Ari Meisel of the Less Doing Podcast on Mastering Productivity

BBR 249 | Less Doing

The easiest and best way to keep your business stay on track when you feel lost is to back track and think about what you did and how you did it. Ari Meisel learned this from the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial journey that eventually lead him to discover the Less Doing method of productivity. This method essentially helps you work smarter instead of harder and still get optimal results. Ari has become a productivity master who helps his clients identify the bottlenecks in their businesses and move on to the next phase. Learn how he uses restriction to force innovation on entrepreneurs.

Thank you to Lou Diamond of Thrive LOUD for introducing today's episode. What he loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is it has spectacular guests, unbelievable lessons but most importantly, it has the best podcast host on the planet, Nicole Holland. He highly recommends you listen, enjoy and sit back in every episode. He says take everything in because BBR rocks.

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Ari Meisel of the Less Doing Podcast on Mastering Productivity

I'm super excited to be having Ari Meisel with me to chat about the good, the bad, and the ugly of his journey. There are lots of ups and downs, but they started with the downs. These are things that a lot of people won't talk about. A lot of people don't want to talk about the times that things are difficult and the things that are challenging. They like to paint this rosy picture of having it all together. I'm inspired by Ari, and I'm inspired by what he's done. Even though he was a successful entrepreneur before that, things have gone up and down, and now he's killing it. Welcome to the show.

Thank you very much for having me.

Can you let us know a little bit that might not be in your bio? 

I have a company called Less Doing, which is like Less Doing, More Living. We teach people how to optimize, automate, and outsource everything so that they can be more effective. Through coaching programs and business consulting, I work with entrepreneurs who have opportunity and access of what their infrastructural support to set up systems and processes that empower teams to make themselves more replaceable.

Who are your ideal clients? At what point are people coming to you and being served at the highest level? 

I have programs that go all the way from free up until many thousands of dollars for a day of consulting. We work with a growth company for the most part, so six figures to seven figures, seven figures to eight, and then eight and beyond. I know that covers everybody, but those subsets, when they're making that transition, is one of the challenging parts. A lot of times, what will grow a business to a certain point is the same thing that will keep it down and prevent you from moving onto the next phase. The most common things I see that we're dealing with companies that are between a hundred thousand and a million in revenue. Those companies are dealing with trying to up their level of the leads that they're getting and the ones that are converting, and then putting systems and processes in place to get a team doing what the entrepreneur does well.

BBR 249 | Less Doing
Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier

You help them identify those bottlenecks where things are stuck, and then automate or outsource the system that will get them through that And it's like, “That's done. What's the next bottleneck?” 

We chip away. I always think of the Michelangelo quote about the David and the block of marble that they have to chip away the excess. A lot of times, everything that they need is there and what they're doing is good, but there's things that are getting in the way, so I remove obstacles and headaches.

Let's go back in time, I believe to around 2006. I'd love for you to let us know where you are at in your life, what you were doing and how things came to a halt and that pivot point. 

I was working in construction in upstate New York, in Binghamton. I was working long hours. I built this big project there. When I was 23, I was in $3 million in debt and had been living this really unhealthy lifestyle. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Crohn's is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the digestive tract and it's very painful, very debilitating, and not very well understood, certainly not at the time. I got really, really sick and went from working eighteen hours a day to barely being able to do an hour of work a day. Through a long process of self-tracking, self-experimentation, I was able to get off my meds and eventually go on to compete in IRONMAN France and recognize along the way that stress was a big component of what was going on in my life and the illness. My response to that was to create this new system of productivity to get more done and at the heart of it, regain some control because I do believe that control is the antidote to stress.

Can we dig into that a little bit more? A lot of people don't want to talk about things that are not rosy and shiny. Especially in our world today, the messaging and the gurus and the pictures and all of that image stuff never tells the whole story. A lot of times, people feel like they're the only ones going through stuff. Even though everybody isn't necessarily diagnosed with Crohn's, there's things that are happening that feel oftentimes insurmountable and it takes a shift or a revelation or some kind of awareness in order to realize, “This is the thing that's going to launch me to the next step.”When you were sick with Crohn's, you weren't like, “I got something going on, and now I'm going to be more productive and get less stressed.” That was a process or no? 

Yes, it definitely was a process. It wasn’t an immediate process either. I got sicker and sicker over the course of several months and I was sick for a couple years. A lot of times, it's a restriction that really forces innovation. What a lot of entrepreneurs don't realize is as overwhelmed as they might feel or they have a sense of they don't have time to get things done, the truth is that they're not making it a priority. They're putting it off until their body or their mind or their team or their bank account tells them they have to.

One of the big things that I teach people when we’re teaching productivity is to set artificially restrictive limits on yourself. An example would be that the average American spends $173 a week on food. Maybe that's you, maybe it isn't, but what if you were to say, “If I only had $100 a week to spend on food, what would I change? What would I give up? What will I add? What change would that require?” A lot of people don't take the time to do that in their personal lives, much less their businesses. It's easy to be like, “I'm going to hire more people.” It's like, “What if I couldn't hire more people and I had to get this done with some other system?”To me, restrictions force innovation.

Can we talk about some restrictions? I have worked with a lot of people who have lots of different hats they wear. They’re a parent, they’re a spouse, they're a business owner. Some of them are still working in corporate and doing things on the side. They're trying to write a book, they’re a podcaster. They have all these different roles that they're playing, and sometimes, it feels like they can't get a hold on any of them to show up fully and completely, and they feel really spread too thin. Personally, I go through bouts of this every once in a while, until I'm like, “You can get a hold on this.”It takes awareness, and sometimes people don't realize how to restrict things. Can you talk about a couple of other examples about how you help specifically business owners to put those artificially restrictive points in there? 

It's sneakily built into the whole framework that we teach, which is optimize, automate, outsource. The problem with outsourcing is that people do it first. If you're taking an inefficient problem that you hate doing and it's a crappy task and you give it to somebody else who has even less context for it, you're setting them up for failure and you as well, and then more frustration. That's when people are like, “I tried outsourcing once but I don't want to ever do it again.”That's a problem. It's so inherent to most people to throw more bodies at the problem. How could we rearrange this puzzle essentially so that we get the result we want? A lot of times, what that leads to is people asking the question of, “What is the actual result that we do want?”

Sometimes, we're not clear on that. Vision is extremely important as entrepreneur to be able to express that not only to your team and your clients and your customers, but also to people that you would delegate it to. It's inherent in the process, but you can do some very basic tracking. If you track somebody, you install an app on their computer and it'll tell you that they spent seventeen hours on email this week and you ask them, “What if you only spend an hour a day on email? What would happen?” Set that limit. It works.

There's something called the liberty paradox, which is the idea of positive and negative freedom. Everyone talks about how they want freedom. They want freedom when they're in a9 to 5 job, they want freedom to be with their family and retire. Freedom from something would be a negative freedom. Freedom from the 9 to 5, freedom from the grind, whatever you want to call it. Ideally, you want to get to a place where you have freedom to do something, so you're going towards the thing you have freedom. The problem in that gap is that too many options leads to less freedom because we get into this analysis-paralysis situation. There's a video I saw on YouTube and this guy was at a grocery store in Minneapolis and he was marveling at how many frozen pizza options there were. It was like a hundred-foot-long freezer of probably a hundred different brands, and a lot of people would actually spend a significant amount of their time in the supermarket trying to figure that out, and that's a bad thing. Giving ourselves these limits is huge.

The freedom to, rather than freedom from. This shows up in so many different things where people want things, but it's that they're wanting from a space of not having, rather than wanting from a space of the results they're actively working towards. What is the result we really want? Unless we can answer that in everything we do, then there's inefficiency. What are some of your key things that you teach about that? About how to close the gap from inefficient to productive or efficient? How is it that once we realize, “I’ve been looking for freedom from, I realize I'm looking for freedom to. I'm going to go back to that vision.”It’s like, “This vision is so great. Now what?”How do you decipher which one thing to work on at a time, or do you not advocate for one thing at a time?

BBR 249 | Less Doing
Less Doing: Freedom from something would be a negative freedom.

As an individual, yes; but as an organization, definitely not. Maybe that sounds obvious to some people but it's not because a lot of people will say, “We’re doing this part” When people talk about an organization that moves slowly, that's the problem, but they're not officially dividing that up or effectively dividing that up. In closing that gap, one of the things is that you want to make the process more efficient. There's going to be a lot of things that are general process that you go through on a regular basis. The one-off stuff is different. In a lot of ways, if you get into this mindset of OAO or whatever system you want, but you get into a mindset of, “We're going to do this in this way and we're going to go through the processes.” You started thinking that way as the “one-offs” come up.

A lot of times, when somebody is like, “This only happens once every three months.” It's usually wrong if you start tracking and identifying what that is. I had a webinar and somebody said, “I'm on call a lot for my job and so I don't know when the time is going to be.” I said, “Have you ever tracked two or three weeks of what on-call looks like and when you're getting called in for things?”He said, “No.” I said, “There's a pattern of some sort that you might be able to plan around to the best of your ability. Once you've identified a pattern, you might be able to preempt some of that stuff from happening.”That's a big thing. Everyone who's saying to themselves like, “I don't have time to stop and look” then you're going to get hit by a bus and then your company is going to stop working.

For this episode, I’m actually sponsoring it myself. With that, I want to share with you about my one-day business breakthrough intensive. Let’s face it, no matter what stage of business that we’re at, there are always areas that could use a little bit of outside perspective. Without which, they hold us back from our goals. That’s why the most successful people in the world have people that they turn to in order to optimize their resources and get unstuck fast. I’m Nicole Holland, host of the Business Building Rockstars Show.

This is one of the things I love doing for clients is helping them get really clear on the underlying issue that is manifesting all kinds of funky stuff in their life so that they can get more productive, more profitable and more joyful as quickly as possible so they don’t have to spend time trying to figure it all out. I have a unique way of honing in really fast on what’s going on, and spitting out a complete road map, step by step to get out of that sticky stuff. That gum that’s just holding them back. Whether it’s processes or lead generation or conversion or any number of things, that is one of my innate gifts and how I serve my clients at my highest and best.

If you would like more information about the one-day breakthrough, visit If you decide to join us, you can use coupon code BBRShow to take a whole $100 off of the tuition. That URL to get all the details about my one-day business breakthrough intensive can be found at

It's one of the things that comes up when I'm working with clients so frequently, where it's like, “Let's start tracking this and here's what you need to do.”I would love to know how you recommend. What I do with my clients is I help them have a spreadsheet. We track, and it is that resistance of, “Do I have to really write down everything? Do you want to know where you're wasting time?”It's a short period of time that you put in that effort, and it brings so much awareness. Every time after they've done it they're like, “I didn't even realize.” You can't solve a problem if you don't know the root of it. If you don't know why is this inefficient or ineffective and what are you doing that's wasting that time or energy or resource, then you can't find something better. 

A lot of people tend to come to you with the solution rather than the problem. Great example of that is at least once a week, if not more, somebody says to me, “What's the best CRM these days?”I always say, “Why do you need a CRM for?”Most people are like, ” I was at a conference and I saw this thing. Everybody in my industry is using Salesforce.” If you get down to it, it’s like, “What are you going to use it for?”“I'd follow up with prospects.””We can do that with your email so you don’t need CRM.”They come with the solution, and not identify what the problem is, what they're trying to achieve.

When you go to an expert with the solution, and you want them to tell you how to do it or you want them to answer which one's best, they cannot know that without some discovery. That discovery is a collaborative process. You can't say, “Here I am, here's my problem. Can you fix it or can you give me that advice?”When people say, “I tried outsourcing and it didn't work so I'm not doing that.”If you didn't do it effectively with the right underlying information and the data before you attempted to outsource, then it's not going to work. I don't think most people recognize that. 

When someone says, “I don't have time to stop and do this, it's not a priority.”If somebody put a gun to your head, then you would do it. It's about motivation and what matters. It’s the same thing for anything. If you say, “I don't have time to work out, it's not a priority.” That's okay. It may not be a priority, but it's not that you don’t have time.

When you are working with folks, what do you recommend timeline on how long they should be tracking things? Are we talking a week, are we talking a month, are we talking a year? 

There's very little that you can get from a week, but there's some things that you can do in a day. There's some things that you want to track forever, but they don't require much effort on your part. It's if something pops out from the norm. You could map a process in ten minutes or maybe it takes a couple of days. I know it's not a very specific answer, but it's usually shorter than you think.

Do you have any tools or resources that you recommend for starting tracking? How do you recommend people do that? 

If it's a process that you want to document, then I would say Process Street is a good tool for that. It won't do it for you, but it'll help you organize it in a good fashion. If you want to figure out how you're using your computer, which I think is valuable, Timing app is great on a Mac. There's benefits to tracking your sleep. Anything that you do starts to bring some awareness. One of my favorites, which is quick and dirty, is taking a picture of what you eat and not doing calories or macros or anything like that. I have an automation set up that will send that to me three hours later as a picture and say, “How do you feel?”It's incredible awareness because a lot of times if you're feeling funky or out of it, look back in the last three hours of what you ate and who you met with. That might be very eye opening for you.

Can we dig into this, that who you met with? There are definitely people or situations that we encounter on a regular basis in our business that give us energy and make us feel better. Then on the opposite side of the spectrum, take energy from us and deplete us. Sometimes I’ll get into a space where I'm like, “I don't even know what I'm doing.” My brain is so cloudy, I need to step away from the desk and stop. I’ve had encounters with some of those situations or folks that I feel exhausted afterwards. 

If you feel that at a specific time of the day, then that’s possibly a different thing, but your boss or a coworker or a family member could be a drain on you. It doesn't mean you have to avoid that person, but if you know that going in, like you might smile before walking into a room or you might meditate before you go on stage. If you can think of it that way, “I'm going to meet with somebody who is an energy suck, so let me prepare for them in advance.”

Do you have any recommendations or ideas about how to even decipher if this is somebody who I still want to spend time with even though they're an energy suck, or is it somebody that I can find an automation or a way to serve them and to support them where I don't have to spend that time with them? I’m asking because this is something that I started implementing, and it's still a process. I'm not perfect at it, but awareness is so important.

I've found ways that people come to me and want things from me that don't feel good to me, and I was, for a long time, serving them and giving it to them without considering how that made me feel after. I've set up some systems like canned responses that I can automate or delegate or outsourced as well to other people, or that I can resolve in a couple seconds in a way that I feel good about it and they feel served hopefully. If they don't, I don't take that on.

BBR 249 | Less Doing
Less Doing: You have to take the mindset that you control your communication.

You have to take the mindset that you control your communication. You have the ability to do that. A lot of people take it, and there's a whole psychological thing about that. They did it years and years ago, but there was a study with dogs where some were getting electric shocks, and some would avoid it and others would give in to it. A lot people do that. It's like, “That's part of my life and how it is.”No, it's not. You can start to control to some extent. You're like a polarizer, so that you get it the way that you want. If you have an annoying client, then they don't get to call you on the phone. They have to work with you through email. A lot of people are more okay with that than you'd think, because if they want to work with you in the way that you work most effectively, then they have to allow that.

When you are working with a client, and maybe you aren't doing that because you've built the business up in such a way, but what do you recommend when people have taken on clients that they recognized after the fact this was a bad match. They're not at a point where they're like, “I'm going to fire this client.” It's not that bad, but it's just a wrong personality, or the expectations weren't clearly laid out. People suffer through it rather than establishing new boundaries. What are your thoughts on that? 

People have to be okay with firing clients. It's the right thing to do to protect the integrity of what you're trying to do. If you are strapped for cash and you need to make the money, then you have to make the money, and you got to do it. Sometimes, we have to wade through a lot of snow to get to the cabin. It's not that it’s not supposed to be hard. Entrepreneurship is hard. It's not about getting rid of anything that we don't like doing. It depends on the situation, but if you are in that situation, you should politely as possible explain that you're not necessarily serving their needs the best that somebody else might be able to. The best thing is if you can offer another solution, another provider for example, that even might be a competitor, but it's the right thing to do for everybody.

Do you have any other tips on the actual process of firing a client? How do you identify that? What are those things to look for before you make that decision? What's the process going forward once you make that decision? 

Some of the tracking is important for that because you may not realize how much time a client is sucking from you. With the tracking, you'll be able to identify the 80/20 stuff, which clients are really benefiting you and that aren't. That's the first part to figure it out.

Tracking from the beginning of your contract with them? 

If you didn't, then you can start now. If you do a three-day time study of how you're doing things and you find that 40%of your time is being spent with one client, and then you look at, “Is that client producing 40%of your income?” It doesn't work. The first thing I would say is you want to be as asynchronous as possible. This is a new concept for some people, but email is technically an asynchronous tool, whereas the video call is a synchronous tool. A lot of people think that they have to be synchronous with most of their communication, and it's absolutely not the case. For me, for example, I do business coaching and consulting and I coach a lot of individuals and I have a mastermind program that many of them are in.

Most masterminds that I know of and most coaches will offer unlimited texting or something while they're in a program. I don't do that because it's not scalable and it would frustrate the crap out of me, so I use a tool called Voxer. Voxer is a walkie-talkie for your iPhone or your Android. People can send a voice message to you whenever they want, and you can listen to it whenever you want and respond whenever you want. They get unlimited Voxer access to me and that's fine because with asynchronous communication, you can listen and digest and respond when you want and they can do the same. Everyone that I work with loves that. If you have a client that won't do that for some reason, you have to understand why. That makes them not a good fit. If you're a designer, you got to get on calls with clients sometimes. You have to be synchronous for certain things, but not everything.

You're serving and supporting them at a very, very high level, but it's on your time and it's within your boundaries. I think boundaries are something that we often, especially in the earlier stages of business, let down a lot and don't hold because we don't want to upset somebody, or we want their business or we need their business. 

This does depend on your reputation and how good you are in what you do. If you are good at what you do, and you believe in what you're doing, you know your stuff, then your reputation is no longer on the table for grabs. That's why a feedback session that you do, and you should do lots of feedback and learn from it, but the feedback is for how the client interact with your program. For me, I know that my program produces results. It's not going to be that everybody that we meet will be a right fit for it. We want to be a little higher or bring in people who are the right fit but understanding that the feedback is something for you to learn from. They're the ones that are getting the feedback. Your reputation is not on the table.

That’s something that far too many people concern themselves with. It's a quote that I learned from Dr. Wayne Dyer many years ago, “Your reputation is none of your business. Your character is your business. What other people say about you when you leave the room, that's their business. It's a reflection on them and, and not you.”If you take that on, your circumstances are dictating your situation. 


It’s something known as correspondence bias. If you're ever in a car and somebody cuts you off, most people assume that the person doing it is a jerk, but they could have been taking somebody to the hospital. We tend to associate how somebody is in a particular instance to their character in general. It's called correspondence bias.

You have a podcast of your own and you have lots of stuff going on. You've got Facebook community. I want to make sure that the audience know where they can go to connect with you and get support in the different ways that you do serve. 

They can go to to find out everything that we do. We have a podcast, it’s Less Doing Podcast, several books. We also have a community on Facebook called the Less Doing Labs. It's a free community and there is almost a thousand people in it. You can get lots of great guidance. I do a call there every month, it's a coaching call. We have several different programs we offer. In the near future we've got a few events coming. We do three events a year. Everything is at

Thank you so much for being here. Any final words of wisdom? 

If something doesn't feel right, try to bring some awareness to what you're doing and how you've been doing in the last couple hours. It’s simple, but it's not easy. It is more eye-opening than you might think.

Thank you so much. 

Thank you.

Resources mentioned:

About Ari Meisel

Ari Meisel is an entrepreneur, author, CEO, real estate developer, green building consultant, and productivity expert. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, Several years ago, Ari encountered and ultimately overcame severe personal roadblocks and that journey transformed his life. His discoveries about personal and professional productivity have improved the lives of thousands of individuals and businesses. His proprietary process, the Less Doing More System, is the foundation of his company Less Doing which offers individuals and enterprises road-tested methods to optimize, automate, and outsource everything. The goal is to learn how to work smarter, instead of harder.


Thanks to Lou Diamond of Thrive LOUD for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.


Cricket Lee of Fitlogic on Bringing an “Impossible” Dream to Life

BBR 248 | Fitlogic

You may have heard of the old adage, “All men are created equal,” but apparently all women aren’t, especially with the way women dress. For many women, shopping for clothes and finding that perfect fit is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that needle in the haystack, the lost city of Atlantis, you get the picture. Cricket Lee is revolutionizing the way women buy clothes by launching revolutionary fashion sizing for women's clothing called Fitlogic in which apparel is designed to make clothes fit consistently by size and shape, and standardized across brands to make the shopping experience easier for women. Her website has provided an online tool for women to find their perfect fit.

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 rock star herself. The level and the depth of questions that she asks the guest 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.

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Cricket Lee of Fitlogic on Bringing an “Impossible” Dream to Life

Welcome, Cricket Lee. I am beyond excited to have you with us.

I'm so excited to be here.

Let's talk a little bit about NRF, about the Big Show. What did you find the most interesting or inspiring or exciting about the event?

I was there for the event itself and for my own stage presence. I didn't get to look around a lot because I'm busy, but it was a magnificent show. I hated losing that opportunity. There were so many cool things there. They had 36,500 people or something. It was crammed. Three days of crammed people.

The NRF did a wonderful job of taking care of the press. I wanted to see the key notes and Arianna Huffington, Tommy Hilfiger, and so many others. I have to give a big shout out to what Intel is doing in retail. Intel had this mind-blowing booth about what the technology that's coming into retail. They had this makeup mirror where the makeup artist can do a makeover for you after you choose your colors virtually. You touch the different colors and it puts it on your face. When you find some colors that are a perfect fit for you, they do this make-over while recording it. You get that video so you can be at home and be like, ”How did they create that?” So much innovation. What you do just go so much in line with that. However, you've been at this for a long time.

Tell us about what you're doing, what you have created, that is amazing for women. Women are knowing about it, it’s on its way, but it hasn’t quite reached everyone yet. Why isn't it everywhere? That's the curiosity. You have been pushing for that. Tell us about Fit Logic, how it works, how you came up with the idea. I would love to dig into the journey that you've taken Because to stick with something so long and so passionately is something that most entrepreneurs will never do. For those people who have this vision and have this burning desire to bring something alive, I would love to dissect your journey and how you kept going no matter what.

I started with the vision of creating clothing that you can buy online. I had this vision of a plasma screen and you could say, “I want a pair of white pants.” It would come up and you could buy it. When I had that vision, I didn't realize I was going to have to change everything about the way clothing was fit to make it work. I started my research, a major retailer let me research in their stores, Target. I watched women's buying habits. I saw them look at the younger styles. When they hit about 40 and they hit about a size ten, they would turn from the junior-looking clothing and go into the adult ladies clothing and they would walk out of the store. I learned that there's something about your body changes, it's not any specific age, it’s as you change you have different preferences. I had launched a woman, who is executive directors of Ford Models, with a book. She had written a book called Hoax about body types. I had launched her on HSN with an apparel program around body shapes and body types. I decided to add body types into a brand and merchandise it and create it for women. It kept moving and it evolved into a fit brand because I discovered that all women needed the same solution. What I started doing was trying to fix all the broken pieces of the industry. Everything from design, to merchandising, to how it's applied in the fit, to the way it's assorted in the stores to the consumer buying it.

The way Anne Klein, for instance, would approach designing her garments. She knew her customer, she knew the manufacturer, she knew the fabric, she created the marketing, she knew the retailer. She knew everything. It was holistic, look at her customer. That doesn't happen anymore. Everything's in big silos. All of designers now wanting to be on the runway, that's their aspiration. It’s discombobulated in a bit. There's this cutting-edge technology, but it's still a light on some antiquated pieces of fit development. Like using a fit model that's an hourglass shape and then padding or trying to do different shapes, but the grade rules are not the way the bodies change. I set out to do that. It took me about five years to finish the fit itself and patent it, get all that done. It took me about five years, then I came to New York. I tested with Macy's, Nordstrom, QVC and learned what I needed to learn about applying it to the industry. Unfortunately, I was too early for the industry because one of the brand attribute is fit. If a brand has fit as their attributes, they're not going to consider a universal fit system.

It was a difficult period of time because I wasn't expecting it to be so hard to penetrate the industry. I went back to Dallas, which is where I was from, and a women network got me on stage and put me on stage. I had women just barraged me. They placed orders, they helped me raise money, they waited nine months for their pants. It was phenomenal. You can't believe the support I got from women. It was amazing. My daughter who's 25, she's a lovely young lady. She came up with the idea of Little Black Pant as a way to sell something very focused. We used what they call direct response advertising on Facebook. The last year and a half, we've sold about $10 million worth of little black pants on Facebook alone. I've proven the concept. I'm in New York and I'm starting my licensing journey. I’m my licensing The Little Black Pant out to a company to make the pants and distribute the pants so I can focus on the technology development. I'll be working on jeans and tops and dresses and then maybe gloves, and hats and shoes. What I want you to do is have your own body code so that when you shop in the future, either in a store or online, you don't have to think about your size anymore. It's embedded in the product and you only have to look at what is going to fit you. My vision is that a designer will pick a shape and design for that shape.

In my system, shape one is straight, and I coined that phrase in the industry. When you see it, it came from my presentations. Yoko Ono, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Heidi Klum, Cathy Bates, Martha Stewart were all women who have our fullness expand if we gain weight in the middle. Shape two is like Marilyn Monroe, Octavia Spencer. On the larger side, Sarah Jessica Parker, they are the hourglass. That's the shape that the industry uses to fit, but it's only 14 % of the global marketplace. Hence the problem because that's the standard in the industry. it came from the 1940’s. Shape three is on the smaller side like Beyoncé or J-Lo, or Oprah, Kirstie Alley. That shape, they gain their fullness in their thighs and their lower bottom. They usually have a small waist. You can imagine that each shape has to dress differently. Shape ones, usually I camouflage their middle and show off their legs as they gain weight. Shape three’s I want to belt their middle and show off their waist and camouflage their thighs. It's a whole different way of dressing. We want to train different brands to adopt a shape. They can do more than one shape, but that's essentially the idea. It's a phenomenal thing. We have thousands of comments every week from happy customers that are like, “How do you do this? It fits out of the box.”We're back in conversations with our test retailers and other companies to start integrating Fit Logic into their brand. It's an exciting time for me because I think the world is ready for it now.

I love what you were saying that you were ahead of time because people weren't ready. It's amazing that you had that vision before this online market was a big deal, before everybody was shopping online. Not only did you have that vision, but you had the clarity about all the different places that needed to be fixed or altered in order to make your vision come to fruition. A lot of business owners and entrepreneurs I work with who get into doing something, it's because they have that excitement about, ”This is my vision. I have all these ideas.” They see all the things, but sometimes they don't understand that each thing is going to have its own roadblocks and that it may take longer than anticipated. I wonder in the early stages, especially when you were met with resistance, before you were embraced, how did you deal with some of those experiences? I don't know what you went through, but I can only imagine that you had some enthusiasm about something and you knew what you were talking about. You did your research, you did all of the prototyping and they're like, “Not really.”

The word for that is resilience and I'm one of those people. They say it's a common characteristic of people like me, that we are eternal optimist, and that's the truth. You can get me down for a few minutes. It used to debilitate me for days but I’ve learned to raise my own personal energy. I'm into spiritual, uplifting, positive energy, and self-worth because I believe we all create our own reality and we attract to ourselves what it is we're up for. That's one piece. The other piece is discovery. I had the vision of Fit Logic in four hours. I had no idea what I would have to do Every time I would get a resistance, I would go, “I need to fix that piece. I need to fix that piece.”What ended up happening is it ended up touching every point that a garment touches all the way to the consumer I had to study everything, of trying to get up e-commerce and do direct to consumer, I had to study women's responses and customer service. Do they trust us and only buy one pant? It had to be a very controlled environment for me to learn because early in my tests with retailers, they wouldn't let me touch the customer.

I didn't have any idea what was happening. It is customary law that if you're on the telephone buying something, they'll say, “Let's try a size ten or size twelve to make sure you're covered, and all that return and all that issue.”We had to create a controlled environment where we tell them what they can buy. They could experience it and then return it. We would talk to them about getting their final size. It's been a really hard learning, a long learning experience, and interesting in that it's somewhat complicated. The main difference in us and what people might call competition is two things. It's patterns, the sizing rules, and all the application of the fit in a product. It's an online tool to find your fit. The difference in me and what's going on out there is there are people out there may be doing shapes or are doing their own fit. There's people out there doing some algorithm to point you to something that might fit. The difference in mine is that I'm leading you to a pattern. Over there, they're leading you to a brand that might fit you. That's the piece that I’ve figured out that makes it focused. Once you're in that fit, we can ask you a few more questions so we know your top size and so forth, so there's a lot of nuances to that.

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I would love to talk a little bit more about digging into some of the challenges that you've overcome. You had a situation where it was one of these awareness that we all go through where it's like, “I know what I don't know and I know what I don't want to learn. I'm going to find somebody to hire to help take care of this part of my business, so that I can focus on my zone of genius.”I believe you had a situation like that and brought somebody in. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

It happens over and over again. I had a guy that I was talking to about being president, big guy in the industry. I picked up the phone and called a couple of his friends like, “We’re never going to do that. We're never going to happen.” They believe the people in the industry that's never going to happen. My vision is consumer centric. It has nothing to do with industry opinion. Change never comes from within an industry. When I left New York, I was on the cover of Wall Street Journal, I had licenses with some big companies. On the day I was on the cover, Bear Stearns went under. The writing was on the Wall and I couldn't raise money to own my brand. I had learned in my retail test that I couldn't go out there with an intel inside without a marketing budget because these big companies, they just copy. That's what they do. I came back, I found a great guy that was going to license us early on. He got excited, he quit his job, he spent six months doing a business plan, getting all ready, he goes back to New York. He talks to three or four people. He calls me one day and he says, ” I quit. I'm done.”

This is somebody you hired to be your CEO.

A big shot in New York City from big industry experience from top brands. He comes up here and talks to his friends and he calls me and says, “I'm done. I quit. You're never going to have your dream.”I said, “Watch me.” He's like, “You're unbelievable.”I said, “Yes, I am. I'm doing it for the women, not for your buddies. They're never going to get it.”I still have that same resistance in the industry. They're like, ”We have to do triple those skews.”They think because I used one style and three shapes to educate the world about Fit Logic, they think that's what it is. They don't understand that it's a further segmentation of how to do fit for every brand. My vision is for every brand to adopt a shape and make that. It was a really hard journey at that time. I decided to go direct to consumer, direct to the women. It's interesting because I know myself. l'm really frustrated with shopping. I'm a plus size woman, but Neiman's and Saks, they both closed on their plus size departments. Nordstrom is trying, but they really don't know who to target. If their average customer is 60, the designers are making clothes for 30-year-old or 20-year-olds. It's all over the place because the information isn't readily available for the designer.

Everything that I saw that was broken in the industry, I started trying to fix. I created an easy system where a woman can answer six questions and get a pant that fits out of the box. About 15% of those women are going to have to try a second pant, but at the end of the day, we do away with about 80% of return. It does make a difference in women's shopping. The whole idea of Little Black Pant is to get a woman in her fit, so that now as I license other brands, she doesn't have to try anything on anymore. That's the whole crux of it.

This shouldn't be not only Fit Logic, but brain logic. It should be this simple for people to live their life, but it’s not. It makes you such a disruptor.

The onus shouldn't be on us to have to try things on. It shouldn't be our problem and it still is. Even with all this technology out there, it's still our problem to answer questions and try on a bunch of stuff. That's still going on. It's my dream to do away with all that, do away with your size. Early on I didn't realize this. I did a little video when I was doing field trials early on. I was watching the video and I pieced it together. What I noticed was women thought it was their problem, that there was something wrong with their body. It was an a-ha moment for me. That video got me my retail test partners. They still weren't ready for it but they got excited because they could see women think there's something wrong with them.

I can speak from my own personal experience. I have a small frame. I always was “thin” but I always felt good in my body. I always felt healthy. There came a point in time in my life where my metabolism changed or my lifestyle changed or some thing’s changed. Talking about body positivity, I never felt bad per se. I never felt bad as a person. What I did find was I didn't like the way I looked in clothes anymore. I'm a one but I was a small one. Before I got to plus size, there are less things that I felt looked good on me. I would put things on and then I would feel okay. I'd see a picture and I'm like, “What was I thinking?”I didn't like the way I looked in clothes. I still liked myself, but I didn’t like the way I looked in clothes. That was a big challenge. I have so many clothes because I would buy things to try and make myself look good.

They like that you do that. After my retail test, I woke up on Sunday morning and I was on the cover of the business section of the New York Times. They had two stories. One story, a woman was trying on, she was like, “This works, but I wouldn't wear these pants because they're for my mother.”That was okay with me because it's not about the style, it's about the fit. The story said, “Clothes that fit the woman, not the store.”The story said that the industry likes to keep women confused so that they'll buy more clothes, that they were never going to do Fit Logic. I woke up on a Sunday morning, that's how I found out they weren't rolling my product out. On the newspaper. It was devastating for me.

How did you overcome that? Because you did. You bounced back and it’s like, “Here's what I'm going to do.”

Through the years, I had to let go of every material thing that I held dear. They said to me, “You're not looking after your daughter properly. She needs to go live with her daddy.”Everything that I held dear was taken away from me in one way or the other. I had to sell it or I slept on my friend's couches. I had a partner and she's a great woman. We were doing it together and she said, ”This is too hard. This is never going to happen. It's too much.”She was my investor, “You have my permission to quit and look after your daughter because that's what I'm going to do.” At that moment, I had to think, “What do I want to teach my daughter? Giving up and mediocrity or greatness?” To me greatness was going for my dream and teaching her that you can have whatever you want if you go for it. You have to put blinders on and you have to ignore the naysayers. What do they say about Steve Jobs? It took him two decades to become an overnight billionaire. He had the focus and the determination to live his dream and you have to do that.

What does Walt Whitman say? “Men and women lead lives of quiet desperation.” It's because they're selling out every day. They’re doing what they don't love. It's like the parable in the Bible about the lilies of the field. You're going to be clothed and you're going to be able to eat. Anything beyond that, you don't need to worry about because it's all going to be okay. I've learned that's true. I'm always taken care of somehow. I can’t tell you what it's been like. I have many investors who've helped me get here. They support me and stay with me. I know it's been difficult for them to wait. For optimists, we don't see time. We see it all right now. I would have never guessed it would take me this long to get here. I will say that it does work to stay, to have a vision, and to dedicate yourself to it, for it to become your life's work. At some point, I’ll probably sell it. I’ll be able to retire and take care of myself because I sure haven't put anything back, so I'm good with that. I wanted for women to feel good about themselves and watch how they feel when they feel good about themselves, when they don't have to think about, “There’s something wrong with me.”

It’s like, “I will sleep once I have changed the world.”Once this is implemented and women don't have to wonder and they can go get whatever brand. They are a two and whatever brand focuses on sizing for a two. Is that what I'm hearing?

I need them to adopt a shape and use my system to make clothing. I tried to do it through the government affiliate for the sizing. I couldn't affect anything. It's a licensed model, so the brand would pay me a little bit of everything that sells. They're spending about the same amount making product using fit models. All the returns, the wastes, the global carbon footprint, the dressing rooms, the hang back racks at the end of the sale or so forth. It saves time, it streamlines everything, it makes women feel good about themselves. It makes it easier for the brands because they're not always trying to separate out and solve the problem if a fit model gets sick or gets pregnant and they have to change the fit. How many times have you had something you love, then all of a sudden, the fit was different? That's what happens because nobody can hold the fit.

BBR 248 | Fitlogic
Fitlogic: Women feel good about themselves when they don't have to think about, “There’s something wrong with me.”

Once I find a brand of jeans that fits my body, I'm like, ”That's my brand.”

I know fit models that have tummy tucks. That's not a real body. The fit is only going to work if it's on a real body. Kim Kardashian and some of these girls have butt implants. They have a shape too, but they've added that big booty. They probably couldn't wear Fit Logic because they’ve added unnatural things. I'm not criticizing. I'm saying it's all about how the human body changes. We all change very methodically by shape.

Where can women go online to find out what their fit size is, what their Fit Logic size is, and to learn about Little Black Pant and order their own?

You go to, you pick your height, you pick a style, you answer five questions, and then we send you a pant.

Is this available outside of the United States?

We tested in Canada but it wasn't done properly so we had to pull back. I'm sure we'll be back there someday.

This is US only. What about APO? Can folks over in the military get theirs?

Not yet. I had to get Little Black Pant up and going. Now that it's licensed out, I can keep going and put that in different places.

Not only did you face people who didn't have your vision, there were objections to overcome. You say, “It doesn't matter what you say. I'm going keep on going because this is my dream, and this is my purpose.” In your industry, and probably in lots of industries, people do make judgment on physicality. You were met with a lot of resistance because you didn't look the part that was expected in the retail industry, is that right?

I will have to say yes. Maybe in the view of things here, fat, old, and from Texas. I had nothing going for me. I got to a place where I would walk into a meeting and I'd be sitting in a room of all size zero women and men, all dressed, and I would say, “I want you to not look at me as a fashionista. I want you to look at me as a scientist because what I’ve created is going to change everything about how retail works in the future around apparel.” They would listen to me then. It didn't help me that much because they didn't adopt it, but I got used to saying that. There's very much a stigma around it. I did have a meeting at Vogue and I had these little tiny things sitting around a conference table with me. At first, it was very distant. I got to have them stand up and turn around and I said, ”You're a shape one, you’re a shape two.” They were like, ”This is so personal.” I said, ”It is personal.” Your demos have nothing to do with your shapes. People think my demo is a woman who shops at Walmart and she lives in a trailer or she shops at Neiman's and she has a Mercedes. That's the way they develop clothes and it has nothing to do with our shapes.

As we gain weight, our shape changes according to how we gain weight or how we age. It's that scientific application that nobody's ever done before that further segments how people can look at. You'd be like having bras with just an A cup. What would you do? Or shoes in one size. The military men have a little bit of a standard because in civil war, they standardized fit to make military uniforms. You can see the neck width and the sleeve length. Women, we were all seamstresses. Either we can afford to have our clothes made or we made them at home. It wasn't until the ’30s when we were starting to work, that women had to address ready to wear. It was at that time that they started trying to standardize it. The standards were made on the hourglass shape, and that's only 14% of us. They had to let those go in 1983 and lift those and vanity sizing was born. From there, it's all over the place now.

I love what you're doing. I love who you are, bad-ass CEO, like, “I'm not taking anything and I'm not stopping until I reached the end, and then I'm going to retire.” Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you.

Resources mentioned:

About Cricket Lee

Cricket Lee is an entrepreneur and inventor, particularly noted for creating Fitlogic, a world patented clothes fitting standard that includes size and shape applications. The technology was developed with more than 60,000 women's bodies and measurements. It was then refined through brick and mortar tests with big box retail (Nordstrom, QVC, Macys), online and designer boutiques. Consumer direct programs, customer service and global applications were then studied. Proof of concept was completed this past year with over 125,000 pants sold through direct to consumer house brand LittleBlackPant.

During her career, Lee has done research, product development and created marketing campaigns for British Airways, PriceWaterhouse, JCPenney, Ralph Lauren, Ford Models, Hanes, Warner Brothers, Ford Models, HSN and others. She created the first all natural bath, hair and skincare line and invented pet jewelry (mentored by Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus).

Lee holds 72 awards for creative excellence in advertising including a National Addy Award.


Thanks to Cardiff D. Hall, author of Tide Turners for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.


Dave Smith Paying Tribute to Tom Baker of Special Love

BBR 247 | Special Love

Dave Smith was only nineteen years old when he started working for a 4-H Center as a summer camp counselor where he met Tom Baker and his wife Sheila for the first time. Little did he know that meeting the couple would set his path on a rollercoaster journey of love, compassion and healing for the next 35 years. Tom founded Special Love, a camp for children with cancer, in honor of his daughter Julie who lost her battle against lymphoma in 1976. Tom very recently passed on and Dave pays tribute to him and shares the emotional triumphs and challenges of working with children who have cancer. Dave hopes to preserve Tom’s legacy and enrich the lives of the children and their families through programs and events tailored to children with cancer.

Listen to the podcast here:

Dave Smith Paying Tribute to Tom Baker of Special Love

Welcome, Dave Smith, CEO of Special Love, Inc. I'm excited to have you here. You have personally been a part of my life since I was a child and the organization. It's had so much of a profound effect on me. So much of my own personal history ties back to Camp Fantastic and Special Love Inc. I'm excited to have you here so that we can highlight what Special Love is and what the mission is and your journey because you've been there 30 years. Welcome.

Thanks you. It's a pleasure to be here.

What happened that reconnected us or what inspired me to invite you to come on the show is that Tom Baker, who was the Founder of Camp Fantastic and Special Love passed on. You had sent out an email and shared the eulogy and your own personal story with Special Love. I thought that this is a great platform to share about Special Love and how it started and who Tom Baker was, what it's about and how you got involved. If you can give us a bit of that story about who was Tom, Tom and Sheila, and how did this all begin?

Tom Baker and his wife Sheila live here in Winchester, Virginia. It was back when I was nineteen years old working at the 4-H Center in Front Royal as a summer camp counselor while I was in college that I met Tom and Sheila for the first time. They walked in just after we'd finished for 4-H Camp unannounced, came in and said he has to talk to someone about starting a camp. John Dooley was the director of the 4-H Center at that time and my summer boss. He called me into the meeting only because I was the last summer staff person still there. My college started the latest of anyone. He called me into that meeting and Tom and Sheila shared that their daughter, Julie, had passed away in 1976 from lymphoma.

At the time that she was only treated for a year and that was at the National Cancer Institute. She didn't get the opportunity to go to camp or do summer activities because like a lot of children who are on treatment, especially back in those days, she was sequestered and out of the public eye for most of her illness. They had come across a camp in Upper State New York that only dealt with kids with cancer and it was kind of an epiphany for them. Tom later said it was the closest thing he's ever had to a true calling that they need to start a program like this in the DC area. They walked into the 4-H Center site on scene and I asked John if he could do a camp similar to the 4-H camps that we were already running, but do it for kids with cancer. John, as fate would have it, had hours before hung up the phone with another gentleman who wanted to run a special needs camp but didn't have the resources and it wasn't going to work out.

John was already primed for the task and when the Bakers came in unannounced and made that pledge, John said, “We can do that. I was already ready to do that.”John and Tom went to the Head of the National Cancer Institute at the time, Phil Pizzo, and said, “How hard would it be for your medical staff to see these kids and treat them while they were on camp?”The NCI did something that was unheard of at the time and unheard of even now. They enrolled every kid who came for the week of Camp Fantastic as an NIH patient for that week and gave them the malpractice insurance and the legal right to treat these kids with the same chemotherapy that they were taking at home.

The significance of that is that the kids could get their chemotherapy at camp and they didn't have to either be transferred back and forth to a hospital or they didn't have to sit at home and pass on camp because they were too sick. They could get treated at camp as if they were at the hospital and then go back to having a normal camp activity in between treatments. That was unheard of at the time and it's still even with almost 200 cancer camps around the world, there are very few that can handle kids with the acuity that Special Love and Camp Fantastic is able to handle. That was our first week-long camp, Camp Fantastic. We had 29 kids that first year and we had now about 260 families a year through all of our programs. One of those families where the Holland’s.

1983 was your first camp, is that correct?

Our first week of Fantastic was ‘83. It was almost a year to the day after Tom and Sheila walked into the 4-H Center. They raised enough money to run that one week of Camp Fantastic, but they knew right away that the kids were not going to be happy with waiting 51 weeks to see each other again. They knew that one of the reasons why they only got 29 kids that first year was because there were parents who couldn't even fathom the idea of letting go with their child for a week when they hadn't been out of the hospital for a year. We realized that in order for the parents to have a trust in where their kids were going to end up for camp, we needed to have family camps over the weekends so that moms and dads and siblings could also see what this was all about and they could meet some of the staff and develop some trust and some assurance that their kids would be okay while they were gone for a week alone.

Special Love was 501(c)(3) that the Bakers founded as not only a fundraising arm, but also as an umbrella for all of the programs to fit under. Special Love runs about fourteen programs a year. Most of them for patients or patients and families, but two of them are for siblings and they're called BRASS, which stands for Brothers And SiSters. Originally, it was called Top BRASS because the idea was siblings are as important and they are Top BRASS and they deserve to be treated and loved as much as their sick brother or sister.

BBR 247 | Special Love
Special Love: There were profound things that happened or profound learnings or experiences that I still value and hold dear and that has helped shape me into the person who I am.

I do remember that because I was at the first Top BRASS ever, even though I was too young. I don't know if it was you or somebody that made the exception for me to come even though I was a year too young for the camp.

I'm glad we did because your family participated not only in Camp Fantastic and BRASS, but also in our family weekends. I can still picture the bright blue snowsuit that your dad wore to ski and the fluorescent stripes on it because those were all in fashion back then.

You have YAC, the Young Adults with Cancer. After they are finished with Camp Fantastic, then they have that support.

We found that a lot of the kids left the week of Camp Fantastic and had aged out and yet their need was just as great to be around others who understood what they were going through. YAC stands for Young Adults with Cancer and YAC Weekend is for 18 to 25-year olds. It’s not just for the kids who've been to camp and want to continue those ties but also for young adults who are new to the cancer world and they want to meet other young adults.

I love what you guys do. It's life changing for everybody involved, but what I'd love to talk about is how it changed your life. Because when you were nineteen years old and you were a 4-H Camp Counselor and a college student, had you ever had any experience with children with cancer before?

By the time I met the Bakers, I only had about two years of experience with kids at all. That was as much due to John Dooley even before the Bakers walked in the door. John put his faith in me that I would be able to handle kids and come out of my shell in order to let them have fun at camp. John was the first person who invested in me and that was based on simply the knowledge. He knew my parents because they both worked at Alderson Broaddus College, which is now Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia. That's my Alma Mater. My parents and John were on the staff and faculty and so John got to know me growing up. He saw something in me in terms of my ability to have fun with kids and let my hair down.

It was only because of John’s faith in me that he brought me down to the 4-H Center in Front Royal back in 1982.It was the end of that very first summer when the Bakers walked in. I wish I could tell you that by then I had already learned enough and gained enough confidence that I was able to help lead that discussion and the planning for Camp Fantastic and know that I played a real pivotal role, but the fact is, I barely remembered that conversation. I do remember thinking this is going to be a challenge, but on the other hand, what they wanted to do was create a normal childhood experience and that's what 4-H Camp did. We gave camp experiences every week for nine weeks of the summer. We didn't have to change much. We just needed to bring in the medical staffing and to make sure that our volunteer staffing was aware of what extra challenges there would be.

I can relate to what it was like to do that for the very first time because when I was nineteen, it came in the door and ready or not, I had no idea what to expect. I vividly remember a line on the bottom bunk while one of my campers lay above me and his breathing was so loud from his medication had him ultra relaxed, but his breathing was so loud that I lay there terrified of what would happen if it's stopped. It's kind of a morbid story. Although he was fine, and I think he went on to survive his cancer. I was petrified that first summer and what it was going to be like to be responsible for another child's life. Little did I realize that that's what the doctors and nurses were for. I had nothing to do with the child's health, only his emotional well-being.

One of the first things I try to do with new staff is to assuage their fears and assure them that you're here to provide them with fun and a normal week of camp. The doctors and the nurses will make sure they stay alive through the end of the camp, which is an exaggeration. Our kids are fine. We've never lost a child at camp. For most people, when they hear children with cancer, they automatically throw the word terminal in there half the time, which is grossly inaccurate because the national average is about 78% of the kids will survive beyond five years of their diagnosis. That doesn't mean they're not going to have long-term effects or that the chemotherapy itself might actually kill them eventually, but it's much better than what most people would realize.

I want to touch on this and dig in a little bit because things are certainly different now than they were back in the ‘80s. Healthcare is improving, and research is improving and changing. Going back to when you started, you were a kid yourself and here are these kids who are fragile. That was great that there's the medical professionals to take care of them, but they're also dealing with things that most adults don't deal with. You're dealing also with kids that do die. That was a big marker of my life growing up is that I would make friends at Camp Fantastic.

You had these kids, you had a relationship with these kids. You play with these kids, you knew these kids, you saw these kids and these families over the years. What was that like for you when you first started realizing that, “This was camp, and this was fun and now, this kid is not coming back”? How did you deal with that? Have you grown personally through that and to now 30 years later? We all see things through different lenses, but can you talk about how you were able to stand in support of the children and families with that reality?

Like anybody else, you hate to lose people. At the time, like a lot of young people. I had a pretty naïve worldview when it came to not only children and life expectancy, but even my faith was pretty simplistic. It did lead to some rough days when we'd get the news that the child had passed away or even that a child was in palliative care because they couldn't treat them anymore. I'll be honest, that would be the downside. That comprises so small a portion of the day-to-day work that we do and we're not in the hospital. We're not seeing the kids when they are at their sickest. There are kids who come into camp who are considered acutely ill, but once they get into camp, they're so eager to have fun that you'd never know it.

I have had people come and say, “Where are the sick kids? Because I see all these kids running around crazy, but I'm not sure where the sick kids are.” It's very easy to forget, but some of them are very ill. Camp brings out the life in them. It's very easy to forget that some of them are dealing with acute illness. I remember, during my job interview, I was a volunteer from‘83 on but they hired me in ’87,one of the questions they asked in my interview was, “What do you think will lead you away from this job? What do you see being the reason that you would leave?”It was only the second job I've ever had, and the first job was working as an admissions counselor for the college I went to so that was being paid to go to the same college.

I had no work experience and I couldn't imagine, I didn't realize I was going to leave this job, but I said, “I suppose if I ever did, it would be because I lost my connection to the kids, that it didn't feel like I wasn't getting the same thing out of it that I always had.” Little did I know that ten years later, when I became a parent and had the first of three boys, that my connection to the kids didn't diminish but my connection to the parents exploded. I was drawn to the parents immediately as soon as I became a parent.

Satisfaction is not the right word because sometimes it's a very tough situation, but I feel that strongly about my connection to the parents that we deal with as I do to the kids now. That means I have more passion, not less because now I'm drawn to the kids and to the parents. That was when it got harder to lose a child. It was one thing when you lost a child and you had no connection to the parents. Now that I'm so connected to the parents, on that rare occasion when we do lose a camper, I can't fathom what the parents are going through. Hopefully, I never will.

On the other hand, I have met some incredibly strong parents who they got through because they had to. I've had parents say, “How do you do it?” “I didn't have a choice. You do what you have to do to get through it.” The rare funeral that I go to for a child is heart wrenching and there had been some real down days. It renews my commitment to making sure that the kids we do see continue to have a wonderful time. I alluded to the fact that your faith grown up is based on what mom or dad told you or what the preacher told you.

Once you get out into the trenches with families who are going through this experience, your spirituality becomes a little more broadened because you realize that there are no easy answers to why kids get cancer or why children die of cancer. I don't think there’re supposed to be any. We're put here to connect to each other and when we see people going through such a challenging and often horrific time, the fact that we want to help and are drawn to them, that's the whole point. My spirituality, I wouldn't drive the answers, but I'm very much more at peace with why I'm here and why these families and I need each other.

BBR 247 | Special Love
Special Love: For most people, when they hear children with cancer, they automatically throw the word terminal in there half the time, which is grossly inaccurate.

For me personally, my spirituality was most influenced by Camp Fantastic because from the brother’s or the sister's point of view. It's like the energy of the space and the processing and the vespers, the way that Tom led and John led and you led and the other natural leaders led and the people who'd been there and been through it, it was a safe space and an accepting space where everybody can let their guard down and show up with all their gunk. It's not a place where there's judgment. From my perspective as a kid growing up there and what I carry to this day is it was never a space I ever saw victims. I never saw, “Woe is me, this is happening to me.” Any time that that came up for people, what I registered and attempted to emulate in my own service to others was that this isn't is.

How do we move through this? How do we not cope but thrive in the circumstances? How do we turn it around? We can focus on what's wrong and we get more of what's wrong or we can focus on what's right. That's what I love about Camp Fantastic and the experiences that you create is it’s a ‘what’s right’ kind of attitude. Acknowledging what is while also bringing in, “Why can't you do this? Why can't you go up in a hot air balloon? Why can't you go to camp? Why can't you ride horses? Why can't you dress up like KISS and party on?”

That's one reason why people ask me if I have pet peeves. One of them is whining. I've met so many kids and families who are going through stuff that most of us would never want to go through and yet they don't complain. They knuckle down and go through it. That's something that only until you faced adversity, that you learn how to face adversity. The rest of the time you blow things up that don't deserve to be considered adversity. You're late to work because of traffic or the person in front of you in the grocery store is taking longer than they should to check out.

People tend to blow that all up into these crises because they've never faced a real crisis. You meet some of these families and realized that their priorities are so much better aligned and they appreciate the time they have together because they don't take it for granted. I go home sometimes and it's hard not to get light into my kids fosar complaining about the littlest things or for taking stuff for granted because I realized that these families don't take anything for granted anymore. Some of them have faced the worst and they've still managed to find a silver lining there.

Like Tom and Sheila, and it's so amazing. That story of how this came to be, I would love to link up your eulogy that you wrote with a little bit more of the back story, if that's okay?

Of course. Tom's legacy, it was heartbreaking to lose him. If you look at the legacy he left, we should all be that lucky. What a legacy. You'll see it in the eulogy that if nothing else to what he contributed, he gave people the permission to be themselves and to not hold up this guard and defense in front of themselves like we’re all taught when we become teenagers and suddenly start worrying about what everyone thinks of us. He gave you permission to be your true self. At Camp, I tell the staff this is as close to most people's idea of having perfection. You're going to see while you're here because people are going to treat each other nicely because they're expected to and they're going to have permission to be themselves and not judge and not be petty. It's very enlightening to be able to do that.

A lot of my audience are going to take some recognition from this. There's amazing value here for everybody. Some of the things that I regularly get complimented on is that I show up as who I am unapologetically. There's been times in my life that I've hidden and that I've shrunk down. When I come to think about the truth of life and the truth of what I know, it comes back to those teachings that Tom has instilled in everybody who's gone through any of the Special Love programs.

It’s no wonder that we're all fascinated by people in power who fall because we realized they're human like we are. There's an innate magnetism of uniting with people who are imperfect because we're all imperfect. As soon as we admit that, we began to make real change and real progress.

You are shifting your focus with Special Love and getting reconnected with the people. Do you want to talk about where things are going for you in your role and also where things are going with Camp Fantastic or Special Love as a whole?

When you start a small nonprofit, there's usually a personal connection. The founder is connected somehow intricately with the cause. In this case, the Bakers had lost a daughter. When you start small, there's usually one employee. If you're lucky, there's two and they do everything. Everyone has to cross-train and cross-function and you become a good generalist. You're generally good at everything but you don't have the time to get good at anything. I've been with Special Love for 30 years now. They operated for five years as a volunteer organization. They hired me in ‘87 and for good or bad, they haven't figured out a way to get rid of me. It will be 31 years in April, I went from doing everything to then focusing on program and fundraising and having someone help with admin. We added a program director and a development officer.

At that point, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to focus on. I made sure that all the fires were put out and that I was still bringing value. As organizations get larger, there's an old saying, “You always rise to the level of your own incompetence or you're promoted to the level of your own competence.”In our case, we had enough specialists that I had to get better at something. Administration was never it. I was able to generalize it, the admin function. As we've gotten bigger, I've come to the realization that my passion lies in the camp side, the family connections, the hospital connections. Going and visiting the kids in the hospital and the families and trying to build the trust in the hospital that will get them to come to camp site unseen.

That's where my passion lies. This past year, which was my 30th year on the job, we did a lot of soul searching and a lot of very honest discussions on how we get to the next phase. We're over a million dollars in our budget and we've got six employees. We'd like to bring in another employee or two. I had the permission through camp to say what I felt, which was my passion is with the families and the kids and I'm not getting enough of that in a traditional CEO role. Long story short, we're in the process of hiring an executive director who can take over the admin and the policy work and the board relations, the stuff that I've done but it's always been one of many things I'm trying to juggle. This will give me more time and energy to devote to the hospital outreach. We see over a dozen different hospitals and that's very unusual for camps like us.

Most of them have a partnership with one, maybe two hospitals. We have twelve and we can't keep tabs on all of them successfully. This is going to give me the time and the energy to get out there and start beating the bush and bringing more families in because we've determined that we're only serving about one in ten families who could come to camp. Part of that is because some families are never going to be convinced that camp is the place for them. For one thing, they hear camp and think of tents where we don't have tents. We’re used to doing that post camping one night, we have no tents. We have lodges with heating and air conditioning and bathrooms and it's glamping. I get to go out there and build that trust and convince people that it is worth the time.

We know once a new family comes, they'll never want to stay away, or they'll come back forever if we let them because it's a community unlike any other. It's a community of kindred spirits were they not only get it, but they want to help. If they've been through the journey, the way they make that journey means something is that they come back, and they help others through that journey. It's not a coincidence that the painting which Tom Baker did and it's a silhouette of someone standing on top of a mountain helping other people up to the top of the mountain. Those were cancer survivors and families going through the struggle.

I always pictured Tom as that person at the top leading them up and then the light in the background is the inspiration that we draw from those who've come before us. The fact that he included the ones who graduated that are now healthy and, in the mainstream, and that could include the kids who've passed away or who's outcome was not favorable. Either way, we're all headed toward that same inspiration and that spirit that guides us forward. There’s no greater legacy than to build a perpetuating organization that keeps helping more people and those people help more people. In a nutshell, that's what life is, but we're doing it in a very specific way. I'm going to get to spend more time doing that part of it and I'm very excited about that.

BBR 247 | Special Love
Special Love: You always rise to the level of your own incompetence or you're promoted to the level of your own competence.

After we go through something and after we see something on the other side, it's like, “Why wouldn't everybody want this?” I see what it must be like for people who don't understand what the opportunity is. I love that you're going to be spending more time at the hospitals and outreach with people at the grassroots level and the families and to build that trust and get more kids involved. From a standpoint of more kids means more finances needed. Is there also a ramp up for the fundraising? Is there any way that if anybody is listening and inspired that we can help? What are some of the needs of Special Love?

I'd make a joke about not wanting your money, but that's crazy. As we grow, we're obviously going to have more need for funding, but that's something that I'll also have a hand in because I do enjoy going to major events and meeting people and thanking them. I love the human connection part. I'm not so good at the strategy and the drafting appeal letters, but I will be a part of the outreach for that to make sure that donors feel as engaged and invested and have them find a return on their investment because donors are investors who are investing in good works rather than profit. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the outreach in that respect as well. We will, as we continue to get bigger, if we build it, they will come, and we will pay for it. Special Love also provides financial support in two ways. We give young adults who have graduated from camp a chance to go pursue college degrees or other post-secondary education by providing them with grant funding. We also give families who are going through the cancer crisis money to pay for utilities or essential services so that they're not in danger of being evicted in the middle of their child's treatment.

You have like an ‘adopt the camper program’, don't you?

We have camp scholarships where you can sponsor a child to go to a weekend camp or we do over fourteen programs. A lot of them are weekend camps and you can sponsor campers to weekends. We've had companies that come in and sponsor the entire weekend. When we do our Octoberfest Weekend, it's a reunion for the kids who've been to the summer camps and they want to bring their parents and introduce their parents to the organization. We had groups that sponsor that entire weekend. Our website is full of opportunity to volunteer because most of our staffing is volunteer as well as helping through either spreading the word to other families or funding.

You're speaking to business owners, you're speaking to people who believe in the power of positivity, not in words, but in embracing that and shifting things and also maybe interested in supporting the cause. Is there any last words of wisdom or anything you'd like to share to everyone in parting?

It's more important that you invest in something beyond yourself. Your business is important, and you need your business to be successful because if it's not successful, then there won't be anything to share. Supporting charity or getting actively involved in charity is a great way to keep them connected to your human side. We do have opportunities for corporate sponsors to bring employees to camp or bring them to a special event. It's a good staff bonding experience because when you're all supposed to be doing a team building with your company, but when you're out there helping those less fortunate or those facing tough times like cancer, it does bring you together and it's a great staff bonding experience.

Any responsible corporate philanthropists know that investing in your community is a great way to show your investors that you care and that you're going to be around for the long haul and you're not out for a quick buck, you're going to hit the road. It's more important that your audience or entrepreneurs everywhere are keeping a hand in the human side of things because otherwise, it's too easy to jump on that treadmill that says more money all the time. You might compare it to leaning your ladder against the wrong wall. It's one thing to climb the corporate ladder, but when you find that it's leaning against the wrong wall, then you're in trouble. Keeping your hand on the human side is a good way to make sure that the ladder is leaning the right way.

Any final words about the inspiration of Camp Fantastic? Any final thoughts to leave about legacy or anything that comes up?

Sometimes it may sound a little snarky to talk about letting your hair down when you're talking about kids with cancer because some of them are on chemotherapy and they have no hair, but it's a fit analogy. There’s a picture of me last year at camp with my head shaved and a group of three other counselors who had shaved their heads with me, but more importantly to my left in that photo is a little girl who has no hair because of her chemotherapy. While she was at camp, she would not take her scarf off for the first five days of camp because she was embarrassed by not having hair. It wasn't until she was helping shave my head where we wanted to show support that she leaned over and whispered to me, “When I'm finished shaving your head, can I take my scarf off so we can get a picture together?” I said, “Absolutely.”

We came out with the best photograph of all of us, proud and bald. She was never happier than that moment at camp. When we talk about letting your hair down, we mean it. You may not have hair, but you may be hiding that fact or you may have come to camp with a prosthetic device, an artificial limb. It's heartwarming and the purpose of camp to see kids who take their scarves off or take that limb off and feel free to be themselves because they're not going to be judged and they discover that bald is beautiful. Almost every kid who's been there has, at some point, been bald. Most of them has grown their hair back and that, in itself is an inspiration. The kids aren't afraid to show they're bald because they know that everyone else has been there and they know that everyone else has gotten through it and they're going to get through it.

Thank you so much for being here. If folks want to continue the conversation and connect, your website is? and our Facebook page is Specialove Camps. Our YouTube channel is Specialove Camps.

Thank you so much.


What was the most valuable advice you were ever given and who shared it with you?

Tom Baker, Special Love's founder, always shared a poem entitled “Risk” at the outset of every week of Camp Fantastic. It has impacted my behavior ever since.

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

– William Arthur Ward

Paying it forward, if your could speak directly to a young person who sees you as a role model and wants to follow in your footsteps, what golden nugget of wisdom would you like to pass on to them?

Don't be afraid to be genuine.

When you reach out to people in need, you stop worrying about whether they like you or not.

Click here to read the eulogy Dave shared for Tom Baker.

In recognition of Tom's irreplaceable role at Special Love, we're honored to announce the creation of the Tom Baker From-the-Heart Memorial Fund, which will make it possible for Special Love to welcome more families to our weekend programs.

You can read more about the fund and make a donation at

You’ll be helping build Special Love’s weekend camps in loving memory of Tom.

Resources mentioned:

About Dave Smith

Dave Smith is the CEO of Special Love, a Mid-Atlantic charity for children with cancer and their families. Dave has helped run Special Love's hallmark program, Camp Fantastic, for most of its 35 year existence. Camp Fantastic and all of Special Love's programs give young pediatric cancer patients and their siblings the chance to be normal kids, and their parents have the opportunity to meet and share resources with other pediatric oncology families. Dave is also the Past-President of the Children's Oncology Camping Association International and has mentored many other cancer camps. He's an avid musician and loves to interact with his campers and their families.


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Danny Iny of Business Reimagined Podcast on Establishing Your Authority Online Through Systematic Educational Courses

BBR 246 | Business Reimagined Podcast

Every one of us has at one point or another felt stuck in a humdrum job or endeavor. We’ve been thinking about breaking out of that daily grind and starting our own business. We’re tired of the bureaucracy and we feel the need to express our creativity and spread our message by putting up our own company. We finally summon up the courage and confidence to step out of that quagmire of mediocrity, and we suddenly find ourselves lost and clueless about where to start or how to continue. Let Danny Iny of Business Reimagined Podcast guide and empower you to figure out what you need to succeed. His practical online courses are tailored towards your specific needs and goals to succeed in your business, establish that online authority, and stay ahead of the game.

Thank you to Bailey Richert from for introducing today's episode. What she loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is how Nicole Holland brings on such a wide variety of guests and they’re always talking about interesting topics that a lot of other podcasts don’t discuss.

If you would like to introduce an episode and share your love for the Business Building Rockstars show, go to


Listen to the podcast here:

Danny Iny of Business Reimagined Podcast on Establishing Your Authority Online Through Systematic Educational Courses

I’m very excited to have Danny Iny, returning to the podcast. We are going to be talking about something a little bit different. We've talked about Danny's journey story, and now we're going to come a little bit more into the now and discuss one of the ways that he is supporting people. Danny, welcome back to the Business Building Rockstars Show.

Nicole, thank you for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

For people who aren't familiar with you yet, do you want to give us a quick overview of how you are serving and supporting people these days?

Mirasee, my organization, is an education company. We empower entrepreneurs to do more for themselves online. A large part of our focus lately has been on teaching people how to build and sell courses. It's something that we've done very well and very different from the industry.

Let's talk about online education. How did you wind up getting into this area?

In a nutshell back story, I've had a love-hate relationship with education for most of my life. I quit school when I was fifteen to start my first business. I've always thought education was incredibly important. Most of my career has been in the world of education. I just think it's very poorly done traditionally. My personality is the personality of a teacher. I learn something, I get excited about it, I want to teach it to somebody else. The way I built my online business is like many starting out online, trying to figure things out, and eventually hit on some stuff that worked really well. I started to grow a name, a reputation, and a reach in the business, all that stuff. People started asking, “How did you do what you did?” Some of the approaches that I took were novel and innovative, especially for the time. When enough people asked me, I basically said, “I'll teach you.” I stumbled my way into an education company. We built courses and we sold them, we enrolled and worked with our students, and we got them great results. Then they would ask us, “How do you do this other thing?” That would lead to another course. At some point, the “how do I do fill in the blank” became “how do I build a course like yours because I've taken a lot of courses and got no results. Then I take your courses and I do get results.”I want my courses to be like that.

I have been in the back end of your courses and they are so just well thought out there. There's so much support. You're taking it online, but you don't feel alone. It's not like some digital product that’s standing alone that somebody gets and they can just go through. There are all these different things that you put in there to support success and engagement. Can you talk about some of those things that you have found to be paramount in getting people to actually complete and get results from starting a program that usually is lacking in the online course space and even maybe in traditional education in general?

It's interesting that you bring up traditional education because it helps to understand the context of why this is a problem, why it's such a challenge in this area. A lot of the people who build and sell courses online seem to not care about whether people succeed with their courses, which is absurd. It's critically important because as you're selling and marketing your course, over time, you're either contributing to the number of people out there who bought something from you and not had a result which is your torpedoing your business, or you're contributing to the number of people who've bought something from you and had a great result, which is a virtuous cycle of success. It's critically important, but getting people to succeed is very hard. Getting people to even consume and apply what you're teaching them is very hard. I talk a lot in different places about the trends of online education.

There are a lot of reasons why the demand for online education and courses, especially the more granular courses, that individuals or small shops would be producing. There's a huge increase in demand for those things, so great rosy the opportunity there. At the same time, it's in a lot of ways harder than it ever has been in human history to deliver a good educational experience, to deliver a transformation through education. That's because for most of the history of human education, it was not optional. Think about most of our educational career. We went to elementary school. We didn't really have a choice. That’s just what you do. It's in many places, it's the law. You go to high school, same deal. You go to college, for a lot of people not really a choice, just something they feel like they have to do. If you're consuming courses as part of what is provided in your workplace, again, not a choice unless you don't want to keep your job. There's no option. In cases where it was optional, it was only optional once. I made a decision to go back to school years ago and get an MBA. That was my choice. I made the decision, wants to invest a very large sum of money into this education. Once I'd done that, whether or not to participate in any individual course was not a choice. It's like I'd made this macro decision, and I was in. Now in this era of volitional education, where people choose to do it, they choose to sign up for each and every course because each and every course is short. The investment is, while not inconsequential, a few thousands of dollars is not a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It's not an amount that people don't feel like they can walk away from, unfortunately. There isn't even a structure of delivery. It used to be that you go to school, so you know that you're taking a class, you've got to be in a certain room every Tuesday at [3:00] PM. Now you can do it anytime you want, online, on demand, no expiration. Like every moment of choice to attend a lesson is a choice. That becomes really hard because whereas a lot of traditional education could get away with mostly being preoccupied with transferring information, we are absolutely and completely in the game of behavior change. Behavior change in terms of getting people to implement, understand, and apply what you're teaching them, behavior change in terms of even just getting them to show up and do the work to learn the stuff. Behavior change is hard.

I don't know if your audience is familiar with the paradigm of the rider, the elephant, and the path that said behavior change model. It's a metaphor for the conscious mind which is the rider, the unconscious mind which is the elephant, and the environment which is the path. If the rider and the elephant have a difference of opinion, the elephant wins. Like that's always how it goes. That becomes a real challenge because often you've got the conscious mind, the rider, who says, “I want to take this course. I want to improve, fill in the blank, whatever part of my life.” Then you've either got the elephant or subconscious mind, or the environment, or both, that are working against them. Education online, courses online are more important than they ever have been. The opportunity is greater than they ever have been, but it's also so much harder. You have to do a lot to put things on the table that will help people to be successful. People's movement through your course is a function of two opposing forces, momentum and friction. Somebody signs up for your course, they pay you money, or they just opt in if it's free, but that initial action of “I’m in” carries with it a certain amount of momentum. More so if there's money, if there's investment.

BBR 246 | Business Reimagined Podcast
Business Reimagined Podcast: People's movement through your course is a function of two opposing forces, momentum and friction.

There's a certain amount of momentum, and that momentum does not last very long. The momentum peters out over time, just in and of itself, and it is obliterated when you hit friction points.“I can't figure out how to access the member’s area. This homework assignment is confusing. I'm not sure where to submit. I have a question I don't know who to ask.” These are all friction points. What you need to do as a course creator that wants to get people to the finish line is reduce friction wherever you can by looking at where's that friction happening, “How can I eliminate it? How can I smooth it out? How can I just preempt?”That's something that people forget. We're human beings. We can do things that are difficult, but much more easily when we know that they're going to be difficult. Nobody successfully ran a marathon who signed up for it, thinking it would be like a walk around the block. You sign up because you know it's hard. You're going to train for it, and that's fine. We can gear up for things that are hard. Find those challenging points, smooth them out. You preempt to make it easier for people, but then you also have to build momentum. You have to instill small wins. Give people the opportunities to feel like they’re succeeding. You need to build with them the habits that make them successful as they move forward.

It makes so much sense. I know that myself in courses I've been in, and also in courses I run, as you're talking, I can pinpoint things. I know for myself in my early days where I was desperately seeking the answer. I was buying courses to learn because I'm like, “I'm just starting out here. I don't know how any of this works.” I have to learn how to do webinars. I have to learn how to do this. I have to learn how to do that, because that's what the marketing people are saying, that's what all the messages are. I have to learn this or else I'm going to fail. Coming from that space, I know I wasn't alone. That's how the Business Building Rockstars Summit started because I was finding all these people like me who were trying and motivated, and they had the momentum and the commitment, and they were willing to invest, and they wanted a win. I would buy into these programs with these big promises, and I would be left feeling like, “Now what?” Or I would go through the information, but I really missed how to connect it, and how to create the transformation.

I had the inspiration, I had the information, but now how do I implement and how do I get results from that? There's a lot missing in mainstream online education. I love that you break it down and that you create these opportunities and this experience that takes people through those potential friction points in order to get results. Is there anything else that you want to share about that? What I have seen is having had those experiences a handful of times, people get disheartened and they think, “I'm not going to take an online course because they don't work.”How do you overcome that and help people understand there's a lot of opportunity to learn, this is the way things are going, and you don't have to let your past experience dictate your expectations?

How do you give people hope? How do you give them confidence? That's really a marketing question Marketing has to be supported by substance. You have to actually build your course differently. You have to have the support, the infrastructure, etc. In building that infrastructure and designing what it's going to take to tell people be successful, there are a few things that people can think about in terms of what does it take to make people successful? There are a few distinctions that people usually don't make. One is that there are two layers of learning. The first layer is literacy, right? Going from anything about something, to now I have the basic literacy. For example, you were saying, when you started out you didn't know how to do a webinar.

You could attend a webinar about webinars, and you're going to go to Webinar Zoom, and you're going to have your presentation, and this is your high level narrative arc, and you're going to make an offer at the end, and you've been through two of them now. It's like, “I basically, at a high level, know what webinars are.”It doesn't mean you're ready to do one. There's a big gap between that first layer of learning, which is literacy, which is mostly you just need someone to explain it to you. Then the next layer is fluency, and fluency is about not, “I know what you're talking about,” but “I actually can do it myself.” Fluency is not a function of just explanations, it's a function of experimentation, practice, doing homework, trying things out. That's where people really fall down.

A model that I've been playing with a lot is that every course creator will have three kinds of students who come into their program. You've got the very small percentage, the outliers, who will be successful no matter what. It doesn't matter how much your course sucks, they will extract from it what they need. They will move forward, they’ll be successful. Then you've got the outliers who will be unsuccessful no matter what. You can build the best course in the world, get on a plane, fly to their house, hold their hand, do their homework for them, it doesn't matter. Both of those outliers are extreme minorities. Then you've got the vast majority, the 98%, and that's who you should be building your course for. There are two ways and I've been really thinking about this lately, which is one, how can you support the 98% to perform at the top 1% level? There's research about how to do this. There’s a classic experiment in the world of education that dates back to the eighties where this was done with elementary school kids, but the concept is transfer. They would have the control class, which is the regular classroom, kids just doing what they're doing with their teacher.

Then they have two variations. Variation one was the same content, same class, just a mastery approach to learning. Mastery approach is just an educator’s way of saying, “You don't go to lesson two until you've understood lesson one,” which is how it should be. It's not how it is in a lot of online courses. We just passed the new lessons here, whether you've got the last one or not, but that's the first one, just mastery-based instruction. The second was mastery-based instruction with individual tutoring. Every student had an individual tutor. Now here's the crazy thing that they found with that experiment. The first variation, the mastery-based approach, that class, the average was one standard deviation above the control. The mastery-based instruction with individual tutoring, the average of the class was at the 98th percentile of the control. In other words, two standard deviations. That's looking at what does it take to help most of your students perform at that level? How do you push them up? That's a function of adopting things like mastery-based instruction. Don't drip out your course one lesson a week regardless of the pace people are working at.

We don't do that with pretty much any of our courses anymore. The way we do it usually is you sign up, you get access to a module which is a series of lessons, go through it at your own pace. When you've finished the module, you indicate “I'm done,” and unlocks the whole next set of modules. We have human checkpoints and interaction with coaches, which is the individual instruction, and because of the way you can do digital learning, you can make it scalable. We've known since the 80s how to help every student succeed. We just have not known how to do it cost effectively or how to resource it. In the world of online education you can do that because a lot of the “knucklehead” stuff, you can have machines do, you can have technology do. The first thing that you focus on is how do you create an experience that helps everyone perform a lot better? The other thing that I've been spending a lot of energy and attention on lately, I'm working on my next book which is going to be very much about this is what's different about that top 1%? How is it that they will be successful no matter what?

A lot of that comes down to habits and patterns of behavior that tie back to positive psychology research. It's the people who have grits, the people who have resilience, the people who have the ability to self-regulate their emotions to withstand the test of time on the marshmallow test. It's all that stuff. What's really interesting is that all those things are learnable. IQ is incredibly static. You cannot change how smart you are, but these things you can get better at. The great news is that these things are much better predictors of success then straight up IQ or intelligence or anything like that. The other thing that I've been really focusing on like what the cutting edge of educators are doing, is how do you bake in this layer of helping people build the emotional and cognitive habits that help them to be successful? How do you engineer student success? The second is, how do you support more students to become people who will be more successful? Again, tangents, but it’s how I think.

BBR 246 | Business Reimagined Podcast
Business Reimagined Podcast: You cannot change how smart you are, but these things you can get better at.

I love tangents because they really take us to places that we can't plan for otherwise, and there's always the magic there. I want to bring up something that you're doing. It's called Lift. It's happening in Montreal. This is the second year you're doing it. This is a live in-person experience versus what you've been doing for so long, which is having this huge transformation for people online through your courses. Why did you decide to also create this in-person, immersive experience?

We're talking about a different kind of transformation. Online courses, the way people usually do them, are very good. If you do a good job with the online courses, they have the potential to be very good at facilitating the acquisition of tactical or strategic skills. You can build really good online courses that help you learn how to, fill in the blank. I've got great courses if you want to learn how to build and sell an online course, how to craft a compelling offer, how to, fill in the blank. There's something interesting that happens when you look at building a business overall, achieving success overall, which is it's not just about those tactical how-to. A great course is not the same as a great business. There are a whole bunch of things that have to be done to be successful in business.

Being successful in business is partially knowing what to do, but partially doing those things. I'm sure you've had the experience. I've had the experience. Everyone has had the experience of knowing exactly what they need to work on, but just not doing it. There's this fascinating study where they interviewed 500 executives and they asked them, “What are the three to five most important issues or problems in your company?”They got this list and then they said, “Let's look at your calendar. How much of the last two weeks were dedicated to working on these problems?”The average was zero. Zero time was spent working on these most important things. Being successful is about directing your energy and attention to working on the right things. That's what we're getting more into the realm of behavior change. An online course is just not the best tool for doing that. In looking at how do we build something to support people through this kind of transformation? I looked at analogs, I look at parallels, I looked at what are the things that are doing the next best job.

The next best version I found high dollar masterminds, $20,000, $30,000, $50,000 for a mastermind. You're in a room with a lot of high achieving people, and it's very true that we are the average of the five people that we hang out with. It's not some power of positive thinking. Their success magnetizes our success, that's nonsense. You get a lot of things from the people you hang out with. You get guidance, you get accountability informally, you get expertise, you get just reality checks. There's a lot that you get there. I understand why these groups can be effective, but they also have a lot of downsides, besides the fact they're just very expensive, which is also a downside. It's very much luck of the draw in terms of do get the right people. The content, the strategies you need, you might get lucky and it's the right stuff, but just as often it's shiny objects.

The accountability that you need to get from that experience is something that you only really get when you've really developed strong relationships. That's like you're in your $50,000, $70,000, $100,000 and, you've been doing it for years. To me, that's unacceptable. I've been in enough of these groups and seen enough people who spend so much money year after year, and they’re stuck. We've got to do better, and so we designed Lift. We designed this experience to really address this problem. How do we get people unstuck? How do we give them the expertise, the training, the framework to work through the accountability, the community, the individual coaching? Every person who comes to Lift works one on one with a coach. We put a lot into the way we've designed this experience, and the results have been transformational. In order to do it this way, and in order to just serve our long term business goals, there are a few things that we've done very differently with this event.

One thing that will be immediately apparent to anyone who's been to internet marketing type events is it's not a pitch fest. You're used to going to an event, every time someone gets on stage they're trying to sell you something. At Lift there is a grand total of one thing people can opt to do if they want to continue working with us. Less than 10% of the overall agenda is dedicated to talking about that. That's really not what the event is about, and no one is presenting an offer onstage or elsewhere for that matter. It is all about supporting you to be successful. I believe that people who come to me achieve success and have a great experience that's good for my brand. It's good for my business. It's my investment in the long-term relationship that I have with people. Some of them will come to the events, “This is awesome, I want to keep working with you right now.” Many won’t, and I care that a year, two years, three years, five years down the line, they still might. This event is a vehicle for transformation, but it's also one of the big investments that my organization makes in relationships with our community.

We've taken the same approach that we do, too. If we do a webinar, our webinars are fantastic. They run two to three hours, tons of content, tons of trainings. People have told us that you get more out of our free webinars than you do from stuff you've paid for. We don't charge you for that webinar because I want you to get a sense of what we're about. I want to invest in that relationship. We're actually taking that same approach with Lift this year, which is a huge gamble. Whereas where can you get such a transformation? It's not the $25,000cost of these high expensive masterminds. It's not a thousand dollars. We're offering free tickets to Lift only to our community, and to the community of people that I really like and trust like Nicole. You have to pay for your flights, you have to pay for your hotel because I'm not made of money. The ticket to Lift does not cost anything, and there's two ways you can reserve it. You can put down a $200 deposit so I know that you're coming, because I'm spending money on the venue and all that, and you get that back at the event. Or because I don't really want your deposit, I just want to know that you're coming so I'm not prepping a spot, you can register with $0 down. You just have seven days to send us your flight information. If we have that, then you're booked, you're good. We're all set.

I've never heard you talk about your thoughts on these high-level masterminds. I can say from experience that when I was a little bit further back, and I was looking at “I want to be in a high level mastermind because this is like that next level. It's out of a group thing, but it's in with these opportunities.” What I have found as I am now invited to these high level masterminds and have invested in high level masterminds, is it's something I've never spoken about before, and I've never heard people speak about before publicly, because I think that's really taboo. The fact that you just talked about it on the show really opens the door even for me to express that I've had that experience, but I've thought, “I'm going to this person's mastermind, who is somebody I hugely respect, and I really value.” I'm in room with people who some are a good fit, some not so much, and so I feel like I actually hold back more than I would in another kind of situation and I've committed.”

Then there's the decision. I've had times where I've had to sit there and go, “Is it worth it?”Even though I've already invested in this mastermind, is it worth it now for me take time off, away from my business to go somewhere that I have to fly to? I have to get a hotel, I've got to do all of that stuff, when I don't feel like I'm getting really supported or the value I expected in the first place. I’m honestly just even more fired up about Lift and so honored that you are opening this to people without that thousand-dollar price tag. Because they can really have that experience, that transformational relationship building and opportunity to be around people who are looking to support them to go to the next level, rather than just looking to get paid at something that is not done in our industry. It's very rare in the industry, and in the years that I've known you, Danny, the amount that you invest in your partners, in your students, in everyone you deal with, the things that you do always blow me away. I'm just super honored and excited to be able to welcome, invite, and encourage my community to join me at Lift next month.

I hope people are going to come. We've done it once so far. It was one of the best things we've ever done. I can share about masterminds. I've had the exact same experience. I won't name names or point fingers, but I've spent many tens of thousands of dollars to join these groups. Gone to one meeting and literally sent them an email and said, “I'm not coming back.” I know I'm entitled to come to more meetings. I've done this with multiple masterminds now that I think that I've spent geez that’s lot of money. That I just told him, “I'm better served staying home than getting on a plane and spending three days in a room, like it just doesn't make sense. It all comes down to there's something really broken about the mastermind model, which is that all these high-dollar masterminds are profit centers for the people who run them. Their incentive is to pack the room, which means as much as they talk about we only take the very best, the very best means people can write a check. When you have too many people in the room, the quality of the experience just decline. It's not really a mastermind. It's like a mini-conference.

I'll share with you, this is something that I've done in the last couple of years that your audience can do too. This is how I do masterminding these days. There are a few events that I go to. We hold Lift and stuff like that. Other than that, I basically say this is the amount of money that I would earmark for professional development, for high dollar masterminds, such as it were. Instead of spending that on some of these masterminds, I will just organize a few pop up masterminds, where basically I reach out to the people I want in the room. I'm like, “I'm paying for everything. I'm paying for the hotel, paying for the venue, and paying for the food. Just come, you're invited.” I just want ten people around the table. It costs me less. I get so much more out of it, much better experience, much better learning. Even if none of that was true, the social capital relationship is totally worth it. It costs less, so for anyone who's thinking about spending substantial amounts of money on mastermind, this is an alternative to consider.

I was the recipient of one of your pop up masterminds. This was so wonderful and amazing. The connections that I made in that room have continued and I've built relationships with the people that I met there, and deepened relationship with you, for example. It really was so powerful and it's something that I personally have looked at. I want to do something like that. The way you just described it for my audience, how you can do that, it just really clicked. Thanks, that is going to be replacing some stuff on my calendar for this year and definitely next, so thank you for that.

You’re very welcome.

Any audience who are interested in joining me and Danny at Lift and experiencing what this is like. Even if you're curious to read a little bit about it, Danny's got a great video where he shares some more about the experience and what you can expect, as well as you get the full agenda and all the info. You can go to and that will hook you up with all the info. You can go ahead and grab a ticket from there for free because you're a member of my community and I just value this opportunity so much. I'm so excited to share it with you. It’s in Montreal, which lights me up. I used to live in Montreal. Come visit Canada, come hangout with me, come hang out with Danny, come really build relationships and understand new ways to take your business to the next level with actual takeaways. You will not be disappointed.

I just want to add, for everyone who's listening to this, the fact that you have the good taste to follow Nicole and her work, means I want to meet you and that's why I'm very happy to share this opportunity. I also know that light attracts light, so if you know someone and you're like,” I would love for them to come with me, or I think they'd really benefit from that,” feel free to share the link. This is not a public opportunity. Please don't post this on social media or stuff like that, because I only want the right people in the room. If you're listening to this, you're the right people, and people you trust and respect are the right people, but let's not extend the circle further than that.

I appreciate you saying that and amazing. I think too, that just, again, just speaks to who you are, Danny, and the value that you put into the people who are the right people. It's so true. It's like I know that if somebody is connected with you, then I'm more likely to have a good fit with them, than somebody who's connected to another thought leader or industry expert. Thank you so much again guys. That's I hope to see you there. Bring a friend if you know that they are also a business builder who cares about relationships, who cares about quality, who is looking to change the world by doing things in a way that lights them up and supports others to do great things as well. Until next time, this is Nicole Holland signing off.


Resources mentioned:

About Danny Iny

Danny Iny is the founder of Mirasee, host of the Business Reimagined podcast, best-selling author of multiple books and creator of the acclaimed Audience Business Masterclass and Course Builder’s Laboratory training programs, which have together graduated over 5,000 value-driven online entrepreneurs.

All of this grew out of humble beginnings; and in just a few short years, he’s grown his current business, Mirasee, to multiple-seven figures in revenue and a team of 30+ people spread all over the world who are on a mission to support a very special global community of over 50,000 loyal and inspired entrepreneurs.


Thanks to Bailey Richert from for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.


Selena Soo on Learning to Make Connections and Leveling the Playing Field

BBR 245 | Learning To Make Connections

Entrepreneurs willing to become a sponge and learn everything they need to solve problems for their business is great. But the best take away from that experience is to be inspired to do same and then do better. Selena Soo got inspiration from the people she looks up to, and now she is doing the same as she helps entrepreneurs get excited about the work of other, building long lasting relationships in the process. She believes that by being helpful and adding value, you are making the playing field between you and the client level. Selena shares what she teaches on her yearly program to help investors in learning to make connections to get their message to the world.

Thank you to Tess Hansel, Owner and Founder of Dry Swan Bladder Control in Queensland, Australia for introducing today's episode. What she loves about The Business Building Rockstars Show is the variety of guests and their genuine desire to share their expertise. She also loves how Nicole asks the right questions and manages to uncover those precious golden nuggets of knowledge that make all the difference when it comes to building a business online.

If you would like to introduce an episode and share your love for the Business Building Rockstars show, go to

Listen to the podcast here:

Selena Soo on Learning to Make Connections and Leveling the Playing Field

Selena, you are up to some seriously big things right now, so I appreciate you taking the time out to hang out with us here on The Business Building Rockstars Show. Welcome.

Thank you for having me.

Why don't we talk about what are you doing right now to serve and support people?

My biggest passion is helping entrepreneurs get their message out into the world and to ultimately reach millions of people. The best way to do that is one, the power of publicity, and two, relationship building. I have offerings around that and programs. That is what I'm up to right now.

Take us back to the beginning. What you're doing now, is this what you always saw yourself doing when you were growing up?

Yeah. This all began in my late twenties when I had a quarter-life crisis. I found myself in this woman's life coaching group and I was feeling very confused, feeling depressed, and just lost. I got exposed to different authors and thought leaders, people like Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Louise Hay, and eventually this incredible world of online entrepreneurs and the next generation of thought leaders. I realized that in moments of confusion and pain, what helped me were these inspirational role models. People don't just need more information about how to solve their problems, they need inspiration. These people that embody their message of possibility, and I knew then that I wanted to spend my life helping these entrepreneurs, experts, authors, people who are dedicated to making other people's lives better, get their message into the world into a much bigger way, so that's how it began.

When you came across this program and you started being exposed to this, what were you doing at that point? Were you already in publicity?

No, I wasn't. I was working at a women's non-profit. In a way, I was getting attention for the cause and creating buzz, but I wasn't a traditional publicist in any way.

How did you figure out like, “I want to help these people impact millions. I want to help them get their message out. What I need to do is X.” How did you figure out what X is?

I was just naturally doing what I loved, which was connecting people. I would meet people who had an amazing message and I would say like, “You need to know this person in the media,” or, “You need to connect with this influencer.” Over time, people started getting opportunities, getting on TV, getting book deals, all these different things, and so I saw that I had a knack for this. I was really good at helping people get excited about other people's work. That's a skill that we all have. Sometimes people think, “I should just hire a publicist,” and sometimes maybe you should if you have a book launch or you need to get more support on that. At the same time, you need to have the skill of getting other people so excited about your work so that they would want to open up their platforms, whether it's 10,000 or 100,000 or even a million people, to you. That's a very important skill for every entrepreneur to have.

You built your business a little bit differently than a lot of people do in the online space. Tell us a little bit about the startup and the beginning of the journey when you realized you have a service, a message, or a method that you can monetize. Can you talk a little bit about from the realization of that to how you began monetizing it?

I would just start connecting people, helping people, pitching people.

You weren't making money from that, right?

Yeah. I didn't have a business. I was a student. I was in graduate school. At the time I was thinking I would want to work for a corporation. Also, part of it was I was in the US on a visa and I didn't know if I was legally able to start my own company. One of my mentors, Ramit Sethi just really believed in my work. I had to interview him for a leadership course and we were talking about career stuff. At the time, I thought maybe I'm working HR or something that was helping other people, and he was like, “You have a lot going for you. There's a lot more that you could be doing. I feel like you're just seeing the small picture versus the big picture.” He knew that I had this passion for publicity and I had already been helping him in different ways. One of his friends, Marie Forleo, had reached out to him saying that she needed help. He connected us and we hit it off in a really big way. Danielle LaPorte also endorsed me to Marie.

As all these people got to know me better because I was adding value, they became my biggest fans. I was like, “If my idols think I'm good at what I do then I should believe in myself, too.” As I looked into it further, I actually could start my own business. It was possible. I could do it for about a year and then I would need to get another visa, but it was possible. That's how I got started. I got my first client through a networking event that I had attended. She had known about me because of my previous work in the nonprofit world and being the state connector there. When she learned what I was doing, she wanted to work with me because she wanted to work with an individual versus a bigger agency and someone that would really dig her teeth into it, so that's how I got my first client.

It's something that I've actually been talking with a lot of students and clients about recently, which is that you don't necessarily have to do all of the things that everybody's teaching, like, “You got to do this, you got to build a funnel, you got to have webinars, you got to get on podcasts, you got to start your own podcast, you got to, got to, got to, in order to make any money.” A lot of times, people get so stuck in that spin that they're not making money because they're trying to do all the things. I personally was there as well. Something that I have learned through people like you and others who have built successful businesses based on relationships is that when you give value first and you support people, they want to champion you. They want to support what you're doing and are happy to introduce you to other people. What was it like for you to charge the first time? Did you have that support from your mentors, helping you pick a price, or did you wing it? Did it happen organically? How did you establish, “Here we go, I'm making money. This is real,” and you got it?

Pricing is one of those really tricky things to figure out, especially when you're a brand new business owner. I went through LinkedIn and I identified the people in my network that worked in publicity. Some of these people I hadn't spoken to in three or four years, but I reached out to them and I said, “It's Selena, we last connected at this event or we know each other in this way, and I'm reaching out to you because I'm starting a new business. I'm so excited. My first client is this person.” I describe them and I said, “To be honest, I don't know what to charge. Can you give me an idea based on what I'm looking to do for this person of a range that would be reasonable?” I asked several people. I got several ranges back, and even though they were somewhat wide ranges, it still gave me an idea of what was reasonable. That's how I picked what I was going to charge.

BBR 245 | Learning To Make Connections
Learning To Make Connections: You need to have the skill of getting other people so excited about your work so that they would want to open up their platforms to you.

Was it just natural referrals that kept coming in or did you do anything to market your services?

After I got my first client who was a very inspirational person but for various reasons, it wasn't like a perfect fit, I didn't want to accept more clients. Sometimes when there're things in the business that are off, you turn business away because you're still figuring out, “Should I be restructuring my offerings or should I be targeting someone different?” That wasn't good. When people wanted to work with me because they saw my website and I had all these endorsements from Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte, I didn't want to accept clients. Around the same time, I decided I want to do a workshop at my home. It was called Elevate Your Brand. I charged $600 for two days. I used to be so terrified of public speaking. I'm not the most confident person on stage.

I used to be afraid to even introduce myself in a classroom for ten seconds when I was in business school, so it was crazy that I was going to be leading this two-day workshop. Sometimes my mind knows I can do it and I just go with that, versus like, “I'm feeling terrified,” this other part that's like, “You can't do that, Selena.” I did a workshop. I got seven people to show up. I made more than what I was making on retainer with a client for a month in a weekend. I thought, “I really enjoyed this kind of work, so let me do more of that.” Eventually, I hired a business coach who helped me structure and price my offerings, and start a combination of one-on-one and leverage services. It's great to have the combination. That's how I got started.

You still do things like that, but now you're in the online space and you are impacting millions. You have a program and that's been going for how long?

My program, this will be my third time running it. We open it once a year.

When you started the program three years ago, what led you to that? What was that shift that you decided to go into that one-to-many but from a distance leveraged format?

A part of it was I wanted to help more people. I was working with people in a mastermind format. There are about 10 people at the time. I know there are a lot of people that it did not make sense for them to be in a mastermind, they couldn't come to retreats, maybe it wasn't something that was the right business investment for them. I wanted to create a program where I will be sharing the same information I was helping my high level clients with.

How was that? How did that translate? Did you find it super simple to go from the live in-person interactions to the virtual interactions, or were there some bumps along the way?

It's always a challenge to put things into an online course and also just understand that there are people at different levels joining the program. When you have to put something in an online course, in some ways it forces you to make it better because you really have to create a very clear step-by-step system. I'm a perfectionist. I've taught the course live each year. At the end of the program, I will look at what questions came up during Q&A, what were the questions that were posted in the Facebook group, and see what gaps there are and think about how I can improve the program each year. It's easier when you're working with people one-on-one or in a group where it's more of a Q&A format, so it definitely was a lot of work, but I also got people to support me with that.

Each year then is getting more and more robust. I also got a sneak peek behind the scenes. We talked a bit about podcast guesting and you're making some modifications.

You gave me such great insights, with you being a podcast host yourself. The interesting thing is it's different depending on what media outlet you're targeting. If you're pitching a magazine that's going to feature an article, that's very different than getting a podcast host to say yes. I love being able to share all those nuances with people.

I love that you seek out people so you have an amazing little black book of people who are in decision-making situations and who are journalists in all these different mediums, and you bring them into your program as well. You're getting the latest, hottest information that's relevant to share with your students, not that you can go back to over and over without updating, but digital recordings that you can use again and again, you're actually updating and also teaching live so that there is that audience interaction. Tell me about what has been the biggest boost for your business since you started? When I say boost, I mean the shift. How many years have you been in business now?

I've been in business for five and a half years.

In that time, what have been the key pivot points where you're like, “I've got this under control. Now, it's time to grow.”

For me, the biggest thing has always been the types of clients that I attract. There's this saying that the success of your business depends on how you select your clients. For me, as someone who works in the world of PR and relationship building, I'm known for the results that my clients get. I've had situations where I held on to certain people for too long, especially people on the publicity field. We see someone's potential, we get excited about their message, and then later after we’ve already fallen in love with them, we realize this is not a fit for a variety of reasons, whether it's a personality thing or willingness to do the work. I have been really lucky to attract great clients. A part of it is because I got in publicity because early on I was in Forbes and Fast Company and had those media logos and did really big guest posts that attracted thousands of people.

I also had endorsements from some of the key influencers in my industry like Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte, so that attracted people in their world. When I attracted high-quality people together, we got these amazing results. That really is the number one thing. Then some of those clients ended up supporting me by referring people in their community to join my programs. Definitely the relationships piece and the clients I've had the chance to work with are the number one thing for me.

For this episode, I’m actually sponsoring it myself. With that, I want to share with you about my one-day business breakthrough intensive. Let’s face it, no matter what stage of business that we’re at, there are always areas that could use a little bit of outside perspective. Without which, they hold us back from our goals. That’s why the most successful people in the world have people that they turn to in order to optimize their resources and get unstuck fast.I’m Nicole Holland, host of The Business Building Rockstars Show. This is one of the things I love doing for clients is helping them get really clear on the underlying issue that is manifesting all kinds of funky stuff in their life so that they can get more productive, more profitable and more joyful as quickly as possible so they don’t have to spend time trying to figure it all out. I have a unique way of honing in really fast on what’s going on, and spitting out a complete road map, step by step to get out of that sticky stuff. That gum that’s just holding them back. Whether it’s processes or lead generation or conversion or any number of things, that is one of my innate gifts and how I serve my clients at my highest and best.

If you would like more information about the one-day breakthrough, visit If you decide to join us, you can use coupon code BBRShow to take a whole $100 off of the tuition. Again, that URL to get all the details about my one-day business breakthrough intensive can be found at

As far as you getting on Fast Company and you getting all of the As Seen Ons, how did you go about doing that? Was there a method to your madness or is that how you learned what to do and what not to do that you teach your clients?

I had already been helping people with publicity before that. For a while, I wasn't actively pursuing a lot of publicity for myself. My focus was getting my clients in the media, but because I was interacting with the media so much, they would be like, “What about you Selena? Can we talk about you? I find your story interesting.” I was fortunate to have people coming to me but only because I had been doing so much pitching on behalf of other people.

What's your favorite platform? What are your favorite types of publicity to get for yourself?

Podcast interviews are the best. With podcast interviews, you can reach a very niched audience and the people that listen to the entrepreneur podcasts are my people. There are other forms of media where you have to adapt your message because there's a different audience and speak more mainstream, but I love talking about my favorite topics which are publicity and networking because I'm just so passionate about helping people with it. Podcasts are fine and the fact that we get to talk in-depth is cool, too.

Let's talk a little bit about networking because you've talked about relationships. I'm curious about your stand. For me as an introvert, if I go to networking events, if I don’t see somebody I know or feel comfortable with already, or if people recognize me and they come talk to me, I'm like, “Alright, we're good.” If I'm there and even if I know who people are, if I don't think they knew who I am or we haven't had any interaction, I hesitate to put myself forward. It's something I've been working on for years and I'm continuing to. I'm getting better and better every day. At time of recording, I get to test this because I'm going to a big event that's freaking me out. What are your strategies and tactics for getting into networking environments and making them work for you?

The first thing is just redefining what networking means to you. A lot of people think of networking as someone passing out their business cards like it's a frisbee, and that's not really what it's about. It's about forming meaningful connections. When I go to a networking event, I just think that if I just form a meaningful connection with one or two people, that's time really well spent. The other thing is when the word networking comes to mind for me, I think about it's me spending time and helping people that I care about. That's my personal definition. That's how I network. It’s just meeting people that are interesting and forming these meaningful relationships that add value. That's the first thing. A lot of times we go into these events and we're already bracing ourselves, “I'm not going to like it,” and that kind of thing, but if you're like, “I'm excited to go there and meet a couple of people and be a helpful person,” that changes your mindset 180 degrees.

I like that be a helpful person because for me, when I go to events, especially ones like this one coming up where there's a lot of influencers that I do know who they are and they are people who inspire me and who I'm like, “Yes, I'd love to meet them and hang out,” but still some little part comes out and shrinks. I don't know, I shrink in those situations, so I love that reframe that you shared. Thank you.

I'll also share one of my favorite sayings, which is “the moment you put someone on a pedestal is the moment they start looking down on you.” It doesn't mean that we can't admire people or look up to them, but a lot of times we'll approach people and think, “They are such a big deal and I have nothing to offer.” When you have that self-concept as you’re going into a relationship, it creates this weird energetic dynamic. The fastest way to level the playing field is to be that helpful person to add value. One of the reasons why I haven't been afraid to approach big influencers is because I don't think I'm looking to take anything from them. I know that if I'm going to be interacting with them, I'm going to just be looking to be helpful to them in some way. I'm connecting because I admire them, I want to support them. It sounds a bit weird, but knowing that in a way that it's in their best interest to get to know me because I'm not looking to take anything away. That helps take the pressure off.

Selena, let's talk a little bit about the launch because I'm supporting your launch. In fact, in my business as we talk about different shifts and ways that we run our business, I'm actually getting away from the online one-to-many virtual space. Not to say that I'm not in there at all, I am, but I'm not looking at running programs. I am super excited because many of my people in my community, both listeners and also email subscribers, just people who've been in my world for a few years now, they look to me for learning about how to make connections and how to get yourself the yes from the host and stuff like that.

I'm really honored and excited to be collaborating with you in that I am pointing people now to what you do because I can't see why not, like it's the best. I am so inspired and appreciative of that constant work you're putting into it and the constant updates. You're on the leading edge and you're actually taking questions from your people and creating content around that, and you're bringing in producers and journalists and the people who are making decisions. With all of that, can we talk a little bit about what your program entails in terms of how you are delivering value to people outside of that private group of ten but in this program?

I can talk about what we teach in the program. The first thing is creating a media strategy. Sometimes people will say things like, “I wrote an article for the Huffington Post or I was mentioned in this interview and my business didn't blow up. Does that mean publicity doesn't work for me?” It's like when you're having a launch and you're saying, “I sent one email, but sales didn’t blow up.” There's a whole process. You want to consistently get out there in order to be known. You want to tie the publicity back to your business. If you're looking to get high-end clients, maybe you're selling $5,000 coaching package, podcasts are a really great way to get in front of niche audiences who are investing their time into learning, who are more likely to sign up for your coaching program. Whereas if you have a book coming out that is $19 versus $5,000, then mass media like magazines and TV are really great. In fact, when you get those opportunities, that can help you get a bigger book deal and reach many more people. I want people to develop a clear strategy so that the publicity that they pursue is worthwhile, and also that they’re leveraging in the right way. Then we talk about how to make yourself attractive to the media so when they learn about you, they're drawn to you and, “Of course I want to feature this person. The story resonates so deeply. I love that she's an expert in X, Y, and Z.”

Then we talk about the different types of publicities. We have a different module on each because getting on a podcast is actually very different than getting on TV even though you're talking. A podcast interview may be an hour long, your TV interview maybe 90 seconds, so you need to prepare for it differently. There are different things to do to leverage the opportunity. You go into each piece of publicity in depth. I also know that people learn in different ways. I pull a lot of the best ideas and teaching points from the course. I put them in the Facebook group for us to engage in conversation around it.

BBR 245 | Learning To Make Connections
Learning To Make Connections: The moment you put someone on a pedestal is the moment they start looking down on you.

Also throughout the year, after the 90 days of live training, I bring in a different media expert, maybe it's one from the Today Show or someone who writes for Entrepreneur or Oprah Magazine, and they can help me brainstorm story ideas and also give you feedback on your pitches. I know when I share this, some people think, “There's going to be so many people and I don't know how I'll have a chance,” but honestly as the program progresses, I'm having to personally reach out to people and say “We've got someone who used to produce for the Today Show, do you want to get their help?” There is a lot of opportunity, and sometimes with publicity, even though it is so important to build that buzz around our brand and get people excited, we can get distracted in the day to day tasks of our business. It is helpful to have that community of people that are cheering you on and pursuing the same big goals as you are.

I love that you have that interaction. When you bring those extra people, these outside voices in, it's not just a one-way information session, but it's an interactive opportunity for every person to get heard. A lot of times in programs that I've been a part of or that I've observed or that I've run, it's 10% of the people actually take advantage of the great opportunity to be one on one with the person facilitating or the expert coming in, whereas many people don't ask the questions. My students that ask those questions are the ones who are getting the absolute best value. It's not for everybody, some people just want to sit back and listen, but it is such an amazing opportunity. I've listened to some of the recordings of your sessions and I know that you go long and you let people get customized feedback for their unique situations. It's amazing what you're doing and I'm super excited to support it.

One of the reasons why I do it live is I find that when I show up, other people show up. For our very first class, we had 70% attendance rate, which blew my mind because there are people joining us from all around the world, maybe the course is at a weird hour based on their time zone. The more value we have upfront, the more people consume and get results from the program.

The course isn't open yet. You only open it once a year, but we are coming up to a little video series that you've put together. Do you want to talk about that?

Absolutely. I put together a three-part video series for people to get to know me and to be introduced with publicity and to see how they can use it in their business. It's a mini course. One thing that's really cool is when you enter your name and email to get the videos, after the third video, you'll have an opportunity to answer a few questions about the video series, which are very straight forward, so I know that you've watched it, and you could enter to win a trip to New York City. All expenses paid, you get to hang out with me, I'll mentor you in the area of publicity, and then we'll also go to a really fun influencer dinner party together where you'll get to meet people in the media.

The series is free and if people watched that series and they actually get value from it and they let you know that, then they have a chance to win that.

Yeah. One person will be the lucky winner.

I know how much value I got from hanging out with you over dinner, so I can only imagine what it's going to be like for the person who wins this to spend that much time and also with all of those influencers. We've put together a special link, so if you go to, it will take you right to that page so you can opt in to get your free video series and get lots of value and enter to win. Is there anything I have not asked you that you'd love to share with my audience?

I have a quick story to share with people because people think publicity is something that they should pursue down the road and there are a lot of fears that can come up. I can relate to that because I personally have struggled with being seen. I'm naturally shy. I'm an introvert. I love helping other people get their ideas out there which is why I do the work I do, but when I’ve had opportunities, sometimes I shy away from them. When I first started my business, a client told me that she found my work so transformative and she wants to share my ideas with her audience. She invited me to do a Skype interview and I remember thinking, “I'm not going to do that. That's so scary,” but then deep down, I was like, “You've got to do it, Selena, because this is a good growth opportunity for you.” We did this interview and I remember afterwards getting the recording back and I was watching it.

At the time, I was working on my public speaking because it's something I struggled with and I was using a lot of filler words. I had my interns count how many times I said um, you know so, and all that. We're watching the interview and I covered my face with my hands like I was watching a horror movie. I was like, “I have terrible eye contact, I'm not smiling.” My interns counted I had something like 137 filler words. I was just so horrified and I said to them, “This was a train wreck. There's no way I could ever share this with anyone.” One of my interns was like, “Honestly, I don't think it was that bad. You had a lot of really good things to say.” That was really powerful for me because it made me realize a couple of things.

Number one is that we are our own worst critic. I went into that interview not saying like, “Let's see what I did right,” but rather, “Let's see all the ways that I messed up. Let's record it.” That's the same for all of us when we think, “I'm not ready to write that guest post, to be seen in the media, for that influencer to know who I am.” We're being so self-critical and it's holding us back. The other thing I realized pretty quickly was that I was only going get better over time. We look up to these incredible entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are speaking on big stages or doing publicity, and the thing is they've been doing this for ten or twenty years. On day one, it's unfair to put that pressure on yourself to be at the same level as them. I just realized I'm only going to get better over time.

The third thing is I need to ask myself different questions. It's not, “Was I perfect?” because that's my default. I'm looking for where I went wrong, where was it not perfect, but rather, “Was this helpful? Did I show up and put my all into this? Is this advice going to help someone improve their life in some way?” If I went there and showed up fully and gave and added value, then that is enough. Even now I can't help it. I'm still a bit critical. I notice things that could be better, but I'm able to take a step back and look at it and be like, “Was I helpful? Was I adding value? Did give it my all?” If the answer is yes, then that's a great interview and that's it. Moving on, I'm not going to stew over where I could've been better.

Thank you so much. Those are wise words to end on. I appreciate your time being with us and a welcome back anytime.

Thank you.

Resources mentioned:

About Selena Soo


BBR 245 | Learning To Make ConnectionsSelena Soo is a publicity and marketing strategist for visionary entrepreneurs, experts and authors who want to reach millions with their message.

She’s helped clients and students get featured in places like O, The Oprah Magazine, Forbes, and Inc., and land interviews on popular podcasts and national TV. Many of Selena's clients have become industry leaders with 7-figure businesses, raving fan bases, and hundreds of thousands of followers.

Her signature approach comes down to building powerful and long-lasting relationships with influencers and the media in a thoughtful, authentic way.

Thanks again to Tess Hansel for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show!


Chris Ducker of Youpreneur on Hustling and the Rise of the Youpreneur

BBR 244 | Rise Of The Youpreneur

When businesses succeed, they are most likely to burnout at some point, maybe due to poor management or the time just wasn’t right. When Chris Ducker’s first business eclipsed its first million dollar year and everything seemed to be going great, the business burned out. Being a sales and marketing guy at the core, Chris knew that what he needed to do was to keep the hustle going that led him to genuinely enjoy helping people find solutions to their problems. As the author of Rise Of The Youpreneur, Chris shares his 17-year entrepreneurial journey.

This is Megan Hall from The Inspired Women Podcast. What I love about the Business Building Rockstars Show is the wealth of information that Nicole and her guest share on the podcast. I walk away inspired after every single episode I listen to. Thank you, Nicole.

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Listen to the podcast here:

Chris Ducker of Youpreneur on Hustling and the Rise of the Youpreneur

I am super excited to be here with the one and only Chris Ducker. Welcome, Chris. How you doing?

I'm doing very fine. Thanks for having me here.

I'm really excited about some of these things you've got going on right now. The Rise of the Youpreneur is about to come out. You've been at this a really long time. Do you mind taking us back to the beginning? How did you first decide to get in the online space, and when did things really took off for you?

I setup my first business in 2003.It's been fifteen years as an entrepreneur now. Like a lot of people that were building businesses back in the early 2000, I would use the internet mostly for just searching stuff on Google, email, looking at funny cat videos on YouTube, and all that stuff. We had a website up and running and all that fun stuff, but it was really around 2009 when I started to consume a lot of online content. I was watching a lot of videos on YouTube. I was reading a lot of blogs. One of the first blogs I ever read was Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch, and it's an honor to call him a good friend now. It's amazing how things can go almost full circle.

That was the year for me when I discovered the online world in terms of what it can really do from a business perspective, other than just having like a brochure type of business website up there for people to contact you in and hopefully do business with you. Fast forward a little bit, late 2009, I burned out. I was at that point a very typical business owner, Type-A entrepreneur. I had about a 130 people working for me at a call center business that I still own and operate but I don’t manage myself anymore. We just eclipsed our first million-dollar year in terms of revenue. Everything was great and then I burned out. I had to make some pretty big decisions post burnout in terms of how I was going to continue to build the business, what I wanted to do, what I didn't want to do anymore. January 2010was when I started blogging and podcasting. Now, I celebrate eight years online. I had no idea what it was going to do for me and my career and for my businesses. We fast forward now, three businesses, multi seven-figure annual revenue, almost 500 employees, sold out conferences, bestselling book, keynote engagements. I never thought I would be a keynote speaker in my life. A quarter of a million people downloaded my podcast every month. It's mad how things have just blown up since I got started in 2010. It just goes to show you that with a vision and a little bit of consistency and just by focusing on providing value, great things can happen.

BBR 244 | Rise Of The Youpreneur
Rise Of The Youpreneur: With a vision and a little bit of consistency and just by focusing on providing value, great things can happen.

You talk about vision ten years ago, back before the burnout, maybe a little bit longer than that, maybe when things were just getting started. What really was that vision like? What did you foresee yourself doing in ten, fifteen, twenty years?

I'm just a sales and marketing guy. At the very core, that's who I am as a professional. That's who I've always been. I dropped out of college when I was eighteen, much to my father's dismay. He didn’t talk to me for a few months. It was like, “If you're going to drop out, you drop out. You go sell that classified ad space. Welcome to the real world.”By the time I was 21, I was managing people twice my age. Clearly, I did the right thing. Even back in those days when I would listen to Zig Ziglar audiotapes, in fact, I was listening to Zig in my teens, it was quite obvious to me early on that I was going to be an entrepreneur. Looking back on it now retrospectively, it was quite clear that that was what I was going to do. It wasn't really until we built the company up to a certain level, had experienced a certain level of success from a growth and from a monetary perspective, and then that burnout came around. I was like, “There's got to be a better way to do this.”

Burning the candle at both ends, you're hustling. It was not something that I gave a whole lot of thought to in terms of where am I going to be a decade from now. One thing for me that did become quite clear early on, particularly when I started getting focused on the online side of things, was that I really enjoyed genuinely helping people, providing solutions to their problems in some way, shape or form. That’s what I was doing back in my sales career. You want to negotiate a front cover ad space, I'll solve that problem. I'll negotiate with you all the way. You want to build a profitable personal brand business, I'll help you do that, too. It's honestly being something that's been going on ever since day one, but I didn't really see it properly until 2010, 2011, and 2012 when I started to build the business of me through branding and podcasting and blogging and whatnot. People started coming to me saying, “How do you do it?”I just started answering questions and the rest is a little bit of history.

One of the things that I really respect about how you do you and how you stand out and stand up for who you are is you don't follow what's in fashion. When you're doing your live events, you're not going with the status quo, you're not doing what most people do, and you're actually speaking against it despite what some may want you to do. Is that something that always came naturally and effortlessly to you, or did you have some points of resistance where through your journey, were you waffling on, “How much do I give people what they want, and how much do I really focus in on what I want, and let the ones who want what I want really self-select and come to me and not worry about the others?”

I come from a corporate sales background. Status quo is key in that environment. When I was working in London, I used to go to the office everyday dressed like a golden gecko. I wore cufflinks every single day, tie, waistcoat. In the summer months, you take your jacket off and you just walk around your waistcoat. As I got older and I realized actually that the status quo is a lot BS and that it's actually quite boring as well, I wanted to do things my own way. Blogging and podcasting was really the incubus, the catalyst, for me to be able to really come out into my own. The funny thing was even when I first started podcasting and blogging, I still had that corporate type mindset where I wouldn't mess around on video camera, I wouldn't crack silly jokes or do silly intros on podcasts and all that stuff. You listen to my show now, some of the goofy stuff I do at the beginning of the show is what people are attracted to a lot of the time. I remember one time I grabbed my harmonica and I started playing like a blues riff in the middle of a podcast episode. Everyone comes up to me, “Have you got your harp with you? Can you play something now?”They never would've done that when I first started.

The status quo is fine up to a certain point, but then eventually you will hit critical mess with that and you have two options. You either continue with it and at that point you are bland and boring, or you fight it, you beat it up a little bit. You become your own person and you build what I call The Business of YOU, which is 100% unique because there's only one you, and then you take things up to the next level. That's what I decided to do and that's what I do through the pages of this book and with the Youpreneur community and the live events and all the rest of it. A perfect example of live events is for the longest time, Nicole, I have dreamt of holding a big business event in my hometown of London. Through the years I've held events in London, but probably the biggest head count I had was maybe 70 or 80 people, workshop style, mastermind style. We did a Tropical Think Tank here in the Philippines, massively successful, sold out every single year, high ticket item, $4,000 a ticket, etc., not for everyone. Now that I'm moving back to the UK with my family in the middle of this year, when I hit the ground running, we're going to do it. Screw it. Let's just Richard Branson it, “Screw It, Let's Do It.” Let's just find the venue. Let's book it. I remember my wife saying to me, “Why don't we just do it when we're living there already?” I said, “No. We hit the ground running, darling. We do it in 2017,we move in 2018. In 2018, we double the seat count. We double the attendance. It is what it is.:”Fine.”She went along with it.

The problem with the UK is it’s quite conservative, it's quite boring, it's quite stuffy. People that go to conferences, they just turn up with their note pads and take lots of notes and shake hands. “Tell me about yourself. Let's have a cup of tea and some biscuits,” and all that kind of stuff. It's very real. That's what it's like in England, but that's not me. I said, “I need to set the tone for this thing from second number one, the moment that we kick things off.”The event was in November. In September, I flew to the UK and we shopped. We spent the whole day filming footage of me literally running all over London, dressed in a Union Jack bow tie and Union Jack wais coat. The premise of what would become the introductory video to the entire conference was Chris is late for his own conference in his own hometown. The morning of the event, I was hiding up in AV booth and nobody saw me. We had Matthew Kimberly who is one of our keynote speakers, go up on stage and set the tone and said, “Nobody's seen Chris since last night. We're actually a little bit concerned. We’re not quite sure what's going on.”There was this whole thing and then he puts his finger to his ear and he says, “Hold on. I'm just getting confirmation. We've now got a live feed to Chris.”The video starts playing and it's basically me running all over London with Justin Timberlake's song, I Can't Stop This Feeling. It was great fun. I stormed in at the end of the video at the back of the room through the big doors. I'm still wearing the same waistcoat and bow tie and I'm out of breath and all the rest.

The people loved it and it set the tone for the entire event. They knew at that point that they were in for something very different in terms of a conference in London. I'm so proud that we put that event on because not only did I get the opportunity to genuinely live that dream of holding a big event in my hometown, but also when we first set the numbers, we only wanted 200 people. We said, “If we can get 200 people, that would be incredible.” We had over 350 people from 37 countries around the world. That just blew me to bits when we realized that there was that many people coming from that many countries. It just goes to show that fighting the status quo, being true to who you are no matter what you're doing and for whatever reason you're doing it for, if you're doing it for the right people, if you're doing it for your people, then you can't really go wrong. That part of your tribe are going to like what you're all about and what you do. We were very proud. It's something that we have big plans for the future in terms of growth and even expanding upon it with other smaller events as well.

For this episode, I’m actually sponsoring it myself. With that, I want to share with you about my one-day business breakthrough intensive. Let’s face it, no matter what stage of business that we’re at, there are always areas that could use a little bit of outside perspective. Without which, they hold us back from our goals. That’s why the most successful people in the world have people that they turn to in order to optimize their resources and get unstuck fast. I’m Nicole Holland, host of the Business Building Rockstars Show. This is one of the things I love doing for clients is helping them get really clear on the underlying issue that is manifesting all kinds of funky stuff in their life so that they can get more productive, more profitable and more joyful as quickly as possible so they don’t have to spend time trying to figure it all out. I have a unique way of honing in really fast on what’s going on, and spitting out a complete road map, step by step to get out of that sticky stuff. That gum that’s just holding them back. Whether it’s processes or lead generation or conversion or any number of things, that is one of my innate gifts and how I serve my clients at my highest and best.

If you would like more information about the one-day breakthrough, visit If you decide to join us, you can use coupon code BBRShow to take a whole $100 off of the tuition. Again, that URL to get all the details about my one-day business breakthrough intensive can be found at

I've been so enjoying the videos that have been posted. I just was watching one from Amy Landino, great footage and great talk. You had such rockstar speakers. You've already announced the keynotes for next year.

When I set the stage for the event, what actually happened initially was it was all about the event. It was all about the speakers and what we are promising from an event-attendee perspective. Then it became quite apparent quite early on in the ticket sale periods that we were getting a lot of international guests. I started reaching out to people via Facebook Messenger. I'm a big believer of P2P or People to People. I wrote about it in Virtual Freedom. I've been talking about it since 2012. P2P is real for me. It's how I build my business, people to people. I build my business with handshakes, hugs and high fives. I started reaching out to people verbally, not even messages, like verbally recording. ” Mike, I just noticed that you bought a ticket to the Youpreneur Summit and you're traveling all the way from Toronto. That's incredible. I'm just curious to know why. There are some great events in Toronto and in United States, you don’t have to travel that far. Why are you coming to London? What is it? Why are you coming to the Youpreneur Summit?”I’ll ask that question probably to 20 or 30 people from Europe, US, we had guys coming in from Singapore for this thing, and almost all of them came back and said, “It's in London. I've been looking for an excuse to come to London. Are you serious? This is great. You've got all these great speakers. It's in London. We trust you. We’re coming.”Then I went to work on really revamping the website for the event. If you go to now, you'll see clearly we sell London as a destination just as much as we do the event and everything that that has to offer as well. I think honestly, that's one of the reasons why we went well over our initial target of 200 is because we promoted the amazing city of London as well.

Are you're going to be in San Diego for T&C?

I will be there.

I'm going out there and that trip is taking longer than it would be to fly to London. When is it this year?

It’s November 3, 4, and 5. We're actually adding a third day option for those who want to spend one extra day of just sheer masterminding and business planning. The first two days are more conference style, a lot of speakers. We're going to have some panels this year which we didn’t do last year.

You don't do pitching of your things?

No pitching. I don't like that.

I'd love for you to talk about that because I do an online event. One of those things that I was firm in my decision that in my online event there was going to be no pitching. It was one of the things I really loved on your website, how it essentially says like, “This is something I don't believe in and this is what happens in most places. You will not experience it here. It is all pure high-value content.”

It's amazing what you can achieve in terms of your sales when you don't actually sell anything. Particularly online, people are tired of the free video launch and then there's the sales video and then you know, 100 emails in one week and all this stuff. People’s BS indicator is a way too sensitive nowadays. They can see it from a mile away. If you just consistently provide value and solutions to people's problems over a long period of time, they will eventually end up putting their hand in their PayPal account for you. It's really that simple. This year's events, and this is a great tip for anybody who does events, whether it’s in person or online, what we did on the beginning of the second day, the kickoff was [8:30]. At [7:30] AM, everybody got an email. It just said, “I hope you guys had a great first day here at the Youpreneur Summit. I hope you didn't drink too much last night, but if you did, don't worry, my staff got Advil. We will look after you.”

I just had a little bit of fun with it really. I said, “If you're interested in coming back next year, here's a link where you can get a discounted ticket up to midnight tonight. After that, tickets won't be on sale again until the end of March. See guys in about an hour from the stage. Bye for now.” That was it. We did nothing else. Out of the 350 people that were there, 147 people bought their ticket for next year's event right there and then on that day. In fact, actually we were getting people shouting out at me from the audience when I was on stage. “What's the URL again for the discount ticket?” I wasn't even mentioning it. They were all asking for it Other than that and a very quick little mention right at the end of the event as I was wrapping up, that was all we did. People were already in because of the value that we had provided them over and over again over the course of those two days. When you announce people like Jay Baer, Hal Elrod, Jadah Sellner, and Carrie Wilkerson as your four keynotes, they know you are not messing around.

When we curate and create an event that is of value, it's our responsibility frankly as the leaders and as the host and as the organizers to invite people to continue that experience with us beyond that. What I don't love in going to live events or going to online events is when each speaker has a special offering, “Run to the back of the room and buy my this in the next fifteen minutes.”

It’s the worst. I should also know as well that we had over 80 people out the 350 actually become a member of the Youpreneur Community within the weeks following the event as well, just organically. It just comes down to showing up, providing value, being authentic, and just showing people that you're the real deal. When you're up on stage telling a story about how you almost got arrested while filming a conference introduction video outside Big Ben, they realize that you're the real deal and they're going to listen to you.

BBR 244 | Rise Of The Youpreneur
Rise Of The Youpreneur: It just comes down to showing up, providing value, being authentic, and just showing people that you're the real deal.

Hopefully you'll come back and we can talk another time in depth about creating that virtual freedom by having a great team and how you have been able to help thousands and thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs do that over the years. I really want to make sure that we talk about your book, the new book that's just coming out now, the Rise of the Youpreneur. I'd love for you to talk a little bit about how that came to be, how you made that decision to write this book, and also maybe share some behind-the-scenes wisdom about some of the things you talked about that may be unexpected for a lot of people.

Before I do that though, let me talk very quickly about the virtual staffing side of things. The main message here of Virtual Freedom, which was my first book in 2014, is that as the business owner that you are, regardless of what level of business you're at, you should not be doing everything yourself. That's the main overriding message of everything there. Virtual Freedom is actually being described as the more practical version of the 4-Hour Work Week, which I love obviously. Tim's book was incredible, but to be called the practical version of it, it’s huge. It will genuinely take you step-by-step through how to build your business and run your business day-to-day and grow your business by working with a virtual staff. There's one little exercise right at the beginning of the book that we can throw out right now that people can actually do. It only takes ten minutes but it's a game changer. We call this exercise the 3 Lists to Freedom exercise. I did this myself when I was recovering from burnout. It was the catalyst for me to be able to start blogging and podcasting becoming the Virtual CEO that I am now.

Basically what you do is you get a piece of paper, you draw two lines in it, creating three columns. Column number one, you write down all the tasks that you hate doing on a daily basis. This is the stuff that you procrastinate on over and over again. When you drag and drop on your calendar digitally, “I'll do that tomorrow. I'll do that next week,” that’s the stuff you put in this column. It’s the stuff you hate. Column number two is a list of all the things that you struggle doing. It’s stuff that you can't do. As entrepreneurs, it's tough for us to actually write anything in that column because we think we're great at everything, but the reality is we struggle with a lot of different things. That’s column number two. Then the last column is by far the most important and the hardest column to fill up because you could actually really like doing these things, you could actually be very good at doing these things, but the big overwhelming 800-pounds Silverback Gorilla of a question is, “As the business owner, should I actually be doing these things?” It’s a big one. When you complete those three lists, what happens is you create ultimately your roadmap or your blueprint to actually go ahead and start delegating to virtual assistants and building a virtual team. I wanted to give that real quick because it's important.

I legitimately and sincerely wish I knew about, not just of you, but really how you are serving and supporting. When I got started, I had been inundated with so much messaging. I was just trying to figure out where to focus and everything. It's so hard when you just don't know. I wish somebody had really tapped me on the shoulder sooner and said, “Nicole, just go read this blog from Chris Ducker. Just go take this particular piece about handling your email. Just this one thing can change your situation so many times over.” I've been a great recipient of what you do and I have felt like I wasn't getting the messaging well enough from people who are saying strongly enough like, “You don't even have to buy anything. Just go there. This is what you need to solve your problem right now.”It was a no-brainer for me once my brain was opened. Once I got it, I was like, “Sold,” and it's been amazing. If you go to, you can learn more about the Virtual Staff Finder and what these guys are doing. You can reach out to me personally for my experience with it. Let's jump into Youpreneur a little bit.

When I said I was going to write this book, a lot of people were actually quite surprised because I said that Virtual Freedom is going to be the first and the last book I'll ever write. If you talk to any author by the time they're done writing and marketing their book, they're never going to write another book again. Just like with Virtual Freedom, I felt like at the time when I did write it and get it out there that I needed to because it was a proven entity. Everything in the book worked. I've got to share it with my peers, with my fans, followers, customers, and the whole lot. With Rise of the Youpreneur, I feel absolutely even stronger about it because this has been the big part of my life for the last four years. Since Virtual Freedom came out and wrapped up, I was actually in the US on a speaking tour promoting the book when I coined the term “youpreneur,” and wrestled and negotiated the domain name from a squatter who had been sitting on it for like ten years or so. I got the domain and then obviously, I did nothing for an entire year other than just figure out what it was actually going to be. It ended up being a membership community, which is where I met of our mutual friend, Mike Morrison. I’ve grown it since then. Now we've got hundreds and hundreds of people in the community.

The book has come about because of the community, because of the work that we did inside the community to fill up the gaps in our training content that was initially there when we launched in late 2015.We then re-launched in mid-2016 with what we called our Youpreneur Roadmap. That was set up into three main sections, the building, marketing and monetizing. It was probably about the end of 2016, we were updating the roadmap with all the new content that has been published that year. I started to look at it. It was the weirdest thing. Did you ever see those films where you get like, “I can't remember who used to do this,” or it might have been Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe where the equations come out off of the board and they start spinning towards him and everything in the movie like that special effect, it was like that. I was looking at the roadmap and all these things were coming out and forming into different sections. We rejigged the entire roadmap based on what I saw and we got incredible feedback from it.

People genuinely are actually consuming the content front to back, top to bottom for the first time ever, even though some of them had been in there for a year already. They never really looked at any of the content. They were just there for the forums. Once everything had been very clearly set out, I looked at it and I thought, “This is actually a book ready and waiting to go right here. I don't even have to write it. It's written already. I just need to basically just fashion it into book form.”That's what I did. I worked with an editor. We did twelve hours of interviews with me. We pulled tons of value from all the different workshops and videos and all the rest of the people. Guys like Gary Vaynerchuk, Amy Porterfield, all these real, serious personal brand entrepreneurs, and we put it all into the Rise of the Youpreneur. We called it, The Definitive Guide to Becoming the Go-To Person in Your Industry and Building a Future-Proof Business. I really do feel like it is the definitive guide. Regardless of how many other books might be out there on personal branding, nothing will walk you through building a genuinely profitable business from your personal brand like this does

I'm so excited to see that and to get my hands on it. For everyone who would also like to do that, they can go to

It's up on Amazon as well.

Go check this book out. Get it on Amazon, give it a read, go leave that review and let Chris know what you love most about it. Let other potential readers understand the difference between just another book and this roadmap and how impactful it is. It really does make such a difference for us. Everyone here are entrepreneurs. They are building their brand and you always want to think about or at least I recommend always thinking about whether you're doing podcast guesting, whatever you're doing, always think about, “How would I want to be treated if I were in this person's shoes?” Definitely go check it out. Write a review, love it up, and share it with your friends. Chris, thank you so much for being here with us.

It was all my pleasure. It was great to come on.

Resources mentioned:

About Chris Ducker

BBR 244 | Rise Of The YoupreneurChris is a serial entrepreneur and author of the bestseller, “Virtual Freedom”, and author of his latest book, “Rise of the Youpreneur”.

Originally from the UK, Chris has lived in the Philippines for 17-years, where he has founded multiple businesses, which combined house over 450 full-time employees.

He’s a trusted international business mentor, keynote speaker, podcaster, blogger, as well as the founder of

Chris hosts the annual Youpreneur Summit, which is held in London, England each November and is the self-proclaimed ‘Proudest Brit’ doing business online!

Thanks to Megan Hall for supporting the Business Building Rockstars Show.


The Female Quotient, Sharing Wisdom at All Levels with Shelley Zalis

Telling people that you are a strong woman is admirable, but being strong enough to break the rules makes you a leader. Changing the golden rule of “Do unto others as you’d want to do unto yourself” into something like “Do unto others as they want for themselves,” is the attitude that has helped Shelley Zalis do it all as a female CEO. She raises her family like a rock star and travels the world like one too. She pioneered research making it go from offline to online, and through this experience, she developed The Female Quotient. This involves mentorship at all levels and all ages to continually learn from other’s wisdom. Learn how Shelley found a way to own her voice and why she needed to break the rules to make new ones.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Female Quotient, Sharing Wisdom at All Levels with Shelley Zalis

I'm so excited that you are able to join me here at NRF 2018 for a special edition of the Business Building Rockstars Show. It's really nice to be in this space with you. Thanks for being here.

You bring your own energy anywhere you go. That is very clear. You don't need the surrounding to be a rock star. You are a rock star.

Tell us a little bit about who Shelley Zalis is.

My nickname is Chief Troublemaker. I pioneered online research. When you take those shitty surveys on the internet and you swear against the person that created them, that was me. I was the mother of that invention. I migrated research from offline to online in a day and age where only wealthy old men were on the internet, hardly a representative population but created the new norm where the only thing you know today is research on the internet. That was me. I was the only female CEO on the Top 25 in market research my whole career. I knew that I always did think very differently than my peers. I realized I had to break the rules to create new ones because they just didn't make sense for a woman “doing it all,” raising a family, being the CEO of a company, traveling around the world. I created the end corporate rules when I launched a company called OTX, Online Testing Exchange. It is what it is, an online testing exchange. I sold that company seven years ago to the third largest research company in the world, Ipsos, a French company. While I was there, I realized that being the only woman in my category at that level, I wanted to give back with generosity to other women rising the ranks. I wanted to go to CES, the Consumer Electronic Show, which was in Vegas with over 180,000 people, less than 5% women. I called a few girlfriends and invited them to join me. I told them to invite their girlfriends, and 24 hours later, 50 women showed up.

BBR 243 | Female Quotient
Female Quotient: In the corporate world, a woman alone is power. Collectively, we have impact.

Two remarkable things happened. One, all the men's heads turned, like, “Where did all you women come from?” That's when I coined the phrase “Power of the pack.” In the corporate world, a woman alone is power. Collectively, we have impact. The second was a confidence moment. I coined the phrase “Confidence is beautiful.” I really felt like I was surrounded by people just like me. Why do we need to conform to the rules that make no sense? Let's break the rules, create new ones and rewrite the rules for the modern workplace. That is when The Girls’ Lounge was born. I left Ipsos after five years. Then I started a company called The Female Quotient. The Female Quotient is what it is. First came the Intelligence Quotient (IQ), then the Emotional Quotient (EQ) and now the Female Quotient, (FQ). When you put women in any equation, the equation gets better! We say diversity is good for business, but yet we're going backwards. This is really a time where we need to use our voices, work together, activate change and not only empower ourselves with bringing our best strengths to the table but also advancing equality in the workplace with new solutions. I went from the business of online research to the business of equality by accident.

What you're doing is amazing. If you search, #SeeHer or #GirlsLounge or #TheFemaleQuotient, and there are some other hashtags you probably used out there, you're going to find so many different things that Shelley is up to. It's super exciting and super empowering. One of the things that’s beautiful is that there are women of all ages. From college campuses to corporate conferences, you are everywhere and you're bringing together women and some men of all socio-economic backgrounds, of all races, of all religions, of all ages and having these open conversations. How has that impacted your life personally as far as where you are today? Is this where you saw The Girls' Lounge going?

I could not have written the script. Every day is a new day and I end up going where it takes me. My girlfriend Linda Yaccarino, she's Head of Global Advertising Sales for NBCU. She's Vice Chair. We coined something called “Mentorship in the moment.” It is mentorship at every level, at every age. We all learn from each other. It's not just wisdom being pushed down or pushed up. It's wisdom shared all around. It's so important. It's the first time in history. We have five generations in the workplace, Gen Z coming in and traditionalists moving up, but retiring later. We all have to work together. It's not diversity of gender, race, age, religion. It's diversity of mindset. We benefit from one another. Regarding men, it is very important. Transformation must include men. We're all in this together. Gender equality is not a female issue, it's a social and economic issue. We can have women having unplugged, authentic conversations where we have a safe environment to share, but change has to happen together inside the workplace. I have no idea where I am tomorrow, but wherever I am is where I need to be. It's been nothing shy of inspiring, it's been nothing short of exhilarating. Bringing the power of the pack together, we've connected over 17,000 women working together across every corporation, every level. We've created a girlfriend network which is quite powerful.

I got to experience a breakfast that you did. What I loved was that a lot of situations when we have women groups or women initiatives, me as somebody who has been in predominantly male-dominated fields my whole life, I'm not as sensitive as I hear some women are when they're in these groups. You had such an amazing conversation about that and opening up the dialogue and opening up the conversation that we don't have to be offended as women. We don't have to say, “This is an offensive word or that's an offensive word.” It is that mindset piece and owning your own power and speaking up and just being real with other people. Over the years, everybody wants to be so PC and we've gotten to this point where people don't actually communicate. They “talk at” instead of “talk with.” I love what you and your panelists discussed. Can you talk a little bit about that mindset? You are a strong woman and there's nothing wrong with that. I love that you own that and you tell people that. They don't have to be demure and they don't have to be offended by the word “girl” for example.

First of all, I've always owned my voice. Oftentimes, it's not that people are trying to be offensive. They're just not conscious of what they say. It's easy to say, “I don't want to be spoken to that way,” or, “That's offensive,” or, “I don't want to go to a strip joint because all of you are going. I'd rather go to this wine bar. Why don't you join me in that direction?” From the age of 25 without permission, I was not a Senior Executive, I had to find my own voice because no one gives you your voice but yourself. I had a male boss. We had a meeting in Connecticut for dinner and I was staying in New York City. It was [11:00] PM and he drove me to the train station, dropped me off and said, “I'll see you tomorrow.” It wasn't that he was trying to do that to make me feel uncomfortable. It's just that's what he would've done. He didn't think about I'm being a young woman on a train by myself, not even knowing New York at all. I just said to him, “I'm not comfortable going on the train by myself. Either you've got to go with me or drive me to the city or put me in a car.” I didn't mean it to be snippy or whatever. I wasn't comfortable. He didn't think about it and he goes, “I'm so sorry.”

Tina Sharkey said, “We have to rewrite even the golden rule.” The golden rule says, “Do unto others as you'd want to do unto yourself.” Maybe it's, “Do unto others as they would want for themselves.” He would've put himself on the train. He was putting me where he thought to go. He never paused to say, “You're right. It's probably not safe for you to go.” These are the kinds of things that you have to point out. I'm now 55, going on 56, so I'm an old lady that's been around the block, but even at 27, I'll never forget these moments where I was in sales. I wanted to bring in Procter & Gamble as a client and all my bosses told me it wasn't the right time because it was a big move and you only have one chance to win. I'm like, “When is the right time? Is God going to hit me on the head and say this is the moment?”I happened to be at a conference with the person from Procter. I whispered to him, I said, “When is the right time to come in and pitch to you?” He says, “Next week.” I come back and I was all excited and I said, “We got the meeting at Procter & Gamble.” The team said, “Paul will go and David will go and Jim will go and Bob will go.” I'm like, “What about Shelley?” They said, “It's going to be all men there.” I said, “If I'm not going, I'm going to cancel the meeting. You all can get it yourselves because they're expecting me.” I had to find my voice. I didn't mean to be rude. I was being honest. That's what we need to do more of. Buildings and institutions don't make shit happen. They don't create the rules, people do. People, humans do care. There are exceptions to the rule but they're not the norm. Sometimes it's just pointing out and making people conscious of their unconscious. If that doesn't work, then you go to step two, but start with step one.

Something that you're communicating, underlying, at least my interpretation, is that by being authentic, by being real, and by communicating what you feel and who you are, it's not coming from a place of shame or blame to somebody else for them not realizing it. It's so neutral and that's something that's missing in dialogue in these days. People are pointing fingers and it's a “for or against” mentality that I'm observing in our society. That personal ownership of, “This is what I'm experiencing,” without any attachment to, “You're doing this to me,” but just a, “Here's what's going on for me.” It's a completely different conversation and one that is when we're willing to have it, it’s comfortable for everybody involved.

It's so crazy because oftentimes we assume things, and you know what assume means. I go back to middle school and I had a teacher whose name was Michael Schlyer. He was this hippie teacher. I will never forget him. He had a kid named Rainbow and his other child was called Chastity. He was so cool. We had something called “I'm mad at you.” We sat around in a circle and everyone said, “I'm mad at you because you didn't invite me to sit with you at lunch, and I'm mad at you because you talked behind my back and that wasn't very nice and I heard about it.” We talked about things. Maybe we need an “I'm mad at you” session in the workplace where it's listening lunches and we can talk about things that are on our minds and share so that we can be better. Better is a choice. Nobody wants to be a jerk. We are not aware. Conversation, open dialogue in a safe and secure environment where we know it's okay and that we are going to make the workplace a better place, and attract and retain the best talent, and allow people to be their best selves and thrive, is not a bad way to go.

We need to follow the golden rule. We need to have consequences for bad behavior. We need to have reward for respect in the workplace. We need to have listening conversations that are open, candid, authentic, unplugged, safe and secure. We need to create some new rules. Sometimes these rules are not so complicated like, “I'm sick of hearing about interruption.” Then take a bell and every time someone is interrupting, ring the bell. Let's make people conscious. We all know the Pavlovian response: the more you do it, the more you learn. Maybe we've got to go back to learning and call out bad behavior, reinforce good behavior continuously until it becomes part of your DNA. Have a policy like open door policy. Have a policy that no one is to go to anyone's apartment or home or private space that is not in a work environment. Make that a rule. It might sound so silly but maybe we need to call these things out until we get good at this.

BBR 243 | Female Quotient
Female Quotient: We need to have listening conversations that are open, candid, authentic, unplugged, safe and secure.

Can we talk a little bit more about The Girls' Lounge and how this moment became a movement? What magic is happening there? What are you seeing? How did it come to be, where is it now and where is it going over the next one, three and five years?

I write the next chapter when it happens. I would tell you anything you want to know because I have no secrets, but I can only tell you what I know now. The Girls' Lounge went from a moment to a movement. We started with four women. I told them to invite other women. We now have over 17,000 women and we create pop-up spaces at large industry conferences that are predominantly men to create a safe space for women to have unplugged, authentic conversations. Men are welcome. They are the minority. When you're in a space full of women, the minority acts and feels like the majority. It is confidence-boosting on so many levels. We're doing pop-ups everywhere at major industry conferences, connecting women in marketing, media, advertising, research, technology and finance. We will be expanding into automotive and healthcare. Lawyers need a lot of help in that regard too. We also got calls from the builders industry. It's power of the pack in action.

We actually launched a campaign called #PowerOfThePack. Tag three of your girlfriends that are supporting other girlfriends and pay it forward with generosity. We are building pop-up spaces within corporations and within college campuses. We are creating equality bootcamps inside of the workplace. We have an Equality Lounge coming up at the World Economic Forum where it's solutions for change, men and women. Where are we, one to three to five years? I hope that women like you call me and say, “How do I create pop-up lounges in Ontario?” and then it just goes viral because once you get started, it truly is infectious. Having a network of people supporting people and girlfriends in the corporate workplace world and entrepreneurs having resources to tap into is magical. It's priceless.

You asked all of the ladies on your panel this question, but nobody asked you. I would love to know about this. You were telling a story about Milk. She had asked, “What is your brag, desire and gratitude?” Can you just give us a little bit of a backstory on the importance of that question and of being able to answer that, and why it's so difficult for women?

Women, in general, we always talk about everyone else. We are too nice to brag about ourselves. We want to brag about everyone else before we want to say something about us because we really don't work in the “I.” We work in the “we.” We share and we're good sharers. Every once in a while, you've got to know what you're good at. First of all, if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. You've got to know what you're good at and then you also need to know how you surround yourself with other people that are good at other things. It is power of the pack. We all play off each other. We all bring value to one another. It is important to go deep inside. Oscar Wilde says, “Be yourself because everyone else is taken.” We need to discover our strength, celebrate our strength, voice our strength and then surround ourselves with others because that's when the power of collaboration kicks into action.

What is your brag?

I'm a great collaborator.

How about your desire and your gratitude?

My desire is to change the equation in the workplace. For my girlfriends in the workplace, I never in a million years thought that I would have 17,000 girlfriends working together, sharing, bringing value to each other, amplifying each other's voices and shining light on helping each of us rise. When you help someone else rise, we all shine. That is my gratitude for 17,000 amazing girlfriends that are paying it forward with generosity to so many other women.

Shelley, is there anything I didn't ask you that you feel is important to put into this conversation?

Most importantly that change happens in steps. Don't look at it happening overnight because then you revert back to say, “It's too big a challenge.” Break it into bite-sized steps. One step, two steps, three steps, and then look back and say, “Look how far I've come.” Secondly, we all have responsibility for change. Who are you waiting for? Take responsibility. Raise your hand and say, “I can be better.” Number three, never forget there's power of the pack. Number four, your voice matters. If you watch and wait, nothing will ever happen. Make it happen. You have the power in your heart for change to happen.

Where can people go to learn more about The Female Quotient and also The Girls' Lounge?

At @ShelleyZalis, @WeAreTFQ, #TheFemaleQuotient, #PowerOfThePack, #NotGoingBack. We're out there. Find us, share us and pay it forward with kindness.

Thank you so much for being here.

Thank you.


Resources mentioned:

About Shelley Zalis

BBR 243 | Female QuotientShelley Zalis is one of the most well-known thought leaders for advancing equality in the workplace. As the first female chief executive ranked in the research industry’s top 25, she changed the game, brought emotion and passion to the boardroom and has devoted herself to becoming a mentor and friend to women and leaders in her industry.
Today, through the Female Quotient, Zalis is sharing her mentorship and amplifying her message of equality to business women and entrepreneurs across many industries and levels. She is a sought-after speaker, talking at prominent events such as The Wrap’s Power Women Breakfast. Zalis authors a Forbes column that provides inspiration and advice for women in middle management (“the messy middle”) who are looking to rise up into leadership positions.