First 3 Chapters: All That I Am Now That I Know
17 LIFE LESSONS for Women and Entrepreneurs On Dreaming Big, Failing Big, and dusting off your ass to DO IT all over again!
My name is Teresa Spangler. I’m what you would call a challenge junkie. Others have challenged me all my life. “Ain’t no woman made it yet in this business and you won’t either!” they said to me. I took that challenge and beat out 240 men to become the number one saleswoman in that company. In the early nineties, venture capitalists (VCs) simply did not fund women in technology. I accepted that challenge and went on to get funding. In another move, I joined a start-up that grew from $23 million in revenue to $400 million in less than five years. I am currently a member of the Forbes Technology Council.
Before the #Metoo movement, I was overcoming groping by company founders of a start-up I was leading and went on to codevelop one of the first Linux software–driven web-serving appliances. Since then I’ve held executive positions at Red Hat Software and was responsible for leading revenue growth pre- and post-IPO. In addition, I have founded and led several entrepreneurial organizations through growth milestones, including venture capital funding, IPOs, innovation creation, and development of strategies leveraging technology.
I grew from rags to riches, making millions and then watching it all disappear. When I turned fifty years old, I realized that my life seemed like a failure, because I had not dared to dream big enough. What few dreams I had left, had been little more than scrawled down wishes with no real detail or plan on how to accomplish it. Then, I re-invented myself and made my lifelong dream happen by creating a business and nonprofit organization that created showcase opportunities for more than two hundred original artists and musicians. We produced shows over seven years, capturing the attention of New York dance communities and globally known musicians.
I have pulled from
my successes and failures to provide powerful strategies and exercises that may
guide you through your personal journey
on the road to achieving big dreams, whether that be in love, life, in the
business world, creating wealth, or merely gaining that inner peace we are all
Quiet engulfs me. Roosters clock in on time. The breezy overcast climate calls for my Patagonia warm pullover. The weight on my back is heavier than I ever anticipated, and everything is starting on an uphill climb. Is this a metaphor for life? Am I nuts? I have no emotions, no anxiety, no worries, no thoughts of forced mindfulness. This is just the beginning of a long journey hiking from little town to little town. Our final destination is Santiago de Compostela, Spain. My means of transportation are my two feet trekking more than eighteen to twenty miles a day. Starting my journey, I feel strangely at peace. I don’t even know why. After all I’ve been through in my life, the journey by foot up mountains and down mountains somehow feel oddly like life’s journey itself. I expected my monkey mind would take over while walking from small Spanish town to small Spanish town. But there’s not a thought bubble popping. Pilgrims, we are all pilgrims, on the search for a sense of inner peace.
I was hiking with my husband of thirty-two years over sixteen to twenty miles daily. We hiked some of the most beautiful peaks and valleys I’ve ever seen through the rural parts of northern Spain. From the very start, I am in awe of the landscape, the serenity, the mooing cows, whinnying horses, barking dogs, goats bahing—a quiet, peaceful silence, with the exception of nature’s orchestra. Narrow path with markers of blue tiles painted with the emblem of a seashell points the way for pilgrims on 780 kilometers—nearly 500 miles—on the Camino de Santiago. There are six paths of varying distances to the cherished end, Santiago de Compostela. We chose the original Spanish route. This path allowed us to hike the time we had off yet still earn our Certificate of completion known as the Compostela. Our final destination would be the Saint James Cathedral. Jesus’s apostle James is said to be buried in this cathedral.
The long original journey of the Camino de Santiago path dates back to the early ninth century—814, to be exact. This is when the tomb of Saint James the Great, an evangelical apostle from the Iberian Peninsula, was discovered. The early discovery of Santiago de Compostela, which in the present day can take up to forty-five days to hike, is the journey point not just for the entire European continent but also for more than 300,000 pilgrims. Over 280,000 hikers receive Compostela certificates of completion yearly. To receive a certificate, a hiker must hike a minimum of one hundred kilometers or cycle the last two hundred kilometers.
On the Camino journey, we rarely saw any cars but often saw herds of cows passing at any given moment. Stone walls protect the modest, ancient stone homes lined with the colors of summer: hydrangeas, roses of every color, fuchsia, bright yellow, and blue-and-pink varietal flowers. The colorful plant and animal life represent a rich history of pilgrims who have walked these trails for generations. I feel these colors represent the richness in life. Floral covered walls encircle communities keeping the cows, goats, and chickens on their own turfs welcoming strangers as we walk the historical trail running through the backyards of rural farmers of Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal.
Hiking feels wonderfully lazy though interestingly strenuous. Each day seems to go faster than imagined. Sun-filled evenings have a Spanish-linger to them, leisurely slow. Shoes are the first thing to come off! After the shoes, I peel off the salt-crusted dry-fit hiking clothes from my sweaty back, then immediately wash them and then me. After dressing in my second of the only two pairs of pants in my backpack, I enjoy an excellent glass of table rioja costing less than two dollars per glass or ten dollars per bottle, rub my feet slowly, and then hang the wash to dry on a 1950s clothesline.
Part of me would love to just keep hiking until the second glass of Spanish rioja overtook my body, rendering me useless. Others joined at our table for some cherished storytelling. Pilgrims from all over the world traveling the same route. Slowly my thoughts and my emotions settle into the feeling of great gratitude. Every step is a step forward. Every step forward is one step closer to the goal of reaching Santiago.
It’s all metaphorical for life as every step is a step on our journey of life. My toenails eventually turn black and blue, my feet ache in pain the more miles I walk. My mind gets lost on what day it is. When I am reaching for big dreams on an entrepreneurial pilgrimage of sorts, my journey feels similar. Without maps, the right shoes, great planning, gathering the most important resources one needs all along the path, coupled with a real passion for the long trek ahead, you may never reach the ultimate destination or realize our personal or entrepreneur’s quest. At least, in this case, the destination was clear. The path was already laid out for me. That is certainly not the case with most entrepreneurs. My journey has certainly taken a number of unexpected turns.
In the chapters ahead, I will share stories of my own experiences. Many of these stories I revisited in my journal during my pilgrimage realizing my experiences, mistakes, successes, and failures may help others. Each chapter will have some tips and strategies I hope will help you on your own personal journey, your pilgrimage through life, and on your personal path to achieving big dreams.
Planning a journey is critical to making the experience the
best it can be.
Journeying and journaling—these two exercises go hand in hand. Frequent journaling, releasing any thoughts that come to mind on paper, will help to generate new ideas from the depths of our souls if we stick with writing every morning. Writing regularly may surface deep passions, new desires, and foster a renewed creativity within us. Journeying is an opportunity to broaden our experiences and feed us creative fuel for our journal exercises. Your journeys do not need to be in a foreign country. Your experiences could be broadened by doing new things you’ve never done or have not done in a long time like going to a museum or watching a documentary on a topic that interests you. The exercises in this book all involve journaling and some journeying. Enjoy the process!
We’ll start here with a thoughtful exercise of considerations. As we move on, you’ll be encouraged to engage deeply in the exercises that follow. The exercise below gives us a foundation for the journey of entrepreneurship.
Stop for a few minutes to contemplate the following eleven points. Savor these, then come back to review them as you go through the other exercises:
Exercise 1: Hiking the Camino de Santiago of Entrepreneurial Success
You may hike in your own backyard, or hike the Camino, or just mentally visualize your own dreamy, quiet journey! Reflect on these eleven keys to mapping a successful journey, be it a hike or a dream or starting a new business.
- Mapping the way before you start. Research, research, and more research is so important.
- Define a clear endpoint. How will you know you’ve succeeded?
- Multiple routes all lead to the same endpoint. Different teams can take each route and still end up with the same results.
- You can always go further and endure more if you have a mission.
- Enjoy the path, the journey.
- Technology is your friend in times of need; otherwise put it all down.
- Rest is the most important thing on long journeys.
- Meeting people from all walks of life feeds your soul and your mind.
- The sun does not always shine—be prepared.
- If you meet a cow, milk it; if you see a bear, stop and play dead; if you hear a tractor, it’s probably fifty years old or older and still kicking.
Stop at every bar—they are all different and unique. Each will stamp
your Camino passport with a new experience. Log in to your life: no password
required. Find the joy everywhere you can on any journey you make!