My poor dog got attacked by a deer

“I didn’t even know a deer could attack a dog!”

It has been a pretty weird 48 hours, and even though it’s 4:30 in the morning, I figure I better get this post out now or I might not get to it in the rest of the day.

On Saturday late afternoon, just when Russ and I returned from him picking me up from the airport (with our dogs, who were beside themselves with joy to see me), Roxy ran out of the car after something. We called for her, but she didn’t come right away, so I started getting worried.

When I heard her yelping, we literally dropped everything and ran after her, finding her staggering out of a thicket of trees behind our house with a horrible gash on her back.

It was one of my worst nightmares in the world. Roxy is my precious darling.

I had heard that deer could attack dogs, but it seemed very unlikely that our dogs would even encounter a deer up close… but it’s rutting season, and according to this lifehacker article, that’s a dangerous time for deer encounters.

We immediately took Roxy to the vet, who was kind enough to see us just an hour before closing on Saturday. We live in a rural area, so there are really no emergency animal services up here… we’d have to drive down to Roseville to see anyone after hours.

They immediately put her on the table and administered anesthesia, and gave her a bunch of x-rays to see what kind of damage was done. Thankfully, the wounds were mostly superficial. No broken bones, which is especially good, since the hit was directly on her spine.

The vet gave her a whole lot of stitches — about 7″ worth of stitches in all — and kept her for the night. We picked her up yesterday morning, and have been tenderly taking care of her wounds, de-crusting her drains, and wiping off her seepage.

Let me tell you… to a person whose dog is everything, waking up in a small pool of dog blood is awful.

Which is why I’m awake. Also, jet lag. But I couldn’t sleep with Roxy laying there seeping next to me (no, that’s not a typo). I kept worrying that she’d wake up and pull on her stitches (we took the cone off for her to sleep), so I wanted to keep a watchful eye.

Deer are no joke.

Today, I’m supposed to drive to San Jose for the Quickbooks Connect conference, but truth be told, I’m not sure I want to go. My little doggie is so sad and hurt. 🙁

“I feel so out of my depth”

“I’m not very good at this. I feel so out of my depth.” Me, yesterday afternoon, struggling to sketch out our business plans in a slide.

“I think this is where you really shine, D!” Teresa, reassuring me (for about the hundredth time) that I am actually quite good at this weird unknown jungle.

I’m in the process of putting together an investor deck for Outlaw Soaps, our happy little soap company (which is taking over the world, by the way), and this is all new to me on so many levels. From the actual budgeting process itself, to the articulation of our strategy, to the sexy graphics required for such presentations, I’m struggling to get the deck together in a compelling way.

Russ and I started Outlaw Soaps in 2013, and since its inception, we have stayed fairly faithful to the business plan I sketched out in my little silver notebook. The products have changed, and we shifted our business strategy a little to capitalize on shifting markets and our improved understanding of the industry, but the concept and plan was a good one.

According to that plan, 2017 was when we wrapped up our product development (it leaked a little into early 2018), 2018 was the year we worked out all the kinks in our product line and  created a business foundation to grow on… and 2019 is when we get an investor.

When we started the business, I didn’t know anything about corporate structures or investors.

Before Outlaw, I had been a cubicle worker at the Oprah Winfrey Network, putting together product specifications for the developer team to execute on the website. Aside from glimpses into project budgets and ad insertions, the business side of the Oprahverse was invisible to me. I collected a bi-weekly paycheck. For my own entertainment, I’d periodically calculate the “return on investment” (ROI) of my employment to Oprah, adding up the ad projects I worked on and measuring that against my paycheck. As long as I cost 1/5 as much as I was making, I was satisfied.

But that was for “fun.” It was very different from submitting a plan for new hires and additional marketing expenses. All my projects were responses to advertiser or editorial team requests, translating vague hand-waving into hard plans… and now I’m both the vague hand-waver and the plan generator, plus the accounting department, the marketing department, and a lot of other random stuff.

A few months ago, in preparation for getting an investor (who would want to be on a board), I assembled a board of directors – trusted advisors I had worked with on other projects or at other jobs.

I had no idea how to assemble a board, but I knew that just like we defined our customers as the kind of people we’d want to go camping with, our board would be people we could be ourselves around, vulnerability and nonprofessionalism included.

I wanted to get everyone together before we brought on an investor, so we could establish a rapport among ourselves and come up with an articulate business strategy. I wanted the investor to come to an existing foundation so we didn’t have to scramble around getting ourselves introduced, etc. It seemed like the wise thing to do.

And I did assemble the right team, that’s for sure.

As chaotic as it is inside my head, our board has been so great about introductions, laying the foundation for good board meetings, and bringing the kind of leadership our business needs.

On Monday, I’m going to San Jose for my third annual trip to the Quickbooks Connect Conference, which I’ve found to be very enlightening. This year, I’m going with an ear toward connecting with investors.

In a surprise serendipitous moment, I found that a startup incubator in San Francisco will be having a mixer on Wednesday morning. I bought a ticket just to see if some wisdom might rub off on me in the company of these slick, smart Silicon Valley types.

With this business, we’ve stayed focused on being our authentic selves and bringing our earnestness to everything. We’re hard workers. We’re scrappy as hell. We made mistakes early and with our own money so that when we finally went to ask other people for money, we could do it with the confidence that they’re making a good investment.

I hope we’ll find someone who can appreciate our authenticity, even if my slides are a little rugged looking.

Our Beliefs

An excerpt from my upcoming book: YOU-NICORN: 30 days to find your inner unicorn and live the life you love

Beliefs hang out in front of our eyes like blinders or sunglasses or 3-D glasses or those rainbow-prism glasses, and literally everything is affected by them.

A friend of mine had eye surgery about 10 years ago. You know, a pretty basic procedure at this point. But his went badly, and his cornea detached. One minute, he’d be looking at something right in front of him, and the next minute it was floating away (as his cornea floated around his eyeball—awesome.).

Our belief systems are just like this. We can lose perspective, and things that felt like they were well in our hands suddenly drift off, while other things we didn’t expect start floating into our lives. Coincidences, both positive and negative, jump in from all angles like jazz-hands wielding psychopaths. SURPRISE! JAZZ HANDS! FLAT TIRE!

Some people claim that this is the last ditch effort of your beliefs—somehow now sentient—trying to hold on to your consciousness and stay in your life. And it might feel like that.

But I think it’s much more benign, mundane, and rational.

Your perspective is changing. The things you see are changing, and the things that matter are changing. You might have gotten a flat tire before, called AAA, and forgotten about it in a few days. But now, because of everything (your entire perspective), your flat tire feels like an insurmountable obstacle.

“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Right now is the critical point: There are only two places to go from here: forward, or backward. And you don’t want to go backward.

Making a mess of asking

“You might as well just ask” / “Just go for it?” / “What’s the worst they could say? ‘No’? That’s not so bad!”

Worm's personal purposeI have read and given this advice a hundred times. It’s good advice. Mostly.

We don’t even think to ask for what we want, because a lot of times, we feel like if we ask, we’ll get turned down. There’s something else we need to do first: There’s some credential we need to get; we need to shoot some photos first; we have to put together the pitch or the catalog first.

There’s a window of opportunity and we aren’t prepared to go through it just yet.

So the advice is to just go through it anyways — barge in there with who you are, let them tell you “no,” and maybe let them tell you “yes.”

Is this advice any good? Should you prepare? Or should you just wing it?

When we first started the business, I would reach out to press and retail shops hoping to get coverage or make sales. I look back on these awkward messages now and I cringe: Did I really send those crappy photos? Did I really spend so much time talking about the our business, and so little time talking about the products? Couldn’t I have spent a little more time crafting our offering so we didn’t seem like such amateurs?

These bridges are probably behind me. I can’t reach out to them again even though our pitch is much more refined and optimal.

I went for it anyways, and because of that, I have a whole bunch of cringe-worthy pitches to companies who were, frankly, out of our league at that time in our business.

Having done that – the thing most of us are not willing to do – I lived, and I’m here to share the results with you.

90% of those pitches went unanswered.
Of the 10% who got back to us, probably 8% said something nice like “No, thanks. We’re focusing on [xyz other thing] right now.”
Of the 2% who didn’t politely decline, we’ve had mixed results:

  1. One was our first wholesale account, Marion & Rose’s Workshop, in Oakland, California
  2. One was Cowboys & Indians Magazine, who featured us and opened a whole new channel for us (the cowboy crowd)
  3. One was UNFI, the largest natural food distributor in the US, who started carrying us

Not one said “Get your fucking act together, you amateurs!”

That’s our worst fear, right? Well, that or the silent dismissal of people who think we aren’t even worth responding to… which arguably, that 90% could be interpreted as (it sure feels that way) — though it’s important to remember that it actually isn’t that way, we just imagine it is.

And of those 90% of people who didn’t respond, we are free to follow up again once we’ve got ourselves differently positioned. In fact, that different positioning gives us a great excuse to follow up: “Howdy! I thought I’d reach out since we have this new product line / set of photos / because I saw you recently posted about [subject that is related] and found your post very insightful.” Be nice, but be persistent.

I can tell you from experience, it is non-fatal to act before you’re ready, and you might even get some great contacts and results out of it!

How to survive panic attacks

Fear is a ridiculously insidious thing.

“But it’s all in your head,” as the saying goes … well, that may be true, but inside our heads is the absolute worst place for it, because we can’t escape!

It’s like that moment in the movie when you realize the killer is inside the house.

Grant Cardone (and maybe others, but he’s the one who I first heard it from) says FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real. Basically, your mind creates scenarios that feel like you’re about to be eaten by a tiger, but in actuality, there’s only the slimmest of possibilities that you’ll really be eaten by a tiger (or face any other mortal danger).

This time of year – and I’m not exaggerating here – I feel like I am constantly having a heart attack. Like, a real, honest-to-God heart attack.

The first few times it happened, I wasn’t sure what was going on, and I was pretty sure I was actually dying. I wrote a couple of my entrepreneur friends on the third day asking, “Um, is this normal? because… it can’t be normal.” But now I know it’s just end-of-November,-beginning-of-December panic attacks.

And despite feeling like I’m going to die, I have somehow failed to die for the past four years.

Panic attacks are not fatal.

It’s OK to be uncomfortable. It’s OK to have panic attacks. It’s OK to be scared.

It’s OK to feel paralyzed…

… as long as you remember that you are not literally paralyzed. You can still move. You can still walk. You can still write. You can still make calls.

“But I’ll be so much better at it when I don’t feel like I’m dying.”

Yes, that’s probably true. You may absolutely suck at it because you’re freaking the fuck out. But the only way that you’ll get better at it while you feel like you’re dying is by actually doing the thing while you feel like you’re dying.

But you’re not dying. You’re living.

Because life is sometimes scary. And to people like me (us?), our body sometimes has inappropriate physiological responses to fear… specifically, panic attacks.

But we have to remember that this truly is just an inappropriate physiological response. It’s not real. The only thing that’s real is the effect of not doing the thing (which is likely something like not getting the sale, not making the product, not writing the blog post, or whatever).

And that’s something to be afraid of.

I’m not telling you that panic attacks or depression or anxiety doesn’t exist — I’m absolutely never going to tell you that, since I know how real they are — but I am telling you that sometimes you have to force yourself anyways, because retreating from that scary thing has more real-world bad effects than the False Events Appearing Real.

Have you successfully overcome FEAR? Share how you did it, so that we can all get better at it!