This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Carol Little. Carol is a top public speaker and founder of the Little Training Company, a company devoted to helping people learn how to make a memorable first impression and take their public speaking to new levels. She works with professionals and entrepreneurs throughout the world helping them to craft their message and deliver it in the best way to their target audiences.
But, that is second to what I want to speak with Carol about today. You see, more recently, Carol lost everything to a natural disaster, and through ingenuity, determination, and hard work, she came back and has built and even better business and life for herself. There are so many entrepreneurs experiencing what Carol went through right now across the world, so I could not think of a better person to come and share how she came back from losing it all and what she learned along the way.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Carol’s entire neighborhood flooded. Carol has to leave everything to save herself. Harvey was the event that changed her life. There is life before Harvey and life after. She lost everything she owned.
In the aftermath, she was faced with questioning herself, asking, “It’s it not about who I am, but who I want to be.” And she had to make a choice. Everything had to be rebuilt.
She made strategic changes to her business and how she works, and who she serves. What started out as a tragedy ended in a victory because the lessons learned through her experience have prepared her to succeed and overcome anything.
Can you describe the decimation that took place with Harvey and in your life? It’s best to listen at the 5 min mark…
- It was nothing like she had experienced being from California.
- Her neighborhood wasn’t in the flood zone and did not have flood insurance.
- But the officials decided to open the dam and flood her neighborhood. No one was spared.
- Carol was taking care of her mother who was in a wheel chair at the time.
- They had to carry her upstairs to get her up to safety.
- The water started coming in the middle of the night and the sounds were horrifying.
- Carol called 911 at midnight and they were not rescued until 11am the next day.
- 4.5 feet of water came into home. The boat to rescue could go to the front door.
- They were taken to a shelter and eventually lived with a family friend for 2 weeks.
- Carol shares that it’s not just your house that floods. There are no banks, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. everything was flooded. Some places got 10+ ft. of water.
- Carol said she was naïve that she thought she could just clean up after the water, but everything is destroyed – everything has to be stripped, belonging and appliances have to be thrown out.
- Your sense of security and safety gets lost. Everything Carol had worked so hard to build was gone in an instant.
Talk about losing your business in the midst of this….
- Carol had speaking engagement and trainings but could not go.
- The airport was closed.
- She literally didn’t have clothes or even underwear for days.
- And with everything that happened, work was the last thing on her mind.
Was there a point where you hit a bottom in going through this? How did you get yourself back up and keep going?
- Carol laughs as she says she so many times it was like a bouncing ball.
- It was a year and half before contractors could even get to her house to start redoing it.
- Her first bottom was after the people who had come to help had to leave and all that was left was Carol and her destroyed home. She just lost it and broke down. It all finally set in.
- Carol says that in times like this, you find out what you are really made of.
- She tells the story of when someone called her a “victim” and she could not take it. She said “No, my house flooded, but I am not a victim.”
- Being a victim is a choice.
- You can feel like things are forced on you like a Hurricane or Pandemic, but even in those situations, you are not victim unless you choose to be.
- Many times, people play the role of a victim because there is comfort in that. You can’t play the victim to reach the level of success you want.
- There is only 1 thing that no one can take from you – your ability to choose.
At the 18 min mark, Carol takes us through the timeline and actions she took to put her life and business back together…
- First, she got stable. She had to find a place to live and get her mom safe.
- She didn’t have a “plan.”
- She put one step in front of the other.
- She started working her way back into her business.
- The most important work she had to do to be successful was on herself.
- Carol had to become OK asking for help and to find.
- Carol started making a list of everything she found that was lost. It helped her to focus on what she did have. It gave her a feeling of control.
- Carol’s “Found List” was an anchor.
- Sometimes, you have to be your worst, so you can be your best…
- Halfway through the rebuilding process, Carol’s mom passed away.
- She kept trying to hold it together putting on a good face. But, it wasn’t helping her. It was making it worse. Eventually, she could not keep it together and imploded from the inside out.
- Things got very tough as Carol was at her worst for a while – things got messy- but this showed her where she needed to work.
- It is ok not to be perfect or always be strong. It’s OK to need help.
- Carol had kept the best of herself trapped by trying to be so strong and independent.
Now that you’ve gone through this and come back, what really matters and what are you during the pandemic to succeed?
- What matters most now is service. So many came out to help Carol during her time of need and now it’s her turn to pay it back.
- Carol is able to serve and coach people during their tough times now and help them overcome the same types of challenges.
- It used to be more about making money – now, it is more about serving. The focus used to be more on the end result and now, it is on the process itself.
- And the big lesson Carol learned is that all of that end result stuff that money buys can be washed away and destroyed in a moment. It can be gone in the blink of an eye.
- The real gold is in the now – it’s in each moment.
What are you seeing out there right now that people need?
- People are in fear.
- They are in fear for their health, their finances, their livelihood, their family, etc.
- The pandemic has created a space to deal with the “things that are in the way” of where they want to go or the level they want to get to.
- Now is the time to deal with it and you can come out of this pandemic to succeed at a higher level than before.
- People don’t take the time to slow down or don’t want to confront and deal with debilitating thought patterns or major obstacles holding them back.
- And even in confronting these things, you need a way to hold yourself accountable, so you don’t slip backward. Whether that is a coach or some other support system, it’s needed.
- It’s really easier to fail and people tend to take the path of least resistance. It’s the unknown that scares them – failure is known, success is the unknown.
The skills of making a first impression and messaging is going to be very important coming out of lockdown. How can we do our best in these areas?
- Authenticity has been so overused and has become cliché, but as scary as it can be, you want people to see who you really are.
- People will hide in plain site. It is terrifying for most people to just stand in a room full of people and be seen for who they really are.
- If people cannot see you for who you really are, then they cannot hear you either. They won’t care what you have to say.
- You must eliminate the ways that you hide. Let people see who you are. You won’t be for everybody and that is OK.
How does someone articulate in the best way possible who they are and what they want and stand out?
- People miss the opportunity of the “introduction.”
- You must be memorable.
- It’s important to tell someone who you are and who you serve and how you help them in an introduction.
- Don’t just say what you do or job title.
- When it comes to messaging use MESSAGE as an acronym for the elements needed
- M is for Me – telling who you are. It is not your resume. Start strong using a story or a quote or ask a question that your talk will answer.
- E is for engagement – this speaks to getting your audience involved. Make the audience part of the conversation.
- S is for social proof. This is showing what qualifies you to have the expertise.
- S is for stories. Tell stories, they are the heart of your speech.
- A is for action steps. You always want to let them know what to do next. Action items.
- G is for giveaways. Giveaway an e-book or something.
- E is for ending. End as strong as you began and ask for what you want.
Best Quote: "It’s it not about who I am, but who I want to be. That is a question everyone must answer at some point.”
Carol's Misfit 3:
Don’t be a hoarder. Share your gifts, skills, talents, and ideas. Put them into the world. The more you hoard the less you have.
Don’t argue for your limitations. Stop giving all the reasons you cannot do something. Argue for what you can do something. Argue for your liberation.
Stop struggling and allow yourself to rise. Struggle is an energy that can keep you from getting what you want to achieve. It’s like quicksand.
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