Celebrate Failure and Embrace Imperfection with Maresa Friedman | IT 026

Jun 24, 2020

How do you look at failure? Is failure a terrible thing that you fear? How does your view of failure affect your ability to try new things?

In this podcast episode, Kathryn speaks to Maresa Friedman about celebrating failure and embracing imperfection, and we learn how this will help you be happier, more resilient, and able to embrace whatever change comes along in life.

Meet Maresa Friedman

Maresa Friedman

Maresa Friedman is a high impact strategist who also serves as an adjunct faculty member at The University of San Diego teaching small business owners and in-house marketing tools & tactics to maximize their digital footprint. Most recently she partnered with The San Diego Workforce Partnership and Walmart Foundation to help small business owners in retail & hospitality expand their digital footprints.

In the past two years, she has also been a part of the Google Global Sales Enablement team working as a Certified Google Speaker helping to demystify advanced marketing concepts for audiences across the country and world.

Visit Maresa’s website and connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedInYouTube, and Amazon.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Maresa’s biggest obstacle when going out on her own
  • There are no secure jobs
  • Resilience and the ability to pivot
  • The need for perfection
  • Innovation and being kind to ourselves
  • Removing the “perfection” label

Maresa’s biggest obstacle when going out on her own

1. She didn’t have a team – Maresa was used to having a team and now she had to learn a lot of skills very quickly.
2. Hearing no – Sometimes as women, when we hear “no” we hear “they don’t like me.” Maresa had to change her way of thinking and had to develop a resilience muscle. Hearing no is really hard when you’re starting out so she had to retrain herself to know that “no” actually meant “not right now.”

As women, we do tend to take no more personally than men because we grow up learning that we should be nice and please everyone so that people will like us. Once we recognize that respect has nothing to do with being nice, we can reframe that conversation. In prior generations, boys weren’t taught the same things that girls were but with the new generation of men, there is a big emphasis on being polite and kind, and seeing these changes in the workplace has been a very positive thing. It’s not about judging what was done before, it’s about creating a new reality today. If you learned something you can absolutely unlearn it.

There are no secure jobs

Maresa’s parents were teachers, and then professors, who were focused on escalating within a particular profession. When she entered the corporate world, Maresa quickly learned that there are no guarantees. Some people build their entire identities around their jobs which can be lost at any time. Often we, women especially, don’t leave jobs because of duty and responsibility to those we care about around us, but once you accept that you are replaceable and really just a number on a ledger, there’s a bit more embracing of what makes you, you in the workplace.

Resilience and the ability to pivot

There are two specific models that Maresa uses in her company:
1. Casino model – Casinos have diversified their marketing strategy to target at least three different audiences. Business needs to adopt this for themselves and the way that they can do that is:
– Create an entry-level product that is really good value for money
– Have a higher ticket product like an ongoing retainer client
– Have something in the middle
2. Trifecta model – Pick three strategies for your business and one will hit when you’re starting out. You need to figure out what products/services you want to sell and how you can price them at three price points – low, mid, and high. These layers are incredibly important for any business model.

The need for perfection

When we are critical of ourselves, that’s when we get stuck and we can’t do anything to move forward. But when we treat life like one big experiment, and that we can learn and take away the data from each time that we try something, it really then becomes fun to try something new, to see what you actually don’t do the best the first time and how you can apply that the next time.

The need for perfection stems from how we are treated when we make mistakes along the way. If we are treated like mistakes are terrible and that no one should ever make mistakes, we then internalize it, put pressure on ourselves to be perfect, or beat ourselves up and are then afraid to try.

So, instead, create a culture that celebrates mistakes, learning, and moving forward. The idea of creating a respectful environment where it’s ok to not be perfect is great.

Innovation and being kind to ourselves

The minute we accepted that this is where we were, we were willing to try anything, and we were willing to fail. And that willingness, I think, for so many people can be hard to get to a place of willingness and acceptance. I mean, I can see people in my circle that, you know, are really struggling, but they are having a hard time accepting what is going on right now. And because of that, they’re actually blocking themselves from being successful.

Now more than ever, we are seeing so many people creating new things during this stressful period. Innovation is happening right before our eyes and this comes down to “getting over it”. We are our own worst critics and we just need to be more gentle with ourselves. We’re always hearing that we need to be kind to others but we mustn’t forget to be kind to ourselves. The most important words we say are the ones that we say to ourselves.

We’re seeing all of this pivoting and innovation when businesses are not able to do things the way they did before. The ones thriving are the ones who are present, looking at what is happening around them, taking it in and making a change.

Removing the “perfection” label

If we are so worried about perfection and we are scared about what we can’t do, we miss the opportunities to capitalize on potential pivots and changes. It is a willingness to try without the bar of perfection. Once you remove the perfection label, things become easier. So many leaders make the mistake of assuming that their teams expect them to be perfect. A leader willing to acknowledge that they are human, that they are not perfect, and that they have made mistakes is someone we can get behind. Once we remove that perfection label, we remove those barriers and we set ourselves up to thrive.

For a free, shareable strategy guide/framework from Maresa: Text “Invitation” to 44222.

Useful links:

Kathryn Ily

Meet Kathryn Ely

I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.

As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.

Thanks for listening!

Did you enjoy this podcast? Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media! You can also leave a review of the Imperfect Thriving Podcast on iTunes and subscribe!

Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[KATHRYN]:
Welcome to Imperfect Thriving, episode 26, Celebrating Failure with Maresa Friedman. In today’s episode, you will learn how to celebrate failure and embrace imperfection and how this will help you embrace change, be more resilient, and well, just happier.

Welcome to the Imperfect Thriving podcast; for all of us women in midlife to discover your self-limiting beliefs. determine exactly what you want your life to look like, and the imperfect actions to get you there.

[MARESA]:
I have this kind of embroidered; it was the first thing that I’d ever embroidered when I was a kid. I think maybe I was in sixth grade. And my grandma said, how you do anything is how you do everything. And I thought about that, and I was like, I wanted to argue with it, and as I’ve gotten older, I recognize it, that’s true. But one of the biggest things that I like to do is to celebrate failure. And it sounds funny because people go, why would you celebrate that? I just have the mind set sometimes that everything is happening for you, not to you. But also, this idea of celebrating failure is something that I do in my work and with my children.

[KATHRYN]:
How do you look at failure? Is failure a terrible thing that you fear? How does your view of failure affect your ability to try new things? Failure is defined as the condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short. Let’s look at that for a minute. To fall short or be insufficient there must be a bar or a mark that we’re trying to get to, but just don’t, right? Let’s think of this in terms of the long jump, you know, that track and field event in which you run down a pegged distance and then jump as far as you can into the sand. What if you were told, the mark you must reach in the sand with this jump is 50 feet? Is that possible? No, not currently; the world record is just under 30 feet. So, no human has ever made it to the mark of 30 feet. Yet you’re required to reach the 50-foot mark anyway, would you even try? Probably not – you know you would fall short, then you would feel like a failure. That is exactly what happens when we hold ourselves to a bar or a measurement of perfection. We expect to make it to a mark that is not even humanly possible, then we beat ourselves up for not reaching it. If we do this to ourselves enough times, we get to the point where we quit trying new things, because we learn that what happens when we try is we get negative feedback from ourselves. So how can we stop holding ourselves to a measure or a standard that is not humanly possible to reach? We let go of perfection by celebrating failure.

In this episode, Maresa shares how we celebrate failure, how she celebrates failure, and how this has helped her let go of perfection, embrace change, and simply be happier. But first, have you subscribed to the podcast? Have you shared it with a friend? Subscribing to the podcast and spreading the word to your friends helps us grow this podcast which means more incredible guests and content. So, don’t you know someone who needs a little more imperfect thriving?

Maresa Friedman is a high impact strategist who also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Diego, teaching small business owners and inhouse marketing tools and tactics to maximize their digital footprint. Most recently, she partnered with the San Diego Workforce Partnership and the Walmart Foundation to help small business owners in retail and hospitality expand their digital footprints. In the past two years, she has also been a part of the Google Global Sales Enablement team, working as a certified Google speaker to help demystify advanced marketing concepts for audiences across the country and the world. Welcome to the show, Maresa. I’m so excited to have you here.

[MARESA]:
I’m so happy to be here.

[KATHRYN]:
So just so our audience can get to know you a little bit better, tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today.

[MARESA]:
Yeah, I mean, I think that my story is not terribly unique, but I was very happy in corporate worlds. So, I had a corporate job, I ran global and operations for an analytics and software company. And I had really, really been raised to believe that, you know, a job and a steady paycheck and a 401k was definitely the path for me. And it’s ironic that the reason that I left that environment was because I felt very disrespected. And it’s really interesting to me, because I think every person experiences disrespect at some point in their career and thinks, wow, no one values me or no one is listening to me; or you have a coworker steal your idea or just add on to that list. And so, I had two options, and the first option was I could come home every day and be upset and whine to my husband and my children about how no one was respecting me. Or I could say, you know, take this job and shove it and I’m going to start my own company, and that’s the option I chose. I chose to be into the obstacle and find an opportunity and it led me to start my own firm. And I haven’t looked back, and my old company has actually asked me to consult and do work with them.

And it’s really interesting coming back in in different ways over the years, you know, to help or give a hand, the respect level that I get because I left is really interesting. So, you know, it just led me on a different path. And since I had a data background, and I was in charge of operations, I really focused on strategy and marketing, because I find that everyone wants to quantify their marketing spend. But there’s so much data that’s out there that you don’t know what numbers are the right numbers. So, Instagram has its own analytics, and Facebook, and LinkedIn. So, if you’re starting a business, you know, most people are trying to figure out what platforms do I need to be on? And then how do I look at the data to make decisions about where I should advertise, or where I should focus my time, and a lot of times people are focusing on channels that actually aren’t gonna generate them any revenue. And that’s really been kind of the focus of my practice is looking at what are people doing, looking at the data, because it’s telling you a lot and then guiding them to the platforms that are actually going to help them accomplish their goals. So that’s it in a nutshell.

[KATHRYN]:
Well, I absolutely love that, that you were able to really hone in on what your choices are. What was your biggest obstacle along the way, when you made that choice to go out on your own?

[MARESA]:
I think the biggest obstacle was… well, there’s two – I definitely think number one, I didn’t have a team, so I was really out on my own. So, I had been used to, you know, a couple of assistants, a marketing team, a graphic designer, so I really had to learn a lot of skills very quickly. And then the second thing was hearing ‘No’. I don’t know if it’s inherently maybe a woman or female characteristic, but sometimes you hear no and you think, wow, they don’t like me, and I had to really train myself that a ‘No’ was a ‘Not right now’. And so the more that I looked at the No’s, I’d say, okay, well, I’m just going to work today and I’m going to get, you know, 25 No’s, or I’m going to get 50 No’s. And as I started in that process, somehow along the way, there became more Yes’s than No’s; it’s a resilience muscle that I had to develop. But yeah, I definitely would say that hearing No is a really hard thing when you first start out and then just retraining yourself to say, okay, not right now. And it’s a really subtle thing. But it’s super impactful when you look at it that way.

[KATHRYN]:
Yes, so important. I do think that we as women tend to take No more personally than men because I think we grow up being taught, we should be nice. We should please everyone, so that people will like us.

[MARESA]:
Oh, absolutely. I mean, my grandmother was born and raised in New Orleans. So, there was a lot, growing up in my life, about being polite. You don’t talk about yourself – that’s not polite. And yes, sir. No, ma’am. And that kind of carried with me into the workplace. You know, most women that I talked to when they get their first job offer, never negotiate. And so, when I was in corporate, I made it a point to kind of look at someone and say, you’re gonna negotiate, you know, just that little three seconds. It means so much. But I think that’s really hard for women because we are told to be polite or to be nice. And I think once we can recognize that respect has nothing to do with being nice, it’s a different way to look and reframe that conversation.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, and little boys are just not taught the same thing. At least not in prior generations. I know I [unclear] teach my boys the same things that I teach my daughter, but I don’t think that happened in generations before us.

[MARESA]:
No, and I don’t think it’s… I think the blessing and the curse of social media and marketing and being able to Google everything is you can look back to 20 years ago, even, just 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, and kind of look at the trajectory. I mean, my grandmother told me, because she had gotten a job at one point in the bank, that it was not unnatural for someone to call you darling or sugar or slap you on the butt and I just looked at her like, what? But that being said, I think this generation of men, at least I see with my son and my husband, you know, there’s a really big emphasis on being polite, and kind, and chivalrous. And, you know, I’d like to think that seeing some of the changes in the workplace has been a positive thing. I think it’s just pointing out how it’s not about judging what was done before. It’s just about creating a new reality today. And I think that’s a hard thing too. But you can’t get angry at the past, all you can do from… if you learn something you can absolutely unlearn it. I’m incredibly convinced of that.

[KATHRYN]:
Absolutely. I completely agree. So we were talking earlier, and I kind of hate that I hadn’t pushed the record button because I enjoyed the conversation before the podcast as much as you know, the podcast itself, but we were talking about sort of your revelation that there are no secure jobs. Tell me a bit more about that.

[MARESA]:
I think the biggest fallacy, so to speak, and what I was raised on… and you have to understand, my parents are both like teachers and professors. So, to them, their generation was really focused at escalating within a particular you know, category; so, they were teachers, but they became professors. That was their job for 40 years. As I kind of entered into the corporate space and people would talk about job guarantees, and all of these different things, I said there’s no guarantees; anyone can be shifted. And I’ve watched really good friends of mine, who were really at the top of their game, their company went through an acquisition, and suddenly they were surplus staff. And they had built their entire identity for working for this particular organization. It’s a beverage company, a really well-known global beverage company, right. And they always had the power of going into a meeting with that beverage company name. And so, to be on their own, it was being lost because their entire, you know, identity was wrapped up in that company.

So, it’s a little bit of just knowing that once you can accept that you are replaceable, and that’s kind of where I got to in my career. Once I said, you know what, a lot of times we don’t leave jobs specifically women will not leave jobs because we feel a duty and a responsibility, and we care about those around us. But once we can really look at the fact that when push comes to shove, and if we really are just a number on a ledger, there’s a little bit more of embracing the things that inherently make you in the workplace and also just kind of being like, okay, I’m ready for anything. And that’s where I think, if you really look at it, you know, there’s so many people right now, today, that had jobs that have been furloughed, that had steady careers, and suddenly… I have so many friends in the restaurant industry, in the nightclub industry, and their industry is changing humongously. They were crushing it and in an instant, all of that stopped for them. And so even if you do own a business, that business can change. And so, all you can do is focus on being resilient and agile and thinking of it, you know, you’re constantly kind of reinventing yourself. So that’s what I mean by no job is secure. I mean, I think that, you know, the more that you can lean into knowing that, you know, if something happened tomorrow, what would I do? That little exercise, once a quarter, super important. Even if you have a job, even if you like what you’re doing right now, just that simple exercise can be really helpful.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, you know, the generation of our parents, and even the generation before them with our grandparents. You could decide in your 20’s what kind of job you wanted and stay on track with that for your entire career, but with the way our world is moving and changing daily at such a rapid pace, you’re right, there’s no one job or one career path that we can rely on for the remainder of our working years.

[MARESA]:
Yeah, and, I mean, I think when we break it out, I had the opportunity to do a TEDx talk on social media and things through the ages. What we look at is my grandparents generation and my great grandparents. Well, one generation just wanted jobs; the next generation, whatever job you had, that was it. And then you look at my parents who built a career in one area. And then my husband is Gen X, and so they were loyal to their profession, like, what they did, but they started job hopping, and then my generation, which is millennial, really were purpose driven, whatever. And so that kind of schema just changes. But I think that’s based on economics as well. You know, so I think people… it’s really interesting to me, this movement of minimalists and people that you know, don’t [unclear] and it kind of goes full circle, right? We go from being super over the top to being super reserved. And I think that’s just a function of time.

[KATHRYN]:
So, obviously, yes, you mentioned resilience, there has to be a lot of resilience and ability to pivot to make it in the business world and in the world today in general. What sort of things do you need to keep front of mind, or what kind of mindset do you think we need to have to stay focused and resilient and agile and to be able to pivot?

[MARESA]:
So, there’s two specific models that I use. The first one, I jokingly say, it’s a casino mindset. And the reason I say it’s a casino mindset is if you’ve ever walked into a casino, whether there’s one in your town or city, or if you’ve gone to Las Vegas, you see a really interesting mix of people. Right? So, you’ll see the people that maybe came to the casino because they had a voucher for a free buffet. Or you know, food. Or you’ll see people that will come in, you know, and sit at a table and what you look at is somehow along the way the casino figured out, if we can give people free food, they’re going to come here and the chances are, they’ll spend a couple hundred dollars, right? And then or we’ll bust them here, or whatnot. And then you look around at the high limit table. And some people are dropping, you know, $50,000 to $100,000 in an evening. The casino hasn’t focused on just a high roller or just an entry level person; what they’ve done is they’ve diversified their marketing strategy to hit, you know, at least three audiences. So that same mindset is what I think every business has to adopt for themselves. Meaning, you’re always going to need a lower, entry level product that is really good that someone can get value from, and then obviously, you’re going to want that higher ticket client or that higher ticket ongoing retainer and then maybe something in the middle. And the reason that I think that that’s a good model is that it doesn’t focus you. For example, our company has always had intro products and then higher-level opportunities. Because of that we didn’t feel the hit you know, financially because we’ve always had a product suite that was really reasonably priced. It was more DIY focused. So, if you’re in a business, or you’re, you know, a business owner and you’re trying to figure it out, if you were only focused on high end clientele, that might be a problem. So, that’s one way to look at it.

The second model that I have is almost like a trifecta at a horse race. So you pick three strategies through your business and one of those typically will hit when you’re starting out, and the hardest part is wanting to do everything when you start out and then really saying, okay, well what are the top three things that I can do right now? So that model of picking what are the things I want to sell or offer, and then how do I price those things in a low mid and high price point, are really important, I think to any business. I don’t care if you’re a plumber, I don’t care if you do HVAC, if you do construction, if you do coaching, those models… we have group coaching, you can have individual coaching, you can have VIP days, so all those layers are incredibly important to any model in my opinion.

[KATHRYN]:
Okay, so tell us what you do exactly as a strategist?

[MARESA]:
Yeah, so, the way that I look at being a strategist is really coming into an organization, almost kind of like a doctor. Think of me as like maybe an urgent care doctor, or an ER doctor, in some cases, right? Someone will come in and say, hey, I really want to do X, Y, and Z, and this is what I’ve been doing for my business. And so, I’ll look at the different areas of their business and what’s been working or what hasn’t been working. A perfect example of just the most of the businesses that I see, for example, is they launch their company and they really focus on say, like Instagram, they’re really focused on beautiful visual content. The problem is that they don’t have enough of a following to generate any sales. That effort takes a ton of time in a week to create, produce, and schedule, and they’re not really seeing the value. So what I might do is say, hey, there’s a different channel that you might try looking at, because what I’ve recognized from being in business is that there is an association for just about any type of business that you can potentially think of. And so, I’ll determine what are some strategic partnerships that this company needs? What are the channels that they should be working on? I’ll assess their vendors, and are the vendors performing, and in alignment to the contracts that they set up? And what we find often is there are some opportunities for efficiencies of process and a business but also efficiencies of vendors. vendors are one of the biggest expenses any business can have. And vendor accountability is huge. And so, someone like me coming in and looking at the data and saying, okay, this vendor has told you that they were going to do your custom social media strategy. However, we did an analysis and this same post that’s on your social is actually on 48 other people’s social media, so that’s not custom.

So, I think just helping and educating people on the process and then replacing some of those nonperforming vendors with performing vendors. So that’s one way that I work with people. Most people can’t afford to hire me full time, so they can hire me kind of part time for a period of time so that I can assess what needs to be done or changed and maybe [unclear] message. I think for a lot of people that have been in a business for maybe ten plus years, or even five plus years, you become so good at what you do that you forget that people maybe don’t know as much as you. And so, what happens is your content becomes so high level, it’s really 30,000 feet, but what your audience wants is six feet.

So as a strategist, my job is to come in, assess, kind of triage, and then write the prescription to fix the business and replace nonperforming resources. And sometimes I’m in the business myself, you know, working with their teams to organize, and sometimes I just look at it and they only need a couple tweaks. My goal is to be 100% replaceable. So, I’m very different from most strategy people want to be, you know that knowledge hoarder and my job is really to come in, assess and then transfer the knowledge to my replacement. You know, you shouldn’t need me forever. At a certain point, unless I’m guiding strategy forever, I mean, that’s fine, but for physically assessing and triaging the business, I think that’s super important for any business. And strategist, it sounds so vague, but that’s really what it is. I’m just assessing everything. It’s different than a consultant though. Most consultants will tell you, here’s the problems in your business. Here’s a report, go fix it. As a fractional strategist my job is, here’s the problems in the business. Here’s the report – which ones are we gonna to tackle first? So, I’m there with people along those initial steps.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, so the strategist really takes you farther and through more steps than a coach would.

[MARESA]:
Yeah, but I think coaching is very important. I think that one of the greatest assets any business owner, or any individual can have, is a coach to guide them through things. And you know, I also work with my own coach to help keep me accountable. You know, when you’re a business owner, if you have something that you want to do on deadline, if you don’t have to be accountable to anybody, chances are you’ll push it off, or you won’t do it or you’ll do it tomorrow. So, for me, I found that, you know, it’s a great way to keep yourself accountable and on track to your goals. And you know, but I’ve worked with my coach now for four years. It’s just, I need that for me. I’m the person that needs that accountability, but I think coaching is super valuable in conjunction to what I do.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, I don’t think you’re the only person that needs that accountability. Studies show that you’re 77% more likely to reach a goal when someone’s holding you accountable. So, I completely agree.

[MARESA]:
Yeah. Absolutely.

[KATHRYN]:
So, I love how focused, organized, and productive your methods are. It sounds like there should be a way that we can apply this type of strategy to our own lives, to our household, to our children, no matter how we spend our time. Do you think… I mean, is that true?

[MARESA]:
I would say, yeah. I mean, I think that, um, I have this kind of embroidered. It was the first thing that I’d ever embroidered when I was a kid. I think maybe I was in sixth grade. And my grandma said, how you do anything is how you do everything. And I thought about that, and I was like, I wanted to argue with it. And as I’ve gotten older, I recognize that that’s true. But one of the biggest things that I like to do is to celebrate failure. And it sounds funny because people go, why would you celebrate that? I just have the mind set sometimes that everything is happening for you, not to you. But also, this idea of celebrating failure is something that I do in my work and with my children.

So, we have these little learning cards, where we’ll put them up on the wall when we’ve made a mistake at work. And what I find is, I created a safety for people to have the uncomfortable conversation, to say, hey, we thought this was going to work. Here’s everything that went wrong, and then it goes on the wall. Now, the cool thing about that is that as newer people come into my organization, they get to learn from the mistakes of their peers so that they don’t repeat that same mistake. If you don’t have that culture of celebrating those mistakes, then what happens is the mistakes keep happening over and over again. Same thing at the house with the kids, right? As they’ve been doing more online school, we’ve had some successes, and we’ve had some failures and the kids are being able to figure out what works for them. And I think that safety at home as well, you know, the kids don’t really lie to us; they’ll say, hey, we didn’t do this, or, you know, I was supposed to do this and I didn’t do that.

And so, it’s a great tool, at least for me, to be able to celebrate that and be able to apply it in both spheres of my life. I am a business owner, but I’m also a wife, and a mom of a 13-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. And so that’s all part of me. And I don’t know about you, but life is life, right? So, whether I’m at work or whether I’m at home, those are all different components of who I am. So, I try as much as possible to do things that will impact both sides of my life.

[KATHRYN]:
I love that. Especially how you’re applying it with your children because, in my counseling practice that I have, one of the things that seems to create the most anxiety in my clients is this need for perfection. And the need for perfection often comes from how we’re treated when we make mistakes along the way. If mistakes are… if we’re treated like anytime we make a mistake, it’s huge, and it’s awful, and it’s terrible, and no one should ever make mistakes, then we internalize that and put the pressure on ourselves to be perfect. And then when we don’t live up, which we can’t live up, we get down on ourselves, we beat ourselves up, and we become afraid to try. So instead, you’re creating this culture with positive reinforcement that not only do humans make mistakes, but let’s celebrate the fact that we’ve learned something from it that we can use to move forward and do it better the next time.

[MARESA]:
Absolutely. I think that… I had the opportunity to work with a particular client. He is the founder of the Center for Respectful Leadership, and his model is all about using… you can have influence without intimidation. And it’s something that was really, like, for me personally, very moving, because I think a lot of the times when we look at influence, especially in a workplace, it tends to be a little hostile and women tend to be I mean, we’re the worst, man. We don’t need to worry about men being mean to us, we’re mean to each other. So, this idea of I can create a respectful environment, I can create an environment where we celebrate mistakes, and we make it okay to not be perfect, is really great. And I’ve personally just enjoyed being able to just be part of that.

I think so many times we want to… I mean, especially, I do a lot of brand imagery, and I have to do a lot of photoshoots and videos and I’m so critical of myself, and it’s one of the reasons for a very long time I didn’t do anything. And then at a certain point, I just said, oh, well, it is me, you know, I’m not perfect. I have a feeling that, you know, we do set this bar for ourselves to be so high that even we can’t even accomplish that. And so, I’ve kind of lowered the bar for myself. And I’ve been happier ever since.

[KATHRYN]:
Well, you make a great point – when we are critical of ourselves, that’s when we get stuck, and we can’t do anything to move forward. But when we treat it, when we treat life like one big experiment, and that we can learn and take away the data from each time that we try something, it really then becomes fun to try something new, to see what you actually don’t do the best the first time, and how you can apply that the next time.

[MARESA]:
Absolutely. And I think, you know, now more than ever, we’re seeing, people are developing new things that… I mean, I’m just watching what’s being created in a stressful time period, and I think that’s the thing, right? I’ve had friends with restaurants that have now turned them into meal prep and boutique grocery stores. I mean, I’m watching innovation happen right before my eyes. And I think that really comes down to kind of getting over it. That the person that we’re worried about judging us is actually ourselves, right? We’re our own worst critics. And we have to be gentle and kind to ourselves. And that’s not something you typically hear a lot of. You don’t typically hear people saying, I need to be kind to myself; you hear, I need you to be kind to others. But you know, don’t forget to be kind to yourself in the process.

[KATHRYN]:
Absolutely. The most important words we say are the ones we say to ourselves. So, I love… and I totally agree. We’re seeing all this pivoting and innovation happening at this time when businesses are not able to do things exactly the way that they were doing them before. And those are the businesses that are thriving right now – the ones that are able to not be up in their heads trying to be perfect, but being present in the moment, looking at what’s going on around them, taking that in and making a pivot. What do you think it is about those businesses that allow them to pivot versus other ones who are staying stuck right now?

[MARESA]:
I think, ultimately, for me, it boils down to willingness. So, there is a willingness and an acceptance that comes with, here’s where we are today. It may not be where we are forever, but this is where we are today. So, what can we do to ensure that we continue to thrive, and I’ll give you a perfect example. I had been running my strategy firm for five years, and I had been teaching online for that time. And I’d been doing, you know, Zoom and different types of virtual learning engagements, not necessarily where I’m just a talking head, but I have to do polling and I have to do engagements. So, as I saw things changing towards more of a virtual environment, I actually kind of indirectly met a couple of other people. And we said, hey, let’s produce virtual events. And in a span of less than 60 days, I think we’ve produced more than 22 different events for coaches or companies. We did a really big livestream event that had I want to say 30,000 plus people watching it. So that’s not anything other than taking one little subset of things that I was doing. I was delivering training online already. And just saying, okay, how can we do this for other people that maybe aren’t as adept or haven’t even thought about how they could take a person content and deliver online? Because it’s a very different experience. I mean, who wants to be on a call where someone is just talking to them for three hours, right? Like, no, you don’t learn that way, you need to be on a call with someone that’s allowing you to do a breakout, or getting a poll, or you’re having kind of a roundtable discussion. And so that was something that we pivoted to very quickly. And now, this idea of everyone Zooming, everyone’s doing all of these things all at the same time, but there’s little things that people leave out. For our friends that are maybe deaf, or hard of hearing; it’s really hard for them to watch a Zoom. So, something really simple like having Closed Captioning is a huge thing, because now you can reach that person. And so, all we did was take the expertise that we have from our learning and development backgrounds and apply it to a greater audience, and it’s been successful.

But I can tell you it was just, the minute we accepted that this is where we were, we were willing to try anything, and we were willing to fail. And that’s that willingness. I think, for so many people it can be hard to get to a place of willingness and acceptance. I mean, I can see people in my circle that are really struggling, but they just are having a hard time accepting what is going on right now. And because of that they’re actually blocking themselves from being successful.

[KATHRYN]:
Yes. So what I’m hearing from you confirms what I already thought that I knew, is that if we are so worried about perfection and focused on what scares us and what we can’t do, that we stay in our heads and we miss these opportunities to capitalize on potential pivots and changes. So, I totally agree that it’s a willingness to try without the bar of perfection.

[MARESA]:
And I think your message is so, so important because… not just, by the way, among women, I think, you know, I’m married to a man that’s significantly older than me and his generation, we don’t talk about feelings, we push it down, you know, they go through their own things. And I think, you know, I joke I’ve Miyagi’d him a little bit, like, from the karate kid, he’s kind of absorbing, you know, and the joke is we say that he’s from like, the push-it-down generation. You know, we don’t talk about feelings, we don’t talk about that. But he’s seen how much I’ve been able to accomplish with my colleagues and work and so it’s created some safety to say, okay, we’re not doing everything perfect. And okay, how do we do this? And I think once you remove that perfection label, things become so much easier. You don’t have to… you can acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake, and I think that’s where so many leaders make the mistake of assuming their teams expect them to be perfect. And, you know, that’s how you’re seeing leaders today, at least for me, the Airbnb CEO did a beautiful letter to his team, as they were laying off a couple thousand people, but it was really clear about where they made mistakes and where there’s some opportunities. And I think that’s what people really can get behind is someone saying, hey, I’m not perfect, and I’ve done X, Y, and Z and as a result of that, this is what’s happened. But I’m also a human. And I think that’s, I think, ultimately, that’s where the messaging around and perfection is so important. And once we remove that, and once we remove those barriers, I think you really set yourself up to thrive.

[KATHRYN]:
Well, I could not agree more, and I hear that you have something great to offer our listeners.

[MARESA]:
I do. So, it’s actually a tool that I use with my family and with my colleagues at work. And so, it’s a little bit of a strategy guide. And what it does is it allows you, very similar to Mad Libs when you were a kid, it’s just got a simple framework. And the framework really is, I am blank, you know, I help people to blank so that they can blank, blank and blank. So, you fill in these blanks. Now, the reason I use this with clients is a lot of the times they can’t figure out their quick message. And so, they say, well, I do this, and I do that. And then I also do that, and it’s not cohesive. So, it’s just a tool to help you kind of fill out and be cohesive. And then I use it with my children too. I am a smart student. I do that by x, y, and z. So, you can use it in both directions. So, if you’re interested in that download, all you have to do is text Invitation to 44222, that’s Invitation to 44222 and we will send you the guide that you can use and it’s unlabeled. So, if you want to slap your logo on it, or if you have listeners that have their own companies that want to use it, feel free to. It’s a shareable and I think it’s very valuable. And there’s a little guide that shows you how to use it.

[KATHRYN]:
I really hope everyone takes advantage of that, because it sounds to me like it helps you with clarity of who you are, what you stand for, and what’s most important to you. And really, if you combine that with an ability to accept yourself as being imperfect, that that can get you anywhere you want to go.

[MARESA]:
Absolutely.

[KATHRYN]:
That’s great. So how can our listeners find out more about you? Where can they find you?

[MARESA]:
Well, you can find me in a couple different places, but probably the two easiest ones are my website. It’s executivecatherder.com or you can find me on Instagram @MaresaSD. I always do a ton of giveaways and Ask Me Anything’s on Instagram. So, it’s usually one of the best places just to find kind of the pulse of everything. And, yeah, it’s pretty simple.

[KATHRYN]:
That’s great. And the way I like to wrap up each podcast is by asking you, what is one imperfect action that our listeners can do today to move closer to their best lives?

[MARESA]:
I think that your listeners, and if I’m hearing you correctly, one imperfect action is to remember that you’re not always responsible for your first thought. So typically, something bad happens, whatever it may be, your first thought is that kind of negative and kind of reptilian part of your brain, that response. So, what you are responsible is for the second, third and fourth thoughts. So, if you’re having a bad day, or if things are going awry and your first thought is like, oh, this day is terrible. Well, you’re going to program yourself to have a terrible day. So just the second thought is, hey, this is just one thing out of X amount of hours or minutes in the day, and that’s it. And you can kind of retrain yourself. So, I always say, not responsible for the first thought, but you are responsible for the second and subsequent thoughts. So that can help, especially when, if your first instinct is to have a negative response, go have that negative response, but then you can kind of negotiate yourself out of it.

[KATHRYN]:
Oh, that is great. I absolutely love that. And I’ve enjoyed our conversation so much today. Thank you, Maresa for being on the show.

[MARESA]:
Thanks so much for having me. I’ve enjoyed being here.

[KATHRYN]:
And everyone, I just encourage you and reiterate what Maresa has said, that she is exactly right. We cannot control the first thing that pops in our head. And oftentimes if we have a very loud self-critic, it’s going to be a negative thing that our brain tells us to stop us from getting hurt, stop us from trying something new, because of that fear of failure. And really take a look at that first thought, stop yourself and reframe and decide what you want your second, third and fourth thoughts to be. So, go ahead and go out and do that today. Apply it in your life today. And until we meet back here next week, go out and take imperfect action toward the lives that you want.

Imperfect Thriving is a part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

If you love this podcast, will you rate and review it on iTunes, or your favorite podcast player? Also, I have a free, nine-part Blueprint to Thrive email course. It’s a step-by-step guide to find out what you want your life to look like, exactly what’s holding you back, and how to get to that life you want. Head on over to www.imperfectthriving.com/course to get the course today.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, I encourage you to reach out to one.

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About Kathryn

I’ve created Imperfect Thriving to help you get back to who you really are, and live your best life possible, imperfectly.

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