I invite everyone to FLOURISH in 2021...

We've all seen jokes and many ugly truths about 2020, but I intend to remember the 8 life-long lessons I learned during those times and hope they sustain me in the years ahead. I don't want to pretend like it never happened. In fact, I want to embrace all of it to build a better future for myself, my family, and for Females and Finance.

1. FAILURES - I ended up winning because of them.

I recently shared on Twitter I was grateful for my failures. This admission included stuff like:

- Realizing I tried taking on too much and underperforming because of it

- Creating partnerships with organizations that weren't ready for my vision

- Letting too many toxic people hang out in my space for far longer than should be allowed

And the list went on, but...the win from all of this was hiring an amazing business coach (Lauren LaForge) thanks to a recommendation by another woman entrepreneur, Hannah Buschbom of The W Source.

2. LEVERAGE - I didn't need to depend on luck.

I see an awful lot of people talking about luck and in 2020 I learned more about leverage than ever before. Think about crowdsourcing, as an example. You're leveraging the pool of prosperity out there whether that be through funding or talent. So rather than depend on finding good fortune, I reached into my community of professionals and was able to leverage better opportunities for our members.

3. ORGANIZATION - I spent money on what matters.

Plain and simple...being inefficient was costing me money. You can only do so much with scrappiness then, eventually, you must invest in your organization. The year before where I made the least amount of money (<--- that means I was not in the positive, but that sounded so much nicer than saying "BROKE AF"), I actually spent more in marketing and operations than ever before. It was a calculated risk and I think we need to have more open dialogue on just how scary that is so we can make working through your fears more normal.

I spent money I didn't have to create a better long-term future for my company. And with a lot of hard work, skilled volunteers stepping up to help, and business strategy - it worked.

4. UNIQUIFIERS - I now know why I'm different.

I can't write this without a huge kudo to Eric Brotman who asked me the hardest question in 2020, "What is your laser-focused answer on what you do, Sheryl?" In his tough love request, he pushed me to get outside of just my personal likability with others and get super raw with what Females and Finance does.

I also have to give a shout out to Kristin Andree and her workshops on finding your uniquifier. I hope you'll reach out to her so she can give you the deeper chat on this topic, but for me - I had to embrace what made me and my organization different. And then, I had to go all-in and believe my uniquifier was the game-changer. And it is.

Females and Finance exists to help women and diverse talent succeed in financial services and we do that through a private online community where we provide valuable networking opportunities with like-minded professionals across companies, states, and financial sectors, as well as offer training and education opportunities, while partnering with vetted financial organizations who are dedicated to moving the needle on feminine and diverse talent and their success in their own organizations, too.

5. RELATIONSHIPS- I know who I want in my life.

And another Kristin Andree shout out because for the first time in my professional life I realized you can cheer others on even if they aren't the right fit for what you're working on.

You will literally change your entire life if you:

- Stop entertaining toxic people in your personal and professional work

- Stop allowing others into your calendar and brain who have no intention of helping you grow

- Realize time is a non-renewable resource and if you exchange that time with the wrong relationships you won't get those hours of your life back

And all the while knowing it's 100% ok to want them to do well without them being in your bubble.

6. INSPIRATION - I can find good most everywhere.

There is inspiration everywhere if you look for it. When you can let go of the negative and find the goodness, your entire life changes.

-Start a gratitude journal.

-Be aware of what you post/tweet about.

-DON'T READ THE COMMENTS! <--- This is my kryptonite, yo!

Whatever you need to do to let more good stuff in and bad stuff out - do that. Do ALL OF THAT!

7. SELF-CARE - I can put myself first every single day.

I want to send a special shout out to Kristin Andree, David Wood, Lauren LaForge, Linda Wittich, Meg Hanington, John O'Connell, Beth Moss, Genevieve Thayer, Dr. Barb Provost, Judy Hoberman, Arwen Becker, Lucila Williams, Cheryl Nash, Brandon Lee, Ryan Pinney, and Danielle Burns who checked up on me repeatedly throughout 2020. You are all busy with your work and your families and you exchanged minutes and hours of your life to talk with me and remind me my self-care matters. I'm indebted for the lessons you imparted in big and small ways - thank you.

Everyone deserves to have people in their lives who care about them and remind them their self-care is super duper important. Learn who those trusted resources are and be open and tell them what you need. These friends did this for me - and I'm proud that that Females and Finance community has this type of support system in place.

8. HELP - I can ask for it when I need it.

I went into last year not wanting to "bother" anyone and when I asked the Females and Finance community what they wanted out of their membership one answer in particular struck a cord so deep, I knew it was a great lesson for the year.

Leah Bedard said, "I would love to be able to help with my expertise more than just commenting on posts." And I sat there knowing how much I could use her help and hadn't asked for it. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, right? I walked into 2021 because of Leah knowing I can ask for help when I need it. And you should, too.

If you look at these 8 lessons - they spell the word: F-L-O-U-R-I-S-H and I intend to do just that very thing in 2021. I intend to flourish in all aspects of my personal and professional life and I hope you're heading into this new year with a since of gratitude and lessons learned that will sustain you over the next 12 months into a brighter, better version of yourself, as well.

Sheryl Hickerson - CEO, Females and Finance

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