Doing things by trial and error is one of the approaches I continually try to use in my business. I have discovered some great business insights by being open to trying new things–and most importantly, by being willing to fail and simply move on.
Sibyl Chavis is a Harvard-trained lawyer who left the lucrative corporate world on the East coast to create a life of greater clarity and purpose. Formerly in practice at a leading law firm and then serving as executive vice president for HR at the largest multicultural advertising agency, she now runs her own business and writes “The Possibility of Today,” an online magazine focused on providing simple tips for living today better than yesterday. She lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and two children.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing my second book and developing a video course to go along with it. The topic I am focusing on is success, and I have developed a success formula that includes seven principles, many of which are unconventional. In order to write this book, I studied a group of very successful people and was able to distill the similarities that run throughout all of their stories. The formula is based on my findings, and the goal of the book and the course is to help people integrate the success principles into what they are doing.
Have you ever taken something on, only to realize once you got halfway into it just how much you signed up for? Let’s just say that I am reminded daily that I’ve done this, but it’s all good stuff.
Where did the idea for The Possibility of Today come from?
The idea behind The Possibility of Today actually came from my life and how I was living (or not living, depending on how you look at it). Even though I had accomplished many of the things I had always wanted to (the career, the family, etc.) and life was going pretty smoothly, I knew there was something missing. It took some years, some books and plenty of life experiences to figure it out, but one thing I have come to understand is the real possibility of today (and every “today” that follows). I realized how important it is to never allow yourself to get too sucked into the “hustle and bustle” of life. The site was named after this realization, because I knew it would be a great way to keep this life philosophy at the top of my mind while also sharing everything I have figured out, stumbled into and continue to discover with the community at The Possibility of Today.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day seems to be continually evolving. Currently, my main focus is on doing everything I can to maintain the right mindset and the best energy flowing while moving through my day. One of my favorite sayings, “It doesn’t take much to make each day better, but it does take intent.”
As a result, I have strategically tried to set up my days so that I can move through them thoughtfully and continually feel at my best. I am all about doing everything I can to make sure I never get too sucked into the day and that things that are constantly coming my direction. My number one priority is spending time with my husband and our kids, and really experiencing and enjoying that time. I have definitely become more sensitive to overdoing it and working too much (this used to be one of my biggest issues). I am an early riser (5:00 a.m.), which is a good thing because it gives me more hours in the day with which to work. My current “typical day” includes: morning time, afternoon breaks, evening time with my family, and five hours of work (up to seven or ten hours, only if I am working on a big project) broken up into two- to three-hour segments with breaks. Three days out of the week I make sure I do at least an hour of exercise or some sort of physical activity.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I like to let ideas marinate in my mind for at least two to three days before I really flesh them out. After I realize that I have something good marinating, I try to focus on that idea as I move through my day. I think through any insights or observations. I think about any connections the idea might have to my day or to the things I have been doing lately. After the idea has had a couple of days to settle in my mind and I feel I have generated some good thoughts on the topic, I sit down, put on my headphones, listen to one of my iTunes playlists, and get the idea down on paper.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
More and more people are giving up the jobs they thought they “needed” for the jobs they have always wanted. It seems more people are looking for their passions and are then finding the courage to “jump” into the unknown. I just love that.
It actually brings to mind one of my favorite quotes by Ann Dillard: “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” That quote used to scare me every time I heard it, but since I jumped and found that you actually do build your wings after you jump, it’s one of my all-time favorite quotes.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I was 16, my mother got me a job where I had to dress up in some crazy, oversized cartoon character costume at the mall. I learned that the best thing you can do when you don’t necessarily love your job is to find some way to enjoy it. It’s all about the energy and perspective you bring to what you are doing. If I had focused on how hot and awful that costume was, the day would have gone on and on. Instead, I had fun with it by running up to people and hugging them. They were completely surprised because they couldn’t see me and were wondering why an overgrown cartoon character was hugging them. It was so many years ago, but I still remember the look on people’s faces, as well as their laughter. Hilarious, right? The time flew by.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh, so much. I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t say I have any regrets, because I do believe that everything happens for a reason and every experience is designed to give us some sort of lesson, insight or understanding about how we are ultimately meant to live. But if I could start again, I think one thing I would always keep at the top of my mind is that our dreams are our possibilities. This notion would have completely changed how I lived the first 30+ years of my life.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Doing things by trial and error is one of the approaches I continually try to use in my business. I have discovered some great business insights by being open to trying new things–and most importantly, by being willing to fail and simply move on. The key is that once you find an open lane to something that works, you keep driving down that lane as quickly and as effectively as you can. If you drive down that lane and get better and better at driving, that lane will eventually point you in the direction of other open lanes.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I hit speed bumps all the time, but I look at each and every one of them as little, great pointers that help me move in a different direction. The last problem I encountered involved the best way to use my Twitter account. Essentially, I had to choose if I was going to prioritize doing something I thought was valuable for my community over my Klout score and Alexa ranking. I chose to benefit my community by doing what was most valuable for them. This has always been the way I go about things, and even though it sometimes seems counterproductive from a business standpoint, it always seems to work out in the end if I just follow my heart and do what I know is right, thoughtful and in the best interest of my community.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Speed of implementation. This is one of my all-time favorites. I actually picked it up from a course I took by Eben Pagan. Speed of implementation is the amount of time between when you learn about something new that you know will improve your business and when you actually integrate it into what you are doing. There was a study that found successful people had speed of implementation in common. They didn’t sit on any good ideas–big or small. As soon as they learned of a better way, they started doing it within the next 24 hours.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would love it if everyone started seeing profit as a byproduct–something that always comes when you genuinely and truly prioritize the value you offer your clients, over everything else. I think everything would change if this happened. I am a big believer of giving away a significant amount of whatever it is you do or create, and of earning your revenue from what remains. I know this probably sounds crazy to many people, but when you structure companies like this, you set yourself up for high profits and lasting success.
I think the best way to go about making this change in the world is by creating a company that’s set up this way, so that people can really see how it can work. Also, I think showing people an unconventional formula to success that the most successful entrepreneurs are following would also be pretty compelling, and that’s what my latest book is all about.
Tell us a secret.
I have no formal training, so take this secret for what it is worth: I really think the stock price of Google is going to continuously increase for a very, very long time. When your mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, there is something very powerful that you’ve tapped into. Let’s just say I think you have some very strong tailwinds pushing you (and your stock) upward.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- Facebook. I used to not be a believer, but I get it and love it now. Facebook has literally changed my business and allowed me to connect with so many people, in ways I never would have ever been able to without Facebook.
- Skype. I still can’t believe that we can video conference with just about anyone in the entire world for free. That is such a valuable resource.
- Basecamp. I am a huge fan of organization, and Basecamp easily organizes even the most massive and unorganized projects.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend The Celestine Prophecy because I am reading it again and remembering just how great, fascinating and exciting it is.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- Leo Babauta, because everyone needs Zen habits in their life, and Leo is absolutely one of the best bloggers in the world (www.zenhabits.net).
- Corbett Barr, because he is literally one of the smartest people online and has so many amazing insights into what is going on and what is evolving (www.thinktraffic.net).
- Lori Deschene, because she has tapped into one of the most amazing benefits the internet offers–a true community (www.tinybuddha.com).
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
When I was answering the question about my worst job and sharing how I dressed up as a cartoon character and jumped out at people. I laugh out loud all the time though, so that’s nothing new. It’s one of my main modi operandi, and I just don’t think you should take things too seriously. In fact, one of my favorite proverbs is, “If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.”
Who is your hero?
Oh, I can’t pick just one. I have so many: The Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Tony Hseih, Wayne Dyer, Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Gary Zukav, and Thich Nhat Hanh (and this isn’t even my complete list). They are all my heroes because they have really figured out this whole “life” thing.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
What I enjoy most about my business is that it never feels like work. It is so great to be able to connect with so many kind and thoughtful people all over the world every single day. The fact that it is considered “work” is still amazing to me.
What is one thing you always keep top of mind?
There really is a different way to live.