This post is longer than I would like, but I think the message is necessary.
If you’ve been following me online for any significant amount of time, you know I am always saying thank you or reintroducing myself to new readers. I do this because of my firm belief in the phrase, “people don’t have to support you.”
Let me tell you a story.
My husband was driving, and I was looking out the window of the passenger’s seat as we passed by the brick houses, mansions, and condos of downtown Atlanta. “This probably where most of the celebrities live,” I joked. We talked about how movies never show the city’s complete image by filming movies in less wealthy areas. Since we are both from Chicago, we talked about Chicago films where we didn’t recognize the city because it was on the side of town we have never lived.
As we drove, we passed by a fancy-looking hotel where a man stood. He leaned against his suitcase, a white sign on its top with black ink that read: “I lost everything.”
My smile faded, and my heart felt heavy as I realized he was homeless. He didn’t look like those fakes that try to scam people out of their money, either. Something about his vibe told me he was not joking. He had really lost everything.
The US economy was already bad, but since the COVID-19 Pandemic, things have gotten worse. People are out of jobs, out of money, out of homes, and out of hope. Any little they scrape together is reserved for only the most essential items. If someone spends money buying books or t-shirts, or anything that is not greatly essential (okay well, books are essential to me but I mean, like food), it means so much more to them, and they deserve a thank you.
Because they didn’t have to do it and sometimes, they couldn’t do it, but they invested in you.
Entrepreneurship has been on the rise a lot lately, and as an entrepreneur, I think that’s a good thing. I have always stood for the underdog and will still rally around the concept of Independence. There is a humility about small, independent businesses that I love. Plus, every large company started as a small business. And since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the countless black deaths, it has encouraged more people to support black-owned businesses and independent businesses.
This awakening means that while many people are struggling, many people are also thriving even amid this Pandemic. However, I am disappointed to see a lot of bullying among entrepreneurs, both large and small. Some people are shaming people with 9-5s when truth be told, most entrepreneurs in this economy have 9-5s, and their business is the real side hustle. That or their spouses have 9-5s. There’s nothing wrong with this, but some people think there is. People also throw shame when they try to bully people into supporting them.
Bully others into supporting them?
It means making people feel small and insignificant for not buying your services or product. It means threatening to cut people off because they didn’t support your business. It means neglecting to consider all the other things people have going on in their lives right now and that maybe they don’t have the extra money to spend or perhaps don’t have the time.
Ignore social media posts for a second and think about what someone may go through behind the scenes.
Maybe they cried their eyes out this morning.
Maybe they prayed on their knees, drowned in tears.
Maybe they were going to lose their home or apartment or children.
Maybe they lost their job, career.
Maybe a family member died.
Maybe people have other things on their mind that take precedence over buying your bar of soap.
And if you think someone’s being fake for wearing a smile through their storm, then you need not look passed the smile of Chadwick Boseman, who battled cancer while filming movies and never complained.
I watched my sister-in-law battle and eventually perished from cancer. My dad, too, so I know what Chadwick did was not easy from personal experience. And while everyone is praising his silence now, that is not how we treat the “regular everyday people,” we know in actual life who battle in private. We call them phony for not opening up as we think they should. Sometimes people don’t talk, not because they are being fake or secretive, but because it’s just none of your business. Let’s allow people to give their testimony in their own time.
My point in all of this is that no one is obligated to spend money with a business only because it exists. Anything that anyone chooses to give, including time and information, is a gift. I always say “thank you” because people don’t have to support me.
People support businesses that offer something they need, whose message or value system aligns with their own, helps them solve a problem and companies they trust. Someone might enjoy eating bread, and you may launch a bread business, but that bread lover is still not obligated to support you. Maybe over time, once you’ve gained their trust and they’ve sampled your product, they may try it and when they do, say thank you.
Because they didn’t have to do it, so show some gratitude.
To better conclude this point, I will again turn to Tyler Perry as an example.
For the record, this isn’t about Perry’s personal life. I will not comment on him dressing up as a woman, Madea, or his elite status because its none of my business. I am commenting on some basic business practices I see from him as an outsider looking in that many newer entrepreneurs can learn from. Everything else is for an entirely different conversation.
From a business perspective, you see the same stories and the same actors in Tyler Perry’s films because Perry has a good understanding of his targeted audience. He knows the persona of the people who like his stuff, and he focuses on giving them what they want. Many beginner entrepreneurs can learn from this. Instead of guilt-tripping people into supporting your business and trying to sell to everyone, find your targeted audience or that specific group of people you want to reach based on shared interests and market and direct your attention to those groups.
This means that if only five people like your post, that’s a good thing because chances are those five people are genuinely interested in what you offer. Listen, I’m a damn good writer. I know this to be true. But I also know it to be true that everyone doesn’t want to read what I write, and that’s cool because I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. I work to serve my audience no matter how small, and I appreciate all the support and time my people invest in my writing.
My Guest Blog Post on Enjoying the Journey. I didn’t know when I wrote this that it would come at such a perfect time for me. I did not plan to be at this place mentally around the time of this feature. I really feel like sitting back and taking in the wisdom from others right now. I really feel like being still. Needless to say, this is on time for me personally and I hope that it is just as helpful to all of you as well. #EnjoyTheJourney
*Comments disabled here. Meet me on the other side.*
I’d like to thank the world’s most generous Ape for this opportunity to spend this time with you today. I don’t take this kind of stuff for granted. It is an honor. Truly.
A journey is defined as moving from one place to another. Some people do this with such speed that you may feel the wind bouncing off them, others move much slowly and then there are those who pace. According to Wikipedia, pacing strategies in track and field are the varied strategies which runners use to distribute their energy throughout a race. In a championship race, where the goal of the race is to win, the pace is typically slow at the beginning of the race and gradually speeds up. I don’t know about you, but I’m in it to win and for this, I must pace and so should you.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. “ – Melody Beattie
One of my itty bitty’s (a nickname for the children I work with in the community) was upset to discover that their treat was not as exciting as those given to the other children. We had played a guessing game that utilized their spelling and vocabulary skills and they were now being rewarded as a job well done. I on the other hand, was not exactly prepared to end the lesson. For this reason I put the snacks in a box and blindly (without looking), chose each child’s snack. While some received potato chips and juice, others got things like cereal (no milk) and cheese crackers. Needless to say the one who got the cereal did not appreciate her inability to get the potato chips, and the one who received the crackers mentioned he did not eat cheese, and simply gave it back. They were more upset however at my unwillingness to give a different snack or to allow them to trade. The lesson here, as I explained, was Appreciation. Not always agreeing with what is received, but accepting it as a gift because it was given to you, even if you passed it on to someone else. I explained to Tommy (not his real name), that instead of giving the crackers back he could have given it to one of his brothers or sisters who was not present at the time. That led to the inspiration of today’s post.
How often do you appreciate the little things?
You don’t have to share in someone’s reason for being; don’t have to agree with the birds need to sing soulful melodies in the morning in fact, that just may irritate you. May make you abandon your sleep to shoo away the creature destroying your morning bliss. Or maybe the drunkard on the nearest street corner has asked for the last of your change for the last time. Maybe the blogger next door has stirred within you a fiery rage of disagreement, like the smell of dissatisfaction poured out in a bowl of incense, a useless sacrifice from your subscription, not exactly what you expected. But sometimes growing with people is about appreciating the little bit of good you may be able to extract from them for the sake of building up your own goodness.
As mentioned earlier, Tommy may not have seen any good in receiving a snack made up of what he did not eat (cheese), but seeing the good in the fact that someone had given him something, he could have accepted the snack as a form of appreciation even if he gave it to someone else. His acceptance would have then built up something good in himself, and may have then moved me to enough compassion to give him something else.
Learn to appreciate what seems insignificant, and in a humble manner strive to grow with what seems poor.