The Table – Part 1

This is the first chapter of the story about how The Fight Vault Team came to be. I run an Online Publication, solely dedicated to telling the stories of Martial Artists (particularly Muay Thai Fighters, past and present) throughout the Asia Pacific region. My Team and I have specifically dedicated the first 12 months to uncovering the Australian Fight scene, we are invested in providing raw, authentic stories that uplift and support our Local Fighters and Promoters, first and foremost. This blog piece details the day I brought my first Team Member on board, Sim Sehmi. Since bringing Sim on board (and then Brianne), we have published over 100 pieces, our stories have reached 50,000+ Readers Globally, we have our first Interstate trip booked and we are currently filming the first episode of our new series, The Fight Vault Unlocked. 

My dream of being an Author one day, a Writer, has in every way come true through TFV. What TFV has accomplished this year so far though, would not be possible without my team. So, this is our story.. 

December 2017, Three Weeks after TFV Launched…

Nervously, I waited beside the entrance of this comfortable, modern cafe with a warm mug of coffee set before me on the table. Laid out neatly beside this cup of goodness, my notepad and pen. Curiously, my eyes scanned the entrance every few seconds as I waited for her to arrive. Birds chirped, perched on tree branches outside the cafe. The atmosphere was filled with small conversations, happening at tables either side of me. The infrequent screech of milk that had been kissed too much, being frothed for coffee orders at the counter; well that noise irked me. Yet the sun was shining and whilst I was nervous and unsure of what was about to take place, I was still optimistic.

She is probably going to think this is a stupid idea, I thought to myself, mildly annoyed that I even set this meeting up at all. But, I’ll tell her everything. Show her the heart of The Fight Vault, sell the Vision. Even if she says no, her feedback will be constructive for me, it’ll be fine. Just be cool. I’d already been told this idea of mine, setting up an Online Fight Publication, would flop. I’d been discouraged against it, told all sorts of things:

“The fight community doesn’t give a shit about journalism, you’re wasting your time, writing is dead, there’s no one to write about in Australia, this is a deadzone. There is no money in Muay Thai, no one cares about Muay Thai.” I’d been told, among many other things.

There were two reasons why I clung onto my idea and stuck by my vision. One reason, which steadies me to this day, was what one man had said to me some months before I launched TFV.

“Tell the truth Shanice,” he had told me. “Tell the truth and it will work.” He’d told me I was a good writer and that I could do this. If not for him, I wouldn’t have had the guts to pursue this business venture whatsoever. He’s been a valuable mentor to me, I’m forever grateful he believed in me when nearly no one else did.

The second reason? I am stubborn as all fuck and I’m a hopeless, optimistic visionary. Because I had been told this wouldn’t work, I was determined to prove otherwise. I do believe there are Fighters worth writing about in Australia. I believe there is history here, worth telling. I believe our Fight community in Australia is very much alive and flourishing, and I have felt nothing but love and support from Fight Gyms, Trainers and Promoters across the country since I launched TFV in December 2017. This love and support I have felt, it fuels me and it proves to me that there is fruit, beneath this soil…

The truth is, I had totally underestimated just how much work went into running an Online Publication, when I first launched TFV. The overwhelming demand for content prompted me to consider bringing someone on board. This meeting was in sorts, an interview. But I had never in my life conducted an interview, nor had I ever been a Team Leader. The realization of knowing that I’d be carrying a lot more responsibility by bringing someone on board, it frightened me a little but it also made me determined to find the right person.

22 years of age; another reason I had been told TFV was not a great idea. I am very young, I know that. But I believe in myself and I’ll be damned if I wait too long to pursue the things that literally set my soul on fire. Life is too short to do anything else with your time. If I want something to happen, I will make it happen. Like I said before, I’m stubborn as all fuck.

However, I did wonder how this interview would go in light of how young I am. I wondered if it would pose as a deal breaker; a Team Leader younger then the rest of the team? I could only hope that I’d be able to portray this vision powerfully enough, that it would inspire the right person to come on board.

Whilst these thoughts crossed my mind, Sim Sehmi arrived at the cafe. Stepping through to the upper level of the cafe, her searching eyes found me and she made her way over to my table. I jumped to my feet as she approached, I hugged her and said hello. Small, civil chatter took place for a few brief moments before I decided to take the leap.

Here we go, now or never. I thought, drawing in a deep breath before I began.

“So, I have this plan and I need someone to help me with it.” I said, I’m sure my voice was shaky. This was the first time I was saying the vision out loud. “I don’t know exactly how this is going to work, and I can’t offer you any money right now but if you’ll come on board, I promise I’ll make it worth your time. I have this idea, to build a platform for the Aussie Fight Community that primarily brings exposure to Muay Thai. I believe in Australian Muay Thai…”

And so it began, I spilled every ounce of passion I had into this pitch.

What made me ask Sim, to join me on a quest that up until this point had been entirely my own? Other then the fact that I knew I needed help establishing a business and an online publication, I also felt like Sim would be a great asset to TFV. Sim has this calmness about her, it grounds me. I can be frazzled and hyperactive at times, when I have an idea I tend to run with it blindly… but Sim, she mellows me out with logic and strategy. I also knew how invested she is in Muay Thai, she loves this Sport. To be honest, I didn’t care about qualifications or her resume, I just needed someone with passion to match mine.

She sat across from me that day, with attentive ears. She nodded and listened whilst I poured my heart to her. As I began to unravel my plans for The Fight Vault, she scribbled down words on her notepad. I just kept talking, I spoke about all the Fighters I wanted to interview, projects I had in mind, long term goals for a budding business venture. When I’d finally run out of things to talk about, I sat back in my chair and drew in a long breath. Then I laughed, realizing I’d just verbally drowned the poor girl.

“Sorry, that’s a lot to take in, but do you get my drift? This is going to be huge!” I said, in mild conclusion. She smirked and set her pen down for a moment. Ahhh, she’s thinking. Moment of truth, Shanice.

“I think your vision is incredible.” Sim said quietly. “And I’m all in.”

I nearly choked on my coffee.

“For real?” I replied, in disbelief.

“Yep! I already have so many ideas of what we could do!” She said, and she began to lay out things we could begin with.

In an instant, I knew I’d found the right person for the job. In many ways, it felt like the stars had aligned that day. I also learnt a valuable lesson. The right people will come into your life, your table, when you are completely aligned with your purpose.

My Life, My Table

To this day, 7 months later, I can say with complete confidence that Sim has stuck by my side through thick and thin. Likewise, I’ve been with her through some time tough times and I’m glad we have each other to call on. You’d be hard pressed to find someone as loyal as this girl elsewhere, I’m blessed to have her as a mate and a business partner.

I feel it’s important to talk about this journey, whilst it’s happening. Business can be hard, challenging and draining at times. I believe you need to be surrounded by the right people so that when you hit those valleys, you’re able to help each other out.

Our initial goals for 2018 were to lay down the foundations which will stabilize TFV and allow us to pursue even bigger goals next year. Beyond TFV though, we have helped each other grow personally and emotionally as well.

I am beyond grateful that Sim caught the vision I had for TFV and came on board. Soon after Bri joined (a whole other story, for another day, my little munchkin!).

I think that above all, the biggest success for us which I am most proud of, has been the culture we have built at TFV. Loyalty. Honesty. Passion. I’m no business guru but I believe that these qualities must be valued more than anything else. No team? No success.

On another note, it takes a special kind of soul to appreciate someone else’s vision, when there is not yet proof of substance.

Frequently I think of how a Farmer will plough his fields, planting and preparing for a harvest. Particularly in the middle of a drought. How discouraging it can be, soughing seeds into seemingly dry earth; but Farmer’s know when there is fruit beneath the soil. I grew up on a ranch, so I know firsthand the challenge that it is to visualize a crop before it comes to life. Farmers are some of the best visionaries I have ever known. What stands out to me the most is how Farmer’s are often left with very few helping hands, because the work is hard and there is a always a great struggle before there is a great harvest.

I honestly believe this applies to life and the people you share yours with.

There’s something to be said about who sits at your table, who’s ploughing the fields with you through rain, hail or shine. I’ve learnt that there are two types of people in this world and depending on who you let sit at your table, so the outcome of your journey will be.

Firstly, there are those who are like-minded visionaries. People like Sim, Bri and now, Ed. They can imagine the fruit as you do and they can sense it, before it’s been harvested. These kind of people are willing to get on their knees in the mud with you, to bring that fruit to life. They see the cause, they see the vision and they don’t belittle you for being so ambitious.

Then there are those who come to eat, and only to eat. Takers, impatient, unwilling to open their minds to the endless possibilities of this field you’re sowing into. These people are energy-sappers and dream-killers, they’re great supporters when things are going well for you but ultimate deserters when you’re in the thick of the mud.

Since embarking on this journey with TFV, which takes a lot of my time and energy, I’ve watched a lot of ‘friends’ come and go.

The more I grow as an individual, the more I find myself outgrowing certain relationships; and that is completely fine. I’ve accepted that most relationships are seasonal, few are for life. I believe that those who are meant to stay, will. The one’s who sit at this table of mine, whilst there are only crumbs, they are the one’s who’ll eat with me when the banquet comes. 

So what’s the point of all this?

I hope you find your circle, like I have found mine. Set the places at your table for those who are committed to your growth and success, and return that energy to them abundantly. Have each others back, be honest and be uplifting. Create an environment where the only outcome can be growth.

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We’ve had a crazy 7 months so far with TFV, it excites me and scares me all at the same time; but I figure, that’s a great place to be. If your dreams don’t scare you a little, are they ambitious enough? I’ve learnt to be tougher, durable, tenacious even, this year. But at the root of it all, this journey would mean nothing without the right, beautiful people I have to share it with.

I’m glad I had the balls to wait inside a little cafe that day, to meet Sim. I love imagining where TFV will be in 5 years time, the possibilities are endless.

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart, the absolute principle of self-sacrifice. -Woodrow T. Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

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