Tory Johnson and I would have much in common.
Yeah, that Tory Johnson, the one pictured with me here. That Tory Johnson, she of the bestselling author fame (more on that at the end of this post) and of the Good Morning America contributor, and founder and CEO of Women for Hire, and Spark and Hustle and more.
But as I listened to her story yesterday here in Pittsburgh during her last stop on her national, 20-city Spark and Hustle tour, I quickly realized we had much more in common than I thought - right down to being mothers of twins.
It has been an ... interesting summer, one that I've spent reflecting, questioning, writing - and yes, job-hunting as a result of The Layoff back in June. That layoff made the answering of the "so, what do you do?" questions yesterday at Spark and Hustle a bit awkward, but I realized that a good many of us were in similar positions as mine.
Even someone as successful and as accomplished as Tory Johnson.
"Sometimes you don't voluntarily give up the paycheck," Tory said in her opening remarks, referencing being fired 20 years ago as a publicist from NBC News. "Sometimes the paycheck gives up you."
Even after subsequently getting another job, there was always a sense of "a nagging panic" which was "the pain of a pink slip." The thing that Tory couldn't shake was that she would always be working for someone who had the power to say that she wasn't needed or wasn't good enough.
She knew that she had to make a change, which led to her founding her company Women for Hire and then Spark and Hustle.
Yesterday, in her fast-paced, no-nonsense style, Tory dispelled many of the common myths about starting a business:
you don't need to have an MBA (Tory didn't finish college);
you don't need to have a fat Rolodex (Tory didn't know many people)
you don't need to be tech-savvy and have a fancy office (she had an AOL dial-up account and baby twins crawling afoot)
you don't need a lot of money ("we've all seen people with a lot of money not be a success.").
What you do need is a spark, an ember of an idea, something that awakes your passion - and the hustle.
It is "all about the hustle - the decisions you make each day," Tory said.
That led into Dr. Vonda Wright as the perfect first speaker. In a separate post, I'll talk about her and the other speakers (which included one of Pittsburgh's most inspiring and well-regarded business leaders, Rebecca Harris of Chatham University's Center for Women's Entrepreneurship; the awesome Rachel Blaufeld from Back'nGrooveMom who was instrumental in bringing Spark and Hustle to Pittsburgh, and Stacy and Dawn, two absolutely hilarious ladies who made accounting systems seem downright fun). Intermingled between the speakers were remarks by Tory - it was a jam-packed day - and I'll cover it all in my next few Spark and Hustle posts. But one more thing!
You will want to read this if you are a small business owner or considering becoming one. Simply leave a comment on this post to be eligible to win an autographed copy of Tory Johnson's latest book, SPARK AND HUSTLE: LAUNCH AND GROW YOUR SMALL BUSINESS NOW.
More to come.