2023: A Year in Review

2023 was a year of constant change and self-discovery, and I’ve come out of it with a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial journey and myself.  I founded HireDiverse, a job board to connect underrepresented job seekers with employers who value diversity.  It has tested my resilience.  This year has also brought a series of challenges that left me on the brink of giving up more times than I care to admit.  

When I needed it most, I found an old diary written by my 16 year old self.  In the diary I wrote ‘I am meant to do something really amazing and to bring change to the world…’  So I decided that I should. 

I Almost Quit Entrepreneurship

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I seriously considered quitting entrepreneurship this year. With more and more challenges piling on, the idea of being an employee increased in its appeal. The strain of running a business, especially as a solo entrepreneur, can be incredibly daunting. The hurdles felt higher, the obstacles larger and the doubts louder.  I kept reminding myself to focus on the long-term vision, but some days that just wasn’t enough.

In January 1996, I wrote in my diary ‘I am just going to quit’.  I was on the brink of giving up on my passion for dancing. A teacher told me I wasn’t good enough, and for a while I believed her.  Ultimately, I left that dance studio and joined another.  

This dance school move wasn’t just a change of scenery; it turned into an emotional journey, a turning point in my life. Despite the emotions and adversity I had figured out a path forward, embracing change and instead of quitting.  

I didn’t quit entrepreneurship this year but I haven’t found my new studio just yet either.  

Learning from My Mistakes

One of the toughest lessons I learned this year was the importance of making the right decisions, when it comes to selecting vendors and partners. I made a choice that, in hindsight, wasn’t the best fit for my job board technology. This resulted in more work and higher costs than I initially anticipated. 

Managing the emotions around this was not easy. That’s the thing with entrepreneurship – it’s nearly impossible not to take things personally because, well, it almost always is personal.

Bringing myself to move past these challenges reminded me of a story from my diary, one that takes me back to my 16-year-old self. 

My dance teacher told me I could no longer be part of a competitive troupe I’d been a proud member of for several years. Her reason? My appearance, of all things.  At that moment, I made a decision that still haunts me. I chose to blame myself for being removed from the troupe.

Sometimes, we’re misled by others, just as I was by my dance teacher back then. I trusted her judgment like I trusted the guidance of my job board technology provider. I took their word as the source of truth,  thinking they knew best.  I’ve been reminded to always trust my intuition. 

That dance teacher was wrong about many things, and her words led me down a path of self-loathing. Yet, I believed her and followed.

And while those vendor-related decisions still hurt, they’ve made me stronger and wiser.  Just as that dance teacher’s words did.

Rethinking My Content Approach

In 2023, I got a LinkedIn Top Voice badge in Career Management. It wasn’t easy to do. There were moments when it felt so close, only to require even more effort. But I felt something shift inside me this year, a determination to lead with a “get out of my way” attitude. 

The recognition as a LinkedIn Top Voice fills me with so much pride. I’ve been inspired by so many thought leaders on the platform, and it motivated me to up my content game.

I’ve been sharing educational content online to help job seekers for several years, but I’ve been rethinking my approach.  I realized I can do more. That’s why I started my HireDiverse.  While my content has been helpful, I believe I can amplify change by listening to the voices in my community and diving deeper into their experiences and stories. I might not have all the answers yet, but I know we can make it happen.

Reflecting on Time

This year, my oldest son turned 10, and it made me really tune into the nature of time. It feels like I lived an entire lifetime before he was born. It’s a stark reminder of how much can change in one, three, five or ten years. 

My kids inspire me every day with their optimism and curiosity. Their perspective makes me want to be more curious and daring in my endeavors.  They also give me hope that there is still lots of time to accomplish amazing things, despite being in my 40’s.

In 2023, my 16-year old self inspired me.  Like my kids, those diary entries are filled with hope for the future.  As I see myself as a teenager, from the perspective of an adult, I meet my own energy and potential.  A lot has changed but some things are the same.  

After all, I still believe I am meant to do something really amazing and to bring change to the world.  And I still dance at that same studio that saved me from quitting when I was 16.

When I look back, I think my 1996 self would be proud. 

And that might be my most important accomplishment of 2023.  

Shauna Cole

Shauna Cole is the founder of hirediverse.ca. She is a Human Resources Consultant and Instructor at the University of New Brunswick. She’s been featured by CBC, The Canadian HR Reporter, CareerBeacon, The Maritime Edit, Jobscan and more. She founded hirediverse.ca to connect underrepresented job seekers with employers who value diversity. Join her on LinkedIn or watch her videos on Youtube.