Why Is It So Hard to Market and Sell Yourself?Featured
My journey to open up and align my actions with my company's missionI’m a great salesperson. When I believe in what I’m selling I’m passionate about it and can highlight all the amazing things one would need to know to deeply appreciate and in many cases even fall in love with the thing I’m sharing. I have this passion for free thinkers like artists, craftspeople, designers and kick ass founders. In fact, the mission of my company, Bellvine is to help artists, craftspeople and designers to be discovered, celebrated and valued.As a founder, I fit the above description yet I’ve avoided almost every opportunity to share my story and founder journey. Why have I turned down the opportunity to let others discover, celebrate and value me? After a focused and successful effort reaching a goal, I’m proud of myself but there is no need to publicly seek praise. Isn’t that just vanity? In addition there is no need to disclose the possibly harrowing journey it took to get there stoking sympathy, highlight differences between myself and others or exposing uncouth hustle. Why brag or foster pity? I did a good job, end of story. Or is it?I jog about 3 miles almost every day. The first half of my route is a gradual uphill with a steep climb in the middle that levels off and slopes downhill back home. One evening after a fresh rain I was jogging up the soft incline and just about to reach the steep part of my route when a guy on a bike passed me and said while laughing “Want to race?”. I watched him zip past me and up the block, then his phone rang in his pocket and his peddling skipped a beat. I quickly assessed the distance, the probability of him slowing even more after answering the call, the distance to the top of the hill and my belief in how fast I could run full speed and for how long. I silently started striding and as soon as my footsteps reached his back tire, I sprinted. As I zipped past him, he fumbled with his phone yelling “Aww Hell NO!” and attempted to regain his lead. But it was too late, the hill was too steep and he had lost too much momentum. My assessment, timing and effort was perfectly executed. I was up the hill and down a long block before he caught up to me wearing a rye smile reflecting both his shock and respect.I share this story with you because it is an example of how I have approached and achieved a number seemingly impossible tasks. By observing a situation, analyzing the data, moving forward with determination while pivoting to maximize shifting opportunities and avoid pitfalls, I have repeatedly and quietly summited life's challenges to arrive where I have desired to be. For example, I attended a top University, was a nationally ranked rower with over 35 1st place wins and was invited to be a board member of an elite arts organization for the San Francisco Museum of Art alongside rockstar women from CEO’s to page 6 philanthropists. But I never shared the effort it took to achieve those goals like multiple jobs to pay for school, extra workouts to perfect my rowing and later bartending on weekends to buy tickets to museum fundraising events. By not sharing where I started and what it took to get there, many people in my network have no perspective of my passion and accomplishments, what I’m truly capable of and ultimately who I am. If the guy on the bike only saw me at the top of the hill, on flat ground, he would have barely noticed me as he peddled by but because he watched me smoke him on a steep hill and win a race he thought was impossible, he took notice and had a lot of respect for me. For the past several years, while founding a startup company, I’ve been working my way up some of the biggest hills of my life. I’ve accomplished amazing goals with extremely limited resources alongside challenges that seriously threatened the wellbeing of the ones closest to me. To build Bellvine, I’ve used the same techniques as before doubling and tripling down on effort and strategy without sharing my journey. Although I’ve sent out quarterly company newsletters highlighting product milestones and customer development, I have largely excluded the underlying effort. So while the newsletter has been helpful to let people know my company is moving forward, it is similar to only being seen jogging down the street on top of a hill. By sharing the milestones reached and not the journey, my network hasn’t seen, nor can they relate to, the size of the hills and the effort it has taken to reach the summit. To build the great company I envision, which includes successfully raising capital, attracting top talent along with passionate customers and users, it is imperative that people understand who I am and what I’m capable of achieving in order for them to support me. How can I possibly expect investors, future employees, customers and users to discover, celebrate and value Bellvine if as the founder, I don’t allow them to discover, celebrate and value me?I’m still pondering what held me back from being open about where I’ve come from and the effort it has taken. Maybe it is the fear of judgement or not being accepted. Maybe there is some bias that has imprinted on my subconscious twisting the value of my achievement with some hidden shame keeping me from wanting to be discovered and celebrated. I can’t say what the reason is for sure, but I do know that even though it scares me, I must allow others in, share my ups and downs and provide the opportunity for all involved to celebrate me and my journey. If I consider how I feel and react learning about the efforts of great founders or creators, I know that sharing my journey isn’t vanity or bragging and letting people know what I’m doing and going through allows them to support and help. There is no shame in where one starts and the innovation and hustle used provides inspiration and a path for others to follow. By sharing my entrepreneurial journey I align my actions with the mission of Bellvine because as it turns out, the desire to help others be discovered, celebrated and valued is not only the passion that drove me to build a marketplace platform for the bespoke interior design industry but is what I need and want for myself.I'm an interior design industry expert with over 20 years experience. My desire to help artists, craftspeople and designers be discovered, celebrated and valued led me found Bellvine in 2018. Bellvine is an online B2B marketplace helping manufacturers of luxury furnishings capture online sales while interior designers discover, buy and track products faster.