Home Local Voices Transition, Work & Motherhood: Fear, Selling & Transformation

Transition, Work & Motherhood: Fear, Selling & Transformation


Ed: Sydney Chaney Thomas is a Moraga-based writer and businesswoman with three books to her name, all currently available on Amazon. She is also co-founder of a sustainable sailing apparel company called Ocean SF, and operates a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic waste called the The Trident Project.

Sydney Chaney Thomas

Sydney teaches entrepreneurial marketing at UC Berkeley in their International Diploma Program and, in addition to this column, she writes a popular lifestyle blog, which can be found at sydneychaneythomas.com.

Transition, Work & Motherhood
Moraga, Calif. 
May 8, 2019

I’ve always feared selling. I’m the sort of person that hates to ask other people for anything. Even as a kid I despised selling Girl Scout cookies and would dread going door to door, or even worse standing outside a grocery store approaching shoppers. These encounters made me cringe.

When I started my company I didn’t see myself as the lead sales person, but I quickly began to realize I’m the logical choice and I’ve stepped into that role. I’ve had to teach myself over and over in the recent past to get out of my comfort zone. After my husband died I simply had no choice, but to find a way to support myself and my two daughters.

For many years I lived a predictable life. I took my kids to school and drove my Mercedes to the Country Club for tennis. The days and weeks and months had a rhythm and pace. I thought that this would go on forever with only slight variations and had no reason to suspect otherwise.

Last week I manned my booth at the Newport Beach Boat Show. I talked to my customers and sold my products. I spent time with my daughter, met a ton of people, and got some amazing feedback.

Because of my circumstances, I’ve been forced to grow as a person in ways I never dreamed possible. It’s made me a warrior and for that I am grateful, but more importantly it’s taught me that I can learn new things and transform. I now have proof of this, so I no longer fear change or trying new things. I can decide to be a kick ass sales person and then teach myself to be just that. I can decide to be anything I want to be and that feels really good.


  1. I can’t do it. It seems to me people are waiting to tell you no. My psyche is too fragile for that!

  2. It is hard. I had to do a LOT of selling when I inheritied the family business and it came hard for me. Eventually I developed a style that worked for me and which people apparently felt agreeable but it is still something I have to pump myself up to to every day. glad you are finding success.

    • A friend of mine told me to think of it as helping people solve a problem and that really helped me since I love doing that.

  3. I enjoyed selling Girl Scout cookies, and everything else I sold door to door. I LOVED standing outside the grocery store. I have NO problem asking anybody for anything. I’m constantly fundraising – it’s a win-win situation!

    It comes naturally to those of us who are extroverts. Since you’re teaching marketing, it’s nice to read you’ve overcome your fear of selling. If you’re not the typical sales person, perhaps you have an advantage. Everyone has their own approach.

    • I love that you loved it. The world includes such a wide variety of people. Are you interested in a sales job?

  4. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It petrified me as a little girl too. We used to go out as a troop because it was good to have support in numbers. Our best sales scout is now pastor of her local church so that should tell you something. I’d just hold the cookies up and pray the people were nice.

    • I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in dreading the cookie sales season. Luckily my husband sold all of my daughters Girl Scout cookies at work. He had no problem selling dozens of boxes. And, another dozen of the Mystic Mint to himself.

  5. Brings back memories!! I was totally introverted as a child and it was really really scary whenever the adults sent us out to peddle cookies or christmas decorations. I would stammer and look away and learned pretty quickly that people would feel sorry for you and buy things! I got better at it over time but still don’t like to ask people to buy what I’m selling. I feel every one is ready to say no!

    • That makes sense as I am an introvert as well. I’m better now, but as a child was very shy. I really do believe we can transform and learn to be good atthings that do not come naturally. I’m proud of myself that I am now comfortable selling and my other business fear presenting and public speaking!

      Thank you for your insight!

  6. You drove your Mercedes to the Country Club for tennis? Hanging out in your Truckee cabin? Your columns tend toward a narrative of holistic fortitude, independence and entrepreneurism, yet you always sprinkle in these nuggets of materialism. I’m guess I’m confused.

    • I am very blessed and I’m grateful for the life my husband and I shared. Since his death my life has changed dramatically and I’ve had to step into my power to create a future for myself. My column is about transition, work and motherhood. I am not alone in being suddenly widowed. Other women have different challenges to face. These are mine. You can read more about my story on my blog. I’ve also written a book that is sold on Amazon. I appreciate your comment and thank you for making me think about what I am trying to convey. The point of the article is the contrast in my life and the transformation caused by circumstances.

    • I’ll admit I hunted down the reference after I saw your post. I’m not a woman so these columns are generally a little off point for me but I believe the author was telling us what her life was like before the TRANSFORMATION part of her life – and I’m so very sorry about that. The point I saw her making was that she was stepping out of that existence and finding a new one forced upon her by her loss. That comparison was cleanly made I thought and I didn’t see the car and country club reference as materialistic, but rather her life BEFORE. Now she’s in the WORK and MOTHERHOOD part of it and although the latter is beyond me I understand about having to sacrifice to make your life work after a major change. Just my two pence.

      • @Robert, that you for understanding the point I was making and for your empathetic comments. I am very proud of myself for not retreating in fear and giving up my business after my husband died, or after the many other obstacles that presented themselves along the way. What I would like my readers to understand is that we can change and do things we didn’t think we could. Its been a transformative process and has made me the woman I am today.

  7. There is nothing wrong with having nice things. Instead of envying others, perhaps you should learn from them.

    • No envy here. FWIW, I drive a BMW, belong to the same country club and have a second home in Tahoe. As a working mom I was confused by the image she is trying to portray in her writing.

      • It’s been interesting to hear from so may well meaning friends that I couldn’t expect to have the same sort of life after being widowed. My late husband was referred to as the bread winner even though before making the decision to stay home and raise our kids I made as much money as he did. There is a giant disconnect between what women are and what they do. We are all capable of great things. We can be driving carpool one day and not the next. We have to be flexible and willing to transform with life and the challenges it presents.

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