is about preparation – I can’t just show up on game day and expect to be great. So I move onward – to 15 miles, then 26.2, one step at a time.