In 2008, I took a leap of faith from my cushy corporate sales job and launched my first entrepreneurial endeavor. I had little cash reserves but a lot of ambition.
As with any major transition, I got sick three weeks into building my new venture. I got hospitalized for a week and was forced to fast during my entire stay. On day seven, I was discharged with a $40,000 medical bill and a prescription for a $40 antibiotic to kill the parasite in my colon I had contracted from the hospital bed.
If you’d have said to me, ‘Things happen for a reason,’ I would have told you to take your yoga mat and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
The saying “stress kills” is no joke. Nothing can ever prepare you for epic fails like these.
Times when your back is up against the wall.
Losing thousands of dollars quickly.
Feeling like a good-for-nothing waste of space.
For a few days during my downward spiral, I entertained the idea of letting myself wither away to nothing so that my son could collect my life insurance.
When you’re stuck in a funk replaying the I shoulda-woulda-coulda tapes, it’s hard to break through the negative self-talk alone. I thank my lucky stars I surrounded myself with good people. I needed help (A LOT OF IT!) getting out of one of the most debilitating times in my life.
One golden nugget I keep with me every day is something my coach taught me that cold November day in 2008.
Have an attitude of gratitude.
She said, “Take one positive action each day. Undoing the past is impossible. Worrying about the future will keep you feeling paralyzed. Focus on the present, it’s a gift.”
One week into my recovery, I volunteered at a non-profit organization. I needed to get my mind off of my first failed business attempt and a recent breakup. Serving others more in need became my saving grace. Doing good work for the sheer sake of the good-doing gave me a greater sense of purpose outside of my own four crumbling walls.
Some call me emotionally resilient for being of service when I was in dire need of help. The truth is, I was looking for any reason to wake up at all each day.
Day by day, my health gradually improved. I had to retrain my body to swallow food, walk, and drive after my muscles had atrophied. I was desperate to rebuild my life, career, and self-esteem. So I decided to get back on the job boards and put my entrepreneurial failure behind me.
By day 36 of my recovery, I landed a new job.
Nine months later, the universe tossed another boulder on my plans. I was back in transition once again.
Standing at those crossroads this time around, I realized I had reached another season in my life. For over 12 years, I had chased someone else’s dream thinking I needed more stuff to prove to everyone I had “made it.” But no matter how much I had accumulated or achieved throughout my corporate sales career, nothing money could buy would ever fill the void inside me.
So I chose to follow my heart and trust my intuition.
I began offering pro bono coaching services to support an organically built network of aspiring entrepreneurs and dislocated workers who were feeling hopeless, powerless, and defeated during the recession. Within weeks, I was being sought out for speaking, training and writing projects by workforce development groups and local universities.
Since then, I’ve devoted the last decade learning what it takes to build a shin-kicking, intuitively-guided practice that helps impact-driven individuals and social businesses find the bravery every day to speak up, stand out, and change their corners of the world. And, today, I continue to give away much of my work for free.
THE STREET CRED
Hi, I’m Berni Xiong (shUNG).
I’m an author and writer, director of an integrative health education center, and proud mom.
I’ve made hundreds of appearances across the U.S. and Canada giving talks on career transition, selling in the connection economy, bridging cultural communication gaps, understanding generational dynamics, and more.
My work has appeared in front of popular publications and major news outlets, such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Huffington Post, The Edge Magazine, The Good Men Project, The Business Journal, Business Unplugged on Carol Roth’s Blog, and numerous podcasts and live streaming shows.
My expertise has been featured alongside notable authorities including Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Guy Kawasaki, Pamela Slim, Sally Hogshead, and Michael Port. I’ve appeared multiple times on TV in a healthy living pilot episode on Milwaukee Public Television, as a guest on HuffPost Live, and as a returning expert on NBC Affiliate The Morning Blend.
Berni Xiong received a Master of Arts in Business Administration (MBA) from Cardinal Stritch University graduating with distinction and inducted into Delta mu Delta, a national honor society in business administration. She graduated with a specialty in marketing and, through her professional career, is an authority on “selling in the connection economy.”
In addition to her formal education, Berni also received professional training and certifications in several coaching and healing modalities:
- Usui Reiki Level I, II, and Master/Teacher (Various Reiki Masters and Teachers)
- Certified Coach Training (Coach University)
- Color Therapy (Palana & Ramel)
- Certified Realm Reader (Doreen Virtue)
- Weight Management Specialist (American Council on Exercise)
Berni is the bestselling author of The Year of the Brave Bear: Speak Up. Stand Out. Change Your World.; author and publisher of its paperback companion The Way of the Brave Bear: An Intuitive Guide for Speaking Up, Standing Out and Changing Your World; and a contributing author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive.
In her spare time, she gives away some of her best stuff for free in The Brave Bear Insider.