When I first got invited to be a mentor on the TV show, “I Quit,” I was very excited. I loved the premise of the show, highlighting the journeys of aspiring entrepreneurs - with all the ups and downs along the way - and I knew instantly it was something I wanted to be a part of. Over the years, I’ve found that sharing my entrepreneurship story, not just the good parts, but the hard parts too, has really helped people, (especially young women) believe that they can do it too. I love inspiring people to chase their dreams and to take the entrepreneurial leap like I did, and this show does just that.
But I have to admit, I was just as nervous as I was excited about being on TV. On a superficial level, I was worried about what I’d look like on camera. Does it really add 10 pounds? I was also worried about how I’d come across in the edit. Will I seem friendly and relatable? Will I seem too friendly and not impressive enough? Or worse yet, will my contribution just be “meh”? Of course, I couldn’t let these fears get in the way of just diving in head first and doing my best.
The first shoot day was in Manhattan and the call time was 5 o’clock...IN THE MORNING. I had arrived at around 11pm the night before from Los Angeles and I could barely keep my eyes open. It was still pitch black outside when I arrived on set, and I was greeted by a super friendly production crew (who knows how long they’d already been there.) The first task at hand was hair and makeup, and boy did I need it. The transformation that ensued over the next 2 hours was a little like the makeover scene with Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality. By the end of it, I looked better than I had on my wedding day and kept sneaking selfies to send to my husband, who was stuck at home solo parenting our “three-nager”.
While I was being coiffed, I got to meet one of my fellow mentors, Tricia Clarke-Stone, who showed up already looking impeccable, with a giant suitcase of fabulous outfits and shoes, giving me major closet envy. Harley Finkelstein, the third member of our trio, showed up around 7am, not needing much in the hair and makeup department. I was very excited to see Harley, who I’ve actually known for years. Back in 2013, GoldieBlox won Shopify’s annual “Build A Business” competition, and ever since then, Harley and I have been buds. Knowing that Harley was going to be one of the other mentors definitely put me at ease since we get along so well.
Finally, it was time for the shooting to begin. The set was made up of a stylish couch, rug, loveseat and table in the middle of a large, otherwise pretty empty room surrounded by an enormous amount of camera gear, lights and crew people dressed in all black. To my pleasant surprise, the director made all of us feel incredibly comfortable, gave us an overview of the themes of the episode and just started asking us simple, open-ended questions, like, “what are the traits you look for in a successful entrepreneur?” or, “what was it like for you to quit your day job to start your companies?” Harley, Tricia and I immediately dove in and the three of us could have talked about these topics for DAYS.
The first shoot day lasted about 12 hours, but it really flew by. The three of us would just gab on and on, expertly guided by the director, and then break for an outfit change. By the end of it, we’d switched into 6 different outfits and I’d had at least 6 cups of coffee. I really liked how “real” it was in the sense that we really weren’t fed any lines, but just spoke from our own experiences and shared our true opinions.
There were definitely times where I felt a bit self-conscious because Harley and Tricia are both so incredibly articulate and well-spoken, and my style is a bit more… casual. I wasn’t sure if I was “bringing it” the way they were. Thankfully, the crew continued to give me positive feedback, telling me that they loved how personal and “real” I was, how relatable I was coming across and to just keep doing more of that. So that’s what I did!
Over the course of the next few months, I flew back and forth to the east coast, sometimes on red eye flights, to keep filming 10, 12, even 14 hour days. About halfway through, I found out I was pregnant, which certainly made things...interesting. For one, I had severe morning sickness and I had to just suck it up and pretend like everything was fine. I also had some weird rashes show up that I’m pretty sure even the thickest amount of makeup wasn’t able to properly hide. When doing reshoots, I had to squeeze my body into dresses that I could barely fit into anymore (thank you, Spanx!) and I was worried that my growing belly would create problems for the show producers. When I finally built up the courage to tell the rest of the crew (who I’m pretty sure already knew as soon as I started ordering decaf coffee), they were incredibly supportive and we worked around it.
I really enjoyed the shoot days when I got to do hands-on mentoring with the companies on the show. I’m a huge believer in the power of mentorship - GoldieBlox wouldn’t be where it is today had I not had so many great mentors generously give their time to me. I love mentoring now and do it often because I want to “pay it forward” but also because I end up learning so much from my mentees. I’ll admit that being filmed while giving advice feels a little weird at first, but once we all warmed up a little, it was almost as though the cameras weren’t even there. One of the companies has continued to stay in touch with me and keeps the mentoring relationship alive well beyond the filming, which is great and certainly impressed me.
Overall, the experience of filming “I Quit” was a total blast. I am grateful to my husband who worked double duty at home taking care of our child so that I was able to have this experience. I’m also incredibly grateful for the friendships that I made with just about everyone involved - Harley, Tricia, the teams from Shopify and Wheelhouse’s Spoke Studios, the awesome entrepreneurs profiled who I got to meet, the entire crew, especially hair & makeup (where I spent a LOT of time). By the end, it felt like we were all one big family, cheering each other on and teasing one another with friendly jabs. My only regret is that we can’t all come together in person for an epic viewing party of the Season Premiere, but it makes me happy to know we’ll all be watching together tonight. I hope you join us and I hope you love the show!
Photos Credit: Discovery