Two Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Went Into Business (and Life)

This guest blog is from one of the funniest women I have ever met, Elaine Williams. She does motivational talks to help others by calling on her own life experiences and battles with addiction. I spoke to her recently and found that there were two key things I thought would be valuable to share. 




Let me begin by saying that I am truly grateful for my life, health and support network and for the work I am doing in the world. My life has taken some interesting twists and turns, and although there have been some PAINFUL lessons along the way, I believe that I needed to have these experiences.

Maybe it was to add fuel to my comedy act. Or maybe it was so I could pass on my wisdom to you.

With that being said, I have made some “not-the-most-brilliant” decisions in my life and my hope is that these tips are helpful you so that you can learn from my mistakes.

1. No is a complete sentence.

I grew up in the South, where I was socialized to be polite and sweet. I have always worried about other people’s feelings way more than my own. Many females are socialized to listen and not be rude.

I believe that women are often taught to explain strong statements or opinions.

So, put this on a post it on your computer or on your mirror.

No is a complete sentence. 

You do not have to go into an entire explanation about why you can’t head the PTA meetings or take on another project at work.

There is so much freedom in saying NO. You can practice saying No, No thank you, and Thank you, but I respectfully decline.


Try it. You’ll like it.

2. Everyone has an agenda


I grew up in an addicted, violent family. In turn, I had three addictions that I was able to eventually over come. Even after years of step work, I still had some hidden self-pity and self-righteousness that ran me. Like: you don’t know what I’ve been through so you should help me for free because the world owes me. It’s not pretty. But this was an underlying attitude, which did not serve me, or any of my unfortunate business partners.

Because I had this hidden victim belief, I seemed to attract predators, unconsciously.

I loved it when I had a new friend who was anxious to help me with my vision. And because my ego was running the show, it never occurred to me to consider that any of these people had their own agendas.

So if someone seems eager to “help” it’s a good rule to check his or her agenda. 

For example: when my “friend” Rudy was excited about selling me a house so I could invest in the same neighborhood where he was, he was not doing it because he believed in my vision.

He wanted to (and did) make money off of me. He made a commission when he sold me the house as a broker.

He made money with his construction crew when he double charged me for rehabbing the house. When other investors came to this Philly area and saw what a tough neighborhood my house was in, they all said: Any experienced investor with any integrity never would have sold a new, inexperienced investor like you, a house like this, in this kind of neighborhood.

I should have been more honest with myself, instead of being all caught up in my “vision.”



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