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Dear "Younger Me"

MY ROCKY TRAINING RUN: When I was 11 years old I attended my first Forbes Under 30 conference, which was held in Philadelphia that year. Our weeklong trek from Minnesota to the East Coast was so transformative. My business associate Whatchamacallit made meeting adults easy because they were drawn over to meet the bunny in a wagon and I soaked in every minute.

For weeks I'd imagined this run up for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And now standing on top and looking out across the grounds, I felt like I was on top of the world!!

Can it get any better than this??

After my "Rocky Run" to the top of the stairs, a reporter snapped a photo, as did my Mom. Imagine my surprise when that turned into a short story in the local news. CLICK And that moment is one of my go-to memories when things get hard.

I had so much to learn. That week was full of networking and I quickly ran out of business cards. The back to back to back workshops were stimulating but I needed to be intentional to bring snacks and a water bottle everywhere. I dressed for success but man did those dress shoes my feet ache by day three. I was a kid doing my best to navigate an adult business world, soaking in advice, spreading a little joy and hoppiness, helping others enjoy the conference with the simple unexpected opportunity to give away something that everyone seemed to want -- CONNECTION. BELONGING. And I learned one of my biggest lessons between conferences. I met a gentleman who was on the way, not in the way, and he opened my eyes to so many things.

Fast forward five years and I've got to remind myself some mornings that I'm not dreaming. I have that same excited energy about the book launch as I felt when I was preparing for the Rocky Run. After so much work, the launch is now just weeks away.

My 2021 messages to my Younger Me standing on top of the stairs: * The winters and chores are HARD. Embrace that the work is making you you. On those days, celebrate how far you've come and where you want to go.

"Keep working hard. Trying hard now. It's so hard now. Trying hard now.

Oh, he's ready Gonna make a move, yeah. Oh, he's ready And makin' moves, yeah Yeah, yeah. Getting strong now. Won't be long now. Getting strong now

Gonna fly now. Flying high now. Gonna fly, fly!" (Gonna Fly Now - Rocky II Theme) * Not everyone will understand your 'why.' As long as you do, that's enough. * There's so much to learn, even in the disappointments. Learn it the first time. * The journey is as important as the destination. * Take time to snuggle the bunnies. * Journal journal journal. Remember everything -- it goes by so quickly. * Keep going. Keep dreaming. * YES it gets even better! * Really take your time and enjoy every bite of that Philly Cheese Steak sandwich!

And my Younger Me from fifth grade has some challenges for me as I prepare to head into the main book launch: * Enjoy the rush of being on the top stair. * Remember Everything. * Take more time to snuggle the bunnies.

* No one lives on the top step....Come on back down reinvigorated for the next challenge. * Bring more business cards. Wear comfy shoes. Bring your water bottle & snacks. * Get yourself a giant Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Share another big goopy kiss on Mom's cheek. * Imagine a world that is even better than this amazing moment. Now go get it. * YES it's going to get even better.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us! -- Caleb

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