On community, connection, and murmurations.
My experience in the 12-month Founders Club Mastermind by Danielle Langton
It’s Friday and I return home to my crazy crew late this afternoon from Austin, TX where I’ve spent the last few days at the Commodore Perry, which is the most insanely beautiful atmosphere I can imagine. I’m here for a retreat for the Founders Club, a 12-month mastermind I joined at the beginning of the year as I transitioned my business from doing primarily illustration to branding and website design.
One of the biggest surprises over the past few years has been how isolating and lonely it’s felt at times (ok, often). When I first left the corporate world, I joined EvolveHer, a women’s co-working space in Chicago. I’m positive that if I hadn’t been surrounded by that community my early career days would have taken a very different path. And it would have been a lonely, lonely road.
During the pandemic, any sense of connection fell to the wayside, for pretty much the entire world. I felt disconnected from life as I’d known it to be for all of my 35 years, and lost in nearly 2 years of anxiety for my family and myself.
So at the start of this year, when the opportunity to join the Founders Club came onto my radar—I thought: I need to find a way to do this. I know that there is something positively magical in a group of women committed to supporting each other and sharing honestly about their parallel journeys of business, motherhood/womanhood, and life.
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Danielle Langton runs the group with the mission of empowering women to build businesses that allow them to achieve the real goal: freedom. Freedom to be home with your kids when you want to be, freedom to grow your business but still have time for yourself, freedom to do life on your own terms.
This year, we’ve met with female CFOs that have empowered us to take control of our finances, learned about launches and social media best practices, and talked about the ins and outs of community building (from Natalie Ellis, no less.)
The knowledge has been empowering, but it’s all been presented alongside the constant message that we are not hustling here. We are leaning into what feels good and right, and hiring (and therefore empowering) others to help us with things that are not in our zone of genius. We are walking with the knowledge that the decisions we make for ourselves impact not just our businesses but our families, our communities, and what it means to be a female-founded business anywhere.
My mindset on value, worth, and money has shifted entirely this year.
Like so many women, I’ve been quick to give my work away if it feels like it’s helping someone. And to be honest, those decisions are a bit selfish because I’ve been so uncomfortable talking about money, it’s easier for me to just step around it by finding ways to discount myself and the value that I can bring to someone’s business. None of this has done anyone any favors.
But I signed three big projects last month and while sending out proposals always gives me butterflies—I never went back in to lower my prices before sending or proactively offer a discount, as I always used to do. (Maybe that sounds nuts, but I’m guessing that also might sound very familiar.)
All of this has been literally life-changing, but I’m bringing it home to where I started this post: it’s the community. Sharing the year with these 8 women has been an absolute honor. These are 8 of the strongest, most beautiful souls that I can imagine: every one so different in their approaches to both business and life. The paths that led everyone to the journey of entrepreneurship are varied and complex. But also: not really that different at all.
This has not been the year that I expected for myself: to be honest, I kind of just thought I deserved a break after the last few. But the universe didn’t get the memo, and life stuff has been BIG.
And despite feeling, like most mothers do, like I’m barely holding things together—we wrote down our wins for the year yesterday and I realized: I’m so proud of myself. I launched a new business, I’ve taken on new clients, and have a clear path for sustainable, impactful growth helping female founders.
But that’s the message here, in the monthly calls and the incredible speakers and the in-person hugs from 8 women I’ve grown to love this week. Life IS big. It’ll keep coming. But so will I.
And this is especially true armed with knowledge, mindfulness and the love and support of a tribe like the one I’ve found in the Founders Club.
Wild subject change, bear with me: have you ever heard of a murmuration?
I heard a speaker explain it at a business conference years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s the stunningly beautiful phenomenon of starlings that fly together in a whirling, ever changing pattern. (Please watch this mind-blowing 30 second video to see it in action if you haven’t.) Scientists aren’t sure how exactly they know to move so perfectly together—they’re not pre-planning their hundreds of twists and turns—but leading theories believe it’s because they’re a system “on the edge”, which means they’re primed to transform at any instant.
And I think that maybe that’s the magic of something like The Founders Club. Together, we’re picking up on countless tiny, invisible shifts, signals and twists in the people flying beside us. Before we know it, we’re able to create patterns and make movements that we never could have alone.
The Founders Club is now accepting applications for the 23/24 cohort. Please DM me over on IG or leave a comment here and I’ll answer any of your questions or we can set up some time to chat.
If the Founder’s Club isn’t right for you right now—co-working spaces, meetups, or even online communities (if you actually participate, that is—speaking to myself here!) can also be great points of connection and uplift. Everyone—literally everyone—feels awkward entering a new group at first. Do it anyway :)
Life is too short to go it alone, I promise.
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