In so many ways, we can equate entrepreneurship to parenthood. Incubating an idea, birthing it into life, nurturing it as it grows and hanging on for dear life as you navigate all of the twists and turns that come with it. Before having children, I had a dog, Squirt, who was my baby before I had my babies. So when Julia Sokol told me that loving her cat made her a better business owner, I could definitely relate!
Julia is the founder and CEO of SassClass, a dance studio empowering women to unleash their feminine expression, as well as, xixi, a creative community space for women in NYC. Here are the lessons Julia has applied to her business as a result of loving her pet and what all of us as entrepreneurs can apply to our own business.
1. What You Resist, Persists
“I have found that when my cat needs love and attention, the more I ignore her or push her away, the more persistent she becomes,” says Sokol. “I have learned to surrender and indulge her needs, rather than resist. This has helped me incorporate more play and breaks into my day, especially when I’m working from home. On a macro level, it has also helped me see that, when there’s something I’m resisting dealing with, it’s better for me to handle it right there and then, than to let it drag on and hope it goes away – which it won’t.”
2. Make It Work
“My cat has her quirks and she doesn’t always fit into my life in a convenient way or in the way I think she ‘should.’ I have had to make many lifestyle adjustments – like removing certain things from countertops, ‘cat-proofing’ parts of my apartment, and a lot more. Instead of forcing her to fit my life the way I want her to, I deal with the reality of the situation and find a solution that works for us both. In the same way, in business, I have to deal with and respond to the reality of a situation, and not what I wish it would be. When I think that a colleague ‘should’ know this or ‘should’ do that, I realize that’s not helpful or productive. Instead, all I can deal with is the reality of what’s happening, and then take actions from there. I’ve really learned to let go of the ’shoulds’ and deal with things as they come.”
3. I Chose This
“I’m the one who chose to be a cat mom. Esther did not choose to be a cat or my fluffy daughter. I have to remind myself that this was a choice I made, and as such, I am 100% responsible for the good, the bad, and the ugly,” laughs Sokol. “In the same way, I chose to be an entrepreneur and the CEO of my business – and as any start-up founder knows, there is definitely good, bad, and ugly. Sometimes all in one hour! When I remind myself that I chose this for myself, I feel empowered and reconnected to the sense that my destiny is in my hands.”
4. Make The Call And Move Forward Boldly
“Ultimately, in my relationship with my cat, everything is up to me. She can’t always help herself. I can see solutions that she can’t see. For example, she doesn’t know that veterinarians exist – but I do! I have to trust my decisions, make the call that’s best for us both, and move forward boldly – even when she’s resisting, even when the process is uncomfortable – I persist knowing that what I’m doing is for the greater good. In the same way, my clients and even colleagues do not see the big picture that I see as the CEO & Founder of my company. My choices may not always make sense to them (and they always have an opinion!) but I need to trust my gut, make the call, and move forward boldly. I know that even if the process is uncomfortable, I believe what we are working towards is worth it.”
5. It’s Pretty Simple, After All”
At the end of the day, I get to open the door to a loving creature who never has an opinion about what I say or do – or at least can’t verbally express it – and who is always very happy to see me. Her happiness is being in my presence,” says Sokol. “Her simple pleasures and straightforward needs remind me that life doesn’t have to be complicated and that just like her, I really don’t need that much to be truly happy. Things can look and feel complicated when I’m entrenched in the day to day of running my business – so this re-connection to simplicity is the perfect way for me to stay grounded.”
Whether it’s a child, furbaby, goldfish, friend or parent – we all have lessons we can take with us when we care for another. Essentially, loving another is good for business!