What I learned when I had my company stolen…

You MUST succeed!
You MUST make a lot of money!
You MUST be a VIP guest on all awesome parties!
You MUST wear the fanciest clothes!
Does this sound familiar? If yes – then please, accept my sincere condolences. I know what it feels like, and just how painfully these “must” stab you in the heart.

The few sentences above were the sound my inner voice several years earlier. Every morning, this little sucker would wake up before me and instead of “Raise and shine, beautiful!” he’d greet me with “What the heck is wrong with you? Why are you not working yet?” I hated the bastard, but I obeyed.

Every morning.

And every evening I went back to that same bed disappointed, believing that I had not achieved enough. I was constantly unhappy, always annoyed, and never really felt like myself. I did not recognize the woman I saw in the mirror. Her clothes were wonderful, her high heels shiny, and her purse matched all the latest fashion trends. But her eyes were empty, I could not read her.

Just as millions of other people I had bought the story I was sold:  there is no happiness without financial success.

I was still far from achieving the level of success I desired. The possessions I had acquired were nice, but I still didn’t drive that yellow Hummer I have always been dreaming of, nor could I afford a vacation on the Bahamas just because I felt like it. But I was on my way! Barely 26 years old, I had started my own company and I was confident that success was around the corner. I only needed to push just a little harder. Harder than 20 hours a day / 7 days a week seemed impossible, but I was sure I could pull it off!

Only several days before I was to sign an amazing deal that was going to ensure my business for the next five years, my company was “stolen”. I know; you’re wondering how this could be. I won’t bore you with the technical details but I will tell you that I had given full control over everything to my lawyer. That lawyer was also a dear friend of mine (or so I thought). The lawyer who woke up one day, and decided that if I do not become his girlfriend, he will destroy me. Well, he did. Congratulations Mr. Asshole, well done! Stole my company and crashed not only my dreams but the dreams of everyone in my family!!! I hope life treats you as you deserve.

But I should also thank this person.

He gave me a lesson which I desperately needed.

During the summer after this event (it was the “gift” he gave me for my 27th birthday), I did nothing. No, wait! I didn’t do nothing – I did a lot! After a month of being a couch potato, I moved to the touristy area of Cyprus and spend the entire summer partying, going to the beach every morning (moved just across the road from it), making new friends, and bonding with my family. And you know what – I enjoyed every minute of it! I had all the time in the world to read and suntan, swim and laugh, write in my diary (which I later destroyed) and to dance! I had a blast.

At the end of the summer, I left the country for good. Never looked back and never regretted this decision. And now, only five years later I finally understood that I gained more than I lost. And here are the lessons I learned:

1. 27 is too young to start a company from scratch and by yourself.

Youngsters now be like “She ain’t got no idea what she’s talking about”. But, EXPERIENCE is what counts in business. Knowledge and expertise gained in a university are nice things you can add, but they won’t make one successful (plus, you can hire someone who has all of those). And if you’re thinking about all the young millionaires out there, don’t try to ask about their secrets – ask who was advising them. Because even if you personally don’t have experience, you need someone who does to guide you. Even if that’s your grandfather doing it from his wheelchair. Experience is gained over a larger period of time (20 something years are not enough). Even if you started working at 13 or at 16 (like myself), you didn’t really do it consciously before you were 21-22. This is when you started collecting wisdom.

2. Business per se won’t make you happy.

Some kids think that all they need to do is start a business. That’s why they’re out there, searching for this one idea to turn into a business venture. In reality, having a business and being a CEO of whatever, flatters your ego but doesn’t do sh*t for your inner world. It’s having a vision and moving closer to your dreams that will bring a special sparkle to your eyes. Once you have a vision, you no longer care about calling it a business or calling yourself a CEO.

3. Some people are just not cut for business.

Remember that inner voice I told you about? The sucker wanted to convince me I should be a business owner so bad! When I finally made peace with reality and told him I am no good at it, he went bonkers! But why am I not cut for business? Because on a deeper level, I do not care about money – it’s that simple. I can’t deal with accounting and read bank contracts, licenses, and all this crap. I am a creative individual and a storyteller – everything else I find boring.

4. You do not need a business to make your dreams come true.

Our dreams are different in every stage of our lives and sometimes, it’s hard to tell what it is exactly that we want. But let me ask you this: if you had to spend the next 5 years alone, what would you like to do? Would you want to have that Lamborghini or that BMW? Would you still want that Ferre outfit or that Prada purse? Some things are truly useless if there is nobody around, but what you want to do in this moment – this is who you are and what your dreams are about. Do you want to play with kids, go hiking, take pictures of everything, draw or write short stories? Think about it. If you can find the answer, then dig out a profession that allows you to do more of what you really like. Freelancing or for someone – doesn’t matter. As long as you are happy.

5. “If you don’t work on your dreams, someone will hire you to work on theirs” – this is bullshit!

I don’t get it – why would we constantly look for ways to destroy our confidence? There’s nothing wrong with working for someone. Perhaps, this is what allowed your mother to pay attention to you! Maybe working for someone gives you the freedom of mind to focus on your own damn life after office hours. And maybe, just maybe, this is a cool way to avoid all the bloody stress that comes with an audit of your company papers for example. Ever thought about that? Listen, if you’re good in graphic design and this is what you want to do, you can surely make your own graphic design company. But guess what – two years after you start it you’ll do less graphic design and way more administration work and endless meetings with customers, who have no clue what they want. You’ll “have life by the balls”? Sorry, I don’t buy that.

6. Happiness is uncountable.

150 pairs of shoes, 30 bags, 40 dresses, 100 watches, 20 necklaces. And if you put all of this on a scale and measure it again 1 gram of happiness, the latter will have more value. Why? Because you can’t count happiness – it is a state of mind, not an achievement or a possession. You can’t HAVE happiness, but you can create and nourish it. You can make it, but you can’t sell it, nor buy it. And you can’t keep it – you can only BE it. Think about that!

* * *

As for me, I learned to look for happiness outside of the regular norms. I do not care about labels anymore, nor pay attention to quotes from famous thinkers. I live my life business-free and LOVE IT!

Nina Alexander

Nina is the big sister. She's a marketing professional by day, traveler by heart, tech geek, bookworm, beer lover and an amateur photographer. Her motto is Friedrich Nietzsche's famous quote "And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

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