Life and career lessons from Patty Aubrey, the strategist behind the phenomenal growth of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series and Jack Canfield Companies
Always ask for what you want
“Because you never know. It could be Yes!” From negotiating for a higher salary to authoring books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series to organizing global training sessions on success, Patty Aubrey gets what she wants because, “I`ve uncomfortably asked for what I want and I`ve been willing to make mistakes”. She answered a “Secretary Wanted” ad at 24, and rose to become the President of the Chicken Soup for the Soul project six years later, so you can bet she knows what she`s talking about.
The women who encourages people however old (or young) they are, to follow their dreams, has been working since she was 14 because she “wanted her own money, her own car by 16... I grew up poor. I didn`t have a lot, but I did have really big dreams. I didn`t know what they were at that point. I never woke up and thought `oh! I’m going to go to school and I’m going to be a doctor or I’m going to do this. I just knew I loved really nice things and I wanted to travel the world,” says Patty. She would opt for one pair of really nice jeans instead of the five her mum said they could buy with the same money.
Trust your gut
Patty still remembers her traditional father saying, “I can’t believe I sent you to college and you’re going to work for a hippee". Patty who felt intuitively that she should say yes to Jack Canfield’s offer went with her gut. “You know when you have those feelings, I think it’s God telling you that it’s right. I don’t think it’s just goosebumps”. Patty chose to take a risk at 24, rather than sit around and wonder “what if” at 44. She has no regrets.
Doing it all yourself is myth
“Doing it all yourself is a myth”, says Patty who is currently working on a book called Permission Granted, which is “all about giving yourself permission to be who you are”. As her children grew up she spent a lot of money hiring a nanny who, “was as passionate about her job—my children; as I was about mine. I didn’t want there to be inconsistency for the kids; I wanted them to have that home feeling, because I was travelling and I am not consistent at all. It took me to say, “I don’t want someone just like me, I want someone who is absolutely not like me, because it’s a better balance.”
Left to run the business her way, Pat quickly figured out that the company would save quite a bit if they updated their systems and exported all their content and contacts to an Apple System. “I just started to retool his office because it was a small entrepreneurial family business; and I took it to a new level," mentions Patty. This was just the start of her taking things to new levels.
Build a cheering squad
From Jack Canfield giving her free reign of his office and telling her that her being pregnant was amazing and that they would “work it out” and Mark Victor Hansen`s “thinking big” to her younger sister who bullied her into asking if she could author titles in the Chicken Soup Series and her assistant who schedules conferences for her and ensures that she gets to them, Patty seems to have found the right kind of support and made the most of it.
Team work rules
Patty is a firm believer in team work dynamics. She tells us, “If Jack and I had done Chicken Soup alone, it never would have worked. It was Jack, Mark and I that did Chicken Soup together that made it work, because when one of us was down the other one was picking us up. Mark`s mantra was “you got to fake it to make it and you got to believe it to see it” And I was so young I believed him. Now I`m older and more jaded but, “As women, surrounding yourself with the right team is crucial. In my world, it’s always about WE. I always want to find a win-win, it’s not about I, I, I”.
Listen for your joy
I never looked around at what everybody was doing. I wanted to do what I loved; so the happier I was and the more times I looked up from my computer and it was 2.00 in the morning, the better. I was working 16 hours a day, but I loved it. You won`t know if you really like a job until you try it; so it’s really about experimenting and being open to trying different types of things, in one workplace or several. You have to listen to yourself and know when suddenly time doesn’t matter and you’re in joy. Often we think, `Oh! Anybody can do `that`; but lots of times `that` is the unique ability we should be focused on growing.
“When I met my husband I told him, I am a workaholic; I don’t make dinner, I make reservations. I think, so often as women, we give up ourselves to be loved and so we show up different, thinking that if we are perfect they’ll love us. But in any environment, it’s very important to be totally authentic and transparent about where you’re at and about what your needs, wants and dreams are so that people can support you,” says Patty, whose husband began to support her when he realized how serious she was.
Don`t give in to the guilt
With Patty often working from 6.00 in the morning to well past midnight, you can bet a lot of people were judging her—friends and family included. But that did not deter her, “I didn’t allow what people said to affect me. I just felt that as long as I was completely present when I was nursing my child or when I was with him, it would be okay. Anybody can model what it looks like to sit home and clean a house, but I felt to live my passion, to live my dream, was a better gift to my son than being home and being frustrated that I had given up on something”. Nonetheless, she struggled with the guilt right up to the time her sons were seven and ten, when she was at a book-signing and suddenly realized she had a New York Times Bestselling Book.
Go with the flow?
From working on the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book for four years, to finding a publisher who didn’t believe that “blood and guts is what sells in America,” and getting creative with marketing the first Chicken Soup book without a budget, Patty was open to each new challenge. “It became a very creative, pro-active thought process that I had never experienced before. And I loved it. This is when I knew that this is what I wanted to be doing”. She spent the next 15 years creating great marketing plans and looking for a strategic way to get it done.
Enroll other people in your dreams
Despite all her success, any new project is scary. Patty is doing a luxury retreat in Italy this July and is also working on a train the trainer home study programme that could be worth 25 million dollars. “It`s always scary, but it may work out if I enroll other people in my dream. People naturally want to help each other, especially other women,” she believes.
Love what you do, till you find what you love
Patty had several jobs all through college; once she got into a job she always ended up liking it. But she found her life purpose only when she got into the world of self help and life coaching. She says, “Creative, funny, personable, brave—I took all these things people said about me and put them into a life-purpose statement. I just kept responding to what I was loving. I knew that I couldn`t be in a normal job that I had to clock in and clock out and I couldn`t have somebody be the boss of me. It just wasn`t going to work for me”.
Creativity trumps education
Patty may be one semester short of a degree, but she developed an intense work ethic, computer skills and book-keeping abilities, whilst working at her father’s company. “Everything I learned at school, I have never used other than accounting,” says Patty. If you research the hundred wealthiest people in the world, you` ll find that most of them don`t even have a high school education and the ones that do didn`t finish college. Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates—its typically the creative people that can`t stand traditional workplaces.
Have great expectations
At her 30th high-school union, Patty discovered that her yearbook describes her as “having the best eyes” and being “the most likely not to succeed”. She`s now been invited back to the school by a former classmate (now school principal) to talk there. Clearly it’s not wise to put too much stock in other people notions of use.