The most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my career

I started my career as a serial entrepreneur in 4th grade with my best friend Mary Elliott. Mary and I saw the “need” for fashion in the ranks of the Girl Scout troop, and we responded with our macramé bead bracelet business.

I can still remember the joy of $40 of revenue that we split $20/$20.  Oh yes, that was the start of the “bug” that is the life of an entrepreneur: creation, innovation, risk, dedication, energy and hopefully the rewards not only of profits but of making a difference in the world for ourselves and others.

Fast forward to today. I write from the perspective of 37 years in my own business, speaking in 20 countries, publishing books, creating Art on Purpose with products, donating over $1 million to charities around the world with my 5000+ CampExperience™ Network, producing over 2000 special events, a Radio Show and now Podcast Network. A lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same.

“And my answer to my Most Valuable Lesson is the topic of my recent Ted-X presentation... Choose Your Family, Change Your Life.”

Choose Your Family Change Your Life

I believe my success in all of my many businesses and wild idea projects has been the creation of a “tribe” of dedicated women who act as a chosen family. These “Sisters” are the backbone of my success for many reasons:

  • A “family” is in for the good of the whole unit and contributes to a common goal.

  • We treat each other with kindness, respect, and authentic support.

  • We listen and do not judge, but offer expertise from our own experiences.

  • We say we don’t “should” on anyone.

  • We act on purpose and assume the best in every person and every situation.

  • We have fun all of the time and share positive energy.

My idea for anyone to “steal” to build their own business and life success, is to spend the time and energy to “give first” to get later and create your own tribe.

The Story of the CampExperience™ Network in Colorado

My experience in building a family is my 5000+ women in the CampExperience™ Network in Denver, CO.

In 2006, 15 volunteers who were friends and acquaintances, gathered to eat S’mores, do a craft, learn about each other and answer the question: What would we do if we had a weekend “off the clock” to go away to Summer Camp for adults?

In this brainstorming session, we drew a map of a weekend getaway that included dream pillows to energize our thoughts, art, and crafts to open our right brain creative sides, making bead jewelry, drinking fine wines, listening to great speakers and helping others.

It was the “helping others” part that was the magic. You see the way our women connect is to be focused on our role in helping others.

Activities create shared experiences. Shared experiences create friendships. Friendships grow into deeper relationships. Friends do business and refer to friends. The “Sisters” grow personally and professionally. We then have more prosperity and greater networks that allow us to give back.

When we give back we create activities…. and the cycle grows and grows and touches more and more lives!

I recently identified how to build rich, gooey, deep relationships from my 15 years of experience with the CampExperience™ Network. Here are my proven tips:

  • Be Inclusive: In your biological family “you get who you get and you don’t throw a fit.”  In your family by choosing you can include all ages, nationalities and different opinions. We have had great success with age diversity.  It is good for the 20-year-olds to see the 50+ set is hip and cool. And it is fun for all of us to honor and share with the 70+ women.

  • Get Creative and Open Your Right Brain: I am a Craftlete. It is an Athlete for arts and crafts!  We have all types of projects like Vision Boards, inspirational cards and making décor items to unleash our untapped creative side. We have experienced that strangers who share a crafting experience start to chat and connect. We have seen shy women blossom. We have had sad ladies become lighter and happier. Art is an amazing catalyst to happy living!

  • Go On An Adventure: It is OK to feel a little fear or step of your comfort zone. In our Network, we use adventures to not only stretch your imagination and build your confidence but to also create lifetime memories. For us, this looks like white water rafting, fly fishing or hiking for our “non-nature” gals (OK That is me!) Sidebar: Our Camp’s early Motto was: I like Nature Just Don’t Get It On Me! An adventure of others might be taking the stage to read aloud your poetry or being a keynote speaker for the first time. Adventures take many formats and bond your family.

  • Find A Safe Place to Share Your Voice: Our tribe is all about honoring that each person is important and that all gifts are welcomed. In my family, we give “Sisters” a safe place to share their dreams, try something hard, fail, and get right back up to try again. This “Safe place” is so powerful for supporting businesses. It is unique to be encouraged to dream and to try it. We honor the good work as well as the rocking success. This is a catalyst for small businesses and to the growth of all businesses.

  • Do Good Have Fun: The most magic “secret sauce” is that when we focus on others we actually get the gifts for ourselves. Our Charity Partner relationships in Colorado and around the world with our extended Global Sisterhood Network are the perfect place for our women to build their leadership muscles. We love to get our family really involved in helping others and in exchange we build deep bonds and shared memories. There is always good to be done in any community, and our Do Good Have Fun philosophy is a business builder by nature.

I really believe that who we surround ourselves within our tribe or “family” of choice can really make or break our business success. I encourage all women to find a tribe or make one and enjoy the benefits of sharing this journey of personal and business success.

Betsy Wiersma

Betsy Wiersma

Founder, CampExperience™ Network.

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