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I Am Mint Chocolate Chip

One of my first jobs was at an ice cream parlor, and possibly this is why I have a genuine love of ice cream and all flavors. Most people have their "favorite," and stick with that. Myself, I always have loved mint chocolate chip; but also like all the others: strawberry, coffee, fudge brownie – even vanilla.

Even vanilla? Yes, even vanilla!

This series, "Entrepreneurs Do Not Live in Vanilla Robot Reality," where I speak on "vanilla" robots, please understand – there is nothing wrong with vanilla. In fact – most like vanilla, and most like to live in vanilla. If we are to respect and value one another, we must indeed respect all flavors, as every flavor offers a unique perspective. The fact that I am not "vanilla" and instead more of a "mint chocolate chip" gal, does not mean that others have the luxury to criticize my perspectives, judge my life choices, or condemn my thoughts and opinions.

Most, if not all entrepreneurs I know, are strawberry, fudge swirl, rainbow sherbet or even bubble gum. Why? Because they create their life day by day; moment by moment. Yes, they have a plan, but when the plan does not "work" - they pivot, and try something else. They are not afraid to go with the flow, and live in the moment. They are creative, thoughtful, unique, and if you ask any entrepreneur their thoughts on any given topic, I am sure they will get you thinking. Why? Because entrepreneurs by nature are artists and creatives - and they view life different than most. Most, if not all "vanillas" like to live in certainty, imagined "security," with a plan, routine, and clear direction - which is fine, but it is quite different than the entrepreneurial mindset. Line up twelve entrepreneurs and ask them a question, and you will probably get twelve interesting and compelling perspectives. Line up twelve "vanillas" and you will probably get one common answer that will be more "cookie-cutter" and possibly something "programmed" from their early years.

Most, if not all, who are reading this, are probably entrepreneurs and artists. And the reason I am writing this series is to encourage and celebrate entrepreneurs and artists to follow their heart compass of joy, passion, love; and understanding that it is ok to not be "vanilla." We live in a world now, where those who think different than others, and have a variety of unique perspectives are not only criticized, but are also being ridiculed, and made to feel like they do not "belong." The worst thing anyone can do to another human being, is to make them feel like they do not belong. Possibly many entrepreneurs do not "fit in" - but that is different than "belonging." We all deserve the journey to find our unique blueprint, and share our gifts with the world. We all have innate gifts where we can shine, and for another person to try and dim our light, or make us feel undeserving to live a life of fulfillment, is not only wrong - it is heart breaking!

I hope any entrepreneur reading this article will follow their own heart, find their own unique gifts, and stop playing small. Whether you are strawberry fudge, cookies and cream, or blueberry sherbet - be that! Be who you are!

Always "Keep the Faith" in your own heart and journey.

Faith Smith

I have been an entrepreneur all my life, and I have never met an entrepreneur that has not suffered from depression at one time or another. Why? I think depression comes knocking on the entrepreneurial door, once we see how this reality really works. Our society does not encourage uniqueness, individuality, and certainly not the true entrepreneurial spirit. Yes, entrepreneurs have a spirit and an energy about them, that they will not fit into any box, and they do not live in a "vanilla robot" reality (what I call the society we live in). Entrepreneurs, by nature, are dreamers and want to see this world a better place. Most of us from a very early age, remember thinking "I am going to help a lot of people." We had visions of making a paradise for ourselves, our families, and the world.

What happens along the entrepreneurial journey, really makes no "common sense". Each road is different, but is paved with similarities in terms of the content of emotions and challenges. Unless one is from a family of entrepreneurs, there is really no true understanding of their journey from their own family. Parents do their best, but understanding the creative nature of an entrepreneur, their time needed to be alone, while also their enthusiastic demeanor and their love for what they are creating, does turn many off – as they are confusing to most. How can someone love being with people, and be so full of energy and zest for life, but yet require so much time alone. And yes, alone time is indeed a "requirement" for entrepreneurs. Creation takes place in a void. Usually, an entrepreneur is creating something that is so "out of the box" that mainstream people (what I call "vanilla robot people"), do not understand what they are doing, and more importantly why they are doing it.

Why do entrepreneurs create? It is who they are. You rarely find an entrepreneur in a traditional job, or punching in a time clock. They love their freedom – freedom to create, freedom to use their time here as they wish, freedom to wear what they want – ultimately freedom to be themselves. Entrepreneurs, since they are great at connecting with others, usually get disappointed that few really connect with them – unless of course it is a fellow entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur's vision is their own, and the reality is - most will not understand it, or will make fun of it. When I started my first business, I captured a niche in the kids quality sunglass arena. Everyone thought kids quality sunwear was a stupid idea at the time. Good quality sunglasses for kids and toddlers? haha!! Even the marketing department at Banana Boat "laughed" me off the phone, when I suggested doing a package with their Banana Boat brand sunscreen and my "banana" sunglasses for toddlers (I had a popular yellow frame that was called "banana"). Their response, accompanied with their laughter – sunscreen for kids and toddlers? We would never come out with sunscreen for that demographic. haha! Now, years and years later, every large sunglass company is providing good quality sunwear for kids; most parents no longer want to put substandard "toys" on their kids eyes, and sunscreen for kids and toddlers is saturated all over the marketplace. Moral of the story – entrepreneurs have a vision no one can see when they have it (unless it is a fellow entrepreneur who also does not live in "vanilla robot" reality).

Once I started building my brand, garnering press, and having celebs sporting my brand for their kids, this is when I got the attention of the "vanilla robots.” My vision ended up to be so "stupid" that a few optical guys "knocked off" my brand. They copied my logos, marketing materials, point of purchase materials and show displays, etc.... pretty much everything. Again, most entrepreneurs eventually have to face the music that their "dumb" idea, when done properly, will eventually get "knocked off" and "copied" by others. Sad, sad reality. The "vanilla robot" people do not want to think of their own creative ideas and put in the work, as it is easier for them to just copy, and most of them know how the trademark laws work. I have met so many entrepreneurs that have had to learn trademark and patent law very fast. In fact, most are more versed in these laws than attorneys. Why? Entrepreneuers want to figure things out, and want to understand this reality and where it does not make any sense. Why are trademark laws the way they are? Why do they not protect better the passionate entrepreneur that is most likely bootstrapping his/her business? When the heck are trademark laws going to be modernized to fit the times we are living in now? These are questions many of us have asked, but really no answers, except "this is the way it is.” Ok cool.... "vanilla robot" herd reality.

Aside from trademark infringements, many entrepreneurs face disappointments and set backs that come from bad advice from their own attorneys, accountants, or both. Time and time again, there are tragic stories of poor advice from these professionals, who are supposed to protect entrepreneurs. So there are many reasons an entrepreneur may experience depression, as the entrepreneurial journey is paved with huge successes, major disappointments, and large and small set backs. Whether lack of support, which is usually the case; feelings of helplessness living in a society that breeds copycats; always being put on the defensive of why we work so hard, etc.... I could go on and on- ultimately we are the change makers, and the unique ones who will put our heart and soul out to help others and try and make this world better. Many of us have gone thru the School of Hard Knocks and have so much real knowledge and experience, that we are indeed valuable to this society. Entrepreneurs do not live the "vanilla" reality – we are all shades and all flavors! I myself, mint chocolate chip!

  • VisionPassionFaith

I have been an entrepreneur all my life, and I chat with fellow entrepreneurs daily for many many years. When I started my first business, there were very few books on entrepreneurship, and most people did not even know what an "entrepreneur" was. Today, everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, mainly because mainstream media has generalized the entrepreneurial journey to be all fun, fantasy, and paved with never ending glitz and glamour.

Having a B.A. degree from Tufts University in Social Psychology and attending the School of Hard Knocks of Entrepreneurship for decades, I have found this to be an important and interesting topic – depression among entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are by nature, out of the box thinkers, creative geniuses, have a positive "glass is over-flowing" attitude, as well as have an innate desire to make this world a better place. Much of their passion and enthusiasm is what makes them who they are. Most of the entrepreneurs I have met along my journey, face tremendous obstacles and setbacks in building their businesses. Cash flow issues, trademark infringement issues, poor advice from attorneys/accountants or both, etc...

(I could go on and on, but for the purposes of this post, I'd like to keep it brief.) In addition, there is not much, if any, support for entrepreneurs unless one is blessed to be born into a family of entrepreneurs. Any "support" for entrepreneurs comes in the form of "networking" events designed to help build businesses by providing tools, tactics, and left brain strategies – not something that is built primarily to support all aspects of being an entrepreneur – namely the creative, heart centered, intuitive & right brain strengths, as well as the personal and emotional struggles. Those who tell entrepreneurs they are "too emotional" or "too heart based" or can't take business "personal" – excuse me.... we are people with emotions, and we are not robots. Entrepreneurs, as a group, are the most compassionate, caring, big hearted, passionate people I know; and they are the ones who are helping to make this world better. It is about time, we look at entrepreneurs as unique and gifted individuals, and not "vanilla robot" people.


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