If you feel inspired to Just BE Enlightened please read some articles from our awesome nutrition and wellness experts who embrace the merits we share around “cooking consciously”!
I thought writing a blog post about my team would be cliché. Like “oh, of course I have to mention them.” But for a couple weeks now I’ve been wanting to somehow incorporate the team into an article without it being some wonky write-up about how great the team is.
A few weeks ago I received a text from one of the guys on the “Conscious Cooking” team (that’s Just BE Kitchen code for the ‘back of house’ or kitchen staff). He said: “I’ve been meaning to thank you for all the hard work you’re doing.”
I never told him this, but frankly – I broke down crying. It was such a small, but yet such a big, text. My heart lept for how sweet it was.
See, being “at the top” really IS freaking lonely. (I’d like to use another F word but I’ll be good). Other owners know this – there’s no one to cheer you on, no one to complain to, no one to cry to. Sure, I guess if you have a “significant other” that may serve a purpose but even then I imagine that unless they are in it like you, they don’t really know.
But, the reason I say a “Team is Not Just a Team” is because this is the first time in my life I’ve realized just how much responsibility it is to have…a team. When I was in the Corporate world I took care of my team, I fought for raises and bonuses, I put team dinners on the company card to say thank you and I gave Friday afternoons off. But…this realistically wasn’t on “my own dime.” And, if the CEO I fought with on their bonus said no…then ultimately it was their decision and I just delivered the news.
Now…well…now these are people I have 100% responsibility for – I will NEVER forget my first payday. The feeling of being able to give money to these souls who CHOOSE to wake up and work for me. To deliver my vision. To wipe counters I paid for. To serve food I designed. To mop a floor I painted. To wash dishes I bought. To speak to vendors I selected. To show up on time.
The money they receive pays for food in their own homes, gas to work more, presents for their family, toothpaste, etc. I STILL can’t get over the immense responsibility…and “aweness” <if that’s a word> of it all.
This is why it’s not JUST a team. I like these people. Sure, we’ve had a few sour eggs and they are no longer with us, but I put a lot of effort personally into job adverts, interviewing & I think about these people late at night with the most random thoughts. How can I let XX know they are doing an amazing job without telling them that again? How do I keep xx focused without micro-managing? What would it take/where do I need to get to offer them healthcare? X is having some health issues – how can I best support them during this challenging period? The list goes on. Constantly thinking.
Because, I know, I couldn’t do this without them. I see their faces each day and in my head & heart I say a prayer of gratitude that they are there. I wish I could often do more for them. Pay them more. Give them gifts. Buy them the new car they need. Pay for gas. Buy their groceries with a gift card.
It’s a huge motivator. Yes, it would be great if I were getting paid too (I don’t draw a salary now). But to be able to help them meet their dreams and goals? That’s worth getting out of bed. That’s what pushes me to work till the wee hours finding ways to get sales through the door. To streamline this or that.
I have to serve them…and no doubt that will serve me.
It’s now end of July and we’ve been open 3 months. I can’t believe it – in so many ways. There were DEFINITELY times when I never thought we would open. I mean, just last July, my business was in the back of my car, driving from Farmer’s Market to Farmer’s Market trying to sell cookies. Seriously. I pulled the table and tent in and out of the car like a champ & poor Savi and Oreo would sit in a lawn chair at each market like the princesses they are. They drew more freaking attention then my cookies did.
I’d be up until the middle of the night on a Friday evening, with my kitchen looking like hell, baking, packaging and sorting the “Just BE Naughty” line of treats. Then, waking up early on Saturday to hit the market. I’m not gonna lie – it was depressing at times. I thought I was a fake business owner. “We’re looking for a location” I would say over and over and over and I just felt like a failure.
Then we got the location. And a new Season commenced. How do we fix this? When will funding be finalized? Where do I find an electrician? What is a salamander again? And all the details…But people FLOODED in to help me – what can i do, how can i be a part of this they would ask. I’m forever grateful tor all those friends in my life who cared.
Then we opened. And people literally walked through the door on the first day. I remember sitting there wondering if we were going to feed a single soul. We did and we actually fed a few. The new Season arrived.
And now we are in another Season three months on – how can we grow sales? How do we get the word out about us? Why are our labor costs all over the place – how can we streamline, x, y and z process to make it more seamless. How do we retain talent and grow them.
The point is – I somehow have come to realize that whatever I’m feeling at a point in time…it doesn’t last. It’s just the Season I’m in. And right when I think I’ve “nailed” the Season…I move into another one. So while that brings chaos and uncertainty and TEARS & a lot of use of the F-word (remember my last post?)…this week I realized I felt at peace with knowing what’s happened at our 3 month mark is just another Season that I’m in.
Sometimes…like those 2 years we looked for a location…the season is long and cold and like Winter. Sometimes, it feels like Spring – short and a quick ‘bloom’ of a flower as we had our opening week…and now Summer as we feel the “heat” of trying to maintain sales, manage costs, deal with managing our volumes and processes and the “guts” of the operations.
I don’t know what the next Season will bring. But at least I know that either way – a good Season or a bad one…it’s never permanent. So I need to be “on my game” when the Season is good and try to do what we believe will set us up for shorter, “bad” Seasons – or as I like to say, attempt to reduce the suffering period.
But what I know is this…every Season has its purpose. It’s all meant to change, expand or help me heal a part of myself I haven’t yet healed. I’m not sure I always learn the lesson in each one…but I’ve gotten better at identifying that I’m “just in a new Season” and this is exactly how it’s meant to be, right now.
I’m not perfect, I forget this and I need reminding. Remind someone else you see going through a Season too.
The key when you’re crazy and tired and feel all hope is gone – is to try to be as conscious as possible that the Season is temporary. Grace comes. Love arrives. Joy exists.
And most importantly, know it won’t last. And that, my sweet readers, gives peace to the process.
You know that saying, “I’ll die of a broken heart” and you cry and cry for hours. And then you wake up the next day and essentially wish you were dead from all the pain and crying? Ya, that’s what I thought would happen after many men. (I was going to type each name & just got depressed doing so, erased and remembered this blog post wasn’t about them. Ha!).
Anyhow, the real point is – you won’t die of crying when you jump hard. And fast. And into the unknown. Believe me.
So, we opened Just BE Kitchen. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t always joyful. It wasn’t always hard either. I went into a pure survival mode. I was not necessarily conscious of that being the “state” I was in but the reality is that I was. You’re pushing. Searching. Asking. Finding the depths inside of you, you didn’t know you had to get through things that you had no idea would be hard or even be obstacles that you encountered.
You realize, when you’re sobbing on your floor with the dogs licking your face & wondering why the hell have you done something so dumb as opening your own business…that crying is ok – because there’s just nothing else to do. Turning back is simply NOT an option. You’ve invested money. Time. Resources. You’ve signed a lease and hired staff. You’ve made promises to vendors. And you actually like all of these people involved & want to honor them. And you care about them. So turning back is not an option.
So you cry. And you cuddle the dogs and wake up the next day and it’s a new day.
You see windows close. But you see BIG doors open. You say the F word a LOT. And that word isn’t “fudge” just for clarity. Nor is it “food.” Ha.
You spend time training team members, only to have them leave after a week or do a no show and your heart feels like you’re the most worthless human being alive because you’re just not used to “no shows” in your former life.
I spent months working on a bank loan. One bank man told me he turned down Snooze and regretted it but was turning down me too. Another told me as a single woman I would be approved if I had a spouse sponsor me. (A great reminder of singlehood).
Another had me spend months applying, only to be told that with the new merger happening at the bank, the terms of the deal had dramatically changed. I was then seduced into another loan where “it would happen fast and easy.” NOTE: It wasn’t fast. Or easy. And then you finally find a great partner that supports you through it all and finances you.
Then all the plaster falls off a wall behind the barista station. Then your contractor & you don’t see eye to eye so you have to cease the relationship and you have no idea how it will get finished.
And your family – the people that are meant to be super excited for your dreams coming true…never say congrats, comment on any social media threads, pick up the phone with excitement, recognize what you’ve done or come to the restaurant when it opens.
And the list goes on. And on. And, one day I will share a big whammy that hit too just before opening and continued till recently, but that’s a blog post all in itself at some point.
So, the point is: IF you jump, you will cry. It’s ok. DON’T GIVE UP. Crying helped me weather the storm. And people around me helped me realize this is just part of the process. Jump. Cry. Joy. Repeat.
It releases all those unworthy feelings. It reminds you that you’re only human. It allows you to have compassion when you see someone else suffering. And if you really listen during the calm after the storm…you’ll be surprised at what you did.
I mean – I don’t know how we opened the restaurant given all the problems beforehand. I don’t know how we opened without the bank loan closing. We only got equipment hooked up/ready less than a week before opening. I don’t know how I got through issues with people, unfinished interior and a zillion other things that I genuinely can’t even remember now. Because now there’s a rainbow after all the tears…and, it’s a different season.
So, crying doesn’t kill you. In fact…it does the opposite. It shortens the suffering time. You cry. You release. You tell the negative talk “thank you for visiting but I don’t have a place for you today. You took me yesterday but today is mine.”
So, in essence, what makes you cry, wakes you up. It makes you see all the glorious parts. Like team members doing great things. Like customers smiling. Like thank you letters in the mail. Crying…makes you LIVE.
BE Well xxx
Well, guess what? I honored that space. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. I used the time to reflect, to get clear on how I wanted Just BE Kitchen to look & feel. I let go of all the things that I didn’t truly want to be part of the space but “they” (you know THEM) kept telling me I should do. “They”, “Them” and “Their” should’s are judgy little beasts.
Meaning, things like not having industrial furniture. “They” told me it was important for high traffic. “They” also told me I had to have a specific menu of plates, soups, sandwiches, etc. I struggled with this because I didn’t want our menu to scream “health food” or “lack and sacrifice.” And I wanted traditional cheat meals done healthy. “They” told me we had to have standardized uniforms and should only hire people from industry. Instead we have hired experienced & mean non-experienced people with stories of amazing transformations.
Now, “they” are obviously successful. But the difference is that it just wasn’t MY vision. Maybe my vision won’t work. Maybe it will. But at least it’s mine and not “theirs.”
So, I also wrote the manifesto. I know, I keep talking about it. Well, guess what? It’s on our website now. www.justbekitchen.com – It’s under our purpose. Read it. Tell me what you think. I mean, it’s ours, I don’t expect it to be like you. You have yours. Not theirs.
And then guess what? We found a location. A kick butt one. And we have opened. And life has been crazy, hectic, tearful, joyful, scary, uncertain, constrained, limited, fulfilling, stretching & literally everything in between since. But it’s been my journey. NOT “theirs.”
The reality is that I wasn’t sure if going “my way” was going to work. I still don’t. But at least it feels better, even if uncertain. I do believe that it was only once I got clear on what I wanted and put my own voice to “the plan” that is when the space revealed itself and we got selected to sign the lease.
Even when I stopped doing Instagram posts that didn’t feel like me but instead were what I “should do”, I felt excited to post. It was a subtle shift, but one that felt more inspiring.
But you what? I’m so freaking scared about doing it “my” way. Why? Yes, of course, afraid of failing. But the bigger issue is afraid of REJECTION. I mean, what if everyone rejects what is ME instead of THEIRS. That’s the shitkicker in the decision. At least if THEY are rejected, then I secretly know that it wasn’t mine to begin with. Ugh.
I’m still not at a place where I can walk into Just BE Kitchen and feel relaxed. I mean, I can feel amazed some days – like I can’t believe it’s really happening. But I’m still too much in it. I’m still on pins & needles and can barely keep up with email, bills and the rest of it. I know I’m not the only one and that’s comforting. I know other business owners go through the same thing.
I WILL talk about the joy of opening soon – Because there is real joy. Especially when I think of the team and the customers. But I wanted to share this first.
BE Well xxx
This is my first blog post of The Conscious CEO. It kinda feels like giving birth. Ok, really, I have no kids so I don’t know what that feels like. But it does have this feeling of being eager to “pop out” something that is precious and lovely enough like a baby. And, that someone – anyone – just one person – may want to read and cherish it .
There’s been a whisper inside me to write on this page for awhile. But fear held me back. Then, through a “mastermind/entrepreneur” club that I’m in, I was encouraged to write a Manifesto for the business.
And in case you’re reading this and don’t know what the business is…well, our mission is: To provide mindful mouthfuls from a conscious kitchen with kindness on a plate.
We do that through offering a mindful space where people can be nourished, feel at peace and order 100% gluten, grain and refined-sugar free food. And let me tell you, the menu rocks. But more on that later.
Anyhow, the above is our intention. See, right now…we’re looking for our first location. It’s been a loooong process. There have been tears. There has been aggravation. There has been doubt when the hell this will happen. I have definitely questioned IF it will happen.
So when I was challenged to write the Manifesto…it was like my fingers flew on the page. It was so easy to write. I literally think I edited a small portion of it once. And I was done.
And what emerged…was that I’m meant to be right here. Waiting for the perfect location. Honoring this space between no longer and not yet. Offering our retail products to the market for now. That I’m doing this to reach my highest potential even though it feels some days that I should just give up. It’s not happening, so it’s not meant to BE.
But our manifesto says otherwise. It says we are destined for greatness. That doesn’t mean we are going to conquer the world but it can mean that we change the world. One person at a time. One meal. One plate of food. One employee.
It can mean that the aches inside our souls to BE all that we can truly BE transform into patches of softness as we transform too. It can mean we surprise ourselves, and find delight in each of our days.
See, I know, based on the events of 2015 (I’m sure they will make their way into this blog someday), there will never be an opportunity to be lower than I was. So…I just wait, grow into who I’m meant to be, for us as a team to grow into a powerful force and get ready to receive what’s coming.
Along with the manifesto, birthed a strengthening of our core values, our mission and our intentions. It’s good to have the space to reflect on those as they are the foundation for what we will be based. It’s empowering to have to have the space to dream about greatness and coming into our own.
So, all of these things helped to “birth” this blog: The Conscious CEO & The Awakened Corporate.
Oh, and I’ll share the Manifesto soon. Right now I’m still savoring it as ours. As Just BE Kitchen’s. But I’ll share with you soon.
BE well xx