2015: My highs, lows and everything in between …

2015 … Here’s my highs, lows and reviews …

January
This was a monumental month for me. It represented the first month I stepped away from my role at Smarta in earnest; from 1 January, 2015, I was officially ‘doing my own thing’. For many of us, our validation is tied up in our businesses and I was no different.

Stepping away from the company that I created, one that I was very publicly associated with and one, that in no small part covered my outgoings each month was, well, let’s just say a step out of my comfort zone. I had made the decision a few months before and had spent the last quarter of 2014 doing a handover to someone who was much better suited to what Smarta had become; a great supplier of SaaS services to the main banks.

When Matt Thomas and I set up Smarta, we wanted it to become the go to destination for advice, guidance and expertise for small business owners to not just start their businesses, but to also grow them. We wanted content to be its lifeblood, but in the aftermath of the recession in 2009 we found ourselves needing to adapt, rethink and recreate the business. That’s where our Saas service for banks came in. It made complete sense, to everyone, including me. But sense didn’t make me happy. I didn’t want to build SaaS products, nor did I want to spend 80% of my working day working with banks. My head understood, but my heart and soul were kicking and screaming. Fortunately they won. I made a brave choice to leave. I didn’t want to look back and think “could,woulda, shoulda …”

So, I took some of my own advice; I stopped talking about what I wanted to do and started doing it …

February

This was a month of planning and reflection for me; what was I going to create, what was I going to teach and where were we going to do it?

It was time to up my game …

March

This was a monumental month workwise as I spoke for the first time at Dan Bradbury and Nick James’s Infusionsoft sponsored event. I know that Dan took a ‘punt’ on me the first time out and I was glad I didn’t disappoint. Absolutely loved their audience and really felt at home with business owners who fully understood the power of an online platform and were fired up and raring to go.

April

This was the first month we ran our hughley successful “How To Make Money Online Workshop” teaching people how to build online courses and leverage sites such as Groupon and Udemy for both sales and leads … in fact it was so successful we ran three of them back-to-back!

However, April was also the anniversary of Jett’s Dad passing away, so it was a bittersweet month for me. I’d finally found my flow and had never felt happier in my work; I just wish he had been there to see it.

May

Well, aside from it being my birthday month, I hired my first full time addition to Team Shaa; the awesome Julie Girgenti who is well, without a doubt, the best Executive Assistant anyone could ask for. She makes my life so much easier, I don’t know what I would do without her … I just need to tie her into a 10 year contract with no exit clause!

June

My second book, Do Less, Get More‘ came out and it would be fair to say, I was kinda nervous. You might have heard of ‘Second Album Syndrome’ where an artist or a band have a huge success with their first album and put themselves under immense pressure to follow it up with an equally successful second album. Well, the same is true for authors, or at least it was for me. My first book was #1 for 14 months in a row … How on earth could I follow that?!

In the process of writing the second book, I noticed I rewrote, scrapped, edited and simply threw in the bin far more than I did with the first book. I was aiming for perfection, forgetting that it doesn’t actually exist. Instead of trying to replicate the success of the first book, I realised I needed to just focus on writing the best book I could.

Fortunately me for me, while it didn’t stay in the top spot for 14 months in a row, it did go straight into #1!

Matt Thomas, who has been my long standing right hand at Smarta; first as Editor then as COO comes to join Team Shaa and now the journey really starts getting going!

July

I spoke at Andrew Reynolds’ Entrepreneurs Bootcamp in front of my biggest audience ever … 3,000 people! And I loved it! 🙂

My whole team came with me and instead of the usual shoddy hotel rooms, we hired a GORGEOUS AirBnB right on the front with an enormous living room overlooking the sea and even a Grand Piano! To me success is when you get to do what you love, with the people you love … and this event was defintely a success.

Offically launched my first all female Mastermind Group … and planned our first retreat to Marrakech! I wanted this to be a very practical Mastermind, so each retreat I’m going to have one of my experts give hands on, get it done, there and then help to the women in my group. Love my work.

August

After a whirlwind of a year, August was all about rest and recuperation. Albeit with a little work thrown in! Jett and I headed off to Barbados to spend some quality time with my best friend Lisa and her family.

Barbados is one of my favourite places in the whole world; the people, the beaches, the weather … Jett’s Dad was part Bejan and Jett’s Great Grandma still lives there. Jett’s super proud of his heritage. I think it’s so important to feel grounded and connected with your roots.

September

Had our most successful Business Bootcamp of the year at a great new venue and nearly 300 people in attendence! Truly feel like I am doing what I was always meant to do.

I hear about this awesome event called Thrive being held in Las Vegas with Gary Veynerchuk headlining. See that some of my friends are speaking there. Make a comment about it on Facebook and the Universe (and my amazing friends) conspire to open some doors. Within 24 hours, the guys running the even had reached out to ask me if I would like to be the only Brit speaking at the event? Took me about a nano second to answer … YES!

October

Fly to South Africa for my first ever international event, put on by my great friend Greg Secker. Fell in love with South Africa as I hit the tarmac. The event was incredible … 4,000 people in one room! Greg sure knows how to put on an event and I’m so grateful for his immense support this year.

Now, that trip wasn’t all plain sailing, but I learned a lot from it. Let’s just say I’m a big believer in karma …

Arrive in Vegas at The Mandalay Bay for the most important event I have ever done. Not becuase of the size of the crowd, but how the opportunity came about and of course, whom I was fortunate enough to share the stage with. Let’s face it, not often you get to share a stage with one of your heroes (Gary V)!.

The support I received from the other speakers at Thrive was beyond anything I could have wished for. I truly believer there are two types of people in this world; those with a scarcity mentality who are intimidated by other people’s success and those with an abundant mentality who try help as many other people succeed as possible.

I left Vegas with a new found group of friends, supporters and cheerleaders. I also knew I wanted to make working with them a priority for 2016.

One of my best friend’s brother commits suicide and I am reminded just how fragile and precious our lives are. It also brings back feelings of my own loss and out of the blue I find myself feeling like I’m in quick sand. I’m struggling to deal with the complexity of all of the emotions I am feeling at the same time. Loved and supported, yet vulnerable and alone.

November

A bittersweet month as it would have been Jett’s Dad’s birthday on the 12th and no matter how much time passes, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. 10 days later, it’s my beautiful son’s 10th birthday and I focus on being in the moment with him and not dwelling on the past; although I admit this isn’t an easy task.

After a tumultuous few months in my personal life, I am grateful for all the lessons I have learned, even if I wasn’t at the time. I realised I had assumed that everyone had the kind of 3am people in their lives that I do. It wasn’t that I took my support network for granted, more that I just thought everyone had one. They don’t. More than ever, I truly realise how blessed I am to have people in my life who show up, who would literally take a bullet for me, turn up at 3am in the blink of an eye, jump on a plane to protect me. Always in my corner. This is my greatest asset and my greatest joy. I hope it is also my greatest gift to others. I vow to never take it for granted.

December

I take Jett to a sleepover at The Science Museum … 7 x 10 year old boys! Can’t say I got much sleep but it was worth every sleep deprived second! Highly recommend it!

When finding out the recent challenges I’ve been through, one of the people who has had the most impact on my life jumps on a plane to come over and ‘look after me’. If we are lucky, maybe once or twice in our lives, we will meet people who leave an imprint on our heart so deep, no amount of time or space will every fade it. He is one of those people. Where I felt vulnerable and exposed, I came to feel protected and safe. It’s amazing the positive impact we can have on people’s lives if we choose to.

Looking back at the year, we have had our most successful year ever. We doubled our revenue targets and had a heap of fun in the process. The last few months of the year were very challeneging personally, but they also allowed me to grow and appreciate how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do. That was my greatest lesson; for all the money and success in the world is hollow without having people to love and to love you back.

Thank you to all of you for all your continued support – I wouldn’t be able to live my passion if it weren’t for you. Here’s to making 2016 our best year yet!

Shaa X