When I look at the calendar, I still can’t believe it was 5 years ago this week that GIFTE was officially incorporated. It feels like it was yesterday and many, many years ago, all at once. GIFTE has experienced tremendous growth and thus change. GIFTE has been the vehicle for my engaging with the most incredible people ever. GIFTE’s greatest asset is its community and I have you to thank for that.
In its first year, 2011, I was a solo entrepreneur. I began the business on my own, following a hunch…an instinct…perhaps even a calling. My heart knew that I had something important to share with travel agency owners struggling to make money selling travel. But I had to make money too.
That first year was not easy. I had to wear many hats. I had to do it all! Getting a business off its feet takes tremendous focus, attention to detail, commitment and drive. Yes, I had a virtual assistant who helped me with technical tasks I didn’t know how to do. But I project managed every detail of the business, assigning her tasks, which takes an immense amount of mental energy for someone who is not a natural project manager.
In addition to the foundational branding tasks that come with starting a business, like getting a logo, website, business card, headshot, etc, I delivered a lot in terms of programs. In that first year, I created, sold and delivered a Home Study System, ran 2 different Mastermind Programs, coached at least 20 different clients, attended and exhibited at a few travel industry events, and much more.
I worked from home, juggling the responsibilities that come with being a wife and mom to kids aged 10, 8 and 3. Five years later, GIFTE looks very different. I am no longer a solo entrepreneur. I have a team of 5 full time people (including me), plus 3 part timers, Our team works in an office. We have hundreds of clients in our programs. And we have another baby – that is, another business we started 2.5 years ago, Gifted Travel Network, a host agency in response to a huge demand for it.
Looking back, there are so many highlights. There’s no way I could put my finger on one thing alone. GIFTE is so incredibly rewarding to me. There are times I want to pinch myself because I get to wake up and “do this.” It’s an honor and a great source of fulfillment. Since I can’t narrow it down to 1 highlight, here I share the top 3 highlights to being the CEO of GIFTE:
1. Diamond Meetings
There is so much richness that takes place in these meetings! And we get to travel to the coolest places and stay in beautiful resorts like the St. Regis Puerto Rico, Sandals Whitehouse, and the St. Regis Deer Valley. There is a depth in connection that happens at these meetings that just doesn’t happen in most traditional environments. That depth of connection opens people up to incredible breakthroughs. Without these breakthroughs, their businesses would stay stuck in the same place. With these breakthroughs, they make awesome progress in their businesses and their lives.
2. TESA Fun Days
In our Travel Entrepreneur Success Academy (TESA), we hold 2-day live meetings a few times per year and on the 3rd day, we plan something fun so the group can bond, have fun and feel the support of their tribe. I have some of the best memories of my life from these Fun Days. From wine tasting in the Napa Valley of California, cocktail making classes in Jamaica, to catamaran sailing in Turks and Caicos – wow. The people in the TESA program make the Fun Days way beyond fun and enjoyable. I have multiple moments of laughing so hard it hurt. If I am having a down day or moment, all I have to do is call forth a memory from one of these Fun Days and a smile immediately floods my face.
3. Working with my team
I know what it’s like to do it all yourself. I know what it’s like to “wing it” because you are the only one in your business. From the very earliest days of owning GIFTE, I had great visions of a team that supported me, complimented my skills and talents, were super fun to work with and that I highly valued. Lucky me because my reality today is even beyond this far reaching vision. My team is THE. BEST!!!! Wow, I don’t even know how to put words to how awesome they are and how grateful I am to have them. They are talented, brilliant, super service oriented and a whole lot of fun.
In the end, whether you are an occasional reader of my weekly newsletter and don’t engage any further or you’ve been a valuable client heavily invested in our programs for 3-5 years, I want to thank you. Without you, GIFTE couldn’t exist. And it’s you and your courage to continue to play in the game of making money selling travel that make GIFTE what it is today. So thank you. Here’s to another 5 great years!