Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo / PeterDenovo
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. But when business circumstances, or life, dumps a truck load of lemons on you, it can be really hard to pick yourself up and move forward. That’s why I’m super excited about today’s guest, CJ Scarlet. She has overcome the trauma of physical assault and turned it into her super power as a serial entrepreneur. Now THAT’s resilience. It’s an amazing story of discipline, grit, and determination.
What You’ll Discover About Resilience (highlights & transcript):
- The most important personal habit that supports resilience. [2:58]
- When she needed resilience the most: CJ’s worst moment as an entrepreneur [5:24]
- How being self-aware and learning from the past enables resilience. [7:09]
- Why you need community support to nurture your resilience. [7:53]
- How having a trusted sounding board, a mentor, a coach, promotes resilience. [9:08]
- Why maintaining harmony is better than balance to create more resilience in your life. [16:06]
- And much MORE.
Hanna Hasl-Kelchner: [00:00:00] Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, but when business circumstances or life dumps a truckload of lemons on you, it can be really hard to pick yourself up and move forward. That’s why I am super excited about today’s guest. She has overcome the trauma of physical assault and turned it into her superpower as a serial entrepreneur. Now that’s resilience.
Announcer: [00:00:27] This is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner helping you see business issues hiding in plain view that matters to your bottom line.
Hanna: [00:00:39] Welcome to Business Confidential Now, I’m your host, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, and today’s guest, Ms. C.J. Scarlett, is a truly remarkable woman. She’s a natural born fighter who’s channeled the emotional aftermath of trauma associated with childhood sexual assault and rape as a college freshman into a force to be reckoned with by first taking back her power and then using those experiences to advocate for those who have been victimized or who could be victimized. And over the past 30 years, she has helped thousands of survivors reclaim their power too.
Hanna: [00:01:17] For example, she’s used her authority and influence to run a child advocacy center for abused children and serve as Director of Victims Issues for the North Carolina Attorney General’s office. She’s helped business leaders drive more employee engagement through employee development efforts when she headed her corporate coaching company and she developed technology solutions to deter acts of violence in yet another business venture she founded called Ten for Humanity LLC.
Hanna: [00:01:46] But more recently, she’s also been known as the Badass Grandma and the author of the book Bad Ass Parenting: An Irreverent Guide to Raising Safe, Savvy, Confident Kids and its twin, the more PG rated version of that book entitled Heroic Parenting, which helps parents transform their kids into little bad asses who can protect and defend themselves from dangerous people.
Hanna: [00:02:12] So you’ve noticed a theme going through here. Now through a number of twists and turns, that unifying thread in her entrepreneurial journey has been resilience and living her truth and fighting for victims’ rights in multiple ways. Even though C.J. holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in humanities with an emphasis on human violence. She’s been named one of the Happy Hundred people on the planet and her story of triumph over adversity is featured in the bestselling books Happy for No Reason and Be Invincible. So I can’t wait for her to tell us all how to be invincible. Let’s bring her on.
Hanna: [00:02:51] Welcome to Business Confidential Now C.J.
C.J. Scarlet: [00:02:55] And I am so thrilled to be here, thank you for having me.
Most Important Personal Habit that Supports Resilience
Hanna: [00:02:58] Well, this is exciting because you really have a very impressive story. I mean, just one of the things you’ve gone through could, turn somebody, could put them in a tailspin and keep them in their shell for a good, good portion of their life, if not forever. And so for you to come out fighting and swinging and advocating for people who have been through similar situations, but what I really enjoy is the way you have channeled it in multiple ways to address the same underlying problem and the most recent being your books for parenting so that children don’t become victimized. I think that is really commendable. And so to start with, can you tell me what personal habits have contributed to your success?
C.J.: [00:03:50] When I was 19, I was a U.S. forest firefighter and then joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a photojournalist and I learned to develop a strong work ethic and among that was discipline. And I would say that discipline and resilience have been the two themes that have enabled me to succeed in my businesses.
Hanna: [00:04:10] Wow. Well, what was it about those two experiences that drove home? Discipline?
Hanna: [00:04:16] I mean, I understand the Marines. I think everybody understands the Marines. So kudos to you because we all know you can really kick some butt.
C.J.: [00:04:26] Discipline is really important for an entrepreneur, as you know, because you’re working on your own schedule. You call the shots. Right? And if you don’t have discipline, you don’t have a business because you’ve got to be able to know your priorities, set your goals, set tasks, and then follow through with those. And without discipline, you get nowhere.
Hanna: [00:04:46] And it’s hard sometimes because a new idea comes along. You know, the shiny object. Oh, I could do this. Oh, what about this? Yeah, I could use that.
C.J.: [00:04:54] Oh yes. I suffer from that. I have pro energy and the next shiny object; the next new idea was always dragging me around. And so it takes discipline to be able to let those things go and focus on, you know, your original idea.
Hanna: [00:05:07] That’s very true. That’s true. I call them my candlesticks. You know, you’re building a house. You’ve got this great floor plan. But as you’re shopping, you find these beautiful candlesticks that are going to look great on the mantel. So you’re like, I don’t need it now, but I could in the future. I got a closet full of them.
Needing Resilience: Her Worst Moment as an Entrepreneur
Hanna: [00:05:24] And anyhow, anyhow, what was your worst moment as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
C.J.: [00:05:29] In 1999, I started my very first venture, which was called Healing Tree, and it was a company for boomers basically that was going to sell them products for people with disabilities because they were living with their own disabilities and they were caring for aging parents with disabilities. And it was a very novel Internet company during the Internet boom. And the reason it was novel is that we were going to have the first database that was searchable by body part, activity, and medical conditions so that if your grandmother broke her hip, you could put in broken hip and it would come up with 10 things she could use to make her life easier, more comfortable, when she was in the car or the kitchen or the bathroom. And we were developing this database and things were going great.
C.J.: [00:06:12] I was the darling of the venture community. I was being invited into the chancellor’s box at the at the NC State game and was being toasted and winning awards for my company as one of the top ten companies to watch. And then I got sick. I was diagnosed with lupus and scleroderma in 1990. And by 1990 or by 2000, I was struck by the lupus. It took me down and it took me down hard, to the point that I was told I was terminally ill.
Hanna: [00:06:39] Wow.
C.J.: [00:06:40] Yeah. And I had to close down the company and Hanna it broke my heart.
Hanna: [00:06:45] I’m sure, that was your baby.
C.J.: [00:06:47] I love what I’m doing. Yes. Yes. It was my baby and I was sick for a number of years before I was able to get well enough again to work. But letting that go, it was hard because I also invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in that that were just gone.
Hanna: [00:07:00] Wow.
C.J.: [00:07:01] Just gone.
Hanna: [00:07:02] That is definitely hard to process for sure. For sure.
C.J.: [00:07:07] That was definitely the worst moment.
Resilience is Self-Awareness and Learning From the Past
Hanna: [00:07:09] If you had your chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
C.J.: [00:07:13] If anything, I would have started sooner. I had the idea almost a year before and I wasn’t getting support from my family to make the leap from working full time for a corporation to being an entrepreneur. And so I hesitated and started in 1999 instead of 1998. And the reason I would have started sooner is that if we had that extra year of ramp time to build the company up, I think we could have it bought by one of the medical services, medical products suppliers or distributors.
Hanna: [00:07:46] Right.
C.J.: [00:07:47] Or WebMD or someone like that before the dotcom bust. And we could have we could have made a really nice deal for that.
How the Right Community Support Nurtures Resilience
[00:07:53] Timing is everything. And so is family supportive because. . .
C.J.: [00:07:57] Yes it is.
Hanna: [00:07:57] Oh, my gosh, in the beginning, how many hours did you put in as you were trying to get this ramped up?
C.J.: [00:08:02] Oh, my gosh. I was putting in 16-hour days. Easily,
Hanna: [00:08:04] Easily, easily. And so if you don’t have family support to pick up the things that you can’t do otherwise because you’re focused 100%, 110% on your business startup, things fall between the cracks. Relationships start having stress cracks.
C.J.: [00:08:21] They do. And my husband was actually pretty supportive. But my parents were not. My colleagues were not because they just they kept saying, “well, you know what if you fail?” “What if it doesn’t happen?” It’s like, I don’t need to hear that. I need to hear C.J. go for it. You don’t always have cheerleaders in your cheering section that you need. And so you have to take the ones you’ve got and run with those and keep cheering yourself on as you go.
Hanna: [00:08:47] Yeah, the thing is, it’s hard too because sometimes your family is your biggest cheerleader and it’s just because they want to make you feel good instead of telling you the truth. So it’s kind of hard to know.
C.J.: [00:08:57] That’s true. It’s a fine balance.
Hanna: [00:08:59] You know, Lady Gaga said once in one of her interviews her father didn’t think she could make a living singing. But she proved him wrong.
C.J.: [00:09:07] Good for her.
How the Right Sounding Board Nurtures Resilience
Hanna: [00:09:08] Yeah, most definitely. Most definitely. Now, behind every successful business is at least one advisor mentor, or a business coach, an influencer of some kind. Who has helped you along your journey, because you have taken it to all kinds of levels?
C.J.: [00:09:26] There’s a woman named Mary Cantando who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, right near where I live. And she was a very, she was had two success, very successful tech companies of her own. And then she started writing business books for women entrepreneurs. And she was also a coach and I really, really, really want her to be my coach. But I knew I couldn’t afford her. And so I got clever. She was also the chair of the Women Presidents organization, which is for businesses owned by women who have more than a million dollars in revenue. And I needed help to get to that million-dollar level.
C.J.: [00:09:58] So I asked Mary if she would meet with me and she agreed. And I proposed the idea that she start a different group for women to get them to that million-dollar level. And she loved it and ran with it. And so she started the Woman’s Advantage, which did exactly that. It was a peer support group that she facilitated. And then, but now is international, that helped women. We met for three hours once a month. And as I said, it was kind of a peer support group. Mary’s input was critically important and it helped you to identify new strategies, new tactics, and provided that cheering section that we so desperately needed. And she’s had a number of women who have reached that million-dollar level and far beyond as a result of that Woman’s Advantage program.
Hanna: [00:10:45] Well, it sounds like a big mastermind group.
C.J.: [00:10:47] It is. It is a big mastermind group, but it’s so affordable, it’s like Vistage or even better because it’s all women. No offense to the guys, but it’s all women. Women tend not to talk up as much in mastermind groups where men are present. So these were a women’s mastermind group. But it also provided this environment that was so inviting and so supportive. There was nothing like it. I’ve been in many, many mastermind groups. First of all, this one was extremely affordable. It was about a tenth of the price of Vistage.
Hanna: [00:11:19] Wow.
C.J.: [00:11:20] It was very affordable and very accessible and a lot of a lot more fun. I’ve been in Vistage and it’s a lot more fun.
Best Piece of Business Advice
Hanna: [00:11:27] What was the best piece of advice you received? Was it from the that mastermind group?
C.J.: [00:11:34] No, actually, it was from one of our business partners. I was CEO of that international coaching company called Roving Coach International, and I had two business partners and we had 50 coaches in the USA, the UK, US and Canada. And one of my business partners, Nicole Dunn, who was an extraordinary coach in her own right, taught me how to have fun. And that was her advice to me was to have fun. And so we injected fun into everything we did from our press releases to our ways of celebrating every little sale and win with champagne and our retreats that we had that were just so loaded with fun that I mean, I just never knew that business could be that much fun.
Hanna: [00:12:12] Everybody should start a business.
C.J.: [00:12:15] Now.
C.J.’s Advice for Start-ups
Hanna: [00:12:16] So what advice would you have for somebody who’s got startup fever? Because in the current economic climate, more than ever, some people probably don’t have a lot of choice and feel forced into entrepreneurship of some kind. Because the job market, which happens from time to time, is not as welcoming to new hires as it might otherwise be. So what advice would you have for someone who’s got an idea? What do they do next? I got an idea. And they got a burning desire to be the next Google, say, or high-tech startup or whatever startup. There’s so many different types of goods and services that can be provided and so many needs that are unmet. But what would you tell them to be the first step?
C.J.: [00:13:01] Well, this is such an important question here, because you’re right. Covid-19 has forced a lot of businesses to pivot. But it’s also . . . a lot of people lost their jobs, their traditional corporate jobs for sales jobs or, you know, retail jobs. And they have to pivot too. Individuals are having to pivot. And so many of them are starting new ventures so that they can have an income.
C.J.: [00:13:23] And so several pieces of advice that I could offer to start, I would say, know your market. Make sure that what you want to do is actually wanted by your target market. And that means starting with who your target market is. I found in all my ventures that my target ends up being, looking exactly like me. I know what I want and what I need. And when I identify something that I want and need, that’s not out there in the marketplace the chances are good there are other people like me who I’ve identified that same want and need.
C.J.: [00:13:56] But, you got to ask. You got to figure out who the target market is and you got to ask. You got to start asking people, “have you ever wondered if?” Have you ever wished this? Or have you, what are your pain points? What keeps you up at night? Identifying those areas, where there’s something that you know that you can do that they need and matching it with the market is one of the first steps that you need to take, and I would say also that you need to go in knowing that it’s hard to be, if you’re doing something creative, if you’re doing something that’s a really, really good at that – there’s a book called E-Myth Revisited, and I’m sure you’re familiar with that, Hanna.
C.J.: [00:14:40] And the book talks about how the “technician,” the person who knows how to do the things, sell the thing, create the thing, make the thing is called the technician, whether you’re really technical or not, is really good at doing the thing, but they’re not necessarily good at running a business. This is really especially true with coaches. I know so many coaches who make less than five thousand dollars a year because they’re such great coaches, but they don’t know how to market and sell themselves or they’re afraid to market and sell themselves for fear that they’ll get no. And it leaves them high and dry.
C.J.: [00:15:15] And so you’ve got to make sure that what you know you can do well, that others are going to want and need, matches your ability and this can grow with you. You know, that you can grow your ability to actually run a business and sustain that business. And so the book, I would recommend the book E-Myth Revisited to anybody, because it talks about how to build a business in such a way that you can be the technician, do the thing, but also remove yourself from that thing you do, to be able to make business decisions.
Hanna: [00:15:50] And that’s so critical because if you’re doing everything, then that’s not a whole lot of business. I mean, you’re self-employed, but there’s no structure.
C.J.: [00:16:02] There’s no structure.
Hanna: [00:16:03] It’s only what you can do.
C.J.: [00:16:05] And if you’re in the trenches all the time.
Hanna: [00:16:06] Yeah
How Harmony Enhances Resilience
C.J.: [00:16:06] And if you’re in the trenches all the time, then you can’t get out. And you’re not getting out of the trenches to see the lay of the land, meaning the market and what’s coming next. Being able to pivot and be able to make strategic decisions about what to do next. You’ll run your business into the ground.
Hanna: [00:16:21] And you’ll run your health into the ground, too, because you’re going to be exhausted.
C.J.: [00:16:25] Well, that’s exactly what I did. I have to tell you, Hanna, that, you know, one thing I found is that balance as an entrepreneur is probably the most important. I don’t want to use the word balance; I’m just going to say harmony rather than balance because balance is stasis. Balance doesn’t really go anywhere. It keeps things at 50 -50. But harmony is kind of a slowey-thing where sometimes you work 16 or 18 hours a day, but then you compensate by giving yourself a break and taking a day off.
C.J.: [00:16:52] I was not that person. The reason I became ill in 2000 is that I was working 16 hours a day every single day. I had no balance; I had no harmony in my life. I had no play in my life. I had no fun in my life. I had work in my life and sleep. And that was essentially my life. And that is so unhealthy. And a lot of entrepreneurs get caught in that trap or they’re like, I got to make that call, I’ve got to write this plan, I’ve got to call that person. And you can’t do it all in one day. You can’t do it all the time. Can’t be on all the time. You got to give yourself a break. It’ll get done. Surround yourself by people who can support you administratively or figuring out the things you love to do and doing those and letting other people handle the rest by delegating or just releasing some of the things that aren’t necessary as important. But you’ve got to be able to find that harmony, that flow, because you will become ill. I know so many, especially the women entrepreneurs who fight health issues as a result of not having any kind of harmony in their life.
Hanna: [00:17:57] I like the way you used the word harmony instead of balance because, you know, it’s things can be out of balance every once in a while. But, you know, it’s kind of like my bathroom scale goes up. It goes down, you know.
C.J.: [00:18:10] Yeah. Your body’s not out of balance. It’s just in harmony.
Hanna: [00:18:13] There you go. That’s a good. And by the way, that book that you mentioned for our listeners, just want to let you know that I will have a link to that book on the episode page of C.J.”s interview. So not to worry, if you are in the car or you’re walking and listening, we’ll get that to you so you can come on over to BusinessConfidentialRadio.com and CJ’s episode page. We’ll have that link for you.
Hanna: [00:18:38] But you’re absolutely right about the need for harmony and focusing on what you do really well instead of trying to do everything. I think there’s a lot of automation that can help these days, too. That wasn’t around 20 years ago. And people need to make use of that wherever they can and pace themselves.
The Interns Can Provide Much Needed Assistance
C.J.: [00:18:56] And interns, interns, interns. Oh, my gosh, I can’t say enough about this. I was making myself literally sick because I was trying to do everything and I couldn’t afford to hire a team. And I learned that you can use interns. There’s a Web site called Internships.com, and that’s internships with an S at the end dotcom. And you can post a job. You can choose the field of study that the college student, a graduate student, is in. You can you can post anything, absolutely anything. And, you know, it’s nice if you offer to pay them eight or ten bucks an hour, but some of them are unpaid positions. And these kids, some of them need class credits, so they’ll do it for free. All of them need the experience. I always like to pay at least eight or ten dollars an hour to an intern. I mean that’s really important just because they’re going to work their butts off and it’s a nice thing to do. And so I have an intern right now. I pay her $350 a month and she does all of my social media. I touch nothing.
Hanna: [00:19:58] Good for you.
C.J.: [00:19:59] For even $350 a month.
Hanna: [00:20:00] Good. Because when the show goes live she needs to promote that too.
C.J.: [00:20:05] Yes. And she’s getting tons of experience in the process and she loves what she does and she’s so good at it.
Hanna: [00:20:12] Well that’s what counts, that’s what counts.
C.J.: [00:20:14] Everybody wins.
Hanna: [00:20:14] Yeah. It’s a win-win. And I think one of the hard things for people that are wired to “oh no, only I know only I can do it” is to let go.
C.J.: [00:20:23] Yes, you must let go. And that’s again, that book E-Myth Revisited that I keep harping on. We’ll talk about that. If you don’t let go, you’re going to run yourself and your business into the ground.
Hanna: [00:20:33] Yeah, because you can’t do it all. It’s impossible. Or maybe you can, just not all at once. And therein lies the problem of getting burnt out. Yes, definitely. Definitely. Well, our time is starting to run to a close. And I have I could talk to you for a whole hour and more. You know, when all this Covid stuff clears up, I’d love to be able to have lunch again.
C.J.: [00:20:58] I would love that.
Hanna: [00:20:58] Do you have any parting thoughts for our listeners?
“To get what you want, give it away.”
C.J.: [00:21:01] Yes, there’s a piece of wisdom and a quote. The quote is by Scarlet. And the quote is “To get what you want, give it away.” And by that, I mean, if you want respect, you have to offer it. If you want business, you have to give it. If you want referrals, give referrals to other businesses. So if you want testimonials, don’t just ask somebody for a testimonial, give them a testimonial and then say, by the way, if you feel so moved, I like a testimonial from you.
C.J.: [00:21:01] Think about the vendors that you work with, think about the companies you want to work with and send business to them. And they’re going to be far more likely to send business back to you. You don’t do it just to get it back. But I’m telling you that when you give with a generous heart and think about how this can impact you and your business and other people’s businesses; it will come back to you so many fold. It’s just you won’t believe it.
Hanna: [00:21:55] Wise words from a wise woman. Thank you so much, C.J.
C.J.: [00:22:00] Hanna. It’s been a delight.
Hanna: [00:22:02] That’s our show for today. Thank you for joining me. If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest, you can go to our website at BusinessConfidentialRadio.com. It’s got a lot of other powerful information and resources available to help your business grow, so be sure to check that out. The Web site again is BusinessConfidentialRadio.com.
Hanna: [00:22:23] I’m Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, and you’ve been listening to Business Confidential Now. Have a great rest of the day and an even better tomorrow.
Guest: CJ Scarlet
CJ Scarlet is a natural born fighter who channeled the emotional aftermath of trauma associated with childhood sexual assault and rape as a college freshman into a force to be reckoned with, by first taking back her power and then using those experiences to advocate for those who have been victimized or who could be victimized.
Over the past 30 years she has helped thousands of survivors reclaim their power too. For example, she’s used her authority and influence to run a child advocacy center for abused children and serve as Director of Victims Issues for the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.
CJ has also helped business leaders drive more employee engagement through employee development efforts when she headed her corporate coaching company. She created technology solutions to deter acts of violence in yet another business venture she founded called 10 for Humanity, LLC.
More recently she’s become known as the “Badass Grandma” and the author of the book Badass Parenting: An Irreverent Guide to Raising Safe, Savvy, Confident Kids and it’s twin, PG-rated version, titled Heroic Parenting, which helps parents transform their kids into little bad asses who can protect and defend themselves from dangerous people.
Through a number of twists and turns the unifying thread in her entrepreneurial journey has been resilience, living her truth and fighting for victim rights in multiple ways.
Even though CJ hold an interdisciplinary master’s degree in humanities with an emphasis on human violence, she’s been named one of the “Happy 100” people on the planet, CJ’s story of triumph over adversity is featured in the bestselling books Happy for No Reason and Be Invincible.
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