#SWAAYthenarrative

I Met My $50 Million Milestone in Four Years. Now What?

Business

At the start of 2014, my husband and I took a leap of faith. Like millions of other innovative and hard-working Americans, we made the decision to start a business. And like our fellow entrepreneurs, we had hopes and dreams – but no clue as to what the future held.


Pink Lily was born from an eBay shop that was more like a side hobby than a revenue stream. When we transitioned to an established website and officially launched the business, we had a seven-month-old baby and zero investment capital. Without funding and without any assurances of what was ahead, we took the risk. To keep us motivated, we set what we felt was an ambitious revenue goal for year one - $50,000.

I'm a big believer in goals – professional, personal, mental and physical. My standards have always been high, and I was raised in a household that prized and promoted the can-do American spirit we all hold dear. I was taught that a strong work ethic is the engine that powers dreams, no matter your origin story or circumstances.

Tori and her husband

But that's not how I was raised, and that's not going to fulfill me or my husband in the long-term. Instead, we're brainstorming beyond financial metrics and thinking through the larger impact of our business. We're at the stage where it's time to complement our next set of revenue goals with customer impact, employee relations, philanthropy and community engagement goals. We know that by honing in on the aspects of business often viewed as secondary, we are actually supporting future revenue goals. Strong employee engagement leads to greater productivity and lower turnover. Dynamic, two-way customer relationships lead to social media influence and brand loyalty. Philanthropic and community investment leads to better brand positioning and reputation.

These components are inextricably linked to financial success, especially for a fast-growing business. How much time have you devoted to each of these areas?

Tori Gerbig

In my head, I have a picture of the world in 2038. It's a world filled with more love, kindness and generosity. My daughter and son are thriving, and so is our family business. Pink Lily has become a trusted brand and a household name around the globe – a beacon of positive energy and a business that sets the standard for giving back and paying it forward. We're exceeding our revenue goals, but that's only part of the story. Far greater than our financial achievements are our contributions personally and philanthropically. We're successful because of our strong relationships with customers and communities, our faith and our unparalleled work ethic.

This vision of the future may sound like a pipe dream, but we're already working daily to achieve it. And I'll never forget that some friends and acquaintances were equally skeptical about Pink Lily finding any kind of success. They could never have imagined that we'd earn $50 million in our first four years. But unlike them, we could imagine it. And that made all the difference.

4 min read
Health

Tropism, Mindfulness, and Responding to Your Environment

One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.

If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.

In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?

For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.

Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.

Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.

I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.

Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.

Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.