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Sponge Mode: Activated.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Boss School is, without a doubt, the most insane experience of my life to date.

More insane than jumping out of an airplane.

Since the course started at the end of March, I have had so many lightbulb moments, so many breakthroughs, so many insanely powerful moments, and more than anything, a lot of confusion.

Stick with me here.

Sun Sessions: Taft was incredible. Everything worked out and we were almost at full capacity by the time the weekend actually came around. The event, overall, was a smashing success.

So why then, on Monday/Tuesday following the event, did I feel like complete and utter dog shit about what the hell I’m doing with my life? Surely this is all “too good to be true” and the Universe will all come crashing down, because there is no way that this could possibly be real life.

This is the story I’ve been telling myself, along with some other pretty fucked up stories. Without rewriting the pages of my journal verbatim, this is a quick dump of what went through my mind in the last couple of weeks.

Sun Sessions was a hit. YAY. Should we do it again? Yes. Do I like traveling? Not as much as I thought I would, at least not without Barry and the dogs. But you said “we execute professionally organized events all over the COUNTRY, not just Southern California” – you better hold up to your little tagline there, sister. You hyped up the fact that this was going to be a road show and now you decide you don’t really like going outside of your comfortable little bubble in SoCal, wow, you’re a hot mess. Here, call your mother and talk to her about all the times you’ve limited yourself, been “shushed” and didn’t let yourself shine. Wow, you have a serious pattern of self-sabotage – how does that feel to uncover? Oh, you mean you were raised in a loving home and really were taught that you can be anything you want to be – what kind of fucked up “friends” told you otherwise? More importantly, why did you believe it? You have a history of listening to people that actually, legit, mean nothing but harm for you, why are you so cool with that? Why do you tolerate it? WHO ARE YOU AND WHERE DID YOUR VOICE GO?

The exercises in Boss School have uncovered a whole slew of shit I didn’t know I was feeling, thinking, doing, tolerating, expecting, or putting out there. I signed up for this course completely sure that I’m a self-aware little lady and that by the end of it, I’d have a framework for the “how to run a business” side of running a business. But noooo, the first 4-5 weeks are all about the foundation of my business: Me. Sara wooed me with all the answers I need about legal and funding and marketing and financial stuff, and then was like, “Oh hey, by the way, we’re going on this journey into the depths of your (apparently long-time silenced) soul and we’re going to make sand castles in there and blow shit up, cool?”

YES, actually, it is cool, Sara. Thanks for taking me to places I didn’t know I needed to visit, because I didn’t know they exist.

I’ll spare you the details of what Brene Brown would call an unraveling from the last three weeks, and tell you this much: I’m in serious Sponge Mode.

Sponge Mode is what happens when I get fired up about something: working in restaurants, marketing, PR, skydiving, event planning, etc. The topic of Sponge Mode activation: this seriously deep inner work journey thing we’re doing.

With Sponge Mode, I want to do ALL OF THE THINGS related to the topic. I want the books, the experiences, the language, the jargon, the knowledge, and most importantly: THE ANSWERS. My brain goes into hyper mode and starts trying to analyze, classify, sort, and file all of the information, breakthroughs, lightbulb moments, etc. It’s a tidy office up there and we can’t have all of this clutter lying around.

Good news is, now I know that Sponge Mode is a thing. This is how I’ve always gone about my life. Absorb, absorb, absorb until I’m at max absorption capacity. Then I have answers. And then I make big life decisions. And then things always line up super awesome and tidy and I run, full-bore, into my new thing, whatever the new thing is. I now recognize this pattern of Sponginess and I can see it coming.

Sponge Mode is rad in itself as far as getting into whatever I want to get into – but the way my brain sorts through shit that I need to be wary of. I’m learning so much about myself in this process that I feel like it all needs to fit on this little timeline so I can draw as many over-analyzed conclusions as humanly possible.

I got a friendly reminder last Saturday at a workshop to just slow the fuck down. This whole thing is a process, a journey, and part of figuring out who I am, where I’m going, and what sweet sweet gifts I’m going to give the world before I leave it. If I could sum up this journey so far in a few words: I need to give myself permission to experience this. My brain keeps trying to get in the way because it’s been ruling my world and my story for FOREVER and I just need to sit down, shut up, and feel it out.

This isn’t a mess that needs to be cleaned up. This isn’t a stack of papers that needs sorting and filing.

This is the start of something new, powerful, engaging, and to be quite honest, terrifying.

 

The CSC-to-Elsinore crew, circa 2013.

Why I want to see you on May 16, 2015.

I’m going to be 100% real with you here. And it might be messy.

If you only come to one event that Planet Green Socks puts on, I want to see you at Skydive Elsinore on May 16th for Adam Rubin’s memorial.

Chances are if you read this blog (and THANK YOU FROM THE TOP MIDDLE AND BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR READING), you already know about the influence Adam had on me starting Planet Green Socks.

If you don’t know, let me tell you. Adam’s death lit a fire under my ass to start this business. I used to feel borderline guilty for saying that, like if he didn’t die, I wouldn’t have started it, but I can’t be sure that I would have. His ripple effect is way bigger than I can comprehend.

Can you relate to any of this?

  • I am tired of doing what I’m doing.
  • I want to wake up and feel ALIVE – full-on, balls-out, ready-to-tackle this day ALIVE.
  • I want to to that one thing I’m fucking terrified to do – make a change in my career, have that hard conversation I know I need to have, try a new hobby, etc.

If you join us on May 16th, I can personally guarantee you’ll walk away with some kind of inspiration to do change whatever needs changing, fix what needs fixing, or keep doing what makes you awesome. The inspiration might show up in many forms:

  • Hugging Adam’s mom, Linda, and FEELING the love she had for her son and the love she continues to have for the skydiving/BASE community that took Adam in with open arms. Her hugs are legit, and I felt that the first day I met her, and haven’t forgotten it since.
  • Meeting Adam’s sister, Nicole, with her gorgeous blue/purple hair, SICK tattoos, and hearing her speak of how Adam made her feel and how he’s inspired her to chase her own dreams.
  • Speaking with his aunt, Kathi, and watching her eyes twinkle when she remembers his big megawatt shark smile.
  • Watching two of Adam’s friends, mentors, teammates and fellow skydivers, Eric and Don, as they plan and execute a beautiful memorial skydive. Seeing the raw emotion before and after that jump, as canopies join together in the skies to say farewell to one of the brightest shining lights to ever set foot on the grounds at Skydive Elsinore.
  • Seeing people join together from around the country to celebrate the life of a young man who was taken far too soon, but made a huge impact on the life of everyone he touched. That’s a special gift to have – to have everyone feel like your best friend from the second they meet you.

If you join us on May 16th, regardless of whether or not you knew Adam, I can promise you’ll understand why this is such a big deal. Why he is such a big deal. Why LIFE is such a big deal.

I started Planet Green Socks to change the fucking world. The events are here to serve to Adam’s legacy and are built on things he definitely enjoyed: Adventure. Community. Growth. Losing Adam was the catalyst to a major journey of self-discovery. Letting my light be seen and my voice be heard; two things that were beaten down, squashed, and hidden to avoid upsetting the apple cart. I wish I could have gotten that courage when he was still with us, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to call him a friend and have him be a part of my life. A HUGE part of my life.

So if there is one thing I can ask of you, just one, it’s to show up on May 16th, regardless of whether or not you knew Adam.

If you knew him, show up to tell Linda, Nicole, Kathi (and all of this friends) how much he meant to you. Tell a classic Adam story. Keep his memory alive and his legacy strong. Share what it’s been like for you. We’re all in this fucking thing together and there’s no right or wrong way to get through it. Share it. Give me a hug too, because I’ll be feeling ALL OF THE FEELINGS and can definitely stand to have some support as well.

If you didn’t know him, chances are you already know someone who did know Adam. Come to support those people. Show up for your friends who are (finally) able to gather and give him the skyfamily sendoff he deserves. If you take nothing else away, I know you’ll feel inspired to take a look at how you “live your dash” (click that link and read it) and impact the world around you.

We have a limited amount of time on this planet, so let’s use May 16th as the perfect opportunity to enjoy that time. To hug our people NOW. To tell someone how they’ve inspired you or how much they mean to you. Let’s get down with the messy and beautiful parts of life and just let ourselves be seen, for Adam. For our friends. For ourselves.

If you need another reason to join, my best friend and one of the people who helped me make it through 2014 in one piece, Katherine Humphus, will be cooking dinner for everyone that night at the DZ. We’ll be collecting donations for the Adam Rubin Memorial Fund, an account that Linda and I are working to establish with a facility that specializes in treating Crohn’s Disease. Even with insurance, the treatments necessary for Crohn’s patients to best manage the disease are several thousand dollars. With your help, we’ll be helping those patients get the treatments they need to live WITH the disease, and to live HUGE like Adam did. We’ll be collecting donations on site, but if you can’t make it to Adam’s celebration or you can’t wait, you can donate online by clicking here.

I look forward to seeing everyone come together to celebrate the life of one of the most influential people to ever walk into mine. If you want more information on the nitty gritty about the event, you can find that by clicking here.

 

Changing perspective, letting go of expectations, and getting grounded.

“Well, from everything I’ve seen, my general impression is that you’ve got your shit together, you’re kicking ass, taking names, and everything is awesome.”

Sitting down at lunch with someone who I’ve been dying to meet since I was an infant skydiver and event coordinator, the waves of the Atlantic ocean lapping in the background, these were words I didn’t expect to hear.

Last week, after Planet Green Socks’ second event, I bolted down to San Diego to catch my flight to Daytona Beach for the PIA Symposium. I had heard of PIA, and given that now I was on my own, working in the skydiving industry and not attached to any single drop zone, I knew I wanted to check it out. Was this a viable advertising opportunity? How did it all work out? How did it come together? Would I want to speak at this someday? Would I want to have a booth?

I had come and gone and done PIA, and had spent Thursday night with my family in Orlando. If I could only have one meeting at PIA, this was it. SCORE! A lunch was scheduled for Friday, and I was ready.

Except, you guys, I wasn’t. Truth be told, I had visions of being totally with it, having my shit together, and being in a really good place, energy-wise, for this lunch. And I wasn’t 100% my best self – happy, on it, loving the universe – but I was 100% authentic in our conversations.

Real talk: there are so many highs and lows that come with running your own business. And I haven’t been equally vocal about both sides of it.

Story time.

As of Thursday last week, we only had 1/3 of the people we anticipated (and planned for) registered for Sun Sessions at Skydive Taft. I was in serious panic mode. It looked something like this:

Do we cancel? We can’t cancel, that would be super unprofessional, but seriously, with that many people registered, is it even really an event? It sounds more like a neat weekend on a DZ with a badass coach (couldn’t afford to bring two with that many people signed up). Is this in line with what I’m trying to build? Is this in line with our vision for Sun Sessions? Will the participants still want to come if it’s not full? HOLY FUCKING SHIT EGO SLOW YOUR ROLE. The first two events pretty much sold out (save for a couple last minute cancellations at both events). This is the last paid event I have scheduled out, WHY DID I QUIT MY JOB? Why was I so optimistic that I could keep the Sold Out Train charging full steam ahead? I knew this was too good to be true. 

Before this lunch, I reached out another one of my trusted skydiving-event-maker role models, and he told me some stories that made me feel better, that I wasn’t the only person to not fill an event to capacity, that the world, WAIT FOR IT, would go on, and everything would work out. After that conversation, I was about 50/50 on what the fuck I should do.

So at lunch, when the dude who is a fairly heavy influence on how I run events said “you’ve got your shit together” I just sat there.

For as much as I shout about being more authentic, more real, less “highlight reel” on the internet, I felt like I needed a dose of my own medicine. I told him about the lower-than-expected registration for the event and he said:

“Sydney, this is an extremely unique opportunity to make X amount of people very, very, VERY happy.”

CUE LIGHTBULBS AND SHIT.

In case we aren’t friends on Facebook, last week Boss School started. It’s a 10-week program for women entrepreneurs and it’s INSANE. So while I’m going through all of this stuff that always happens when I travel (major life decisions, clarity on things I didn’t know I needed clarity on, hitting the reset button on life and work and all of that), I’m also starting Boss School.

It’s funny how the Universe opens up and aligns when you clear the fog and lose the blinders. At lunch, I was told “hey, this is a super unique opportunity to make people happy” – one of the core foundational pieces to how I want to run this business – badass, timely, friendly, disruptively-awesome customer service. On one of our mentor calls last week for Boss School, I classified this event not filling up as a total failure. Failure is imminent, I said. How do I let go of the shame of it not filling and how to I sort through this back and forth I’m having about what to do with this event?

The truth is this: it is our third event, second in the Sun Sessions series. I’m still figuring out the market, how to bring serious value for your dolla dolla bills, and how to deliver the best events in the entire world. This is a learning process. So the event is NOT failure. It just isn’t. It’s an opportunity to make people super happy in a crazy-focused coaching environment, and, even better, market research.

Things like location selection (what drop zones we partner with), time of year (what else is going on around that time), price point (how much is too much and/or are we underselling this), and how to get the word out are just some of the badass lessons I can learn from this event.

Most importantly, changing my perspective. My ego was all: “girl, you don’t want to put your name on something that doesn’t sell out, because YOU put on events that sell out, not this 1/3 registration bullshit.” And my heart was SCREAMING: “Seriously, get over yourself. The events are small to begin with, people aren’t expecting 100 people to show up, that’s not what this is about. Even if you don’t make a dime on this event, you’re delivering something intimate, amazing, and that is totally worth getting fired up about.”

In the midst of all of it, Barry was back home in California during my miniature breakdown about the event. I was telling him it’s totally on, we’re opening up one-day registration for people who can’t commit to both days, and it’s going to be awesome. His words were simple, true, and totally brought me back to the center of WHY I’m doing this, WHY I left my job, WHY I’m venturing out in the unknown to shake shit up:

“You gotta rock it for Adam.”

So we are. We are completely, totally, 100% rocking this event for Adam. On the off-chance that you’re a skydiver reading this and you don’t already know about the event, or maybe you’re on the fence, all of the information about Sun Sessions: Taft (happening this weekend, Saturday and Sunday), can be found by clicking here.

The bottom line from all of this? ALL of it is a work in progress: myself, my business, the events we put on, and the direction I want this company to take. I can tell you already, I came into Boss School with a company that had already launched and had a plan – but there’s a significant chance that the way I do business will completely change by the end of the program. And I am SO excited for the journey, being present, and letting go of any of the preconceived expectations I had for Planet Green Socks when I started.

It’s going to be a wild ride – and seriously, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for reading, coming to the events, and your support. You guys are incredible.

 

“It’s so fun!”

This is how I’ve been answering the “how is your business going?” question for the last couple of weeks.

“It’s so fun!”

I’ve answered that question like this before, and I totally mean it. It’s usually followed by gushing about all the rad shit in the works, and just oozing excitement.

But in the last two weeks, to my over-achieving mind, saying “it’s so fun” (and stopping there) is way better than saying:

“Well, to be honest, I’m concerned about the registration for the next event and I’m actually scared shitless of what might happen after May, and I’m really excited about the opportunities/ideas I have but I’m worried that it will all come crashing down because so far, it seems too good to be true.”

That’s my truth right now.

I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. I know that starting a business takes time. I know this can be a roller coaster ride. I know that this is totally in line with who I am, what my strengths are, and what I want to see for the sport. I know all of that.

But I still hold myself back. I do. As far as event coordinating/marketing jobs in the skydiving industry go, the job I had was pretty close to the top if you put all of the dream gigs on the list. Super rad drop zone, skydiving (and as such, working) year-round, awesome events already in place, a KILLER team of badass people to work with, opportunity to breathe life into what was existing and maybe build some new stuff – it’s all good. And it was a BLAST. I am NOT my last job. I am NOT any of the people who have held the job before me or have held similar jobs elsewhere.

I am Sydney Williams. I am building Planet Green Socks.

Lately, when I say “it’s so fun” – in my mind, I’m eliminating the opportunity to get into details, because surely everyone who asks is asking so they can compare my success/struggles with PGS to my success/struggles at Elsinore. Except, here’s the thing. They aren’t. I AM. I am probably the only person on the planet who is comparing Current Sydney to Past Sydney and it’s a really big barrier to how I talk to myself.

So, I’m calling myself out. I’m going to be more authentic in the way I answer the question because the handful of people who ask are people who legit give a shit about what I’m doing and how I’m enjoying (or not) the process. The people who are asking are people who have their own business and want to see me succeed, and/or people who know that this is something with legs.

It’s easy to get caught up in what my big fat dreams are for PGS and completely ignore all of the awesome stuff that has happened so far. I’ve had the opportunity to share Adam’s story with a lot of people. We’ve raised more than $2500 for the Adam Rubin Memorial Fund. We’ve sold out two events, and have a third and fourth booked. I have coaches who are mind-blowingly amazing in their skills as coaches, their commitment to the dream, and their wisdom as we build this thing. There are two other event tours I’m trying to get my brain behind and rope in some badass people to build them with. This weekend, I get to see a bunch of awesome people make amazing memories at the Angle Camp with Amy and Domi.

All of that said, it is important to remember WHY it’s fun. On Monday, I went down to San Diego and watched Kat do food prep all day and try all of the yummy (and healthy, yay!) things she was making. And we got to share about the ups and downs and all of the self-discovery that comes with leaving the dream gigs behind and starting our own version of our dream gigs. And that was FUN. Having the time and the opportunity to have those kinds of experiences is just one of the bazillion reasons why I’m doing this.

I know I’m not the only one who’s moved on from one great job to a new opportunity. And I know I’m not the only one who has, at some point in their career, come into a position with “big shoes to fill” or huge expectations of who I should be in that role. This situation is not unique to me. So it’s high time I stopped telling myself I’m alone in this. Because I’m not. I’d be willing to bet if you’re reading this, you’ve felt that way at one point or another. The self-doubt. The comparison of Current self to your Past self, or even to others who are kicking ass and taking names around you.

I’m going to knock that comparison shit off. Straight up, I’m digging in to getting grounded in who I am, what I’m doing, and where I’m going. Let’s get all kinds of authentic and real up in here. It’s time to own our stories, and give comparisons a big fat middle finger. Care to join me?

wool-over-eyes1

When the wool comes off of your eyes.

You’re a smart person. Educated. Assumingly well-versed at this thing called life. You make opportunities happen – the world is your oyster. What you want, you get, and you stop at nothing to make the world that surrounds you exactly what you want at that precise point in your life. It’s not being stubborn, it’s not arrogance. You have always carved out a path for yourself. Sometimes it lines up with what society prescribes, other times it doesn’t.

You’re your own person. Independent. Free-spirited. Well grounded. People tend to be impressed by your fierce, innate ability to know yourself. You’re a work in progress, sure, but you’re aware of the process and you keep digging.

So, when the wool that was once over your eyes is removed, that world that you created for yourself stands still. Stops spinning. Comes to a screeching halt. Maybe crashes down a bit.

Because you’re a smart person. Educated. Maybe you’ve even been here before, but in a different context.

You trust openly because respect, honesty, and integrity are essential to your soul. It’s how you operate. You’ve been burned but that doesn’t stop you from being willing to be vulnerable to the positives and negatives associated with trusting easily.

You have heard that you must surround yourself with greatness if you want to get anywhere in life. It’s all about “who you know” – so you make it a point to get to know the people you need to know.

You take risks. Travel great distances. Maybe not travel great distances, but in your heart and mind, you’re crossing oceans to pursue the opportunities you’re creating for yourself.

People say “you’re lucky” and outwardly, you smile. Inwardly, you roll your eyes. You’ve busted your ass to the moon and back to be where you are. You’ve worked hard, smashed through barriers, taken some shit, been quiet about a few things so you don’t upset the apple cart.

So when the wool that was once over your eyes comes off, you question who you are. If you even have half a brain. Wondering why you couldn’t see the signs.

Because part of your driven nature is to be blind to the blinders. This can happen in varying degrees. You are so laser-focused on one goal. You saunter, jog, sprint, FLY towards that goal. Nothing can stop you.

Until the wool comes off. And if you’ll remember, the last time this happened, you came back better, faster, stronger, wiser. These are important lessons to learn, though it would be preferable to learn them in a different context.

You suss out all the possible scenarios in your head, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best because that’s how you handle this type of situation. Living a life so driven and so focused means you weigh these things. It’s part of the process.

When the wool comes off and the answers are in front of you, and it’s actually the worst worst-case scenario, you sit. It’s shocking. The world will never be the same. You will never be the same.

You’ll get through it. You always do. And you come out on the other side better, faster, stronger, wiser. You make note of the signs, tuck them away. Because you’ll be damned if you have another dance with the wool again.

Better. Faster. Stronger. Wiser. And, next time? Loud about it. Let your voice be heard. Fuck that, make your voice be heard.