Emma Takeover: Passion Project

Emma Takeover: Passion Project

If you know me, you know that I like to be organized…more so than the average person. When I started working full time for Brio, I purchased a Panda Planner (shameless plug because I love this thing) which has monthly, weekly, and daily sections to help prioritize goals, projects, tasks.

I use it daily. But since buying my planner, one particular section always bugged me…this:

I didn’t have one Passion Project. Until recently, I had two.

I got engaged the month before Grant and I started seriously talking about forming a business together. For the past 11 months, I have found myself wedged between two major life milestones, both equally important, both requiring my full attention.

As a Type-A, obsessive planner, I figured out a way to manage both without completely losing my mind, but it would be a lie to say that it wasn’t challenging or stressful. The hardest part was knowing my limitations.

No matter how I organized my task list or how meticulously I scheduled my day, I couldn’t escape the cold hard truth: I couldn’t actually give 100% of myself to both the wedding and Brio. One or the other suffered a little. 

Hey, I’m not Wonder Woman or Beyoncé. 

Despite everything, here are the facts of where I stand today:

  • I married the love of my life on July 6, 2019
  • I was Emma Smith, now I am Emma Tuftin
  • I am no longer wedged between my wedding and my business

All of the wedding details, coordination, back-up plans, and worry that occupied a significant area of my brain is gone. That headspace is now free and I’m choosing to dedicate it all to Brio.

For me, this next chapter of Brio feels like a new beginning. I feel energized, focused, and creative in ways that weren’t possible when I was also juggling the wedding logistics. Even in the few short weeks since the wedding, I’ve noticed a shift in how I approach my work.

I’m taking my sweet time.

Startups and weddings have something in common: decision-making. That meant double-trouble for me…also double the decision fatigue. In both cases, I found myself having to make snap decisions, sometimes choosing the least difficult option simply out of survival.

Now, I feel like I have a normal level of decision-making to handle and my new approach involves slowing down to consider my options to make the RIGHT decision, not the easy one.

One very real example of this is our beloved Brio website, which has undergone a transformation this month. When we launched our site initially in April, it was done QUICKLY. This time, we took our time updating the site, intentionally considering every word and every design element to bring our site closer to what we want it to be. 

I’m ready for the deep dive.

Looking back, I had a couple favorite phrases to use at work to help accommodate the hectic schedule I was maneuvering:

“We can deal with that after the wedding.”
“This will be fine until we have a little more time to wrap our heads around it.”
“Let’s table that for now.”

Turns out that planning a wedding is an excellent excuse to put off things that aren’t an immediate priority. Never in my life have I considered myself a procrastinator, but I realized that, in this instance, it actually felt better to put things off as long as I knew that it wouldn’t be forever…just until July (that’s now!).

As we prepare to revisit those projects we put off, I’ve noticed something really cool. I’m approaching these challenges with a fresh enthusiasm because I know that I actually have the mental capacity to address them. What was too overwhelming to even consider before is something I can’t wait to dig into now. The next couple weeks have been scheduled into big blocks of deep-dive brainstorming to FINALLY give space and attention to important parts of our business. It feels like it’s finally time…and I’m ready.

I’m sure that I’ll have more revelations in the coming months, but here’s the really essential part that I must communicate clearly:

Although starting a business and planning a wedding was a challenge, I wouldn’t change it if I could go back and do it again. This experience is just another one that is shaping me into the person I am today. If I can handle planning a wedding and starting a business at the same time, can’t I do anything?

Filling out my planner is always something that makes me happy, but the past couple weeks have been particularly joyful. Flipping back through the weeks and months of tasks and milestones, I’m reveling in the fact that the work paid off. The wedding was perfect and I married the only man for me. 

For those of you keeping score at home…

That’s one Passion Project down. One big one to go.

Now, the Passion Project section of my planner has an easy answer. Unlike the wedding, this one doesn’t have an end date and I’m ready to give it everything I’ve got.

Without hesitation, I only have one word to write: B-R-I-O.


This experience didn’t happen in a vacuum and I would be a fool to not credit the help of those around me. With this post, I attach my deepest gratitude to those closest to me for forgiving my manic behavior, giving me space when I needed it, helping me find solutions when I was overwhelmed, and for just loving me for who I am.

To my husband, my business partner, my dearest friends and family, I send all my love and thanks for all you have done and continue to do to support me. I’m the luckiest to have you in my life.

#briowrites is a collaborative production of Brio Marketing co-founders Emma Smith and Grant Henry. Periodically, however, each will takeover this blog and post from their own perspective.