Kicking off the second week of our Know Your Orbit Grow Your Orbit event series, our third event featured five founders who have all truly embraced what it means to start and run a business. With founding a company comes a lot of unexpected twists, turns, bumps in the road--you name it, these founders have been through it. It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of what it means to be a business owner, but the truth of the matter is, everyone f*cks up. Yes, everyone. Does that always have to be a bad thing, though? Sometimes, mistakes can lead you exactly where you need to go. Other times, they can just be plain messy. How does a founder navigate this inherent nature of f*cking up? Panel moderator Ali Kriegsman sat down with founders and Norby crew members Elyse Fox, Madison Utendahl, Sadie Kurzban, and Adele Tentagco to talk about their own personal f*ck ups and the ways they got on the other side of them.
Ali is a co-founder and COO of Bulletin, an online wholesale marketplace. She is also the author of How To Build A Goddamn Empire.
Elyse is the founder of Sad Girls Club, a nonprofit organization that strives to provide accessible mental health resources to Black women and POC.
Sadie is the founder of 305 Fitness, an inclusive and community-centered fitness studio.
Adele co-founded Garmentory, an online marketplace to discover emerging and contemporary fashion. After leaving Garmentory in 2019, she went on to run her own trade show with Brand Assembly and start her own business, Snack Size, a creative consulting collective that supports brands in development, growth, and maintenance.
Madison is the founder and CCO of Utendahl Creative, a creative agency rooted in storytelling, marketing, branding, and design.
Mistakes can feel like the end of the world at times. The pressure to not f*ck up as a business owner can feel like the weight of the entire world and then some. While this pressure will always be felt, changing the way we look at mistakes has the potential to make all the difference. If we can stop looking at mistakes as downfalls, but rather a stepping stone, f*ck ups can start to carry a lot less weight. Madison Utendahl prefers to look at her mistakes as “stepping stones.”
“There is no such thing as f*cking up. If it was a f*ck up, it was actually a step that has allowed me to be where I am today. At the time, they definitely felt like mistakes, but ultimately I am looking at them as actual stepping stones that I needed to take in order to be in this exact moment on this Zoom with you guys.”
At one point or another, the founders on this panel have thought about throwing in the towel. Sometimes calling it quits seems like the only option. When the going gets tough, how do you decide whether to choose resilience, or to give up? Where is the line? To navigate this challenging question, Elyse Fox likes to lean on others for support when she chooses resilience. She lets the people around her inspire her to keep going.
“I think there is so much importance in asking for help or leaning on other people who have done (what you are doing.)”
On the other hand, knowing when you need to step away is just as important. Choosing to walk away from something can be empowering if it is causing you more anxiety and pain than joy and fulfillment. Elyse Fox and Adele Tentagco commented on this.
“Lead with your gut, ask for support, but if it is overwhelmingly draining to be in a certain position, or if it's taking so much from you that you can’t pour into yourself anymore to pour back into this position or job, maybe it's time to have a conversation about stepping down.”
- Elyse Fox
“I knew I made the right decision leaving Garmentory because the day after I told my co founder and investors that I was quitting, I woke up and thought ‘is this what it feels like to not have anxiety everyday?’ I knew I made the right decision. I was going to the doctor, having stomach issues, and I woke up the next morning after I had left and I felt normal.”
- Adele Tentagco
“Cancel Culture” is a term we are all familiar with these days. In a landscape dominated by social media, it seems like a new company is in danger of being cancelled every day. Some founders are in constant fear of being deemed cancelled by the Internet at one point or another. Moderator Ali Kriegsman mentioned that women are held to even higher ethical standards than men, making this feeling of anxiety surrounding being cancelled heightened for female founders. How do founders cope with this? As someone with a community surrounding mental health, Elyse Fox thinks giving yourself time for breaks is the key here.
“I really tell my community to give themselves breaks. Even if you’ve done something 100 times, you are gonna mess up. You might make a mistake. And there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, it's how you learn and grow.”
Contrary to popular belief, even the most established people make mistakes. Messing up is a universal thing, and being perfect 100% of the time is simply unrealistic. Most of the time, most people are too consumed in their own life and mistakes to even pay attention to others. Panelist Sadie Kurzban weighed in here.
“Nobody cares is my life motto. Literally nobody cares. You are spending all this time worrying about what other people think and nobody cares because they are too busy worrying about their own life. It’s extremely liberating. You don’t owe anything to anybody.”
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