How I Learned to Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

I spent the past year living in Taipei, Taiwan. My husband’s job offered us an opportunity to move there for a year for his work. We moved back to the United States a month ago.

Living in Taipei was amazing. It was a year-long experience that taught me so much, both about myself and about my career. It taught me strength, adaptability, and most importantly, being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Placing myself in situations time and time again where I felt nervous, different, ignorant, or unqualified. I’m so grateful, because now I have no fear. Well, scratch that, I do have fear, I just face it differently.

There were many times in Taipei where I walked into a room prepared to look stupid, struggle to communicate, or wriggle my way through an interaction. It’s incredible how much we take for granted the ease of a small chore in our home country - like going to the bank, filling a prescription, or mailing a package. Fortunately, the people of Taipei are so patient, kind, forgiving, and patiently listened to me butchering Mandarin Chinese while trying to order coffee.

The same can be said when coming from a place of privilege. Whether it be race, gender, age, or other socioeconomic differences, one may take their own situation and privilege for granted. Talking about these things is not always easy, nor is it comfortable. I heard Mellody Hobson speak on this topic in 2014, and was inspired. The message that stuck with me most was “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” when talking about race. I believe the same idea applies to any situation where demographic and socioeconomic differences come into play. Moving to Taipei brought her message home for me. I’ve continued to think about how it applies to other aspects of my life.

I know how to accept that I may not know exactly what is going on. I may not fully understand the experiences of another person. I may not know the best way to navigate situations I’m facing. Whether it’s discussing demographic and socioeconomic differences in my community, attempting to go into a restaurant and order from a menu written in a language I can’t read, or stepping in front of a room full of people and give a big presentation, I have come to embrace discomfort.

Because it means I’m growing. Learning. Bettering myself, and hopefully others.

So let’s all get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Let’s all put ourselves out there. Learn something new. Do something that scares you.

Yes, you might fail. But you also might not. And I promise, you will become a better person in the process. I know I did.

Show Up as Your "Whole"​ Self to Stand Out Online

"Professional" you, meet "Personal" you.

You two may not have met before. You have been living separate lives.

You have separate social media accounts. You carefully curate the LinkedIn version of yourself to be distinct and separate from the Instagram version of yourself. Your connections rarely exist in the same circles. You have different messages, different paths, different focuses.

Maybe you'd like to finally meet each other. Maybe you're tired of living separate lives like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Let me tell you a secret: if you stop existing separately and build your personal brand around your "whole" self, your life, your message, and managing your digital footprint become a whole. lot. easier.

The leaders that are the most successful at standing out on the digital landscape are those that are authentic.

I've seen it work for executive leaders time and time again. After spending more than a decade helping C-level executive leadership position themselves on the digital landscape, I've seen first hand what makes the biggest impact on social media in terms of follower growth, engagement, and influence.

The leaders that are the most successful at standing out on the digital landscape are those that are authentic. Those that are real. Those that open up a little bit and share more than just the latest article they read on Wired, or the latest press release from their company. Those that show up as their "whole" self online, rather than trying to manage multiple versions of their digital presence.

Of course, they are also successful because they have an executive visibility strategy, a firm knowledge and opinion on hot topics within their industry, and often have a team of people supporting them to create compelling thought leadership and content, but the ones that really stand out and influence others are those that fully show-up on social media and don't overly curate their comments and posts into content so dry you have to go grab some moisturizer after reading it.

When I finally discovered this for myself, it was literally life changing.

I realized I could let my personal side shine through to my professional side, and vice versa. My work became easier, people became more interested in what I was doing and saying, more opportunities came knocking at my door, and I finally felt comfortable with showing up as my "whole" self online. Bad jokes and weird movie references included.

I too used to keep things "separate". I thought that my professional side had to stay polished and perfect, and I didn't want to disclose my personal life to the world.

I still don't disclose too much of my personal life to the world, but I DO let people in on who I am, what I believe in, and the fact that sometimes I am not perfect.

It feels GREAT. I finally feel AUTHENTIC. And REAL.

Also, my message is connecting more with my communities on both sides.

Stop living like Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor. Show up as your "whole" self if you really want to stand out on the digital landscape.

Everyone Starts at Zero

If you’ve started a new venture recently, you’ve probably compared yourself to others on the digital landscape. These days, whether your starting a business, trying to level up in your career, or trying to establish yourself as an industry leader, being visible and showing up online is a must.

No matter what you’re launching, you’ve probably done some research amongst your network to see what the digital landscape looks like. Maybe you’ve found yourself pining after all the likes on your friend’s Instagram feed, or counting the comments on your colleagues latest blog post, or wishing for the level of engagement on your competitors’ Facebook page. Maybe you’re watching your peers get promotions, speaking opportunities, media engagements, or new clients, wishing you had the same opportunities. Maybe you finally mustered the courage to start blogging (**raises hand**), but are afraid no one will pay attention because your audience is so small. No matter what you’re launching, remember this: Everyone starts at zero.

I’ve built a career helping brands and people show up and stand-out online, and it’s hard, and noisy as hell out there. In order to start a successful venture, you need to stand out. You need to set yourself apart from others, and give people a reason to follow you. You need to do the legwork up front, building a strategy and plan to follow moving forward, with the knowledge that not everything you plan will work out as expected.

Everyone starts at zero. What matters is that you start.

Rachel Hollis once had zero books and zero speaking engagements. Gary Vaynerchuk once had zero followers. Beyoncé once had zero members in her Beyhive. Kim Kardashian was once just cleaning Paris Hilton’s closet. Okay okay, I’m kidding, I know we’re not all trying to be a Kardashian, but you get the idea. Everyone starts at zero. What matters is that you start.

Building a business, a community, a personal brand takes time, commitment, focus, resilience, and courage. It means putting yourself out there, learning along the way, and continuously showing up. It means finding your support network. It means asking for help when you need it. It means failing fast, falling hard, picking yourself back up, and moving forward.

I work with a lot of people who are experts in their field. They’ve worked hard to build their career, and are micro-influencers within their company, organization, or personal network. They are hard workers, and are often perfectionists. They have high expectations of the people they work with, and high standards in the work they deliver. When they decide to take their message and voice online, the same expectations are there. That’s why it’s hard to start with zero followers. When you’ve spent a significant amount of time, energy, and resources building your career, it’s daunting to share your voice on a new platform, starting from zero to build an audience and community.

Fortunately, for most people, the audience is there, it’s just a matter of finding them, connecting with them, continuously showing up, and making your voice heard. I’m proud to finally have the courage to share my own voice and focus on my own personal brand as I build a community of women leaders and grow a business helping others stand out on the digital landscape. I challenge you to to do the same — show up online to take your career to the next level. Don’t wait. Just start, and keep going!

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12 digital marketing best practices from SF mom entrepreneurs

This week I had the opportunity to lead a digital marketing discussion with an amazing group of San Francisco based mom entrepreneurs at Radiant Workspace. The insights shared were inspiring, especially considering everyone who attended juggles the joys of motherhood while simultaneously running a business! By the end of the evening, I had a serious girl crush on every person in the room. Shout-out to the powerful group of mom entrepreneurs from Main Street Mamas.

The dialogue centered around a few digital marketing pain points that many businesses face, and key takeaways on how to address those challenges. Here is an overview of our discussion for you to take back to your business!

I’m uncomfortable with talking about myself or promoting my brand - how do I promote my business without feeling “braggy”?

  • Promoting your business isn’t bragging - your accomplishments qualify your business and position you as a desirable product/service.
  • Weave it into your overall messaging/communication - work those accolades and success stories into your content calendar. Space them out, and pay attention to engagement and conversion on those posts. You may be surprised by the results.

How can I make sure I’m not being annoying with social media posts and email blasts?

  • Know your audience - What are they expecting from you? Where do they engage with your content? Have they opted in to receive your content?
  • Know your channel - consider the lifetime of the post, consider the frequency with which your audience is logging on, consider the algorithm of the platform, and consider whether this outreach is direct (i.e. email) vs community posting (i.e. posting to a Facebook group).
  • Set expectations and be consistent - when will your audience see content from you, where will it be posted, how will it be communicated, what will you be saying.
  • Make content meaningful - tell a story, find a human or emotional connection.
  • Know your numbers - Which content receives the most engagement? Which content drives the best conversion rates?

How can I build an email list?

  • Offer something in exchange for emails - a download, access to your space or site, ask people to sign up to hear about new product/service launches, access to an event, etc.
  • Make it part of the process - if they are buying something from you, ask for their email at checkout or registration.

What should I be spending my time on? How can I get the most out of my time/money in my digital marketing efforts?

  • You’re not alone - This is a question every business, large or small, asks itself every single day, and something they review and adjust for on an ongoing basis.
  • Know your numbers - engagement and conversion metrics tell a big story, and can help you focus your time/energy on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Outsource - hire an expert to build your strategy and implement your campaigns. They will likely do it in a fraction of the time it might take you to do it (because you’re already wearing so many hats as the founder of your company!), and it will give you all those hours back to focus on expansion, growth, and building your business (and spending time with your family)!

Speaking of outsourcing...interested in discussing digital marketing for your company? Let's connect 1:1.