The third thing that is necessary to become successful is to build mental toughness. To learn how to embrace the challenge of perceived rejection and things not going the way we intended. I see many people start a business, then have a few people tell them that they shouldn’t or can’t do it, and they quit.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Bradford.
Angela is a Senior Marketing Director with World Financial Group. Within five years of transitioning from the blue-collar world of trucking and training horses to the white-collar world of finances and training people, she has opened multiple offices and started expansion into two countries. She has an amazing team working with her and has the goal of creating a presence in every state and province in North America within the next 7 years.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was driving a truck over the road for many years and then that industry slowed down. This caused me to look for other opportunities and positions. I was introduced to World Financial Group then and I saw that I could get into a brand-new career without much risk, so I thought “why not,”and I decided to go for it. I would give it my best and see… I am incredibly grateful I made that decision and haven’t looked back.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
The moment that changed me from “trying this thing out,” to all in was my first payday and listening to Steve Holbrook’s story with our firm. He told his story of being on a hospital bed for a year and still making over a 6 digit income. I realized that I was finally in an industry where I could give my family the life of their dreams as well as helping many others have the same opportunity. Trucking did not provide that same option.
I was put on the earth for a purpose, as I believe we all are, and I felt that I had finally found it with starting my own business. I saw that I could work for someone else for the rest of my life, or take the leap out of the employee world and build something for my family’s legacy.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I believe everyone can become an entrepreneur. I do feel that growing up with parents who were business owners helped me want more of that freedom and choice. As a child, I was entrepreneurial for sure!
For example, I used to raise guppy fish and sell the babies. I also sold spider plants and cookies. Mom had me do the math comparing profit to expenses for the cookies, and I learned you do not make money making and selling cookies in the way I was doing it! Haha.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
So many people have helped me and inspired me along my business journey, it is hard to pick just one! But today I am thinking of Adam Dawe. He was the one that introduced me to my business, and I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t.
Adam also inspired me because he came from “nothing” and built, and continues to build, a massive agency in financial services also. Seeing that someone that was deep in debt, not exactly a ‘people person, and very unhappy with his life, could turn himself around through personal growth and development, meant I could also. Thank you Adam for your belief in me!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes my firm different is that we are a broker. This means we can shop around for our clients and find the best options for them. I was able to sit with a family recently and help them save $2600 a month because of this. That saving was a great savings 2 months before Christmas!
Personally, with my team, I also focus on core values more than just on “results”. I want people in my agency who want to change the world not just make money. This makes it a truly different experience for the customers! To demonstrate the priority of core values, I recently took 2 of my team to Fairmont Jasper, Alberta, for completing 5 simple habits and standards for 60 days. I want to reward and encourage inner growth and external success that comes from that.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Thank you for the kind words, I still feel I have a long way to go!
Three character traits I think are very important are integrity, self-discipline, and humility. There are SO many other traits needed, but these are the three that come to mind.
- Integrity to me is doing the right thing every time. One example of this in the insurance industry is that it is easy to sell a policy as a nonsmoker rather than a smoker as the rates are lower. I have seen lots of policies sold this way; however, in a claim situation the company will look for that and if it’s not accurate they may refuse to pay the claim, which would be terrible!
- The next trait I think is essential is self-discipline. As a leader and entrepreneur, no one will tell you when and where to show up and work. However, if you do not show up, nothing will get done! Self-discipline starts with the little habits like getting up when the alarm goes off and not hitting snooze. Little things become big things.
- Humility is the third trait I think of. This is one of the hardest. As you start to ‘win’ it is easy to feel good about the wins and let them go to the head and away from the heart. It takes a conscious effort to stay humble when receiving congratulations and accolades. Leaders need to remember they get where they are in life based on the team they work with. The team needs the recognition!
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
This is a good question and it made me think and dig deep. I believe one piece of advice I recall receiving that I did not thankfully follow was asking for advice from people that didn’t have what I wanted.
For example, many people told me not to quit my trucking job in order to start a business in financial service. These were the same people who also told me not to work with the firm I had chosen. But here is the interesting part, they didn’t offer to pay for my retirement or my family’s needs! If the people giving you advice don’t have a better solution, follow your heart!
Make sure to always take advice from those that have what you want. If they don’t have what you want, then don’t ask their opinions!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
I believe burn outcomes from not being attached to your “why” strongly enough. Your reason to get up and work needs to be stronger than your reason to stay in bed. When you are excited about the difference you are making, you may still need to rest, but I have observed that very few people get “burned out” IF they are excited about their reason for being in the position or job they are in.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Be on a constant growth journey. Always want to become better and grow. This is growth both personally and professionally. Read, study, and ask others for ideas and advice. As you learn more, you will want to learn even more and it will become fun!
When others see you become a leader in your industry they will start to ask for advice and ideas naturally.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
Leaders are needed now more than ever. We have a lack of trust in our countries and businesses and with that, we need people to step up and take the reins. Everything rises and falls on leadership.
Leaders create businesses that employ and create income for people everywhere in the world.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Common mistakes I see are wanting something but not being willing to do whatever it takes to make their dreams a reality.
Most people negotiate the price to win with the effort required. If you are doing that, quit! If it’s your passion and calling, be willing to do everything needed to win and succeed.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
This is very powerful. There is such a big difference between entrepreneurship and being an employee. One of the biggest differences are the relative highs and lows of being an entrepreneur. I have days where I feel like I’m unstoppable and could take over the world, and then I have days when I wonder why I left being an employee and started my own business.
Entrepreneurs need to really step into why they are doing what they’re doing. Paying the bills is a not strong enough reason. In those moments where you want to quit, you need to really know why you started and find a meaning that is deeper than just financial success. I remember days — sometimes I still have them — where I wonder why I quit trucking, which was simple and easy, to work with people on a regular basis and the rejection and complication that comes with that.
However, each time I question why I started; I go back to why I quit trucking. I anchor myself to my original purpose which was to make an impact and inspire others to reach for their best selves and build their dream lives. This has been helpful for me to step into the new role and career of financial services.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
I remember when I hit my $100k milestone in the business; I felt on top of the world. I felt that I had ‘made it’. It was such an empowering feeling, knowing that I had passed my previous career’s best income and was only getting started!
It’s ok to feel high, as long as you understand that after the high will come a low and you need to be prepared to not let that roller coaster take you out of the entrepreneur game.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
I would be happy to share a story about a time I felt unusually low. I remember when I was working with one of my agents in the business. He seemed amazing, and I thought he was going places, and then he went MIA. Completely missing in action.
He didn’t answer texts, didn’t answer phone calls, didn’t answer Facebook messenger, and definitely didn’t answer smoke signals! Haha. Totally gone. That was really tough for me to handle. I viewed him as a friend as well as an agent which only added to the pain I felt.
I had to get real with myself and realize that what I thought was real and what was reality were two different entities. I also had to realize his disappearing had nothing to do with me and was just part of the business.
By the way, in the end, his leaving made room for 3 new agents who wanted to win more than he did. People leave your life to make room for others.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
How I bounced back from the experience that I related above was first of all reaching out to people that had been in the business longer than me and were more successful than me. They were therefore able to help shift my perspective on what had happened. Secondly, I went to work, and I talked to more people than I had talked to in a while. In the space of a month, I was able to replace him with three amazing people for our apprenticeship program.
What I learned in the process was that when something “bad” happens, there is normally a seed of equal or better opportunity around the corner.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
To successfully ride the emotional entrepreneur roller coaster requires having a clear and strong reason for taking on this challenge. Why you are doing the work is really more important than how to do it. When I came into the financial industry from trucking and decided to make a go of it, I never had to review my why. I could focus all my attention on questions related to what to do next. Little things like rejection or people saying no or whatever happened didn’t really bother me. With my reason for being an entrepreneur crystal clear, I gained perspective: I knew that in the big picture I would forget these situations in the next 5 to 10 years.
Secondly, to be successful as an entrepreneur requires a commitment to constant personal growth. We attract into our lives who we are not what we want. If we want more in our life we must become more. We can become more from learning from others. In other words, we become students of the business we are in, and become obsessed with personal growth.
The third thing that is necessary to become successful is to build mental toughness. To learn how to embrace the challenge of perceived rejection and things not going the way we intended. I see many people start a business, then have a few people tell them that they shouldn’t or can’t do it, and they quit. Health challenges or family challenges can also take them out of the game. Personally, I have learned to associate the hard times with success. Normally after you go through the hard times, there’s gold waiting.
The fourth thing is to be consistent in inactivity. This means talking to the people, making the calls, and making sure to do even the things that you don’t want to do every day. I found that when I did this long enough, it became a habit and gets easier to do. Every day make sure that you are moving towards your goals, instead of away from them.
The last thing in this list of five is to really take notice of who you surround yourself with. Do they have the relationship you want? Do they have the cash flow you want? Do they have a net worth you want? Do they live the life you want? We are the average of the five people we hang out with the most. Therefore, for each person you want to spend time with, ask: is this person living in line with what I value, or do I need to change some people that I hang out with? You don’t have to cut people out of your life, though sometimes you do need to limit the associations.
These are five things I think are important to become successful as an entrepreneur. I know there are many more, and it is hard to choose just five, but hopefully this help.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is very much needed in business and life. Right now we’re in the middle of a pandemic and a lot of people are crumbling and falling.
So how would I define resilience? Getting back up every time you fall down. Not letting the circumstances around you dictate the emotions inside you.
A few characteristics a person with resilience has been having gratitude in the face of challenges, being light when the world is dark, and rising above the ashes after a fire. Of course, I’m not talking about a literal fire, I’m talking about a mental or emotional fire. The tough times that we have in our life are to see what we’re made of.
Will you get back up, or will you fall down? The choice is always up to us.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Yes! One of the biggest things that helped with my resiliency was a tough time in my life. My dad left for a while when I was a young child and I learned the value of hard work, showing up, and not being a victim, but rather a conqueror.
I also got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years ago and that completely changed my life. When your body quits working as you want it to, you must really evaluate what you want in life and why you want it. But through that — and because of that — I have become stronger. I have become more resilient. I can handle more.
I will say to those reading this, if you are going through a tough time, embrace it; diamonds are made through fire. You can come out as a diamond only if you are willing to go through the heat.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I do believe I keep a positive attitude during most difficult situations. I believe the number one reason for this is a choice to be positive. A choice to be grateful. We can always look at what we don’t have, as opposed to what we do have. The truth is I believe we have so much, that it is easy to be grateful if you choose to be.
When you look at the world through eyes of gratitude, it becomes a happy place. Another thing I know, is the challenges we have are there for our good. Diamonds do not become diamonds without fire. We cannot become our best selves without going through difficult times. So, when something tough happens, I try to think of what I can learn from it and who I can become because of it.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Oh for sure! I always say that the speed of the leader determines the speed of the team. What do I mean by this? If the leaders in an organization or company or family are not moving forward, neither is anyone else. If the leader is not positive, the team will also struggle with positivity.
When my team sees me struggle with my health and various things going on in my life and still continue working, still stay upbeat, and still be positive, it helps them realize that problems in our lives are made to shape us not hurt us. When they see my positivity, it helps them look at the bright side of situations also.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
My favorite inspirational quote is “life happens for us, not to us”. When I was diagnosed with MS it was very real to me that things come into our life not to stop us but to empower us. Things are not made to take us out, but to make us stronger.
How can our readers further follow you online?
The best way to follow me is on Instagram at @realangelabradford and I would love to connect with everyone there!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!