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Tarra Stubbins | Canada | Actionable Goals!!

I kinda fell into my career and I am so thankful that I did! I wish I had an epic founding story but really it comes down to me being truly the happiest when I am helping others succeed. When I was little I thought I would work behind the scenes in the film, television, radio, event, or theatre world. I wanted to be involved with something creative and technical, so I enrolled in a film and television program at Humber College in Toronto. Over the next three years, my feelings for the industry fizzled. I was more drawn to the excitement of live events, so I asked my professor if I could do an internship with a company that specialized in this, rather than film and television. Thankfully he agreed and for that I will be forever grateful! This is a lesson for everybody out there. If you feel it in your gut that you are not doing the right thing in life, change it. We spend more than a third of our life working, and what good is it if we are unhappy. That is a whole lot of wasted time. I jumped on the Kenny Rogers tour as an assistant intern. Helping people was in my blood and I was so happy that I could do that every day. Over the next decade, I built a name for myself in the industry and worked my way up to bigger and longer tours. After almost a decade on the road helping the biggest rock n roll starts in the industry, I started to feel a bit stuck. Don’t get me wrong, I loved helping people, but I wanted to help more than one person at a time. I also noticed that the celebrities I supported had specifically detailed delegation and time management systems. I observed as these skills helped the stars stand out from the crowd and become a huge success. So, I took the plunge and opened up my own business. I had no experience and no idea what the future would hold. I didn’t make a business plan and I thought I would just run around and help people with their errands. I thought I would be a millionaire by charging $40/hour! I quickly learned that a successful business didn’t run that way and went back to the delegation and time management systems I learned on the road. I morphed my business into being able to help individuals and small organization learn how to better use the 24 hours they have been given daily and to be more successful and less stressed. Now I give keynote speeches and operate group and one on one coaching sessions to help as many people as possible fulfill their goals through proper time management techniques.

I was recently asked to give a keynote speech in Australia on time management and at that moment it hit me that never in my wildest dreams would I think I would be standing here, at this point in my career, doing what I absolutely love and seeing client after client after client generate success through time management and be able to spread the lessons I learned from helping rock stars to a worldwide audience. When I was fulfilling those crazy rider requests of painting hotel rooms specific colours and washing toothbrushes in hotel dishwashers, I seriously would have never bet that those experiences would allow me to help others fulfill their own goals and become a huge success of their own.

What ignited the spark in you to start your career or to make significant changes in an existing career?

I’ve always been super excited about schedules. As long as I can remember my favourite part of the year was when I got my new school planner. I loved filling in the events, birthdays and sporting practices. I would daydream about the empty hours and days and all the cool things that could possibly fill my time. My love of schedules helped me naturally obsess over the schedules and time management systems that surrounded me on world tours. It’s crazy to think that my love of calendars and schedules would allow me to experience so many amazing moments. Moving from being a personal assistant for one celebrity to opening up my own business and managing thousands of requests was my biggest challenging, especially with no business training. I have to say that I wouldn’t change a minute of it though.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your career and how did you overcome them?

I literally had no idea what I was doing. I had no business school training and resources for small business owners were few and far between in the early 2000s. I remember spending a lot of money to put an ad in the Yellow Pages (when those were actually a thing!). I actually sat by my phone the day the Yellow Pages were delivered and thought that I would get hundreds of phone calls with prospective clients. You can guess what happened or rather didn’t happen. Kurt Cobain words echo in my head all the time: “I wish there was a music business 101 course I could have taken.” But then I remember that I have had a better business course, it was the music industry in a way teaching me business. I had to stay true to myself and leverage my connections. Another huge hurdle for me was saying no. I opened up my business, so I could help as many people as possible. When the phone rang, I was always saying yes. I realized that not everyone was an ideal client for me and I had to learn to say no to some people. They were just not the right fit for me and my business. All of these hurdles have made me the strong businesswoman I am today. I know that I can overcome the extremely stressful days that pop up every once and a while and still be standing to help more clients the next day.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

My parents were small business owners, so they have been nothing but supportive. I definitely got my entrepreneurial spirit from them. If I didn’t grow up in a family that ran a business, I don’t know if I would have even thought about opening my own. The only real contention that arises from being in an industry where I get really cool perks is that I have had so many fair-weather friends come out of the woodwork. It still shocks me that when a large concert comes to town my phone starts buzzing with messages from people I haven’t heard from in months. It also amazes me that people who call themselves friends expect an invite to shows, events, meet and greets, etc. and yet they don’t take the time to even invite me out for a coffee. It took me a while to realize who my true friends are and now I focus my energy on them, my family and my clients. I’m all about time management and I was wasting valuable energy and time trying to please everyone in my life.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your career success?

The single most influential factor has been figuring out I have to stay true to myself. I remember going to meetings in power suits and carrying a briefcase because that is how I thought business owners dressed. I was so uncomfortable. I spent most of my time itching and pulling at my clothing. This resonated with my potential clients and I never succeeded at any of my pitches. It wasn’t until I realized that people wanted to talk to me because of my skills, experience and what I could bring to the table that I started landing new clients – no matter what I was wearing. People wanted to hire me because I was truly me and I could help them turn their dreams into actionable goals and become successful, even without a briefcase and a power suit.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

Everything! But most importantly I wish I knew that being a business owner is f***ing hard. It’s not all the dream coffee shop meetings, fabulous networking parties and being able to set your own schedule. Being an entrepreneur means you can never turn off. You are always accountable for your business, your clients and your livelihood. Giving up is never an option. I’m happy that when I started social media wasn’t really a thing and that Instagram didn’t even exist. I think starting a business today is in a way easier because of all the resources out there, but is also so much harder because of the fake expectations created by social media.

What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?

My favourite quote of all times pretty much sums up my answer to this one. “If anyone tells you your dreams are silly, remember there is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.” – Anonymous

Admit It!!

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