No matter what happens in life be good to people, being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind -Taylor Swift-
Owning a small business can be challenging. Let me rephrase, owning a small business will cause the following side effects: stress headaches, large consumption of wine, inability to explain what happened to your cash flow, sleepless nights, long work days, long work day weekends, an incomprehensible addiction to your email, an obsessive disorder over clients, inability to let go of how many “likes” you get on your company social media page, insurmountable amounts of admin work, and the list goes on…
My mantra is: if owning your own business was meant to be easy then everyone would do it. However, not everyone is as nutty as me. I started Bulldog Solution almost 6 years ago. I had a dream to deliver training, team building, leadership programs, and develop social emotional learning programs for schools as well as corporate. Then unexpectedly, I tragically I lost my younger brother to violence. I was devastated, beside myself, hanging onto a dream with a dark cloud over me. One day, a dear friend told me that I should take my pain, take my talent, and focus on developing anti-bullying as well as anti-violence programs. It was a conversation that profoundly touched my soul. That evening, I took all those raw painful emotions and I started writing curriculums, developing lesson plans, as well as designing programs to reduce violence and bullying in schools. I was determined to dedicate my work to my late brother. I told myself: if I could save one life by his story, it would keep him with me and give his life more meaning. So in the next 4 years, I worked and grew Bulldog Solution. It has been an uphill battle with many mistakes, loop holes, and challenges. I learned a ton and I am still learning.
It is not until last week that it all hit me. We ran the Chicago Park District bully prevention and group management training for 1,500 people. As I presented to over 200 participants in the first session, I saw how the hard work was paying off. I am making a difference one program at a time. I have these “AHA” moments ever so often, and those are the moments that keep me going. Over the years, Bulldog Solution has grown and sometimes schools don’t want to use us. Some principals think that by using our services they are admitting that they have a problem. They don’t see that we are all about prevention. We are about teaching the social emotional skills needed to succeed not only in school, but also in life. This year we did leadership programs, curriculums on social emotional learning, team building events, teacher trainings, meeting facilitation, and digital citizenship workshops. We are client focused. We are about providing the schools with what they need for success without adding work to their plates. My work is meaningful, I see it. I hear how I have touched lives, and every time I am so grateful! I am passionate about what I do and my goal is to make an impact. But, it was only recently that I saw it all come to life.
This year, we brought in a teen as part of our internship program. Taylor is a beautiful, smart, funny, and a driven young woman. She spent two years in our Bully Proof/Leadership program and we helped to change her life. Believe me, I worked with her and she did not like me (to say the least) our first semester together. Honestly, she gave me the evil eye each day I saw her. Over the weeks and within two years, she shifted. Taylor became a leader and she opened up. She put down her guard and shared. It was in those moments that I saw her beauty, her struggles, and her true self. So now, we brought her into Bulldog and she’s helping with programs. She was on the Chicago Park District Program, and we all were teary eyed with pride watching her be a Bulldog. She truly shined as a facilitator. These are the moments that I hold close to my heart. These are the times when I know that this business is worth the fight. It is in these programs when I get the opportunity to see my staff shine, when we connect with the audience, when we teach them, that I can see that we are making a difference.
I will leave you with this: If you believe your work is worth fighting for, don’t give up. You never know who you are impacting or how many lives you might be changing.