Letter to My Younger Self: The Bode Edition

I can’t tell you how many times I have started writing this “Letter to My Younger Self” only to stop, delete it all, get ticked and quit. I mean, does anyone want to know what I would say to my younger self? Doubt it.

The hardest part in getting started was separating the personal from the professional. My entire life–personal and professional–has kind of been the same thing… maybe in another 20 years I will address that in my second “Letter to My Younger Self”. To make this easy for me and less boring for you, let me format this blog in a list… much like I do all things in my life.

1. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. This will serve you well as you grow, learn and reach the limit of your school knowledge. Don’t be intimidated by another smart female; learn from her instead. A great career is about challenging yourself every single day and not being afraid to ask questions or search for the answer.

2. Don’t let personal impact professional. Keep the drama for your mama. No one wants to hear about your break-up, dysfunctional family life or latest bar night. Seriously, nothing shows your age like this. No. One. Cares.

3. Get involved. Go to professional events, introduce yourself to people, start up your own association/group. I don’t care what you do… just get involved.

4. Unplug. This is something you will struggle with as you get older. Take a night a week to put the phone down, read a book or shut off email… it really will wait until the next day. Do this for your older self, please. The sooner you make this a habit, the better off you will be.

5. Get used to uncomfortable. Take on a speaking engagement that freaks you out, agree to emcee an event or volunteer. If you feel uncomfortable, you are doing something right.

6. Surround yourself with your weaknesses. If you are going to run your own business, you have to hire people that have the skills you yourself don’t. Hire a brilliant writer, strategist and process czar.  They will become your best asset.

7. Fail. It is okay to fail. It really is. I know you have this insane fear of failure and you know what? You are going to mess up. The best way to deal with it is to admit it and MOVE ON. I know you… you will obsess, beat yourself up and let it impact the other shit on your plate. Trust me, this can handicap you. Don’t let failure win.

Always wear color. Do it.

8. Take the fashion risk. You love color (it matches your loud personality). Wear it… all the time. Incorporate it into every outfit. You were made to stand out… Your laugh will never allow you to be a wallflower, so what is the use of trying to blend in?

9. Embrace abrasive. Someday someone will describe your personality as abrasive. Thank him, it is a compliment.

10. Love your age. Some of your best moments professionally will come from someone underestimating you because of your youth. Good. We love surprising people and making them uncomfortable. Shame on them for thinking age has anything to do with capability and skill.

11. It is okay to not know. You took the risk, you started that business… yeah you wake up every day and are scared shitless. There was no handbook or roadmap (see number 1 and 6, this will get you through the paralyzing fear)… it will be okay, I promise.

12. Yep, you are female. You cuss like a sailor and can hold your own in a drinking contest, but you are a woman. I know you want to be a part of the old boys club, but you know what? They are just that: old and antiquated. Let them think they hold the keys to shape our city. We know better. You know better.

Little Bode, you have no clue what life is going to hand you. It is going to be one hell of a ride. Take the right travel companions with you. Now, go kick some ass.

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