What I Learned From Building a ‘Trust Fall Community’

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed an abundance of people looking for a new job, quitting or being let go. For most people, this is an incredibly stressful time and trying to find a new job can be a long and arduous process. Looking back at those people who left their job just a few months or even weeks ago, though, the majority of them have found success and are relatively unscathed, and many are doing even better.

pexels-photoSo what did these people all have in common? They all had what I like to call a ‘trust fall community.’ Do you remember doing the trust fall team exercise as a kid at summer camp? This is a very similar and real-life example of the concept; one that I personally exercised just a month and a half ago.

When I was in a job that I knew wasn’t a good fit, I didn’t have time to wait around for the perfect job to find me before putting in my resignation. While leaving a job without another one lined up isn’t usually considered best practice, I decided to take the leap and have faith that my trust fall community would be there to support me. Boy, did they deliver.

Within three short weeks, I was back, as a full-time contractor with a wide variety of projects that I was ecstatic to be working on. How did this happen? Referrals, introductions and people in my community helping to lift me up in my time of need. Looking back, I can’t say I’ve always had such a strong community, so I wouldn’t suggest everyone pick up and quit a job their unhappy with just yet.

That being said, here are 8 keys I’ve found to building a trust fall community so when the time comes, you can take the leap of faith, too.

  1. Make time for face time. This is huge for me. I think in order to really solidify relationships, it’s important to be there, in person with people. It may not be all that frequently, but when you can, make it count.
  2. Volunteer for causes you believe in. Not only does this provide a great outlet for exploring your passions, it also gets you around like-minded people. House of Genius and Phoenix Startup Week are two great outlets for me personally. For those looking to make a leap, this can be a great way to explore a new career path.
  3. Be genuine. No matter how many hands you shake or people you meet, it won’t matter if you’re not being yourself. Just be yourself! Even if at times it might seem intimidating, when you act like your normal wonderful self, you’ll attract people who appreciate you for who you are.
  4. Build relationships, not just connections. Don’t approach meetings or new introductions with the ‘what can they do for me?’ or ‘what can I get out of this?’ attitude. Be present and first focus on building a relationship. If there’s a potential for something more later on, the opportunity will present itself.
  5. Use your ‘asks’ sparingly. Every once in a while it’s necessary to ask for help, which is totally okay! Just keep the, ‘boy who cried wolf,’ anecdote in the back of your mind. Asking for too many favors might deter people from wanting to help you at all.
  6. Return the favor. Don’t forget the people who helped you along the way and that you owe them, sometimes tenfold, in return. It’s important to never feel that you’ve outgrown or are better than those who took the time to help you early on.
  7. Never ‘expect’ anything. At the end of the day, no one owes you anything. The key to appreciating and making the most of your trust fall community is to give to it without expecting anything in return.
  8. Be grateful. Be it for a business introduction or the time to pick someone’s brain over coffee, be grateful for people. Let them know that you appreciate them and that you don’t take their generosity for granted.

This concept doesn’t just apply to finding a new job. It can be applied to any hurdle or time you need to turn to others for help. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to build a ‘trust fall community’ so when the time comes (because it will) there are people to turn to.

How have you developed your trust fall community?

5 Reasons House of Genius Really Is Genius

One piece of feedback I continue to hear in the startup community is that the networking events are redundant. With so many of the same types of events happening in Phoenix, we end up splitting attendance and reducing quality across the board. That’s why when I heard about the unique experience House of Genius offers, I knew I wanted to be part of the team.

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Photo credit www.pexels.com.

House of Genius is a monthly event where three startups have five minutes to present their business and an “ask” to an anonymous panel of professionals. The ask is any question or problem they want feedback or advice on from the panelists. After each presentation, the panelists pose follow-up questions and then go through a round of general feedback. As with any successful event, we supply food and drinks throughout the evening.

When I joined the team, the Phoenix House of Genius chapter had just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Nima Jacob Nojoumi, the Co-Founder and CEO at Sourcely, founded the Phoenix House of Genius chapter in April of 2014 and it’s currently one of only 25 chapters around the world.

“Arizona is fortunate to have an emerging startup ecosystem,” Nojoumi said. “It’s exceptionally promising, but needs resources to develop and mature efficiently. House of Genius provides these resources, offering an opportunity for our community to meet and, more importantly, collaborate in ways that deliver real results to entrepreneurs.”

So what really makes House of Genius awesome?

  1. We value quality over quantity. The purpose of the event isn’t to get as many attendees as possible; it’s to create an environment where people can engage in deeper conversations. This allows people to build real connections and go beyond the superficial, ‘what do you dos’ and ‘who do you knows’ normally exchanged.
  2. It’s anonymous, and no work talk allowed! Attendees only share first names and can’t talk about anything work-related until the reveal at the end of the evening. This allows us to keep bias at the door and work on an equal playing field.
  3. We promote candid, actionable feedback. The goal of House of Genius is to help entrepreneurs and startups make real improvements to their businesses. In order to do that, they need quality feedback. That’s why we encourage people to be honest while being respectful of each other’s ideas and opinions.
  4. Genius begets genius. That’s why House of Genius builds its community through referrals. After attending an event, we ask the Geniuses to refer at least one person who would be a good addition to a future event as either a presenter or a panelist.
  5. Attendees can’t rely on the ‘Buddy System’. While attendees are referred to our events by a friend or colleague, the monthly panels are hand-selected. Between this and the anonymity enforced, we ensure people can’t pair off or buddy up with people they know.

“I’ve had the opportunity to hang out at House of Genius twice now and it’s been great,” Zach Ferres, the CEO at Coplex, said. “The event provides a great platform for local startups to pitch, make a simple ask and gather feedback from over a dozen experts from all different backgrounds. Not to mention, there’s also free Chipotle!”

Other national chapters include Seattle, Austin and San Francisco alongside international chapters in Madrid, Hong Kong and Amsterdam. For Phoenix to be one of the first cities in the U.S. to open a House of Genius chapter speaks volumes about the community and the entrepreneurial spirit we have here.

“House of Genius serves as an excellent, unique, and confidential forum for you to gain valuable feedback at any point in the process of building your company. The quality of people in attendance and feedback gained highlights yet again why Phoenix is quickly becoming the most generous community for entrepreneurs,” said Jonathan Cottrell, a serial entrepreneur.

Think this sort of event is up your alley? Learn more about our monthly event here or email us at phoenix@houseofgenius.org.

The Post-Employment ‘Oh S***’ Moment

Over the last few months, a number of friends and colleagues have either resigned or been let go. It doesn’t matter if leaving was your choice or not, the change is still incredibly stressful. Quite literally, work-related life changes are some of the most stressful events a person can experience. They account for five of the 20 top stressors along side imprisonment, divorce and the loss of a friend or family member.

My ‘Oh S***’ Moment
Once the initial shock subsides from leaving a job (assuming you don’t have another full-time gig lined up already) you will most likely have an, ‘Oh s***, what am I going to do with my life?’ moment. I experienced this moment one week after leaving my previous job, while I was huffing away on the stair master.

quote-chalk-think-words

Photo credit www.pexels.com.

I frantically reached out to one of my best friends who told me, “Paige, you chose to leave your job. You’re fine.” Not surprisingly, this didn’t really soothe my anxiety. I called another friend who had recently been let go who said, “It’s going to be okay. It’s not easy, but you’ll get through it.” While neither response really put me at ease, they both had good points.

I had made this choice, and no matter how things felt at the moment, it would all be okay.

The Incredibly Uncomfortable Zone
The more I’ve thought about this ‘Oh s***’ moment, the more I think it’s a crucial component to personal growth and staying true to yourself. It’s so easy to just exist in a unfulfilling job; just riding the wave of complacency so long as the money keeps flowing into your bank account.

A colleague of mine recently said she admired me for having the guts to leave a job because I knew it wasn’t right for me. She had experienced something similar, only she stayed with the company for a year, dreading going to work and crying on almost a daily basis. I couldn’t fathom this being a reality for someone, especially a strong woman like the one sitting in front of me.

While financial stability is a huge driving factor behind why many people stay at an unfulfilling job, I urge those who can, to take a break; to re-center before charging ahead blindly. In the past, I’ve moved directly from one job to another, without even a day in between. At the time it seemed like the right approach, but looking back, I should have taken time to myself.

Understanding My Core
While contemplating a recent transition, a colleague of mine, Joanne Flynn, gave me some invaluable advice. Knowing that I tend to spread myself too thin, she said, “Always remember, don’t get too far from your core.” At the time, it made sense, but didn’t totally blow my mind. As time passed, I continued to come back to what she said and soon realized that I didn’t really understand what my core truly was. This meant that staying true to it was, well, basically impossible.

Despite not entirely knowing what my core was, my gut still tells me when something isn’t a fit. Listening to my gut, which I swear is the only way to exist, forced me to leave the financial comfort zone of an unfulfilling job so that I could start to explore what my core is and what my next step is in my professional career.

My goal during this period of my life was to embrace being outside of my comfort zone and really try to understand what I’m passionate about, where my skills are and how I want those two things to come together in my professional career. So far, I’ve stitched together the following pieces: copywriting, project management and event planning. How they look in a future job? I have absolutely no idea.

Being Comfortable ‘Doing You’
Now that I’m back on my own, people keep asking, “What do you want to do?” My response? “That’s what I’m figuring out. In the meantime, I like X, Y and Z, so let’s start there.” To many people, they find this sort of response alarming–it’s as though I’m doing something wrong or I’m lost in the world. I spoke with a friend of mine who also recently left her job and we were discussing how we tell people what we’re up to these days.

“I used to walk into networking events with confidence. I would say I do X for Z organization. Now, I don’t have the same confidence as I did before. I’m still me, but I don’t know how to explain what I’m doing,” she said.

It’s as though no longer being with a big reputable organization takes away the validity of being an accomplished professional. Breaking out on your own requires you to own and champion your personal accomplishments. There isn’t going to be the reputation of a larger organization to hide behind and support you.

One of the biggest hurdles that I deal with working independently is my tendency towards the Imposter Syndrome: The feeling that my accomplishments to date have been due to outside influences, and that at any moment someone might realize that I actually have no idea what I’m doing.

This is not an uncommon phenomena for people who work in the grey area of contracting, partnerships and part-time gigs. This fact should not however devalue a person’s confidence in their abilities, what they’re doing or what they want to do in the future. If someone chooses to take time to travel or to re-focus, good for you! Own it. It’s you doing you, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So, I ask you, what is your core? Can you say you are honestly staying true to it? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Why I’m 25 & Living At Home

An Unexpected Decision
All throughout high school, I couldn’t wait to move out; to be on my own, living independently. I think I may have literally counted down the days to ‘freedom.’ Despite that, a little less than a year ago, I made the life-changing decision to move back home.

‘Moving home’ was a little different for me than it is for most. I was moving into a new home with my mom and grandmother. Yes, three generations under one roof. At the time, the move was supposed to be temporary, or at least that’s what I told myself.

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Photo credit www.pexels.com

My Personal Insecurities
When I first made the transition, I felt insecure telling even close friends. In my mind, I saw it as failure. This is despite the fact that in 2013, 21% of 25 to 29-year-olds lived at home, a number that has been steadily on the incline.

Most people, or so I thought, saw moving home as a sign of weakness and lack of financial stability. Not only that, but I had friends who were getting married and starting their own families and building their own homes. How was it that I was reverting back to a child-like state while my friends were turning into full-blown adults?

Meeting My Family All Over Again
Once I got beyond my initial insecurity I realized that moving home was, in fact, a gift. So often young adults move out and rush to start their own lives. In many cases, close family connections take a backseat to building their own lives. Me on the other hand? I had the opportunity to get to know my family all over again.

During my time at home, my aunt, uncle and brother have all come out for extended stays. While I lived on my own, I would go on short trips to visit them or to dinner when they were in town, but these experiences were always rushed. It seemed like just at the moment we were settling in, it was time for us to get on a plane and go back to our own lives.

After living on my own the last seven years, moving in with my mom and grandmother was like moving in with two new roommates. I learned about their new habits, lifestyle, likes and dislikes – things that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. People change, and after being away for so long, I had missed so many of those changes. Now I have been given the opportunity to learn about them all over again.

It’s Not All Sunshine & Rainbows
Like with any roommate, there will be conflicts. Combine this inevitability with some fun grandmother-mother-daughter dynamics, and sometimes, things get crazy. During my time at home, my mother and I especially have had to work hard to build a new type of relationship. One founded on respect for each other as mother and daughter as well as two adults.

There’s also another fun component: my love life. No matter what anyone says, no parent is totally apathetic regarding their children bringing someone home. I recently had to have that incredibly awkward conversation with someone who had only known me since I’ve lived at home. Saying, ‘well I’ll have to check with my mom,’ before having someone over isn’t ideal, but it’s a small price to pay for the new relationships I’ve forged with my family while being at home.

My Conclusion
If you have the chance to move home for a while in your twenties, do it. November will mark one year that I’ve lived at home, and I cherish every moment of it. You learn so much more about your family once you’ve experienced life on your own than you ever would when you’re a child or a teenager.

It’s highly unlikely you’ll have that opportunity later in life. Plus, there’s the added benefit of delicious food around the house all the time, which doesn’t hurt.

Have you or someone you know lived at home? What was the experience like?

7 Steps To A Classy Resignation

Resigning from a job is like going through a breakup. Just like with romantic parting-of-ways, professional transitions can get messy and emotional. Most people don’t like change–especially rejection.

That’s why it’s important to be a class-act–no matter how hard it may be–when giving your resignation. Otherwise, it could end up being a public image nightmare for both you and your soon-to-be ex-company.

Based on my experiences, I’ve put together a seven-step guide to a classy resignation:

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Photo credit www.pexels.com.

  • Understand Your ‘Why’. Going into a breakup with an unclear understanding of your ‘Why’ will make it easy for your boss to poke holes in your reasoning. I advise writing these down and practicing what you want to say beforehand so you can get your message across clearly and concisely.
  • Decide on the ‘How’. Depending on the level of formality within your company, it might make sense to write a letter of resignation first and then speak to your boss. At some companies, it might be best to schedule a time to meet with your boss to give he or she the news in person. Gauge your situation and decide what’s best for you.
  • Have the Talk. Whether you send a letter beforehand or not, when you finally speak with your boss, it’s important to use words and phrases including, “I am” or “I’ve decided.” Phrases such as, “I’m thinking” or “I feel like,” leave your decision open for interpretation. Approach the conversation confidently so your boss doesn’t try to persuade you otherwise. If your employer starts to become upset, criticize or blame you for the resignation, stay calm and realize it’s likely due to a resistance to change or frustration. Remember your ‘Why’ and stick to your guns.
  • Discuss Next Steps. Realize that by resigning, the company will now have to start the process of finding someone to replace you. Assuming there isn’t a more serious matter requiring you to leave immediately, ask your employer how much time they need to get things in order. Some employers want two full weeks; some don’t want employees who have resigned to stay longer than a day or two after giving notice. Be ready for either possibility and to help out if a full two weeks are requested.
  • Act Professional. Whether your employer asks you to leave after only two days or to stay a full two weeks, you need to be respectful of them, the company and your co-workers. Don’t bad mouth the company to your coworkers, even if you feel the urge to do so. By shining a light on the employer’s bad practices, you put your coworkers in an awkward situation that isn’t good for anyone. Inevitably, anything you say will get back to your boss, making you look bad in the process.
  • Exit Gracefully. When the last day comes, there will be some emotions that come to the surface. Even if your co-workers are your best of friends or if they’re just acquaintances, showing excitement at not being a part of the company any longer (or even too much excitement for you new opportunity) would come off as ungrateful. No matter what, keep your head high, your opinions to yourself, and thank your team and boss for the time you had with them. Even if it wasn’t the best of experiences, you inevitably learned something, even if it was only how to leave a company gracefully.
  • Be Respectful. A classy resignation doesn’t end on your last day at the company. Assuming you don’t move to another country and change industries, future bosses will likely have shared connections with your previous company. Due to this, bad-mouthing them–even months later–can be detrimental to your reputation. Be prepared with your explanation about why you left the company, because inevitably, people will ask. A friend of mine, Raoul Encinas, gave me some great advice on how to approach this situation that stuck with me. Consider the following two situations:

Situation 1: Someone crashed into your car and totaled it. A friend asks you what you’re doing tomorrow, and you respond, “Dealing with insurance because my car got totaled!” They’ll inevitably respond with something sympathetic like, “That’s terrible!”

Situation 2: Someone crashed into your car and totaled it. A friend asks you what you’re doing tomorrow, and you respond, “Going to get a brand new car!” There’s a good chance they’ll respond with something positive like, “Oh wow, so cool!”

Breakups are never easy, but if you can approach the situation with class, respect and honesty, you can get out the other side maintaining positive relationships with your ex-company as you move onto new opportunities.

Have you ever encountered a difficult professional breakup situation?

25 Quarter Century Life Lessons

While I wouldn’t say that I’ve fallen victim to a quarter-life crisis just yet, celebrating my 25th birthday does prompt a bit of self-reflection. In honor of that, and also to satisfy my personal goal of getting back into blogging, here are 25 lessons that I’ve learned in my first quarter century:

Photo by www.pexel.com.

Photo credit www.pexels.com.

  1. Love your family. At the end of the day, they’ll always be there for you.
  2. Listen to your gut. It really does know best.
  3. Meet people, as many as you can. You never know who you’ll meet or connect with and where those relationships might lead you.
  4. Get your beauty (and sanity) rest. People need between 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
  5. Find a creative outlet. This could be writing, working on a motorcycle, cooking or any other way to express your creativity.
  6. Volunteer. This is a great way to give back while exploring new passions.
  7. Travel; with friends, with family and alone. There’s so much to learn about yourself and human nature by traveling the world.
  8. Be present. It’s important not to look too far in the future or dwell too much in the past, or you’ll end up missing all of the amazing things right in front of you.
  9. Make an investment in your long-term health. Try out different fitness classes and activities to see what you enjoy and then make a commitment.
  10. Get out of your comfort zone. There’s growth to be had and things to be learned by doing things differently than the way they’ve always been done.
  11. Discover your passion. It’s easier said than done, but don’t settle for what presents itself. Continue to search and try new things.
  12. Never stop learning. There is literally no end to new information and new opportunities available to you.
  13. Stand up for what you believe in. If you let people push you around or tell you what you should believe in, you might eventually lose yourself entirely.
  14. Love completely. Relationships are not worth being in if you don’t give yourself entirely. Embrace people who enter your life warmly, but know when to let them go.
  15. Don’t live through the lens of social media. You’ll end up missing all the amazing people and experiences happening around you.
  16. Forgive yourself. Everyone, and I mean everyone, screws up. Some may be public, some may never surface, but in the end we all have to move on.
  17. Tell the truth. Lies compound on lies and eventually, they come back around.
  18. Say please and thank you. These small gestures have a huge impact when it comes to showing others your appreciation.
  19. Enjoy the small things, whatever those small things are. Be it chocolate, marathon Netflix sessions or painting your nails, you deserve it.
  20. Take mental breaks. Meditation isn’t the easiest activity to embrace, but it’s important to find time to take mental breaks and center yourself.
  21. Make time for friends. It’s easy to lose touch over the years, but if they’re really important to you, make the time to connect.
  22. Understand your work-life balance. Everyone has a different threshold of their work-life balance or “blend.” Figure out what yours is and stick to it.
  23. Understand quality over quantity. This approach can be applied to so many facets of life, and it’s important to understand the difference.
  24. Find happiness in small things. There really is something to be happy and thankful for every day
  25. Love yourself. You are pretty awesome after all.

Here’s to another 25 wonderful years and many more lessons to learn. What lessons did you learn (or are you learning) during your first quarter century?

Baked Oats Variations & Sauce

For those who know me, they know that during the summer months I ate Overnight Oats like it was a religion. I was absolutely obsessed.

Now that it’s gotten colder though, cold oats in the morning just don’t do the trick. That’s why I decided to try out my Triple-Chocolate Baked Oats last week. Since then, I’ve gotten creative with how to change up this easy and delicious recipe. Here are a couple of my latest recipes!

Cinnamon Apple Baked Oats

Baked Oats Base Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons all natural sugar & stevia blend
  • 1/4 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 medium banana mashed
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt

Instructions: Turn your oven on to 375 degrees. While that heats up, spray a single-serving ramekin with coconut oil so your baked oats won’t stick. Then, mix all dry ingredients in the ramekin. Mix in wet ingredients once combined. After mixture is combined, add in creative variation (suggestions listed below). Make sure all additives are covered so the baking doesn’t dry them out.

Once the oven is heated up, cover the oats with tinfoil and put the oats in for 20 minutes. Uncover the oats and cook for another 5 minutes. Once it’s somewhat golden/crispy on top, take it out and let it cool for a minute. Then enjoy either straight from the ramekin or transfer to another plate.

Here are the two variations that I’ve experimented with this week (both of which were delicious):

  • Blueberry & Coconut
    • 1/4 cup blueberries
    • Add in a tablespoon of coconut
    • A small amount of coconut to put on top the oats
    • Dash of cinnamon to top the oats
  • Cinnamon Apple & Raisin
    • Chop up 1/4 cup worth apple of choice
    • Add in a tablespoon of raisins
    • A couple small slices of apple to top the oats
    • Dash of cinnamon to top the oats

Vanilla Cinnamon Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ISO100 vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  • Cinnamon to taste

Instructions: Mix together the ingredients in a small bowl. Add additional protein powder if you’d like a thicker consistency. Once the oats have been placed upside down on a plate, slowly pour the sauce on the oats. Top the oats with the necessary additives based on the recipe you’re following.

Then sit back and enjoy! What creative combinations have you come up with?

Vanilla Protein Fluff Crepes

This might be one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s the official start of the holiday season, which means spending time with family and lots of delicious food!

This year for Thanksgiving, I’m in Maine visiting my dad. So, of course, we had to whip up is crepes for breakfast. Yum, right?

Unfortunately, it seems like everyone has some sort of dietary restriction. Between the five of us, we had to find a way to make our crepes Gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free. Quite the task, right?

Well, we got a little creative and made some of the most delicious crepes I’ve ever had. On top of that, the crepes were just under 90 calories a piece!

Crepe Ingredients:Crepe with Almonds, Protein Fluff, Coconut and White Chocolate

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup banana pureed (about 1 large banana)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions: Puree 1/2 cup banana and mix in flour. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and mix until smooth. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and scoop ~1/4 cup batter for each crepe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so the batter coats the surface evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes until golden brown and then flip until golden brown. Serve immediately. Makes about 7 crepes.

Then, I decided if we were going to have crepes, I absolutely had to try making protein fluff. I always see delicious pictures of it on Instagram, so it was time to experiment.

Vanilla Protein Fluff Ingredients: 

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Instructions: Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. After that, place in a large bowl and whip with an electric or hand mixer until the fluff is light and sort of gooey. Enjoy immediately.

The protein fluff was a complete success, and so delicious! I added the fluff, almonds, white chocolate pieces and shredded coconut to my crepes. Rolled them up and enjoyed these delicious treats for a healthy (and sweet) post-workout breakfast!