Fortune Cookies, Entrepreneurship and a Boy Named Tony

iStock_000001064025XSmallIt was noisy in the Chinese restaurant, as restaurants in Manhattan usually are, but we liked this place; plus there are only so many places to get vegetarian food. We were squeezed in at a little table as the wait staff hustled around us. The meal was great, and then came the fortune cookies. “You can stop looking, happiness is right beside you,” I read to my boyfriend of 3 months.

You need to keep that, he said. “There is something I’ve been meaning to ask you”. He shared with me that he was going to visit his parents at the end of the month and needed to know if I saw myself marrying him. Huh? I had just moved to NYC. I’ve known him 3 months. Why did he need to know this now? Well, his family would expect him to get married when he was home.

He put off his trip; and we spent the next several months going on with our lives as a couple, having fun and experiencing NYC to the fullest. When he did return home, it was with the resolve that we would stay together and all would be well. It did not go well. I graciously let him off the hook, I was angry and my heart was broken.

Fast forward: we have been married for 12 years, have a dog and a daughter. Kiran and daddy are playing a game of pretend. She is Miranda. He tells her his name will be Tony. Wow, that brings me back many years. When I first met my husband, he introduced himself as Tony. He figured it would be easier to say.

To borrow from singer Kelly Clarkson, “…what doesn’t’ kill you, makes you stronger.” That year was one of the most challenging I’ve ever experienced, but it set me up for more than I could have imagined.

When I think the road ahead seems too difficult, I just look back and remember the road I’ve already traveled and the souvenirs I’ve picked up along the way:

Don’t let others limit your future. There will always be naysayers, people who are married to convention and anything outside of that is scary or wrong. Building a business can be scary at times; you may feel helpless and at the mercy of others, but to succeed you will have to push yourself beyond the crowd and boldly go after what you want. Listen to your heart and follow it.

Persistence pays off. It is easy to give up; to say, “Well they said, ‘No.’ so I’ll pack up and go home or try something else.” True, “no” is a closed door, but you must go through the closed door to get to the opening (“yes”). The courage is in hearing NO, but continuing to move forward. Here is a tidbit for you: 90% of second businesses succeed; however, only 80% of business owners ever start that second business after the first one failed.

Belief in yourself, and faith that you can have what you know you want must keep you determined and going. My husband is a perfect example of knowing what you want and moving mountains to get it. How clear are you on what you want? Do you believe it is in your future? Do you believe that you will have it, and that you are worthy of having it? Often we really want something, but are not always convinced the “YES” is there waiting for us. The “YES” is always there. It may not look like we thought it would look, and it may not be when we thought it would be; but it is always there.

Now that I think about it, these souvenirs are worth displaying. It’s time to dust them off. What have you taken away from your journey that needs to be dusted off and brought back out again?