What I Learned in 2017

2017 was an interesting year. At the beginning of 2017, my Amazon business was struggling. I applied to a few ecommerce jobs. I didn’t hear back from any when I was looking. Funny enough, I did hear back months later.

In March, I decided to fly out to ASD in Las Vegas. I was in a few Amazon Facebook groups and I saw a lot of big sellers talk about ASD. I had always thought that an Amazon business was a passing fad and that it couldn’t be sustainable, long-term, but I wanted to find out for myself. So I flew out to ASD and I met a number of 7 figure sellers.

I met Tyler Nelson, a young man younger than me, who had done 7 figures on Amazon. He was well known for arbitraging video games. I also met his friend Chris Anderson. I met a college student named Avraham, also younger than me, who had done 6 figures in his first couple months on Amazon. I met Jason Clark, Devan Simon, and Christopher Grant. I also had the great pleasure of meeting Bob Steele and his amazing wife.

Robyn Johnson from Best of the Nest runs free educational sessions for IMA at ASD. I attended almost every session by Robyn, Andy Slamans, Liran Hirschkorn, Eddie Levine, and more. I learned about how to buy wholesale and sell on Amazon as well as private label.

I remember speaking to Eddie and asking him about coaching programs like Seller Success Academy from Jamie Miralles.

Bob told me about a great Amazon conference by Sam E. Cohen, the ACE conference in New Jersey. I took subway, train, and taxi to attend. Sam asked me to share my notes from the conference and I think that’s what got me on the tiny radar of Amazon sellers. Or at least, I think that’s what got Jamie’s attention.

Between April and May, I was dumped by my ex and met the love of my life a few weeks later. Then I was super fortunate to be able to join Seller Success Academy. I was super grateful when I was able to learn from a number of other guest coaches like Eddie, Greg, and Dan.

Seller Success Academy gave me a major mindset change. I wasn’t batting for my first 6 figures anymore, I was batting for 7. I was nowhere close to batting towards 6 or 7, but that’s what I was building towards. But imagine that within 6 months, I went from applying to jobs to trying to build a 7 figure business. I still remember the monthly revenue I needed, $87,000+.

In June, I went to the Rocky Mountain Seller’s Conference and Boost with FBA. I got my first office and my first team members. Then I flew out to Europe for a few weeks with my new boyfriend at the time. Talk about a crazy change and even more crazy was that when we got back, I moved in with him.

I moved my office to Williamsburg, did my highest month, and then my grandmother passed away.

My world went dark.

I was so close to achieving my dream of 7 figures and I didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t know what I wanted anymore.

When I was able to motivate myself to go after those 7 figures again, my partner said something to me that made me realize I had become my worst nightmare, the person I never wanted to be. He said, “One million, one million… Is it really that important?”

I realized that the most painful moment for me in my life so far was the last time I saw my grandmother when she was healthy. She asked me to stay longer so she could cook me lunch and I told her I was busy and I had to go. She was angry. That was my last conversation with my grandmother and to this day, I hate myself. I was too busy building a 7 figure business to take time to eat a homemade meal from my grandmother. I didn’t want to be that person ever again.

So I started searching. What did I want to do?

When I started my company, I started it with the dream that it would be like no other. I didn’t use any virtual assistants. I reached out to college students in my network hoping that I could help develop a few careers. Unlike when I was interning, I paid all my interns and assistants at least minimum wage. I had no unpaid interns and for me, that was a real accomplishment because there were some months when my interns were making more than me. In the desire to pass it forward, I bought an intern their first conference ticket for $250+.

It wasn’t good enough. I was not a good leader or a manager. I had a lot of issues. Luckily, now I know better and I got there from trying. Today I know, that your team is everything, and you won’t get very far without a great team.

While all this was okay, there wasn’t a major overarching mission for my business. There wasn’t anything I could or wanted to use to inspire my team. I didn’t want to inspire my team with we’re aiming for 7 figures. That’s not good enough. It wasn’t good enough for them and soon enough, it wasn’t good enough for me. I had gotten a taste of those 7 figures and all I could think of was my uncle who mourned at my grandmother’s funeral, that he had been a terrible son because he hadn’t been there while he was building his 7 figures. I wanted 7 figures another way.

I watched Plastic China and I saw this girl, at the top of this page, who couldn’t afford to go to school. Her parents picked plastic to recycle. It was not a feel-good documentary and I remembered my high school dreams of wanting to change the world. Every child should be able to go to school.

It might have been Paul Graham, I’m not sure, but someone said to work on the hard problems of your generation, and a major problem of society today is plastic. We produce over 400 million tons of plastic every year and recycle a tiny amount of it. It ends up in our landfills and our waterways.

If that’s not bad enough, there are plastics that are toxic to our health but that are still used in our everyday consumer products. There is no regulatory agency safeguarding our health when it comes to new polymers or what not. I don’t know why. A month ago, I couldn’t tell you what polyethylene was or what a phthalate is, nevertheless spell it.

I still have yet to figure it out but I have a good feeling that I’m on the right track.

When I decided that I could recycle plastic to make safer consumer products, I felt such an amazing peace that I hadn’t felt in months maybe years.

The world was filled with opportunity but now I had an opportunity to create value in a way I wanted to. Now my business goals aligned with me and my dreams. It wasn’t just 7 figures. It was one million lives.

I’ve also made my peace with my mental health this year.

Maybe I chose entrepreneurship because I can be so easily destabilized. Maybe financial freedom isn’t a desire for me but a need. Maybe I can’t hold a regular job with regular hours. Who knows.

Now I know more on how to plan around my weaknesses and turn my weaknesses into strengths.

2016, I did less than $50k.
2017, I hit my first 6 figure year.

I’m ready to sucker punch 2018. The world better watch out because I want to introduce healthier, safer products and help out with our plastic problem on the way.

tl;dr lessons for 2017:

  1. Dare
  2. Network
  3. Ask
  4. Be yourself

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