WARNING: Everything Chip Wilson didn’t teach us about being ENTREPRENEURs!

The early days of lululemon were riddled with one liners from Chip Wilson. He wanted to elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness. He wanted black stretchy pants to change how women felt at the gym, in yoga studios and running on the seawall. He wanted Vancouver to be the hub for athletic apparel. He also wanted to create entrepreneurs in the world. …and that he has done, indeed!

Matt and I are among many friends launching and rockin’ businesses. We also have even more friends with dreams of what they will one day create in the world. And despite my rainbow-shitting-unicorn outlook on life, I’d like to share the struggles that are mighty fo’real.

Dear Chip,

You forgot to mention that being an entrepreneur in this world means:

+ you no longer have a performance review that helps to calibrate where you are on track/ off track; the high potential program with leadership development opportunities don’t just show up in your inbox with a ticket to the next conference in LA for …FREE. Development is called having the courageous conversation every damn day. 

+ a tough day at the office doesn’t equal hitting the beach for a coffee with your friend on the 3rd floor to talk about it. In fact, the beach doesn’t solve the problems. Your friends are more than 3km away and more likely 3weeks away in the calendar. It is a very lonely journey. 

+ CASH FLOW is King — not just a shared budget file that the finance team sends out monthly. Being worried about paying your mortgage is a REAL. THING because pay cheques don’t auto-send from your bank account. (Note: being able to manage the anxiety of being both alone and poor are potentially certifiably award-winning-traits!) Don’t get me started on paying tax…

+ there is no program to train you on being self-motivated 24/7 yet this game of business is a 24/8 self-generated sport! the moments you stare hopelessly into a monitor and wonder how the idea will come to life — are very real. and sometimes often. and do not generate cash. #procrastinationnation

+ fighting legal battles with lawyers who speak legalese is terrible — it’s like they forget that everyone is human?! why can’t lawyers write kind emails? and why can’t battles be fought with just a little bit more compassion and human interaction? alas. the lessons.

+ and most of all: firing clients and being fired by clients! yowzas! who is gonna share these dirty secrets? wanna feel like a straight up failure — take a page from this book. because winning clients is so much more fun to talk about, right?

Yet may it be very very known, that what you did teach us was the power in setting goals and being 100% responsible for our contribution to this lifetime. And what I know for sure is that being in this work with Brother is an absolute gift. Because together being lonely is only a phone call away; being brave is a daily practice; being courageous and kind is always worth it. Because getting sweaty every day makes us better business owners – endorphins are our drug of choice. Because really really — there is no other way I’d like to spend my days. I wouldn’t trade one moment of anxiety for ….anything!

Thank you for teaching me the things that mattered most when I was within the confines of your safety net — my totally corporate gig at lululemon — where I was paid if I my idea failed, where we celebrated making mistakes, where lawyers signed emails with “namaste”. Thank you for not telling me about everything else that would keep me awake at night. Because then I would probably have never made the leap of faith….and that would have been my biggest regret.

Here’s to forever being responsible for creating a future that would otherwise not exist!



5 Comments on “WARNING: Everything Chip Wilson didn’t teach us about being ENTREPRENEURs!

    • After 19 years on this path with my wife, we like to say “some months we’re rich, some months we’re poor, but our time is our own”. We’ll said Steph and bravo!

  1. Oh Steph. I hear you. Replace “entrepreneur” with “mother” and this is 99% accurate. (No lawyers yet!) Tenacity is your other middle name. The future is BRIGHT.

  2. YES to all of this, Steph. ALL OF IT!

    From another anxiety-soaked but so-glad-I-made-the-leap human.

    Big love xo

  3. Pingback: She Built That Entrepreneur of the Week: Steph Corker | She Built That

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