Hi. My name is Ursula and I’m an extreme extrovert. My idea of hell is sitting in a room by myself all day. I’m also extrinsically motivation to the nth degree. If there isn’t an announcement from the stage, a shiny trophy and an Instagram post with a custom hashtag… it didn’t happen.
And I’m only slightly exaggerating.
I have this kind of weird habit that I'm going to totally own out loud. When I do something really awesome, I talk to my inner child. It's a hold over from when I first started therapy and Jillian, therapist to the stars, suggested that I carry a photo of me as a child and talk to her as a means of healing. I've been celebrating major life accomplishments with "little me" ever since.
Yesterday I started my morning at the SheHive, meeting with a new coaching client. It was the first time I had met a client there and as I unlocked the door and stepped into my office I yelled out inside, "Look what we just did!"
"My office. My client. My business. My vision. My work!"
Of course, the SheHive is intentionally a co-created space and business so it is not solely mine. But I am part of the Hive that is helping to create it, so it is mine too. My dream is that soon other women walk through that door and gleefully giggle like I do, full of pride because of what they - and all their collective inner children - have helped to create. I cannot wait until we are all in there together.
I have to admit, however, that as fun and wonderful and life-affirming as it all is, it is also scary and tiring...
I spent almost 17 years working in nonprofits in every facet from marketing to IT to community programming to HR. The one area I never worked in, however, was fundraising. I refused to ask people for money because I was always afraid of how it would feel if they said no.
Rejection is some scary shit.
I also knew, going into consultant work, that I was going to have to bite the bullet and get over the fear of selling. And not just selling any old thing - selling me.
Turns out selling doesn’t really suck quite as much as I thought it would. I sit down for coffee every week with a bunch of really cool people, talk to them about what it is they do, and what it is I do, and, sometimes, what we can do together.
Easy peasy, right?
A client reached out to me yesterday, via email, to let me know that she had decided to not move forward with her coaching contract.
I found ten new terms of endearment for her and called her every one of them in my head as I immediately deleted the email.
Thankfully those geniuses (genuii?) at Google know a little something about the way we humans think and they offered up a a “Are you sure this is the way you want to handle this? Like, really, really sure? Like, maybe you should consider undeleting that email and handling your shit like an adult?” prompt.
Okay, okay - it technically only read Undo Delete, but we all know what it meant, right?
So I undeleted the email and reached out to her, thanking her for candor and letting her know that if she had any feedback on what would have made coaching with me more attractive, or alternatively, if there was anything that was particularly off-putting to her, I welcomed her input.
And she gave it. And it was good. And I thanked her for her generosity. And I meant it. And then I ran around for 24 hours proud as hell of myself for making it through the first big rejection without losing my shit and running for the hills with my hair on fire.
Big girl panties, I haz dem.
I still wish that people would come knocking at my door asking me to work for them. And I still wish that every person or organization I met with would want to work with me forever. And I still wish that I would never have to worry about how crappy it feels to lose a client again. But I made it over this first hump not only alive and well, but a bit smarter because I opened myself up to feedback in the face of rejection.
Rejection is an inevitable outcome of the human condition. How we choose to respond to it a choice to be made. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that we can choose wiser.
Every day I am introduced to someone new who has heard about the SheHive and wants to learn more. What I am discovering, nine out of ten times, is that when someone reaches out to me to say that they want to “learn more,” what they really want is to offer something of themselves. Whether it’s a space, a service, a skill set, an introduction or a personal commitment to be a cheerleader and advocate, people everywhere are offering themselves up to make this idea a reality.
I am nothing short of humbled and in awe right now of how good people can be.
If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you might have gathered that I left my last job a little scarred. (And if you know me personally, you know you can replace “scarred” with “a full-on fucking case of PTSD.”) The last few months were kind of - kind of - like walking through a door every day knowing full well that a bear could potentially be on the other side. A frightened, power-starved grizzly that would rear back on its hind legs, froth at the mouth and then try to eat you for dinner.
The threat was so constant that sometimes a fuzzy, lost kitten would wander in and everyone would still go running in a million separate directions. “Beeeeeeeeeaaaaaarrrrr!”
Thing is, a change in scenery didn’t necessarily cull the fear. Ever since leaving the job I’ve been suspiciously tiptoeing around the city looking everywhere for bears. “Bear?” I’d ask myself every time I opened a new door. “Bear?”
Last Friday, as I was having coffee with, yet, another amazing woman who was sharing with me how she wanted to be of service to the SheHive - and as I found myself having to ask once again, “But what can I do for you?” it hit me… there really aren’t that many bears out here.
It took me 87 days to get over the fear of being eaten alive at every turn. Well, 87 days and a lifetime before.
“I want Ride or Dies who make me want to be a better person.” That’s a quote from Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes book. A friend shared it with me a few weeks back and I am reminded of it tonight as I reflect on how cathartic launching the SheHive has become.
I am nothing short of humbled and in awe right now of how good I can be and want to be surrounded by the Hive, by Ride or Dies.
I am nothing short of humbled and in awe right now of how good the Hive can be. So good.
The SheHive is an intentional community where women who want to live to the fullest expression of their authentic selves can gather to connect and grow.
So, the SheHive.
I’ve mentioned this SheHive "idea" a few times in the past two months but have been purposefully elusive. I didn’t want to say too much until I knew it was going to be an actual thing.
It’s a thing now.
The SheHive was an idea that started formulating in grad school when one of my classmates, Barbara, shared a plan she had to create a women-only leadership development program on the east coast. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head - particularly because so much of my ah-mazing grad school experience has been centered around learning within a group of spectacularly smart, witty and brave women. I didn’t want to lose that after grad school ended. I wanted what Barbara was going to create out on the east coast.
So I decided to create it here too. Or, rather, I decided to start thinking about creating it here too.
Since leaving United Way that “thinking” has swung into high gear and I started talking about the idea with a few trusted friends. Eventually, Adam and Mike from Civilla offered to meet with me to help solidify my thinking - but only if I created a physical prototype first. So one night I ran to the drugstore, bought a $1.69 sketch book and started drawing a 2-D SheHive prototype - an old Victorian house where women could gather to have brave and important conversations with each other, with coaches, with counselors and with themselves. I finished at 2 a.m. - my last sketch a group of women drinking wine and dancing on the railing of what will eventually be the back deck of the SheHive. (Dancing will be a must in the SheHive.)
I then met with Adam and Mike and armed with their feedback - and most importantly, their encouragement - I went out and started talking about the SheHive to anyone else who would listen. And now my spiel came with pictures!
The first person, besides Adam and Mike, to see the sketchbook was Cindy. Cindy offered me a free space to try out the SheHive. So I pulled a group of some of my favorite women together in Cindy’s space and took them through the sketchbook. The SheHive had legs!
Soon after that I met Andrea. She’s been running women’s learning circles for years and a mutual friend introduced us because she thought Andrea might be a good fit to teach in the SheHive. Andrea quickly became one of my biggest cheerleaders. One Sunday afternoon, after I had cried myself to sleep - convinced that the SheHive concept had stalled, I woke up to find an email from Andrea that read, “I know SheHive is your baby, but would you possibly want a partner?”
It was exactly the message I needed to hear to keep going. Someone else believed in the idea as much as I did. That’s exactly what the SheHive is all about - women speaking their true desires out loud without shame and other women helping to make them a reality.
Fast forward less than a month later and Andrea and I have a business plan, a mission statement, the start of our core values, a lawyer working on the legal entity, branding and a website in development, a lease for our office/meeting space and an advisory board. I’m still out nearly every day talking to people about the SheHive while Andrea works on programming.
We’re not exactly in the grand old Victorian home I had originally envisioned. We’re in a three room office at 9 Mile and Hilton in Ferndale with industrial carpet, a drop ceiling and a vine growing out of a wall socket that, obviously, shouldn’t be there but neither of us has had the heart to pull yet. It’s a good start - that vine is going to have it’s own chapter in the book I write one day about the SheHive phenomena.
Sometime in October, after the walls are painted and the carpet is replaced and maybe the vine in the wall socket is no more, we’ll open our doors to women who are craving individual growth and a tribe to support them. We’ll be offering a series of personal and professional development workshops, coaching, weekly facilitated conversations on topics chosen by the SheHive membership and a monthly potluck called the Badass Ladies Supper Club where women share their bucket lists over dinner. Though we’re going in with a full three months of programming built out our plan is to let the SheHive members decide what future programming looks like.
So that, my gentle snowflakes, is the SheHive. In a nutshell, a place for women to grow and to connect. And I SO can’t wait to share it with you!