The Confidence Chronicles – True Stories Of Becoming Strong interview series continues with the second half of my interview with the inspiring and rapidly rising entrepreneur, Tara Gentile. You can find Part 1 by clicking here.
Tara’s in the business of helping entrepreneurs turn their passion into profit. She collaborates with clients to actualize their dreams, their vision, their ideas and turn them into dollars and cents.
And she’s good at it. Her increasing business success over the past two years is a testimony to the caliber of work she does.
The second half of this interview is about shared vision, collaboration and the power of failure.
Cherry: When you were in college you said you hated group projects because they meant you had to work with other people.
Would you talk about that – what your fears and concerns were related to working with people.
Tara: I think my chief fear with working with people has always been a lack of shared purpose. Group work is difficult when the people involved aren’t like-minded in their opinions, ideas or beliefs, but virtually impossible when they don’t share common goals and a common destination.
I like people. I used to think that I didn’t, that I was a loner, but now I realize what I didn’t like was not having a shared purpose. Now I know I like working with people when we have a shared purpose even if we have all sorts of other crazy differences.
We can have different skills, different strengths, different weaknesses, different beliefs, and different opinions, but if we share a common purpose for the right reasons, I can work with just about anybody. It’s a problem when you are faced with a group of people who don’t want to be there or who don’t care as much as you do.
So I try and structure my business that I’m always working with people who care about what we’re doing, as much as I do. Otherwise, it’s no fun.
Cherry: I know what you mean. Actually you answered my next question, which was how did you become comfortable with partnering with people on projects in order to grow your business and achieve your vision.
Tara: The clearer I have gotten on my vision, the easier it is to find people with a similar vision. The clearer I’ve gotten on my purpose, the easier it is to find other people with a shared purpose. And so that’s something I strive to make more clear on a daily basis. If everything that I communicate, if every decision I make is backed up by my purpose, then I know I’m going to be attracting the right kind of people to me, whether they’re collaborative partners or business partners or clients or customers.
Cherry: I so know what you mean. When I’m laser clear on my vision for working with women to increase their confidence so they have the courage to be who they really are and do what they want to do, the kind of people I want and need just seem to appear. Pretty amazing sometimes.
What is your vision, Tara?
Tara: My vision, basically, is to change the economy, to have people like us at the center of it. I’m in business to change business. I want to redefine commerce so that it’s more about relationships and meeting and connection and less about gimme, gimme, gimme, money, money, money. Don’t misunderstand me, I like making money. I like consuming things, I don’t have a problem with that. I just don’t think it needs to be the primary, or only, focus.
I think people need to be the focus of economy. It’s a system that is meant to serve us, and we’ve lost sight of that. So my business is entirely about creating businesses that are you-centered.
It’s also about creating channels of communication that allow us both as business owners and as consumers to realize our power and realize our place and our connection to the greater economy as a whole.
Cherry: Impressive. I like that. I can also see where for a vision of that scale you need to be engaged in collaborative relationships. That’s not something one can achieve totally by themselves.
Tara: Agreed, and it’s a progression. For me right now it’s primarily working with individuals, micro-business owners, but I see as early as probably the first quarter of 2012 starting to branch out and work with much bigger businesses. I think that’s going to be really important.
Cherry: It is a progression, which is inevitably needed to grow a business, to accomplish a dream.
One of the things I talk about in my work is stepping into your power, which can also be a progression. I equate power and confidence. Many of the women I work with feel stuck. They have so many things that they want to do, but they don’t have the confidence, the energy almost, to get unstuck.
I want to let my readers know you went through a period of being stuck – about a five year period – after college. You had a full scholarship to graduate school to get your PhD, with the ultimately goal of teaching at the college level. You became scared you might spend all that time in school and then not be able to find a job in the academic world so you decided not to continue school and get a job in retail instead. You started as a barista and then became a manager.
Tara: Yes. Ultimately, I learned that retail work wasn’t for me but I gained a lot of knowledge about systems and people. For instance, now when I advise people, I tell them to get comfortable with achieving failure. You know, you don’t want to think of failure as an end point or as a need to change course. Failure teaches you so much. It’s the best thing that you can do for yourself really, because success doesn’t teach you much.
Success just feels good. It takes a lot of, I think personal reflection, to really get anything out of success. Failure teaches you things, whether you want to know them or not.
When I was a retail manager and training people, if they didn’t make mistakes during training, I knew I was going to have a lot of problems with them later because they weren’t learning to think on their feet, which is what they would need to do when they were on the job and on their own with customers. And so a lot of the employees that I trained very quickly and very easily were some of the worst employees we had. The one’s that, during training, tried something and it didn’t work out so they tried something else, those were the people that I loved working with three months from then, six months from then, a year later. I think those are the ones who went on to do bigger and better things with their lives as well. So, it’s not just about training a barista or training a sales person, it has everything to do with your business, your experience and all the bigger things you want to do.
If you are going to grow, achieve failure and achieve it often. Then you’re learning and moving forward.
Another great line with which to end an interview:
Achieve failure and achieve it often because that’s how you learn and grow.
Achieve Failure. What a freeing thought.