Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success, with Dr. Tracy Timberlake and Phil Laboon

For me, grit is this bullheaded, dig your heels in, no retreat, no surrender kind of resolve. It is a do whatever you need to do to get to where you want to go. And a lot of that is doing things you have never done before. Its courage in the face of fear, its […]

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For me, grit is this bullheaded, dig your heels in, no retreat, no surrender kind of resolve. It is a do whatever you need to do to get to where you want to go. And a lot of that is doing things you have never done before. Its courage in the face of fear, its endurance when you get tired, its resilience and optimism when things aren’t going as planned. I knew that I needed to deploy all of those things if I was going to make my dreams come true. Failure was not an option — and having grit is really the muscle in my hustle that made me keep going, even when all signs pointed to the exit.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tracy Timberlake. Dr. TT is an Award Winning Digital Strategist, Speaker, Author, Online Course Creator and Co-Founder of the Flourish Media Conference. Her job: to help you turn your professional skills into a personal brand and leverage the power of the digital world to increase your impact and income. Dr. TT has collaborated with Forbes, been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. She has also worked with brands such as Herbal Essence, Marc Jacobs, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path

Well, I actually got my start as a YouTube Beauty Vlogger. My very first video was of me on my bathroom floor talking about a flat iron. This was waaaaay back when no one was making money on YouTube. It wasn’t a thing. Eventually, 1 video turned into 2, and 3, and 300 and I realized that there was something to this digital branding thing. As a YouTube Vlogger and Online Influencer, I had the wonderful privilege of working with so many amazing brands like L’Oreal and Cosmo Magazine, but it was a lot of work. And I was doing this while still maintaining a full 9–5 job at a Law School. It was exhausting and I wasn’t making much money with either. So, I figured something had to give. At the time (2015) Digital Entrepreneurship was growing, but YouTube was still this foreign concept. Social Media in general was still kind of scary and people didn’t know how to use for the purposes of business and personal branding. So, I decided that I would start teaching entrepreneurs how to do just that! So, I opened the doors to my business in 2016, gave notice to my corporate job 5 months later and haven’t looked back since!

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

When I think about how it all began, I think there were three really big hurdles I had to overcome. The first was time! I was building my business, working a full-time job, and I was also a full-time student knee deep in doctoral work. Not to mention all of the other extracurricular obligations on my plate, like my YouTube Channel. I am pretty sure I was living off of 3–4 hours of sleep a night those first few months. Because there was just so much that had to be done. Second, I would say it was the feeling of loneliness that a lot of entrepreneurs have. Especially online entrepreneurs. I didn’t know a single person doing what I was doing. So, often times, I felt like I was living in a silo. No one understood what I was working towards. No one understood the level of dedication it took. No one understood why I was so obsessed with it! And lastly, mindset. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It takes a mentally strong person to deal with the ups and downs. Not only did I have to fight my own mindset about success, but also all of the negativity coming from out there.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I think knowing why I was doing it was really a catalyst for my success. In 2009, my older brother died of cancer. He lived in the Philippines and my entire family flew there for his funeral, but I couldn’t. A lot of that was financial — it was more useful for me to send money over than use it to buy a last minute plane ticket. And I couldn’t afford to do both. And second, getting that much time off! The Philippines is a 24 hour+ journey from Miami! Its not a long weekend kind of trip. So, in the back of mind I knew that I never wanted to be in that position again. Achieving the kind of financial freedom that would allow me to go anywhere, be anywhere, at anytime was very much birthed from that situation. I had no idea how it God would make it happen…but, here we are! And its amazing!

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

For me, grit is this bullheaded, dig your heels in, no retreat, no surrender kind of resolve. It is a do whatever you need to do to get to where you want to go. And a lot of that is doing things you have never done before. Its courage in the face of fear, its endurance when you get tired, its resilience and optimism when things aren’t going as planned. I knew that I needed to deploy all of those things if I was going to make my dreams come true. Failure was not an option — and having grit is really the muscle in my hustle that made me keep going, even when all signs pointed to the exit.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

Amazing!!! You know, the other day I was invited to a reception with really influential coommunity members. We are talking Politicians, The President of the NAACP, TV and Radio Hosts. Many of whom have been doing this longer than I have been alive! And then, there was me…It felt great.

Business is booming, my clients are getting some of the most extraordinary results out there, and opportunities are rolling in by the droves. I am so honored and humbled that this is my life. To be able to share my special contribution to this world is a precious gift. I never take that for granted.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)

1. Grit begins in the mind. Success always starts between the ears. Its very easy for us to talk ourselves out of success. Quit it! The negative self-talk has to go. Cliché as it may be, “you have to believe it to achieve it” is a real thing! Do whatever you need to do to develop this skill. There are tons of books, courses, and coaches that specialize purely in mindset work. Best investment you will ever make, if you ask me.

2. Create regular rhythms. Do the same things everyday/every week when possible. Go to the gym at the same time, answer emails at the same time, eat dinner at the same time. It sounds ridiculous, but most of the time, when clients come to me, they have never had to be 100% responsible for their own time, especially if you come from a corporate background. As an employee, someone tells you where you need to be, what time, and on what day. But as an entrepreneur — you are going to need to establish that for yourself. And when you work from home, its easy to just sit on the couch and watch Netflix (believe me!) Schedules actually create more freedom. Grit requires you to set clear boundaries, your time is a great place to start.

3. Always operate disproportionately in favor of your goal. Often, I find that people underestimate how much time, effort and energy it will take to get where they want to go. If you approach it with the idea that every goal will require you to show up more than you ever have before, you wont have that problem. You have to always be willing to do the uncomfortable thing, go the distance, push for the extra mile. Doing this trains your mind and body to be fully present and to give it your all at all times.

4. Put your grit to the test. You need to participate in healthy environments where your grit is tested. Do you want to run a marathon? Start with a 10k. You want to give a Ted Talk, start with your local Toast Masters. A lot of people don’t get started because they don’t want to be seen starting at the bottom. But grit requires that. You can quantum leap as quickly as you want, you have to start somewhere!

5. When you get tired, learn to rest, not give up. Self-care is extremely important. You have to build in time for yourself to detach and detox. I used to run myself ragged before taking a break. I would be so overworked that my body would just give out and get sick. And I would be stuck in bed for a week. The interesting thing about this is, I didn’t really know I was working that much because I love what I do. But my body definitely knows. I live a very full life, tons of travel and speaking engagements, lots of phone calls and live events. It’s a part of my “job” but it also takes its toll. So, now, I know that in order for me to be at my fullest, grittiest capacity, I need to be healthy! So, I regularly schedule in self-care time.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

So cliché but I have to thank my mom. My dad passed away when I was 7, so we lived that single parent, middle class kind of life . I just want to say thank you because she was always the kind of mom that championed every dream we had, no matter how ridiculous or improbable. My brother grew up wanting to be a professional basketball player — and she was there at every game, buying every basketball sneaker, and sending him to every camp he wanted to go to. And what do you know? He was drafted after college to play overseas. Playing a professional sport is a 1 in a million shot. But she never let him know that. She just kept saying “work hard and pray for it!”

Same with me. When I quit my job to go full time in my business, she said “ok! Good for you! Work hard and pray for it!” A few months later (after I had already made my first 6-figures) she told me that she was actually quite worried! But she never let me know that! And I am thankful for it. Whatever doubts she had, she made sure not to project on us as kids. And I truly believe that this really allowed us to dream bigger than our circumstances.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’d like to think that I have used it multiple ways. First with dollars. Generosity and giving to charities that are near and dear to my heart is a core value of mine, and very important to me. Secondly, with my example and with my message. I truly believe that who you are, who you were designed to be is meant to sustain you. Everyone should be making money based on their unique set of gifts, talents, education, and experience in a way that honors who they really are. I’ve been in the position where that wasn’t my life, and this is much better! As the saying goes, “I was just a girl who decided to go for it.” I am not a special snowflake. If I can do it, anyone can. And lastly, through my clients. I get to work with some of the most brilliant minds in the world! Helping them to launch their dreams into the stratosphere. When they win, we all win! Its like the gift that keeps on giving!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! I am so excited because we are hosting the 3rd Annual Flourish Media Conference, the only media conference with business funding for women. Friday & Saturday, Feb 22–23, businesswomen, and aspiring entrepreneurs will learn about branding, visibility, and business funding. Now is the time to make your daydream, your day job. This 3rd annual conference addresses one driving effort: connecting women with willing investors.

VIPs will have the opportunity to LIVE PITCH to investors for the chance to walk away with up to $15 MILLION for their ventures.

This two-day conference offers lectures and workshops. During both days, you will hear from women leaders, successful female business owners and workshops with business professionals to help you focus your ideas and reach your goals.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Believe in the power of your vision and go all in. There is a reason why you were entrusted with it. Its now your responsibility to steward well.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Great question! I would love to inspire a movement where people were people were said “Ef the fear! I’m doing it anyway.”
 Fear is one heck of a drug! And its such a hindrance. People don’t do whats in their heart to do because they are worried about something that will probably never happen. So…Ef the fear! Live your best life now!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I was in college, someone told me that if I want to live an exciting life, I should learn to listen to the voice of God and do exactly what it says.

Sounds so weird, but when I was 6 I dreamt my life. And it looked like this. I knew deep down, that I was meant to impact peoples lives in a way that was a little unconventional. Somewhere between 6 and high school, all of that went away. And I did what society told me was the right path. College, career, etc…only to find myself unfulfilled and not living the life I was promised. But still, deep down I knew…there was something else. I remember being so frustrated and annoyed. I would cry because I wasn’t “normal.” Why didn’t I want what everyone else wanted. I was always able to land “good jobs” but I felt guilty for not being satisfied with them. 
 Thank heavens for the internet and YouTube! When I realized that I could make money, just by being myself, literally, on camera, it was a game changer. And from then on, I just let divine guidance lead me to the next step. Its been one heck of a ride! And there’s still so much more….

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I am @tracytimberlake everywhere!

Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

About the Author:

Phil Laboon wants to live in a world where actions speak louder than words, people shout their stories from roof tops, and where following one’s passion is the norm. As a serial entrepreneur and investor, his personal and professional life has spotlighted in hundreds of publications such as People Magazine, Rueters, Forbes, Inc, HuffingtonPost, and CBS This Morning. Phil also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column on the subject of how great leaders build great companies. When he’s not building memorable brands or launching exciting startups, you can find him backpacking exotic countries looking for new inspiration and challenges. If you would like to book Phil for an entertaining speaking engagement about inbound marketing or growing a business, he can be contacted HERE.

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