I know it’s only January 20th, but I’m calling it … I think I’m about to have the best year in small business ownership to date [currently at my 8th year, btw], and I want to take this opportunity to tell you what’s contributed to my having gone from the worst year I’ve ever had in business [2022, for those playing at home] to what’s feeling like it might just be the best.

Buckle in, it’s about to get radically honest…

 

I got really clear on my role as TDP’s CEO.

 

Because I have become TDP’s CEO here, and prior to that? I feel like I was hiding behind the title of “Creative Director”, which – in reality – was just my being a “baby CEO” who was not quite ready for the big leap to CEO.

I was ready, I just needed a little mentoring in a couple of areas I was lacking in [mostly financial] so I invested in mentoring there to fill the gaps … and a little more in confidence coaching for c-suite executives to flesh out the remaining gaps, and voila.

Ladies and gentlemen? … her.

[it’s a TikTok reference there, btw].

Now I’m stuck in this incredible cycle of happiness, and confidence, and the happiness fuelling more confidence … and then that increase in confidence fuelling more happiness, and as it turns out? All o’ that mentoring I invested in doesn’t come close to helping me perform my role as well as I currently am [which has actually just come down to believing in myself].

Surreal.

Why is this “huge revelation” so cliche and simple [?!].

The final part was collaborating with my business coach, Ami from Craft Coaching & Development to flesh out my role as TDP’s CEO [entirely skewed towards my strengths, and outsourcing my deficit areas to masters within those areas].

I spoke about that more here.

 

I subsequently took a seat at the table.

 

Having done all o’ the above work, I began to really believe I’d earned a seat at the CEO table.  My table.  My freakin’ business [lol].

Before then? I genuinely felt invisible within my business [pandemic-induced invisibility, honestly: nothing more, nothing less].

Have you ever read the book, ‘the 5 dysfunctions of a team’ by Patrick Lencioni? … for those that have read it, your heart might just pang a little when I share with you all that I was Geoff, i.e the invisible, really quite pathetic CEO who’d long stopped believing in himself, and subsequently became invisible within his own business.

I read this book years ago and remember wanting to shake Geoff by the shoulders and shout, “take a seat at the table, man” … and not – at all – able to relate to his, uh, pathetic’ness.  

… and then I can whole-heartedly say that by December 2021? I was more invisible [and pathetic] than Geoff.

By mid-2022? I’d had a gutful.  I was so sick of knowing how much I was capable of, but not being able to demonstrate any of those capabilities because I wasn’t taking a seat at my own table.

Fast forward to October 2022 [a whole year later], and I took a seat at the table again: slowly, tentatively, and now? … confidently.  Happily.  Intelligently.  Respectfully.  Gracefully.  Hungrily.  Humbly.

… just all o’ the “ly’s” to be honest. #lol.

 

I started holding the mic more.

 

When you start taking a seat at the table, you begin to realise you’re going to need a microphone [not just to make your own voice leader, but to also be able to pass that microphone around to the people at the table with you].

I took the mic.  I surrounded myself with people who gave me a “mic”.  I noticed that people wanted me to hold a mic, and they were using language that spelt that out “I’m here to guide, Cherie: the final call is yours to make” [that x1 statement floored me that day, for all of the right reasons … because it was abundantly clear my voice was a welcome one].

And – of course – true to my servant leadership approach? … I don’t scream into my “mic” like the kid whose grandparents have just bought them a mic [seemingly forgetting how agonising any mic is for parents of young children. #lol], and I instead pass it around.

Because I wanna hear from other voices, and amplify those … because that’s a big part of my CEO role.

 

I’m investing in mastery [I always have, but now? Even moreso] … and some of that mastery really appeals to my Autistic special interests.

 

Circling back to point number one? When I mapped my CEO role at TDP with my business coach, I made sure it leant into all of my strengths … as well as areas that’ll challenge me for all o’ the right reasons [but that I’ll grow from because of that “challenge”].

What I didn’t include in that role, though? … anything that is a legitimate weakness of mine, because if it’s a weakness of mine, it becomes a weakness to the business and everyone within it [we don’t want that].

When I identified those weakness areas, I made sure we were investing in mastery [and masters] to fill those gaps, which we well and truly have.

As a hilarious aside? … those masters are doing things and working roles that are – unfortunately for them – Autistic special interests to me, and so whilst I’m in no way micromanaging [not my jam, never my jam], I’m asking a lot of questions out of almost childlike levels of curiosity and fascination with who they are and what they’re doing here at TDP.

… I imagine it’s intense, but I promise I’m playing it cool as best I can, and I am instead coming home from work and infodumping for hours to my husband like the absolute Autiste that I am [I have no idea how he is able to listen to me for that long, excitedly talking about everything I’m currently watching my team do].

Anyone who understands Autistic culture and identity will know how happy an Autistic person is when they’re surrounding themselves with people or things that appeal to their particular Autistic Special Interests [a.k.a SpIns].

This is me right now: and I am buzzed.

 

I’m squashing the people-please curse.

 

Do we have any people pleasers here?

Can I tell you something? The worst my business has ever performed has been when people-pleasing has ruled … and I’m the most notorious culprit for it, because I’m a big ol’ [recovering] people pleaser.

I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m “cured” [because I’m not even close to where I want to be in terms of recovering from people-please, but I finished the last quarter of 2022 committed to reducing the people-please curse … and I’ve begun 2023 having noticed some big impacts from some of the smallest changes.

I’m developing a lot more courage to being disliked.  I’m genuinely comfortable making unpopular decisions if they’re made with the greater good in mind.  I’m not excessively explaining myself all the time [neurodivergent folk, I know ya feel me here].  I’m not imagining constant worst case scenarios that mostly revolve around being disliked … because speaking honestly? When I was at the peak of my people-please? I reckon that was the most disliked I’ve likely ever been [lol].

The irony.

With some of the changes I’ve mentioned above, I can see me winning things that matter the most to me: trust, and respect.

And in gaining more trust and respect? … I’m building more confidence, and just generally more happy, which brings us all perfectly back to the beginning of this post, i.e I’m stuck in a most beautiful cycle of increased happiness fuelling increased confidence, and repeat.

 

 

Keen on following my CEO journey this year? I share a lot more about that via my personal LinkedIn page here.

You can either follow me there by clicking the follow button, or if you’re a little more extroverted? You can straight up hit the ‘connect’ button [lol].