Almost one year ago a saw a contest on a blog I loved – Lara Casey’s blog. I knew Lara was from my hometown (Pensacola) but didn’t know her personally. I’d followed her journey through her blog and Twitter. We had a few mutual friends back home. I’d started Emily Ley Paper one year prior to that (late 2008) and was really excited about where I was taking it at the time. “Goodpaper,” as it was called, was unfolding into a beautiful brand. Lara was offering scholarships to her first-ever Making Things Happen intensive. I was at my “real job” when I saw the post and dug up the bravery to put myself out there…
Emily Ley :: Goodpaper: I’m beyond excited to hear about this!! I could write you a novel about how my company, Goodpaper, has grown in the past year. But looking forward, Goodpaper has a crazy 2010 ahead. Goodpaper will make its brand new web debut at the beginning of 2010 (Jan 7) as a classic, Southern wedding stationery brand (and blog) that I am extremely proud of and wholeheartedly believe in. I’ve spent a year building a reputation, a customer base, and a brand while developing strong vendor and inter-industry relationships. I would love. love. love. to interact with a group of like-minded wedding professionals. These pieces of Goodpaper are very strong. But I have to, need to, and MUST attend this intensive to harness the strength of the driving forces behind it and develop a clear, tactical, actionable plan to ignite the potential Goodpaper has for the coming year. My goal for 2010 is to Make (GREAT) Things Happen for Goodpaper and contribute great things to an industry full of opportunity! Thanks, Emily Ley December 1, 2009 4:07 pm
A few days later, Lara read my name amongst a list of other scholarship winners… who are now some of my closest friends. I was so overwhelmed and excited to attend MTH. I knew I’d meet other big dreamers and learn a lot. But that’s really all I knew. In preparation I prepared my business cards, packed invitation samples and even invested in my Macbook Air. I remember being really, REALLY nervous as I drove up to the Watercolor Inn. This was weird for me, because I don’t typically get really nervous meeting new people. It’s like my heart knew something big was about to happen.
I walked into an empty room to meet the one and only Christopher Confero. We immediately hit it off and have been great friends ever since. The rest of the class began to come in. We had no idea what was going to unfold. Six hours later… I was changed. I tweeted this. Honestly, it sums it all up.
It wouldn’t make any sense for me to tell you what happens during MTH. It’s not a class. It’s not therapy. It’s not a party. It’s none of those and all of those at the same time. It’s laid back. It’s open. It’s REAL. And if REAL for you means tears and stories and empathy and big laughs and new friendships and open-mindedness and honesty… HONESTY…. then that’s what MTH will be for you. That’s what it was for me. Yes, I got an email during MTH from my attorney letting me know my business name had to be changed – I’d lost a trademark battle and received a cease and desist that I couldn’t fight. Midway through MTH I still had my “I’m-trying-really-hard-to-make-sure-I-have-it-all-together” face on. I’d been honest with everyone else, but not honest with myself. The second half of MTH was when it all changed for me… when I changed. I broke. I failed. I wasn’t perfect and I let everyone know it. I was embarrassed and disappointed and really bummed. After MTH, we all hung out and shared stories and became friends – good friends. The amount of support from those people I’d only met that day… changed me. The way I opened up and got REAL about my business, what it was all about and where it was/wasn’t going… changed me.
And the moral of all of this is that I got in my car late that night to make the hour and a half drive back to Pensacola and I cried. I didn’t call anyone immediately to tell them about the experience. I just cried. I cried out the disappointment of losing my perfect plan. I cried out the need to be perfect. I cried out the overwhelming love and acceptance I felt amongst my new friends. I cried out tears of frustration and doubt and confusion and inability and I let go. I let go of everything that was holding me back and I committed that 2010 was going to be BIG. I went home and made this video the next day.
And I can tell you – almost twelve months later… it has been. Unbelievably big. And there are things unfolding now, that I can’t mention yet, that will make it even bigger.
In less than 48 hours, Lara, Gina and I leave for the next part of the MTH2010 tour – we’re headed to Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The farthest west I’ve ever been in Louisiana. True story. I cannot wait to meet each and every person who is going. I cannot wait to experience this all over again. I cannot wait to be changed yet again – I have no doubt that is what is about to happen.
So when people ask me what MTH2010 is all about and how to plan and prepare… I tell them…. just show up. Really show up. Don’t plan. Don’t prepare. Bring an open heart and mind.
Be ready to be changed :)
Image Credits: First two – Wes Leytham of Rae Leytham Photography.