I realized today that there’s a lot of things that no one told me.
1. Work is hard.
I cannot tell you what a surprise this one has been for me. I have always felt supremely lucky to be a pastry chef, mostly because ‘work’ never felt ‘work-like’. Don’t get me wrong…the hours are brutal, the holidays pretty much ruined, and the pressure can be overwhelming. But, all of that said, I truly believed that my job was better than most other jobs, because I got to play in the kitchen.
Well, at some point, something changed. The days of playing, while not totally gone, are significantly reduced, replaced instead by days filled with crunching numbers, calculating risks, planning for the next unforeseen disaster, and trying to run a successful business. I have no regrets, but a small heads-up that I was walking down a tricky path would have been appreciated.
2. Most ‘things’ take longer than expected.
I live my life with a timer in my hand. The longest increment of time that I used to have to wait for something to happen was anywhere from 8 minutes (mini cookies) to 16 minutes (cupcakes) to 30 minutes (biscotti) to an hour (12″ cakes). I had no idea that most things can take a very long time to come to fruition. For example, rebranding from babycakes to Bisousweet. I still cannot believe that it took me two and a half years to come up with the name Bisousweet, and another 9 months or so to decide on the new logo. Others may have handled the same situation differently – (I’ll never forget my father’s advice: just pick a name already!) If only it were that easy. Whether it’s developing a new product or choosing a new piece of equipment to purchase, it always takes longer than I ever could have anticipated. My advice is to be decisive whenever possible, if only because it keeps everything moving forward.
3. Attorneys are our friends.
Ahhhhh….had I known back in 2005 what I know now. I used to avoid contacting an attorney (other than my brother) because I didn’t feel ‘qualified’ to actually require legal advice. Talk about being naive/not smart. I really had no idea how big of a role attorneys would play in my business, and appreciate the fact that other people find this type of work interesting so that I don’t have to figure out a way to make sense of the pages of legalese that cross my ‘desk’ these days.
4. The importance of a sense of humor. I lucked out, because for the most part, I can find a way to laugh at most everything that happens, good & bad. But, if someone asked me in college what key factor would keep me moving forward in life, I doubt that having a sense of humor would have crossed my mind. Being able to laugh at myself, to chuckle when something goes severely wrong, and to giggle at the absurdity of life has been a huge life lesson for me that has served me very well many times.
5. Asking for help is a skill we should all develop. I am fairly stoic when it comes to most things, and my preference is to take care of things by myself than to ask for help. It’s a hard thing to do, to ask for help. For me, it feels like I’m admitting failure. It’s inevitable, however, that we will need to ask others for help at some point in life, and so I recommend testing the waters earlier than age 43 so you can learn to do this gracefully.
6. Accepting help is another skill we should all have. Asking for help is hard enough. Actually taking someone else up on their offer, for some reason, often feels worse/more difficult than the initial request. Why is this?
7. Life, at times, can feel like a ride on Space Mountain at Disney World. The one and only time I was on Space Mountain, I was probably seven or eight years old. It was the scariest roller coaster ride I have ever been on, mostly because it happens in complete darkness. You literally cannot see where the roller coaster is going to take you next, making it impossible to prepare or brace yourself for what lies ahead. I have never been a big fan of ‘life is like a roller coaster ride’ phrase, but I have to say, it’s proven to be pretty true.
But, here’s the good news. I have learned a couple of gems that I’m going to pass along to you right now, just in case you too felt a bit lost…
Children: Sources of pure joy & temporary headaches; Great distractions from work
Puppies: More are better than less. Messy,but worth every dog hair.
Parents: Most encounter difficulties understanding that their own children may not require the same amount of nagging that they did when they were, perhaps, two decades younger. Wiser than we are, as much as we may hate to admit it.
Siblings: Always good for keeping things real, and for that reason, should not be allowed to post things on your facebook page.
Friends: Also good for keeping things real, and for that reason, should be cherished.
Please feel free to join in and share any gems you have discovered…