A few weeks ago, I was asked to deliver a speaking engagement by the team at Mr. Robbins Neighborhood, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Pensacola’s brightest High School student athletes, founded by 12-year NFL veteran Fred Robbins and his wife, Tia. The organization was in the planning process for its annual three-day career and football development camp, which provides guidance to young athletes as they enter their next chapter in life and prepare for college football recruitment.
When I received the email inviting me to deliver a presentation on the importance of social media at this year’s camp, I immediately had a sinking feeling. This was an incredible opportunity, but my calendar was booked. I was going to Disney World with my husband, our two kids, his parents, sister-in-law, my parents and two nephews, and I was planning the whole trip down to the hour. What a missed opportunity! Ugh! Vacation, why are you ruining potential business relationships?!
I began to walk down the hall of Co:Lab to find someone who I could hand off the presentation to. Surely, I could send another professional in my place. Then, I stopped myself in my tracks. It occurred to me that there were two professionals sitting in my office, eagerly waiting for new projects. Within the last 3-4 months, I had hired a Social Media Manager and Project Manager for Social ICON. Maybe I could trust them to represent my company in my absence?
Anxious Bri thought, “ARE YOU CRAZY?! You are risking losing a major relationship with Mr. Robbins Neighborhood and you are putting your reputation on the line. What if they fail? What if they don’t make the presentation perfect? You can’t possibly do this without YOU!”
Then, I told Anxious Bri to shut up.
I turned myself around, walked back into my office and asked my very capable counterparts how they felt about public speaking. Meghan volunteered without hesitation and Lindsey agreed, but she had “Oh, $#*!” written all over her face. Classic Lindsey. I outlined the things that I would like to contribute to the presentation and explained that I would still want to give a video or stream-in so I could still show face. The team agreed, and we moved on.
As my vacation approached, my head was spinning. All at once, I was trying to delegate with trust, onboard new clients, nurture existing relationships and clients in the pipeline, while securing FastPasses for Magic Kingdom and fielding questions from my family.
On the eve of my departure, my anxiety was in overdrive. In fact, I was so anxious that I texted Meghan and Lindsey. I felt like I was letting the team down.
Maybe it was the look in Richard Gere’s eyes that calmed my soul, but it suddenly occurred to me that my team really had no idea why I was freaking out. They were confident in me and in themselves. They were sure that they could keep the ship sailing in my absence, which would allow me to enjoy an actual vacation.
When I was finally sitting in the passenger’s seat, all packed, kids loaded, tickets purchased, FastPasses secured, proposals sent, presentation scheduled and clients cared for, we pulled out of the driveway and headed to Orlando.
A sense of peace filled my mind.
This simple milestone was more than a vacation. It was proof that I had come a long, long way. I had worked my ass off getting this business off the ground. Now, I was finally able to afford two employees and a vacation. I reminded myself why my Project Manager, Meghan, had reached out to me in the first place: a post I had made on LinkedIn.
“It is my responsibility to help [my employee] grow, to allow her to make mistakes without being punished. It is my responsibility to lift her up when she is trying to attain new goals,” I wrote in the original post. “This is how you build valuable rockstars that do their best work. It is my responsibility to trust my people until they give me a legitimate reason not to.”
This post resonated with Meghan and inspired her to reach out to me and give kudos because she believed in my company culture, which ultimately resulted in her relocating to Pensacola from Maryland. Now was my moment to walk the walk. I trusted Meghan and Lindsey fully. For one whole week, they would be Social ICON. Without me.
So how did it turn out?
Outstanding. The team sent me a video of their finished presentation for approval. It wasn’t just good, it was better than I could have ever expected. I took a FaceTime call with them, brew in hand, and told them there was no need for me to live-stream in or record a video myself to augment their presentation. While they had everything under control, I could actually vacation [and maybe finish a cocktail by the pool before lunch].
They held down the fort and showed me that I can grow, I can trust, I can believe in my team and lean on my people. That’s what they were hired to do. Mr. Robbins Neighborhood was absolutely thrilled with the outcome. Lindsey even found her own level of growth in presenting in front of a large group for the first time. Above all else, I made an effort to build a company culture that my team loves.
As for Disney World, it was amazing. I spent much-needed, uninterrupted time with my family, making memories that will last a lifetime.
No one else will love your business as much as you do. That’s too much to ask. But if you do your due diligence during the hiring process, set your expectations high, give your team the power to grow and make change, then they won’t just meet your standards, they’ll exceed them.
Welcome to growth.