Connecting the dots between building a powerful brand, super effective marketing, and a solid bottom line. Not in a stuffy, buttoned up kind of way, but in a fresh, cool, laugh-out-loud kind of way. Who knew?
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Rachel Wilson Thibodeaux, also known online as the SWAG Strategist, loves God, her husband, growing a business, shoes that make her taller, and chocolate. Sometimes chocolate takes priority. Don’t judge her.
Rachel is also an award-winning speaker - having shared the stage with the likes of Good Morning America's Robin Roberts - brand strategist, Amazon best-selling author, and founder of SWAG Strategy Solutions (SWAG -Strategic Women Achieve Growth). She is also the creator of the Brand. Sell. Profit.™ system designed to help her clients build an unforgettable brand, sell with more confidence, and profit more consistently.
Visionary women entrepreneurs, service-based entrepreneurs, and small businesses turn to Rachel to develop more effective brand and marketing strategy that leads to cash flow. Rachel’s sweet spot is helping those long on ideas and vision, yet short on clarity and strategy.
Pregnant Possibility Can be Painful
As my early 30s turned into my mid-30s, I began to wonder how much longer it would be before Mr. Right For Me would come along, realize how awesome I was, put a ring on it, and we get on with happily-ever-freaking-after.
Despite my belief that, at times, God really does laugh at our plans, His plans seemed to line up with mine to be married and knocked up before the age of 40. I met my wonderful husband in January 2011 (we’re proof that online dating really can work and although we both found E-Harmony a little annoying, it did bring us together. Of course my husband still wasn’t thrilled about having used an online dating site and for the longest, when asked how did we meet, would respond with “La Madeline” where we had our first date). We were married by May 2012, and after being told by my OB-GYN at the time that I may need a little help getting a bun in the oven, we found out we’d naturally conceived in April 2013.
Oh happy day! Things were working out great. Mr. Thibodeaux was ecstatic. I was ecstatic and already making plans to get really cute maternity clothes and continue wearing my heels so I could still be really cute even when I was big as Texas. Neither of us had children before we married. Although I felt like I’d done some mothering since I like to think I helped raise my brother Brian who is 11 ½ years younger than me, had mentored several kids, and there was my fur baby, my cat Cece who I had almost 12 years.
Initially, I told my husband we shouldn’t share the news with our family for a few weeks. However, that didn’t last very long. I told Brian the same night I told my husband, at least that the test was positive. After getting it confirmed by my doc, it took all of a couple weeks before my parents, grandmother and mother in-law knew. The rest of our big-old extended family (my father is one of eight and my mother in-law is one of 10, big families on both sides) knew soon after.
Again, it was a wonderful thing. We did what most happy couples do: dreamed and planned and talked about our future child(ren). We talked about how twins would be really cool, but also a ton of work we may not be ready for. We also concluded that, although we both had once wanted (or claimed to want) 2-3 kids, we’d be just fine with one.
Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with brand or business building. Or you may see where this is going. Our personal brand is an extension of us. The best brands have tremendous character and character has layers.
Also, there are pivotal times in our lives that break us down, only to help build us back up later. It is when you’re built back up that often you’re more powerful than ever.
You come to realize that cliche that you got tired as hell of hearing when you were younger (or maybe when you’re older too), “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” really is true. And that if you’re smart, savvy, and really get quiet and listen to God, you can leverage that pain into profit. Not just monetary profit, although that’s nice. More importantly, what I call “impact profit.” Profit that comes from you, your product, your service, your brand having such an impact on others, on a process, on an organization, perhaps on the world, that it’s difficult to measure.
Basically, the impact far exceeds the time and effort you put in, because it the impact is multiplied by your passion and purpose. Our passion and purpose are sometimes driven by our lessons/discoveries resulting from adversity. Are you picking up what I’m dropping here?
Before you get to the impact profit, though, you have to get through the pain. That pain can be a bitch. A mean bitch that knocks you to your knees and doesn’t even pretend to care. I mean, no fake smile or kiss on the forehead. Nothing but pain! The kind that makes you question all kinds of things, including God.
Yep, my pregnancy was a wonderful thing...until it wasn’t.
I’ll spare you all the agonizing details, but essentially after six weeks my doctor - I had been referred to a reproductive specialist - had trouble finding our baby’s heartbeat. I then went on to lose our precious child.
Needless to say my husband and I were not happy campers. While we didn’t give up on having kids and maintained our faith, it was still a really big, hard pill to swallow.
I did what a lot of women who experience a miscarriage do: have a seemingly short-term pity party, then move on with your life, believing it wasn’t the right time (although wondering why the hell not) and that better times are ahead.
That worked - kind of. Except I struggled to make sense of it. I spent a lot of time asking “why me, why us.” I reasoned that Mr. T and I were good people, that we had planned for our child vs. being unprepared, and that we did want children and were ready to dedicate so much to him or her or them. What was the deal God?
There are those who believe you shouldn’t question God, but some of the most significant people in the Bible questioned God. People like Job who asked several questions about all his suffering. I believe we can question God, as long as we realize He doesn’t really owe us an answer. I mean He is God after all. That’s where that whole faith thing comes in.
I tend to be pretty solid in that area but not perfect. My faith was challenged when I lost our baby.
Despite God not owing us answers to our questions, I got my answer about the miscarriage, clearly, after roughly a year. Frankly, God had been whispering it a few months before that, but I wasn’t hearing it clearly.
That answer was solidified, ironically while I was attending a business conference for entrepreneurs in May 2014 (hosted by the Incredible One herself, Darnyelle A. Jervey, founder/CEO of Incredible One Enterprises who I’m a big fan of and was fortunate to connect with early on in my business). Darnyelle said more than once that her signature event was more than just a business conference. It was a life changing experience.
I was a fan and all but figured there was at least some hype involved. Little did I realize, when I checked into the hotel in Reston, VA on that beautiful but humid day, that I really would have a life changing experience.
After all that asking, “why me” and “why did this have to happen (although it’s funny we never ask “why me” about the good things, only what we consider to be bad things...you probably have never asked “why did this happen” when getting a promotion, making an obscene amount of money, celebrating 20 years of being happily married, seeing your children graduate college, etc), I got an answer that stopped me in my tracks.