Learning As You Go: Reflecting on Lessons We Take With Us

Lessons We Take With Us 2

Recently, I found a yellow legal note pad with notes I had scribbled down in April of 2009. That was fifteen years ago this month and I can still vividly remember the moments I was living.

The economy had tanked in 2008 and companies were folding left and right. We thought we were safe, but little did we know, Shindaiwa would soon be next on the chopping block. It was March 15th that we all found out we would be closing our doors on March 31st. It was like a wrecking ball smashed through those walls. We were all stunned. Every last one of us.

Looking back now, I see fate in it all. But at that moment I was assessing life, lessons, and trying to comprehend what was ahead.

Days later I would take myself away to my grandparent’s beach house to search, brainstorm, reflect, and ideate. But first, there was reflection on one lesson I would take with me. Here is a letter I wrote in the early days of April 2009, just before Propel Businessworks was conceived…

One of the things that made us all feel like family was our ability to communicate comfortably… with each other and our customers. There was a bond and a foundation of trust built by strengthening ties, both inside and outside the office. It allowed us to do each of our jobs better because we all got through each challenge, not always easier, or better, but together. The relationships we had made us what we were and we were great as a team! That encompasses my image, my memories, and my lessons of Shindaiwa. And that is what I choose to take with me. 

Every new adventure starts with the ending of another adventure and at each exit we have a chance to learn. It’s not always about who is wrong or right. It isn’t always about the difficulties or conflicts. Shindaiwa was about people, just like life is about people. And that has taught me to open up, to trust others, and to always think the best of someone. To give people the benefit of the doubt first, and let them prove you wrong, if that’s what they choose to do. 

Use the golden rule as you’re conducting daily business and go with the flow of positive interaction with people. No one is perfect but because we felt like a family, it was easier and we were more eager to forgive, laugh it off, and keep moving forward.

We have all learned to work, live, survive, and never give up TOGETHER. We learned how to communicate, whether good or not so great, we learned. It’s amazing to have been part of a company that taught me the lesson of relationships in the workplace. Valuable lessons. Thanks to Shindaiwa.

Fifteen years later, this is still true. My 4+ years at Shindaiwa and the team I worked with stand alone as a building block to the life I have now. Every job experience shapes us, if we let it. It can spur us on for better, or be a strong place for us to grow and be.

I often recount my thoughts when leaving that company as not wanting to put a resume together or apply and interview anywhere else. When I left those doors, my days of being employed were left behind.

The second page of my yellow legal pad included a list of options I could pursue. I remember sitting in Grandma’s recliner, looking out the picture window at the bay and writing down every idea that came to my mind…

  • Should I job search?
  • Pursue a franchise model?
  • Start my own business and if so, what?
  • Learn how to garden
  • Volunteer
  • Paint
  • Travel
  • Read and write
  • Get a few DIY projects done around the house

One note I wrote down on that yellow legal pad said this, “Stay positive! God’s got something up His sleeve.” And boy did He! Within a couple weeks I was meeting with a company in Portland who needed marketing and administrative help. My parents had connected us through their small business group and on the second day meeting with the VP I very distinctly remember him stopping his conversation, turning toward me from the pantry in the kitchen, pointing my way and saying, “Jamie, don’t make me hire you as an employee. Start a business and I’ll hire you as a contractor.”

After all the praying and searching, brainstorming and wondering what should come next, the lightbulb went off over my head and this self-employed adventure of helping businesses grow was born.

This business has afforded me a life of endless and boundless growth, learning, and driven passion. It has given me wings, opened doors, and provided the flexibility I never imagined I would need in the way I need it now.

We all learn as we go and we all have the opportunity to take important lessons along with us as we grow. Not a single day goes by where I am not grateful for what I’ve learned, who has taught me, and where it has led me.

Today, I’m looking back on the last fifteen years and where I was back then, but I’m always focused on the forward motion of moving ahead.

Jamie Teasdale

Jamie Teasdale founded Propel Businessworks, a small business development company, in 2009. Since then, she has been lending insight and creativity to businesses all over the U.S., giving them the tools they need to plan, promote, and prosper.

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