Feel the fear…..and do it anyway

When I first started this page back in February, I explained that it would be the journey of a business idea sparking a new-found passion. Up into this point I have put most of my effort (outside of writing my business plan) into educating myself on cigar culture and meeting people in that world. This past weekend I finally was able to put into play the reason behind it all. I hosted my first event as a mobile cigar concierge service and it was more than I ever could have hoped for.

My anxiety grew more and more as the day approached and I kept asking myself if I was at the point of being able to pull this thing off. I almost backed out 3 times, for ridiculous reasons, like my logo not being finished yet or not having a custom tablecloth. I realized that those things were simply fear talking, that was my inner critic trying to tell me I can’t do it. With the help of motivational books in my ear daily and some really supportive friends who reminded me that I was capable, I pushed those fears aside and proceeded.

The event was going to be held outdoors and on Wednesday I got a text saying, “the weather is going to be bad Saturday”. I immediately pulled up the forecast on my phone, saw the 70% chance of rain and felt the anxiety rise again. What am I going to do I thought, who wants to stand out in the rain and smoke cigars.

I tussled with my inner critic again for a few moments and finally told myself there’s nothing you can do now but hope for the best.

Friday evening into night I wrapped up last minute bits and pieces including practicing with my team, one last time. I finally made my way to bed around 1:30am  having to be up by 5:30am. I didn’t even need my alarm to get up  those few hours later, I think I may have slept a total of 2 hours for the night. The day had arrived and it was go time.

Some eight hours later; this cold and wet day in April of 2017 ended up being one of the best days of my life. The concierge service was a hit. The feedback I received from those involved and those who saw pics afterwards solidified my business decision and has beyond excited for it’s future.

We all have great ideas brewing in us, whether it be to start your own business, write a book, etc.  We have to learn to stop giving into fear and start taking chances. You’ll never know if you’re sitting on the next million dollar or life altering idea, if you’re not willing to put it out there and risk. It’s said that the cemetery is the riches place on earth because so many great ideas are buried there. Don’t let them bury your greatness!!

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SOTL: What sisterhood should feel like

Many women like to pride themselves on being strong, independent women who celebrate and uplift sisterhood. Unfortunately My experience in social settings with some women has not always felt like a “celebration”. I’ve often been met with awkward death stares, felt like I was pulling teeth when trying to engage in conversation with some “sistas” or just felt a negative energy in the room.

Now I realize that we won’t always vibe like best friends when interacting with other women. But we should be able to show respect to each other and let our guard down enough to be approachable and willing to engage in conversations with other sisters.

Being new to the cigar smoking experience, I want to support events being held by those in the cigar world and recently decided to attend a “ladies night” event featuring a saxophonist (favorite instrument) catering to ladies who enjoy cigars, even though it was 2 hours away.

Upon arriving my friend and I were given a warm welcome from the host, who even gave us a shout out for traveling the distance to attend. The ladies mixing the signature drinks were friendly and knowledgeable when I inquired about the differences in the drinks and didn’t get frustrated because I was asking “too many questions”.

Making our way up the stairs to the main area with the music, we were greeted with a smile and a nod as we passed some ladies on the stairwell. The fellas, who are always hospitable and cool, exchanged pleasantries and told us where we could find food if we were hungry. The overall atmosphere was just dope.

Although I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the ladies one on one, I never felt that I couldn’t. No one suffered from RBF (Google if you don’t know what that is), no one gave us the side eye and made us feel that we didn’t belong there. There was even smiles, laughter, and encouragement from other ladies as I decided to be the only one on the dance floor at one point.

I can’t be 100% certain and say I’ve never had this type of experience before in a social setting with women. But what I can say is because it was so noticeable to both me and my friend, it clearly doesn’t happen often.

Cigars seem to attract a different kind of lady; one of maturity, who is secure with herself and willing to embrace a fellow SOTL. The ladies that night definitely displayed what sisterhood should feel like at it’s bare minimum. Smile at your sister, acknowledge her presence, make her feel welcomed when she’s in your environment.

“Women who understand how powerful they are do not give into envy over meaningless things”~Bindu

Finding common ground…the diversity of the cigar.

About three months ago If you had asked me who smokes cigars I would have answered, without hesitation “old men at country clubs and my uncle.” My first week dabbling in the cigar world I discovered I was wrong, I just didn’t realize how wrong.

I visited a cigar lounge located in a more affluent part of town over the weekend. Honestly I expected a room full of mid-to high income earning, snobby people listening to the live classical jazz music that the website stated would be offered that evening. What I encountered did not match my expectations, it exceeded them.

The lounge which was tastefully arranged with a bit of eclectic decor, had a posted dress code and we were greeted by a host wearing a suit and tie. As we patiently waited for him to find us seating in the standing room only crowd, I began to take in my surroundings.  To my immediate left was a small group of young African-American men; directly in front the door was the entertainment which consisted of 3 band members and a singer, all Caucasian . To my right is a table of professional looking African-American ladies, in their early to mid forties. The group seated behind them consist of older Caucasian men and an older lady.

The groups are engaged in their own conversations, yet every now and then I observe one group interacting with the other, sometimes very briefly and other times at length. Although they are wrapped up in conversations and cigars. Everyone still politely acknowledges the band and gives applause at the end of each song.

I nod in approval as I’m being led to my seat, thinking “ok this is cool”. I divert to the humidor to pick out a cigar and come back to order a drink. For about an hour my friend and I have drinks, conversation, and laughs with strangers. The band ends for the night, and immediately  after a middle aged African-American gentleman begins to set-up his equipment to DJ, playing a mixture of R&B, hip-hop and go-go music. To my surprise the crowd doesn’t miss a beat. Just as everyone had applauded the jazz band, they rock, bounce, and bob their heads to the DJ’s music.

In this moment I realize that cigars have the ability to do something that not many other things can do. They bring people from all cultures, ages, and economic levels together in one place with one common interest. Tonight in this moment all thing frivolous were forgotten; someone’s choice in music, politics, and religion didn’t matter. Good conversation and great cigars was all that mattered and I’ll smoke to that.

The peaking of interest…how a business idea ignited a passion.

I sat on my couch watching TV one Sunday evening and a business idea found it’s way in my head. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to me and I’m sure it has happened to you at some point. My mentor in my head, Les Brown says that most of us get 3-5 great ideas during our lifetime but never act on them.

Well this time I decided to ACT. I immediately reached for my cell phone, went to google and starting researching. My immediate findings halted me in my tracks, as I discovered that my initial business plan had already been put into action in the area where I lived. However it was a very momentary block, I became consumed with thoughts of unique ways to serve consumers in this particular industry. After about forty-five minutes of thinking, writing, researching, scratching through, and rewriting ideas; I discovered a concept that could work, would work, or at least I was going to put it out there and see.

Excited about the idea I texted  a friend or two just to get some input and I was off to jot down more ideas and think of a consumer whom I could bounce these ideas off. Yes I got it, my uncle, he and his buddy are regular consumers, aficionados, they enjoy the product and know the scene.

Fast forward about a month and I have gotten my uncles input and approval, he definitely thinks I should go for it. Following his advice I visit a local lounge and speak with the owner, who is more than willing to share and even introduces me to someone who he feels is more knowledgeable in the area of what I’m trying to do. I talk to this gentlemen and his business partner for almost two hours, they enlighten yet encourage me and it feels like we’re old friends.

I leave with smoky hair, great information, a business consultant, and a new found appreciation for what I now know to be the art of cigar smoking. Not only am I’m excited about this as a business opportunity but my interest in this community, this elite club, this bonding experience is thoroughly PEAKED…and I yearn to not only learn more, but to become a part of it.