In Wendy Lea’s world, you make choices to invest time and when you do, she suggests you be intentional about it. We gave fully to our Chat and are still feeling inspired by her strength, perseverance, and how she turns life’s challenges into powerful growth and success. Below you’ll find a few Chat highlights. Hope to see you (and friends!) at our next event.
A bit of background on Wendy:
Wendy is a risk-taker and has always optimized for independence. Professionally, she only wanted one thing in life – to be independent. She didn’t want to have to ask anyone for anything. At a young age she was facing college debt and the death of a husband. She developed a strong reputation as a young professional but recalls never being money motivated. She wanted to have enough to be independent, but didn’t care about excess money. As she points out, an interesting contradiction.
Recognizing moments of contradiction:

“You in your lives, no matter what your age is now, you will meet these moments of contradiction and will not know what is going on. Those contradictions keep coming and don’t stop. They only become valuable to you as a human when you can be aware that it is a paradox, a conflict, and you tag it. It may not be big, but if it feels awkward or out of sync you should tag it so you can reflect on it later.

In my 20’s I worked for two large companies and they were very dissatisfying to me. They were inefficient. I didn’t even notice they were all men. I just noticed they weren’t very smart. They were very wasteful. I’m executionally oriented, and to me they seemed so lazy. The things they asked me to do seemed so wasteful. Part of the reason I left the corporate world was because of sexual harassment, but at the time I had no idea that’s’ what it was. He was above my head and what he suggested to me was so not interesting and definitely wrong. That was a signal to me that wasn’t my tribe. That phase of my life, that sadness and the corporate life, prompted me to want to do something else completely different.”

On being a professional from 28-35 years old:

“These years are so important. That’s when all your learnings are bearing down like a big awesome rock in your backpack. You gotta lift your shoulders up, otherwise it’ll pull you down. You’ve had enough of a foundation and now all that is intensifying, so don’t dismiss any wrinkles you have. You’re supposed to pay attention. If I didn’t make those decisions at 29 who knows what would’ve happened. I knew it wasn’t right and I took a lot of risk in my life. I learned to ask what I deserve. It took me 2 years to make my first sale. It was hard. I stuck with it but never asked for a percent of that business even though I helped my boss grow the company from half a million to 15 million. When I left he owned that company 100%. It took me three times to figure that out, and looking back, how much money I left on the table is scary.”

On starting over:

“When you sell a company people call it an exit – I didn’t want to be known for that, why is that attractive? It’s like selling a child. At 50 my life started again. I became a massive risk-taker in everything I did in business, and nothing in personal life because I was too afraid. At 50 – you can begin again. You stay young through beginning again. The story is about personal inflection through not awesome things that happened and converting them into something else other than sadness. Figure out your professional mojo.”

Understanding power/knowing yourself/taking risks :

“Now, how I feel, and what I am, is the same. Sometimes you’ll disassociate your feelings from how you operate in life. I would encourage you to not wait as long as I did to integrate how you feel and how you are. You’ll be much more powerful naturally, and power is very subtle. I understand power deeply. Power is nothing more than knowledge of self and a conversion of that into influence of conditions. You’re in charge of the conditions you live it. Power is enough self knowledge, and other things, but if you don’t know yourself then you’re basically screwed. Be able to take a risk and see that risk is an adventure, and it all turns out okay overtime. It’s hard to be patient for that, because most people want it right now. There’s so much to get done if you know yourself, if you’re willing to take a risk. Community is everything. Whatever that community circle is, community has a very distinct life to it. If you understand community and collaboration you’ve got a lot of edge that no one else has. I have an intention to be a force in our community.

Thank you, Wendy Lea, for being a trailblazer and inspiring us all to find what fuels us, remain honest to ourselves, and be mindful of how we use our time to make the most of this journey. In closing, we’d like to share with you the poem Wendy shared at the end of our chat:

Don’t Hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.–Mary Oliver