When Adrian announced she was creating this blog, this post popped into my head. The words have been percolating in my mind for months and I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.
For the last seventeen years, my firm Doubet Consulting has been offering entrepreneurs and small business owners; marketing PR and business consulting related services. I love what I do and I have been fortunate that many clients have become friends and my deliverables have transformed their businesses. . When my clients hire Doubet Consulting or Beth Silver Pilchik, they hire all of me -the marketer, publicist, strategist, partner, person, Evan’s wife and Miles and Matthew’s mother.
I have two amazing sons. My son Miles is 11 ½ years old. He is funny, articulate and drives me crazy as most 11 ½ year olds do. He is awesome! When I gave birth to Miles, my business evolved but I feel my 5 ½ year old son Matthew, has truly transformed who I am and the way I work, see life and work with my clients.
Matthew is my unpredictable child. He is verbal and fast; funny and sweet and most of all, has taught me how to be a better entrepreneur, consultant and person. Matthew has autism.
Matthew has taught my husband Evan, Miles and I to see life differently. We realized that sleep is vital; life is not about sitting down for a moment, the plan you thought would be the plan won’t and when people don’t understand they are not inclusive or nice. We have learned that frozen foods while not appetizing to us are appealing to Matthew, socks can ruin a person’s day and worry is not something that ever leaves any of us at any age.
Miles is an amazing older brother. Even at sleep away camp, in our one and only email home he worries and shows great empathy for his brother. Over the last year, our lives have been turned upside down. Matthew was in the wrong educational setting and nothing we could for him was making his life easier.
I learned the following and hope they are helpful for you in life and business:
“Always expect the unexpected.”
Miles first coined the phrase “always expect the unexpected” and “coming right up” in preschool but in Matthew’s life these quotes ring true. You can plan for everything but you need to expect the unpredictable and not be afraid or stuck.
As a business owner plan, and plan well, but when you see your factory shipment arriving late or your clients telling you it’s time for a change, realize it’s hard but not deadly.
Any sound, smell, or feeling can set Matthew into a downward spiral at anytime and I have learned that most of this time my contingency plans may work, but when they don’t, I stop and take a deep breath. It’s not easy but I try to lower my voice and see where things go. In addition to marketing and PR, I have an expertise in the areas of socks, dinosaurs, working with a variety of therapists and frozen food.
A few months ago I was having a very hard time. Matthew’s school setting was deteriorating. I was being called to school every few days and being asked to FaceTime with my child every few minutes. I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I was a hot mess and then something happened.
My personal and professional support systems kicked into gear. Friends and clients were there advising and doing what I have done for them for years. They found me the tools and resources. It didn’t solve my problems BUT the problems were NOT so BIG and SCARY anymore. I had a plan with experts leading the way.
I really thought I had a handle on things but this was more complicated than even a savvy mother like myself with years knowledge about schools and having a child with special needs could handle.
In business, don’t be afraid if you have a challenge. Speak openly and honestly about what you need and where you are. Most entrepreneurs think they got it or will get it when this happens. Information is helpful but once words and actions leave your mind it’s easier. While I have showed my clients how to handle even the most complex challenges, I didn’t see it myself.
Personally, my husband and I hired the right team to help us and once I was given my marching orders, I was off. For my business, I gave more work to my QuickBooks person, hired a new accountant and tweaked my Company’s business model a bit. It saved my sanity. I feel blessed to have such a strong support system for my family and myself.
Everyone is on a spectrum. Everyone has a line.
Matthew has autism. He is not autism. Yes, his life is a series of mazes just to get out the door but when he gets there, his humor, unknown sarcasm and intelligence comes out.
When Miles was born, I joined Sandra Mann’s parenting group and learned every child has a temperament and knowing their comfort level is the key to it all. She was right!
When I first work with a client, the first thing I look out for is their temperament and their level of risk. If a client isn’t ready to make the leap, but believes they are, we hop. 1000 hops are better than a crash or not moving at all. Some clients love information at once; others need to digest the changes. Knowing who they are and the type of business owner they are is what’s important.
Miles is quite aware and cautious. He scouts and then choses and enjoys. Matthew is fearless. He doesn’t hop; he bolts. That’s his issue but if we teach him how to stop and hop, he will be a well prepared when he gets older. I don’t expect him to stop and hop as Miles or I do, but I do hope he will stop and hop once in a while.
This remains one of my favorite conversations with a client. “Your team needs you to lead and help with the transition. The issue is you don’t like conflict. You don’t want to do this.” He laughed and said, “I was right” Once he realized that I knew this, he could listen to my series of suggested hops. He didn’t take, as many as I hoped he would, but at least he knows what the steps are when he is ready. He also knows the steps will be taken; the question is, will he take them independently or does someone force them to be made?
Have fun and look for the moments
The mantra of my business has always been to have fun. Enjoy what you do!
This school year, I truly hated getting Matthew out the door for school as his day never had a happy ending. However, I loved seeing Matthew on the 2nd Avenue NYC M15 Select Bus. He would try to get a seat, watch his favorite dinosaur show on Netflix, gesturing or stimming away. Others would look at him not realizing that he hasn’t eaten and his next six hours of school will be hard. I would look at him and savor the moment that he was happy.
When working with entrepreneurs and their staff, I always ask them to look for the little moments. People rarely remember the fun moments when difficulty is starting at them in the face. Little moments will get you going and help you remember.
For the last 180 days, I remembered his bus ride, numerous times a day. Now, that Matthew has started a new school I am looking for other moments.
In order to be an entrepreneur one must constantly evolve. Owning a business and working with different people has taught me many things but watching Miles and Matthew evolve has been my real professional development. Being a parent and watching them grow will continue to shape who I am and how I help my clients. I hope this holds true for you as well!