It was a pleasure getting to know my pal Mike Morrison better – one half of the fabulous Membership Guys team on this episode of the Business Building Rockstars Show!
This interview was recorded about 6-months ago and we had been meaning to schedule a next chapter part two to the interview.
Obviously that has not happened yet and as you'll hear in the first couple of minutes, this will be the last BBRShow interview to air before pivoting to a new 5-day per week show with lots of great content to help you build, scale, and lead your company.
Mike will be back to talk Membership Sites on the new show, but I didn't want to let this bit go because I really find it valuable to air thanks to how openly Mike shared his early venture into entrepreneurship.
And now for the formal intro…
Mike Morrison is co-founder of The Membership Guys and Member Site Academy, where he helps guide the growth of high performing membership websites and online communities.
With over 15 years experience in digital marketing; Mike's worked closely with brands like McDonalds and Ancestry.com; and has been the driving force behind a multitude of 6 and 7 figure membership businesses.
He’s the host of a popular podcast, author of two best-selling books and can regularly be found on stage at events like Social Media Marketing World, Tropical Think Tank and Podcast Movement.
Pam Wasley is the CEO of Cerius Enterprises. She is a serial entrepreneur who has personally sold two companies and led a management buyout.
Pam serves on several private boards, and is a frequent national speaker and author on topics such as M&A, Startup Hacks, the Workforce of the Future and the Gig Economy for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Week, and Fortune.
She and her business partner recently wrote a book called “How I Fired My Boss and Made More Money: Insider Secrets from Successful Independent Executives.
Pam also has a weekly podcast herself called Cerius Business Today and is frequently a guest on other business podcasts around the world.
Nicole: Welcome back, this is Nicole Holland and I am excited to have you here for another episode. I'm so excited to finally have her here on the show with me and introducing her to you, my listeners, so welcome Pam!
Pamela: Thank you Nicole. And yes, it's about time we actually had a podcast together.
Let's start with a little bit more about what you're doing on a day to day basis.
Great. So, Cerius has about 10,000 executives, interim executives across the United States and Canada today and we place them in part time, fractional interim temporary roles in companies and it doesn't mean that they have to be an interim COO. It can be a operations expert or a financial expert to go in and take care of a project that somebody needs or something they need that's very quick and can be done in about three or four months.
It's been very helpful to companies today because they can actually get talent that can be very strategic, very, competitive. It makes them even more competitive in the marketplace. The reason for that is these people literally, they come in and within the first month they have produced results. They've increased sales, they have increased profitability, they've decreased your losses, they've increased your processes so that you're more efficient.
I mean, they've done all these things starting the first month there with your company. It's been wonderful for companies to hire these people and they can use them when and where they need them. Maybe today I need a financial expert, tomorrow I need a marketing expert and maybe next year I'm going to need somebody in operations. Literally it's talent that you can use when and where you need it.
Awesome. How to actually find that talent at or to get you to help them find that talent. So I think you have some various levels of that, right?
Right. So if you're not sure what it is that you need, we have Cerius advisors and you can go there and we have the best of the best in the industry's functional areas that literally you can talk to. The first one is free. It gives, gives you a feel for the type of talent that we have. So you can ask them whatever questions you want to get a feel for what we offer. Okay, Yep. I think you can help me. Or maybe you find out that executive you're talking to is not exactly what you need because they've identified another issue that's even more prevalent in your business.
At least it gives you somebody that can kind of walk you through this. Once you've made the determination, let's just say you do need a financial executive and that's who you're talking to. Well literally if you want to hire them, it's all done online. You can sign up. They can start tomorrow. I mean this is a very quick process for, for companies to find talent today, especially since it's. It's so hard to find talent and just.
Your platform, you just can purchase 10 hours a month or I want five hours or something like that, is that right? Just pick the package you want and click online.
Yes. For, for smaller companies who don't want to make a big investment, this is great for them because they can get answers to some of the issues that they're having and yes you can. You can buy a package 10 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours and you can call them. The cool thing about this is what they're doing is they actually have a virtual advisory board, which you know, where else can you go and get a virtual advisory board of the top talent.
A lot of people actually sign up with three executives in three different areas because again, that's their advisory board. In fact they can all get on a conference call, they can all do a little brainstorming and okay, so we're here some of the solutions to some of the issues that you're having. It really is of importance to small startup companies today.
Amazing. And then for that next level, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Yeah. Then for the next level, you can still use the service. I mean that the advisory services is awesome because again, you get to talk to these people before you really make that big investment because this is a very inexpensive call that you make. The first ones was free, the second one is $150. I mean literally, where can you get that kind of talent today for $150, it just gives you that ability to use your dollars wisely.
Most of the larger ones will come directly to us and they go to Cerius Executives and they think they know what they want. Again, we asked them a lot of questions, we know the questions to ask them and we get down to exactly what it is that they need. So again, they're not spending money unwisely. Maybe they're thinking they need somebody for six months and we think this person can really accomplish this in three months. Here are your choices of executives you can talk to and you can pick the one that you liked the best. We're always trying to make sure that we were matching the best talent to what their needs are as well as watching their costs.
How did you initially decide that this was what you wanted to do?
Well, we started off as a consulting firm and I knew that was not what we wanted to do. You know, you're really competing against a lot of consulting firms out there. Big, small, large. You just can't get above everybody else. We did some research and found this whole interim model over in Europe and I loved it and there was only one company over here at the time doing it and they were only doing it in finance and we thought it was just perfect for where we wanted to go and sure enough, as soon as we brought the model on in 2008, it just took off.
Now I will tell you, it was still an education. We still had to educate people on the fact that you're only leasing these executives on a part time, temporary basis. Once we got over that hump about 2011, this whole concept is now taken off. The gig economy arrived where they were they're getting more and more used to hiring temporary workers.
Well, all of a sudden they're going, wow, I can also hire temporary workers at the executive level. You know, if you think about it, the cool thing about this is in terms of leasing. You know, when you lease a car, you lease it because you want to get a better car for your money. Right? Same thing here. You want the best talent you can get. Why do you want to hire them permanently? Why not lease them? You can get a lot more for your money and obviously it's going to help your company grow faster than if you were trying to hire somebody.
What is the one piece that potential clients are not understanding before they get to you that they are understanding once they talk to you guys?
Well, it's becoming easier to make that differentiation because it is so expensive to hire executives today. It's also even more expensive to hire the wrong executive today. I mean, it can cost you up to a million dollars and not just benefits and salary and bonuses, but also what happens within your company when you hire an executive and it's the wrong one.
Maybe they've made a mess of your team and it just hasn't worked and now you've got to fix that hopefully with the next hire or fix it before the next hire comes in or you know, they'd come in and done all the wrong things and now you've lost money and sales, lost money in productivity. I mean it's just a nightmare. You really want to make sure you get the right talent.
A lot of our customers that are still on the fence about whether to hire our lease, we just say try before you buy. What's the harm in that, you know, whether you hire them permanently, that's fine. If you want to do that in the long run, do it, but still just lease he or she for the next two, three months before you make that big commitment that they love.
Yeah, that totally makes sense. I can just take it for a test drive before I make that final decision.
Exactly, and you make that test drive with projects so it's not them coming in and getting used to the company and having conversations with people at the water cooler. It's not all that. It's literally they come in with a statement of work and they immediately get to work and they start producing results right away. It's a whole different premise than it is if you hire somebody.
Literally if you do this right and you write out the scope that produces those results, you'll be amazed. By the way, if they don't end up doing the results or producing the results that you want at the end of the day then you don't hire them. You just get rid of them. Now hopefully interim executives that you hire are the best and they will do what they say they're going to do, but in case you just hired one and wasn't through an agency, there weren't any guarantees and this particular one didn't work out for you. Again, no problem because you can get rid of them right away. There's no labor laws that keep you from letting this person go because he's a contractor. He's there to do particular work and if he doesn't produce the work you, he promised, then you can just cancel this contract.
You mentioned you have over 10,000 executives in your pool. I would love it if you can share a little bit with us about how you built that up and how you attract top level executives.
When we first started, yeah it was slow going a plus since this whole gig economy, the independent workforce wasn't really for the executive level. A lot of people were afraid to get into consulting because Oh, can I make a living, you know I'd much rather have a full time job because I can have a guaranteed salary and benefits.
It was tough to really find the best of the best talent in the world today. It's totally different, but we are also different because what we learned during those tough times of trying to get the best talent when they're still holding onto their corporate job, we learned that they are our client as well as the companies are clients.
We treat them extremely well. Not only do we get them jobs, but we get them paid right away. I mean, literally we ACH the money right into their checking account. We do everything for them. We write out the statement of work. All they have to do is edit it. We have account management in the back end to make sure the communication is running smoothly so that the company and the executive are always on the same page and the client is happy at the end of the day.
Literally, we make this so painless for them that we now after 14 years or almost 14 years, we actually have a reputation around North America that people say, I got a recommendation that you are the intermediary platform that we want to join. We'd like to sign up and talk to you a little bit. Anyone that asks to talk to us, we will talk to them because again, they are our client.
You don't ignore clients. If you think about the executive search business or if you think about the others that are out there and interim management, they just want people to sign up. They don't care about talking to you unless it's in their best interest to talk to you. They don't call you back. They don't tell you what's going on. It's terrible. They have very, very bad reputation out there. I hear that all the time from our interim executives. Any interim executive that contacts us, we respond immediately. Again, a little bit different culture on our part, which we learned over the years.
Can you talk to us about why you wrote your book and what it's done for them because I know that this has been a huge shift for people and what it has done also for Cerius?
Yeah. We wrote the book because remember I said we don't ignore anybody that calls us. For many, many years we got the same questions and we kept thinking it's really easy to answer these questions now because we know all the answers and then Kris and I came up with the thought about why don't we just put it in a book. Why don't we teach all these executives that are dying to explore this whole white collar gig economy what it is. They're trying to explore this whole new area, leaving corporate America now doing independent consulting on their own.
Literally we did surveys, we took all the stuff that we've learned over the years and we also talked to some of the best executives that were making well over a million dollars as a solopreneur just by themselves. We got their tips and secrets and put it into this book. And we made it real easy.
In this book you can learn how to price your services, how to get clients, how to brand yourself, what not to say to clients. It's got all the tips and all the answers to questions that people have asked us over the years. We wrote it for a couple reasons. One, obviously to answer all these questions so they could just get the book and it would be a resource for them. We also wrote it to get people who were still on the fence more comfortable with this area. I actually think that has helped to increase this marketplace for us and that's why we're getting so many people.
I imagining that it's also saved you a lot of time to have this book that you can just refer the executives that reach out to you.
Not as much as you might think. Because it's still a scary propositions to go out on your own, so they still want to talk to us. We still get some of the same questions, which is fine. But, we are in the process of writing our second book!!
I can't give you too much about it this time, but obviously it is still about that white collar gig economy, but this time it's more for the company side because we get a lot of questions from them just like we did from interim executives. This book will be somewhere along those lines of, let me answer all those questions that you were asking and get them comfortable with the whole concept of independent executives instead of hiring.
Well that is exciting and I know it's very, very needed. Any idea of when you guys are looking to publish that?
Probably beginning of next year we'll actually have it out.
I love it. So Pam, before we wrap, any final words of wisdom that you'd like to impart my audience with before you go?
Well, again, you and I talked about it. You and I both have the same philosophy about customers, make sure that you are recognizing all customers in your space. I mean, it's just not the companies that you sell to. It's not just your suppliers that supply the things that help you produce the products for your customers. They too are customers.
You want to keep those vendors working with you. Your employees, you want to keep them. You don't want to lose them to a competitor. Just keep in mind all of these people are all of your customers. And don't forget that because if you don't forget that you will always remember that, then you will always have the best people working with you, which is great
Deciding to take the stage to give a talk can be incredibly scary but Tricia Brouk knows just how to calm those fears and have you speaking like a pro!
In this episode, Tricia shares how she leverages her unique style and diverse background in theatre, film, and television production to teach you how to overcome your fear of public speaking.
Refusing to become a starving artist and determined to make her own dreams a reality, Tricia began her business building journey with zero overhead and doing things on her terms from an early age.
Tricia Brouk is an award-winning director, writer for theater, film and television.
In addition to her work in the entertainment industry, she applies her expertise to the art of public speaking.
She’s the executive producer of TEDx Lincoln Square and has choreographed Black Box on ABC, The Affair on Showtime, Rescue Me on Fox, and John Turturro’s Romance and Cigarettes, where she was awarded a Golden Thumb Award from Roger Ebert. The series she directed, Sublets, won Best Comedy at the Vancouver Web-Festival.
The documentary short she directed and produced This Dinner is Full, was official selection at The New York Women in Film and Television Short Festival, as well as the NYC Independent Film Festival.
She also hosts The Big Talk a podcast on iTunes, where interviews people who talk for a living.
Nicole: It's my pleasure having you on the show today! My audience heard your bio and it was a lot of this film, directorial and choreography stuff, which is amazing.I wonder if you can just give us a little overview of what you're doing on a day to day basis to help entrepreneurs and business owners grow their message, positioning and businesses.
Tricia: Absolutely. Well, I think when you're an entrepreneur and you have an important message to share (which is why you became an entrepreneur) the best way to create credibility for yourself is to have a keynote or a signature talk.
If I can help entrepreneurs craft and deliver a talk that is from the heart, it will organically drive business to you. I help them identify what their idea is. I help them craft that talk so that it's not a sales pitch necessarily, and then I help them perform it so that they are vibrant and captivating and authentic from a stage.
Awesome. How did you wind up getting into this area and into entrepreneurship in general?
I do. I moved to New York City when I was 20 years old to pursue a career in concert dance and I had zero interest in being a starving artist.
I did not think that was sexy at all! I thought, how can I make money, on my terms and not be waiting tables because that's hard on the body. As a dancer, the last thing you want to do is be on your feet all day after class.
I realized that if I could create a scenario where I had zero overhead but I was still working on the same things that made sense to me with the body, that might align.
I started an in home personal training company called Brouk Moves. I was working with people in their homes. I had zero overhead. They bought all the equipment and it was going really, really well. I was able to pursue my career in dance and still make a living and but be able to not live the life of a starving artist.
Then I realized, I'm starting to go on tour now, so how do I make money while I'm on tour making money? That's where I started bringing in consultants. Now 27 years later, I have a fitness company that is a well oiled machine and we provide in home personal training to busy New Yorkers.
In order to continue to grow and stay competitive in a very saturated personal training market in New York City, I've now added personal chef services. That is what has kept me unique and fresh compared to all the other personal training companies. I've always worked for myself and I've always known what it means to scale and to be able to make money so that I can stay an artist.
Now cut to two years ago I was doing my thing in showbiz, making movies, producing theater, film, television while my fitness company was chugging along and Petra Kolber, who's an incredible speaker and author, approached me to coach her Tedx Syracuse.
She'd seen my shows. She knew my work as a director and I said, that sounds amazing. I love Ted talks. I worked with her. It was awesome. She nailed it, her talk was amazing and that was the end of it in my mind.
Then she planted this little seed. Your approach is different from other coaches. You should really think about doing this as a side gig. Then I started thinking about it and as I do, I say yes to everything because you just never know what's going to and if I make a mistake I'll just figure it out as they go along.
I started the Big Talk and I before I knew it, I had these handful of speakers who had these amazing messages and I had no place to put them. The next organic step was to put on my own show and what that meant was applying to get my Tedx License.
Four months later I had my business. I had my clients and I applied for Tedx and three months later I was granted my license and four months later I put on my first Tedx Lincoln Square in New York City.
That's how this business started. Later I was introduced to John Lee Dumas and he talked me into doing three podcasts on how I do this and what my processes.
Well, 200 podcasts later, I have shared my expertise, I've had other guests, I've interviewed Tedx organizers, Tedx speakers, and I absolutely love being able to help speakers identify they're very important message and share it with the world. That's where I'm at today as far as an entrepreneur goes!
Amazing. Why did you keep going with the podcast? You didn't need to keep going, but for some reason you have. What was your motivation for that?
I love talking to my guests. They are so inspiring and so fascinating and I learned so much from those 30 minutes that we spend together. That is why I keep doing it and I know that my listeners are gonna learn so much too.
They're going to get so much value by just dropping in with us for 30 minutes and hearing about other people's struggles with public speaking, other people's nerves, how they deal with nerves, how they deal with whether or not to write a book first or a talk first, in which order they should do it.
If I can provide the secret sauce, if I can pull the curtain back to what it means to do a Tedx or to be a Tedx organizer, I want to do that because people are afraid to take that leap to public speaking.
People feel like death is more palatable than public speaking and if there's any way that I can teach them that they can do it, I want to be able to do that. The story and the message that we have to share can potentially impact the world. If it changes one life, you have done your job. So that's why I kept doing the podcast.
Awesome I wonder if you can share maybe three of your best tips right now for people who may be thinking, I love watching Ted talks. I've got something to say, but, I am terrified of standing on stage and speaking. Do you have like three tidbits that you could share with those folks?
I think the three things I would ask them to consider are:
1.) Why do you want to take a stage? And when you answer that question for yourself, it will trump the fear part.
2.) How important is your message? If that message is not that important to you, you don't need to take a stage. If that message is constantly on the front of your brain and constantly something that you want to share with the world, yes, you should take a stage.
3.) If you know what you have to say is going to make a difference in the world and have global impact, you need to do a talk on a big stage because you'll have more reach.
It's really important when you do a Tedx, your credibility goes through the roof right away and that's just part of the Ted brand.
They're extremely well respected. When you decide to do a Ted event, it must be because your idea worth spreading is important to you. It cannot be because you want people to like your video or you're going to have a bunch of downloads.
It has to be because the idea is what's important. I think if you can continue to go back to the idea and the message and who it will impact others, you can get past that fear.
That's interesting. It's not about memorizing the script but about knowing the words that are supposed to be said. You can change it up in the moment if you're feeling so inspired, as long as it doesn't change the context.
Absolutely. And also if you can insert objective and action within your script, you will stay fresh. And that's the acting part of it. You are doing a scene, even though you're on stage by yourself.
The objective never changes the action. How you get what you want from them can change based on how they're responding to you. If you want them to adopt your idea as their own, you could potentially inspire them, motivate them, or educate them. Those three actions, make your talk specific and really authentic.
Amazing. I know you've got a speaker salon coming up in New York probably around the time that this actually goes air. Do you want to talk a little bit about the program because it's really impressive and I'm excited to also be supporting and playing a little role in 2018?
Absolutely. Thank you Nicole. I started the salon basically six weeks ago and it was really a test model. I just reached out to Facebook and said, does anybody want to do a salon with me where they can work on content and delivery, sort of like an open mic nights for public speaking. I had such a response that I made it happen at the Triad Theater in New York City.
It's live, it's me in the room giving you direction, working on content, doing script analysis and notes. As the salon was forming, I realized I want to shoot the salon for everyone so they walk away with a real. and then I realized, why don't I invite people that I know who do events and panels and give my speakers an opportunity to actually book a speaking gig at the end of the salon.
I was not planning to do another salon until after Tedx, which is in March 2019, but because these speakers inspired me so deeply, I decided to put another one on September 20th and this one is going to have even more bells and whistles. I'm inviting 13 experts to come in and share things that I don't share like marketing strategy, networking strategy, podcasting like you, you're one of our experts, Nicole.
In addition to what I do with speakers on stage and through the process of identifying, crafting and delivering a really impactful talk. I'm giving them access to all of these experts and I'm going to shoot it again. They're going to get another real. But this time I went to speakers bureaus. I went to people who can book them on stages, who can get them paid speaking gigs. So the showcase on November eighth is going to be full of that kind of industry. My goal is to really get my speakers booked on stages by the end of the salon.
I wonder if you can share a bit about your philosophy on hiring others, to help you with your own interests.
I think there's a two part answer there, Nicole. The first being, if I don't know the answer, I absolutely ask someone who does. I have a complete belief in bringing in people who know more than me to help me. That is something that I am fully conscious of as far as launching something.
I am a person who puts on theater productions all the time knowing I'm not going to make a cent off of it, knowing that it's because I love it. I want to be in the room with the actors so there's no risk for me because it's all about the love of it. When I put on the speaker salon it was because I wanted help all these people.
Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would love to impart on our audience before we wrap up and say goodbye?
I would love to just remind your listeners when you are taking a stage or walking into a room or being a featured guest on a podcast, always accept the gift from your audience and from your host before you give them yours. They're giving you so much energy and if you forget to accept that before you give them yours, it's a disservice to everyone.
Sales is the most important aspect of growing a business. Without revenue, you're not going to be successful. Chris Spurvey, author of It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set, developed a number of courses around the topic of rolling out sales and personal brand. He’s a consultant for organizations across Canada primarily and works with leaders of organizations to help them grow their sales culture growth or sales process and get to a point where they're achieving the revenue targets growing out their sales team. Chris saw the opportunity to influence and impact entrepreneurs when he reflected on his own journey of moving from hating sales to being effective at it.
Thank you to Chris Badgett from LifterLMS for introducing today’s episode. What he loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is Nicole's ability to interview. Great guests, getting great ideas out of them, but even more importantly, she really drills in and gets those actionable nuggets of wisdom. Every time I listened to the show, I have a takeaway that I can go take action on immediately. Thank you, Nicole.
If you would like to introduce an episode and share your love for the Business Building Rockstars show, go to www.BBRShow.com/fan.
Listen to the podcast here:
Chris Spurvey on Cultivating the Sales Mindset
On this episode, I'm joined by my friend, Chris Spurvey. Chris is the author of It's Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mindset. After consciously choosing the sales profession as a means to create a better life for his family, Chris realized that negative images of sales were holding him back. By shifting his mindset, Chris was able to transform his inner game and use his innate values and talents to become a top sales professional. Chris joined a boutique IT consulting firm in 2006 and spearheaded its growth to the point that it was acquired by KPMG Canada in 2013 where he served as the VP of Business Development for Atlantic Canada. He has sold over $300 million in consulting services. I am so thrilled to have him here with us on Business Building Rockstars show. Hello, Chris.
I'm so grateful to be joining you. This is going to be a lot of fun.
It's always fun to speak with fun podcast colleagues and also amazing people like you. Why don't you let my audience know more about how you're serving and supporting people on a daily basis?
You had disclosed that a company that I built was acquired by KPMG and then I spent the next four years in a leadership role within KPMG. What I found in that role in particular was that I had a knack and a passion for helping individuals, entrepreneurs, and that version of my life, it was consultants, people who wanted to grow within their careers within KPMG who were good at what they did, consultant trained a specialist, but they struggled to get out there and grow a book of business because they didn't see themselves as being in sales. I then decided, “Maybe the first thing I can do as a part of sharing my message that we can all sell if we just embrace some aspect of our personality that we can leverage. Maybe I'll write a book.” I went down this path of writing a book and it led to me deciding to jump out and take this opportunity, the bull by the horns, so to speak.
What I do is I'm a consultant for organizations across Canada primarily and so I worked with the leader of organizations to help them grow up your sales culture, grow up their sales process and get to a point where they're achieving the revenue targets growing out their sales team. On top of that, I also coach one-on-one entrepreneurs who come to me and say, “Chris, I like to work with you one-on-one.” I do a lot of that as well. I've developed a number of courses around the topic of rolling out sales and personal brand and so on. I have an online university where a lot of entrepreneurs have taken advantage of my courses. Lastly, as a result of the success of my book, it's led to speaking opportunities. I probably do about 25 or 30 speaking engagements annually.
Let's talk about the evolution of you walking away from KPMG and identifying that outside of the consultants that you're working with already, how did you wind up having an interest in working with entrepreneurs and also creating that online academy?
I was at the chair of the board for a technology association where I live, which is Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. I was invited as a part of my role to speak at an organization called Propel ICT. They’re a startup incubator. Entrepreneurs go to this incubator and they help them form their startup and grow. Most of the people at this talk that I was asked to give, most of these people were just moving beyond the concept and it was the time to get out to sell and start to promote their service or their product, whatever the case would be. In the room was 30 entrepreneurs and I got inspired after reading Daniel Pink's book, To Sell is Human.
In that book, it stimulated me to ask the question, “What were some of the first words that come to mind when you think about sales?” What I got back was quite revealing. It was sleazy, slimy, manipulative, objection fighting, greasy, whatever. I looked at the people in the room and I thought to myself, “What bright, beautiful, young entrepreneurs and that's the perception they have of sales.” They don't have any chance of being successful because sales is obviously the most important aspect of growing a business. Without revenue, you're not going to be successful. At that particular moment in time, I saw the opportunity to influence and impact them mainly because I reflected on my own journey of moving from hating sales to being quite effective at it. Through looking at them, reflecting on my journey, I saw right then and there an opportunity for me to help these individuals. That's how I became attached to helping entrepreneurs.
We were talking about our mutual friend, Dorie Clark, and you're telling me that Stand Out is something that you had picked up while you were still working and you utilize that as a blueprint for your exit and creating your book and all this other amazing stuff that you have built for yourself. Can you talk about the transition from the secure and comfortable situation you had with KPMG, to go into the unknown and to write a book for the first time? Can you talk about what you were going through in terms of what got you even to be aware of Stand Out and then how did you utilize that for yourself in this way that you've built to where you are now?
I've always been an entrepreneur, so I go back to my high school days into doing odds and ends with respects to earning more money. I was always seen as a go-getter, so I attached to that identity. We are formed by certain aspects of our lives and I used to get an energy when people would say, “Chris, you've got a golden horseshoe up your rear end. You seem attracted to always doing the best, being the best.” That would make me feel good when people would say that. As I went through university, I started a company in university. We sold that company and layer on layer of entrepreneurship is what my whole life has been all about.
When we sold our company in 2013 to KPMG, I knew immediately that my future wasn't with KPMG. I felt like a cog in a wheel, a bureaucratic organization. Good organization, great people, but not a place where I want to hang my hat for the rest of my life. I jokingly said to a friend one day, “I don't want my tombstone to say he graduated from the firm.” I never really associated well with such a big organization, so I decided I'm going to do something different. I read Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek and that book stimulated me to maybe grow something a bit different than a non-traditional business instead of having employees live a lifestyle. I ended up joining a couple of masterminds and different things like that and Dory was a guest of one of those masterminds. I attached to her message because I just started writing the book and I realized I don't have anyone to buy it outside of mom and dad.
I needed to grow a following. I needed to start to follow a formula, but there was so much information out there about how to do it that I was getting myself all confused. I decided to take an information diet, take one book, Stand Out by Dorie Clark, and I decided to start implementing. What I loved about Dorie’s formula was it was scalable, there were layers. We all start with a one-to-one strategy. We just need to get our word out there and then we move from one-to-one to one to many. From one to many to many to many. I started writing articles, publishing articles. A few of them got picked up by Forbes. I started my podcast and I saw the podcast is a great way to level off because not only are you sharing your message but you're leveling up through the networks of other individuals, key influencers. I saw the formula, so I ran with the formula and it worked. I'm a huge testament and testimonial for Dorie. I wave her flag from the rooftop as much as I can.
You couldn't be waving the flag of a better person, so that's so awesome. I enjoyed it when you said you took an information diet. That's so key in this information age and over information. I see all the time people getting stuck in the information, “I still have to learn this. I still have to do this. I still have to before I can take action.” When we're in that space of thinking that we need more information, more education, we can't even see that we're in it. How did you recognize it was time to hunker down, focus on one thing, and ditch the rest are at least pause the rest?
There's always something we can use as some guidance and that's our results. Are we getting results or are we not getting results? From my vantage point, results only come from actual action and putting some effort into it and getting out there and doing all the right things. What I will say to that is I've grown an identity as being an action taker. I don't go to bed at night unless I've taken some actions throughout the day to move myself forward. What I would suggest to people, I'm a big believer in a vision, having a vision for our lives and a vision is just a story that we read to ourselves. We write, and we read to ourselves on a consistent basis and having that vision, what are the key aspects of our lives that we want to zone in on?
For me, it was being an action taker. The more I read that vision, the more I would make sure every day I was taking that action. I do find though we do get caught in cycles, so I made a decision. Here it is now, and I had gotten myself into a cycle of consuming a bit too much information. Yes, I was acting but I was getting myself all confused. I was going through a major transition in my life, so I decided, “Until I reach a certain goal, I'm not reading one more book. I’m not listening to one more audio book.” I've done none of that since Christmas, so it's all action for me. I feel like I know enough at this point to take the next step. I'm not going to consume anything else until I take that next step. I challenge people to do that because everything that you need is already in your head, believe it or not.
I am sponsoring this episode myself via my service that I call Interviews that Convert. If you are a business owner and you have a service or a product that is specifically targeted to a clear and niche audience that I might be able to help you get more visibility, more leads, and more sales through podcast guesting. Since I was first introduced to podcasting, I have fallen in love with the medium and I took a specific and special interest in how podcast guests can deliver the most value to audiences and hosts from their interview. Not only that, but I've also explored how to provide the next step in a way that's compelling and turns listeners into leads and hosts into raving fans. I'd say I've cracked the code and so would my clients. These days, what I am doing most in that lights me up is representing business owners like you and helping them get more visibility, more leverage, and more market share by booking them on podcasts that their target buyers are listening to.
If you've thought about guesting yourself but haven't been sure how to go about doing it or haven't known who to contact, I'd love to hear from you or maybe you have been podcast guesting yourself, but you haven't yet seen the results that you had hoped for. That is super common, so don't feel bad about it, but please reach out and let me know. I may be able to help you grow exponentially through podcast guesting opportunities. You can learn more by reaching out to me at Support@InterviewsThatConvert.com or give me a call at 289-272-0374. Let's find out how I can help you grow your business through podcast guesting. Looking forward to hearing from you soon and now back to the program.
In this information and coaching and consulting industry, people give credit but people pat you on the back for how many books you read and how many things you know. Sometimes I don't want to talk to people or deal with people. I take breaks from social media because I feel so exhausted by all the expectations and I'm like, “These aren't my expectations.” I used to get caught up in that trap of trying to impress. Not intentionally, it wasn't in my brain that I was like, “I want to impress these people.” I never thought that, but what I did realize was that I would be on this constant creating content and staying relevant and all these things you're told you have to do.
The funny thing is I'm a marketing strategist and I'm a genius at it. My whole message to people is you’ve got to figure out what's best for you and then we double down on it. We go deep on it and yet at the same time, I was still falling into the trap of doing the opposite of what I know to be true just allowing all those messages in. Do you ever feel, or have you ever felt during this time that you've taken this break guilty or maybe people are going to think you're not up to speed or maybe you think, “Maybe I should get up to speed with something?”
I've zeroed in on Chris Spurvey’s unique ability and I am extremely confident in my own skin. I wasn't always that way, but I've hit that point. I've zeroed in on the fact that what I'm good at is I have a genuine aspect of my personality that comes true and when I'm talking to people. I feel like right now, I'm not in a headspace at all of the need to impress. Unconsciously, I know exactly what you're saying. It's not something any of us probably say, “I need to go out there and impress somebody,” but we are highly influenced by how we've grown over the years. I became associated. My personality became associated with excelling and doing well, and I just fed off that energy. Now, I would argue I've tried very hard to disassociate myself with anybody else's input. I'm just being me and just being very happy in my own skin. It's been a work in progress, but I feel like I'm there. We all work through in cycles. We hit the ceiling and then we might retract a little bit and so on. I'm sure the best people in the world, that's the exact same thing that's happening for them. Right now, no, I don't feel the need to go out and consume a whole pile of information because I might feel like I'm behind. I'm very confident in my own skin right now and it's a genuine confidence.
With all the different areas of your business and your interests, what lights you up the most right now? I know things change all the time, but in terms of what are you most enjoying about where you're at right now?
If anyone reads my book, I highly encourage them to just go on my website. They can buy my book for a penny plus $8 shipping. I'm a big believer in the idea of always having a vision for the next version of your life. I jokingly call myself Chris Spurvey 7.0. What it comes down to is by always growing and stretching and challenging ourselves through the writing of a vision for our future, we're going to be always growing and expanding. I heard one time that if we're not growing, we're dying because time passes by. What excites me since I've left KPMG, I've built a stable group of consulting clients and these are medium-size businesses, small, medium businesses, and I'm working with the entrepreneur on a daily basis. I'm very busy doing that.
In terms of the next version of my vision is I'm at a point in my life where my son is eighteen and my daughter is fifteen. We're three or four years away from having a ton of freedom and flexibility as they move on to grow their lives. Jennifer and I have formed a vision of being able to live a warm destination, work as much or as little as we choose on our terms. I'm building the foundation for that. What does that look like? On my online university, I'm building out, for me, a residual form of income because people are buying my courses and consuming my courses without my direct involvement. That excites me. I'm doing the work, consulting, coaching, but I have a backend that's growing, which is going to be more of the automated residual income component.
Being able to serve people who need your help, but it's not at the high touch and high price point that you do for your one-on-one or consulting coach clients. You've mentioned vision a couple of times. Do you have an exercise or something that you can take us through for my audience to walk through how you would recommend creating it? There are so many ideas out there and there are all kinds of doorways to use vision boards and writing your mantra and all these different things. I would love to know how is it that you recommend doing it?
It's near and dear to my heart because the people who I personally coach, that's the first exercise in my personal coaching. It’s gaining clarity over what you want your life to be. For me, a vision is so important, and the result of a powerful vision is self-motivation. Self-motivation is what I have become to learn is the key ingredient that will guide a person through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. What does self-motivation look like? It's persistence, it's consistency, it's energy, it's putting your all into each day. The only way I've learned to create this consistent flow of self-motivation is to have a picture in your mind. We think in pictures. Have a picture in your mind of what you want your future to look like.
A vision is something that's written as though you already have one of these you want in your future. Then what you do is you read it, or you listen to it, and I recommend both. It's a one-page document which is it's this beautiful picture that when you read it and you put your all into the reading of it, you're believing you're in it. You're seeing yourself already in the vision, so that's what a vision is. For me, it's written document. How do you go about doing it? For me, how I start with my clients is put together a list of 30 things you'd like to do, be or have in your future, just brainstorm, dump on a couple of pieces of paper. After you have your 30, then go through them and group them in buckets, A, B, and C based on priority and what you'd like to have happen.
When you have your A, B and C buckets, then go through the ten in each bucket. Try to aim to have ten in each bucket and then rank the priority of each of the ones in each bucket. Then you end up having an A1 goal and your A1 goal is your primary goal. Then what you want to do is you want to sit back, visualize what it would be like to have a compilation of these goals. My vision has me spending time in the Rockies in Canada, working with corporate clients there but in the evenings, jumping on a Skype call, working with some personal coaching clients, heading off to Toronto, which is my favorite city in the world, going to see a Toronto Maple Leaf game, joining my two children in Mexico where we're going to spend some warm, relaxing time. That's my vision. I described what's in my one pager that I read every day. What it is is just take the goals and put it into a one pager in the present tense, “I'm so happy and grateful now that I am,” and you describe it. You bring in all the senses, the sensory factors of sight and touch and smell. Add these elements into your vision because then when you're reading it, you're smelling it. You're tasting it. You're touching it as you're reading it. The more you do that, the more it becomes real.
I mentioned my book and the reason I mentioned that is because when I wrote my book in 2014, the last chapter was my vision that I wrote in 2014. I love to tell this story and suggest people read that last chapter because hopefully, if you read it, you'll say, “Here it is three years later. That's the Chris Spurvey that I heard on the podcast.” I'm living the vision I wrote three years ago. I've got a vision for where I want to go in three more years from now. Visions really do work. I challenge anyone that you need to have a vision and hopefully that little exercise I described is a way to do it.
Congratulations on reaching that vision that you wrote in the book. You've mentioned the book a couple of times and you mentioned your website. Do you want to let our audience know what your website is?
ChrisSpurvey.com, they'll see my book and there's a link then to get it for a penny. I challenge anyone to go and do it.
I'm spinning from your exercise because what I heard in that was a combination of so many different things that I've learned over the years as a coach and so many different tools and resources. What I love is you've brought that all together in a holistic way. It feels, even as you're talking about it like, “I can see the vision exercise being such a powerful vision exercise.” It's complex and complete. It's not complex like, “This is too challenging to do. It’s simplified it but there are a lot of steps there.” I challenge anyone as well and I'm going to challenge myself to go through your steps because from all of the different vision processes that I've experienced and worked with people on and been taught and even used myself with clients, nothing has been that comprehensive, so I'm excited to try it out.
My book is a narrative book but the core component of my book is creating a vision for your life that it gets you to act powerfully. The theme as that's interwoven throughout the book is how to approach sales in a pull mentality versus a push mentality. Pull is a lot easier than push. My book also has the formula that I described.
Can you talk a little bit about that the pull versus push? I call it attraction versus chasing. Can you talk about how you recognized it? Maybe you always knew it but I believe that years ago, people succeeded with push in sales. As times have changed and society has changed and expectations and information, all that stuff, it's much more crowded than it used to be to get people's attention. In my own experience and observations and what I fell into when I quit my job as a correction officer in jumped into, “Now what? I know I'm a great coach, but how do I find clients? What am I supposed to do?” I found myself learning bad practices that never resonated with me and it was always very challenging. I didn't realize it, but what I was attracting because of where I was coming from and that was following these push processes is desperate people and it was exhausting. It was like I could never please them no matter what. Their bucket was always leaking.
I know that feeling. One of the things I will point out is that I left KPMG and after I was roughly two and a half years of growing my personal brand. One of the first tasks I had on my list was reach out to some local business leaders and just chat with them about their business. Go into the conversations. Have a diagnostic conversation. What does the diagnostic conversation entail? It really entails, “Where do you see yourself in two to three to five years?” Just make note that the number doesn't really matter. Effectively, you're asking them where they want to be in their future and then ask them where they are presently. Then say, “What’s holding you back from bridging the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?” That's where you get all the information and then you just say simply, “If I could show you a way to bridge that gap, would you be interested in getting into a more detailed conversation?” That's how you're setting up as a diagnostic conversation.
I spent two years growing my personal brand, sharing articles on LinkedIn, launching my book, launching my podcast. I reached out to twenty or 30 business leaders in my community and invited them out for coffee. Roughly 70% of them said, “Chris, I feel like I know you and I like you and trust you even though I've never spoken to you before.” The reason that was because they might've watched me on YouTube. They might've listened to my podcast and so I'm a real believer in growing a personal brand as a means to attract business to you. I was on a podcast and the guy said to me, “Chris, that's all right for you. You've been doing it now three or four years.” That's not a suitable answer for the person listening. I said to him, “I was in that exact same boat three years ago. The best time to start is today if we never started yesterday.” I'm a real believer in growing a personal brand as a way to attract clients to us and get ourselves into the mindset that let's pull people to us through the sharing of our knowledge and our expertise in a genuine down-to-earth way. That that's the formula.
Do you have any final words of wisdom? Any parting thoughts you'd like to leave the audience with?
The last element of personal branding, you can call it what you like, professional branding, personal branding, sharing yourself, I recommend that the people do it. We all have within us a story. I refer to my version, and the fact that I'm version 7.0, every version has a story. All we need to do in order to grow an effective business selling our knowledge is share our story and share the ups and downs. I always encourage people to share as much of the downs as they do their ups. You're sharing the holistic side of you and that's what will resonate with everybody. I've had lots of downs. It was the downs that made the ups so much more enjoyable. We level up by reflecting on our downs and working towards leveling up as we move forward. Share your story.
Thank you so very much for this interview. It's been fantastic.
Chris Spurvey is the author of It’s Time to Sell: Cultivating the Sales Mind-Set.
After consciously choosing the sales profession as a means to create a better life for his family, Chris realized that negative images of sales were holding him
By shifting his mind-set, Chris was able to transform his “inner game” and use his innate values and talents to become a top sales professional.
Chris joined a boutique IT consulting firm in 2006 and spearheaded its growth to the point it was acquired by KPMG Canada in 2013, where he served as the VP of Business Development for Atlantic Canada. He has sold over $300 million in consulting services and I'm thrilled to have him here with us on the Business Building Rockstars Show.
Thanks again to Chris Badgett for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.
As entrepreneurs, CEOs, or service providers, we sometimes get so focused a thing and so attached to what's going on in the day to day that when things come up outside of business where 100% of our attentions is needed, it becomes difficult to manage stuff. How did you deal with that and how do you prepare for the next time something personal comes up that takes you away from business? Steve Gordon, author of Unstoppable Referrals: 10x Referrals Half the Effort and The Exponential Network Strategy, helps service business entrepreneurs create leveraged marketing systems so they can spend less time on business development and more time on what matters most. Steve says building a very focused and talented team is important so you can take the time out worry free to do what you need to do outside of business.
Thank you to Carrie Roldan for introducing today’s episode. What she loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is the quality of the guests Nicole has and her ability to bring something different out of each guest. It's not your normal business advice and tips show.
If you would like to introduce an episode and share your love for the Business Building Rockstars show, go to www.BBRShow.com/fan.
Listen to the podcast here:
Steve Gordon of The Unstoppable CEO on Creating Leveraged Marketing Systems
Welcome, Steve Gordon. Thank you for being here, Steve. I'm super excited to have this conversation with you.
This is going to be fun. I'm excited to be here and I’m glad that it finally came.
As entrepreneurs, CEOs, service providers, we sometimes get so focused and so attached to what's going on in the day to day that when things come up in our families, where we're needed outside of the business and it's not like, “We're going to manage this stuff,” but it's like, “No., your attention needs to just 100% be away for now.” That happened for you and also for me. Where how did you deal with that? Were you prepared for it and in hindsight, is there anything that you'll do differently to prepare for the next time something personal comes up that takes you away from business?
So many of us are so wrapped up in building the business and I'm scheduled out. I'm usually scheduled out weeks in advance. Anything that pops up that disrupts that, things have to shift. For me, it wasn't a difficult thing to do. I'm always very clear about the order of priority of things and family comes above business by a pretty far margin. Not that the business isn’t important, but first things first. The instance you're talking about is my dad got to the point where they had to go in and do open heart surgery. We had maybe four or five days’ notice before they were going to do it, which was good. It allowed me to clear the decks. I have a very small focused and very talented team. Without that, I couldn't have taken that time out and been worry-free. I was able to go over and be in the hospital and be focused where I needed to be for that time and not have to worry about what was going on with work. These things happen. That's life. The older I get, the more I realized everybody experiences this sooner or later, particularly with parents. Parents are always getting older and I know you've been through something challenging as well. The big thing is to build a team that will support you when you need it and life is so much easier then.
With so many years of experience, you know how to build a team. What are some of those components that have gone into finding those right people and nurturing that team and making sure that they can support the company when you're not available?
First and foremost, you got to find the right people. In the marketing world, everything lives and dies on marketing and sales. It does because you can't build a team without that. However, there's only a very small stage in any business where that is the only focus. It’s in that getting off the launch pad phase. Once you're off the launch pad, you still got to do your sales and marketing, but you got to be building that team at the same time. That's such a sifting process to find the right people. I don't know that I have any magic bullet for that. I've been in mastermind groups for close to twenty years now. The number one issue in almost every one of those groups is people.
In one of the first ones I was ever in, we’re fifteen, all CEOs of companies with anywhere from twenty to 150 employees. Every month when we'd meet, somebody would have people issue. We finally got to the point where we just said, “You know what we're going to tell you, you have to go back and fire him. You can't come back here to complain about them again unless you're going to do something about it.” We tried all kinds of rehabilitation within that group. Each of us experimented with different sorts of rehabilitating people to get them to work. It never panned out. Finding that group of people that's going to be with you on this journey is really critical. For me, what I found that work best is to start with people that believe in the mission that you're on. That's difficult in businesses where you haven't gotten clear on that mission. To me, that's the fundamental leadership job of the founder.
You and I met in San Diego. We were at an event that you are co-hosting. At that event, I met a gentleman by the name of Tim Francis. We had a talk because for me, for the last couple of years, people have always been the number one complaint and I'm getting better and better. I finally realized, I don't even want to figure this out. This is not my zone of genius, trying to figure out who's the right fit and sifting through the BS and all of that. Tim has a company called Profit Factory and they have a program called Great Assistant. Basically, he does all those things or his team does all those things that I have no interest in doing. I hired him the next day and have found an amazing team member through them that they found for me. I actually had to let go of somebody that had been with me for a few months and who was not a fit. I contacted him and said, “Find me somebody else.” They are on it again. For me and with the way Tim Francis' program works, it's like they are on the team, basically your HR team, finding those people that are a fit. That's been a real breath of fresh air for me as a newer entrepreneur who's had lots and lots of ups and downs with people.
It is such a huge challenge. We do something very similar. We use a company called BELAY Solutions and they do the similar thing. They go and sift through the talent for you. In general, we get a better result that way and it takes a lot less time. Back before all of these great services were around when I was running my first company, you put an ad in the paper. It was back in those days, you just sift it through. I talk a lot about what you just got to fire. I advise people of that at times before and it's a heartless thing and it's one of the most humane thing that you can do for a human being. What happens in most companies when you get to a point where you realize you need to part ways with another person that's on your team, you, as the entrepreneur, go, “Here are all the reasons why I don't want to do that.”
It's uncomfortable. I've had a lot of employees over the years. It's never a fun process. I hate doing it and because it's uncomfortable, we want to avoid it. Then we think about, “They've got a family.” They've got all these other reasons why we want to be a good human and hang onto them. Those are all great things, but the problem with that is, and the disservice that you do to that person is that you've already decided that they have no growth potential with you. That they are stuck where they are. You've pegged them in a hole with this is their capability and you're not going to most likely promote them or give them new opportunities. To me, that is about the worst sentence that you can give to another human being possible. As the leader, you've got to take the courageous act, be the one that comes forward and says, “This isn't a fit anymore,” for whatever reasons. We're going to go our way and you can go your way and we'll both find the right situation for each of us. Too often, I see people who don't make that decision and often for what they think are all the right reasons. It does such a disservice to the employee.
Over the years, you've obviously gotten maybe a thicker skin. You've gotten better at it, you've gotten more skilled at it. Can you think about some of those things that if you're looking back at when it was more uncomfortable, before you had systems or ways and things that you realize and it's like, “When this happens then I can do this.” At what point did things start getting easier in terms of people management and quicker where you're able to say, “I'm doing this person a disservice by keeping them. I want to nip it in the bud.” At what point where you go, “This is not working out. I've given them different opportunities. I've tried mentoring them. I've put in the energy. I've had my manager in there or whatever.” At what point where you realize, “It's done?” Do you go and have that meeting and how do you let them know?
It's never gotten any easier. It's still uncomfortable. It's not fun. The minute that it gets fun or enjoyable for you, you need to understand there's something wrong. I like to think about it in terms of where's the gap. What's missing from this situation that makes it not a good fit? It's difficult to sometimes determine that if you don't have really good outcomes where you know this is the concrete thing that you want them to deliver. That's the first thing. That's a difficult time-consuming process to go through to get clear on those outcomes, but I'll tell you that it will make your life so much easier. Tim Francis talks a lot about that in the way he builds systems. That, to me, is the foundation of it all.
If you've got those good outcomes, then it boils down to a couple of areas where you might have a gap. It could be in the attitude or motivation of the person. You can't motivate a person externally. They either come with batteries included or not. There may be an issue there where they're just not internally motivated to do the work that you're doing. They should go and do something that lights them up someplace else. It could be that you've got an attitude gap, where they aren't happy with whatever is going on in their life and this comes up a lot. That's great if that's the choice they make, but that means they're probably not a good fit for your organization and you don't have to live with that. The third area that you'll run into an issue is with the skills gap. If you've got the other two covered, they're fired up about what you're doing, and they've got an attitude where they show up and they're happy and energetic and all that, then most of the time you can overcome a skills gap. That one's easy, but you got to know what you're dealing with.
Definitely those deliverables have to be clear. Steve, thank you so much.
I am sponsoring this episode myself via my service that I call Interviews that Convert. If you are a business owner and you have a service or a product that is specifically targeted to a clear and niche audience, then I might be able to help you get more visibility, more leads and more sales through podcast guesting. Since I was first introduced to podcasting, I have fallen in love with the medium. I took a specific and special interest in how podcast guests can deliver the most value to audiences and hosts from their interview. Not only that, I've also explored how to provide the next step in a way that's compelling and turns listeners into leads and hosts into raving fans. I'd say I've cracked the code and so would my clients. These days what I'm doing most and that lights me up is representing business owners like you and helping them get more visibility, more leverage and more market share by booking them on podcasts that their target buyers are listening to.
If you've thought about guesting yourself but haven't been sure how to go about doing it or haven't known who to contact, I'd love to hear from you. Or maybe you have been podcast guesting yourself, but you haven't yet seen the results that you had hoped for. That is super, super common, so don't feel bad about it, but please reach out and let me know. I may be able to help you grow exponentially through podcast guesting opportunities. You can learn more by reaching out to me at Support@InterviewsThatConvert.com or give me a call at 289-272-0374 and let's find out how I can help you grow your business for podcast guesting. Looking forward to hearing from you soon and now back to the program.
Can you think of any times or any example because you have so much experience and I love your take here, and I know that this is not only in the mastermind, something that people deal with, but everywhere and my audience of entrepreneurs at all different levels maybe learning something before they get to that point. They maybe haven't started building a team or they have teams. I wonder, do you have a system in that when you recognize it's time to go and you know where the gap is and it's not the skills gap, it's something that can't be overcome? Do you send them an email to let them know you need to have a conversation? What's that process that you would go through to make it as painless for everyone and really frame it in that way of “This is best. This is a win for us all.”
You have to understand that having it to be painless for everyone is not a requirement. It's going to be painful most likely. You think about every personal breakup you've ever had. I've always approached it like, “Here's another human. How can we approach this in a way that is going to preserve the dignity of the human and at the same time not have us circling the drain and watering down the whole message with it?” I've found that just being direct and candid is the best approach. That's not easy, which is why most people avoid it and they'll come up with all these different excuses instead of just be straight. One of the things I hate about the way the legal system now deals with human resource challenges, because of all the litigation that's out there and my wife runs into this all the time. She manages an ophthalmology practice and they've got interest in her area. 50 people that report to her and she runs into this all the time where she's got somebody that's just a total cancer in the organization, but they've got an HR attorney that's coming in and saying, “No, you got to do these 50 different steps before you can let them go.” That's not good for anybody here.
If we do this in a way that preserves the dignity of that person and in a way that's respectful, most of the time you're not going to have an issue with any of the legal stuff. If we treat people well and respectfully, that's usually not an issue. Dragging it on, that for me is the source of so much of that animosity and conflict that's created. If you just deal with it head on and try to remove the emotion out. That's probably the biggest piece of advice I use. The few times that I had to do it early in my career, I'd be walking in visibly shaking because I was so nervous about and stressed about having that conversation. If you can get yourself to the point where with a few deep breaths you can actually get through it and deliver it confidently, the person that you're talking to most of the time will appreciate that. If you can leave that relationship on a high note and help them move on to the next step of their career in their life, everybody wins.
I know relationships matter to you, I wonder if we can go into another area here of letting people go. I'm guessing you've probably run into this a time or two in your years of experience as well, where you take on a client contract that then isn't going the way you'd hoped. How do you find releasing clients from or firing a client from working together?
That's a difficult question because anybody that's in the client business has a client that they wish they could fire. I've never met a person in the client business that didn't have one at all times then it rotates through the client’s roster. Occasionally, you'll get one that's just that bad. You have to be careful here because it's easy to just say, “Go ahead and get rid of him.” In some cases, businesses have created this situation where they've got one or two very large clients that they can't afford to fire because it's going to kill cashflow. I take a little more strategic approach to that. Fire them, but fire them when it's not going to totally hurt you. Build a plan to be able to fire them and put a deadline on it, but make sure you're not going to kill the business at the same time.
Assuming you're not in that situation, you've just got one that doesn't work. I always feel like if you've made a commitment to something to deliver on whatever contract you've got, whatever commitment you've made, deliver that and button it up as nice as you can. The next time they have a project for you, “We're booked or we'd be happy to do that if you'd add two zeros to the end of the check.” You might not say it to him like that, but you certainly can. In a proposal or a negotiation, just price it so high that they won't come back or you can have a perfectly honest conversation. I've had to do that a couple of times, where you just have to have a good frank conversation like, “We're probably not the right ones to serve you here. You need something else. Let me try and refer you,” and then pass them on to one of your competitors so they can have the fun.
You interview folks about their unstoppableness as CEOs and their leadership and their success points. What are some of the key points that you've learned over the years that you pass on and value passing on to those up and coming?
The name of our podcasts and our brand is the Unstoppable CEO and that came out of a conversation I was having with a buddy. We were talking business and he said, “Who is it that you really want to work with?” I started describing these business owners and they’re business owners that have been successful. They've been put through the paces and found some success and done that in spite of all of the roadblocks and things that get in the way and we all run into that. He said, “You mean they're unstoppable?” I was like, “That's it. They're unstoppable.” Having that ability, if you're going to go and try and build a business and even if you're just starting out, having that determination that no matter what, we're going to find a solution to whatever problem arises, that tomorrow's another day and we're going to keep fighting this and pushing forward, a single tip in there is that you just have to remain persistent and just keep going.
There's a quote we have on our website and I have it on the wall back behind me from Calvin Coolidge. He said to the effect that, there are all kinds of really intelligent people in the world, highly educated people. There are wealthy people, there are different talents out there, but the only thing that at the end of the day matters is persistence. If you can just keep going, then you're going to make it. To me that's the simplest advice and at the same time probably the hardest advice at different times in business, but that would be my advice to anybody starting out.
Also, probably to people who are already along the path and something happens. I've met so many powerful people who were doing great for quite a long time and then something came and shifted and changed the whole situation, but those unstoppable CEOs are the ones that get up over and over no matter what and keep going through it, starting again.
Early in my career, one of my mentors said, “You have to own your results.” For a long time, I didn't know what that meant, “Own your outcomes.” How does that apply if you have a bad outcome? I've had bad outcomes at times, as we've gone through the different stages of business. I finally realized what he meant was you have to own the ultimate results. If you have a bad outcome now, is that going to be the end? Is that the result that you're going to own or are you going to push through and change it?
What inspired you to start a business for yourself in the first place?
I am thoroughly unemployable and I'm smart enough to know it. I got a job out of college. I was the tenth employee at a small consulting firm. It was a great experience. Ultimately, I was asked to take that company over and become the CEO about four years after I'd arrived and a fantastic experience going through all that. Those first four years were painful working for someone else, even though my mentor, the founder of that company, a great guy and a good friend, but I have a really hard time taking direction.
From there, what happened then? You left that opportunity and you started your own?
Yes, it was an industry that got hit incredibly hard in 2008 and we had a couple of partners and we looked at each other like, “This isn't going forward unless we're going to dump a whole ton of money into it,” which we could have done. We made the decision to go in different directions at that point, which in hindsight I think was the right decision. I love what we do now. Much more excited for that. That industry went through about a decades long. They're just coming out of it now and beginning to see a real uptake again. It was about a decade of really tough times. Could we have survived and made it through that? Yes, but what was to gain? We took our resources and put them elsewhere. What we do now is just tremendously exciting. We work with small businesses, professionals. We help them really build out systematic processes for getting clients. Most of them got a degree in something. They got a license. They had to take a test or certification. They’re been very focused on practicing whatever profession they're in and then they have to go sell it. That's a whole another animal and most of them aren’t prepared for that and that's where we step in.
You found the gap and found a way to serve those people that you enjoy and help them get what they do great out to their people, without worrying about stumbling through what they don't do. You're married, you have four children and have you found any strategies that have really worked for you in terms of work life balance, whatever that means to you. Being able to be fully present for your family who you already said is number one and at the same time, being able to provide for your family and the families of your employees and your clients and so on. What are some things that you've learned over the years that are working well for you to keep your priorities where they need?
Take great vacations. We've made a habit of taking vacations that the kids will remember. Hopefully, they forget some of the late nights that I've had to put in and that everybody that's building a business puts in. I'm one of those that doesn't believe that there is balance or that there should be. That's this false idea that stresses people out. There's a pendulum, it swings back and forth, and sometimes it's way over at the side. You're working a lot and you're out of balance in your personal life. Sometimes it swings back the other way and you're not working as much and you're spending a lot of time with family. Very rarely is it dead in the middle in balance. I'll tell you just recently, is way out of balance for me on the family side, which is great.
Our oldest daughter's graduating and going to college. I've been on college visits around the time that my dad was in the hospital. We were doing all of those. I was traveling before he was in the hospital, I was traveling right after. I was crossing my fingers because we had important college visit for her about four days after he was in surgery. Thankfully he was well enough I could leave. Now, going through graduation, there are all kinds of things. It seems like every night of the week, we've got something going on. It swings back and forth within that period of time. I had a week where I probably worked 60 or 80 hours, but I'm off two and a half days next week and a bunch after that. For me it's always out of balance. I look at it on the whole for the year.
My wife and I sit down usually sometime between Christmas and New Year with calendar and map out where are we going to devote time. Usually, that's devoting some time for each other where we're both just taking a day off and not doing anything, go in and getting a massage or whatever. Then we've got time when we're traveling with the kids and other things and try and plug all of that in so that it's all baked in. I try and bake in as much on my business travel as possible at the beginning of the year so that we know where things are swinging with one way or the other. It makes it so much easier than to figure out which phase you're in.
I like that you planned that out first to make sure that that's what gets your attention first and then the other things come after.
All of us who are building businesses, especially in the early days, we could work seven days a week. There's always something to do at the end of the day. I never leave with the completed to-do list, do you?
For me, that's the fun of it. What I've found for myself is that I've been getting better and better about. It’s comes over time and with practice, but I find myself getting better and better about actually being good with not getting things done. Oftentimes, the things that I find I have resistance around and it's exhausting, it's draining. If I let it simmer and I don't push myself to get through it and I focus on other things that I'm inspired to get through, oftentimes those really exhausting things work themselves out. Whether it's that I realized, “I'm so glad I didn't do that because now I'm doing something better,” or even with recordings. I've got a system for certain clients that I work with that they go through some automation and I was all set and inspired to get it all done and then I only got some done and then I was stuck. My uncle died and I went to see my father and all this. I thought, “I have to get this done.”
In the midst of all that, something shifted where I wound up taking on other contracts that had zero automation. Then when I was going through those, I was like, “I need to add this to the automated version that I totally forgot about.” Things like that I find happen, the more I don't stress about the to-do list. In terms of prioritizing that, I look at my emails, what ones really need a response right away and what ones can wait and things like that. That's been a journey for me with practice to do and also just taking back my calendar where I used to be at the mercy. I wasn't knowing in advance what I wanted to do. I was unsure and had to make decisions when things came up. Now, I'm really good. I'm getting better and better. I can't wait to meet me in a year. I'm good at looking at here's the things that I want to do and I want to participate in and the people I want to connect with and how I'm going to do it, just like coming to San Diego. I had that invitation and I went, “I'm coming for that party.” That's it. Nothing else. I went to San Diego from Southern Ontario to be at your party and that was amazing. I had no other obligation there. That's been a lot of fun.
I'll tell you the big shift for me when you're talking about planning things out and unblocking the days, it creates a constraint in your schedule when things are off the table, to the extent that you can do it. If you're going to travel or do any of that on those days, booked the tickets, when you take the days off, so that you're locked in. By doing that, it makes your decision making easier because you've already made the decision. The other thing that it does is it helps you focus on the right things. What I found was that before I was disciplined about doing that and that whole idea of putting constraints and I filtered that down to my weeks and my days and how I plan them. There was a lot of BS that got done. It didn't really need to get done. Maybe it was good to do, but it wasn't great. It wasn't the best use.
By taking those days off the table now, you've got to figure out how to do whatever it is you're supposed to accomplish within the days you got left on a weekly, daily basis. I go through the same thing. On a daily basis, I used to make to-do lists. It would basically go down the page. Then you always feel like crap at the end of the day, I didn't get anything done. You did, but you didn't get the 50 things done because that wasn't realistic. For the last few years, sometimes I do it on a little three by five card and now I do it in a journal. I write three to five things. That’s it. If those three or five things get done, I'm done. I'm out.
I can legitimately walk out, close the door, lock the office. We're closed, because those things got done that moved the ball forward. That's not new advice. That's not going to be rocket science for anybody listening to this. It wasn't new advice when I finally started to implement it. I've heard it a million times, but if you're hearing this and you've heard it the 999,999 times, this is the millionth for you, then do it because it'll change things dramatically. The big change for me was I got focused on doing more of the right things and just had to let the other stuff go. The other thing that it did is it created this feeling of success every day. I've got those three things done and sometimes I go and do more. I might do ten things, but I got the three done that were on the list. It just becomes so easy now. Every day is like a pleasure.
I love that you're talking about this. I love that you're bringing it up. I also love that you say it was not new to you and it may not be new and this might be the millionth time. Because as you were talking, I was like, “I have taught people about Stephen Covey's Big Rock Theory. I know the Big Rock Theory. I have implemented for very short periods of time throughout my life the Big Rock Theory, but I fall off.” As you were talking I was like, “Yes, I need to get the cards. Yes, I need to actually, not I need to, I want to.” I'm finally at a point and maybe I'm going to regress again, but I want to do that because I've been naturally doing that. I've been taking more time to go, “The important things are done. Yes, there's a million other things, but there are going to be there tomorrow, so I'm going to go hang out with a friend or I'm going to go do some setting up in the yard.”
I know you're down in Florida where it's warm always, but here in Canada, it’s the seasonal change, means there's stuff to do. In the past I would put those things off because they weren't moving the needle forward in my business, but now, I'm able to say, “I only need to do certain right things. I will take care of those big rocks first and everything else can fill in as it may, but I have to take care of myself and feel good and then the rest of this stuff comes nice and easily.” I want to make sure that you get to talk about some things that you would like to talk about. I know you have a book you may want to mention.
We launched my second book. The second book, which I'm excited about, it's been well received. It's called The Exponential Network Strategy. It is a very simple way for you to go out and connect with the key influencers and the prospects that you're trying to reach, but not show up as a salesperson. We've been doing this for quite a number of years before podcasting existed. We used to occasionally do this and record them and send them out on CDs. We would interview someone. We do an audio interview just like what we're doing here. What we have found is that there's almost no better way to connect with someone that you don't know well and you can reach out to them and do so totally cold and quickly build a relationship particularly if you're working business to business. Although we do have a client that's doing an amazing job with this and he targets consumers. It can be done there as well, but primarily business to business.
The idea is that you reach out to an influencer, a prospect that you want to have a relationship with and you asked them to come and be interviewed, where you can share their expertise and share their expertise with everyone that's in your audience, your list of prospects and clients. You don't need a big audience to do that. You don't have to have a full podcast like this, although it helps. We've just found it to be an incredibly effective way to build up these connections really quickly and without spending a lot of time. When I first started my current business, I'd go around here locally to the chamber of commerce and to all of those places and network and it takes a ton of time to do that. I was probably doing something at breakfast, lunch or dinner three or four days a week and you want to talk about life being out of balance, life was way out of balance. I ended up going cold turkey on that and I started a podcast back in 2012. I interviewed about 52 people. All influencers in my market. Those relationships then were relationships that I was able to lean on when I launched my first book. Fifteen of those 52 people helped promote my very first book back in 2014. In one week those fifteen people that I've built those relationships with, sent 5,268 people to my book in a week and doubled our business almost instantly.
That's the power of the strategy. You're building relationships, you're giving value first and it's such an easy way to do it. We now do this as a service for clients where basically they just have to dial the phone and get on with one of the influencers that they're meeting with. They don't have to worry about any of the technology and it's so fun because we'll take a business owner who isn't into marketing or isn't skilled with technology or anything like that. They can pick the phone up and talk with somebody. They'll do one of these interviews and usually after the first or second one, I'll get an email like, “This is so awesome.” It's such a fun way to connect with people. They get energy out of it. I've told our team, I said, “This is the first thing we've ever done that actually creates joy in our client.” It's just a fun way to go out and build your network and it's easy. It doesn't take a lot of time. You can do it in about an hour a month, so you don't have to keep running around all over town and go into this crazy networking things. You just get people on the phone periodically. There are some other great byproducts, too. You can share those things with everybody that's on your list. People love eavesdropping on these conversations. It's wonderful content and it's so much easier than trying to write an article.
We had talked about that, how you were doing that before and even when you talk about it, you're so lit up and the energy just comes through.
If I can do interviews like this all day long and get paid for it, I'd do it. The days that we record our podcasts are my favorite days of the week.
I'm excited because I'm going to be there one of these days. I look forward to that conversation with you as well. I just want to check, do you have a couple more minutes because we are over a bit? By For my audience members in the Listener's Lounge, they're seeing it now pretty much right after we record it, but for those people who are tuning into iTunes or iHeartRadio or Stitcher or wherever you're getting this feed from, the third book's already out. What is the third book that's just about to launch?
We don't have a title for it yet. We tease the content a little bit. For the businesses that we work with, we basically boiled down the process of attracting clients into three steps. I always like to focus on things that don't change over time. There's not like a Facebook hack or anything like that in there. The reason that I focused on that is because I started in business a year before we had the internet at my first company. We still use fax machines and I like to work on things that don't change much, because I find my life is just more peaceful that way. We focused on three things, opening up relationships. We just talked about that. The first book really goes into detail on that. This next book will touch on it a little bit. We talked about nurturing relationships because for the businesses we work with, they're all selling a high ticket service. They're not going to be selling you a doughnut or a cheeseburger. Their clients pay them thousands to many tens, hundreds or even millions of dollars. It's not a trivial sale. It doesn't happen overnight. Most of the time funnels don't work for that type of business. You need to start a relationship and you need to build trust and nurture that relationship over time.
Time is the one ingredient that all the marketing gurus don't want to tell you about. That's the most important ingredient and trust building. We show you how to do that and build that over time and do it without it taking forever. I've been publishing newsletters since mid-‘90s to our clients. They take a ton of work. We've eliminated all that work and we're going to talk about in the book how we've done that. Then the third piece is, if you've ever had a newsletter or send out emails regularly or whatever, and then you got frustrated because nobody seemed to contact you when you send out that weekly or monthly newsletter. It’s because there was this missing piece and it's what we call a conversion window. In the book, we’ll be walking through what that is and how they work. I'm a big believer in using events on the calendar as marketing tools.
You don't have to create all of this false scarcity and urgency because the calendar creates it for you. The event is happening tomorrow at noon and it's an opportunity for you to open up a window that a potential client can decide to come through. The windows open for a little while and then it closes and then you can open it up again for a little while and then it closes. By giving your prospects this periodic opportunity to take a next step. Most of the time, when we're implementing this with our clients, it's a webinar or a live presentation that they're giving on a regular basis and it's just a great way to get a prospect moving who is otherwise just hanging around in your world and motivating them to move into the sales process. Those three pieces together give you a really potent, little marketing formula there. That's what we're going to talk about in the next book.
I'd love to share the current book with folks. You can go to our website. If you go to the UnstoppableCEO.net/Nicole, you'll be able to get our current book there and you can get it for free. We're giving away the eBook and we actually have a whole series of videos where one of our longtime clients actually interviewed me on video, chapter by chapter and I explained the whole thing. You can get that for free on the website.
I'm going to get that because I want to see those videos, and I'm excited about the book as well. Any final words of wisdom before we part ways?
For folks listening, just get in motion, go take some action. We've talked about a lot of different topics now. Chances are one of them hit home, so what are you going to do and go make it real for you? Put it in practice.
Steve Gordon is the author of Unstoppable Referrals: 10x Referrals, Half the Effort, and his latest book, The Exponential Network Strategy. He’s the host of The Unstoppable CEO Podcast and has written over 400 articles on marketing for service businesses. Through his firm, he helps service business entrepreneurs create leveraged marketing systems so they can spend less time on business development, and more time on what matters most.
At age 28, Steve Gordon became the CEO of an engineering/consulting firm. Twelve years later, after growing that firm’s revenue by 10-times he started his second business, consulting with businesses across 30 industries—including manufacturing, professional services, construction, and consulting—to design sales, marketing and referral systems for high-ticket/ high-trust products and services.
Thanks again to Carrie Roldan for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.
Wouldn't it be great if we had a way of seeing everything in our bag and keep it organized? Sarah Cogan works as a costume designer for film and television. She started her garment bag company, Set Ready Go!, put of her need to keep stuff organized and not having to lose of forget things. Set Ready Go! are the ultimate garment bags for brides, actors, speakers, musicians, COS players, and pretty much anyone who needs to go from outfit to outfit quickly and easily with uniquely designed see-through pockets so nothing gets forgotten. Sarah shares her exciting journey from developing the idea of the garment bag to where it is now and how it has evolved.
Thank you to Carrie Roldan for introducing today’s episode. What she loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is probably the most important quality that Nicole has and her ability to bring something different out of each guest. It's not your normal business advice and tips show. There are nuggets of wisdom and gold and inspiration in every single episode. That's why I love the BBR show.
If you would like to introduce an episode and share your love for the Business Building Rockstars show, go to www.BBRShow.com/fan.
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Sarah Cogan on Set Ready Go!: The Ultimate Garment Bag
My guest is Sarah Cogan. She's the creator of Set Ready Go!,the ultimate garment bags for brides, actors, speakers, musicians, cosplayers and pretty much anyone who needs to go from outfit to outfit quickly and easily. Sarah's garment bags are the only garment bag that help you organize your outfit from head to toe with uniquely designed see-through pocket so that nothing gets forgotten. The patented design was inspired by her work as a film and TV costume designer. Sarah Cogan, I'm so super excited to have you here with us on the Business Building Rockstar show. How is it going?
Thank you. I'm excited to be here. It's going well.
I'm super excited to get into your story because you're my client, so I love you more than anything and I'm so inspired by you. The way you became my client is so funny because I was already so inspired by you. I learned about your story through our mutual friend and mentor, Michael Roderick. I came across your video where you were talking about your entrepreneurial journey and I was like, “I have to know this girl. I have to have her on my podcast,” and then you're like, “I have to work with you.” I'm like, “Awesome. That's great.” It's been fantastic. To bring everybody up to speed on where you're at today, what is it that you do?
I have a garment bag company that I formed. I'm inspired out of my work as a costume designer for film and television. I still actively work in that industry, picking up small jobs. From that I wanted a better way to organize all the outfits that I was creating. To be able to see all the jewelry and the accessories in one easy layout way. What the current standard is you put everything in a tiny Ziploc bag and your safety pin it into the garment bag and you hope you know you have everything. It's a lot of, “I thought this was in there and it's not in there.” My bags came out of this. Wouldn't it be great if we had a way that we could see everything, and it was organized? That was the genesis of it.
From conversations, I created a wedding dress bag. That came out of my uncle asking me like, “Who would buy this bag? Your industry is small and doesn't want to spend a lot of money, so who else would go for it?” That's when I was like, “This is something I need to look at and go after.” That's how we start with a wedding dress bag and now we're looking at targeting cosplay and other recreational actors. I've found like schools in Texas do a lot of competitive show choir and performances and so they loved them. That's how this has evolved. We're now in the container store nationwide. It's been very exciting couple of months and that's where we're at right now in terms of the story and how this has evolved.
You had recognized a problem that you were facing as a designer and you decided you wanted to solve it or you had this idea, “Wouldn't it be great if.” Didn’t you originally make it for yourself or was it just an idea first?
I start with drawings. I went around to all my friends who were designers and I was like, “What if the bag was like this? These are pockets.” They were like, “This is great. I love this idea.” I was like, “Cool, I’m going to make one in my living room.” At the time, I was living in Queens, New York. It was probably one of the most painful experiences of my life because I stabbed myself so many times with pins, the sewing PVC on your sewing machine at home. It's not meant for that, so that was really difficult but I did it and it was all of a sudden like, “This is great.” People are like, “I can see how this would work and why it's a good idea.” It kept evolving from there and people have been like, “What are you doing with it?” I realized I'm motivated by people being like, “I thought you were doing this thing,” and I'll be like, “You're right, I'm doing this thing.” That’s what happened. I created it and I went through a bunch of manufacturing issues to get to finding a rhythm.
Before we get into manufacturing, there are a lot more that goes into this whole taking an idea and a concept to realizing it. You did create one for yourself and you were using that then?
Yeah, to test it out. That was January of 2015. I then, from that, had somebody else make a factory sample for our first one and test that out. I had like the one bag to run around with, so it's like playing with it and like getting feedback and talking to people and learning what people would want and then going back to the drawing board. That's where the wedding one evolved out of. I had this one that was made in March of 2015 when I hired a factory to make some. Those ended up coming in too high to utilize for sales, but I got all this feedback from the wedding industry. The lace pattern that's on our wedding dress bag came out of that conversation. There's a veil slot that's in our wedding dress bag that also came out of that conversation of this big expo where I thought, “Can people tell me what will help me to make this better and more what people want?” That's helped because people are excited about this pattern.
I then had these three sets that I was playing with, like sending out to people and talking to people with. Sadly, they've all been sent out to factory, so I don't have those iterations of them anymore. It's been like testing them out and then getting them and then trying it again. It's a lot of taking people's feedback, listening to it hard and going, “This stuff is important to listen to,” like putting some pattern because some people like being able to see everything in their wedding dress bag, but other people don't want to see their wedding dress, so having to play this middle game with that. We're the first garment bag that is a wedding dress garment bag with a slot for the veil so that it's all in one place. I've heard horror stories of leaving veils and leaving undergarments. That's one of my favorite parts of this journey. It's hearing what people need and then adjusting to it. That's what product creation’s about.
Feedback is so important. You're working on a new product line and you did something that you’ve got lots of feedback for it. Do you want to talk about what you are creating this new product line? Why have you decided that it's time to do that and the experience of receiving feedback in the way that you did?
I am working on the travel version of my garment bags called The Carry Away Bag. It's pretty awesome because it's a garment bag that folds into itself and when you unfurl it and you hang it up, you are good to go. You don't have to unpack. Everything you need is in the pocket. It's like taking packing cubes and mixing them with a garment bag and then you have my garment bag and so everything's easy to see. You don't have to miss anything, which is cool. It got a lot of positive feedback. What was great was the things that I already said it needs to be overhead compliant. It was great hearing people like, “It's overhead compliant, right?” I'm like, “Yes, it is,” but then people are like, “I want wheels. If this had wheels, I'm super in.” I thought that was probably the most valuable feedback I could get. Immediately, I was like, “We're going to put them and we're going to figure that out.” That's important.
In listening, my training as a designer has been helpful in product creation because I work as a collaborator. What I got out of this last experience is I can get to collaborate with people and my buyers and that's what I'm looking at doing and that I'm a very responsive CEO or founder. When people give me feedback, I'm very much like, “How can I make this happen and what does this entail?” That's the basis of how I work as a designer for film and television. It's always figuring out, “If it's not what I want, it's not what you want, what's this third thing that it needs to be that the two of us like?” That helps me to hear people and what they say and that's an important skillset for being a product designer of any kind. I'm grateful for that part of it.
The process then is you've had this idea, you've had feedback from people about how to create this carry-on garment bag, which is pretty cool. For me, one of the things that really frustrates me is when I go stay places, there are never enough hangers. I don't pack heavy, so I don't get what the deal is like. I'll keep stuff in my bag and then I might hang one or two things up and then steam them just to use them and then it goes in the bag. I love that when you had your prototype and you were showing it because you used it yourself to fly across country. It was like, “It doesn't even matter. As long as there's a bar, I don't need a closet because I have all of my hangers in my bag and my clothes are on the hangers.”
You can even get away with just a hook. You don't even need a case. It's also great because of all the pockets because once you hang it up, everything else is easy to access. There's no more digging through your suitcase or like, “I swear I packed this thing but now I can't find it.” That's also a big thing that for me is my thesis inquiry is, “How do I keep this as we organize everything and you can still see everything?” The being able to see everything when you pack it is part of why I started the company. Also, this what makes it unique. You can have something with a lot of pockets but being able to see it, that is the part that's important, especially when traveling that you don't forget something or think you packed it and it's not there. That's the stuff I like to avoid.
For me, it's like my day of checking out of somewhere, I lose so much time from the day because I need to give myself time to pack everything back up and make sure I don't leave anything behind. Sure enough, there's always some little thing like piece of jewelry or something little that I don't have and I'm like, “Last time I had it was at that hotel or at this place.” I love that everything there. It’s amazing. I'm so excited.
I'm excited and the feedback has been awesome. It was one of the most empowering things I could have done for myself from a business standpoint but also from seeing what people had to say. What I learned from my first two products is once you do a run of product, you're committed to whatever it is. If there's something you want to change, you can't change it or you have to scrap everything and that gets very expensive. Making sure they have all the kinks worked out before you go to production run is such a big deal. I'm grateful for this experience because it got me excited and I do well when I'm accountable to other people. I'm even more like, “This has to get done. I'm so excited. All these people believe in me.” All the feedback, so it's going to be an even better product. It's a debate on telling some people about how I'm adding wheels and they're like, “Are you sure? Some people were okay with no wheels.” I said, “If wheels are the determining factor between people buying the bag and then not buying the bag, why would we even make that a question then? Let's make this a non-issue.” Those are the moments that I couldn't have had if I just went straight to a factory run and was like, “Here's my bag and let's make it.”
I wouldn't have even thought of wheels because I'm like, “It's just a bag, like a duffle.” You put it over your shoulder, but wheels would be amazing. It's one of the things you don't think about.
I am sponsoring this episode myself via my service that I call Interviews that Convert. If you are a business owner and you have a service or a product that is specifically targeted to a clear and niche audience, then I might be able to help you get more visibility, more leads, and more sales through podcast guesting. Since I was first introduced to podcasting, I have fallen in love with the medium and I took a specific and special interest in how podcast guests can deliver the most value to audiences and hosts from their interview. Not only that, but I've also explored how to provide the next step in a way that's compelling and turns listeners into leads and hosts into raving fans. I'd say I've cracked the code and so would my clients. These days, what I am doing most in that lights me up is representing business owners like you and helping them get more visibility, more leverage, and more market share by booking them on podcasts that their target buyers are listening to.
If you've thought about guesting yourself but haven't been sure how to go about doing it or haven't known who to contact, I'd love to hear from you or maybe you have been podcast guesting yourself, but you haven't yet seen the results that you had hoped for. That is super common, so don't feel bad about it, but please reach out and let me know. I may be able to help you grow exponentially through podcast guesting opportunities. You can learn more by reaching out to me at Support@InterviewsThatConvert.com or give me a call at 289-272-0374. Let's find out how I can help you grow your business through podcast guesting. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Now, back to the program.
Can we talk about a little bit more from the business perspective of the lessons there? As your coach, I want it to push you a little bit to show you that things don't have to be done before they get sold. This is a concept that we talk a lot about called preselling. It's not just with products, especially with services. A lot of times we have, as entrepreneurs, these perfect ideas in our minds. We create something or like, “This is what people need. They're going to love it and we're going to love it,” and all this stuff. Then we just do all the work and like you said, when you put a run through, it's it. That's what you've got. With services, as most of my audience are service-based entrepreneurs, it's like if you go ahead and you just go through and you create some product or program or whatever, then you try and sell it, then you don't get that incredible feedback, which means that now you've done all the work and nobody's buying. That's an expensive lesson that many of us learn over and over.
Sarah, the assignment/exercise was to keep it grassroots. We went in with no plan. Some of the feedback you gave me afterwards, like, “For a flash sale, I could've done things differently.” You totally could have, but this wasn't a flash sale. It wound up being a flash sale, but the intention behind it was, “Let's play. Let's have fun. Let's see what happens if we just put it out there at the bare minimum to cover your costs just to play around with people that already know and love you.” Can you talk more about maybe some of the fears going into that and also the excitement, more about some of the lessons learned?
Once I got pumped about it, I was like, “Let's do this.” There's a little bit of fear of not meeting any goal that I had.
I mean like the fear before because you could have done this at any point in time. What was the difference why you didn't go ahead and just do this super early playful experiment without getting a little kick in the butt?
Some of it is, for me, definitely an accountability thing. I do so well with accountability that I knew that was an important piece for me. Some of the fear like, “No one’s making me do this.” I don't even know if this came out as an idea because I felt like it's not even ready yet, so therefore nobody's going to even be interested in supporting it knowing that it's going to be improving or developing. It's more like no one's going to be interested in this yet because they're going to expect this very specific finished product. If it's not in some ready state, then they're not going to be interested in presale. There is that fear of rejection within that.
What I learned and took away from this is that people are excited to be a part of it. I have a big community of people who support me, which is not something that I've ever believed. That was a big takeaway. I have a lot of people who genuinely support me. Amazingly, all these people I don't even know that came into the picture that we're like, “This is awesome and I'm going to get it.” I was like, “Wow, that is pretty cool.” I didn't feel good enough before that I was able to do it. The kick in the pants to move forward was definitely the thing that helped me go, “Let's just give this a try. I know I have somebody I can turn around and talk to if this didn't go how I had hoped,” or to look at what the issues were. Before, I wasn't sure how to hold things and look at when things are not working, why they're not working, and when they are working while they're working in. Being able to come back to talking to you about it and knowing that that's something that we can look at it together, that also made me feel more secure about moving forward.
Thank you for sharing that. I was thinking about some of the people who I shared it with because I'm so for Sarah. I’m so team Sarah. I love this bag. I'm so excited about it. I love everything that you do. You have a huge mission, huge heart and you're a changemaker. People don't even know yet what's to come. I am fully happy to support you and because of my enthusiasm for you, I shared this with some of my people who are so excited about it that they shared it with their people. I was seeing friends of friends of friends who were posting about that they ordered it. It is so hard when we think we're all in it alone when, as entrepreneurs, as creators, oftentimes it's hard to tell who has our back and who's just there to cheer us on and different roles that people play. I so appreciate you recognizing the community that you have around you because it only takes a few people that believe in you and believe in your mission that get to see what you're doing, what you're creating and then they ask. That's a hard thing for us to do is to ask for support that we need. What was that like for you? I did push you quite a bit to be very blatant and ask people as you have a smile on your face.
I hate feeling like I'm nuisance to people, so it was very much getting more comfortable with those feelings. I’m going through something else in the company to handle something and I'm like, “I'm going to have to ask all these questions and I don't want to bother them.” Definitely that came up for me in doing this video presale. I started finding ways to make it more playful rather than like, “Please, help me.” There are two ways of asking for help. One is like, “I feel small and tiny and so I need you to make me feel big by helping me.” Then there's, “I feel small and tiny and unable to do things, so help me.” Then there's like, “I have this fun, audacious goal and I'd love to get to it. Can you help me?”
In hindsight, I would have liked to have a little more specific with why the help spreading the word and why the help with pre-prepurchasing, what that's going to help me do. That would have also made it more specific to people of why they're buying, not just, “We're helping Sarah make this thing happen,” but then like, “This is going to go towards now focusing on X, Y, and Z, so if it's getting the right types of wheels and figuring out that system. If it's then helping make some prototypes so we can go and do some big influencer videos,” and things like that. That was my learning takeaway also in the asking, making it playful and also making it specific.
When I first started my online business, I had the error in thinking that if I did a pre-presale or whatever it is, I could only do it once. I can't do it again. It's like, “Who says that? You make your own rules.” You did this unexpected thing. It was an experiment and maybe next, you're going to talk about the experiment. You're going to let all those buyers who jumped in speak to them and let them know, “Here's what this was about and here's what I want to do next. Here's how you can help and here's why.” All of those hindsight realizations, it's like, “I can build that in,” and you never go to that price point again. It was pretty crazy. $100 for a bag that’s starting at over $200.
At the moment, the wheels might make that more. It might be a great deal.
It was a great deal. The cool thing is the people who were able to take advantage of that, they invested in your market research and so it was to say are not going to do it again in another way, but it's not $100. Now, it's more. You keep creeping up the ladder. I hear people talking about their worth. I interviewed a perspective virtual assistant that I did not start working with. She was talking to me about trying to figure out her value, so she can start at this now. It's something that we don't need to talk about to potential clients figuring out our value. You meet the market where they're at, so you have this unproven thing. You're proven, you've got a great company, you've got a great product line already or mastermind or program or whatever the case may be, but this new idea that you have isn't proven yet.
Why not break even? Why not cover your costs because that's so beneficial? Then you're like, “I'm rocking and rolling with this, I can raise my price.” Too many people are trying to perfect things out of the gate, put it at a price point that they think they deserve or that the market will pay for something comparable or etc., but they haven't proven it yet, so I love that you started with an experiment and now it's like, “Next iteration, here's what's up.” If my people want to be potentially a part of that next iteration, if they want to know when the next little special deal to help you grow this and perfect it and they can be early investors in it, do you have a page or something set up? You want to talk about what that will look like?
You can go to Bit.Ly/GetCarryAway. That will take you directly to the page for The Carry Away Bag.
In your entrepreneurial journey, if you were to look back and give younger self some advice when you first had this idea, what would you tell your younger self?
I would say when you're creating a product cashflow, you need a lot of cash up front, like a lot. It’s a lot more than I expected. That's the big thing to take away, at least for myself. I have 900 units that are supposed to land. I have to prepay for those. I started paying for those four months before they land and if I sell them immediately or sell a portion of them immediately, I don't even get paid from my retailers until 60 days later. You're looking at fronting $20,000 to $30,000 in cash for six months. Understanding that flow of cashflow is important.
Coming from my design background, I never know what I'm going to have work-wise three months in advance sometimes. Having that long-term picture of cashflow has been a big learning lesson on my end. Understanding that would alleviate a lot of stress. That's the big thing that seems like, “If I had only known this, it would've been so much easier.” Also listening to your fear. I had been doing so much work on that with you and on my own. I realize looking back at how I responded to things two years ago, three years ago, a year ago, there was a lot of fear in it. A lot of not wanting to put people out and not wanting to make other people uncomfortable that I allowed myself to be uncomfortable in terms of like not selling and things like that.
What about in terms of what did you do right? If you were to go back and talk to younger Sarah, when you had the idea from this place now and congratulate yourself and say, “Here's what you need to do that I did right.”
At the moment, it's sticking with it regardless of what anyone else has said. I'm starting to get very clear, very careful with who you share your ideas with, especially when they're new. I have probably overshared and received a lot of pushback of like, “I don't know if you could do this.” People coming from care not wanting to see me get hurt, having their own fears and issues around what I'm doing. I've stuck with it. What I've learned more than anything is that I am definitely someone who doesn't give up. I don't know how to give up. That, for me, is something that I feel very proud of and then also this very much listening to people and what their needs are and then wanting to address it. The Carry Away Bag comes out of conversations with people. I'd go to business networking international meetings and people would say to me, “I love your two bags. Can you take it on a plane? Can you take it on train? Can I take to the gym?” I'd always be like, “Not quite.” That's no longer an excuse. That was the impetus of creating The Carry Away Bag. Those are the things that I'm strong at, sticking the course and listening to what people need.
Listening to the what people need that are willing to invest, that are willing to buy as opposed to listening to the naysayers who are trying to protect you but it's about their own frame of reference.
This whole experience has also been outside of my world as a costume designer. I don't have an MBA. I have a Master’s in Fine Arts, so painting and drawing are my tools that I learned. I also want to share that because so many people are afraid to start something because it's outside of their knowledge. It is hard to learn it all but if you're passionate about learning it, you'll learn it and you'll figure it out. You'll grow from that and that's also important.
If my people want to find out about when this next pre-presale is or presale and get notified, where should they go to get that?
You can go ahead and sign up for our newsletter at SetReadyGarmentBags.com. We'll be sending out newsletters on the updates on that Carry Away Bag. For the BBR show listeners, I've got a special code for you. It’s BBRShow at checkout and you'll get 10% off of whatever you order.
Sarah, thank you so much for being here with us. Do you have any final thoughts, any final words of wisdom that you'd like to leave the audience with?
Be kind to yourself. Most entrepreneurs have a really high level of expectation. I know I do. Just be kind to yourself.
Sarah Cogan is the creator of Set Ready Go! The Ultimate Garment Bags for brides, actors, speakers, musicians, cos players, and pretty much anyone who needs to go from outfit to outfit quickly and easily.
Sarah's garment bags are the only garment bags that help you organize your outfit from head to toe with uniquely designed see through pockets so nothing gets forgotten.
The patented design was inspired by her work as a film and tv costume designer and we'll be digging into this and more in today's episode of the Business Building Rockstars Show.
Thanks again to Carrie Roldan for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.
Women dream of dating that leads to love. However, if you keep losing a guy in ten days or if he did manage to stick around but you quickly turn that relationship dysfunctional within six months, when do you realize that you’re doing those things? Women always think it’s just the men or bad luck or perhaps they really have no clue at all that they are the catalyst for the shit storm they have going on in their love life. Dating expert and romantic fairy godmomma to smart, successful single women all around the world, Jenn Burton is known for orchestrating dating that leads to love by magically ushering in stable, fun, witty, and insanely attractive men who will love, adore and romance you without expecting you to compromise your career, success, or genuine self for any of it. After years of dysfunctional relationships and crappy dating experiences, Jenn decided to take matters into her own hands and developed a dating method for creating the most magical experiences that lead to love.
Thank you to Cardiff D. Hall, author of Tide Turners for introducing today’s episode. What he loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is Nicole, first off, is a rockstar herself. The level and the depth of questions that she asked the guests are insightful and make you want to listen a little bit more as you drive or jog or walk or whatever you do to listen to podcast. Her energy is contagious. I love the BBR Show.
If you would like to introduce an episode and share your love for the Business Building Rockstars show, go to www.BBRShow.com/fan.
Listen to the podcast here:
Jenn Burton of Single Smart Female on A Method for Dating That Leads to Love
I'm super excited to have one of my favorite clients and favorite people, Jenn Burton. This lady is so cool on so many different levels. If you haven't heard her podcast, Single Smart Female, you got to check it out. Welcome, Jenn. I'm so excited to have you here.
Thank you and I'm thrilled to be here with you as well. Thank you for having me.
Before we dive in, give everyone more of a nuts and bolts, what are you doing day-to-day to serve and support your people?
What I do on a daily basis is I create quite a bit of content to serve smart single women around the world by producing our podcast. I've created several self-study programs that they can access whenever a woman would like to at her convenience. I also have a group program called The Courage Kit. We get to interact with some amazing women, as well as my private clients. If you wrap it all up, that's how I show up for women.
Who are the perfect women for you and why are they the perfect women for you? Who are you serving and why do they come to you?
Women typically come to me when they need help with rearranging their dating life so that they can have more of what they want romantically. I always serve single women specifically and these women tend to be high achieving professionals. I also serve high achieving entrepreneurs, but I tend to see more of professionals in their career world.
Even if you're like, “I'm a guy or I'm an entrepreneur or I'm married,” do not shut this episode off because you know somebody who is going to need Jenn’s help and I guarantee it. Now that we've covered who you serve and how you serve, let's talk about you and your story. How long have you been a dating coach?
I've been consulting with women's dating life unofficially since 2006 and officially since 2010.
What specifically led you to doing this? How did you figure out that this is my thing, that where you’re needed?
It started off by being the woman who always got it wrong in dating and love. For instance, I often like to say, “I was good at being the woman who could lose a guy in ten days.” I probably should have been the star of that movie, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. If a man did manage to stick around, I could turn that relationship dysfunctional within six months.
When you were doing those things, did you realize you were doing those things?
I had no clue. I always thought it was men or just bad luck. I had no clue that it was me who was the catalyst for the shitstorm that I had going on in my love life.
How long was that going on before you did figure it out?
Since the first guy I talked to in eighth grade. It's been going on for a long time.
You were the girl that had men coming and going and you were all about them and all in and you would drive them away. Is that right?
Yes, I had been boy crazy since I was in kindergarten and I never understood. I focused all this attention on men and I thought I was being their ideal of a woman or a girl, whatever stage of life I was in, and I was so wrong. Just so very wrong.
In 2006, I did manage to finally get married to an Englishman. We ended up splitting up and I moved to another city so that we can have a true split up to see whether or not we wanted to be together. At that point in time, we came back together for our third year anniversary and I realized the entire relationship was about him. I enjoyed almost nothing about it. We'd already been in marriage counseling for a couple of years at this point. We were having sexual relations earlier that day and I realized it was nothing about me. It was all about him and what he wanted and how everything felt to him.
That night, very distraught and heartbroken, I fell on my knees and prayed to God, “Please tell me what I need to do.” Three days later, I met a man who looked at me and said after a great conversation, “May I take you out on a real date?” Immediately, we went into this whirlwind romance, where I felt things with a man that I had never felt in my entire life. I felt adored and cared for and special. The moment that I asked my husband for divorce, that man disappeared. To say I was devastated was an understatement. That devastation turned into obsession.
You asked your husband for a divorce and then this man disappeared. Was it just that simple or did he know you were asking for a divorce? What do you think led to that?
He had no clue that I had asked for a divorce. It happened at the same time. It was synchronicity. I realize now that this man was a gift in my life who opened me up for everything I'm doing now and how I'm helping women. At the time, I thought it was bad luck and then thinking, “I don't know what I'm doing with men at all.” It was the perfect catalyst for learning to do things differently.
I signed up with a group of women in New York who was studying women's sensuality and started doing things in a completely different fashion. I also started studying every dating book I could. My intent when I started all this was to get his attention again. What it led to was an opportunity to do dating in a completely different manner. Before I realized that, I had created my own dating method, which I call Mantourage Dating, which is dating more than one man at a time until you find your forever man or indefinitely if you so choose.
How did things change for you in your personal life as you were uncovering that system?
What I realized is when I started doing things in a completely different manner and I started to put the attention on myself instead of men, that men started crawling out of the woodwork to treat me well, to be with me. I was very rarely the woman that men were like, “Will you be my girlfriend,” right away. That started happening and I was processing this as research instead of diving straight into that with different men. It also led to my current husband and we've been together for over eleven years now.
I am sponsoring this episode myself via my service that I call Interviews that Convert. If you are a business owner and you have a service or a product that is specifically targeted to a clear and niche audience, then I might be able to help you get more visibility, more leads and more sales through podcast guesting. Since I was first introduced to podcasting, I have fallen in love with the medium. I took a specific and special interest in how podcast guests can deliver the most value to audiences and hosts from their interview.
Not only that, but I've also explored how to provide the next step in a way that's compelling and turns listeners into leads and hosts into raving fans. I'd say I've cracked the code and so would my clients. These days, what I am doing most that lights me up is representing business owners like you and helping them get more visibility, more leverage and more market share by booking them on podcasts that their target buyers are listening to.
If you've thought about guesting yourself but haven't been sure how to go about doing it or haven't known who to contact, I'd love to hear from you. Maybe you have been podcast guesting yourself, but you haven't yet seen the results that you had hoped for, that is super common. Don't feel bad about it, but please reach out and let me know. I may be able to help you grow exponentially through podcast guesting opportunities. You can learn more by reaching out to me at Support@InterviewsThatConvert.com or give me a call at 289-272-0374. Let's find out how I can help you grow your business through podcast guesting. Looking forward to hearing from you soon and now back to the program.
You figured that out. You recognize there's a problem, you sought support and you implemented and I'm assuming had fun with it. Why do you think more women don't do that? Correct me if I'm wrong, but a lot of women, we accept and settle for what is and don't actually look for or demand or expect greatness. Is that something that you're seeing as well and if so, why do you think that is?
Women tend to settle because there's this fear of male scarcity. It's an irrational fear regardless of what science tells us. They don't want to spend their life alone and they will settle for the first guy that ticks off some of the boxes and then other women too, will say, “I'm not going to settle.” They're afraid of their romantic vulnerability. They will push man after man away and disqualifying him for arbitrary reasons.
With the women that you work with, do you find that women recognize that and that's why they come to you? Or do you find that women are unaware and then they come across you or learn about you and then they're like, “There's more. I can have it better?”
Yes and yes. What happens is some women do recognize it right away or they are the women that have been pushing men away for a while, but they want somebody and they just don't know how to find that person that matches with them. They start seeking me out. There's a good percentage of women, possibly even the majority, that come to me because one of my biggest Google search results is about a man who has gone MIA or has disappeared on you.
It's somebody that they're interested in and they like who makes them feel something below the belt that they haven't felt in a very long time and all of a sudden, he'll disappear on them. They're freaking out a little bit because they want that feeling again. It's a very addictive feeling and this same feeling, every woman is susceptible to, regardless of how strong she is, how educated she is, how successful she is. Then they find me because I'm not telling them, “You just need to forget about him.” They start to learn about all the things that they can do to open themselves up to real life, love and romance.
From an entrepreneurial standpoint, how did you wind up turning this into a business? How did you wind up going from the realization that you had and the experience that you had of Mantourage Dating and landing your forever man, and realizing, “I need to help other women and I can make money from this?”
I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was very little and I never would find the right methodology or the right industry. I enjoyed it, but it was never, “This is exactly where I'm supposed to be.” In 2006, when I started doing my dating life differently and I was sharing that within the groups that I was in at the time, a lot of women started coming to me and asking me how I was creating all this. It was insanely fun. I was having so much fun with men and men were stepping up in ways I never even imagined. That kept going on for several years and in 2010, a woman came to me and she said, “Can I pay you to teach me this?” It had never occurred to me before then that I was even qualified on any level to charge for it. When she said that, I said, “Of course, you can pay me to teach you this. Let's do it.”
We started there and from there having conversations with her about what was going on in her life, she decided that she would like to be doing this with a lot of her girlfriends as well. I hosted my very first in-person class and we showed up for the meet and greet where women just brought women that they knew that were single. I told my story. I told exactly how I met my now husband, the processes that it was going through. I was charging $350 at that time for a six-week class of once a week that we would meet together. This was in-person in 2010 and thirteen of the fifteen women signed up for the class. I knew at that point that that was evidence that this is a strong pain point for women. That I had something that could make them feel alive and control in the context of dating and love.
Were you all in then or were you like, “I'm doing this.” I imagine you had something to actually pay your bills at the time other than that class.
I had some insecurities surrounding this at the time and I opened up another brick and mortar business, hiding from the fact. I wanted it to be my platform to say, “Here, I have this. Why don't you hire me for this,” and they had nothing to do with each other. It took me falling on my face hard with my brick and mortar business to realize that I was using it as a cover-up for who I am and what I wanted to do as an entrepreneur.
I want to appreciate you for going there. Can you talk to us about that process? What it was like for the smash, bang, boom of the brick and mortar, what it was like to go through that and how did you realize it as a wake-up call? Sometimes when we go through things that are embarrassing, stressful, upsetting, scary, we don't necessarily realize it in the moment that this is the best thing that could've happened to us.
I'm pretty sure I didn't fully realize that. I don't know if I had an inkling that it was something that good that was about to happen, but it was extraordinarily painful. This was tens of thousands of dollars that I lost in this build out of the small business and things like that. I felt my credibility as a business owner was stomped on. I knew that the only person responsible ultimately was me, which hurt even more. At that point in time, even though I knew I was stepping into being a dating consultant, I didn't know exactly how that looked on a full-time basis. I didn't know that people would find me credible as this being run as a business.
It’s like that impostor syndrome that we all go through at a point.
I felt like a huge fraud.
If you can pinpoint, what was the thing or what were the things that shifted that for you?
As I started learning about online marketing and stepping into an online space and I started getting clients that were not specifically local. I had women from literally around the world, Australia, India, Kenya, Dubai, England, Canada, everywhere that we're saying, “I want to take your classes and work with you.” That was gigantic validation for everything that I was doing and stepping into and realizing that I was headed in the right direction.
Since then, you've grown in so different ways. You've hit it home with that virtual online program or that presence where you are accessible to women all over the world who needs your support. Do you have any tips about how somebody who is maybe where you were and realizing there is this whole space and they're ready and willing to embrace online marketing, do you have any tips or strategies that helped you get from serving locally?
Initially, social media was a big thing and joining other business classes was very helpful because a lot of people would meet me in there and then they would sit and everybody has a single friend. They would start sharing my information and I had put together sales pages, all that stuff. I'm a big, huge proponent of podcasting. It hits more of my audience than some of the traditional social media marketing has in the past. I absolutely adore podcasting. If you can do it in a way I use it. It's my primary marketing arm right now and it's fantastic and it works very well. It's taken off faster than any of my other marketing pieces.
I'm so excited that that's the case and you've been doing such big things and you started out doing a YouTube channel prior to doing the audio podcast.
I put my audio podcast up on YouTube as well. YouTube never was my specific audience, so I didn't put a lot. I would put stuff up just to have a host, but I didn't put a lot of emphasis there. I wasn't trying to build community there, all that stuff that you should do if your audience is indeed on YouTube. I still have it there and I upload my audio podcasts and if I have any sales videos, I will host them there as well.
Your podcast, the audio aspect of it has taken off and you've gotten recognized by some big names and you have this huge following. That's exciting that that's been so beneficial for you. For folks who would love to continue the conversation with you or maybe have a friend that they want to have continue conversation with you or start the conversation with you, what is the best way for them to connect?
For your audience, they can find me at JennBurton.com/Nicole. They are going to find a very special resource curated for them to help them with their dating life.
I appreciate you putting that together for my audience and their friends or family or loved ones, what have you. Do you have any final words of wisdom that you can share with entrepreneurs about how to build a business around something that they've cracked the code on like you did?
An important piece is while you’re building your business, something we tend to neglect is our love lives. It's important for people to save a space. I understand that you're going to spend a lot of time on your business and you're going to do some amazing things with it and you have to believe in yourself and keep taking those consistent action, work with someone like Nicole, but don't neglect that other piece of you. It does filter and help animate you for everything you're going to need in order to create the empire that you want.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your wisdom with us. I really appreciate it, Jenn.
Dating Expert and Romantic Fairy Godmomma to smart, successful single women all around the world, Jenn Burton is known for magically ushering in stable, fun, witty, and insanely attractive men who will love, adore & romance you without expecting you to compromise your career, success, or genuine self for any of it!
After years of dysfunctional relationships & crappy dating experiences, Jenn decided to take matters into her own hands, and developed a dating method for creating the most magical experiences that lead to love.
Thanks again to Cardiff D. Hall for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.
So often, we let our adversity define us and we struggle with figuring out how to define our adversity. In his book, The Crucible’s Gift, Dr. James Kelley of the Executive After Hours podcast provides entrepreneurs and leaders the ability to think about the outcomes of adversity in a way that's positive and beneficial for them and those around them in the community so they have the ability to thrive in adversity. Dr. Kelley also talks about his podcast which is predicated on interviewing executives about their personal journey with the consistent theme of struggle, resolve, transformation, and better leadership.
Thank you to Carrie Roldan for introducing today’s episode. What she loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is the quality of the guests Nicole has and her ability to bring something different out of each guest. It's not your normal business advice and tips show.
If you would like to introduce an episode and share your love for the Business Building Rockstars show, go to www.BBRShow.com/fan.
Listen to the podcast here:
Dr. James Kelley of Executive After Hours on How to Thrive in Adversity
Thank you so much, Nicole, for having me. I feel like that's a loaded question when you ask somebody who they are because to answer that succinctly is quite complicated. As an individual, we are many parts. We are multiple parts of a person. I'm a dad, I'm a professor, I'm an author, I'm a podcaster, I'm an athlete, I’m a bald community guy. There are a lot of ways to define myself, but if I was to define myself, I'm just a genuine person who tries to do right. I try to be right by doing right. That's probably the simplest way to explain myself.
Sometimes when we go into professional bios, they’re great for positioning, but sometimes they lose the human touch and the human aspects. How are you serving and supporting people this way? As you said, you're a podcaster, you’re an author, you’re a professor, take my audience and I into how you're serving entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur.
The best way I serve entrepreneur is probably through my book. The title of the book is TheCrucible’s Gift: 5 Lessons From Authentic Leaders who Thrive in Adversity. You can also get that on Amazon in Canada. The book is my servant mentality. I can't promise you to read it and your life will change tremendously. The people that recommended the book are quite significant leaders in the community. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, who's written a whole bunch of leadership books that makes number one at different times in his career. Bill George, who has written the Authentic Leadership and the books, a Harvard professor, a former Medtronic CEO, and also Jon Berghoff. They've all said a similar thing. They said, “This book allows you to frame your adversity in a way that's positive.” Often, we let our adversity define us and we struggled with figuring out how to define our adversity. My book that I'm providing entrepreneurs and leaders in general is the ability to think about the outcomes of your adversity in a way that are beneficial for you and those around you in the community.
How did you come up with the clarity and vision to write about this?
It came from two parts. It's like an ingredient, a recipe that I was trying to make something. The first part comes from the idea of my podcast, Executives After Hours. The idea of the podcast is similar to yours. The slogan that I have is, “I care about who you are, not what you do because who you are defines what you do.” I take my audience, similar to you, on a journey, but I start all the way back to childhood. We talk about everything on my podcast. What I've found in my podcast was this constant theme of struggle, resolve, transformation, and better leadership. It’s this consistent theme and I could tell you people like Bridgette Mayer, if you look at my book, these are all people who exceed in leadership, who had major adversity moments in their life that transformed them 100%.
That was the first part of it. That was the sugar, the sweet. The other side of it was my story. I've been through a ton of adversity in my life. No more, no less than anybody else. It's just mine. It's my truth and I own my truth and it helped me formulate a particular model of how to explain why adversity is a must if you're going to be an outstanding leader. There many great leaders, but the ones that truly get what life is about through their adversity are the ones that thrive, which I call authentic leaders.
What are some of the key moments of adversity that you had in your life that you feel made you a significantly better leader?
I often reflect on that question in terms of my leadership ability and I don't know if I'm a good leader. I'm an academic. We innately are individualistic assholes that are out, for ourselves, to achieve something. That's what we do. We got to publish something. We've got to position our self as the best this. We're slightly narcissistic individuals. Not all of us, but there are especially in the business schools. I haven't been put in a leadership position. What I can tell you is that my adversity has transformed me in a way that makes me much more compassionate about people around me. It makes me more patient. One of the things that's one of the biggest outcome is I value relationships. I value making people smile and laugh. I have a rule at my work. I call these things micro moments and meaning.
At my office, if I meet someone in the hallway, my one goal is to walk away with them smiling. I end up with a joke, I end up with a compliment, but I want them to have a moment of positivity in their life at that moment because if they remember me as that person that made them smile. Every time they see me it's going to be a positive affirmation and our relationship is going to be fairly healthy and functional in times of difficulty. We have hard conversations. I always try to make someone have a bit of a better day knowing that somewhere down the line, we might have a moment where we have hard conversations, but all of those positive moments that built up in their minds to give them a positive and accurate perception of who I am as an individual. It's just a healthy way.
For me, my adversity in my life has come tenfold. I often joke that I grew up in an Irish Catholic family that was touched with violence minus the Catholicism. That's the best way I describe it. The way to be heard was to yell and whoever had the best insults was the winner every single time. What I found out later in life, that's actually not healthy. That's not a great way to form relationships and bonds with those closest to you. Who would've thought that? I thought insulting the person you love was what you do. I found out it's not what you do. That was the start of my life was this world of anxiety and stress. I was the youngest of four and being the youngest, you also have to speak the loudest to be heard. That was the start of my adversity.
The first major one was my dad's death at twenty. I was at University of Dayton with no one around me. At twenty years old, I had to deal with anything that tragic than most people. I would say 99% of people had nothing like that. When my dad died, I had no one to connect with. I lived with six great guys, they didn't understand. One of the things that can manifest in that is binge drinking, heavily, five days a week. That was my outlet for three to four years and probably the only reason why that stopped is one, I was out of money and two, I was no longer in college so I couldn't afford to do that and be a productive individual in society.
That was the first real major adversity moment that helped define me in a way that was about how can I be a better person. One thing that I talk about in the book is framing your adversity in a positive way. Let's take death as an example. I was able to look at my dad and everything he brought to the table in my twenty years of life and say, “What was the great things about him that I want to keep and what were the things about our relationship that I want different moving forward?” Without the clarity and separation of the moment and the willingness to actually investigate, pull it apart and punch it and treat it like a crime scene, I wouldn't have been able to understand the positives and negatives in that situation.
Something you said before was that you don't know that you're a great leader and that struck me because I see some different sides in the roles that you play as absolutely in leadership roles in my own perception. What is your definition of leadership?
Leadership is an interesting definition and I totally scapegoat the shit out of this is that you know a good leader when you see it. Nicole, how you define a good leader might be different than how I define a good leader because we have different needs in a leader. You might need to have someone who is hard and keeps you on task and is transparent, I might need someone who is compassionate, who values relationships. For me, in the way I described a leader in the book, is someone who encapsulates this idea of compassion and integrity and value relationships because they value growing as an individual. My definition of what I need in someone who is honest, who is direct in a non-confrontational way, and someone who values fun banter that is about building relationships. That's what I need. You might have a totally different set of needs for you that allow you to follow that leader and work on their behalf in a way that is beneficial for not only you, but for them in the organization as well.
I am sponsoring this episode myself via my service that I call, Interviews that Convert. If you are a business owner and you have a service or a product that is specifically targeted to a clear and niche audience, then I might be able to help you get more visibility, more leads and more sales through podcast guesting. Since I was first introduced to podcasting, I have fallen in love with the medium. I took a specific and special interest in how podcast guests can deliver the most value to audiences and hosts from their interview. Not only that, but I've also explored how to provide the next step in a way that's compelling and turns listeners into leads and hosts into raving fans. I'd say I've cracked the code and so would my clients. These days, what I am doing most and that lights me up is representing business owners like you and helping them get more visibility, more leverage and more market share by booking them on podcasts that their target buyers are listening to.
If you've thought about guesting yourself but haven't been sure how to go about doing it or haven't known who to contact, I'd love to hear from you. Maybe you have been podcast guesting yourself, but you haven't yet seen the results that you had hoped for, that is super, super common. Don't feel bad about it, but please reach out and let me know. I may be able to help you grow exponentially through podcast guesting opportunities. You can learn more by reaching out to me at Support@InterviewsThatConvert.com or give me a call at 289-272-0374 and let's find out how I can help you grow your business through podcast guesting. Looking forward to hearing from you soon and now back to the program.
Your definition of leadership solidifies that I see you as a leader. We can talk about how and perhaps why it's sometimes hard for us to give ourselves credit that we give to other people for accomplishing those things. We were talking about my retreat that I wrapped up. One of the things that I got from the ladies who attended and that I've had to be reminded of many times and that I’ll likely continue to have to be reminded of but it's getting easier and easier and I'm standing it more and more is that what comes naturally to me and what I love to do is super impactful and amazing to other people. I sit there and go, “Is it good enough? Are they going to get enough value out of it? Is it really going to be impactful? Or is it just lukewarm?” I get hard on myself and all of us as high achievers, as entrepreneurs tend to do this thing. We've also talked about how we've both interviewed many successful high achievers. I'm curious about your take on that, both as someone who's been studying this, somebody who teaches this, but also as somebody who is living this.
I'm curious to hear your take on it from a personal standpoint because it's not just me, it's not just you, and it's not just the audience going, “I thought it was just me, that I'm just so hard on myself. It's everybody.” When we have a definition of whether it's a great leader or a great facilitator or a great coach or a great programmer or whatever it is, if we do that thing, oftentimes even though we may position ourselves or when we may come out in front and we may be able to wear it to the public internally, we tend to feel that there's aspects of what we do that aren't as good as somebody that we're looking at and saying, “Now that's a great leader. That's a great developer. That's a great facilitator or coach.” You said before that you don't know if you're a great leader, yet you have a clear definition of what a great leader is. To me, you embody those traits that you define as that of a great leader and yet you articulate that you don't know if you're a great leader.
We’re all on a journey. We all have this path. If you think of a big field of grass and as you stomp on that grass going from A to Z, the more times you stomp on it, the more flat it gets and worn it gets. I can't speak for anyone else. For me, I've got about 37,000 of those paths in that field that are only partially stomped down and I'm on this journey to figure out what it means for me. When I interviewed Jon Berghoff and him and I talked, he had this thing that he said to me and it so resonated with me. He said, “We often chase the things that we feel like we lack the most.” For me, I've never seen myself as a leader. I was captain of my water polo team in college for two years. I led two offices for an ad agency and I failed and failed and failed on all four of those is a leadership role.
I had no one around me to mentor me, to tell me what I needed to do right or wrong. I was too insecure. I didn't have belief in my abilities. I got a long list of deficiencies that I can run down, but all of that comes from the idea of not having confidence in myself. For me, I don't see myself as a leader because I've been too unwilling to put myself in those positions to lead because I've failed so many times before. Which is completely counterintuitive to everything else I do in my life where I'd lean into everything I failed because that’s predominantly the place where you learn is in failure. When people have a difficulty understanding what their own deficiencies are, they have a difficulty of understanding where they need to grow as individuals. From a leadership perspective, for me I've been on this journey for twenty plus years trying to understand why do I feel that people don't listen to me or respect me or value my opinion? What is it that I'm not saying or what is it that I'm saying that doesn't resonate with people? At least on my journey, the feedback that I receive is tangible feedback in numbers or comments that sometimes the way I interpret it is that I'm not saying something that resonates with other people.
What you said spoke to what I was trying to say and that is that oftentimes, we feel deficient in areas that others see us as excelling at. Even in saying, “The people don't listen,” of course, they listen. You're a popular podcaster. People tune into your show every single time you put one out because they want to hear you. They want to hear your take. It's so interesting and I really want to honor you and appreciate you for sharing in this vulnerable way because that's what my audience are here for.
They are here because the sense is that they understand it's not just them. Some of them are just starting out in their business, maybe who haven't even started a business but find the stories and the discussions to be inspirational. I have some who have billion-dollar companies. The feedback that I get from people is that they enjoy the show because it's raw and it's real. Just speaking about deficiencies or speaking about these different things because you're a published author, you are a professor. That's another thing. I'm like, “Don't you have a lot of students looking up to you?”
They have to. They don’t have a choice.
They don’t have to. They are choosing to do it.
I entertain them. That’s what I do.
Maybe they can't stop listening to you. What was reflected to me was that the things sometimes, and this is also just to share with everyone and maybe to ponder. The things that we feel deficient at or we feel like we're not good enough and we're seeking that to be better or wondering if other people are getting some value from it, oftentimes are the things that people value the most about who we are and how we show up and how we do life. It was less of a question and more of an interesting conversation.
A lot of people value vulnerability. In vulnerability, it shows willingness to be judged. The willingness to be judged means that you're secure enough to know that I own my limitations and I embraced them in a way that I want to use them to become a better person. There are a lot of literature out there, books out there, trending books, talking about strength, like the strength finder. Work on your strengths. Yes, work on your strength, but for me to be a complete person, I need to understand my limitations. Within that understanding, means the way I respond to certain situations changes. It means that the questions I ask might change. I want to understand the yin and the yang in all of that, so that I can be a better person. That's all I care about. Lead, not lead? I want to be a good person that isn't that to fuck somebody and to do wrong. I'm going to make mistakes. We all do, we're human beings. We are fallible. We are going to screw up, but what grates me the wrong way is when you don't own those mistakes. What I find leaders that own them, embrace them and aspire to share them. They are powerful beings that have the ability to sway their teams to move towards a vision and purpose that’s for the betterment of them as individuals, the betterment of the leader and betterment of the organization all at the same time.
Definitely that humanity piece. When I listen to people speak who are “gurus or leaders,” it rubs me the wrong way when I don't believe them. It's a weird energetic thing. It's like, “You're so full of shit.” You can talk all day long about this one, but what about all of the things, all of the losses that got you there? Especially in this day and age where information is so readily available. It does stand out when because of how much bullshit we pass by and take in, eventually when we hear somebody speak from the heart and just be authentic and be vulnerable and be honest without pretending to be vulnerable and authentic and honest. That's a big, “You should be this. Here's how you can manipulate the situation and the words that you say in order for people to understand that you are authentic.” I'm like, “What?”
Is there a market for that? Absolutely, and there is. I don't fault them. They aspire to move the needle in their life. We all do. We all want to move the needle in our life. Most of us want to. I don't fault them for listening to someone who's sold a billion dollars in something. There's something in that person that they do that’s successful. That's not what I aspire to do. That's not the message that I want to share. I want to share, “Don't be embarrassed by your failures.” I want to share, “Don't be embarrassed by tragedy in your life. Don't be embarrassed by your own tragedy.” It means something that you did to yourself or something that happened to others in your life. There's nothing to be embarrassed about it. You need to own it and you need to have accountability for that so that you're able to deal with it and use it in a better way.
To me, that is the essence of the book. It’s personal accountability to what's going on in your life. The good, the bad, the ugly, all of it. I often talk in the book and this probably happens on your podcast and it happens on my podcast, where we focus on the negative adversity. What about the positive adversity? Why don't we stop and pause and think about that? Your four-day retreat, that should be a major learning moment for you in some capacity. What about for me? For me it could be a marriage, it could be four kids, it could be getting my PhD. I don't think I've ever paused to look at those in a way that says, “What have I learned from that?” My PhD, I learned resilience for sure. That was a major outcome and I had to force myself to focus on that as a personal growth moment, not just achieving it. What does it do for me moving forward? How can I be a better person and understand that when something goes wrong, I'm quite resilient and I will bounce back better than before?
Did you do a model of this in the book? You were talking with me about an example of an exercise. I just wasn't sure if this leads into that example because you mentioned something about drawing a model and I'm keen to learn about that.
Let's do an exercise. This is really easy. We're going to end up drawing three circles. I want you to draw one circle, and in that circle, I want you to write the word crucible. Then I want you to think of a bull’s eye and you're going to draw another circle on the outside of that circle that says crucible. Now, you've got a bigger circle on the outside and I want you to split that into two. On the top half, I want you to write the word self-awareness. We're going to leave the bottom half blank for the moment. Then you're going to draw one more circle on the outside of the other two circles that surround it so you have a perfect bull’s eye of three circles and you're going to split the last circle into three. Now, once you split it into three, in one section, you're going to write the word compassion. In one section, you're going to write the word integrity, and in the last section, you're going to write the word relatable-ness.
This is what I found in the book and this is what I found and write about in the book. It unfolds in the book like this. In chapter one, I talk about the crucible. Why is it important? What are the stories of leaders that I interviewed that talk about their major moment in life? Then I say, “What happens in the crucible? What happened to these leaders?” They grew their self-awareness. In despair, in judgment, in success, they all had the ability to grow their self-awareness. Now, for anyone in your audience who does coaching, they will tell you that leader self-awareness is one of the hardest things to quantify and to get them to understand and to do to be better at. It's not easy. We all have our blind spots.
In the book, I talk about this idea of, “You have a crucible. You grow your self-awareness.” Here's the part that's fascinating. In the leaders that I interviewed, they started this journey and on this journey, they started looking at their compassion. How can I be more compassionate to those around me? When we look in the organization, whether it's big or small, compassion is actually bigger than empathy. Empathy is I understand how you feel, compassion is I understand how you feel, and I want to relieve your suffering. Suffering, a super loaded word. What does that mean? Let's think of suffering as a very simple act. If I'm walking through the office and I'm talking to you, Nicole, and you're sitting at your desk and I see your water cup is empty. “Can I fill that for you?” “Yeah, sure.” That's a moment of relieving someone's suffering right there. That's it. It’s super simple. It's not this huge act that we think of. Suffering is a minute thing for many of us every day. Like getting up can be suffering for me, but I still got to do it.
What I found is that leaders who embrace their self-awareness also then grew their integrity. There are two types of integrity that I talk about in the book, moral. I don't go into that because we all have to decide where our moral compass is in life. We all know right or wrong. I mostly spend my time talking about behavioral integrity. I quote Dr. Phil. I don't watch him religiously, but Dr. Phil's quote is, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” That always resonated with me because that's the best way to know who your leader is as a person. Do they follow through? Do they have the hard conversations? Are they willing to give you the best version of themselves? Sometimes you have to tell someone they don't belong in an organization. Not because you don't like them, but because the job may not be a fit for them. Are you able to have that transparency in your organization? What I found is those that embraced their crucible, those that grew their self-awareness actually had a philosophy of my made-up word relatable-ness. It is a philosophy because there are a lot of research out there that talks about the idea of being relatable, relationships.
The literature is very clear and it says that every time you can create a positive moment in your organization, it helps that person to be more productive in the day. One positive moment with a person that begets another positive moment and so forth and it builds up. What happens is that if you can multiply that across the organization, you have an organization of positive energy, doing more work, be more productive, showing up more, being happier and being healthier. That's a massive thing to do by just valuing the relationships that you have with the people in your office. Creating what I call micro moments of meeting. Those moments of positivity or understanding that leave an impact on the person that you're engaging with in that moment. We've left a space blank on the model. We have crucible, self-awareness, and we have the bottom half.
Here's the thing that really blew my mind is the people that got this, the people that were driving hard to be authentic and grow, had a growth mindset. That's what goes in that empty space. Leaders that had a growth mindset, a learning mindset, wanting to learn more about themselves, more about their industry, more about their career path and most importantly more about those around them. That's what I call the authentic leadership model in the book. I unpacked that chapter by chapter by chapter as we go.
Thank you for sharing that. The book can be found Amazon.com, Amazon.ca. Do you have any gifts that you'd like to give my audience before we go?
Many people don't know who I am. There's apprehension about buying a book if you don't know the author and I get that. What I do is, I say, “Test drive the book. Come to my website, DrJamesKelley.com. Click on the tab that says crucibles gift and you can get the first chapter for free, the introduction chapter. If you like it and you test drive it, head on over to Amazon. I got about 25 buttons on my website and you can get either the kindle version or you can get the hardback version as well.”
Thank you so much for that and for a great conversation. Is there anything you'd like to leave our audience with? Parting words of wisdom?
There's a quote that I live by that I own and that I preach. It is my family’s and it is, “Don't let fear conquer you, conquer fear.”
Thank you so much for being with us.
Thank you, Nicole. I appreciate your time, your energy and willingness to have me on your show.
Dr. James Kelley lives just outside of Dubai where he teaches, writes, and produces a bi-weekly podcast called Executives After Hours. The podcast is predicated on interviewing executives about their personal journey. The shows motto, “I care about who you are, not what you do, because what you do defines who you are.”
Thanks again to Carrie Roldan for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.
Christine Kloser’s philosophy as “The Transformational Author Coach” can be crystallized into one simple teaching: It’s the human being – the person behind the book – that matters.
Nothing works unless it comes from the inside out.
Christine began doing this “inside out” work in 1997 as a transformational event facilitator, and to date has trained more than 70,000 entrepreneurs, leaders and authors to write their books through this one core teaching.
Many of her clients have gone on to become best-selling authors, sign traditional publishing contracts, and appear in major media including: CNBC, CBS, Time, Business Week, CNN, ABC, New York Times, Fox & Friends, and TEDx.
To this day, Transformational Authors have launched book-based businesses using her popular programs: Get Your Book Done®, the Transformational Author Experience® — which is happening next week and I'm excited to be playing a role in — Breakthrough LIVE, as well as her My Time to Write® mentorship program.
Christine Kloser joins me on the Business Building Rockstars Show to talk about the Transformational Author Experience — one of her signature events that she's hosting for the 7th Season.
We'll be previewing what you can expect from this free online event that's happening next week for authors, and those who'd like to become authors.
I'm excited to be sharing this special bonus interview with you, and honored to be a collaborator among a fabulous line up of others for this season of the Transformational Author Experience.
If you DO know a book's on its' way, but let's be honest… it's been on its' way for a long time (you aren't alone if this is you because it's me too!)…
Or if you've already written at least one book but haven't derived the income, list growth, or publicity yet from in that you had hoped for.
Christine has gathered 32 New York Times bestselling authors, publishers, literary agents, industry leaders, author coaches, and book marketing experts, (including me) to share our best tips on how you can write, publish and promote your book — whether it's already in print, ready to be birthed, or is simply an inspired idea at this point.
At the end of the day, you're building a lighthouse. Knowing what you don't want gives you the perfect opportunity to attract what you do want. For Possibility Synergist and Spiritual Guide Brooke Emery, it's important that it's the right fit and to not worry and get attached about just getting the sale. She says you have to come from a place of serving instead of a place of selling. Brooke shares that she is usually able to pick it up when people are in that space and have that agenda with her. Having that same vision and agenda helps to make the partnership move forward faster and easier.
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Brooke Emery on Attracting the Perfect Clients
It's a pleasure to have my dear friend, Brooke Emery with us. Brooke, welcome.
Thanks for having me.
Just before I gave everybody a high level overview of who you are and what you do, but I know that's always changing as for me too and for many of us and you've really embraced that in your life. I admire that so much about you and we'll talk about our relationship and how we spent some time together. Before we dig in to that, do you want to tell people how you are showing up and serving and supporting people in the best way?
You described me as I'm multi-passionate. I have a background in a lot of things, marketing, PR, advertising, film, e-commerce. The list goes on. Sometimes my mom says, “I have a Forrest Gump background.” I've had a lot of different experiences. It lends itself nicely. I help multi-passionate entrepreneurs and businesses as a strategist, as a collaborator, as a joint venture. I do connections for people as well as pulling in all the resources that people need. I also have been a permanent fixture in the self-help section for over 25 years. I never claimed to know anything, but I do have some wisdom to share and I love holding space for people. Keeping people in a mindset to keep moving things forward from the point of view of being spiritually human, not thinking that you have to be perfect.
How did you come to get to that place of your spiritual connection? Was it always like that for you or is that something that happened later on in your life?
When I was little, I saw the movie, The Ten Commandments on TV and I had a very strong connection to it. I asked my parents to go to Hebrew school. Then from there on, my mom used to listen to things like Shakti Gawain and different subliminal things, Wayne Dyer on cassette tape and I became interested in it. Then in college, my good friend handed me the Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millmanin the early ‘90s. Then I kept going and kept going and it was searching and seeking just for my own self to understand how life worked and that's how it went.
At what point, did you bring that into the work that you do? You mentioned a little bit about the time we spent together. It was such a pleasure to have you in Ontario for my first retreat. I was so honored to have you there and it was very collaborative. One of the gifts that you brought to the group was a ritual, I would say. Maybe you can describe it better, but what I love about how I know you and how you show up is that you do have such a diverse background and such a strong background in so many grounded things like PR and marketing and joint venture partner ships and all of that. You also have this beautiful woo side and you've found a way of blending the two. Can you talk a little bit about held that came to be? Was that always the way it was or is that something that emerged?
Early on in my career, I worked in advertising, PR, marketing, and film. At some point, I knew that I wanted to jump into the coaching world. I was on my honeymoon and I went to Thailand and there was a service on the menu that said conversation with a friend where you can have a conversation with a monk. It was $200, and I said, “I have to do this. This is so out there, and I need to understand what this monk is going to tell me, but I had it in head that I was going to have him tell me what I wanted him to tell me,” which was quit your PR, start coaching and everything's going to be great. The monk came, and he said, “Don't quit until a certain time, you have to fall in love with where you are and then you can jump off.”
I listened to him and some great partnerships came out of me staying. I created some great strategic alliances like UNICEF. I didn't know that I knew how to do that. His advice to me was to fall in love with the situation. It would come at the right time. When the time was right, then I jumped out and started working with people individually and then more companies. I got certified in something called the Strategic Attraction Plan, which is attracting perfect customers, written by Jan Stringer. This is back in 2005. A lot of people do that now in terms of attraction plans, but they were the pioneers of this concept. I started working with people one-on-one to attract the perfect clients and then be on their biz dev team and connecting them and marrying all my loves of marketing and bringing transformation out into the world. I jumped off from there.
Tell us a little bit about if you would, I mentioned, ritual. That's how I described the experience that I had with you at the retreat. That's one thing that you do for people. You also run your own retreats. Can you talk about that a little bit and I don't even know the question there. It's you're so in flow.
When we got together, one of the things that we did was that we wrote as if it were a year from now so that we could get into the energy and the experience. The subconscious mind can't tell the difference between now and tomorrow. It was about getting into the flow of what we were wanting and what we were desiring from a place of joy and making it feel good. You had mentioned, “What if it doesn't happen? What if I get disappointed?” If it doesn't feel good, then don't do it. It has to feel good and right in the way. It's all about following your own intuition and that's something that drives me crazy in the coaching world, is that a lot of times, people will prescribe what's good for them and then not keeping account that that person has their own intuition and their own guidance.
Getting back to the ritual piece, it’s being in a space of listening and holding space for each other and tuning in to source, higher self, God, and I'm a big believer that everyone should. There are many gondolas going up the mountain going to the same place so whatever feels good to you and it's your truth. From my own experience, in my early days in the spiritual world or in the personal development world, I gave my power away to a lot of people and I didn't trust myself.
For me, save people time and money and being ripped off and also giving people the power to remember the truth, that they had the guidance within themselves, that there's really nowhere to get to. There's no journey. It's just the remembering of the truth of their own power. In terms of ritual, I have all kinds of different processes. We did some candle lighting and we handed out some crystals. We pulled cards, all from a place of play and fun and not really getting so into conclusion about any of it. It's about accessing your own truth and your own inner guidance. That's really what I love to do is seeing people have that experience.
Yes, it was perfect and amazing. Let me ask you this, how is it that we know? How can we tell when we're giving our power away I have often found myself where I feel like I'm standing in my power and I'm all good and then once time goes on, I'm feeling depleted and I don't realize how it's happened. I need that external person, which is why coaches need coaches. We all need a team of people to support us in different ways. It's when either somebody on my team points it out to me or I figured it out somehow, but it's easy for me to miss because it's so gradual I find. We do this in our personal lives and our professional lives as entrepreneurs, as parents, as friends in all different ways. We give our power away and we don't notice it as it's happening.
I usually will be able to tell by the way that I'm feeling. If I'm feeling irritated or I'm upset or it feels bad, I tune into how I'm feeling about the situation and then I'll check in, “Is it mine?” I do a little observation with myself. What is this and who does this belong to? What is going on? Is it the other person or is it my stuff? You phone a friend and/or a lot of times what I do is I journal. I do a lot of energy management exercises and you don't always have time. You're out and about and someone, just ticks you off and then you get sent down the rabbit hole. You're not going to go out and whip out your journal and start saying, “This is how I want to feel.” You just say, “Does this belong to me? Who does this belong to?”I'm an equal opportunity of different processes, that I'll give credit to that came from access consciousness is asking questions and really checking in with your body. If it feels good and light, it's usually your truth. If it feels bad, it's a lie or you're not in the right direction
I'll ask a question or I'll say, “How do I want to feel?””I want to feel joy,” or if I do have time to write in my journal, I'll write in my journal. I'll tell the truth because in the spiritual world, a lot of times is that people will put pressure on themselves to feel positive all day long and then be mad at themselves if they're not doing it right. If I were this Zen meditating momma all day, you compare yourself to an idealistic. You even find separation in the spirituality of it. That’s why I like to say I'm spiritual human. I get mad, I yell, but then how do I reclaim my power back? My mentor precedence says you reflect, you don't regret.
It’s about telling the truth. It's a soul dustbuster. You tell the truth about it and then sometimes, it's better to call a friend. You get it out, but then you don't stay stuck in the victimization of it. Then you say, “How do I want to feel now?” Then the clarity comes, even ask for the clarity to come. Then a lot of times my clients were like, “But the clarity didn't come yet.” I'm like, “Just chill out and just take a walk. Take your mind off of it.” A lot of times, walking is good for me around that, walking or people say meditating. I meditated but not everybody likes to meditate. Meditation can take the place of going on a spin bike or walk or watching a movie, whatever you need to do to get into that place of not thinking about it so a new awareness could show up.
So many different ways that you've just described it when we're feeling that funkiness, it's generally because we've given our power away. Being able to reflect and identify how we want to feel and then allowing for it by doing something, changing your state and focus, you then allow yourself to come back to even.
Sometimes people will say, “Go back into gratitude,” but I say it's about getting into a place of just feeling satisfied for no reason and getting back to the basics. It's so easy as entrepreneurs to always be in the gap of what's not getting done or all the things we have to do or the overwhelm or that you have this new social media platform that came out and everyone's now jumping on the bandwagon. You're like, “I didn't even master the Instagram yet. What am I going to do?” Then all of a sudden you get yourself into a spin. I'm like, “My only job today is to feel good and how can I bring joy into my day.” I take it from there. In terms of giving your power away, it's just checking in and making sure that the people that you entrust, they're vetted.
It's easy to go onto someone's website and see that they have all these testimonials and this and that, but check in with your own gut and get some information on that person that you trust. What makes me crazy is that when people come to me and then they say, “I spent $5,000 on this marketing strategist,” and then they didn't give them anything. They didn't care about them. I'm like, “I got to you too late. I would have referred you to this person because I've vetted them.”Things can always still go wrong in a relationship and it has happened. For the most part, I've curated great people that I trust and it's important that people don't get taken advantage of.
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Where did that passion come from? Had you had experiences where you went through things before you understood how to vet people in that proper way where you felt taken advantage of?
I can't think of a specific example, but I definitely have spent a lot of money on my business education and my self-help education and in a lot of ways, there were times that I've taken courses where they use specific manipulation tactics to get you to run to the back of the room. It's this pressure cooker situation and it feels it feels icky as opposed to coming from a place of selling from a place of serving, which I know you had that interview but one of my mentors also gave me that. I didn't want to come across that way. For me, it's important that it's the right fit and to not worry and get attached about getting the sale. If that doesn't feel good, I usually can pick it up when people are in that space and have that agenda with me. I'm passionate about sticking up for people, not getting taken advantage of. That really upsets me.
There were so many situations where I made choices that in hindsight and in retrospect weren't necessarily the best choices, but they were the best that I could do at the time. I didn't have the information. I am going through hiring different people. I had hired a number of assistants that I didn't do a good job hiring or managing or whatever the case may be. I spent a lot of money over the last years making “mistakes.” I only realized they are mistakes now because I know better. I also realized that if I hadn't have had those experiences, then I wouldn't be in this situation I am now to make that better decision. I was telling a friend of mine, I hired a company to source an assistant for me and the last one I got from them was amazing to where I just went back and hired them again and we’re just processing it. On the one hand it's like, “I wish I found this company sooner,” but the other hand, it's like, “I would not have seen this company sooner.”
If the owner of this company came into my awareness a year and a half ago, for example, I could have potentially saved the last year and a half of stress and heartache and money and all that stuff, but I probably wouldn't have because I wouldn't have been at the point of frustration and exhaustion that I got to when he literally walked in the same path as me and we had to have that conversation. I like to look at things too, even those icky feelings. It's like I like to look at those and appreciate that I made the choices I did, rather than feeling like, “This was horrible. I wish I hadn't done it.” It's just like when I launched my Business Building Rockstars Summit the first year. I did that because of all the things that I was disgusted by, which I didn't know at the beginning. I love that we also can have these experiences and not feel that victimization, as you said, but really reflect and take the win away from it.
What's the gift in it and where's the gold? Any choice that you make, there's no wrong choice because what I'm hearing you say, and this is what I'll do a lot, is I'll listen and people will laugh at me. They're like, “You're going to write a thank you note to that boss that was nasty to you because now we get to reflect on what we want.” First, we’re going to write all the things that we didn’t like about that person and now we're going to flip it. We're going to have a clear picture of what you're wanting and to bring into your experience. They are gifts, even though in the moment it didn't feel like that.
For me, it’s in the beginning phase of my self-help days, I used to think, “I've done all this work. I should get a get out of jail free card,” because of all the things or maybe I've acquired some Karma miles. No one escapes their time in the barrel. It's a matter of consciously going through it. At times, you might need to powerfully choose to be a victim about it and not spiritually bypass those feelings and then you can take it and grow from it. I do think it is a divine timing. I was speaking to a client who launched a book and had she not hired that marketing company, that book idea was germinated as a result of that. It was a gift.
I love that you said that about consciously choosing. If you want to feel funky, just making that decision that, “I'm good” with feeling funky. That's where I need to be right now. What I got from what you said, the impulse was that you just don't stay there. It's like, “This is how I want to feel right now. I feel victimized or I feel icky or whatever that case may be, I'm just going to sit with that for the next little bit and then I'll be over it.” Is that what you were getting at?
I've been through so many waves of it. In my early twenties, I went through depression and anxiety and things like that. At the time and when you're young, you don't realize those phases are going to pass and because I'm so high functioning with all the work that I've done, that I now have that knowledge. When I go through those phases or things where it feels so overwhelming, I could just powerfully choose it and then when I'm ready, “What can I do to feel a tiny bit better?” It could be a day or it could be weeks, but I'm consciously aware.
When I was up in the mountains, I was at seminar in Snowmass and it was Alan Cohen, he wrote the book, The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore and I'll never forget, he said, “The tide always comes back in.” I always default to that statement. Sometimes you can hear a statement and it's like this big a-ha for me and you're listening, it didn't mean anything to me. For me, it was so powerful because I always go back to it. It's just a cycle. I don't need to rush out of it but I have enough there to, “What's a tiny thing I could do to feel better right now?” I don't advocate emotional eating, but once in a while a black and white cookie doesn't hurt.
I love, to listen, too that you say a tiny bit better. I think too often we expect to snap out of something and be back to great and it's like, “You can't go from feeling like shit to feeling great.” I guess you can, but oftentimes we need a bit of a bridge and so building that bridge just little by little, it intensifies the speed and at which we get back to great by allowing ourselves to not try and jump from one side to the other, but rather, just starting.
It's giving yourself that permission. “I'll just take a little walk or get dressed or I'll brush my hair” or whatever it is that you need to do to make yourself feel better
There are two things for me that help me feel at peace and at ease that I love to do and are part of why I moved to where I live now. It's walking down by the water. I feel chill the water. Also, the other one, which I was so excited to have you join me, is the vineyards. I moved to the Niagara Region of Ontario because I was here and I was like, “There's something magical and life-giving.”Having those places or those things that we do where we can really identify like, “This feels life-giving to me.”If I'm feeling crap I'll just be like, “I got to stop what I'm doing. It doesn't matter what doesn't get done, it doesn't matter what needs to get done, I'm going to go take a walk down to the water or I'm going to go drive out to the middle of the vineyard country and just be there.” It's something special.
Those things don't cost money and that's the beautiful thing. It doesn't mean you have to go on a shopping spree or anything like that. It's fun, but I love that you said that. That area is, I had never been there before and it is so magical and I'm so grateful that I got to see it through your eyes because it is a beautiful place.
While you were there, you helped me with an issue that I'm dealing with and you talked about this process that you do and you've done in so many different instances and so many different ways. I wonder if you can give everyone this little nugget of you make a list to call in to your world what you want, this manifestation exercise. If they are in X situation, how you walk your clients through and what you do yourself to have Y outcome?
This process is what I refer to that I got trained into the amazing Jan Stringer and her book is called Attracting Perfect Customers. I took you mostly through phase one and we probably don't have time to go through all the phases. At the end of the day, you're building a lighthouse. What we reflected on before about knowing what you don't want, we get to attract what we do want. Let's say for example, you're looking for your perfect joint venture partner, you get to then write the list of very specific things that you want in that partner.
If you've tried to look at partners before, let's just say they didn't customize the swipe copy and things went wrong on your last launch. Then we first are going to look at what went wrong and what you don't want? We write that list and then we go into your perfect characteristics. What you do want? All the characteristics and qualities of that person. They are their word. If they say they're going to mail out four times, they're going mail out four times. They're going to take the time to customize the copy. They are someone that we are friends and that we really enjoy working together. They refer other joint venture partners to me.
Some of this works. Let's say, you want a new coach and then it works if you want also for an assistant. There are some things that happen that what I coach people through is, for example, when I was sending out a marketing proposal to a concierge client at the time. Before I had met with them, we have great communication. We had our business meeting and the rapport was incredible. I like high off the meeting. I sent them my proposal and I didn't hear back from them for three weeks. We had great communication, but they respond to my proposal within 48 hours. Now, it's not getting into a place of attachment. It's just like, “Wouldn't this be nice and this would bring me joy?”When we get to into conclusion about it, this is my recommendation if you're going to do this process, is to really just get into the playfulness and the joy of what would make you happy. In an ideal world, who would this person be like, and what would be really fun for you?
To me, it's important that they be fun. They're 100% responsible for their experience. There are certain specific things that I will get them to be more specific. This works with also in relationship. I did this for my baby nurse. I didn't think I could ask for everything and I wrote it on a napkin and I was like, “I don't know how spiritual the baby nurse is going to be.” I wrote it on the napkin and she came for the interview and she had her Bible and it was great. Then it turns out, while she was in the house, she was super into all of the books that I had. We were reading them together and we were having conversations and it was so much fun. I think that's just what it is. It's a tool to just get clear about what you're wanting and then it's just a course correction. Then as things come up, you're like, “I didn't really like that,” then you can just shift things in the same way that I just described.
Thank you so much for sharing that. It was a very powerful exercise and we did that little part and what you've just shared is so incredibly powerful for people to start calling that in. I would love for you to share if people want more of your support directly, one-on-one with the attraction plan or any of the magic that you sprinkle your magical fairy dust. If anybody would love to connect with you, to continue the conversation, how can they do that? I think you also have a free gift for my audience.
They could go to BrookeEmery.com/BBRS. I have a free Beats Alchemy Frequency for abundance for you to listen to for five minutes and some other things on the page, how to get in touch with me and it'd be great to hear from you.
Any final words of wisdom or thoughts you want to leave my audience with?
My last thought is if it’s not fun, it's not worth doing. Just do good and have fun and follow your bliss as Joseph Campbell says.
Brooke, thank you so much for being here with me.
Thank you so much for having me. It's an honor. I'm so grateful for you.
As a Possibility Synergist and Spiritual Guide, Brooke’s true gift is her wide-angle lens for potential. Her vision reveals opportunities for her clients. With her background in advertising, marketing, film, public relations, Brooke always finds creative ways to meet her client’s objectives.
Brooke has been recognized by Forbes as a natural connector with a jelly bean jar of creatively brilliant people in her life. She partners with and matches up spiritually minded entrepreneurs, Internet marketing mavens, and creative thinkers, to cross-pollinate and promote progressive joint ventures
She is a secret weapon for many visionaries, best-selling authors, and speakers who come to her for connections, business development, and spiritual guidance.
Thanks again to Chris Badgett for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.