The only person stopping you from success is yourself: just because you have had a negative experience with one person or situation, do not let that stop you or at the very least let it get in your way of achieving your dreams and aspirations. You are the driving force towards success.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vanessa Gordon.
Vanessa Gordon is the CEO and Publisher of East End Taste Magazine, a digital sustainable travel and food publication based in the Hamptons. Vanessa is also the Founder and Host of the Hamptons Interactive Brunch. She lives in Sag Harbor with her husband and two children.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
East End Taste was simply born out of my love for writing. I never meant for East End Taste nor myself as a personality and thought leader to have expanded to where I am today. I can certainly tell you, none of the roads taken towards were easy. In fact, many of them were many wavelengths above challenging. But I can express wholeheartedly, every step taken has been worth it.
Remember, if success were easy, there would be a line out the door to get in. Always be weary of anyone telling you that any step is ‘easy’.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The most interesting story from my career thus far is learning exactly what my value or worth is in terms of what rates I should set for different tasks and partnerships. This took me quite a bit of time to figure it as it is nearly impossible to put a price on something you love. What made me set these rates once and for all was when it was time for me to outsource within my business. I needed to hire a graphic designer, copy editor, and some freelance photographers and videographers.
I took a step back and realized the amount of time I was spending on certain projects and how much value this work constituted. It took a few instances for me to finally realize my actual rates, especially when I at first received such replies as “that’s all it costs?” Then when I started the projects, I felt disgruntled and overwhelmed when I realized I should have charged a lot more, especially given the time certain tasks were taking me.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
East End Taste stands out as a small, women-owned business and the only sustainable food and travel focused publication on Long Island (we are also based part-time in the UK). We create that international bridge where we bring the Hamptons to the world and the world to the Hamptons, one of the most recognized vacation destinations in the world.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am most grateful, especially now, for my husband’s support as well as the support of our two young children. My husband and I were recently reminiscing about when we were starting out, living on a shoestring budget, and working endless hours while balancing school, residency, etc. We have come so far since then, but I am always humbled by our beginnings. Hard work has truly paid off and I am so grateful my husband has been there with me the entire time. Plus, our two children have a growing interest in East End Taste. We are currently exploring ways that they could get involved, perhaps their own ‘column’ or social media live segment.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I would define resilience as the ability to carry on even during the toughest of times. One phrase that comes to mind, especially as an anglophile is: “keep calm and carry on.” To be resilient, you have to be driven, and have gumption, persistence and mental strength. Those who are resilient are not afraid of rejection, have high self-esteem, are self-starters, and never let “the little things” get them down. The word “quit” does not exist in their dictionary.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
In my opinion, courage is like resilience in that both start from the same foundation. You do have to be courageous to have resilience. Resilience is taking courage a step further and into an entirely renewed role. As a personal instance, I realized that I was never going to succeed if I did not start putting myself and my business first. I was consistently too concerned with how others judged my business, and I always took their feedback very seriously. Simply put: in order to be resilient, you have to start with a foundation that is built on courage.
I finally embraced my own motto of “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.” I took those steps to learn and understand methods and practices needed for my business to succeed, including accounting/bookkeeping, and marketing. Having at least a very basic understanding of these roles is so essential to success in business. Resilience is never ever giving up, no matter what curveballs are thrown your way.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
When I think of resilience in terms of a person with great influence, I instantly think of Stephen Hawking. He was a brilliant individual, no doubt, with a kind and empathetic soul. He succeeded and lived life the fullest despite having ALS and being confined to a wheelchair. His story continues to inspire me every day.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Yes, I remember when I was back in 6th grade and I was told I could not write a proper story. I remember the story I wrote was very advanced in terms of the readership audience. Let’s just say it was during Halloween, we were assigned to create our own short stories, and I took the story up a few notches. For some reason, those words of encouragement (to be facetious) only pushed me to write even more.
Just under two years later I completed my first novel which was then published four years later before I graduated high school. Sometimes you have to be inspired to do something worthwhile in an unconventional way.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a setback, but perhaps more of a significant reset. I was still a novice within business and things were starting to take shape quite rapidly. At the peak of my business growth, I became ill with HG (Hypermesis Gravidarum) with my second pregnancy. I should have expected it as I suffered with HG with my first. At the time, I was suffering from not only HG but also from extreme anxiety that is associated with the illness. My website and social media channels went dormant for almost six months. I knew that after my son was born, I had to bounce back hard and fast. I dedicated a tremendous amount of effort bringing the business back to where it was.
Thankfully the year later (2018) was the inaugural Hamptons Interactive Brunch. The event was a tremendous success and propelled East End Taste back into full swing.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I have cultivated resilience throughout my life, particularly during my graduate school years and throughout my adventures of owning and running a business. Graduate school was no easy task: graduated in just a year and a half after graduating a semester early from college. During two semesters of those semesters, I commuted almost three hours each way from Sag Harbor to NYU 3–4 days per week! I was in classes and student teaching for sometimes as many as 10 hours, before commuting home. I also studied abroad in London and at Oxford while in graduate school. After the program was over, I came home and less than 2 weeks later, I was getting married. I was only 22 at the time but have zero regrets. I have two beautiful children and a loving husband of over 10 years.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. The only person stopping you from success is yourself: just because you have had a negative experience with one person or situation, do not let that stop you or at the very least let it get in your way of achieving your dreams and aspirations. You are the driving force towards success.
2. Never, ever give up on your dreams: never stop, never question your dreams, and never doubt yourself.
3. Always choose happiness: I remember I had a job for one summer that paid extraordinarily well for where I was in my career path. The work, however, was stressful and created much anxiety and stress. No amount of money was worth it and I learned a great deal from that experience. Happiness always prevails.
4. Do not question your gut feelings: I have learned through experience to focus on how I feel when I am about to potentially become involved in a new venture. I have learned to trust my gut and not question it. If I feel uncomfortable or uncertain for whatever reason, I listen to those feelings and emotions and step away and move on.
5. Embrace rejection and work through it. Rejection is a great thing! Learn, reassess, relearn, and become better and stronger. The more mistakes you make, the more you will learn from them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I always like to remind those around me to be a leader, not a follower; and nothing that is worth it is ever easy. There are never any shortcuts in life.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would love to have a private breakfast with Jennifer Garner. I am so inspired by how she has built her brand, Once Upon A Farm, and her poise and perseverance as a business professional while juggling her acting career and family.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You may find me on Instagram @ vanessapgordon. My digital publication’s website link is: https://www.eastendtastemagazine.com. Our social media handle across most major platforms is @ eastendtaste.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!