My husband and I started an ecommerce business called PB and Apple Jelly a little over four months ago. It has been a ton of hard work with successes here and failures there, with a lot of learning and frustration in between.
A little over a month ago, Fred Lam, the 29-year-old multi-millionaire entrepreneur who created the system we use to operate our store, announced that he would be choosing up to 25 people to come to an elite training in February to really scale up their businesses. It sounded great, and Jad and I thought it would be a good idea to fill out the application just in case. But, there were a lot of issues with the sign-up page, and we thought our opportunity was gone. Over a hundred people had already signed up before us, after all.
But the page was fixed the next day and we were able to fill out the application and sign up for a phone interview. Long story short, the phone interview went very well, and the elite member I interviewed with said he was very impressed with our story and our store and wanted us to have the opportunity to go to this workshop. It would come with a cost, though. It was a BIG cost.
I talked to Jad about it, and with thought, prayer, and reflection on what it really takes to make a business grow, we decided to go for it. There were preparations to be done. As the day drew upon us for me to leave the kids, it was really hard for me. I was afraid to drive to Maryland by myself, and I was worried about how Eve would do since I had never left her. I left my family on the morning of January 31 with many kisses and hugs, and got in the car to go to this Elite workshop.
My day ended up being so wonderful. Here is my account:
Today has been quite a day! I said goodbye to my babies and husband this morning so I could drive up to Maryland to do a four-day elite training workshop to help me scale up my little store. I hated saying goodbye to them, and I was very nervous about driving by myself up there, but Jad gave me a blessing and I found myself calm and at peace as I made the 4.5 hour trek.
I decided to go to the Washington DC Temple before I headed to my hotel. I first spent some time in the beautiful visitors center where I got to watch two very spirit-filled videos about Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer. Their stories are full of miracles and they truly had great missions to fulfill in the restoration of the gospel of Christ.
Then I went to the temple. I was last there at my cousin’s wedding, but hadn’t done an endowment session there since I did my own in 2003. It was a very different experience being in such a huge temple, but everyone was so helpful. The beauty and spirit in the House of the Lord is unparalleled. I felt the presence of the Holy Ghost more strongly today than I have felt in a long time. I turned to a passage of scripture after my session that brought clarity to me, and gratitude. I didn’t want to leave the temple.
I could have stayed there forever, but it was getting dark and I had to get to my hotel. Driving to Gaithersburg from Kensington was very scary. There was major traffic, blinding lights, and unfamiliar roads. I sang hymns all the way to the hotel and prayed in my heart that I would be safe. I was, and I am so grateful.
I took a walk alone by the lake and shopping mall behind the hotel after checking in. It felt lonely, but I was able to reflect on my many blessings. I miss my family, but I know that this trip will be for my and my family’s good. I thank my Heavenly Father for His hand in my life.
Here is the scripture I read in the temple:
Mosiah 3:19 from the Book of Mormon: For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
The part that stood out to me the most was ‘willing to submit to all the things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him…’
The clarity came that I need to always submit to the Lord’s will, and accept and find peace in the trials that come my way instead of fighting them and being frustrated or impatient or downtrodden. If I am living righteously, then I must trust that all things that come my way, joyful or sorrowful, are for my benefit.
It’s pretty cool to me that the hotel chosen for this training was a Marriott, and every Marriott hotel has a Bible and Book of Mormon in the bedside table drawer.
I went to bed that night nervous about the next day, but filled with joy and peace. I made sure I made it to breakfast right at 8. There weren’t that many people there, but those that were already there told me about the assigned seats. I found my name tag, a notebook, and a white journal. I introduced myself to those there already, and we all admitted we were nervous and didn’t know what to expect. Breakfast was delicious. Finally, right before 9, Fred Lam came in. It was amazing to see him. He was a short man, but I knew how powerful he was.
At the beginning of the day, after breakfast, an elite member named Jedi, got up and asked us to write down what was holding us back from being successful in our businesses. He told us to write in great detail and then rip it out of our books. Then he asked us to follow him outside. He had a bowl and asked us to put our papers in the bowl. He set the papers on fire. The ashes flew all around him and us, and then blew away with the wind.
That exercise immediately helped us all calm down, find a way to connect with each other, and have the mindset that we can accomplish anything. Nothing can hold us back if we don’t let it.
That first day was full of tons of hard work, and though we were supposed to be done by 5, most of us didn’t leave until almost 6. We were exhausted and overwhelmed.
I was hungry and decided to get some dinner. I walked all around the huge strip mall behind our hotel, and found a diner. The food was delicious, but I knew I had to get back to work. So much for having relaxing evenings. Oh well.
I won’t tell you about every single detail about every day because I know you don’t care. But, there are a few things I want to share that mean so much to me.
I can’t remember exactly what day it was, but we were asked to write down our “perfect day,” a day that would exist when our businesses are thriving and money is no longer an issue. I surprised myself as I reflected and wrote. My perfect day looked very much like any other day. The difference was that Jad was with us, that we could do what we wished together without worrying about money, and that we could serve others around us, thinking first about their joy, and not about the financial burden. The end of my perfect day was Jad and I planning our family trip to Jordan. It amazed me just how much that means to me, to visit my husband’s homeland and have my children learn and appreciate the culture and history. That was my perfect day – not fancy vacations or going to the spa or shopping all day – it was having a full, joyous day with the people I love most.
Each day we had different motivational moments to help us get into different mindsets and know what is really most important to us. These moments were the smallest moments, but some of the sweetest.
One day, we were shown an image with words starting at the bottom and going up. It read like this:
“I Am” refers to what I want for myself. The “Acceptance” is knowing this can happen. The “Feeling” part is related directly to the “Thoughts.” If we think back to times where we had joy and prosperity, our thoughts will be positive and will weigh upon us so much that it can become our reality.
This exercise, and others like it, were not religious in nature at all. In fact, most of our visuals and videos were incredibly scientific in nature, but each and every time, I thought of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. With this visual, I thought about the fact that “I am a daughter of God.” As I accept this, I know that with God nothing is impossible for me. When I thought of my most joyous moments, my thoughts went to the day my husband and I were sealed in the temple, and I thought about the day each of my babies were born. I felt the Spirit so strongly so often during my trip.
On another day, we had to write why we really want to be successful in our E-Commerce business. Once we wrote that, we had to keep asking ourselves why the previous statement was important until we drilled down to the heart of our “why.” This exercise was so important to me and to others in the group. As many of us shared, I got teary-eyed. We came from so many different backgrounds and experiences, but our final “whys” were so similar most of the time. We aren’t doing our businesses because of money, cars, or big houses. Most of us deep down want to help others or spend more time with who matters most.
Here are my “whys:”
- We needed more money. It was my husband’s idea after great research. He prayed about it and felt good about it. I wasn’t on board at first, but because I trusted him, I prayed about it too. I felt good about it as well, so we started. I put so much work into it, I wanted to succeed.
- The previous statement is important to me because I have faith in answers to prayer and because I love my husband and family. I also do not like to fail.
- I believe in God and that He loves me and my family and wants us to be happy. I believe I was given talents and skills for a reason.
- God gives me purpose to my life and I know He has a plan for me.
- If He has a plan for me, then He will tell me what it is and I will need to follow it.
- God has already given me answers in my life because of how I have already been blessed and have been able to bless others.
- I am kind, compassionate, hard-working and service-oriented, and through this endeavor, I can bless more lives through my store, and through the funds we get, we can help the poor and needy by helping them find success and joy in their lives. I want my children to be involved in blessing others so they can be the best they can be.
None of this is about the money. It is about fulfilling my mission on this earth. It is about being like Christ and bearing one another’s burdens.
Jedi, our motivational speaker each day, presented to us a “power move” that he does when he gets an order. He asked us to do his with him, and it felt great. The next day, the last day, he asked us to come up and do ours. I never went up because if I were to do one, it would be very different than what he was looking for. I told a colleague later that night that if I were to do a power move, it would be me looking up and thanking my Heavenly Father for this blessing. I get my power from Him.
This trip did so much for me. I needed it, and God knew that. I was able to:
- Remember good points of my childhood as I passed Kings Dominion, Potomac Mills, and see the temple.
- I was able to have a wonderful time visiting my brother, Aaron, on Saturday. We had dinner, saw The Greatest Showman, and talked. We laughed a ton, and also had many poignant conversations.
- I was able to really miss my family. It made me love them more.
- I had time alone to focus and to reflect on my life. I didn’t do much vegging like I thought I would, but then, that wasn’t what I needed.
- I was able to learn from the best of the best. Fred Lam was very down-to-earth, and so easy to talk to. He answered all my questions, was very encouraging and patient, and celebrated each person’s victories as they happened. I never expected him to call me a “Ninja,” compliment my store and my children, or give me a big hug the last night.
- I saw goodness in myself as I always acknowledged everyone with a “Good morning” and a smile. I talked to and complimented the food staff and other staff as much as I could, always being grateful. I was very aware of that gift in myself, and I am so grateful for it. The smiles from everyone meant so much to me.
- I made new friends and had so many valuable conversations. Sometimes it was just about the job – helping people with their ads, etc. But I also got to encourage others, talk about parenting, memories, and most importantly, Heavenly Father. I had so many opportunities to talk about faith with other people, and I absolutely loved the experience.
- I felt the presence of the Holy Ghost so abundantly when I was gone. I read my scriptures twice a day and prayed more. I am sure that helped me a lot. And when we did meditation exercises, I was just filled with light. It permeated through my body as I thought about my family, my blessings, and about my loving Heavenly Father, and my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Saying goodbye to everyone Sunday night before retiring to my room was so hard. I had met some absolutely wonderful people from all around the world, such as Australia, Dubai, Canada, Africa, and more. At my table all week were Scott, Relfe and Ricardo. I had some great heart-to-heart conversations all week with them. I also had some lovely conversations with others (like Julie, Michael, Sanja) about God, about parenting, how to find joy in your life, and more. I feel so incredibly blessed to have met all of these people. Many people came up to me, even those I hadn’t really talked to much, saying how much I inspired them and how my story, enthusiasm, and success bring them hope. It touches my heart so deeply to think that my actions and words could really affect others so much.
Yesterday morning, I got up very early and left the hotel a little after 6AM. The parking lot was very icy and it was incredibly cold outside. It was nerve-wracking to leave in the dark in these conditions. But, I said a heart-felt prayer. For a long time while I was driving in the dark through the huge cities, I kept singing one song over and over. It has always been a favorite, but now it is my absolute favorite and has brought me so much peace. It is called A Child’s Prayer and goes like this:
1. Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?
Some say that Heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now, something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
‘Suffer the children to come to me.’ Father, in prayer I’m coming now to thee.
2. Pray. He is there. Speak. He is listening.
You are his child. His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer. He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom – the kingdom of Heav’n.
This song may be written for children, but it applies to us all. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Heavenly Father is really there. I know he answers my prayers. I truly felt Heaven all around me on my trip. His love filled my heart and soul, and permeated from my body. I felt God’s love for me and for His children. He helped me truly love others that I just met, and helped me have an even greater eternal love for my husband and children.
I think they felt it too, as we had a very sweet am emotional reuniting.
This trip was for business. Its purpose was to help me become more successful in my store. It already has, and will continue to as I apply the new knowledge and resources I have. But, what is more important to me is how it has changed my heart and changed my life for the better. I pray I always remember this experience.