Episode 6 – Embracing Simplicity and The Courage to Say “No” with Emily Ley

Emily Ley is a wife, mom and entrepreneur. After quitting her stressful corporate job in hopes of starting her own business, Emily found that she had worked herself into even more stress. After conceiving and creating the wildly popular, success came and the demands for her time pressed in even harder. Emily shares how she chose to simplify–using the tenets she had preached to others about paring back and living for what matters most–in her own life. She and Jessica talk about what it looks like when we’re more deliberate with how we spend our time, and the dreaded “no,” word that each of them had to embrace in a new way in order to claim margin in their lives.

Emily Ley - Going Scared Podcast


Show Intro:  Today’s podcast guest is Emily Ley. Emily is the CEO of Simplified, which is a brand that stands on the idea that there is more to life than being endlessly busy and always overwhelmed. I can give a amen to that. Her cornerstone product is called the Simplified Planner, and I’m sure so many of you already know about it. It’s changed hundreds of thousands of women around the world with its minimal and meaningful pages–all with the idea of helping women to simplify their lives. I have to admit, guys, I’m not even a list-maker. I am a list-maker, but I’ve got piles of lists, some on my phone. I even have like 20 notes opened on my phone with five different lists.

I was a little intimidated to talk with Emily today, but guys, I was so wrong. Emily’s motto is really about grace, and not perfection. So if you’re someone who’s like, "I got my planning gig down, and Emily’s going to take me to the next level," this podcast is for you. But if you’re also a little bit like me, and you’re like, "Oh my gosh, I’ve got a million lists, and not even one notebook to plan my life," this podcast is for you, too. We really cover today the power of saying no, which, guys, that is not easy for me. I thrive on the yeses, and so Emily really reminded me today that there’s courage in the “no.” I’m excited for you to give this one a listen.


Helping People Organize Their Lives

Jessica:  Hey, Emily. Welcome to the show today.

Emily: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Jessica: So, I’m really excited to chat, because we met through a mutual friend, Mica May, who also is a little bit in your industry with calendars and planning. Honestly, this has been a whole new world for me, like if you … you would see that I’m a hot mess. I mean, Emily, I am a hot mess. I have notebooks that I get at conferences or that are gifted, or from May Designs, and I have like 15 of them, and I start writing notes in one, and then I lose it, and then I pick up another one. It is next-level over here. So, Mica was telling me last year that there’s a whole conference just for people who plan.

Emily: It’s intense. There is. I have to just preface and tell you, girl, I get it. I have three kids and run a business, and I love to be organized and get organized, but my house is a disaster half the time, too. It is a journey. We all want to be organized, but there’s real life out there, you know?

Jessica:  There’s real life. My husband is a super organized … I mean, he keeps things running like a well-oiled machine. So, our house is always in order, but I don’t even know how he deals with the fact that I’ve just got just stuff, notebooks, and anyway-

Emily: I’m here for you.

A Legacy of Simplicity

Jessica: So, maybe you’re going to help me today, because honestly, that would be awesome. But I want to hear your whole backstory. How does someone end up creating ways to help people organize their lives? Maybe tell us, too, the story behind the story. Like, is there anything in your childhood that maybe might have pointed to what you do now?

Emily: Yeah. Well, looking back at my childhood, my mom has been just a huge influence to me in terms of how to run a house, and how to parent and have children, and balance things. She was a working mother, and she was a teacher for many, many years, just retired, and had two kids. Growing up, everything that my mom did–my mom and dad, they’ve been married 40-some odd years–everything that they did for our family, it just felt very effortless. I grew up in a house literally with a white picket fence, and it was wonderful. We had a lot of stability and foundation and tradition. My mom worked for a school. She was a teacher. My dad was, he worked for the local power company.

I remember becoming an adult and looking back at my mom and saying things like, "I don’t understand how in the world you were able to get dinner on the table every day when you were at your job all day long, too. Explain to me how I’m supposed to do all the things." My mom’s just been really influential in helping me kind of get those things under wraps, but organizing and planning has always just been something that I’ve kind of had a knack for. Obviously, I thank her a lot, but it’s also out of pure survival. I have three kids. My twins are three years old. My oldest is seven. My husband’s really busy with his job. My job’s busy, and I just kind of have to be that way.

So, the business, our business, which is now called Simplified, we have a Simplified Planner, and we have recipe binders, and home based management binders, and things like that. It was all born out of just a really difficult time in my life. I was working in corporate America, and my husband and I wanted to have a family. I had kind of gotten this business off the ground a little bit, but was kind of working two jobs and trying to keep things afloat. My son was born, and I was just a disaster, not just a disaster in terms of my house being out of order, but my heart was really stressed out and burned out and overwhelmed. I was just having a really hard time and decided I needed a fresh start. I went out and looked for a planner or some kind of organizational tool that would give me that fresh start.

“My heart was really stressed out and burned out and overwhelmed.” – Emily Ley 

So, I went out looking to buy the fresh start, I guess you could say. What I learned in the process was:

  • A: Every tool out there was really complicated and wanted me to track things like water intake and my budget for the day, and I was like, "I literally just drank like 17 cups of coffee. I don’t even know what you’re talking about," but everything was just really complicated.

  • B: Then also, throughout the whole process, I realized that it was really just a heart change that needed to happen for me.

So, the Simplified Planner was born out of that. I just got a couple pieces of paper and a binder and a Sharpie, and started sketching out what my page would look like. I mean, it’s been a really long journey since then, falling on my face a lot and doing a lot of right things and a lot of wrong things, but the idea that life can be simpler, that it doesn’t have to be so frantic all the time, was really what I was after and continue to be.

“…life can be simpler….it doesn’t have to be so frantic all the time, was really what I was after and continue to be.” – Emily Ley


The Planner That Started It All

Jessica: So, it started with this one planner, and then, how did you even go about—you were doing this to meet your own need–how did you go about realizing, “oh, there’s a market need for this?” Then, what did that beginning building process look like?

Emily: Well, in the beginning, I actually got started making wedding invitations and stationery; I had my own little Etsy shop. This was back when Etsy was brand-new, and so that was before the planner. I was doing just anything that I could get hands on, totally self-taught with graphic design and things like that, printing stationery and invitations off my home little Epson printer in my guest room. The planner was the first thing that I really, like, my heart was wrapped around it. I had started to build a little bit of a social media following, if you will, back in those early days, but there was no Instagram. Oh, Twitter, that was when Twitter was the thing.

Jessica: You probably got on Facebook, right?

Emily: Facebook was a really big deal. Yeah.

Jessica: Facebook and blogging, because this was around–when was this? What year?

Emily: 2008.

Jessica:  Okay. Yeah, because Noonday was around 2009, when I was kind of like … it was a seed, and then 2010, so that was like blogging and Facebook…

Emily: Yeah, it was all about blogging and, oh yeah, Facebook was the big thing. Instagram, when it first came out we were all like, "This is weird." No one really liked it, and "What’s with the filters?" I got started and I kind of developed that little bit of a following there. So, when the planner came out, we had a couple hundred people that, when I started talking about it, who were really interested in it, "we would like something like that." I remember my husband at the time saying, "What in the world, Emily? You’re successful with wedding invitations and designing logos, and you want to make a paper planner? Nobody uses that. Everybody uses their phones or their Outlook or whatever, iCal." I was like, "No, I just need something that isn’t going to fail or crash or change or accidentally delete itself or whatever it does." He was like, "Okay."

You know, we’d run the company debt-free since day one, so we had a little bit of money that I had made designing logos and things, and we decided to use it to print our first run. I Googled all the questions on the internet, and I emailed a thousand people and manufacturers, both domestically and overseas, and finally found a manufacturer who did not ask me if I was missing a couple zeros on the end of my quantities I wanted to print. He had a small company, and we had a small company, and he said, "You take a chance on me, and I’ll take a chance on you." So, we kind of grew together, and it was good. It was really cool in the beginning to grow that way.

That message of, "I want a life that is simpler and quieter and more peaceful," it just spread like wildfire. And more than just how cool the planner is and how great the quality is and all that, the message, the hope, the community around that, the connection between people, was what propelled it more than the product itself. Other products have spun off of that, but that Simplified Planner and that message has been the cornerstone for us.

“I want a life that is simpler and quieter and more peaceful.” – Emily Ley

Jessica: So, it was really a core community. I was at Jen Hatmaker’s the other night, and there was her planner. I’m like, "Open it up. Do you really use this?"

Emily: I love it. I love it.

Jessica:  And it was filled out to the T.

Emily: She’s wonderful.

Jessica: There it was. Okay, so after this one product, has it been a lot of test and fails, or how did you sort of decide to get into other products?


Simplicity Paves the Way For Joy

Emily: Well, that first product went through a couple different iterations. It was a binder concept, and then it was a spiral-bound format, and then we introduced a daily, and then we introduced a weekly format. So, we’ve kind of grown with what works best for our team. I have a team of six women, and we all use the products, and we’re all different. Some of us are older, some are younger, some have kids, some don’t. We have just taken feedback from our community and then just our own use of it, and kind of grown from there. But the other products have really been born out of feedback from our community, but also, like, where does life feel un-simplified? Where does it feel complicated? What are those pain points in our lives that are difficult to simplify?

For instance, the baby book. I was pregnant with my twins, and I was looking for baby books that could be for boys or for girls. I was looking for something simple, something that wouldn’t make me feel like a complete failure trying to complete it, because you all know how those baby books go. You know, it’s been however many years and they’re not filled out because they’re complicated or they require us to write really long, drawn-out stories inside, or whatever. I sat down and made a Simplified Baby Book. I put prompts for photos to put in, I included what size photo should go here on different pages. I also just included writing prompts to get you to think about things, kind of a Q&A, to pull out those meaningful memories. So, it’s a simplified baby book, and that whole message really took off. So yeah, we’ve just identified areas that life feels complicated and tried to find products and create products to make it a little bit simpler and a little more joyful.

Jessica: Okay, so you are in corporate America, then you’re starting this other business, now you’re working two jobs, you’re pregnant, you’re thinking, "I want to be able to simplify my life."

Emily: Right, because that’s simple, right? Like, I’m going to leave my 60-hour-a-week job for my entrepreneurial journey, and then I’ll work 120 hours a week. Right.


Pulling Back From Success

Jessica:  Exactly, exactly. Tell me a little bit about that journey, because there are seasons in entrepreneurship … and I have heard you talk about that after a couple years of that hustle, that you did something that was a bit counterintuitive to so many of us, which is when we find ourselves at a crossroads of growth, instead of putting the gas on, you were like, "How can I take the gas off?" I want to hear a little bit more of that process.

Emily: Yeah, oh my goodness. That whole experience was so life-changing. It was at the end of 2016. My first book had just come out, Grace, Not Perfection. I should have been feeling elated and just over the moon because our products were being carried in 800 stores around the world, my first book had just come out and done really well, our online shop was growing by leaps and bounds–and I was miserable. It made no sense to anyone. We also had one-year-old twins, and my son was…

Jessica: That would make anybody miserable. I can understand that point.

Emily: Yes. My son was five. We had moved that year. There was just, I mean, wonderful things, but all the things, right? I sat down one day at the end of 2016, and I had just listened to Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked at my husband and said, "I’m drowning. I literally feel like there’s an elephant on my chest. I cannot breathe. I don’t know what to do, but something has to go. I don’t even know what it can be, because everything is doing what it’s supposed to do. Everything is growing. Everything is moving forward. But I am miserable. I feel sick physically. I feel like something is wrong. I’m not creative. I have no idea what’s supposed to come next for the business, creativity-wise, because I don’t have room to be creative." I was on 48 airplanes that year. 48. By the way, I hate flying.

“I had no idea what was supposed to come next for the business, creativity-wise, because I didn’t have room to be creative.” – Emily Ley

So, my husband is wonderful. He’s like the voice of reason, but he also will kind of give it to me straight when I need to be told straight. He was like, "Quit. Figure out what you’re going to quit, and quit. We will survive. We have our children, we are safe, we have a house, we can live a different lifestyle, we can cut back financially. You cannot keep going like this." It was the support I needed to say, "Okay, I am going to step back, and I’m going to get a very large piece of poster board," which is what I like to do when I get overwhelmed, "and a Sharpie, and I’m going to write down all the things I’m committed to right now." And I did. I was committed to a lot, a lot more than any one person should be committed to.

He and I sat down, and he said, "What are we going to cut?" I knew in my gut that I was going to have to quit our wholesale program. It looks and sounds really amazing to have that in your professional bio, like "Carried in 800 stores around the world," that looks and sounds really wonderful, but it felt terrible.

Jessica: Oh, my gosh. No, I mean, I go to New York for those shows, and it is so much hustle and involves so much customer service. So to me, I’m like, "Yes!"

Emily: Yes, right?

Jessica: Take that load off!

Emily: Yes, it’s like a whole other business. We were selling direct to our consumers, our customers, online, and it was working and growing. We just were so passionate about connecting with that woman who is in whatever season of life but is overwhelmed. And I almost feel like God brought me through this journey to remind me what that feels like so that I can help, I can inspire other women to cut back in other ways in their lives. So we went through this whole process. I had to make a plan to quit. I had to tell a lot of people that were disappointed. I was afraid I was going to lose other partnerships because I wasn’t the girl whose products were carried in 800 stores around the world. And I did. I had to disappoint a lot of people, but at the end of the day, we quit, we ripped a lot of band-aids off, and sent a lot of emails, and had a lot of hard conversations. At the end of the day, there were four people in my house who were elated that Mommy was back. That’s it. That’s the story.

I mean, it’s been life-changing. It was literally–I can’t remember the exact number, but it was like cutting 30 to 40% of our income, our gross revenue for our company. The amazing, incredible part is that we spent 2017 taking all of that energy and focusing it toward our customers rather than our retailers. That paid off in spades. Our company grew. We made up all that revenue. I can’t even believe I’m sane.

Jessica:  Wow, that’s amazing. That’s like you operationalized what you are preaching, and it’s worked. It’s so funny because our leadership conference for our Ambassador leaders was in Chicago a couple years ago, and it was right when Present Over Perfect was coming out, so Shauna [Niequist] came and met with all of us. Someone on my executive team read Shauna’s book. Her life was flipped. She was like, "I’m not supposed to be working at Noonday. I’m supposed to be at home for my senior-year kids."

Emily: Yeah, goosebumps.

Jessica:  Oh, my gosh. I was like, "Shauna, I cannot have anybody else read your book," you know? And it was ironic because I’m having her come and speak to my top people in our company, and the message…So, let’s talk a little bit about that, because I think there is a tension that we hold, Emily, especially…I think success provides some luxury to make choices, you know what I mean? I didn’t realize this was just 2016, so you had reached a certain level of success, which enables a little bit of choice. But I do think there’s those seasons when you’re first starting out where it’s–you just hustle.

Emily: You just hustle, yeah.


Putting “Hustling” Into Perspective

Jessica:  Yeah, so let’s speak to that girl who’s like, "Well, yeah, that must be nice that you got to just cut 40%. If I cut 40%, I wouldn’t have a company anymore."

Emily: Right.

Jessica:  How do we walk in that tension?

Emily: Oh, goodness. I look back at 2008, ’09, ’10, when that was me, when I stayed awake until 3:00 AM and then went to work at my corporate job at 6:00, 7:00 in the morning. I do have regret about that, if we’re being honest. I do have regret because I basically burned out my thyroid, specifically. I had a doctor say to me, "You realize that’s not normal, right?" To stay up until all hours and be chasing something that hard that you literally burn your body out, never mind your mind and your heart.” I do have a little bit of regret about hustling so hard in the beginning. I think I could have made smarter choices, not just spinning my wheels. I could have made smarter choices for the business and not so much of, like, my own personal need to keep up on social media or follow whomever because I want to keep up. I do think in the beginning it’s difficult to discern what is the right move and what is the wrong move.

Jessica: Yeah, it’s like you kind of don’t know what’s going to bring the ROI [return on investment], so you just you think you need to say yes to everything.

Emily: To a certain point, that’s true. I think that we do kind of say “yes” to a lot of different things in the beginning, but I think the key to it is boundaries. You have to, first and foremost, no matter what, protect your family and your health. And the word "hustle" … it’s funny, I have this weird relationship with the word "hustle" because the hustle in the beginning was what propelled our company forward, for sure. Those late nights and all of that being spread too thin and doing too many things, some of those things really propelled us forward. But some of it was a lot of wheel-spinning. Some of it was a lot of, like, self-service trying to be perfect, you know? I’ve learned over the last couple years that a lot of that wheel-spinning isn’t really necessary, that you can have greater impact in less time by saying yes to the right things and no to the wrong things. But it does take a little bit of time to discern what those are, I think.

“we do kind of say “yes” to a lot of different things in the beginning, but I think the key to it is boundaries.” – Emily Ley

Jessica:  It does, and I think just that willingness to know, “okay, this is a season, and it’s a season of discernment.” But it’s funny, because the name of the podcast is "Going Scared," and I definitely am more of a courage catalyzer, like, “get up and go, get off the couch, let’s get going!”

Emily: Yeah, same.

Jessica: But you’re right, it takes just as much courage to say no and to pull back.

Emily: Yeah, totally. I’ve realized over the past couple of years, and maybe this is because I’m getting older, but I’ve realized that if I don’t carve out time for rest and for creativity to be borne out of that, I am going to completely fail at all of this. When I went through those seasons of just total burnout … and I got really close to another one early this year, just having a lot of things going on. I knew better, and I had to put the brakes on a little bit. If we don’t carve out time for that, specifically, what are we doing? I mean, I could spin my wheels all day long trying to create new projects, but if I’m not giving myself the rest and the time I need to take care of the project that is being successful, then what happens to the business? We grow too fast, and we grow in the wrong ways, you know?

“I’ve realized that if I don’t carve out time for rest and for creativity to be borne out of that, I am going to completely fail at all of this.” – Emily Ley

Jessica: So much of it is taking the long view.

Emily: Yeah.

Jessica: Like, how is this going to be sustainable in 20 years? What’s the legacy I’m leaving? To me, that changed my pace.

Emily: Totally, totally. I totally agree.

Jessica: So “no’s” can also be courageous.


Always Coming Back to The Reason

Emily: They can. I look at my kids, and I look at the life my mom was able to provide for us. As a teacher, she had flexibility. She didn’t make a zillion dollars a year, but she had tons of flexibility to be present for us. I look at my kids and I think, "I won’t regret being here. I won’t regret being available to you, because that’s the reason I started the company.” It’s funny, I get asked all the time, "Why’d you start it?" Well, the real reason I started the entire company was because I didn’t want to live by corporate America’s rules of when I had to sit in my chair. I wanted the flexibility to be able to go to the play at school or to be the one that picked them up from preschool every day. I wanted to be the one to get the goodbye hugs in the morning at the classroom door. I know it’s not the same for everyone, but that’s the reason I started it. Even as the company gets bigger, I always come back to it’s still the reason.

So, when I say yes to things, you’re right, I have to say yes to the right things. But again, as long as you’re always coming back to that reason why, it makes the “yeses” and the “no’s” make a little more sense, and it makes them a little easier to make.

Jessica: I think it’s cool because I think if I would have heard this a few years ago, I would have gone into my shame mode, my working-mom shame mode.

Emily: Oh, I have it, too.

Jessica:  But you’re talking about, like, "I want to be the one to drop them off and pick them up." My husband now, he quit his job, and he’s full-time. I have been up to my child’s school once this entire year. But it’s not out of this, like, "My hair’s on fire, and I’m not prioritizing." It was really just us looking at our lives and saying, "This is what makes sense, and this is where I am going to pour in…" Like, we played Settlers of Catan last night, on a school night. We’re going to be together this weekend, but I leave for Haiti on Sunday for a week.

The point is that it’s about prioritizing and walking in the lane that each of us is meant to walk in.

Emily: Amen, sister. If we all had the same mission or reasons or ways of doing things, this world wouldn’t go around, you know? I love that you mention that, because I have so many girlfriends whose lives look completely different. They all look so different, you know? Some of us have kids in daycare all week long, some of us have people that come to our house to help, some of us don’t have kids. It all looks so completely different, but at the end of the day, especially…I love that you mentioned your husband, too. Brian and I had to sit down and say, "How are we going to give our family what it is we want to give them?" We divvy up responsibilities the way we can. Brian takes Brady to school every day, and that’s their special thing together, you know? So yeah, we all do it different.

Jessica: It’s finding our way and not letting the shame gremlins come and divide, because I feel like when those shame gremlins come, it’s easy for us to want to disconnect from one another.

Emily: Well, it’s funny, I’ve always struggled a little bit with that shame gremlin telling me I should be a full-time stay-at-home mom. A lot of my friends are, here in Tampa. They’ll, on a Tuesday at 10:00 AM, take their kids to the park. They always invite me, and I always say no. My kids go to preschool every day or first grade. I finally–and maybe, again, this is me getting older and becoming just more confident in who God made me to be–but I am so confident that this job is something that I was meant to have, and that this mission that our company has was meant to inspire women no matter where they are or how they’re living their lives or what they’re doing. Because no matter how we balance it all, we all get to that place where we feel overwhelmed, and we have guilt about should we be doing this or that or whatever. And with so much on our plate, nobody has time for that stuff. Nobody has time for that guilt, you know?


Creating Time For Connection

Jessica:  No. Talk about something that takes your energy away. Oh my word. That is what I regret. I regret walking in guilt and shame over the whole "mommy" thing those first few years, because it was just a drain. It’s like, gosh, I just wish I would have just focused my energy in more productive ways. Guilt and shame are nonproductive, for those of you all listening right now, just nonproductive.

“Guilt and shame are nonproductive.” – Jessica Honegger

Emily: Amen.

Jessica: So, I read in a blog that you wrote recently about your company, and you held your very first company retreat, and it was the first time you had everyone in one location together. So, you guys really are remote, and doing that via the web, which, man, I know that can be a real challenge.

Emily: Yeah.


Building Stronger Teammates and Friends

Jessica: Tell us about the goal for you this year, how this idea of deliberation started forming in your mind. And what kinds of other things are you seeking to strengthen in your connections this year? Because you’re obviously being really deliberate.

Emily: I have a team…well, it was seven, and now it’s six. Speaking of someone who left, Gina Hafley, who’s been with me for seven years, recently decided–her husband is an NFL football–and she recently decided to stay at home with her little one. So, we lost her and we’re really sad, but with the six of us, we finally got together for the first time last weekend. It was wonderful. I just really am thirsty for that connection, and I really think it has a lot to do with getting out of that wholesale program. We decided that connection with our customers, with those women, seeing them, hearing their stories, was important. It’s why I did a big book tour this year and went to, I don’t know, seven different cities and met just thousands, I think, of women in person. That personal connection is so important. We spend so much time behind computers, on phones, that I think there’s something that’s really … I wouldn’t say lost there, but it’s just different.

When you get in person with somebody and you can have those conversations and laugh with them and talk to them and see things with them, there’s just such a better connection that’s formed that when you get back to your computers and to your screens; you’re stronger as friends and as teammates. So, we decided to host everyone here in Tampa, and had everybody fly in, and it was great. I’m not sure it was the most productive thing we’ve ever done. We didn’t set big, grand goals for the next few years, but we did sort through some things we’ve been working on together and just had a lot of fun. It was great.

Jessica:  Oh my gosh, you’re singing my song. That’s one reason I am so passionate about our Noonday Collection Trunk Shows, because we are getting people off their screens and physically getting into women’s homes, which we just don’t do that as much anymore.

Emily: We don’t, yeah.

Jessica:  There is something that’s so powerful that happens. I love what you said, that your retreat, maybe you didn’t accomplish all these grand business goals, but as someone who is talking about hustling in those early years, I was such a taskmaster at work. I do feel like I could have definitely built a lot more positive relationships with some of those first-timers at Noonday. But I was just a taskmaster. It was like, "No, we’ve got to get this done." I’ve had to learn to stop and value, like, "Hello, how was your weekend? How are you doing? How was your kid’s birthday party on Saturday?" Because as owner of the biz, I’m like, "Okay, what’s next? Come on," you know?

Emily: Right, right.

Jessica: So, I love that your retreat wasn’t all about, "How are we going to grow our ROI [Return on Investment] this year?" It was about connection.

Emily: Yes, I’m the same way, actually. I’m very task-oriented. Even now, because I have a very limited amount of time to work, so I’m like, "Give me my list, and let me get going and start checking things off." I’m the same. I don’t make a lot of time for that. I think that friendships in my life have suffered outside of work because I don’t make time to get together with friends as often as I should because I’m just the "busy one". Yeah, it was really laid on my heart this year to be better about that and to have more face-to-face time with friends and with my team.

“…friendships in my life have suffered outside of work because I don’t make time to get together with friends…” – Emily Ley

Then, I don’t know, I haven’t made any big decisions about it yet, but I’ve also just had this stirring of, maybe it would be cool to get our community together in person one day. Pensacola is a place that really means a lot to me, and my family lives there, and we’d love to move back there one day. I’ve been thinking, how great would it be to do some sort of gathering? I don’t even want to call it a conference, but some sort of gathering where everyone could come and talk about this stuff. Life is overwhelming, so how do we make it simpler? Wouldn’t it be fun to have those conversations in person?

Jessica: So "Going Scared" is the podcast, and we’ve talked a lot about how you have become a bit of a seasoned businesswoman. You’ve grown confident in areas that maybe you weren’t confident in, which I think growing confidence means that you are able to say no because you’re not living out of fear, right?

Emily: Right.

Jessica: Because I think that hustle, I struggle with that word, too. I think it’s just when we’re hustling to earn our worth, and we’re hustling to try to control an outcome, and we’re hustling because our identity hinges on that outcome, that’s the hustle that will run us into the ground.

Emily: Totally. Totally agree.

Jessica: But when you’re hustling, running fast, running hard like the guy in Chariots of Fire who says, "When I run, I feel God’s pleasure," that’s when you’re running and you’re hustling hard, but you’re not hinging anything on the outcome.

Emily: Amen, amen.

Jessica:  That’s fun. That’s what makes a business fun.

Emily: Yeah, that’s fun. That’s adrenaline. That is fun.


Going Scared In Parenting

Jessica:  Yes, yes. So what are the areas in your life now that you are going scared?

Emily: Oh my goodness, that is a big question.

Jessica: I know, and I’m finishing with it, and I did not give you any warning that that question was coming.

Emily: I love it. I am going scared in parenting right now, if we’re being honest. The business is doing well, and I’m confident in what it’s doing. We did just change our business name, and that was scary.

Jessica: That is scary to kind of rebrand like that.

Emily: Yes, yes. My name has always been on everything, but I have really felt God telling me this is about more than Emily Ley. Like, I hear those words in my head at night. I think it is. I think it’s about a lot more than Emily Ley, so Emily Ley is still part of it, but it is Simplified now. It’s just so clear to me, and I feel very confident in it. But I’ve been very fearful that I’m going to rock the boat in the wrong way in some areas, so I’m going scared a little bit there.

But, man, parenting right now … oh my gosh. Our house at night is anything but simplified. It is loud and chaotic. Brian and I always say … well, in the beginning, we said, "Surely God’s going to give us one child that’s like the meek and quiet one." We didn’t get any of those. We got big, loud, awesome personalities that, when you put them all in a room together, are like … it’s like a circus. As someone who really loves quiet and order and everything to fall in line, it’s not like that here. It’s hard. Thank goodness Brian and I are a good team, but it’s rough sometimes because there are three and our biggest is seven, and we’ve got a lot of things going on. I feel like I’m going blind a little bit sometimes. So, I think I’m going a little bit scared there, but we are just pushing through and trying to get through these toddler years and make the good choices for them.

Jessica:  You know what, we’re all going blind in parenting. That’s the thing, you know?

Emily: Yeah.

Jessica: I think that has been … it’s true, parenting is the most vulnerable, scariest thing because-

Emily: You don’t want to mess it up.

Jessica: You don’t want to mess it up, and yet you will.

Emily: You will.

Jessica: Yet, you will.

Emily: Yeah.

Jessica: I think it’s owning that … like, I used to think, "Perfect parenting in, perfect children out."

Emily: Right? Yeah, it doesn’t really work that way, does it?

Jessica: I mean, my husband is definitely an introvert and really values order and quiet, and that’s just … I don’t know. I have one friend where that exists for her. That is not our home. Oh my gosh. We had high hopes for a family night last night. We got out The Settlers of Catan. I looked side-eyed at one of my kids, and she ended up in the closet, crying. My other kid ends up in his room with the door locked because he really wanted to play. You know, hot mess. But I do think, ultimately, it’s connection. So, it all comes back to connection, and I think that you are doing that in your business. You’re being deliberate in how you’re connecting with your customers, you’re being deliberate in how you’re connecting with your team. I think parenting, it’s just connecting, you know?

Emily: It’s so hard, but at the end of the day, I’ve just had to learn to become really comfortable in the mess of it all. I mean, we are in a season of chaos, if we’re being honest. It is just a little chaotic sometimes. I have to embrace that a little bit and remember it might be chaotic when it’s dinnertime and I’m trying to get something on the table and they’re climbing up my legs, all three of them, in the kitchen, but those 10 minutes that I get with each one of them at night to tuck them in … you know, that moment when they want to, like, unpack their souls to you, that connection matters a whole lot more than the disaster waiting for me downstairs to clean up.

“…at the end of the day, I’ve just had to learn to become really comfortable in the mess of it all.” – Emily Ley

Jessica:  It’s true. It’s so true. It’s so true. Well, on that, we will wrap it up. Thank you so much.

Emily: Thank you.

Jessica: I really enjoyed our conversation. How can listeners find you if they want to engage more?

Emily: Yeah, our website is emilyley.com, and you can also find us on Instagram @emilyley or @simplified.

Jessica: Awesome. Go get you guys a planner. Thanks, Emily.

Emily: Thank you so much.


Saying No to Stay True to the Yes

Jessica:  That was such an enlightening conversation for me. I am such a ‘yes’ person, and when I hear someone saying, ‘no’, I realize it can take just as much courage to say ‘no’ to something as it can to say ‘yes’ to something. It was really cool, because later the same day that I interviewed Emily, I met with another entrepreneur. She had reached out. She had wanted to meet for some advice and for some encouragement, and she was telling me that she, in her business, had everything she ever wanted right then. She was in stores she’d only dreamed about. Her product was in Anthropologie and Neiman Marcus and others, and yet here she was thinking, "This is all I ever wanted," and yet it really wasn’t what she wanted after all. So, she also ..because of this conversation I had with Emily, I encouraged her to reconsider some of her wholesale accounts and to think about what was her "why". Why did she say yes to this? Ultimately, it was about serving people and loving people.

I just want to encourage many of you guys who are listening; yes, there is a season when you’ve got to say ‘yes’ to all the things and you hustle hard, but I think it’s important to recognize when that season comes to an end and then you can really discern and focus on—what do I need to courageously say no to in order to stay true to the ‘yes’? The entire endeavor?

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. I’m having so much fun. Please come DM me, tell me what you’re learning, tell me what you want to hear. I love being in this new podcast community with you.