But wait no more, lemme explain.
As ParterCon approached I was really busy creating course content, keeping the blog updates regular, and managing the membership program I’ve been running. I had registered and bought my ticket, so I knew I was going, but I hadn’t really spent any time or energy thinking about it outside of that.
About a week before PartnerCon Sara asked me if I was excited about it. And I thought about it for a moment, and I answered “Not yet. But I’m sure I will be.” And I believed that I would be.
You see, PartnerCon is this exciting event where hundreds of people get together who all have a mutually shared interest. Helping small businesses. Specifically, helping those that use Infusionsoft for their small business. It’s a powerful three days, filled with appreciation, support, ideas, and actual tangible progress. You can literally walk around PartnerCon and hear people making plans, both for their own businesses but also for ways they can help one another. I’ve attended PartnerCon a few times in the past, but this year was my first time as an actual partner.
So the day before I left for PartnerCon Sara asked me once more, and after I thought about it, I realized I still wasn’t excited. I was, well, something else. Anxious maybe?
I drove to PartnerCon instead of flying, so I had nearly six hours in the car by myself to mull over why I was feeling that way. I mean, I love Infusionsoft. I love the Partner ecosystem. I’ve been a partner for six months now and this will be my chance to connect and reconnect with partners in my new role, as Monkeypod Marketing, instead of as employee Greg Jenkins.
So why then? This should be a dream scenario. It’s all the things I love. Why wasn’t I excited?
Well, after some reflection, I think it was because of a few things.
The first of which I noticed as I was walking up to register and pick up my badge. It didn’t feel like home anymore (despite the event’s “welcome home” theme). I spent well over three years walking into an Infusionsoft office nearly every single day. And it just felt so different to be walking at this time so that I could pick up the badge that would allow me to be there all week. I walked past current employees and got a mixture of looks – some were excited to see me, some looked at me just as a familiar face that they were struggling to place, and others walked right by me. Now, Infusionsoft is a big building, with 700+ employees, so naturally, I didn’t know everyone; but I always felt at home. Ironically, until this time.
Now, I want to be clear. Infusionsoft did an excellent job making partners feel welcome. And I think that for the partners who weren’t used to being in that office every single day, they did feel at home. Well, as much as one can while they’re at a conference.
The second source of anxiety I identified was that I wasn’t sure how I’d be received by the partners I already knew and liked. When I was at Infusionsoft, I was a resource. A valuable (I hope) asset that could give them inside tips, or potentially help with projects or concerns they were facing. Now, well, I was just another partner; and for some, I suppose I’m now a competitor. In reality, every single partner I talked to was supportive and welcoming. It’s possible the ones who don’t like me, or perceive me as competition, just avoided talking to me; but overall, every partner I met or reconnected with had glowing things to say about me personally, about Monkeypod, or about a blog post or video of mine they had seen.
It’s not that I thought the Partner community wouldn’t remember me, it’s just that for so many relationships, the context of the relationship carries a lot of weight. And I wasn’t sure how much of the impression I had made was “Greg the Employee” and how much was “Greg the Person with that great beard”.
The third, and perhaps most important, a contributor to my emotional distress was the pressure of visiting with the current Infusionsoft employees. Yup, even my close friends. Lemme explain: Because Infusionsoft deals with small businesses all day every day when you work there, you find yourself craving entrepreneurship. Heck, just listen to the core values, “We believe in people and their dreams”, “We empower entrepreneurs”, statements like these are attractive to employees who have a passion for small business. But, the type of people they attract also frequently has a desire to start their own business.
Since leaving Infusionsoft I’ve had many of my friends and former co-workers reach out to ask how things are going, and to inquire about the latest and greatest from the front line of starting a business. Which is awesome, and I appreciate it. For many, it’s a unique mixture of genuine support and suppressed jealousy. Lots of people want to know how things are going for me, and I really do think they care about my well-being, but I also think there’s a part of them that wants to know “Is it worth it?”.
So I guess some of my anxiety was coming from the fact that part of me wished I had more to show for myself. A part of me wished I could say “Yup, I left. I never second-guessed myself and things have never been better. I immediately tripled my salary and I work 20 hours a week from home in my sweatpants.” But that just hasn’t been the case (except for the occasional sweatpants day).
Don’t get me wrong. Life is great. And Monkeypod is growing, rapidly. And I’m beyond proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in my first six months. But it’s also really hard. And it hasn’t gone as planned.
Running a small business is hard. And it’s been humbling. I was arguably as prepared as anyone who sets out to start a business, more so even. But even with all the skills, tools and resources I’ve had, it’s still been an intricate blend of exhausting frustration, and exhilarating validation.
Anyway, the week came and went, and everything went as smoothly as I could have hoped. I got to reconnect with some friendly old faces, and I got to meet some awesome new ones. The anxiety I was feeling, although real, in the end, was probably unnecessary.