How to be Special: Believe & Persist

Brainstorming session at Zirtual HQ held in the kiddy-corner of our shared office space.

When I was a child my family spent some idyllic years in Mountain View, CA. We left in ’92, mere years before the internet boom began.

Little did I know as I watched our driveway disappear from the back seat of my parent’s Volkswagon Rabbit that 18 years later I’d be back, for another boom – except this time I’d be intimately involved.

We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so my mother ended up homeschooling us for some time before we ended up in Las Vegas, where I spent the majority of my formative years.

Planting the belief seed

The thing that sticks out in my mind about our homeschooling years was the refrain my mother told me and my brother constantly, almost like a prayer. She’d say, “always remember, you can do anything you set your mind to … your very special and because of that, you can do anything in the world”.

The irony of her constant praise was that as a student, both in school and college, I was mediocre at best. I was extremely dyslexic – something I didn’t get diagnosed until this year – which made my schooling experience a painful lesson in frustration and humiliation. Facts fell out of my brains like water and the only thing I could focus on through those difficult years were the “great things” I was going to do one day – because, my mother had always told me I was special.

I believed her. And I still do, but for different reasons.

When she started telling me I was special as a child, I wasn’t. I was special because I had unique DNA and I was hers – but divorce her motherly love from reason and you’ll find a plane-jane, not terribly brilliant child with a mind like a colander when it came to English, math and history.

Believe >> persist >> fulfill your belief

Because I believed I was destined for great things, nothing really got me down as a child or then as an adult. I thought I was special (correctly or not) and because I thought I was special – I became special.

I tried things most people wouldn’t dare. I took risks that drove my business forward. I kept going in the face of constant adversity and with very little experience or connections to fall back on… and one day everything sort of clicked. I went from believing I was special – to persisting (because of that belief) – to becoming “special”… all because of one refrain my mother drove home for years.

Now I’m back in the Bay Area. I run a company called Zirtual that provides busy people with dedicated assistants to help them free up their precious time. I dreamed up this business years ago and have worked a very zig-zag path to it’s birth. Now I’m the proudest mother in the World, because I truly believe my “baby” is special – just like my mother believed in me.

Go with your gut

Zirtual wasn’t my first business idea (I’d had hundreds before it and a handful I pursued to some sort of end), but it was “the one” so to speak. How did I know? The same way my parent’s knew they were meant to spend there lives together when they met 3 months before tying the knot.

When it’s right, you feel it in your gut. You may not have the right iteration in front of you – and maybe you won’t stumble upon it for years – but you have a hazy idea of what your ideal startup will be and that lofty goal is what will carry you through the sleepless nights & stressful days of bootstrapping a business.

Belief and persistence go hand in hand when you’re building a business and pursuing the destiny you’ve always felt called to. Persistence without belief is useless, you’ll carry on into a wall of apathy that will derail you forever. Belief without persistence is simply a dream, the kind you wake up from and promptly lose sight of.