Truth be told, sometimes I feel unworthy. I feel guilty. I feel, dare I say it, an impostor.
Recently, I was named to the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 40 under 40class of 2019.
This is a huge accomplishment and an honor that I don’t take for granted. I’m beyond humbled to be recognized with such amazing people.
However, at the same time with this recognition comes the feeling of what is known as “impostor syndrome”.
Do I really belong on this list?
Who am I?
What have I done that’s so special?
Well, the truth is that these thoughts are 100% normal. It’s apart of the human experience to question ourselves.
We do this all the time. No matter what level of success one may have achieved, I’m convinced that these thoughts are something that are just inherent to our existence.
You may know by now that my full time job is with SwagWorx, a subsidiary of my family’s office supply business Value Business Products.
Throughout my career, people have pointed to me as someone who is “lucky”. Whether it be being born into a family with a thriving business or for whatever other reason.
Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that yes I could have joined the family business and just rode their coattails while putting in minimal effort to enhance the business.
But, I didn’t go that route.
I do have a chip on my shoulder for all the times that people have pointed to my family’s business as the reason for my success.
Yes, they laid the foundation. However, I have put in the work to get where I am today.
Back in 2015 I desperately tried to get an article written up in the local business publication about Value Business Products’ 35th Anniversary. What’s most impressive about this is that ValueBP (as it’s known) is the only remaining locally owned and operated office supply company in Silicon Valley. Back in the early 90’s, Staples / OfficeMax / Office Depot were just entering the office supply scene. Back then there had to be at least 30 or more locally owned office supply stores in Silicon Valley. Throughout the years, the local shops didn’t last due to the Big Box stores gobbling them up.
In 2015, I wrote a letter on a typewriter about how my Dad started our company selling and repairing typewriters, which then grew to a retail office supply store. Then as we entered the age of the internet (and online shopping) my parent’s business savvy lead them to the decision of transitioning away from a brick and mortar store in a high priced location to moving towards a B2B online store front. The letter was deeper than that and of course I mentioned how now I’m carrying the torch blah blah blah.
No response. I thought it was a worthwhile story, maybe not though?
WhatUp! Silicon Valley BORN in 2017
The chip on my shoulder deepened over the next couple years as I noticed people in Silicon Valley didn’t really care about a guy that sells Swag. I launched my own business within Value Business Products called ValueBP Marketing Group to separate the products/services I offered from the office supply company.
Something needed to change. My sales were going through the roof which was great, that’s what we all want in business. But, I was craving recognition. In an area that is known for tech start-ups, it can feel like a lonely island to be working for yourself with a small team that has literally nothing to do with the tech scene. I felt like an outsider. Despite this even being my hometurf having been raised in Silicon Valley.
That’s when the idea of WhatUp! Silicon Valley was born.
I wanted to differentiate myself the way my first business CHICO FEETpositioned itself in the business community.
My initial vision for WhatUp was (in all honesty) to get myself noticed. To be something other than the kid that sold office supplies for his parents dinosaur company and started selling some branded merch (Swag) through his own division of their company.
To do something of my own. To make something of my own. To be noticed for what I am able to achieve. To be proud and share something more with the community.
I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Having just wrapped up my 3rd year as Chair of the Silicon Valley Young Professionals and graduating from Leadership Morgan Hill AND Leadership Santa Clara, in addition to serving on two Boards I knew I had the network to do something greater than just sell Swag.
That’s when I enlisted the help of my buddy Palvinder (Pal) from Playground and my homie Sergio Oliveri. I knew that with Pal’s experience in video production and Sergio’s electrifying and charming personality; the 3 of us could make something great.
I was the business guy, Serg was the charmer, and Pal was our A/V guy behind-the-scenes. What a trio…
Fast forward 2 and a half years later and I’m now on the 40 under 40 List, Sergio has been promoted in his day job largely due to his company recognizing him as an influencer and content creator, and Pal continues to crush it with his video production company!
Things are going great and just like how I had hoped. Well, the imposter syndrome for me at least never faded…
Why Do I Feel Guilty?
My two favorite books are “Think & Grow Rich” and “The 4-Hour Work Week”.
I’ve used both of these books as my “bibles” and have increased my sales year over year while working less each year.
I’ve been applying the principles and doing the work yet I feel guilty?
The truth is (and very few people know this), I typically “work” less than 4 hours a day.
While, I may not be at the 4-Hour Work WEEK level yet, I’m still working much less than most.
Maybe I feel guilty because the memories and feelings of people pointing to me as an entitled millennial that was born into a good family business are coming back?
Or maybe I feel guilty because I’m exercising, writing blogs or doing anything other than working in my Swag business during business hours while I know others might just be staring at the clock waiting to go home?
Everyone always thinks I work so much. It’s surprising how many times I hear people ask me how I’m able to do so much. I shouldn’t sell myself short, I do a lot…
- Manage my business
- Sales for my business
- Blog almost weekly
- Host 3 podcasts with a 4th on the way
- Produce and Co-Host the EatUp Silicon Valley YouTube series
- Wrote 3 books in a year
- Plan an annual event at eBay’s HQ with over 300 attendees called PitchTank
Okay, so I do a lot more than I give myself credit for. But, I’m efficient with my time.
I definitely have those grind it out days and times. I burn the midnight oil when inspiration hits.
But truth be told, I really think that for the Swag business specifically I work less than 4 hours a day. I have so much free time!
See, the truth is all the content I create I don’t consider as work. First, because I don’t get paid for any of the podcasts, video’s, blogs … none of it!
Secondly, I enjoy it! I do consider this free time.
Some days, some weeks, and even some months are hard. I lose focus and spend most of my time on creating content rather than “working”. In this case, I mean “working” as in sales. For the most part, I have new opportunities coming in all the time as a result of the hustle I’ve put into creating my business (and brand) over the past 10 years or so. However, every now and then the inquiries stop and before I notice it my sales suffer.
This is when the guilt really sets in…
What timing… The same month that I was named to the SV Business Journal’s 40 under 40 List just so happens to coincide with a down month.
I usually can sell about $25,000 worth of Swag in a week (give or take). Well, this month in question — not only did I fail to sell anything during the 4th week of the month but I only sold $40,000 for the entire month!
I’ll have to be limiting some of my Virtual Assistants time and expenses in general to say the least. But, a bigger fear sets in…
The fear of being an imposter. The fear of impending doom. The realization that something needs to change. Have I gotten complacent? Have I come to just expect sales to come in?
Have I been neglecting my business?
See, the truth is SwagWorx (my business) is the sole reason why I’m able to create so much content. As long as sales come in, I can focus on creating content. But, as soon as I need to start spending time on cold emails, visiting prospects in person to win them over etc. that is when the content creation slows down.
I’ve been able to build my business based off of repeat clients. I know the SwagWorx VA (virtual assistant) team does amazing work because the clients keep coming back. It’s a bit strange, but sometimes I feel like I’m letting my clients down after letting my VA’s take over the job.
But, then I tell myself that’s the same way big companies do it. Big companies have a salesperson that convinces the buyer to work with them then the customer service team takes care of the client from there. My role is no different. It’s these mind games. I’m telling you… our minds constantly forces us to question ourselves.
Controlling the Mind.
We can’t really control our minds. We can quiet the mind though. I prefer meditation. Well, not always. I actually really like swimming and running (and yoga). Physical activity is the best way that works for me to quiet my mind.
It’s also a source of inspiration.
Try out different things, eventually you will find something that will help you to quiet your mind.
You may have known this was coming 🙂
If your company purchases Swag, would you consider working with our company (SwagWorx)?
If you look forward to reading these blogs and would like to support this journey in general, then SwagWorx needs to continue to thrive to fund this project!
Eventually, I hope I can get to a point where I can monetize my efforts in content creation. For now, I create content because I LOVE doing it! I’m fearful of turning my blogs & podcasts into a profit center as I don’t want my “why” to align with money. So, it’s for that reason that I’m asking you consider working with SwagWorx to help fund Soul Seekr!
Thank you again for taking the time to read this personal journal and I hope there’s at least one nugget you can take from here to apply to your own life!
We’re all going through this together. We are one; it’s time we start acting like it!
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