In March of 2018 I made the decision that I was going to leave my job, start a business, move back to Colorado and basically uproot the life that I had come to love in San Antonio. Looking back, it was the least responsible decision I have ever made. It wasn’t the safe choice. I didn’t have a single client lined up. I did not have a business plan or even a solid business pitch. I was basically running off of blind faith that all of my experiences and the relationships that I had built were going to guide me through these uncharted waters.
Now 18 months later (a startup feels like a newborn in many ways so it seems appropriate to label in baby terms), that leap of faith has pushed me to become a better version of myself through hard work, perseverance and a little bit of vulnerability. As I continue on this journey I wanted to take the time to reflect on some (of the many) lessons I’ve learned and give credit where it’s due, to all of you who have supported and guided me from near and far.
Lesson #1 – Show Up
One of the challenges I knew I would face was building a reputation and establishing a professional network in Colorado. I left Denver in 2007, after graduating from the University of Denver, and headed to San Antonio to work my first stint at the Valero Alamo Bowl. What was supposed to be 6 months turned into 11 years in the Alamo City, so by the time I returned to Colorado I had come home to a city I barely recognized and left most of my professional connections back in Texas. Way to go Lara.
So, I had no choice but to show up to every opportunity that was placed in front of me and when one wasn’t there I had to go out and find it. That meant joining every association, networking group, happy hour, volunteer committee and industry event I could find. And showing up meant more than just signing up and walking in the door. It meant asking questions, learning about other people and discovering what you could do for them first before you ever ask what they can do for you. Showing up isn’t always easy. It might mean long days and late nights of meetings. It sometimes means giving more than you will be receiving. But the power of showing up, fully present and open to discovery, gives you the gift of connection and the ability to build relationships that set your business, and yourself, up for success in the future.
Lesson # 2 – Never Fear Failure
Before today (actually the moment I started writing this) I never really considered myself as a risk taker. I’d call myself a hard worker, a strategic thinker and maybe even a workaholic (according to my mom), but risk taker was never really in that self-identifying vocabulary. But as I think back to everything I’ve done over the last year and a half it all boils down to taking risks and more importantly not having a fear of failure.
I could write a litany of examples for this lesson but there is one that resonates with me the most, the Sunset Dinner Experience. This event has been my passion project for the last year and has helped create the foundation for future projects I hope to announce by the end of 2019. The Sunset Dinner Experience is a pretty basic concept. Bring people together around a table to have a great meal and create meaningful connection with purposeful conversation. Sounds easy, right. Well leave it to me to think that the best way for this to be done is by having the dinner in a horse pasture, with no building structure and no kitchen or means to cook food. To top it off, the experience for the guests is directly tied to the weather being perfect (aka a Sunset magically appearing).
The lesson here is that events (and life for that matter) have too many variables to control in a way that prevents all risk of failure. Risk is beautiful. Failure can also be beautiful. What matters is what you do when faced with failure and what opportunities you take to lean in to that failure to create moments that shape who you are.
Lesson #3 – It Takes A Village
The final and most important lesson that I’ve learned is that you CAN NOT do it all. You can’t be the perfect daughter, mother, sister, wife, partner, leader, business owner, co-worker, colleague and all the other litany of titles one carries throughout their life all by yourself. You can’t put on the perfect event all by yourself. And you can’t grow a business all by yourself. It takes a village of people in your personal and professional life to provide the support and accountability needed to succeed and become the best version of yourself.
My village is filled with amazing people who inspire me every single day. That village is filled with people that show up for me when I need them, who are there for each event I’m a part of and pitch in to make it a success. That village is filled with amazingly supportive people who fly across the country to surprise me and remind me that home is not a place you live but a connection you have with the people you love. My village is filled with people that have known me my entire life and with strangers that have become new friends and colleagues. Whatever you do in life make sure you find your village and foster those relationships with gratitude every single day.
Smedley Events started as a leap of faith and an opportunity for me to grow personally and professionally. Just 18 months ago it was only a website and some ideas. Today we are serving clients in both Colorado and Texas while growing a brand centered around connecting people with their communities through memorable event experiences. I’m so thankful for all of the lessons learned and look forward to many more lessons to come. Below is a sneak peek at what Smedley Events has in store for the remainder of 2019 as well as what’s to come in 2020. Thank you all for your support and I can’t wait to celebrate year two with each and every one of you!
September 21 – Banjo Billy’s Brewery Tour
October 31 – Sarto’s Murder Mystery Dinner
November 9 – Holiday Wine Bottling
Denver Blockchain Week – September 30 – October 2
Global Blockchain Summit – October 3-4
Global Data Summit – March 12-13, 2020
October 12 - Heroic Journeys with Guest Conductor Rick DeJonge
February 29, 2020 – Magical Journey with Soloists Suzanne Morrison and Joel Hillan
April 18, 2020 – Journey of our Dreams with Guest Conductor Thomas Blomster
Extraordinary Women Ignite – November 7-9
Rocky Mountain Young Professionals Summit – November 8
Valero Alamo Bowl – December 31
Poudre RiverFest – June 6, 2020
Sunset Dinner Experience – Returning Spring/Summer of 2020