Ep 15. Finding Grit in the Midst of Failure with Stephanie Hendrick

Mompreneur article about failure as fuel
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Ashley: All right guys, I am so excited to introduce you to Stephanie. Stephanie, thank you so much for being on the show with us today. I would love for you to just take a second right now and just introduce us to you and your story and how life has kind of taken you from one business to the current one you’re in now.

Stephanie: Absolutely. Well Ashley, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here, to talk with you and your community. My story, you know, when I think back on it, I love to start in college. And the reason I say that I’m actually an ASU grad, go Sun Devils. And you know, when I was in college, I started out as a journalism major. And the reason I mentioned that is because like, probably most of us, when we got to college, we were following our passions. We probably had a major or because someone set our soul on fire, and that was me. For me, I knew that I loved writing, I knew that I loved speaking, being in front of the camera. I didn’t know exactly how it was going to look career-wise, but I was headed down that path. And what ultimately ended up happening about two years in, was I started getting chances to speak with people that were in TV journalism.
And there was a conversation I had with a prominent TV anchor one day, and she told me about the raw and real, that was going to happen when I graduated college, If I pursued a career in broadcast journalism. And she began to describe to me that I was probably going to have to put off having family for many years, that I was going to have to move away to a really small market, maybe be in a Podunk town file. And she said, but you know, just hopefully someday you can get back to Phoenix, if everything goes right, but just work really hard. And as much as I appreciate that conversation, I have to do that being probably about 20 years old at the time, it terrified me.

And I ultimately let fear just completely derail me, derail me to the point where I changed my major to business and never looked back. And so graduating college then with suddenly a new business degree and no plan with it, I kind of just did what came naturally. And that was, as I met my husband, we had both been working in the mortgage industry and we decided to team up and grow a sales team together, and so that’s exactly what we did. And what started off just us kind of dipping our toe into things and seeing how it went, ultimately turned into over a decade of he and I taking things from scratch to scaling a very, very large, and successful sales team in the mortgage industry. And it’s amazing how, when you look back, you don’t even realize how much time is going by or why you’re ever within a certain industry or why you’re on a path. How you got there.
And it wasn’t until, you know, fast forward to several years, like I said, it was about a decade in, and we had two daughters at the time, and I was driving them to school one morning. And my oldest daughter was just kind of thinking in the back seat and asked me, she started talking about what she wanted to be when she grew up. And she was struggling to come up with what she wanted, just getting a little bit frustrated. And then she just kind of came out with it and said, mom, did you always know that you wanted to run a business with dad and work in that type of business? And I was, it was such a simple question, right, but I was completely dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say, I just fumbled through my words with her and told her, you know, no, it’s not what I always planned on doing, it’s just the way it worked out.

And dropped the kids off at school, a few minutes later pulled over on a street South of the school and had a complete breakdown, complete breakdown. And in that moment realized, I had been just on this path for over a decade that I never set out to be on. That I gave into fear all those years ago, after that conversation with that TV news anchor. Gave into fear and let go of my passions, let go of any sense of purpose. And also came to the reality that I had two daughters that I was telling chase your dreams, you can be whatever you want. But yet I wasn’t showing them that as a mom. And so, it was in that moment that I decided to begin what was a long process of transitioning out of that business with my husband and ultimately to the path I’m on now I have, where I’ve written a book. My first book is coming out later this year and motivational speaking nationwide. So, it’s been quite a journey.

Ashley: Oh my gosh, Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing that. That is absolutely incredible that you would even have the guts to take all of that and pivot and turn and start chasing your dreams that you’ve always had. That’s inspiring. So, there’s often shame in our failures, sometimes even embarrassment. So, can you share with us a failure or two and how that shaped you later in life? Like what led you to finally make that decision?

Stephanie: So, finding how failure can weave into this right. Because that’s of course the first thing that comes to mind for people, is if they’re going to make a huge pivot. Whereas In the business they have now, or doing something like I did, where you completely change careers change course entirely. Failure creeps up into your mind, you think this is a huge risk that I’m taking. I think because I have had several very significant failures in my past, and I’ve learned so much from them, I can look back and tell you exactly how each failure has shaped me into the person I’ve become. I think that’s what kind of gave me the courage to know, hey you failed numerous times before. You try this, you’re, you’re probably going to fail, but you’ll stumble your way through, and you’ll get there. Thinking back, I mean, a couple of failures that stand out in my mind, going back to those college days. So, I was a college student and I didn’t live that traditional college life.
Like a lot of us think, Oh, college, you were in the dorms and you were partying and maybe you had classes that were like late morning or afternoon. I mean, everything revolved around campus life, right. For me, not so much, I had bought my first house sometime during college. So, I basically committed myself to having to continue to work full time. So, I’ve been working full time, purchased that house and then had to continue to work full time. I was working about 50 to 60 hours a week, and then I was taking all of my classes either very early in the morning or I would take them in the evening. And so, I ultimately ended up overextending myself, like beyond belief. I mean, it’s probably not hard to realize that I burned myself out. I walked into a class one day, I sat down at my desk and I probably missed the class like for the hour or two prior, because sometimes I just was working really late and didn’t make it to class. And the professor handed out midterms and I didn’t even know it was a midterm didn’t even know. I looked at the girl next to me and I said, what is this? Is this a pop quiz? And she had the look on her face, it was just pure disgust, like, who are you? She goes, it’s a midterm. And I was like, oh my gosh, and I’m telling you, I looked at that thing, read the questions and then cried. Just tears streaming down my face, because in that moment I realized I was so far removed from my commitments that I didn’t know what I was going to do. So, I handed in the midterm, told the teacher I would email him and explain and walked out.

And what I ultimately ended up doing was going to the counselor’s office and withdrawing. But because I was withdrawing at a certain point, I ended up failing the entire semester. To make matters worse, I was on academic scholarship and lost my entire scholarship. So, they said, not only not paying for this semester, you just withdrew or now failed in. But you’re not getting your scholarship for the rest of your college career if you choose to cock. And that was, that was a huge eye-opening moment for me because I had to make a very conscious decision. And I think everybody gets to this point when they are right up face to face with failure. And it’s, what is your next move? What are you going to do? I want college, I want to go further, was it worth it? I had to really start to identify with what got me here in the first place and how am I going to dig myself out if this is something I wanted to pursue.

And so that’s exactly what I did; I took the rest of the semester off. So, I probably had like two months to kind of regain my composure, really put together and met with several different people at the school. Wrote letters and convinced them, Hey, give me another chance. Let me prove to you that I can come back, that I can do this. Of course, they said you’re on probation, so if you come back, you’re on your own dime, and we will, re-institute your scholarship, if you prove to us another full semester goes by. And so long story short with that one, I ended up proving it to them, I ended up still graduating on time. I had to make up for that last semester and then some, but ultimately got the scholarship back. And I really just had to relight that fire within me and come up with grits if anything. That was basically away from [inaudible] field there, it was just pure grit and resilience and understanding that nothing was going to keep me from graduating and pursuing some career at some point. So that was one big failure; another one I’ll share with you and it would have been 2007, 2008. We had the great recession for those that may remember that or may have been affected by it. And remember I mentioned that I was working in a mortgage industry, which was the hardest hit and the first hit in that recession. And so, I lost my job one day, and ultimately because I was a college students, you know, I could only take certain jobs. And I still had to work around my school schedule that I had just recommitted to remember. And so, I found myself failing even bigger than I knew possible, having to work a couple of different jobs to make ends meet. But I couldn’t make ends meet in, in the regards to keeping my home.

And so, I actually lost my first home to foreclosure as a college student. So, it was another, just huge blow to me. But what I learned from that one is that was a long road back because it eats up your credit. And in so many ways, it just impacts you, and it impacts you for quite a few years. And that one really stuck with me because you were constantly reminded anytime you wanted to go get a car loan or a credit card. I mean, they would, no, no, no. You were hearing no for quite a while after that. But what I took away from that, what I chose to see in that failure was that I made it through, I found alternatives. No, it wasn’t where I thought I’d be, no, it wasn’t the path I thought I’d be on or in the timing I thought it would be. But I still made it through, I chose to just learn from it and to take that. And I mean, ultimately each of these failures have taught me that taking risks are worth it and there’s going to be failure. There’s going to be massive setbacks that you don’t see coming, but you’ll still get through them regardless.

Ashley: Wow, that is so impactful Stephanie. I bet there are so many women that are surprised that you would be so vulnerable and share those failures. So why do you openly share those?

Stephanie: You know I think a lot of us when we have failures, we feel so much shame and embarrassment over what the circumstances were around it. And instead of people seeing maybe that you were resilient when you pushed through something really hard, or that you continue trying time and time again, when you failed. Instead people focus on, Oh, what are they going to think of me? What’s this perception going to be? And they’re too afraid to share. My experience honestly, is so much different, I mean, I know how the story went for the next decade plus after that moment. And because it was triumph over failure in each scenario, because I chose to learn from each thing, and I chose to keep going.

I think that’s what makes me realize, Hey, shame is pushed aside. I don’t feel the shame, I want to share it with people. I want them to know I’m human and that there was nothing handed to me on a platter to get to where I am now or to worry about how that first business ended up. There was nothing handed to me, it was not easy. It would be such a disservice if I kept those failures to myself and made it seem so easy because what would that do for other women? All that for them is make them think that when they’re up against something hard, that it’s just them. That they seem to be having a harder time than everyone else around them. And I’ve just committed to no, I’m going to peel back the curtain and peel back all the layers and just share the real of what actually goes on

Ashley: That is such a good point. You bring up so many good things that we as women need to be able to share our failures so that we can teach each other and learn from each other. Do you think we attribute ourselves to failures of others? Failures that maybe weren’t ours in the first place?
Stephanie: I do. I think sometimes it’s easy for us to get caught up in circumstances that we find ourselves in. So, for me, there’s a lot more to the backstory, I go into it in more detail within my book. But for a long time and I saw this with my siblings as well. We almost attributed failure to mistakes that our parents had made or specifically my dad. So, my dad was addicted to drugs my entire life, and I noticed that that is a struggle, that’s easy I’ve heard that narrative from other adults. You know when they were kids, they went through something similar or maybe they had an abusive parent or a parent that was struggling with alcoholism, or it could be anything.

And they see their parents falling or they see a sibling or a close friend or relative. And because they were part of the circumstance or they were almost call it collateral damage maybe. They start to re you know, project that onto themselves that maybe they’re not deserving, or they can’t get somewhere because of what someone else in their life has done that it’s held them back. And I mean, I’m here to tell you that, I mean there’s always two paths every single time. You can either choose to say, that’s not my story, that’s not my failure. That’s not my circumstance, or I’m not going to let it impact me anymore. Maybe that’s the proper way to put it and choose to move forward. But there’s other people that still choose to remain affected by other people’s failures and for some reason, believe it to be their own.

Ashley: Stephanie, I love that you share that, thank you so much. So, I know that our listeners are wondering like, okay, so we’re learning from our failures and we’re not letting them define us anymore. But what do we do when we’re raising kids? So, have you always raised kids and been growing a business, or did you have a head start on business?

Stephanie: I actually have always had kids while growing a business. So, when my husband and I had our first daughter, she was just a few months old, when I went to him and said, Hey, you know what? What if we kind of joined forces on this? What if I come and kind of jump in? And that’s when he and I kind of came up with it, his role within it and my role within it. So, while he was always at a physical office, I was working from home. So, I had an infant next to me in one of those play yards or she might’ve been napping in the other room. And then of course that turned into crazy town, right. When they’re toddlers and they’re very noisy and it’s hard to make phone calls or you’re typing outside, trying to finish a call and sound professional. But yes, and then of course we had a second daughter and so I have always been on the mom entrepreneur side of things. I’ve never known it differently.

Ashley: Oh my gosh. Okay so now we can resonate with you, because yes all of us are moms who have passions and a lot of us are multi-passionate. And I know that some of our listeners have started on your journey, where they went into something that wasn’t their passion. But they felt like they were kind of forced to, or it felt like the next step. What are some of the tips that you can give our listeners? Like, how did you handle the phone calls with your kids around? How did you manage the little kids and all the stuff? And like, we’re all drowning, right? Like we’re like help us! How do we handle those phone calls? That’s a great question right there, how do we handle those?

Stephanie: Oh, my goodness, I’m laughing because it just brings back these vivid memories. I mean let’s just put it out there. I mean, if anyone thinks that working from home with kids in any capacity, right. Whether you’re running your own business or whether you’re working from an employer, but you’ve got kids running around in the background. Let me just put it out there, there was never a good age. Something’s always going to happen, they’re always going to need you like right when the phone rings. I can tell you, so okay we’ve talked about how I live here in the Phoenix area as well.

And I can remember sometimes my cell phone would ring and I might’ve been taking the kids out to, I don’t know, like the library or get some energy out at splash pad pattern or doing something right.

Cause I was always trying to break up the day to kind of feed their speed, their little souls and have some fun with them and be mom and come back and get them into something so that I could work. And I remember this moment where it was July and I was driving home with the kids and they were screaming their heads off, who knows what it was about right. Like now someone may have took someone’s Graham Cracker, we don’t know. But I of course had a client call and I knew it was the client, I saw the number. I knew I had to take it; it was a time sensitive matter that I was hoping could wait till I got home so I could go hide in a closet somewhere. But I had to answer it, so I’m trying to bribe the kids to be quiet and that’s not working of course.

And so, I pull over into a neighborhood, and I get out of the car and leaves the car, air conditioning’s on. Like I said, it’s July, the kids are strapped into their seats still of course. And I take the phone call and I’m trying to just kind of stand on the sidewalk, hoping this client cannot hear what’s going on five feet from me, and my oldest, of course she knew how to roll down the window. So, she rolls down the window, she’s screaming out the window at me. So, I had to end up just telling this client exactly what was going on. And of course, I’m like dripping sweat because it’s July trying to deal with the semi little crisis with this client and screaming kids. And she ended up being so understanding because, I don’t know that she had kids, but she understood what was happening. And then she had a good laugh with me, and she acknowledged, Hey, we’re human they’re little humans, they don’t even understand what’s going on. She’s like, bless you for standing outside sweating right now, go get back in the car, call me when it’s a better time. And it was wonderful, but it’s sometimes I think we put so much pressure on ourselves and when things just go crazy with the kids, we just have to realize, Hey, like everything can wait. Truly, truly everything can wait and that it doesn’t look sure perfect for anyone, I promise you.

Ashley: Thank you so much for just making that so real that all of us deal with this and there’s no perfect answer that’s going to work every time. But I think just being able to embrace the chaos and really be open and honest with the people that we’re talking to on the phone, right. Like I always felt like when I was trying to explain to a client that I didn’t want them to know, I had kids. Because I didn’t want them to feel like, Oh, she’s not going to give me her undivided attention right. But when I started to be okay and comfortable with sharing the reality of my life, people understood, and they were really appreciative of that. So, I love that you bring that point up. That kind of leads me to my next question for you. Do you ever deal with mom guilt? And I guess how did you work through it?

Stephanie: Oh, my goodness. I am guilty of mom guilt yes. I struggled with this and here’s the thing, one thing I know about mom, guilt is it is isolating. Like, have you ever been there where it’s all coming down on you and for some reason you convince yourself that you’re the only one that’s going through this. Like, Oh, all these other moms, they must have it completely put together, they go, and they must play games for hours with their kids. And then when their kids nap, that’s when they run their whole business. And you convinced yourself that everyone else has it figured out. I think the biggest trap with mom guilt, at least it was for me, was that I would over commit and overcompensate for that feeling. So, for example, let’s say that I was sitting in my office and I had to just be like responding to emails.
Maybe I didn’t really have to take calls, but I just had a lot of busy work. And one or both of the kids were just really creating some attention, having a hard afternoon or maybe it was just a long workday and they just don’t understand that right. So, they might come in and it’s why do you have to work? Why are you in again? Why do you take phone calls? Why can’t you play with me? And those little humans I mean, I don’t know if they know what they’re doing or not, but they crush us when they say things like that. And it makes you feel as if you’re choosing work over your kids. That’s not the thing, right? Like you’re trying to build something, you’re not choosing your work over kids. But so, what happens is we feel that little bit of guilt and we begin to overcompensate.

So, for me, this turned into, I will say yes to every single volunteer opportunity for both my kids at their school. I will be at every single volunteer; I will throw some crazy Pinterest worthy birthday party and spend a fortune. I will take them to all the birthday parties, all the sports, right. And suddenly I was just running myself ragged, I mean, in a bad, bad way, because I was, what I didn’t realize I was doing was overcompensating for that guilt. And ultimately, I had to just kind of tell myself, like, no this is not the way to go about it. The best way to go about it is to give them that undivided, intentional time that they crave and that is going to fill them up more than stuffing their week with gymnastics and dance and soccer and birthday parties here. And it was good for both of us when I began to peel it back and not over commit myself. And then also peel back the commitments I was making for the kids thinking that’s what they wanted. But really all they wanted was just me, just some intentional time with me.

Ashley: That is so true, and that leads me kind of into this last piece that I really want to dive deep with you on, is I think as mompreneurs, we so often feel like we have to separate our business from our children. And we feel like we have to spend intentional time with them. And then we have to go hide out and work or we have to hire a babysitter and we have to keep it separate. But our reality is that it’s not separate and that our lives with our home and our family and our work, they just cross paths all the time. Kind of like you mentioned, random phone calls that we get. So, do you feel like, or how I guess do you integrate your business with your children and how do you show them kind of what it is like to be on your entrepreneurial journey?

Stephanie: Oh, my goodness! I absolutely, I love this question because I actually feel, what I’ve come to learn right. In the last couple of years, since transitioning from one business and then creating a new business from scratch. You know, something that I was passionate about, found purpose in. I mean my big why was that conversation I told you about that I had in the car with the kids. When I realized like, Hey, I can tell them till I’m blue in the face to go chase their dream someday, to go be whatever they want. But I mean, you and I both know this our kids aren’t going to what we tell them to do. They don’t do what we tell them to do now. They do what they see, they will model our behavior, they will emulate who their mother is, especially little girls. They see themselves in their mom; they’re like, Oh, that’s what I’m going to look like when I grow up. It’s just how they, they visualize things, and so I think it is crucial to them for their future to see exactly what it is you’re doing. Let them take some sort of an interest, let them understand what it is you’re building or why you’re building it. And that’s the biggest change, for the first business that I had. And of course, that my husband runs entirely now, since I’ve transitioned out. They know what that is, but they really know what it is that I do and that’s because I invite them in. I mean they know right now that I’m on a podcast interview, they know that when I’m going to speaking engagements, they ask me, what are you going to be talking about?

How many women are going to be there? Did any of the women say anything afterward or have questions? They’re so excited to be involved, right and it really starts to inspire your kid when you invite them into the conversation. And also, when you share with them the reality of it, because remember, like I was saying earlier, I don’t want to do this disjustice for women where I pretend like every step is easy. Or completely ignoring, sweep under the rug some of the big, massive failures I’ve had. And so that’s a huge part of this for me too, is telling my kids when I apply for conferences to be a speaker and I don’t get it, I tell them that. And I think that’s so important for them to understand and they watched me work through it. It took me about six months to write my manuscript for my first book.

And there were days when they say, how was the writing today? What did you write about mom? And I tell them if I had a good day and what the chapter was about, or maybe a story I wrote about. But there were so many times that I said, I sat in front of my computer and I tried and just nothing came to me. It was just a day where I didn’t feel inspired or I didn’t feel like it was coming easy to me. And I wanted to share that too, because I know these whole girls are going to grow into young women and I want them to one know that failure’s going to happen. The uphill battle is always going to be there, but I want them to know that their mom did it so that they can emulate me with whatever career they choose someday. I honestly think it’s so crucial for our kids to see the journey with us as a mom, entrepreneur,

Ashley: I 100% agree and just love everything that you just said. I think that so many mamas can take that encouragement to know that we, as entrepreneurs, as female entrepreneurs can show our children, that there is another life that you do not have to live working for someone. That you can have the freedom and the flexibility to work from home and to be your own boss and to really go as far as you want to go right. So, Stephanie, I want to say, thank you so much for being on the show today. I know that so many mamas are going to take what you said and use it as fuel to use those failures to fail forward. So, I want you to tell us where can our listeners find you and when does your book come out because I can’t wait to get a copy.

Stephanie: Yes, thank you for asking. Yes, so the book is actually called Meant for More, and the book is slated to be released possibly in August of this year. But otherwise the original plan is for the beginning of September. And so that will be coming out very soon. You can follow updates and details and eventually order it on my website at stephaniehendrick.com. And then I’m also on social, if you want to come visit me there, I’m on Instagram. My handle is @Stephanie_Hendrick, or find my business page on Facebook, which is Meant for More LLC.

Ashley: Perfect. Thank you, and I will make sure that I link all of that in the show notes below. Thanks again so much Stephanie.

Stephanie: Awesome, thanks for having me.


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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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