A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with my team.
I’m a Founder of a Brand, but I’m also Head of Community and Brand in a top Silicon Valley Tech Ed Startup.
Each week we have a wind up + wind down, where we share our highs and lows for the week. Honestly it’s one of my favorite parts of the week.
I’ve never seen any company share a space like this with the employees.
It’s a part of why I love my company so much.
I should backtrack a bit, because while you know the end of the story — that I cried in a meeting, you don’t know why.
Before I went to work in this tech startup, I was an Entrepreneur for 15 years. Before becoming an Entrepreneur, I was Mami to two boys, Cris + Melo.
My boys + I have a very special relationship — they’re really very much my best friends.
We’ve spent nearly every single day of their lives together — and in so many ways, me having them helped in the development of the kind of person I wanted to become.
Once Crissi was born, I knew that I was going to need to figure out how I could be at home with him.
It was love at first sight.
When Carmelo, or ‘Mr. Man’, as I’ve called him since he was still in my belly, was born, that love intensified.
I never knew I could love two people so completely and ferociously.
Over the years it’s been Legos + baseball. Day in, day out, it was the three of us trying to make our way through life.
Life wasn’t always easy.
In fact, there was a period of a few years in there that I didn’t think any of us would survive without being severely unscathed.
I battled depression, from always finding myself at war with their father…battle after battle of this endless circle of stand-offs, where no one could agree to come to terms and then abide by the terms that we’d agree on.
There were months out of the year that I spent in complete fear — day in and out — that I wouldn’t be able to feed my boys or myself.
This struggle created a bond between us.
Seeing their faces each day, each month and year, I would lay awake at all hours of the night to come up with ideas about things to sell, selling better, honing my skills in sales — building Influence; I hustled.
Their love and energy, and support of me kept me fighting day and night to create an income for myself.
Then build a brand.
Grew my brand to over a million followers within 3 years, now in year four at 2 Million across social networks.
Then I went back to school to complete my degree.
Seeing them be proud of me and know that all I was working for was to give them a better life was the only catalyst I needed to keep me going.
Giving up never crossed my mind.
I graduated with Honors, was invited into Delta Mu Delta International Business Honors Society…where I received an invite to apply for a business fellowship — the very brand where I am now Head of Brand and Community.
Now, you have some context on where I started, and the relationship I’ve built with my two best friends, Cristian + Carmelo, my #ganggang
Let’s get back to the weekly wind down…
My son Crissi is a baseball player. I mentioned earlier that #baseballislife. We spent over 10 years in leagues at that point. Although he’s literally a genius — scored 2 points shy of perfect on his ACT’s, has always been in Honors classes and scores in the 95th percentile year over year…Cris Loves Baseball.
Because we’d moved so much over the years, trying to keep them in the best schools — while living in the worst place amongst all these massive, beautiful homes — he never got the chance to make a team.
Now that I’ve scaled our lives, I want to support him — and will support him — to follow his dreams. I was able to get him private coaching and eventually accepted into a Baseball Academy that specializes in helping students get seen by coaches at universities + colleges across the Southern East Coast.
My son would be going off to live his dreams…
My oldest boy, my baby, my best friend.
It was such a joyful and painful moment for me…
As a parent I felt so proud of him for never giving up on his dream.
I was so proud of myself for fighting for all three of us.
Grateful; because this story could have gone so differently, and I am so aware of that.
Yet, the thought of not seeing my boy everyday still loomed.
So as I sat down for the weekly wind down just a few weeks ago and my CEO poses the prompt, ‘what are your highs + lows for the week’, I could just feel the sensation of a wave of emotion wash over me.
I quickly turned off my camera, hoping that I could stop the overwhelming feeling of the tears welling in my eyes. That didn’t help. So next I stood up — camera still off — and tried jumping up and down, running in place. Still, the tears welled.
Wiped my eyes, went back on camera.
Focused intently on the stories of my teammates…
Finally, a team member that I work really closely with, who knew I was struggling with Crissi leaving that day was speaking, sharing her moments.
You know that moment when you know what’s about to happen next…you can feel that you’re about to be chosen, even though you’re hoping and praying ‘please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me’…and they pick you.
Yeah, that happened.
I unmuted my mic. And before I could even get out a single word — I burst into tears.
Like, the ugly, Oprah cry tears…
And there it was.
I cried on a meeting with nearly every member in our company…in front of my CEO + COO, the Co-Founders, my peers, my individual team…
I was incredibly vulnerable in the most raw and authentic way.
I didn’t die.
I wasn’t judged.
It didn’t take away my ferocity.
I cried…and I just f*cking owned it.