2017: Year in Review (Here’s where I get REALLY Vulnerable with you)

Well hello! You’re reading this on the Heart Behind Hustle website because that’s the brand I am focusing on now, but I wanted to give a disclaimer that this review is about my personal brand business, not HBH since I was not actively pursuing HBH as a company yet in most of 2017.

Having said that, I still think this review is valuable since my personal brand is integrated into Heart Behind Hustle, plus you know one of my core values is being super REAL with you.

I think it’s important people share the behind-the-scenes (even especially when it’s uncomfortable).

So, without further ado, let’s dig into it.


2017 was an interesting year.

It was a year of change. Different than I expected. I’ll explain shortly.

First, some context.

You might not know this about me, but I spent most of 2016 battling panic disorder, which reared its ugly head after 2 years of laying dormant.

But please, don’t grab the tissues quite yet.

I was living in the hustle and bustle of New York City. A city I’ve dreamed of living in for many many years prior. Unfortunately, the love was unrequited.

While my monthly income pretty much doubled while I lived in NYC, and I did some awesome new things in my business that I loved, my anxiety, stress levels, and introversion skyrocketed.

I was constantly sick, going to the doctor’s office almost every week, having frequent panic attacks, and spent most of my nights curled on the bed with a variation of ice cream, cheesecake, or pizza, watching yet another episode of whatever Netflix show I was binging on.

I won’t even mention the effect this had on my waistline. Oh wait. I just did. Hello, 10 extra pounds. 

Sad.

“How could I be SO good when it comes to growing and nurturing my professional life, but struggle SO much when it comes to my personal life?”

I used my business to serve every basic human need I had.

I know, suuuuper healthy, right?

I convinced myself I didn’t need friends because I had my clients and virtual friends, and that was enough.

I told myself I didn’t need to date because I was too busy with launching a gazillion programs and how could they possibly understand what that’s like? (beep! red flag alert! 😂)

I would stay at home almost every night because going out and meeting new people felt too uncomfortable and I was convinced real life people didn’t really want to connect with me anyway. (oh boo-freaking-hoo)

Pity.

On top of that, my apartment began showing signs of a cockroach infestation (hope you aren’t eating anything right now!) and they were freaking everywhere! And they were BIG! 

I’d wake up in the middle of the night, with my shirt clinging to my sweat-drenched body, after a terrible nightmare where cockroaches were crawling all of over my face and going into my ears and nose.

I know, right?! Scarring!

I saw it as a sign. Things were just not going to get any better so I broke my lease early. 

With my tail between my legs, I moved back to my parents’ house in late October 2016, hoping I’d figure my next steps out from there.

2017

Enter: San Diego, January 2017.

That’s where my life started to turn around.

I already had some acquaintances who lived in San Diego and I figured, what the heck. Despite never thinking of myself as someone who’d enjoy living in California, I decided to bite the bullet.

Already planned to be there in January for my mastermind retreat, so I figured, I’d look at some apartments and see what happens.

By some magic, I found the perfect place! Hallelujah!

And life started to get better.

But it wasn’t just the apartment and the warmer weather. It was everything. Everything about San Diego made me feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I was embraced by acquaintances who quickly turned into real friends. I am forever grateful to Lauren Vanessa Zink, Lisa Siefert, and Caitlin Marie, who brought me into their circle and made me feel at home right away in a strange new city. (love you girls!)

Things shifted. It was like, I allowed myself to breatheeeeee for the first time in a very long time.

The slower paced lifestyle was a bit to get used to, but it also allowed me to learn to step into my feminine.

To embrace, to receive, to feel, to enjoy.

Not just DO, or MAKE HAPPEN, or GRIND.

It was refreshing.

The basic human needs I forgot I had? Soon began to fill up the way they’re supposed to.

I was being social, I started dating, I felt more confident about myself and even started losing weight (25 lbs down and only 20 more to go!). I felt like a whole new person. Even my clients noticed!

Gone was the grind, and in was the flow.

But it wasn’t all roses and unicorns.

I’ll admit… my personal life? I couldn’t be happier.

I felt like, for the first time, things were the way I always dreamed they’d be.

For the first time, I felt like the cool kid in high school that I wished I was. That girl with all the friends, all the fun things to do, all the activities, all the life. I didn’t think I’d EVER feel that way.

Finally, I had a community of people who love and support me, friends who understand me and I could talk to about anything, a beautiful apartment I am grateful for every day, and weather and environment you really can’t complain about, like, ever.

But my business? Something felt… off.

It wasn’t just that my entire brand was built on the concept of hustle and grind….

It was what I turned my business INTO.

Let me explain…

Like I said earlier, I learned to seek solace in my business. It’s what fed the hustle.

In Chicago and New York, it was REALLY easy to focus on the business, to do big six-figure launches, to grind 100 hours per week without a concern for anything.

Why?

Because I didn’t have a life. Honestly.

I consciously made the decision to prioritize my business when I started it in 2014, AND I’d still recommend people do that when starting. I truly believe you need to prioritize your business if you want it to grow faster. No ifs and buts about it. You’ll need to make sacrifices. Sorry, boo!

But I didn’t HAVE to do that in New York. My business was doing well. It could have worked on its own. I really didn’t NEED to work 100 hour weeks. But I did.

I was a coward, really. I was afraid of living a fully fulfilled life. I was afraid of being faced with the reality of my personal life. I was making excuse after excuse after excuse as to why I can’t do the things I really want to on a personal level.

The truth is? I felt like a “nobody” without my business.

My self-confidence and self-worth became dependent upon the success of my business.

So if I didn’t work, I didn’t feel like I deserved to do real life things. Which makes zero sense, doesn’t it?

That’s that mindset baby. And you wonder why people say you NEED to do mindset work.

Our sh*t isn’t always rational.

I used my business to fill my social and emotional needs in 2016 and I succeeded financially. It was great.

But now? Now those social and emotional needs became filled the way they’re SUPPOSED TO…

Ya know, with social and emotional interactions and connection with real live human beings. Duh.

So where does that put my business?

A question I asked myself:

How does one find the motivation and the drive to keep exponentially growing a business when its success is no longer attached to one’s self-worth?

If the main driver is taken away – to feel worthy – because the driver has been fulfilled internally (the way it’s supposed to), the question is: What’s the driver now? What’s the point? Why should I keep going?

That’s what I struggled with as I moved through 2017 up until a few months ago.

So, you might think I’m very self-aware. I like to think so.

But for the vast majority of 2017, I was actually focused on figuring myself out.

Who’s this new Kamila? What drives her? Why is she all of the sudden feeling less motivated to push hard to grow her business? What’s up with all these mindset challenges? What’s going on here?

I was confused.

And I approached the year, business-wise, the only way I knew how. To keep doing what I’ve been doing. 

To that effect, I did do some big things that year. Lots of great things happened (launches, new product creation, sales funnel development, hiring new team members, etc), but the results were usually much less than what I aimed for (and I aim SUPER high).

This led me to have a big realization in the 3rd quarter of the year which I will get into later in this post. But for now, let’s talk about the tangibles cause it’s probably what interests you most anyway.

2017 INCOME GOALS

I had big plans for 2017 but if I’m being 100% honest with you, these goals and plans did not come from a place of security.

They came from a place of “I’m supposed to be doing this so here we go.”

One such goal related to my income.

I decided on an income goal that felt right when I lived in New York City (while I was deep in the grind mode), but once I actually stepped into 2017, the money goal did not feel aligned anymore.

I stepped into the year with a hesitation. The goal I set was not congruent with the fact that I, intuitively, knew this year was meant for something else.

As much as I hoped it wouldn’t be true, 2017 was not meant to be a year of income leaps and bounds.

In fact, 2017 ended up being pretty much the same as 2016 in terms of revenue, making it the 2nd full year in the multiple six figures.

The expenses, though, were quite a bit higher since I have invested into some BIG programs in the 3rd and 4th quarter of the year (a branding agency for $15,000, a 3-month coaching program for $20,000, and a 6-month mastermind for $25,000 to name a few). More on that later.

TRAVELING & ATTENDING MORE EVENTS THAN EVER BEFORE

I took 30 flights in 2017, most of them being for business, which is funny because one of the reasons I moved to San Diego was because there are more events in my industry that take place here.

I thought I wouldn’t have to fly so often. But it’s true what they say, you make plans and God laughs.

HOSTING MY OWN EVENTS

Mastermind Retreats:

I hosted 3 of my own mastermind retreats for my Inner Circle mastermind clients in various cities. The first retreat of the year was in San Diego in early January 2017. I planned this one intentionally, thinking I *might* stay there afterward. The other two happened in Chicago in June 2017, and San Diego again in September 2017.

Training Workshop:

I hosted a 2-day Launch Like a Boss workshop in San Diego with one of my business friends, Nicole Jackson Miller, a project manager extraordinaire. It was hella fun!

Also I hosted a pre-event party on my roof, which was fun. And it made me want to do more launch party type of things!

Also, I made a video about the event and prep here (it’s on my old channel) in case you wanna check it out.

Live Event:

I hosted my first solo event in the summer in Chicago, Authority Launcher LIVE.

I learned a lot about that experience and despite having an event planner, I grossly underestimated how intense it is to market and enroll into a live event without a partner or without doing phone calls.

The event turned out great, it was a fun experience, and it was greatly profitable in the end, but it certainly made me realize a lot of things about hosting my own events. 

Overall, I definitely prefer more retreat-style events with workshop- and mastermind- format for clients I already am connected with, versus leads (although it’s pretty cool to walk into a room of people who are excited to be there and you’ve never met them before!)

This is partly why I’m restructuring my programs to make them even more high-level and high-impact by including in-person experiences in many of them. Yay!

LETTING GO OF FACEBOOK ADS MANAGEMENT AS AN OFFICIAL SERVICE OFFERING

For about 2.5 years, I offered agency-style done-for-you Facebook Ads management as one of the main service offerings in my business. This service was responsible for approximately 30-50% of my monthly revenue.

In 2017, I decided to stop doing it significantly decrease the amount we do. 

Reasons why:

  1. Although our clients get incredible results with the ads, I just don’t get turned on by the idea of staring at dozens of Facebook ads accounts all day and all night. A few, sure. It can be exciting. But more than, like, 3 or 4 at a time? No thanks.
  2. I was beginning to feel siloed again (which was the main reason why I left my agency job back in 2015). I didn’t want to be known as THE Facebook ads person. I wanted to help my clients with the big picture, the business growth, the marketing plans, the group program creation, and launches. Not just the tactic of running Facebook Ads to get the traffic, leads, and sales (cause Facebook Ads are a tactic, NOT a strategy. I’ll do a video on that in the future). It didn’t feel like I was doing that big of an impact on the big picture by focusing on this service.
  3. Running an agency is not for the faint of heart. And I, unfortunately, am not the best manager in the world. I had several contractors who were working for the agency side of my business, but knowing I have to manage them, and the only way to grow would be to hire more people…. well, that idea just didn’t sound very delicious to me.

So, when I say we stopped doing Facebook Ads management, that’s actually not 100% true.

We stopped bringing on some NEW clients. The onboarding process takes a while, getting used to a client is time intensive, and sometimes we find out that there’s a mismatch in work-style.

Being the smart Capricorn I am, I don’t do big decisions like cutting clients off just because. I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me, so I wouldn’t do that to them.

Instead, I kept the current clients I LOVED working with on board. They’re fun, they’re easy, and there’s just a few of them.

Over the course of the year, some clients decided to pause or stop, as it happens, and we didn’t object or try to re-enroll them.

Currently, we have two wonderful clients we are still working with and it’s great because 1) cash flow, 2) having fewer clients is WAY better to deal with than having LOTS of clients, and 3) it’s clients whose businesses I think are totally kickass.

And when I say we, I really mean me because I’ve leaned down my team since it didn’t make financial sense to have more people support just one or two clients. Going back to the roots, baby!

So, will I eventually stop doing Ads for clients? Maybe. Will we never take on new clients? For now, doubtful.

But it’s definitely more of a personality match each time versus anything else.

Instead of focusing on doing the work FOR clients, I shifted to focus on teaching ads instead. I’m keeping my personal brand to be still very Facebook Ads oriented since that’s what many people know me as.

I even created a brand new masterclass where I share how to run high-performing Facebook Ads campaigns in 2018.

You can check that out here if you want.

This downsizing also gives me the ability to support my private coaching clients during our work together, by setting up their accounts and giving them guidance on how ads are doing – instead of just blindly doing things for them, without any say in the bigger overall strategy of the launch or plan.

LAUNCHING MY NEW FLAGSHIP E-COURSE – AUTHORITY LAUNCHER

In 2017, I finally launched and enrolled the first students in Authority Launcher. I did an underground launch for the program, only to past and current customers of mine, and it resulted in about $30k in additional revenue.

I was particularly excited about putting this course into the world because it’s an innovative way of providing business training.

It’s a personalized and customized self-study training platform, which strategies being shared based on each student.

That means that some students’ course path and curriculum will look differently from others’.

I’ve never seen anyone do anything like this in the course space and it basically filled the void for people who wanted to work with a coach and get personalized attention but couldn’t afford the thousands it takes to work with one.

The underground launch went incredibly well. We enrolled about 40 students into the program and out of the two launch campaigns we did to current customers of mine, 20% purchased each time. Great result!

I, however, held myself back from doing a full launch and still have not done a full public launch of the program.

Why? Who knows.

It seems like I was more keen on making things harder for myself in 2017 because I wasn’t particularly used to them being so easy. Oh, mindset.

WORKING WITH COACHES & MENTORS

Dear sabotage. It tends to come up. 

This is why working with coaches is SOOOO important, by the way. If you don’t have a coach yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. I usually work with at least two coaches at the same time, specializing in different areas, so I can get the support I need and have someone point out the blind spots to me I wouldn’t see myself.

There were many times where I sabotaged myself this year without realizing it and it was my fault. I DID have the support. I had the coaches. The problem? I didn’t lean on them.

I’ve always been that girl that wants to do it all on her own. Hiring my first contractors in my business was VERY difficult (but thankfully no longer is!) because, control!

So, coaches. I’ve been working with coaches since I started this business.

In 2017, I usually had at least 2 coaches I was working with at a time.

The problem? I was often getting in my own way. My own ego would be very loud and tell me that I don’t NEED them.

I don’t NEED coaching. I don’t NEED help. I can manage on my own. I’m fine. I’ve built a multiple six freaking figure business. I’ve got this! What can they tell me that I don’t already know!?

I was in a mastermind I seldom attended group calls for. I didn’t reach out for help from my private coach. I didn’t want to burden them. Plus, what would they even help me with?

I didn’t even KNOW what to say or ask for. I was fine…. Right?

Wrong.

But it was all me. It was all me. I knew they were there. I knew I had the support. I had the ability to reach out.

That in itself was helpful. And when we did talk and when I did ask for help, it was helpful. But still. I didn’t do it enough. I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself.

Until I said enough is enough.

I was feeling so torn about my business, something had to change.

On the one hand, I was committed and excited and ready to do BIG THINGS. But on the other hand? I was feeling confused. Like, my drive wasn’t what it used to be.

Also, this whole “feminine” energy thing was totally making me all confused on how I’m supposed to hustle and grind to get the results I wanted.

So the results? They just weren’t there in the way they could have been.

If I didn’t start reaching out and providing to myself that I AM SERIOUS about this business dammit, I don’t know where I’d be today. My business would probably be at about $7k or $10k max in monthly revenue and just stay there.

(this is btw what I was making in my business before I quit my job in 2015… so yeah, that’s quite a bit of a fall for me).

Anyway, I had a lot of great connections with new coaches and mentors and collaborators in 2017.

I began working with Jennifer Love, who’s a founder of one of the top chocolate companies in the US (so cool, right?), in her money mastery program that’s focused on helping move entrepreneurs from 6 to 7 figures and it’s focused on money work.

I wanted to get a different perspective of someone who’s specialized in more traditional type of businesses, because I believe there’s always value in seeing things from a perspective we’re not used to.

(pictured below to the right of me. Oh yeah, we also hung out with Selena Soo and other rad people. Cause everyone loves coming to San Diego! I’m telling you!)

I also began working with Alex Moscow to help me get even better at sales. I’ve been doing sales since I started my marketing business but I never thought of myself as natural as sales. I hated sales.

My former coach, Laura Wright, helped me diffuse that hatred and I mainly wanted to get Alex’s support to get another perspective on sales, and get even better at it. Learning and growth never stops.

Lastly, I joined Derek Halpern‘s mastermind, which is really like private coaching with in-person events (like, SO amazing!). This one was the biggest deal for me.

Derek was one of the first guys I followed even BEFORE I started my marketing business in 2014, I followed him in 2013 or maybe even 2012.

It was really incredible to be able to get his eyes and ears on my business, get his individualized support, and insight around growing my business. It’s another big investment but it’s been very well worth it so far.

As you can see, coaching and getting mentorship from people has been INVALUABLE for me in my business as a whole. I love hiring different types of coaches so I can grow in many different areas, and gain insights I wouldn’t otherwise gain, so my own process can become even better.

I get to see how others do things, which helps me. I get to learn important insights to grow. And I get to walk my talk. If I want people to work ME as their coach, it’d be hypocritical of me NOT to invest in the same level of support too.

It’s important to walk your talk.

And if you don’t yet. Time to get on that.

RE-AWAKENING OF HEART BEHIND HUSTLE

I had a big ah-ha moment in the spring of 2017, and it had to do with a brand I created in 2015 that I put on the back burner: Heart Behind Hustle.

I started the website as an online magazine. Thought I’d just have writers, manage them, and turn it into an entrepreneurial type of Huffington Post. BUT, I got bored with managing writers REALLY fast and after 2 or 3 months, I abandoned ship.

I knew I was supposed to do SOMETHING big with the brand, but I just didn’t know what. Small inklings and thoughts started coming in in 2016 and I decided to file for a trademark.

In 2017, the trademark came through. And so I got my first registered trademark!

Heart Behind Hustle®! Whoopee!

Now what? Something was brewing… but the idea and concept wasn’t fully fleshed out yet. 

So I kept going.

LAUNCH OF MY PODCAST

I needed to polish up my thoughts on this brand.

If I was going to bring Heart Behind Hustle back from the dead, I needed to make sure it was solid.

No half-baked ideas. No bullshit.

My best way to work through ideas and thoughts? Get inspired by other people. And just talk through stuff. So I decided to launch a podcast.

Although I wanted to call it the Heart Behind Hustle Podcast, my podcasting coach (I told you, I have a coach for just about anything, haha) advised me against it, and recommended I focus it on my personal brand instead.

I listened.

The podcast did what it was supposed to do.

It gave me an outlet to process my thoughts, my ideas, and share them with the world (not to mention, interview some of my favorite entrepreneurs!).

However, funnily enough… 

….I actually don’t listen to podcasts very much myself. 

Which is why launching the podcast was an interesting experiment.

(It also made me realize how much I love doing launch parties! The podcast launch party was super fun on my building’s rooftop in downtown San Diego).

So beyond the fact that I don’t listen to podcasts, I also don’t particularly like being tied to a set schedule. I don’t like having to produce content because I HAVE to, especially in a non-visual medium.

It feels uninspired. And although I batch created all the content for the podcast way ahead of time, I didn’t feel like all of the episodes were at the level of quality I wanted them to be at.

Quality in thought, not production, to make sure we’re clear.

Because of that, I didn’t put very much time into marketing the podcast. I mean, I barely marketed the podcast at all outside of hosting my launch party and having the podcasts be published on my blog.

Not very inspired.

So, after about 5 months, I decided to put the podcast on a hiatus until I figure out what I wanna do with it and make it fit what I really wanna do.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m still deciding. I know for now, my main focus is my YouTube channel instead.)

I GOT AN OFFICE

A vision I have for my company is actually NOT to be a laptop lifestyle type of deal.

I’ve always wanted to have an office and wanted to have in-person employees.

I’m still workin on the latter, but I got the former on lock in 2017!

That’s right, I got my own private office!

It’s within a company called Level and I have my own 2-person office.

It’s still not fully decorated (which is no surprise, my own apartment didn’t get fully decorated until month 9 or 10 of living there 😂  someone should revoke my girl card!) but it’s super awesome and I love it!

I love being able to have two monitors, too. Makes working so much easier! Plus, I have a place to do VIP Days now too, which is so perfect since I do a good number of VIP days and intensives with clients 🙂

I also got a in-person assistant that supports me on an as-needed basis.

Yay! That definitely made me feel like a more “legit” (read: traditional) business owner.

REBRANDING & NICHING DOWN

A big thing I realized this year is that I needed to learn how to do business in a way that works with my happier, more fulfilled personal life.

Since I no longer use business to qualify my worth, I needed to find a new, healthier way to approach it.

So that’s what I’ve been working on the last 6 months or so.

As a result of these explorations, I’ve decided to step away from focusing so much on my personal brand.

It was fun and all, but many people associate me with Facebook Ads (which is what we did for 2.5 years) and I felt like my overall message was getting lost.

I personally forgot what it even was. 

So I took a big leap of faith and I hired a local branding agency, Strive & Grind, to do a re-branding for my Heart Behind Hustle brand. Because gosh darn it, THIS is the next step for me.

I realized that to grow the way I need to, I need to step into the Heart Behind Hustle brand and less of my personal brand. My vision, what I want to create, and how I want to lead are not meant to be just a personal brand.

Also, what I do? What I believe in? A personal brand would hinder it.

I want to lead a movement. What fires me up? Is something BIGGER than just “here’s me and I’m this person.”

So the brand? It’s MAJOR!

BTW, I made a video about why I decided to choose a brand name versus a personal brand and I share some other reasons in the video – this will be particularly helpful if you’re looking to rebrand or create a new brand. 

So that brand is launching on January 12, 2018. YAY!!!

As a result of shifting focus, I decided to also niche down.

Within Heart Behind Hustle, we will also be predominately focused on helping female coaches and experts in growing  and scaling their business with group programs, AND/OR getting them and their business ready to bring in group programs and scalable offers into their life (by increasing their authority status and visibility and growing their audience first).

Straight forward. Specific. Plus, no one has claimed the space of group programs.

Lots of people have claimed the space of helping people get 1:1 clients. Create and sell courses.

But not group programs. WELL MARK THIS BABY!

THERE’S A NEW GIRL ON THE BLOCK (IT’S ME)!

GROUP COACHING PROGRAMS ARE MY JAM AND I’M FINALLY ADMITTING IT!

THIS feels SO much better.

Here’s why I’m THE person for group programs and why I’m so excited to be niching down to focus on this with my private programs, masterminds, and other offerings:

    1. I’ve launched four of my own different group programs/mastermind programs over the years and experienced all types of launches, good and bad.
    2. My clients get incredible results when they work with me in group programs and the feedback they give me, once I help them create and run their own group programs, is that their clients LOVE them within the programs too.
    3. I’ve helped two dozen clients to create and launch their own group programs in the last 3+ years and they’ve LOVED it, had great results and it made a huge positive impact on their business AND their community.
    4. I’ve always been a lot more attracted to doing group program launches than focusing on getting 1:1 clients or whatever (although I love my 1:! clients too, just don’t love the process of launching a private package).
    5. Focusing on group programs allows me to stay in the big picture planning (I love creating a fabulous program and offer), but ALSO the launch, the list building, the general marketing, the content, the sales funnels, the Facebook Ads (cause sometimes you gotta do them!), and the delivery, and more. It allows me to stay touching ALL the areas of business but having a dedicated FOCUS for it versus making it kinda random or aimless.

 It’s been kickass and I can’t wait to support more clients in 2018 in scaling their business through group programs.

And last but not least….

I LAUNCHED A NEW YOUTUBE CHANNEL

I already had a YouTube channel that I did for a few months back in 2015 and then I lost steam.

I built it up to about 600 subscribers but I wanted to start from scratch. Start with a beginner’s mindset.

So I started a brand new one! And I’m LOVING it so far!

You can check it out here.

It’s definitely a learning curve, I’m not very good at it yet, but it’s fun and I’m enjoying learning about the growth on another platform. I like videos too, so it helps 🙂

I plan on posting videos at least once per week (aiming for 2-3 per week) about entrepreneurship, marketing and business strategies, and also lifestyle related things too.

Cause, entertainment. Ya know?


So that about wraps it up.

Pretty naked. Pretty real.

I think I did a pretty ok job with this year in review though.

I didn’t cover everything that happened (this blog post would be like a gazillion words.. it’s already at 5350.

But hey, it was fun ;-P

Hope you enjoyed reading it.

What’s been your biggest takeaway from the year 2017?