“You know what I want for Christmas?” I joked to a mentor the other day. “An investor, a husband and a Range Rover.”
I expected him to call me a materialist brat or a delusional idealist. To laugh and tell me that neither angels nor husbands grow on trees. That continuing to bootstrap my business means strapping my boots into a bike or a stripped down Prius. “Fuck it,” he responded. “Meditate on it, don’t attach to the outcome, and see what happens. You’re going to be surprised.”
I shared it with a few other advisors and friends.
“I love this and fully support this!” an advisor chimed in. “I so agree with you!” another responded. “What’s going to happen is that a guy is going to want to date you, and will invest in your business — and then you’ll get married and he’ll buy you a Range Rover,” a friend’s husband forecasted pragmatically.
One suggested that I go on Shark Tank and include this in my ask — after all, the Sharks surely have some single friends, and more than a few Superchargers collecting dust.
I even offhandedly mentioned it on a date. “I would go Tesla,” the guy responded. “And that’s a good list — but what else would you add?”
“I think that’s a pretty bold list, don’t you?” I responded.
“Yeah, it’s good. I like it. Ask for more, though.”
The bold lists started with my birthday this year, when I asked for a publisher to launch my product, a puppy and a cupcake. And then I shared this, jokingly, in my first meeting with a dream partner.
“Well, I can definitely help you with one of those,” the CEO of the publishing company told me. “I’m sure you’ve got friends who will give you cupcakes, and I think it might be creepy if I gave you a puppy.” And my first publishing deal was born. (Note: I received Sprinkles cupcakes and my living situation keeps me surrounded with adorable dogs who wander in and out of my bungalow.)
Like many of us, I’ve been trained not to ask for my own selfish ends — and I think that’s a good thing to some extent. But it also reflects a deep-rooted belief that desire is a zero sum thing — that if I want and receive something, it’s at the expense of something else (like world peace.) And that wanting success or abundance is a selfish thing.
I’ve learned that it’s not — if you’ve got your scene together. My wishlist for an investor, a husband or a badass car actually isn’t about status or power today.
I used to think that if I had a husband, I would be okay — but this past year, I moved around the world twice (and started a life from scratch in Singapore and Los Angeles), quit a growing career to build my passion into a business, and developed nerves of steel from sitting through unbelievable uncertainty, fear and more than a few heartbreaks. I know that no man is going to fix or complete me — and that my journey continues to make me whole and stable in myself. Now, I am ready to share that with another person on the same page.
Finding an investor used to be a way for me to validate my identity and my business — but having bootstrapped a project into a prototype while working 80 hours a week, and now revisiting my role as CEO as a way to serve the business, the desire for an investor is about finding a like-minded partner who can help this business become what it truly wants to be. It’s more about vulnerability and accepting that I can’t do it on my own today — and that I will fail if I stick it out solo.
A fancy car used to be a way to show you my worth — but today, it’s about only investing in and surrounding myself with things that bring me joy. It’s a practice of not constricting when I’m in fear, or going into a poverty mentality when I’m afraid that I can’t pay the bills. In fact, when I get down to zero, I focus on giving to others — whether contributing a small amount to a crowdfunding campaign, or giving an 15 minutes to help a friend with a pitch deck.
Now am I going to invest that money in a car that I literally want to serenade when I need all resources on deck to build my business? Absolutely not — but the ask reminds me to stay in abundance and invest in what brings me the most joy, and to open up possibilities beyond my control.
I choose to look at how these seemingly selfish ends can point to something positive — and to think about my asks as a way to bring abundance to an investor, partnership to an awesome guy, and… well, I’m not sure how the Range Rover benefits anyone other than giving someone the joy of giving (or having me pay their insurance premium on a garaged car.) But the sheer boldness of asking for such outlandish things seems to delight people — and inspires them to think beyond their own boundaries. And it’s even more delightful when the impossible manifests.
My proudest moments have been the most unreasonable ones. The ones where I waited out the discomfort and the darkness for the clarity and serendipity to come in. The ones where I stuck it out and didn’t give in to fear or scarcity. The ones where my limited thinking couldn’t fathom an out, and a mind-bogglingly amazing solution came in at the 11th hour.
So I don’t care about whether I secure the car, the man or the investor. Those things or something better will happen. I care about saying true to my craziest ask and owning it, sticking with it through the fear, having fun with it, and watching it happen. I care about the miraculous resolution that reminds me not to settle into doubt or listen to the naysayers.
And the best part of that miraculous resolution is that I get to share it with you: to remind you to ask crazy — to create a flash of faith in that dark moment where it all seems hopeless, and to hear you start a story with, “yeah, you will never believe how this happened…”