Want to hear some of the most hilarious and heart-breaking mistakes in my business?
Including the pretty pony game that cost me… $100,000 in lost revenue?
(I’m not even joking!)
It is JUICY. And as the young ‘uns would say: it has the tea. The tea about me. And allll the mistakes I’ve made in my business… starting with last year (coz I made a lot) and then also the mistakes I’ve made while starting & growing my business.
All this and more in this vulnerable podcast episode.
Listen above, or subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, PocketCast (or wherever else you listen to podcasts!)
Why I’m making this podcast episode
When you see me, you probably see someone who is pretty successful. I mean… I’ve won major business awards, written globally best-selling books and created over $13m in 10 hours a week.
But you don’t always see my mistakes. Behind every single successful person who has created big things, there is a litany of stupid, heart-sinking and often funny mistakes made.
To be human is to make mistakes. To make big things is to fuck up even harder.
So I wanted to share with you some of my mistakes. To be transparent with you, and for you to know that you’ve got company when you do a whoopsy-doo!
Want to read instead?
Sure! I’ve got a dot point overview for you…. annnnnd a full transcript because I ACTUALLY HAVE MY SHIT TOGETHER TODAY. It’s a miiiiiracle!
The mistakes I made last year:
- I had a productivity slump post ADHD diagnosis
- Not taking my kids out of a school that was toxic and dysfunctional earlier
- Getting dopamine addicted to gaming instead of my business
- Didn’t invest enough energy in masterminding and making sure I was spending time with people who pushed me to new levels
- Created courses that were requested instead of coming from me
- Not blogging and writing consistently
- Not fixing podcast recording issue
- Getting stuck with my formula of blog posts of monthly reviews instead of sharing longer, more heartfelt posts
- Not being an Ingrid the Implementer
- Don’t feel like I’m a great manager. Don’t know how to set priorities longer than a week.
- I think I oversold and undercreated.
- Didn’t do as much copywriting myself.
- Didn’t take full ownership of my results.
While growing my business, my mistakes were:
- Hiring a large team.
- Thinking I needed to do business like anyone else.
- Hiring a narcissist.
- Not paying enough attention to the bottom line.
In the very early days of business, my mistakes were:
- Burning out.
- Not taking good care of myself or giving myself the conditions I need to thrive.
- Trying to be all the things in every area of my life. My husband having to sit me down and write that list.
Things that were not a mistake:
- I’ve never regretted putting my kids and my husband and our life as our central priority. The business HAS to fit around us.
- I don’t regret not travelling, going to conferences or flying all over the place to go to events.
- I don’t regret not having a high paid 1:1 coach. Just doesn’t work for my personality.
- I’m grateful to build a life and business that works with my ADHD and Autism. It’s still a gift to have a sensitive nervous system and a high throttling brain.
- I’m grateful that I don’t have to pretend to be professional or polished. I’m glad I made the decision to share the hard times publicly. To talk about post natal depression, my neurodiversity, experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum, rightsizing my business and the difficult times of life. I’d choose to do that over and over again. Fuck professional.
Mistakes are normal part of business.
They are experiments that gave you useful information.
Often you don’t know what’s the right option for you until you try.
Important to forgive yourself, accept yourself and keep exploring anyway.
Today I think I’m gonna do something a little bit different, and this is probably gonna be maybe a longer and more emotional podcast. I wanted to share with you mistakes I’ve made in my business, and I’m gonna talk about the mistakes I made last year and mistakes I made I’ve made, you know six years ago. And mistakes that I made in the beginning of my business as well.
I feel like, one, it’s fun. It’s always fun to hear about other people’s mistakes. It makes you feel less alone. And it’s also just really useful maybe for you to see that mistakes are a part of this process and that you can still be successful even when you make mistakes and you can forgive yourself and give yourself acceptance and know that that’s part of being human as much as it pains any of us to, to think that. But making mistakes is part of being human.
So I think I made quite a lot of mistakes last year, and it was kind of like all internal mistakes. And I realized this, like as I was doing my kind of yearly planning, I was going through my goal workbooks and I was doing my reflection of 2022. And I just wasn’t happy with, it wasn’t just the results, but it was the way that I was feeling inside me. I just didn’t feel like I was on fire last year. I didn’t feel like I was on soul purpose. I just didn’t feel thrilled with the body of work that I’d created. And so I was looking into what mistakes I made that, you know, that got me there. So first and foremost I was psychiatrically diagnosed with ADHD about halfway through the year.
And I usually when you are diagnosed with a ADHD it’s to be expected, but you have a period where your symptoms are even more exacerbated because you become very aware of them. And you just have this kind of ADHD regression. And I did, I had a massive productivity slump because I was just constantly head fucking myself, just like, oh, is this my ADHD? And oh, my dopamine levels must be low. And you just start thinking so much about the ADHD instead of just like getting on cracking on and doing the fucking thing.
So I don’t wanna over-identify too much with the ADHD this this year. I just wanna be like, you know what, cool. And I actually know how to work around this in a lot of ways.I’ve been doing this all my life. I don’t need to head fuck myself over this. I am reading Peter Shaman’s book “Faster than Normal” at the moment, and I think that’s a really useful reframe for me because it looks at the ADHD brain as being a real entrepreneurial gift, and it’s recognising that it works at a much faster, faster pace than others. I think when I was like reading a lot of books and articles about ADHD of course it goes into the challenges so much. And so then you kind of over-identify with the challenges. For me, I wanna stay focused on the blessings of it while still giving myself the support and resources to make things even better.
Another mistake I made personally was that my kids’ school started going through… well it’s always been very up and down while we’ve been there for four years, but particularly in the last six months, it was really in crisis mode. And it was very, very stressful for me and my husband as parents having kids to go to that school. And I just wish that we just fucked it off earlier. I really do because it crushed me. It really did. And oh, I feel teary still thinking about it just because I was gaslit so much by school administrators in terms of being like, okay, this is going on. This is not good. And they’re like, no, that’s not going on. No, it’s fine. Everything’s fine. Like, that’s fucking bullshit. You’re lying. You’re absolutely lying. And they completely were lying.
So that was really difficult. And it’s very difficult togo to a place every single day to drop off your children when you have no idea who is going to be there that day, who’s in charge, whether they’ve got their shit together or if anyone’s gonna have a fucking blow up that day. It’s so frustrating and so difficult. I’m not gonna say the school’s name publicly, but if you’re here on the Sunshine Coast and if you’d like to know where not to go feel free to email me because I will let you know.
So I wish we just pulled the pin earlier. I wish we’d gone, you know what, this is fucked. This is really fucked. And just left a lot quicker and pulled our kids out much, much sooner rather than hung out for as long as we did, waiting for the new year to start. So I know we did what we thought was best, but it was just an enormous energy suck. And I was going to therapy and all that kind of stuff, as soon as we left that school, I realised I actually don’t need to go to therapy anymore. There wasn’t anything wrong with me. I was just in a toxic situation, a very toxic situation, and it was emotionally and abusive and it’s such a head fuck. So I feel fucking great now. Now, my kids are at a new school and it’s different from where they were. We were in an alternative style school. But they’re in a new school. We are really happy with how it’s going so far, and praise beeee, may it continue to be low drama, low crazy, please.
Anyway, so that’s like a more personal thing, but it definitely made a massive fucking impact on me. And as a repercussion of that because I was so stressed out, I started seeking out other ways for me to relax and increase my dopamine and all that kind of stuff. And so I started playing an online game, and you all will fucking laugh at this… But I played a game called Star Stables, which is this horsey game. It’s an online game and it’s very popular with tween teen girls around the world, and you get to buy horses and you train them up and you do races, and then you do different activities and you <laugh> you can buy different costumes for your horsey.
And anyway, I got, I played it with my kids for a couple of weeks, and then they lost interest. I did not, I kept hammering that shit hard and I was playing it you know, a couple of hours at least every night. And what I realized was that I was dopamine addicted to gaming instead of being dopamine addicted to my business. So I liked going up the levels in gaming, <laugh> my horse is trained to level 15 ohhhh lahhhh deeeeee dahhhh! Instead of going, oh, I’ve accomplished that goal.
And so I was using Star stables as a stress relief instead of what I’ve usually done, which has used my business for stress relief. And I know that sounds funny, but my business has always been the place that I can really feel like I am in control of the universe in one very small way. And it’s brought me a lot of dopamine over the years. So whenever I’m stressed, I’m always like, Woohoo, this is so great. I get to like work on my business because that’s gonna give me dopamine hits and it’s gonna really thrill me. And so by getting more obsessed with the horsey levels instead of the business, I think it costs me about a hundred thousand dollars in revenue.
A hundred thousand dollars guys, a hundred thousand fucking dollars. I am screaming. I do wanna say here I’m enormously privileged because, you know, my business makes so much money that it’s not a crisis for me to like lose <laugh> a hundred thousand dollars, but it still just makes me wince, right? Like, oh, sweet Jesus. So if you’ve ever made a mistake in your business, was it you playing ponies online, costing a hundred thousand dollars? Fuck, fuck fuck.
Anyway, it’s really funny. It’s really funny. And also like, oh no, I don’t like that.
And I realised aside from the money this doesn’t make me feel great. I don’t feel like I’m living my best life when I’m not creating. And instead I’m playing pretty pony games. I get that I was doing it in order to try and relieve some of the stress of school the school situation, but wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. <Laugh> enjoy that one. Guys enjoy. I remember going for a walk with my darling friend Maddy, and I told her how much star tables potentially cost me, and we were just screaming with laughter on the street, just screaming. And she’s like, Leonie HORSES. Hundred thousand dollars! We couldn’t breathe we were laughing so much.
Oh, good fun, good fun. Hey, everything is content. It really is. Now other mistakes I’ve made apart from the, the ponies… hey usually people get addicted to horses. The cost of money in other ways, right? Maybe a bit of gambling, or you just own horses and they just cost you a lot of money, right? But surely it doesn’t cost you a hundred thousand dollars, it’s six months <laugh>. No, it’s fine, it’s fine. I love and accept myself.
Okay, other mistakes I made, I didn’t invest enough energy, and this has been for a few years, a few years now, I didn’t invest enough energy in masterminding and making sure that I was really spending time with people who pushed me to new levels. You know, just making it the new, like the normal to have people who are just making really big shit happen. And I now have that. I’ve got a local mastermind group, I love them to bits. It’s just such a beautiful thing. But I forgot to consciously create that over a few years.
Last year I also created “Get organised!” and “How to hire and manage a VA” and those who are really highly requested workshops, but, I created them because they were so highly requested instead of me having that big soul urge to make something and be like, oh, this is the vision, this is what I need to create. And putting it out there and like, that’s okay. Like sometimes business is just like a combination of those two things. My business is definitely a better combination of those two things. But I don’t feel as great when I’m doing stuff that isn’t just like a direct download. It’s just a different energy. And I do want to try and stay more focused on creating courses that are just coming from me. It’s not to say that those courses aren’t super helpful and useful for people, just a different energy I noticed.
As well last year, I really didn’t blog and write consistently. And I don’t think that was helpful. You know, blogging and writing for me are the way that I connect with my soul and the divine and I feel like that’s a place I do my best work. I just don’t feel like I did that. So I wanna recommit to doing more and more this year.
All right. My husband has just come home from running an errand for me, so I’m gonna go kiss him and then I’ll come back and I’ll do some more talkie talkie.
Back again, sugar plums. Well, that was a long kiss… not in the way that you think. I ended up going grocery shopping afterwards and now I’m back here. Hooray. And oh my God, I’m so thrilled. My new MacBook Air just arrived while I was out, and I’m just so thrilled. I’ve been using the same kind of MacBook Air for over 10 years now. I had two because one was maybe eight years old or older, and then the other one was like six years old. Um, and I bought them specifically because I liked the setup of the keyboard. I get RSI really easily in my wrist, so there’s only certain very specific kind of laptop and keyboard that doesn’t give me rsi. And so such was my obsession that for a while there I couldn’t use the new MacBook laptops that were coming out because of the angle and the way the keys were formed and that kind of stuff.
I bought one MacBook Pro that I couldn’t use because it hurt my hands. So Chris got to inherit that one, and then I really needed another one. And I ended up going to a local computer store and seeing if they had any stock. And they actually had stock of like a two, three year old laptop, out the back that was a brand new unopened MacBook Air from the era that I wanted. So I ended up buying that like $2,000. Ayway, I’ve been hammering these laptops and um, they both shit their pants at the start of this year, one shit its pants completely and needed its battery replaced for like the third time. I’ve just like kept on replacing these phone batteries. I thought I’m just gonna have to put this one out to pasture. And the other one, as soon as I had a couple of tabs open, just started dying.
And so I thought, this is ridiculous. I just need to now upgrade to a new brand new spanking laptop. Thankfully they’ve changed the form and changed the keyboards back to something that I can use. So it’s just arrived. I’m very excited. I’m very finicky about the laptops I use and I did feel guilty about that for a while, and my husband was like, what are you talking about? Writers always have like this one fucking vintage typewriter that they could only write with, you know, or one type of pen or one type of paper. So it’s okay for you to be very finicky about the one tool of your craft. So I appreciated that.
I’m very thrilled to have a new MacBook Air and Long, may it live? Long, may it live. The one has already died is a running joke between me and my friend Tam because years ago when we were living in Canberra. She was visiting me and we were doing a live stream that went for hours and hours. I think I was running a launch for the academy. And we weren’t gonna stop live streaming until we hit a certain number of members. <laugh>, I think we live streamed like four or five hours. We got beers at one point and went out to the garden and having a fabulous time on the live stream and knocked over a beer onto the laptop. And we thought that was the end of days for that laptop. And no, it’s kept on going.
And I think it actually improved. I think it improved the quality of it. I’m just joking. We did have to, years later we had to replace the keyboard, but I’ve always had such good traction with my Mac laptops. They just last me for a fucking age and I use them like workhorses. So anyway, that’s my very excited <laugh> new laptop vibes update. Let’s get back into the content that I really want to talk to you about today, which is about mistakes that I’ve made. So the some more mistakes that I made last year was, and this is a very small one, but I think it’s important. So my whole ritual at that point was when I was in the car and I had something to say, I would pop my Anchor app on record and I’d shove it down the top of my overalls or whatever I was wearing and just talk into it while I was driving my car.
And I had to do a lot of driving at that point to do school run. So I always had plenty of opportunity to do that. And then at one point my app started malfunctioning and I would record a whole bunch of stuff and then it wouldn’t save. And it was so frustrating and I kept on happening over and over and over again. I’d finish the end of the drive, I’d press stop, I’d press save, it wouldn’t save, it just disappear. And I was like, well, fuck, I just spent all that time. And so I ended up repeating myself over and over again. It still wouldn’t save. And then I was always in a rush by the time I got to the end of the destination. And so I wouldn’t think to fix the app or troubleshoot what the issue was.
So, for a few months there, I didn’t really podcast purely just because I kept on having this app issue and my whole recording process was fucked. Looking back on it, I was like, probably could have spent a couple of minutes at home, sent myself a message like, fix that fucking app because do the podcast, actually publish the podcast. But I didn’t. Other issues I think I had was I started doing this tradition of monthly review posts about my business and my life, and it would include a lot of pitches and data or statistics, all that kind of stuff. And it was fun to start off with, but then it started feeling like a real chore and they were quite a lot of work to pull off and not just in a way where I can just like creative stream every thought that I had.
It was just that there’s lots of components to it. And so and so I started feeling hemmed in by that formula and I don’t do well with formulas and I don’t do well with the consistency of creating the same thing over and over again. I think part of the issue was is that usually I would like do a little write up about the things I’d done that month, and they were usually in dot point form. And so I would end up sharing things on there, like things I’ve done that ordinarily I would write a long blog post about that really went into the depth and the details and how it felt and all those experiences. But because I was doing this formula, then I would write this content that was just more dot point and I just don’t feel like I was my best creative work.
And it also just didn’t give me that like kind of spiritual high I get from really in depth long form writing about something. So I think doing away with doing the monthly review post at this point is a good idea just so I can try out a different form of creativity again, I think as well. Other issues that I did last year was I disobeyed my own advice and I wasn’t Ingrid the implementer. So if you’ve done any of my courses, you know that there’s three types of learners. There is Eleanor, the enthusiastic who signs up for a whole bunch of courses and books and programs and mentoring and whatever and then does absolutely fucking nothing with them. Then there is Ruby, the reader, who just buys it but then and reads it all but doesn’t actually do the homework.
And then there’s Ingrid the implementer who chooses to invest in a program, then goes through, does all the lessons, and does all the homework in the lessons and implements the ideas into their business. And, it’s a really important concept and a really important way to get the most amount of value out of like, you know, education and learning new shit. And I feel like I just, I slipped off upholding Ingrid the Implementer principles and I went more into kind of Ruby The reader, or sometimes I think Eleanor the Enthusiastic. I wasn’t too bad at just like buying a lot of shit and not using it. It was more just like reading and not doing anything with them. So I really wanna re recommit to being an Ingrid the Implementer with any learning that I do.
Last year I also just felt like I just wasn’t a great manager, but the thing is for me, it’s not what I’m born to do. It really isn’t. And I keep learning this lesson over and over again. It’s just not my jam. With the current team set up, it worked really well for a while. So I had a person doing customer service emails, and then I had an assistant who was my online business manager, and she was managing a lot of the sales and launches and stuff like that. And I realized like, I’m really not taking full ownership of my results. Something needed to change. In my yearly planning, I realised I think I need to actually go back to being my own online business manager again.
I still need a VA – just a part-time assistant who does all of the customer service emails and does all the tech background and stuff like that. But I really need to make sure that my fingers are all over the sales and marketing and copywriting, all that stuff. Most importantly, I need to make sure that I have full ownership of the results that I have because when you’ve got an online business manager, there’s a different kind of expectation usually. So I wasn’t sure how that would work out because I dearly love the assistants I have now and I didn’t wanna mess them up in any way. Then my primary assistant came to me and for health reasons, she needed to reduce her work intensity for six months.
And she that that would mean that she might need to quit, even though she didn’t wanna. And I was like, no, we can actually just like work this out because I am happy to step back into being up my own online business manager and launch manager, sales manager myself. So now they’re doing all the customer service and tech support and all that kind of stuff, and that’s great. And then I chatted with my customer service person and they were more than happy just to not be doing customer service anymore because they’ve got a whole bunch of other projects to work on instead in their own business. So it ended up just working out beautifully for everyone.
And I’m very, very grateful. I’m very grateful for my two assistants. They’ve worked with me for a long time now, and I just so appreciate that they are so empathetic, understanding, willing to have communication and feedback. The amount of people that I’ve hired who have fucking tantrums, like a toddler or refuse to just be just clearly communicate their needs or their concerns or their worries. It’s mind boggling. So the two that I have had been working with have just been incredible and I’m just so freaking grateful for them. So those are kind of the lessons of the last year for me in terms of the mistakes I made, the tweaks I wanted to make. I think in terms of historically the mistakes I’ve made in my business, there’s been some that I’ve just learned huge lessons from.
The first definitely is hiring a large team. So my business was growing and growing and growing, and the way that I thought I needed to deal with that growth was to, you know, hire more and more team. And along the way I realized that I hate that, I hate it. I hate managing staff. I do not like having a large team. I do not like managing people. And there’s just something about my brain that’s like, I inherently don’t understand most people. That’s likely because I’m autistic, so I never understand when people aren’t just straight with me and like, you know, empathetic and have clear communication. I don’t like dealing with people drama whatsoever. I joke but it’s not really a joke: I really do prefer to only work with neurodiverse people. Neurodiverse people only because I understand that my understand how their brain brain works and I understand that they will clearly communicate to me what they’re going through.
Where I can’t work out neurotypical stuff, the subtlety and the insinuation that I should know something I haven’t been told something, I don’t get that at all. And so it was actually just heartbreaking and hugely stressful, for me to go through having a large team. The thing that I discovered is that when you have a large team, you have to work harder, not less, right? So I usually only work like 10 hours a week. That’s how I’ve always done it historically in my business. Because I was working full-time, then I had a baby, and then I had another baby, and that’s where I wanted to place my time was on my family. So that 10 hours a week is, that’s just carving out that amount of time away from my other commitments. When I had a a team, I noticed that I had to work even more hours.
I was up to 20, 25 hours and that still seems less than most people, which totally is. However, for somebody like me who’s autistic, I still had very small children at that point that I wanted to be around for, and I felt like I was missing out on a lot of parenting stuff. And my physical body actually just can’t cope with that many hours at a desk, because I have hypermobility and my bones dislocate quite easily. So for that range of factors, working more hours is just not in my plan. I also found that I might have been working more, but I was doing less of the important work, the important work for me. So I couldn’t create as much. It was actually very, very difficult for me to carve out time for me to actually do the creative work in my business.
And it even got to the point where I’d have to start doing it on weekends because my work week no longer meant that I could create, which is just insane, right? Like you create a business purely because you wanna create and then you’re back to this place again where you have to create only on weekends because your job is sucking the life outta you doing things that you don’t wanna do. So a large team is not for me. I don’t foresee in the future that I’ll ever go back to having more than one or two part-time assistants. It took a few years to right-size my business. When people would leave, I wouldn’t replace them. I unfortunately had to fire a few people for not being able to do their jobs.
It was just kind of like this natural attrition. I didn’t just go one day, oh, well, I’m just gonna blow this whole thing up. No, it was kind of a weaning down process, but I still remember crying to my accountant and just saying, I just thought (having a large team) was the right thing to do. And it sucked. It sucked so bad. I feel like I’ve just made the most enormous mistake in hiring a team and then going through this process now of my, of reducing my team size back again. And he said to me, Leonie, when you’re in a high growth business like yours, you only have two options. Well, you’ve got three. The first is you hire a large team in order to deal with that business growth. The second is that you outsource a lot of your stuff.
So you are effectively hiring other agencies with their own staff to do that work for you. Then thirdly you can throttle your business growth or streamline so excessively so that you don’t have to, um, do either of those options. And the only way that you find out which one is the right one for you is by testing and doing it. And he said like, I’ve just seen it so many times. There’s no one right way to grow a business. It’s to do with the personal makeup, the personality of the founder, whether one is going to work better for them or not, because one of them isn’t inherently better than the other. They both come with pros and cons. It’s just working out what the pro and con for you is. So for me, I ended up doing a little bit of the outsourcing thing in that for a while I worked with a publish publishing agency to print and publish my books instead.
Now I’m doing print on demand again so that I don’t have to have a huge team to deal with that print experience. And then I also did, streamline my business as well. So those nice to haves, I just didn’t do anymore. I think as well, a part of this is I thought I needed to do business like anyone else. And whenever I get into that mindset, it’s just not the right one for me. I need to accept that I do business in a way that’s custom fit for me and me alone. And that’s a beautiful thing. I can definitely like take inspiration and get ideas from how somebody else runs their business and I can test it and try it out and see if it works for me.
But there is no one right way to run a business. And I am 100% allowed to create a business that works beautifully for me and for my gifts and for what I want in my life.
Another mistake I made was hiring a person with narcissistic personality disorder. You don’t find out until it’s too late and they’ve already wreaked a huge amount of damage. I can’t remember a time where I was more fucked up by a person than being around a narcissist, just working with a narcissist. Seeing how personally devastating it was to me and to my confidence levels.
And that is with I have a beautiful husband who is not like that whatsoever. I have a really lovely home life. I have a very high level of self-confidence and you know, a really good understanding of my own self-worth in a lot of ways. And how completely that my self-worth and self-belief got decimated by being around a narcissist. And it made me hyper aware of the fact that if you are in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, that would be even more debilitating. I had a husband in the background saying: “This is not okay. That doesn’t feel right whatsoever. I’m not happy about this person.”
I had this sanity check going on for me and even still, I was really broken by it. And it took, it took a while to heal from that experience. Afterwards, I’m grateful to know now the signs of narcissistic abuse. I’m grateful because iI can usually see the signs in it much sooner. And I can also see like the characters in my history where narcissism was at at play as well. You know, it was often like the most challenging relationships that I’ve had. I had one romantic relationship like that. And family relationships or friendship relationships where things just felt really fucking off. It’s usually because of narcissistic personality disorder. If you haven’t already, it’s, it’s useful to have a look at a narcissistic personality disorder checklist just so that you can be aware of what that’s like, uh, in case you come across it.
Another mistake I made, and this was years ago, and my husband was my saving grace once more was I wasn’t paying enough attention to the bottom line in my business. I was looking at the revenue and not the profit margins. And so I thought I was doing awesome cuz look at my top line. And then, my husband was like, “Hey, I’m seeing that we aren’t actually moving the financial needle here whatsoever. What are we doing? What do we need to change? We need to change course.”
One thing I want you to know about me is that I am a wife whose opinions are not always easily changed. I’m very grateful that my husband is very strong within himself. And so when I give him kickback for something he’s told me, he’s like, “okay, I get that you’re upset, but I’m still gonna keep raising it with you anyway.” Like he’s not particularly concerned if I don’t take well to his feedback. He still says: “I still need to tell you anyway. I’m still gonna keep telling you because red flag, red flag, red flag.” I’m very grateful for his grace and understanding and how solid he is in himself and for him to go, “Hey, babes, love you. And you’re fucking this part up.”
I appreciate that. When I was brainstorming this topic, I realized there’s these different phases of my business and in the very, very early days of my business, I was making different mistakes. So in the very early days, I definitely struggled with burnout a lot more because I just was running at my goals and, um, without any sense of work-life balance or rest or anything like that. In one particularly memorable moment, I was still working full-time in the public service. My business had a huge growth phase and I realized the only way that I could deal with it was to sleep less. And so I was staying up till midnight every night working after I’d finished a whole day at work for the working in the government.
And then I started waking up at like 5:00 AM or whatever. And one particularly special day, I jumped outta bed, you know and said to myself “okay, I’ve got, I’m gonna go outside and meditate for 100 breaths first and that’s good self care. And I was just so exhausted and ran outside into the backyard and did my meditation and then went to stand up and I collapsed head first into the ground. And I remember laying there kind of laughing at myself because my arms wouldn’t move to pick myself back up. I was just so exhausted. I’d just taken everything out of my fuel tank. And I thought, “well, you know, you really wanted to get grounded this morning, Leonie. And here we are… very grounded. The ground is in your face. And after that I was like, you need to go back to bed.”
So I went back to back to bed and over a long period of time I learned one, I can’t do everything. Two, having a customer service VA is, is, is critical for me personally because otherwise I can’t manage. And I also need to have essential stop work times and make sure I’m getting more than enough sleep. For me personally, I need at least nine to 10 hours sleep a night in order to function that is on the higher side, likely because I’m autistic. But it’s just what I need. I need to give myself that if I want to carry on. And at that point as well, I really learned about the economic cost of burnout. And what that means is I was doing these huge stints of work with my business while still working full-time and then I would burn out colossally and then I’d have to take three months off from working so hard in my business.
And at the time I realized that, for me, if I was burnt out, it meant that I was losing about $5,000 a month in income. So that’s like $15,000 for 3 months. And so I realized that anything I could do that cost under $15,000 to prevent burnout was a good investment. $15,000 was gonna be the cost of every single burnout. And so I needed to look at how I could prevent that burnout from happening. And sometimes that meant investing in things like massages and self-care and days off and things like that. And then it was also like crafting containers around my life so I didn’t burn out and I start like I got better and better and better at knowing when the train of burnout was coming for me and working out what I needed to do, pump the brakes and cushioning myself.
So that didn’t happen. Or when it did happen, it’s gonna be for far less time. So those, that was a really huge mistake I was making in the early days, but I needed to learn that lesson. Another thing I did was I didn’t take good care of myself and I didn’t give myself the conditions I needed to thrive in the early days. For example, I became the solid breadwinner for our family and we had a baby and we bought a house that only had one bedroom. And I couldn’t work in the house because like baby just knew. I couldn’t record anything cuz if she heard me, she would wail to be with me, you know? So I was going to go work at cafes.
I was working up trees in the local park. I’m not even kidding, I was working up trees. I was living in a really hot and humid place and at one point I got stuck up the tree cause there was a snake up there and it was just some wild west fucking shit. And I was, I remember talking to my mentor, Hiro Boga about it at a time, and she’s like, “Leonie, like, how, how can you expect yourself to do your best work in these conditions? <laugh> You need to get a place.” And so I felt like a huge step to go and hire an office and it, but the answer was in plain sight from our house. I could look across to this set of buildings. I went and talked to a real estate agent and they had spare offices there and they lent it to me for 50 bucks a week.
It was amazing. 50 bucks a week and it made a huge difference to my life. So often you need to craft containers to help you do your best work. It doesn’t have to be like the best of everything, but at the very least something that’s not going to like, endanger your health or prevent you from doing work. Which some of the things I was doing did.
The last thing I really remember was when I had my first baby. I was going through postnatal depression and anxiety and having just such a god awful time. And my husband, he said “come on, we’re we’re gonna go out for, to go have some lunch together.” So we took baby with us and um, I think she was about maybe nine months old by that point.
And I was just so fucked up. I was so fucked up and so depleted. And he brought out two pieces of paper and he said, “Okay, can you just write down on this piece of paper everything that you think you need to be doing right now and everything that’s really important of like everything that’s your job right now and I’ll write down the things that are important for me that to be doing right now.” And so I started writing and I just kept on writing and kept on writing, kept on writing <laugh> and turned the piece of paper over and just kept on writing. And at a certain point he’s like, did you wanna stop? And I’m like, I don’t think I’ve got it all yet. And he’s like, “Look for the purposes of this exercise, you, let’s just say that that’s good enough”.
And then he got me to read out to him all of the things that I thought I needed to be doing. And some of those, like all important priorities that I thought were absolutely essential was I needed to become or an organic gardener with my own veggie patch that I harvested every single day and made three nutritious homemade meal meals from every single day for us. And if I didn’t, I was a massive failure. And this is coming from somebody who’s never gardened <laugh> and never been interested in the kitchen whatsoever. I just had all these beliefs in my head of what it meant to be a good mom and a good person. And I was driving myself absolutely fucking insane. And so every time, I was eating food that I hadn’t made that wasn’t from the organic garden, which was 100% of the time, I felt enormously guilty.
So I read it all out to my husband and my husband. I just still remember his face and him just going, “honey, no wonder you are feeling so overwhelmed. You know, like that’s a lot, that is a lot to take on. And those are things that are not particularly that important, nor have they ever been that important to you. So they don’t need to be that important now.” And he showed me his list and all of his list was be a good husband, be a good dad, at the time he was studying at university. So he was doing that so that he was doing that as well. He said, “Leonie in all the time that I’ve loved you, what, what I know is important for you is, um, you wanna be a good partner, you wanna be a good mom, you want to make art and be a creative and you wanna run your business and that’s it.
Everything else is just gonna have to go fuck itself. Like the organic garden can go fuck itself and, um, the, the homemade meals, it doesn’t matter. She’s being fed. And if we buy that stuff from the supermarket, that is completely fine and it’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives anyway.” It was just a real permission to just take off a lot of stuff off my plate and just have permission, just don’t have to give a fuck about it anymore. So that was a very nice relief, to know that. So those are the things that I think historically I’ve made mistakes with. An when I think about the things that I don’t feel were ever mistakes, there’s quite, there’s quite a number. I have never, ever regretted putting my kids and my husband and our life together as a central priority.
The business has to fit around us, not the other way around. I also don’t regret not traveling, not going to conferences or flying all over the place to go to events or masterminds or whatever. I’ve lived a very home-based life for a very long time. I’ve gone to fuck all things and I’m very happy. I might have missed out on a lot of opportunities outside that could grow my business, but I don’t give a fuck because one, I like being at home. And two, I don’t wanna be away from my family really. So no thank you. I also don’t regret the fact that I haven’t really had like a very high paid one-to-one business coach. I had kind of like a spiritual mentor for many years with Hiro Boga. But in terms of, you know, those really high paid business coaching experiences, it’s not actually been for me.
I did it once 10 years ago and didn’t really get a huge amount out of it. What works for me and my personality and the way my brain works is to buy books and buy programs and be an autodidact and do it in my own time. It also works for me to be a part of kind of more group mastermind experiences. And sometimes those are formal and sometimes like informal and some of those are paid. I don’t have to have a one-to-one coach to succeed. It’s just not my personality. I’m also really grateful for having ADHD and autism. Sure comes with challenges like everything does, but it’s still a gift to have a sensitive nervous system and a brain that takes in a lot more detail than the average brain and a brain that also works at a very different speed.
Like I always talk about the fact that an ADHD brain is like a Ferrari brain. It can go amazing speeds, but it’s gonna need a lot more servicing and a whole team of support to keep it on the road, much more than your average Toyota Camry kind of brain. So I’m grateful that I’ve got it and I’m also grateful that I get to build a life and business around it as well.
I don’t regret the fact that I don’t have to pretend to be professional or polished in my business. I’m glad I made the decision to share about hard times publicly. To talk about postnatal depression, my neurodiversity, experiencing illnesses like hyperemesis gravidarum, about the experience of right-sizing my business and the difficult times in life and business. I would choose to do that over and over again because fuck being professional with all of this.
I just want you to know you’re like not alone in making mistakes. Mistakes are a really normal part of business. They are experiments that give you really useful information. Often you don’t know what the right option for you is until you try it and you’re like, oh, okay, no, I didn’t like that. No, that didn’t work. That sucked. And it’s not something that you have to take like personally and be feel, oh, in pain about like, you are less than for that. It’s just information.
You’re like, oh, okay, cheers. Thanks for that. Like, and now I do something different. So I think it’s useful. I wanna normalize the experience of making mistakes in business and for you to know that you can make mistakes like playing pretty ponies that cost you a hundred thousand dollars <laugh> or hiring a sociopath <laugh>. It’s just important to forgive yourself and accept yourself and just keep exploring anyway, keep turning up.
Just because you’ve made one mistake does not mean that you’re shit, that you’re doomed, that you are bad at business, that you’ve got bad intuition, you’re a bad judge of character. No, it’s just the normal experience of life and you’re doing really, really well and I’m really proud of you and all of us for continuing to be human and do the things.
Anyway, I love you so much. I hope this has been useful and, may we make mistakes graciously and gracefully and forgive ourselves and keep turning up.
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Big hugs to you, my fellow mistake makers!
I hope this episode brought you comfort and calm… or at the very least a few giggles at some of my shenanigans!
Let’s keep making miracles happen together.
Leonie Dawson is the global best-selling author of the My Brilliant Year goal workbooks, and founder of the Brilliant Biz & Life Academy. She’s also created $13m in 10 hours a week without ever nailing an elevator pitch or having to put a bra on to leave the house. Leonie likes long walks but only if she’s reading about other people doing them while she lies in bed. She also doesn’t know how to end sente