I’ve been putting off this post for a while. I wanted to have more things “figured out” before “announcing” anything. But as I sit here on the couch with Clyde on a rainy day, I’m once again reminded like most things in life, the universe could care less about my time table.
I’ve spent my entire career in public relations and marketing. I’m actually one of those people who is doing what I went to college for. I started out as a journalism major, being published for the first time in college, but the major of study was dying out so under the advice of my advisor I switched to Communications with a concentration in Public Relations.
I wouldn’t say public relations is a passion; it’s what it can do for what you love that is the passion. It’s an incredible tool that I’ve used to bring attention to things I deeply care about from nonprofit organizations to the business I created in my late sister’s memory to my clients’ companies, projects and books to my advocacy work.
And I have been on fire, excited and in love with so many things throughout my career, but I found the actual running of my business an emotional roller coaster that never ended.
Despite being very good at what I do, appearing in over 100 publications, blogs, podcasts, TV and radio shows, getting amazing results for my clients, solving business problems for entrepreneurs who make seven figures, I never got to where I wanted to go.
Yes, I’ve had a tremendous amount of success, but I’m one of those people that doesn’t celebrate my accomplishments because I’m too focused on the next thing (or if there will be a next thing). I’m also very hard on myself, and if I wasn’t hitting the very high financial goals I set, then I was failing.
It didn’t matter that I was the first person recommended by colleagues in prominent business groups for PR. It didn’t matter that every time an influential entrepreneur interviewed me, it would be one of their most-watched episodes. It didn’t matter that my clients loved me and were getting press and published. It didn’t matter that when I was looking to hire a business coach, all five of them told me my prices were too low and when I raised them, clients didn’t bat an eye. It didn’t matter that I could charge $300 an hour or $1300 for my course and people were excited to pay. Because I spent any slow or down time I had trying to figure out why I wasn’t doing “better.”
At times I found it soul crushing to see someone 15 years younger than me have a story of pulling some idea out of their ass and turn it into a high six-figure plus revenue stream while using uptalk and their love for “The Bachelor.”
What was wrong with me? Was I not smart enough? Not savvy enough? Did I lack some business know-how others had? Was I lazy? (Yes, I actually ask myself, as a former marathon runner for over a decade, decreasing my race time very year, if I’m lazy.)
Maybe there were signs I should have turned the ship around a while ago. Like when I had coffee with a super famous designer to the stars who had a line with the one of the largest retailers in the country and couldn’t figure out a manufacturing issue, which I solved in 30 minutes. For free. Never to see him again.
Or clients’ whose online programs were pulling in six and seven figures, or who had books on bestseller lists after only working with me for a few hours.
Eventually I became resentful not profiting more off my knowledge and that turned into being completely uninterested in what I was doing.
Fast forward to September of 2017, when one day I became so angry at the shit show my neighborhood and community had become with serial theft, drugs, violence and homeless camps. A situation that happened almost overnight, in the safest neighborhood (Land Park) of Sacramento for almost 100 years, where homes sell in days, if not hours, for way over asking price.
I was now too nervous to walk my dog certain places, like to everyone’s favorite coffee shop or drug store, where dealers were selling drugs or transients were defeating and leaving hypodermic needles on the sidewalk or in shopping carts. Cars were being broken into every week, if not every day. Addicts and the mentally ill were exposing themselves to kids on their way to school.
So one afternoon, I started a Facebook group, quickly coming up with the name Land Park Society, with the idea that I would bring awareness to our issues and put pressure on the city and county officials who were ignoring us.
What happened next, was a mind fuck.
Three days after creating the group, I was contacted by our large, city paper. Five days, by two locals news stations. Seven days, two more local stations. 21 days, I had 600 members. In less than a month, I was meeting with the police captain who agreed to put a team together to go after the drug suppliers and dealers (Sacramento lost our narcotics team ten years ago). 30 days, I was on a national radio show.
My life turned upside down overnight. I had zero free time, I barely saw my friends and family. My email and Facebook messages were in the hundreds. I was on the radar of our politicians. And fringe activists who had no understanding of what I was trying to accomplish, were harassing me and my group members publicly and privately.
Every day I had a new challenge thrown at me while immersing myself in to learning about the legislation, laws and roles politicians and law enforcement played. I knew almost nothing about the homeless crisis, the opioid epidemic, Prop. 47, Prop. 57, AB 109, so I attended every meeting in my community possible (sometimes four a week), talked to multiple police officers and went on my first ride along.
And I noticed something. Well, a lot of things.
I was angry. I was frustrated. But I was fired the fuck up in a good way, which I recognized as passion. Did I want my texts, emails, phone calls, social media and conversations to be dominated with talk of drug addicts, thieves, human feces, transient camps, assaults and the decriminalization of multiple violent crimes? No. I could have never imagined this. But I couldn’t be stopped, no matter what loser blogger or butt-hurt neighbor said about me. No matter what setbacks occurred.
People were furious. Worried about their safety, their kids, their property and their business. They felt helpless and didn’t know how to make progress. But for some crazy reason I did. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in this neighborhood for almost 17 years, maybe it’s because I worked with politicians in the past, maybe it’s because I’m a business owner, maybe it’s because when I put my mind to something, I can’t be stopped. Maybe it’s because when I know in my bones I’m doing the right thing, I don’t care what anyone thinks. Maybe it’s all of the above.
And I realized I would rather be doing this for free than running my business. And that hit me hard. Because what the fuck am I going to do to make money?
I still don’t have all that worked out yet.
Six months into this, my group has made incredible strides. We’ve made headlines, we speak at City Council, we go on patrols and take photos to document what’s happening here, we’ve gotten a lot of criminals arrested, we fundraise for causes close to our heart, and so much more. And I work my ass off meeting with police officers, investigators, business owners, the media and our district attorney, who called me the “voice of California” when we did a radio show together in February 2018 (seriously, did I dream that?).
But in no way is this a one-woman job. I could not do this without the incredible help and support of my advocacy group, Land Park Society, the Sacramento Police Department (especially Dave and Michael) and my friends, family and colleagues who cheer me on even when they think I’m crazy (which I kind of am).
And as outspoken and opinionated as I am, I’ve made more friends in my neighborhood in the last six months than I have in 17 years. Which is saying something for my extremely extroverted self that will stalk someone I like until they agree to hang out with me.
So needless to say, things are changing here at ramonarussell.net, and I’m not sure what it will all look like, but here is what you can expect for now:
— I will no longer be offering my “Think Like a Publicist” course. I may turn that in to a digital product or an ebook. I haven’t decided.
— As of now, I’m offering two services: consulting on how to start, manage and grow your advocacy work or big idea. And to come speak to your advocacy or community group. Please email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
— To get a better understanding of what I am doing now, please listen to this radio interview I did with Armstrong & Getty in October 2017 (it starts at the 1:30 mark).
I am so grateful to all of my clients who trusted me with their time and hard-earned money. Helping you with your business lit me up inside and gave me purpose. Not to mention how much I like all of you!
Wish me luck, perseverance, wisdom and strength. I’m going to need it.
Big Hugs + Gratitude—