Let your why be your guide

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In his book, Believe IT: How to go from underrated to unstoppable, IT Cosmetics founder Jamie Kern Lima explained how a heartbreaking “no” from QVC nearly brought her to her knees. Lima was desperate to show off her makeup on the product-selling giant, knowing she could reach millions of real women, some of whom would have the same skin concerns as her. With her business on the line and hundreds of rejections behind her, seemingly everything was on the line. In this book excerpt, Lima reveals what she kept in her “resilience toolbox” for times of desperation, and the mantra that helped her stay connected to her “WHY”.


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The stampede continued. And carry on. And carry on. I sent email after email and left voicemail after voicemail with as much passion and excitement in each message as if it was the very first time I had contacted this person. I would find people’s assistants on LinkedIn or elsewhere online and contact them too. The rejection repeated over and over again, for years. From Sephora, and ULTA Beauty, and Nordstrom, and all the major stores. Then one day I ultimately managed to reach Allen Burke’s assistant. Then head of beauty at QVC, the nation’s largest home shopping channel, Allen Burke is a legend. He was the guy responsible for transforming that often cheesy old image of selling products on TV into a new image, and he’s credited with convincing luxury beauty companies to partner with QVC. Under his leadership, nearly all of the most coveted department store brands began selling their products on QVC and still do so today. Because I thought women were tired of products that didn’t work for them, I thought QVC would be the perfect place to show, live on TV, that our products actually worked on real women. I almost begged his assistant to set up a call with him. She promised me that she would relay my message, and that he would call me back if QVC was interested. I followed up by sending (yet another) product sample packet and copies of press articles about our products.

Over the weeks I was in a constant state of suspense, obsessively staring at the phone, like you do when you’ve had the best first date of your life but don’t want to be the first to text an SMS or to call. I couldn’t think of anything else. Except I couldn’t stop thinking about everything other. Mounting expenses and our mounting depletion. My fear of losing not only all of our savings, but also the small amount of money we had taken from three investors who were friends and family. And the devastating possibility of having to give up that dream. Then the phone rang! “Hi, Jamie, this is Allen Burke from QVC.” My heart raced, but I gathered all my confidence and said hello excitedly. He went straight to the point. He said he reviewed our products and packaging with his team of beauty buyers, and the consensus was that we were “do not the right solution for QVC or for the QVC customer. Just like that, in seconds, another heartbreaking Nope. My heart sank. As I paced the bedroom of our apartment/office, tears streamed down my face. I knew he couldn’t see them, and I hoped he couldn’t feel them either. I asked him for feedback and feedback and made another presentation, telling him that I truly believe their customers would like our products. He thanked me for liking QVC but reconfirmed that it was a Nope. I thanked him for his time. After the call ended, I lay under the covers and cried. And cried. And cried. And prayed. And cried some more. Then the weirdest feeling came over me: I realized that no matter how hard it was, I wasn’t going to give up. I just wasn’t going to give up. It didn’t make sense in my head, but it made sense in my gut. My intuition was still telling me to keep going.

One of the best things I’ve ever done is create a toolbox of things I can use when I get knocked down. A toolbox I can use when facing rejection, when I need to remember who I am and why I do what I do. One that’s filled with tools that help me believe in myself, even in times when I feel like no one else does. It’s an imaginary toolbox, but it’s filled with real stories, messages, quotes and prayers that I can draw on to solve problems. I keep this toolkit in my head, in written form on my computer, and sometimes in the Notes app on my phone. It’s free, and it’s something I’ve built and edited year after year. If this sounds like something you need and don’t have yet, an easy way to start is to highlight quotes or stories that affect you deeply, and save them all in one place you can. can refer you quickly.

This toolkit is part of how I knew in that moment, as I lay under the covers crying over Allen Burke’s painful rejection at QVC, that I wasn’t going to give up. I read quote after quote that inspired me and reminded me that almost all great things come with opposition. I read stories I had saved for times like this, of underdogs who overcame rejection to triumph. I prayed and asked for clarification as to whether I should continue, despite all the rejections. And I really focused on my WHY. You see, a lot of people set goals and even have a goal setting journal, but I’ve learned that for me, that’s not enough. I believe that you should attach a WHY to any goal, and that the WHY should be so meaningful to you that no matter how difficult things get, your belief in your WHY is powerful enough to withstand the tough times when things don’t. don’t go. way.

Lying under my covers, I remembered the deep pain I had felt as a little girl when I saw images of beauty that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I was determined to change that, for the other little girls who were about to start learning to doubt themselves, and for all the adult women who still do. I was determined to use every ounce of myself and every ounce of fighting I had inside, before tapping into the fulfillment of this mission. Before I fell asleep that night, I wrote down these words and texted them to myself, promising to read them every day until I no longer needed the reminder: Know your why, so fly, girl, fly.

Extract of BELIEVE IT: HOW TO GO FROM UNDERESTIMATED TO UNSTOPPABLE by Jamie Kern Lima. Copyright © 2021 by Jamie Kern Lima. Reprinted with permission from Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Jamie Kern Lima was a guest on Oprah’s “The Life You Want” course on resilience. Watch the full episode here and find all of our The Life You Want classes here.

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