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5 Battle Scars Won Through 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

“I can’t believe it’s been 5 years!” a friend messaged me this morning.

Five years – already?! While it’s hard to believe, at the same time, it feels like it has been dog years since Mike and I formed illuvint llc, our boutique digital marketing company. I continue to manage illuvint as I develop iAmplify, my nonprofit initiative to help religious organizations.

“You will feel everything directly. All the joys, all the challenges, and the failures – they will impact you. There is no longer a buffer.” That was the wisdom that a seasoned entrepreneur and friend imparted at the onset of this journey.

Still, I was not prepared for what would be required of me. If you really know me, then as much of planner as I am, you also know that my ambition was not to be an Entrepreneur and Nonprofit Founder; however, these unplanned endeavors have shaped who I’ve become and my life would look radically different today had I not given my fiat five years ago.

5 Battle Scars Won Through 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

“Negative occurrences in our lives affect us more deeply than positive ones, and can serve as ‘windows of opportunity for growth’.” That was a theme I wrote about here many moons ago.

My failures, challenges, and life lessons have imparted some battle scars along this journey. If you’re going to be the woman or “man in the arena”, be ready for battle scars.

While these scars are invisible to the naked eye, they have power – the power to transform. There’s so much I’ve learned, but the insights I’ve gained from these 5 battle scars over 5 years of Entrepreneurship are quintessential.

1) Detachment.

No one will care about this work as much as you, not even your supporters. I define Entrepreneurial detachment as separating emotionally from the need to control, particularly where it concerns outcomes.

Sometimes, ok a lot of times, you will take things too personally. Detachment is not one and done; but rather it is a necessary, continual process amidst forging your initiative in response to your passion, purpose, and gifts.

Unless you’ve lived this, it may be hard to fully grasp the attachment and temptation towards that end which Entrepreneurs feel. The work we do requires pouring ourselves out, over hours, days, months, and years. And while it is our passion, it results in a lot of sacrificing, especially time with family, friends, having downtime or vacations, etc. Our brains and our “to-do lists” may keep us restless until we work it, re-work it, then stir and repeat. Refine it, and become refined by it. Again. And again.

A healthy level of attachment is required, though. If we weren’t connected to the work – we wouldn’t care. Not caring yields a lack of motivation, which is the wasteland of entrepreneurial dreams. A healthy level is the key here.

2) Consider the source.

There’s no shortage of opinions and advice that others will share – particularly from unsolicited “advisors”. The age of technology also feeds us a steady stream of multi-media that is full of Entrepreneurial “musts.” If you want to be successful, you must do these 20 things well (derived from this exclusive 14-week program for just $1,599.99 today, by the way).

First, always consider the source. Listen to the feedback of others, and later reflect on it. When you reflect on it, also reflect on the person who provided the feedback. Who are they? What is their experience and expertise in this particular realm? What motivation might they have for providing this feedback? What may God be trying to teach me through this encounter?

“But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man.” Mt 15:18.

Listen to what comes forth from their heart and ponder what is intended for you. Do you need to be disciplined? To refocus? Or do you need to shake this one off? Consider the source, and seek The Source of all good as you do.

Most importantly, do not allow the nay-sayers voices to get into your head and feed self-doubt. It takes great courage to put yourself out there in this way, so remember your why, and hold fast.

3) The state of imperfection

“Hi, I’m Lisa, and I’m a recovering perfectionist.”

I’ve learned the hard way time and again that perfection is not something achievable this side of heaven. But excellence, on the other hand, that is something worth pursuing. My mind has confused seeking excellence as the need for perfection, but that’s a trap. Oh, and people pleasing, that’s a dead end.

Friend, avoid the snare of perfectionism – it’s not self-fulfilling, it’s self-defeating – and leaves one always feeling less than while chasing unicorns. Perfectionism is not something I chose, but something I learned, falsely ascribing my self-worth to the desire to be perfect. My wounds longed to be filled with my achievements, or to let “things” define me, instead of finding worth in who I was.

As an Entrepreneur, what I can do for people through my business may gain accolades and recognition. Conversely, what I fail to do for people may afford objections and complaints. And it can swing from one experience to the other within the time it takes to receive a text, email, or phone call.

If you can receive both in the same spirit of humility, then I believe that’s the mark of excellence in progress. And yes, it’s progress, not perfection as they say.

4) Have a plan. Then adjust to what really happens.

Business plans, marketing strategies, mind-mapping, strategic alliances, big data – it’s all good and important. There’s value also in gut-reactions, instincts, intuition, and failure. In fact, “fail fast” is one of my favorite lessons from “Creativity Inc”. And then there’s prayer, which is more than part of my daily routine or a task to check off the list, it’s what feeds my soul and directs my path.

Creating a plan is what leaders do, but good leaders either know or learn how to roll with the other factors that crop up beyond the plan. Leaders who thrive on being agile while executing a plan are particularly fascinating, as they see challenges as opportunities.

Don’t be surprised when things don’t go according to plan. And consider that it even might be better that way.

5) Wait, and be patient in the not yet.

Taking risks and being action-oriented are often among the most celebrated qualities of Entrepreneurs. But what about the patience, and retooling, and waiting, and working, and realigning, and rebooting? What about timing? And then trying, failing, trying again, and again and again. Or crafting and honing a concept, service, or product over months and years?

There is the vision. And then there is today. What we are doing now is (or should be) in order to achieve some aspect of that vision – which has not yet been fully realized. But it is the vision that keeps us reaching, working, hustling, focusing, failing, and journeying.

Entrepreneurs generally seem to be “movers and shakers”, so patience may sometimes be counted among our lesser virtues. When we take that step out and respond to a higher calling, we may feel on some level – “ok, it’s all going to come together now.” And sometimes it does. But more often, the journey is more along the lines of Thomas Edison and his invention of the light bulb.

When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.

There’s been a lot of steps made in the past five years – sometimes backward, sideways, and even hairpin turns. There have been extreme highs and lows on this journey — the demands and the gains, the victories and the setbacks, the supporters and the nay-sayers. I’ve felt it all, without a buffer – which would’ve been a real comfort sometimes. But I’ve learned, and grown, and hopefully helped a few people along the way.

God only knows all that the next five years will bring. But I do know that I’ll have a few more insights gained from the next round of battle scars; “so that [my] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

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2012 Year in Review: Annual Christmas Letter

“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

-St. John of the Cross


If I don’t send this–our Annual Christmas Letter update–folded up in our Christmas cards every year, then I usually send a note with the card directing folks here for the proverbial dirt on our comings & goings, highlights of the year, and photo fun. Well, if you happen to be a close-knit friend/family member that’s on our card list, if you hadn’t noticed that a card has not arrived from us, you for sure know now. If you sent us a card, know that we are grateful and truly loved it; and this update is written from our heart to yours. We don’t talk, see each other, message each other, etc., nearly enough–so this is my feeble attempt to connect. Pardon the public format, please.

(Violins play in the background of this part of the prologue). Since we moved up our departure date to Florida 1-week earlier, amidst everything else, it may tip you off to the extreme time crunch we’ve been operating under, especially this season, and the great need to re-prioritize our ever elusive friend and foe, TIME. I easily could have been Martha – determined to still send out Christmas cards come what may; but, I’m thankful that Mary took over, choosing the better part. I’ve been spending some desperately needed downtime in a sunny spot, surrounded by a subset of the circle of loving and large family we are blessed with.

Paul Jacob by Waterside

If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely been seeing a surge of posts and pics from me, i.e. playing with our Godson, visiting with my Brother at my Father’s home–during the short days that our trips overlapped in Florida–baking Mom’s beloved Christmas treats, taking time to blog again, photos, making 1st Turkey dinner, working on our business ventures (more to come on that), etc…

If you are a new blog follower, or just-popped-on-your-blog-cause-I-searched-something guest, well then, WELCOME! Glad you are here, and hope you stay awhile, as well as come back for more visits in the future!

This time for me to “retreat and recharge” has mainly been provided by Mike’s kindness and unwavering support, as well as the flexibility provided by his boss to telecommute into work. And my Dad’s kindness in always opening up his home to us. For all these things and more, I am grateful. Without further ado, here’s the 2012 update!


(perfect for speed readers, skimmers, SEO optimizers, you know who you are, etc and such)

Some 2012 Great Moments, in random order:

  • Celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary on June 24th. Yep, still Newlyweds and loving it!
  • Being asked to be Padrinos, or Godparents, for the first time together for our youngest nephew, Jacob, also on June 24th
  • Seeing our Texas family, and being back where we got married-South Padre Island-before our 1st wedding anniversary
  • Dad coming to visit us in Texas during the summer
  • Finally seeing my 1st Ordination – congrats to our friends in Dallas who have made fine, young Priests
  • Visiting with friends and family coming to or passing through Dallas – always a blast!
  • Having one of our dearest friends, Kelli, get engaged to Marcelo and ask both of us to be in their wedding. This will be my first time as Matron of Honor 🙂 Incidentally, she was our Maid of Honor.
  • Making the 1st part of “Our Big Announcement”. The 2nd part at the end, folks, so hang in there.

Travel-related 2012 Highlights:

  • Began the New Year traveling back from our Christmas trips to be with both sides of the family in South Texas and in Central Florida
  • South Florida in May for Alyssa’s (niece) Quincinera, a great celebration!
  • San Benito in June, a brief visit with Mike’s family, swinging by South Padre beach where we celebrated our marriage the previous year
  • Louisiana in October for Jeff & Erika’s (friends) wedding – we stayed in a lil’ Cabin on the Bayou. Mike got a Gumbo-making lesson, and we enjoyed a short time to see friends and be back in the country
  • Michigan in November. We took a health scare from my Grandma as an opportunity to visit her and stay with my bro & SIL, Chris & Jen, visiting a couple of other friends and family members in between
  • South Texas in late November – we spent Thanksgiving with Mike’s family in San Benito (we made a mighty fine Turkey, I might add), and then to San Antonio with SIL & BIL, Rose & Jesse. Mike & I were honored to be chosen as Padrinos of the Rings for our newlywed cousins, Thomas & Claudia! We also got to have a yummy brunch with our other cousin, Robert
  • Full circle to Central Florida for Christmas

NOTE: Since we’ve gotten several tempting offers, the list of places-we-WANT-to-travel/friends-& family-that-we-want-to-see is always MUCH longer then what we’ve accomplished. Despite working fulltime and laying the groundwork of 2 businesses, we still were able to squeeze out several trips, as you can see, mostly visiting family since we are both Dallas transplants. Looking forward to more adventures in 2013 – and please continue to be patient with us if you’ve been on the “to visit” list! We’ve not forgotten you – it’s all about the right timing though. Praying for us to have an increase of time and money may move you up on that list though, LOL!!

Several of the Cool New Things I’ve Learned to Make/Do in 2012:

  • Crochet
  • Movie promotionFor Greater Glory, an inspiring and historic film that premiered in the US in June
  • Decoupage
  • Twitter, @LSanMartini at your service. OK, so…I held out until 2012 to dip my toe into that Social Media pool. I’ve got a whopping 20 followers as of this 3rd day of Christmas, to sporatically try and entertain in 140 characters or less. A challenge for the verbose, truly. Trust me, I’ve got Facebook and Pinterest down pat; but I basically feel like I’m wandering round the Twitter Kiddie Pool with a life jacket, and am just now learning how to use the big girl potty instead of the ol’ catch and release method. Did that just get weird? Sorry.
  • Foodie Progress: Homemade Packzi’s (for Fat Tuesday), Brined Turkey, healthy & hearty meals, (click the recipes tab for a few more – but many haven’t been posted unfortunately!)
  • Graphic design – dabbling in logos, icons, new and old programs
  • WordPress-based website development & design– a blog redo, involved with development new websites from scratch – including working on mine (not live yet)
  • With the help of a great new Doc, learning what and how to fight back my Chronic Neck Pain/Migraine Headaches that’s gone on for far too long
  • Photography – we recently scored our first DSLR during Wolf/Ritz Camera’s Going-out-of-Business Sale, and it’s been a blessing. Have loved learning, getting blu-ray interview of my Grandma, and even doing our first engagement photo shoot! This is a good segue way into a a very brief year-end photo tour, courtesy of the Sony a77 and my Hubby & I.

Jacob & Pilar

Gloria in Excelsis Jacob Santa Letter

Jeff & Erica Wedding

Lisa Molly dancing


Midday on Bayou

brined thanksgiving turkey

Josie at Thanksgiving



BW Lisa & Jacob

Kelli and Marcelo

St Mary's Austin BETTER


MJ bunny hat

Birthday Family

Jacob in Suitcase

Paul pushing stroller

OL Guadalupe

2012: The Heart of the Matter

2012 has been quite a teacher, as the virtue I was given to work on was perseverance—aka endurance. Through the highlights, as well as personal and professional trials in a downward-facing dog economy, I’ve learned, adjusted, and grown.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5

The Big Announcement Part II, is something we’ve been building over the years, months, and more so then ever in the past weeks. Honestly, it’s something we feel strongly that God’s been preparing me for, especially through all of the work experiences and skills that I’ve gained over the past 20+ years. Looking back on the doors that have closed and the windows that have opened, it all makes sense. I am moving into being a full-time small business owner , serving as Co-owner/COO of Illuvint as well as Owner of Little With Great Love, Online Boutique.

What is Illuvint? The formal version:

Illuvint LLC, a family-owned and operated company, specializes in custom solutions for small business owners. From online presence to ecommerce, PR to sales, operations to advertising, IT to logos, consulting to implementation, we desire to be involved in what makes you successful! Our diverse, collective expertise provides creative and powerful approaches – from our entrepreneurial experience to yours.

The informal version:

A marriage of the skills, experience, knowledge, talent, resources, outsourcing contacts…that we’ve doubled through our own marriage.

SPECIAL THANKS: I’m very grateful for the diverse and nationwide group of people that have been involved in the preparation of this journeying out into the world in this new way. You are far too many to name, but I pray that you know who you are and how you’ve made a great impact on us. Your support of the work Mike and/or I have already done, mentorship, encouragement, prayers, love, help, yadda yadda yadda, have made us better versions of ourselves. I’m excited to be a full-time Entrepreneur!

Stay tuned for more to come on Illuvint! We will need your continued prayers, encouragement, support, and referrals as this start-up is about to get a kickstart into 2013.

We pray for you, and for us, that 2013 will bring abundance. Abundance of grace, blessings, love, joy, peace, health, wealth, and wisdom!

Love and prayers,

Lisa + Mike

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