After enjoying years of success in the corporate world, I could see a growing gap in the marketplace for user-centric web-based membership systems in the academic sector. So I decided to build a software company in 2005 for 2 reasons; to design membership systems exclusively for the academic sector and make web-based software specifically for universities. It was the beginning of an unforgettable entrepreneurial journey .
In 7 years of owning that company, it turned over 7-figures yearly. Things were going great until I had a life-altering experience just 3 hours after my second son was born. I reached out to the drawer by my hospital bed to grab some lip balm, and my business card fell out. When I picked it up, I was overwhelmed by this realization that my whole life was a series of labels in that mere fraction of a second . I thought, “holy moly”.
It was the epiphany of my life. I tried so hard to keep up with the Joneses I couldn’t see I was stuck on the hamster wheel. I realized I was being seduced by being on an endlessly busy loop and having no sense of freedom. I came to terms with the fact I was indebted to that wheel and everything about it.
My circle of influence, the people I hung out with, the restaurants I went to, and the material possessions I had. They all had to match that narrative of projecting my success. I intuitively knew right then I would resign from my own company because it was clear I created a “job” that matched the narrative I was living and led a completely unauthentic life. It was like I was reborn in that instant.
I also knew I had a lot of internal work I had to do. It was super confronting and liberating at the same time because I was experiencing differing paradigms at once. Nobody in my entire ancestry ever challenged that paradigm of going to university, working for a salary until retirement and building a home with a white picket fence. I did, and I broke out of that paradigm.
Coming from a European heritage grounded in strong traditions and values, breaking that chain was confronting. But that old paradigm drove me to put everything, including my health, at stake in my own company. At the end of the day, what I was truly seeking was validation from my parents. What I really needed was to grow up and become an adult.
Two weeks later, I officially resigned from my own company in September 2011, and I physically left in January 2012. Over the next 12 months, I took a sabbatical to find myself. I was very fortunate to have a mentor who was a professor in philosophy and a mentor who was an expert in the emotional body. On top of that, I signed up to do a quantum medicine course to learn about the mind, body and emotional connection.
The journey in those 12 months is where I had another life-changing realization. I t hit me that I had accumulated thousands of hours of knowledge, wisdom and skill that could solve a complex problem when merged. At that moment, I realized I came face to face with personal branding way back in the year 2000 from ONE sliding door experience – “Oh my god”.
I could see how I applied my branding philosophy when I managed a big sales team for the U.S.-based IT company that headhunted me in Australia years ago. I turned salespeople into brands but didn’t realize I created a framework to unpack these things with ease and grace. It occurred to me during my sabbatical that I don’t build salespeople. I build brands. I did that for years.
I know how to build sales systems from end to end. I also know how to design digital membership systems because that’s all we did in my software company. I employed a cognitive scientist in my business previously who taught me the power of frame-working and how to design software through the lens of a user.
This reflection is where my genius of converting knowledge, wisdom and skill into a program came to life. I realized most coaches were building courses that were educational. They weren’t building programs. Those were different things. Programs are all about enabling a transformation with tangible outcomes and giving people an ecstatic user experience. A course is just consuming content. I couldn’t do that. I wanted to help others create the profound transformation I experienced.
I’m passionate about programs because building systems is how I solve problems holistically. This thinking is rooted in my software background. I merge personal branding, systematization, turning systems into a digital asset and my passion for sales and marketing to solve an end-to-end problem for anyone in the world who wants to commercialize their knowledge, wisdom and skill set into an actual service-based business .
When I was able to look at that inventory I possessed, I knew I could do those things whether they were digital or not. What I do doesn’t come from textbook learning. It’s from experiential learning through working for some of the largest IT companies and having my own successful software company.
I developed an understanding of sales in my first job in media and television, where I worked in the sales and marketing office. Making sales has always been the underlying foundation of what I do, which is why I know how to commercialize personal brands. I’m eager to help every coach, consultant, and business owner see they are sitting on a goldmine of knowledge, wisdom and skills.
It’s amazing that today I get to call these the loves of my life – the things I can do with ease and grace as my vocation. It’s my mission to show others how to do this too.
“Mary Henderson is an internationally recognized Personal Brand Strategist and Digital Business Specialist.
Mary Henderson helps Service Based Business Owners, Coaches, and Consultants systematize, digitalize, and commercialize their knowledge, wisdom, and skills into a scalable and profitable online business and brand so they become an authority in their niche or industry.”