By: Chasiti Shepherd
Amid a global pandemic, I sit back and reflect on another time I dealt with great adversity. After five years of successfully running my media firm, I felt pretty secure. My business was great, my support system was amazing, and I was months away from having my second daughter.
Then, life happened.
First, a significant client lost their position. I expected the loss to impact my business, but I did not prepare for what was to come. Overnight, I lost 35% of my clientele, including three of my biggest clients.
The word stress does not accurately depict what I felt. I was panicked. The emotions I felt about the state of my business took a toll on my health. As a result, my daughter was born several weeks premature. Can you imagine being told your newborn would need to stay at the hospital? All I could do was pray the nurses would take care of her.
My daughter was born January 24, 2018. She finally left the hospital April 2, 2018. On April 16, I got a phone call from my mom saying my brother had suffered a stroke and was unresponsive. Due to a lack of oxygen, he had 99% brain damage.
I was standing at a crossroads where I had to decide between giving up or pushing through. I thought about giving up. My family has always been my top priority. I asked myself, if running a business would take me away from them when they needed me most, was running a business worth it? What about my employees and my clients?
I had dealt with crises before. Rebuilding brands and controlling the narrative was a part of my profession. It dawned on me that I needed to use the same strategies to regain control over my life.
First, I had to change the messages I was feeding myself. Initially, when a problem would occur, I would think of all the reasons I could not handle what was happening. God truly is the foundation of my strength. With lots of prayers, I was able to shift my mindset. If I truly believe God is in control of everything, I must think and act accordingly. I stopped saying what I could not do and began affirming myself. During the hardest of times, we have to be cautious of the narratives we create.
Next, I needed to remember to cater to my audiences. Businesses continuously adjust their marketing efforts based on the audience they want to reach. This means there is no such thing as balance. Instead, we have to learn to prioritize to seek harmony. To achieve this, I needed my family and business to be okay. Therefore, I intentionally prioritized these two things. I would be lying if I said I was not pushing myself to my limits. There were times when I would be pumping breast milk while taking business calls. It is okay to readjust your efforts based on the needs of your audiences. However, you have to make sure to reevaluate what takes precedence so that you do not neglect the most valuable audience of all. . . You!
Life is continually evolving, and there is nothing we can do about it. I would often encourage my clients to look at change as an opportunity to revamp their plans. It was not easy for me to take my advice. I learned it is okay to cry through it. You are allowed to be uncomfortable while transforming, but change is inevitable. Just go with it!
For years, I taught people about the importance of transparency. If I was unwilling to be open with the people around me, I risked losing their trust. Transparency would require me to be vulnerable, but it would allow me to restructure expectations. Expressing my thoughts, eliminated additional stress. Transparency and trust are synonymous.
Finally, I had to remind myself to protect my brand. In this case, my brand was me. I intentionally preoccupied my time to avoid consuming myself with negativity. This is when I began to set boundaries. I chose not to be around people, places, or things that were not uplifting. I even allotted time to go to therapy, spa days, and spend time alone. My circumstances did not define me. I still needed to maintain the image I had built for myself. Remember who you are and protect the brand.
After being on a ventilator for almost two months, my brother passed away June 8, 2018. My daughter is now a happy and healthy two-year-old who does not miss a beat. My business is thriving. Every outcome was not ideal, but I made it.
Using the PR strategies of life does not change difficulties, but it does help us create our narratives and change our mindset. What we are experiencing now is an opportunity to prepare for greatness. We must not let uncertainty, stress, or change determine our outcome for us. We are women. We are triumphant.
Chasiti Shepherd is the founder and president of BGrace Media, LLC. She is a wife, loving mother of two beautiful girls, and entrepreneur.