There are so many moments as an entrepreneur you feel you aren’t going to make it – like there is no possible way you will pull off this endeavor, not only because of your own inadequacies (of which you confront many on a daily basis) but because the universe is undoubtedly working against you.
I had one of those days last Friday. It all started off so well with so much anticipation. Friday was the day my development team was to deliver the digital reality of my latest invention – what I believe is a revolutionary news service launching in two weeks. We held weekly calls, spoke often, had long consulting sessions but I had yet to see evidence my vision could function for both the end user, (that’s you) and the creator (that’s me, and hopefully others). To my knowledge, nothing has ever been created like it before so there’s a lot of unknown, which is totally exciting and incredibly risky.
I got up early on Friday morning, worked-out, sent some emails before the kids woke up, made breakfast and prepared for our Friday tumbling classes. I had a babysitter lined up for the afternoon so I could focus on my website development. I was going to do it all. I was going to finish the week strong.
I was going to have balance!
After all it had been a long week with no balance at all. Corralling two young children, with a traveling husband, a business owner himself and entrepreneur. We were all over the place both literally and figuratively. And nothing seemed to be going right.
At the beginning of the week a project that should’ve taken me 2 hours, took 3 days because of technical glitches. We recently realized that working out of a home office isn’t going to work for either of us so we rented a new work space; trouble is, we had no furniture or Wifi – so we spent hours making it useable (which currently includes a folding table and many runs to Ace Hardware). My husband attended jujitsu class, something he really enjoys, and came home with a nasty black eye after a sparring session – right before he had to speak in front of 400 people. Our 3 –year-old (potty-trained) and 1-year-old (not potty-trained) experienced more “accidents” than are worth mentioning or describing; while it’s true we will look back on these circumstances and laugh, right now the smell of Lysol permeates so deeply into our psyche, it’s hard to think past it. We just couldn’t catch a break.
And “mama” wasn’t happy. I could feel my frayed emotions unraveling more and more. While trying to build a new business, I continue to uncover so many issues with our new home. Earlier in the week, I could’ve sworn our new heater (that had to be installed in an emergency over Christmas) simply wasn’t functioning correctly. But I just wasn’t sure what was *really* going on; I’ve never actually lived in a house before – only apartments or flats – so this is my first experience in homeownership. I’ve always had a bad feeling about the wiring in the home; a feeling I couldn’t explain. I kept getting told “Everything was fine”.
So Friday, was the end of a long week: an exhausting week, an emotional week. I dressed the kids, jumped in the shower in their bedroom so I could keep an eye on them ~ and jumped out quickly but not quick enough to grab my son who quietly made his way to the kitchen, climbed up to a bar height counter top and opened the child proof caps of Benadryl and Motrin that I left out from the night before. He then proceeded to drink the contents straight from the bottle. I caught him in the act and immediately went into panic mode (in as controlled a way as possible). Luckily, after calling Poison Control, I understood he didn’t drink enough to force a trip to the ER. However, as many of you parents know, Benadryl in large doses for a child isn’t just plain frightening and doesn’t just make them drowsy… it can also make them agitated and for the next several hours, poor Trace was such a handful I could barely keep him under control.
We got through tumbling class but my quality time with my kids was ruined and I couldn’t make it back to our office in time for our meeting so I ended up pulling off the road to use a coffee shop with wifi. I settled in, ready for the great unveil to find that my laptop simply would not work. No lights. No charge. No nothing. No power. All black. I panicked for the second time that day.
When I called the developers, we got the laptop to reset, but it was clearly barely working, which led to a trip to the Apple store, on Friday during rush hour traffic. I walked out of the store with an unexpected new computer and a huge bill – but much-needed equipment. On the way home I thought, “Ok, this is a crazy day, but I’m SO lucky. Trace didn’t need to go to the hospital. I have a new computer that can support this endeavor. “Momlife” is hard. I hadn’t eaten all day. I had accomplished none of my errands. But compared to being a mom in Syria? I have zero to complain about. These are all “first world” problems.
As soon as I get home, I see Trace and my daughter Liberty are happily playing, I throw in some laundry right before getting them into a bath. At that same moment, the email comes in with the permissions to access my sparkling new website. And then….All the lights go out. Literally.
Our house is black. And the heat is definitely not on. It’s freezing outside. No tripped breakers. I reset and reset them all with my two kids running around in the dark giggling. No one in our neighborhood had power issues; it was clearly our house. It was bizarre and eerie. The microwave kept coming on and off, with a screeching beep; lights would flash on and dim. I could see enough to get the kids to bed; thanks to my husband, we have a lot of headlamps around the house. I called electricians, and no one would pick up their phones or call me back. The electric company’s phone line is automated – I couldn’t reach a real person. I didn’t know what to do. I actually didn’t panic for a third time that day – I was too exhausted. I contacted a friend who runs a vacation rental company in case we needed to rent a place to stay for the weekend, bundled up and fell asleep.
The next morning, the electric company showed up at my door and simply said “Ma’am you have a big problem” They proceeded to tell me that unbeknownst to us there was a fire in our meter box. A fire that if it burned hot enough and long enough, could’ve burned through the main breaker and right into our house; it looked like it was almost through the process of doing just that. As the slow burning fire got worse, less power got to our home – hence why I felt the heater wasn’t working even though it was brand new.
After a few hours, power was restored. I loaded the kids up to go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, relieved and ready to get out of the house and let it warm-up. A new friend called me and left one of the strangest voicemails I’ve ever received. We hadn’t talked in a few weeks ~ She recently had her third baby and I’ve felt terrible for not being more in touch. She said “Jenna, I know this might sound crazy but I had this moment of quiet this morning and I was praying and I got a very clear message to pray for you. I know this is going to sound strange but I just had to reach out.” She went on to say that although I might be going through something difficult, and feeling very alone, or feeling like I may not have the right words to pray (all true to me) – God sees me and loves me.
I was dumbfounded. A few times in my life, usually from some amazing, powerful women, I’ve had moments like this – where unexpectedly there’s a reminder, beyond explanation, of a Higher Power at work in all our lives.
And suddenly, my attitude just shifted.
In my social media posts, I detail some of the challenges I’ve confronted over the last several months but even those forms of expression, while truly genuine, are limited. I’m incredibly lucky and endlessly blessed. I’m excited and optimistic about the future. But it’s been a tough road leaving a city I loved and relocating to a new state with two babies and a completely different way of life. Everything takes a lot of energy: Trying to find new friends. Trying to unpack. Trying to find the grocery store. The gas station. A dry cleaner? Trying to organize my life, figure out who I am “off-air” and be a good wife and feeling like I am failing miserably. I literally don’t know what to wear because for the last 10 years, I’ve had a work closet. That sounds crazy right? It’s true. I showed up to work in my work-out clothes and had a beautiful wardrobe hanging in my office, selected by talented stylists; I edited what I wore but only after they brought me amazing clothes beyond my wildest dreams. Going through these personal rollercoasters all the while trying to pursue this crazy dream of building a company that has to happen NOW. Doing that alone and explaining over and over again what I am pursuing to people who clearly think I’m “just a news anchor” or totally insane or both. Trying to fund this project when money fell through with the little savings I had put aside to get it off the ground. I didn’t leave Fox with a big check, major investors or a well-coordinated departure to re-emerge on some other network – I left on my own terms, by choice. And because of that I AM alone.
But that’s okay. I want to be a pioneer in the way we deliver news and the way we tell our stories. I want to be a force for good and I want to do journalism differently.
I hear what you are asking for from “the news”, and I want to make it better for you. And that’s when I realized, I am being tested.
The light always attracts moths.
The obstacles, some of my own making, (like the Benadryl debacle) are reminders to do better or boulders being thrown in my path. And at every turn, the light shines in the darkness – literally. Whether it’s the friendly electric company workers taking extra time to help me in the frigid cold. The great young sales associate in the Apple Store who listened to my situation, helped me find a solution and said to me before I left the store, “Hey, we have Wifi. You want to look at your site on your new computer?” And when he saw the site said, “That’s AMAZING. That’s truly needed.” No strange coincidence his name was “Nehemiah“. The shadow of doubt and darkness grows long when you feel alone. It’s important to recognize all you’re learning along the way. And the lessons, like candles, light your next steps. So here’s what I’ve learned:
Poison Control should be in everyone’s phone even if you don’t have kids: 1-800-222-1222
If a toddler drinks half a bottle of Benadryl, that’s likely a cue to run to the hospital. If it’s less than that? You avoid the hospital but it’s a bumpy ride.
Don’t leave any medicine out. Period. It needs to be in a locked cabinet.
If you have a laptop that’s 3 years old, it’s probably hit its life span. Backup your work.
If you have unexplained electrical issues (dimming lights, questionable heat) start at the source of the problem – your meter box. And don’t give up when the experts tell you, there’s nothing wrong.
Double-check your fire alarms. Only by the grace of God, and that completely inopportune power outage, did we not have a devastating fire in our home.
Entrepreneur is just a fancy word for “fails on a regular basis until TBD”. But as I recently heard in a spin class of all places “Failure is only feedback”. That sentiment has been said many times in many different ways. I’m grateful for the feedback. And for the darkness. Because it reminds me what is light. And this project is light. I can’t wait for you to see it.
Come from a place of gratitude. Fight for it when it’s not easy. See challenges through that lens and this will make your purpose pure. It will set you apart.
Thank you for standing by me and being a source of light in my life. I am truly grateful.
P.S. I want you to be the first to hear about my project – Sign up here to get the first announcement: https://mailchi.mp/ed219f632858/jenna-lee-usa