Blog Personal Growth and Mental Health

How To Manifest Your Dream Home as a First Time Home Buyer During a Pandemic

When I share about the ways my life has transformed both personally and professionally, I am usually not telling the whole story.

I’m not sure why. I think it’s partly because I am passionate about hardcore strategy, finance and leadership. I love talking about these things and they are incredibly important. But to focus only on those things is leaving out a key piece of my success puzzle.

I was also afraid of being labeled as “woo woo.” As a female CEO, I focused on more stereotypically masculine skills like strategy, finance and hard data to prove I was just as capable as all the men who far outnumber me in this role. But doing that does myself and my audience a disservice. 

The truth is, I have been a student of manifestation for over a decade. This started out as listening to The Secret audiobook every day on my commute, making vision boards, and compulsively journaling about what I wanted as if I already had it. 

These initial attempts yielded mixed results. The reason, I would later learn, was because I was focused on the asking and the wanting, but not focused enough on my feelings. My emotional state was not in resonance with the things I wanted, so even when I imagined I already had them, I wasn’t able to get there. I also didn’t have a regular meditation practice, which limited me. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve continued to deepen my understanding and hone my ability to curate my inner world in order to attract what I want externally. Doing this, I have attracted circumstances that should not have been possible (like going from an employee to 50% owner of a 7 figure business in one year).

A year ago this month, we closed on our dream home. We got an amazing deal on a house in our ideal neighborhood that was much bigger and nicer than anything that we should have been able to afford in our price range. All this went down during an insane covid housing market that should have made these things totally impossible (especially for a first time buyer). 

The market was so crazy that as soon as the house was listed, they were fully booked for showings (within MINUTES there were no more times available). Our agent was able to pull some strings to get us just ten minutes in the house.

As soon as I saw it, I was worried by how much I loved it. It was the highest priced house we had looked at and by far the nicest in our price range (by A LOT). I couldn’t believe it was in our price range at all. They were only showing it that one weekend because they knew they’d be flooded with offers. I kept telling my wife not to get her hopes up. 

They received MANY offers, the top three within only a thousand dollars of each other. 

Our offer was the one accepted.

When we did the final walk through before closing exactly a year ago, the selling agent congratulated us on our “instant equity.” A house on our new street that was smaller and in worse condition had just closed for 100k over what we paid. Had our house been priced for what it was actually worth, we wouldn’t have even gone to see it.

I could write multiple articles on what I did to attract this house, but here are the basics:

1. I spent years dreaming about my perfect house, talking about it, and obsessively watching HGTV to learn exactly what I wanted. I focused on it all the time and had fun with it. I wasn’t upset at the absence, I was excited by the possibility. I focused on all the things I saw in other houses that I LOVED and made note of them. 

2. Before we started looking, I wrote a list of all the things my dream house would have (space for an office with lots of white boards, a yard for the dogs, an extra room I could turn into a giant closet, an open kitchen, space for a gym).

3. I did not compromise on houses that weren’t in the area we wanted or didn’t have the features we wanted (even when the market made us feel at times we were stupid not to just “take what we could get” in our price range).

4. I trusted my gut. When we put together our offer, I sent my realtor the number for the highest I could possibly go. Then, I got an impulse that I needed to up it. I scraped together an extra few thousand dollars which ended up being a deal breaker for our offer being able to compete.

5. During the offer process, I focused on the highest and best good (thank you to my friend Stacy Bahrenfuss for this insight!) Instead of focusing on winning and beating the other offers on the house, I focused on the joy the sellers would feel from our offer, the joy we would feel, and even the joy of the people whose offers weren’t accepted when they found another house that was more perfect for them. This shift was huge.

6. I spent years getting my emotions in alignment with positive outcomes. This took a consistent commitment to caring about how I felt and being mindful about what gave me boosts and what gave me dips in my good feeling. At the beginning of 2020, I started meditating every morning. After being a lifelong true crime fanatic, I quit true crime shows and podcasts cold turkey. I only consumed things that were positive and made me feel good. Then covid hit, and the world went into lockdown. This gave me an opportunity to focus more deeply on my inner state. Every day, no matter what was happening around me, I focused on feeling good. 

After over a year of doing the things above, I hit a tipping point, and suddenly the work I was doing internally became visible to the external world. Someone in a coaching group I was in said to me, “You are on fire! What are you doing?” What was manifesting “overnight” and the results she was seeing had actually been years in the making.

Today, I continue to focus on feeling good and trusting my instincts. I avoid entertainment that is low vibration, and actively focus on things that make me feel strong positive emotions. It’s not a perfect science, but doing this has given me something more valuable than any house or external thing could. The payoff of focusing on feeling good is that feeling good eventually becomes your natural setpoint; the external circumstances you attract as a result are just the icing on the cake. 🙂

Blog Business and Leadership

How to Create an Agile Organization Using Scrum and Kanban

Five months ago I read a book called Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. 

By the second page, I knew scrum and agile were exactly what I’d been looking for. I distinctly recall walking around my neighborhood listening to the audiobook and laughing out loud at how absurdly accurately the book described our issues (and how avoidable those mistakes could have been).

I jokingly said to myself, “Where was this book 3 years ago?!” But in all honesty, it probably reached me at the perfect time. 

I devoured the book and then set about finding the right consultant to help translate what I had learned, which was focused primarily on software businesses, to our agency. I knew some of the practices would require heavy adaptation to work for such a different type of business, and I wanted to make sure our custom adaptation stayed true to the heart of scrum. This task would require knowledge of agility much deeper than my own.

I posted all over social media and in every entrepreneur Facebook group I could think of until I was flooded with at least 20 names of potential agile consultants. I scheduled calls with my top picks, and after speaking with the first consultant I knew she was a perfect fit for our organizational culture and particular challenges. During this time, I also had all the leaders in our company read the book so they could start to get familiar with scrum and brainstorm how it might look for their own teams. 

While I was starting to get the basics of scrum and agile and knew enough to know it was the right move for us, the process of implementing it in the company still felt like walking into the unknown blindfolded. It required extremely high trust in myself, my team and our consultant. This was beyond the level of a trust fall and more akin to jumping out of an airplane.

We broke apart our separate departments on the service delivery side and reconfigured them into three cross functional scrum teams that had people from every department in each team. One person on each team became the Coach, responsible for helping the team eliminate obstacles, and one became the Product Owner, responsible for prioritizing and owning the team’s backlog of work. 

We didn’t have all three teams start implementing scrum at once, but instead chose one pilot team to go first. The pilot team began working in two weeks “sprints.” At the end of every sprint, they would review what had happened, what worked well, what didn’t work, obstacles that slowed them down, and how they would approach the next sprint to improve performance. After the pilot team completed two sprints, the other two teams began sprinting. 

At the time this article is being released, two of our teams are finishing up their second sprint, and our pilot team is finishing their fourth sprint. We are admittedly quite early on in our agile journey, but we have already learned a ton and seen some amazing benefits!

Here are some of our biggest takeaways so far:

1. Working As A Team Makes It Easier for Individuals to Take Time Off with Less Stress

This was one of the quickest wins we saw. Two people in the pilot team needed to take time off during the first sprint, and both expressed how much more relaxing the process was. 

When teams worked in silos as individuals with individual KPIs and client lists, going on vacation meant a lot of extra work needed to be covered by other team members. When people returned from vacation, they returned to a stressful personal backlog of tasks. 

By working as a team, individuals are more free to take time off without stress. When they shared this revelation in the very first sprint review, it brought tears to my eyes. One of my big goals with agile is to increase team joy and decrease burnout. To have this type of impact within only two weeks blew my mind. 

2. Interdepartmental Games of Telephone Waste Valuable Resources

By eliminating siloed departments within service delivery and restructuring them into cross functional teams, we eliminated the frustration and waste caused by miscommunications between departments, an issue that turned out to be much bigger than we had ever realized pre agile.

Communication was only made more challenging by our team being fully remote. The new cross functional teams have made communication so much better and more enjoyable for everyone involved, even while being mostly remote.

3. When You Remove Individual Performance Metrics, You Lower Stress And Allow Team Members To Focus on What’s Most Important

When we moved to a more agile way of working, we eliminated individual KPIs and performance metrics in favor of team goals. Instead of team members having to focus on their own booking metrics (i.e. “I need to send out this many pitches to hit my own numbers this week”) they are now able to do whatever tasks are the highest priority for the team and in their zone of genius. 

Without worrying about checking a box on their individual tasks, team members are free to focus on what the team actually needs. This is leading to a continued uptick in overall team performance and much happier team members!

4. Adjusting How Teams Approach Work Frees You From the Expensive and Ineffective Trap of Solving Problems With Addition

Before agile, my approach to solving problems was with basic math; If a team felt they couldn’t hit their goals with the number of people they had, I would add another person. This is common, but leads to bloated payroll and robs teams of the opportunity to explore other solutions. 

Of course, sometimes you do need to hire new people, but through exploring agility and how teams work, we’ve had huge breakthroughs in how teams can overcome obstacles and adjust workflow to get more done in less time without adding extra team members (who can sometimes just slow things down more). Identifying and eliminating obstacles, bottlenecks and inefficiencies has allowed us to increase productivity by multiplying our resources rather than adding more of them.

5. Working in Sprints Creates Rapid Improvement and Makes Big Changes Less Risky

Our scrum teams work in two week sprints. At the end of each sprint they have a sprint review where they present what happened to the entire company, and a retrospective with just their own team where they talk about how it went and what they want to change for the next sprint. 

Working in two week time boxes allows teams to test out new ideas on the court in a very low risk way. It also helps teams prioritize what to change with each sprint so they don’t change too much at once, leading to constant progress without the overwhelm of being inundated with too many changes at once.

6. Eliminating Top Down Decision Making is Good for Everyone

Giving teams more trust and autonomy to make decisions can be scary as a leader, especially if you have been burned before by bad hires (I definitely have). But ultimately, giving teams the freedom to come up with new ideas and test new things is what creates innovation and improvement. It helps your company grow faster because you aren’t being a bottleneck, AND it’s surprisingly freeing for you as an owner. 

Being in charge of all the ideas and decisions is a lot on you, and your company will get to a size where it’s no longer feasible. Not only does it hold back your team, it leads to you burning out. When you are free not to control every little thing, you get that energy back to be creative and in your own zone of genius.

7. More Role Fluidity Helps Teams Thrive and Individuals Stay Engaged

Successful agility has required us to be much less rigid with roles and job descriptions. Previously, we had show researchers who just found shows, and agents who focused on pitching and booking. This sometimes works, but is also extremely limiting. Giving teams permission to do what needs to be done regardless of whose job it is is a game changer in them being able to work more quickly and effectively. While team members still have specialty areas that are their main focus and expertise, they are no longer so set in stone. 

In addition to being good for the overall productivity of the team, variety in work is more fun, especially for super smart, creative team members. Often the cause of burnout isn’t the number of hours worked, but the repetition and perceived tediousness of the tasks. Role fluidity creates space for innovation, freedom and flexibility.

8. Team Happiness Is a Leading Indicator of the Retention and Profits You Want to See

There are numerous studies outlining the benefits of happy, engaged employees. Employee happiness isn’t just an afterthought, it is directly linked to productivity and profit. We created a happiness survey that team members fill out every two weeks so that we can track this metric and work to improve it. 

Team cohesion and trust is a big part of what defines a successful scrum team, and has a big impact on happiness. We now encourage team members to play games on the clock (within reason) and have more fun. We have found this improves culture and productivity more than using that time for completing tasks would. 

We are very early in this adventure with agility, but I am floored by the impact it is having already. If the way you are running your company isn’t feeling as aligned or effective as it could be, maybe it’s time to give scrum a try! 🙂