Use Public Speaking to Grow Your Business with Dr. Michelle Mazur

ppp_michellemazur

At some point, you have to make the decision to assume the identity of speaker, instead of just playing at it.

— Dr. Michelle Mazur

Tara:  Welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m your host, Tara Gentile, and together with my friends at CreativeLive, we talk to powerhouse small business owners about the nitty gritty details of running their business, making money, and pursuing what’s most important to them.  Each week, I deep dive with a thriving entrepreneur on topics like time management, team building, marketing, business models, and mindset.  Our goal each week is to expose you to something new that you can immediately apply to growing your own business.

This week, my guest is Dr. Michelle Mazur.  Michelle is the founder of Communication Rebel, and a coach for entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, and thought leaders who want to speak with impact.  She’s also the author of the bestselling book, Speak for Impact, the creator of the Rebel Speaker Boot Camp, and the host of the Rebel Speaker Podcast, plus I actually worked with Michelle on one of my own signature talks, You Really, Really Must: How to Make Bold Choices in an Overwhelming World. 

I wanted to find out how Michelle is using public speaking to grow her own business.  We talked about negotiating a new engagement, preparing for a talk, getting paid, and all the ways you can speak without ever stepping on stage.

Dr. Michelle Mazur, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Michelle:  I’m so excited to be here, Tara.

Tara:  All right.  So you have just released a book called Speak for Impact, and it catapulted itself to the top of the Amazon rankings right away.  I think that is so exciting.

Michelle:  It was.  It was very exciting.

Tara:  Awesome.  So just as your book has been a hot topic, I think public speaking in general is a really hot topic for my audience, but instead of kind of asking you for advice, I want to find out more about how you’ve used public speaking in your own business.  So this is going to be a little meta, but I think it’s going to be super fun.  So first, can you tell us how you got started with coaching and consulting public speakers in the first place?

Michelle:  I’ve been coaching or consulting in some form for 25 years.

Tara:  Wow.

Michelle:  I did the math this morning.  I was like, oh, I’m old.  And I started on the speech and debate team in college, and so when I went to graduate school, I became the assistant director of the speech and debate team, and I went to Oklahoma and started the Parliamentary Debate Team there, and so I was always coaching and helping people write speeches and get better at it, and then as I evolved through being a professor and then into corporate, what was interesting is I was doing market research in corporate, which was so not my jam, but that’s a story for another day, but the leadership knew I was great at speaking and messaging. 

So they would always come to me and be like, “We have this big sales pitch.  Can you come and watch it and give us feedback?”  So I spent a lot of my time not necessarily doing research, but coaching and consulting on their message and how it was going to be received and how they were presenting themselves.  And eventually, I got to this point where I was having a conversation with one of my good friends, and he’s like, “Michelle, you have all of this great knowledge about communication and speaking and you’re so talented at it.  Why are you not doing something with it?  Like, why are you in market research?  I don’t get this.”  And he encouraged me to start a blog, and that blog turned into my business.  That’s … I’ve been at it now for about four years.

Tara:  Yeah.  And it has grown immensely over that time.  All right.

Michelle:  Yes.

Tara:  So speaking of which, what are some of the ways that you’re using public speaking in your own business right now?

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Michelle:  The first thing is I don’t look at speaking as something that just happens on the stage.  As business owners, as creatives, we are always speaking.  So I use it, like today, I’m on my way to Portland to speak at an event, but I also use it for webinars and workshops and Facebook Live and podcast interviews like this one, media interviews.  I mean, even blog posts, because once you have your message, and you know what you stand for, then you can just use that all over the place, and so I incorporate it into every aspect of my business, and so speaking for me doesn’t happen just on a stage.  It happens in so many different venues.

Tara:  Yeah.  I completely agree with that, and I think it’s one of the reasons that public speaking is a hot topic, and I think it’s also one of the reasons that if you have any kind of resistance to public speaking, it really is time to get over it, right?

Michelle:  Yeah, because you’re hiding in your business or your creative work otherwise, because if we can’t know about you, if you can’t articulate what it is that you do in a compelling way that makes people want to listen to you, you’re never going to be found, and you’re just going to die in obscurity, which is really sad.

Tara:  Yeah, yeah.  Okay, so I want to come back … I want to come back to that, for sure, but I also want to tie how you’re making money, the profit piece of the puzzle …

Michelle:  Mmhmm, yeah.

Tara:  To the ways that you’re using public speaking right now.  So can you just talk about how … how you’re generating revenue in relation to at least a few of the different ways you talked about also using public speaking?

Michelle:  Yeah.  So in the book – this is a great segue to the book – I talk about two different paths to revenue.  So I talk about paid speaking, which is the gold standard, which everybody wants, and then I talk about client-attracting speeches.  And so for me, I’m using paid speaking right now mostly in workshops, because I am a natural born teacher, so I love to teach my Speak for Impact process, or I teach the How to Fascinate assessment, and so I get paid that way, but then I also do gigs that either are very low-paying or fee-waived, and I have a whole system around how I give a speech, I make an offer from the stage that’s completely free, and people opt-in, so using some of my email marketing mojo, and then I nurture them into clients and customers.  So that’s how I’m using that aspect to really fuel my one-on-one work, my small, you know, my small group work.

Tara:  Okay.  Let’s talk about exactly how you work that process.

Michelle:  Okay.

Tara:  Because I hosted an event earlier this year where you were a speaker, and you were one of our top speakers at that event.  Everyone loves hearing you talk.  I love hearing you talk.  Anyhow, and I did not pay you for that talk.  You know, it was our first event, we didn’t have a big budget.  In fact, we were, you know, finished the event in the red, as a lot of event organizers, I’m sure, can … can empathize with that.  So how do you make an event like that profitable for you?  What does that process, can you walk us through step-by-step?

Michelle:  Oh, yeah.  Yes.  So the first thing you have to ask yourself is, “How do I get paid?”  And for me, I run the Rebel Speaker Bootcamp, and I aligned the launch of the Bootcamp with your event, because I know your people are my people.  So I gave a speech called Speak for Impact, and within that speech, it led to my free five-day challenge that I was getting ready to run right after the event called Get the Speech, Get the Gig.  And so people joined the challenge, and then they took part of it, and there was a Facebook group, and I got to give a lot of feedback, and so they got to know me really well, and then I launched the Bootcamp, and from that, I earned about $4000 of revenue, which was great.

Tara:  That is great.

Michelle:  It’s awesome.

Tara:  And that’s just in that one iteration.  We don’t know how much revenue you might earn from that later on because of the beginning ties that you’ve created to potential customers, right?

Michelle:  Yeah, because I’ve had speaking gigs pay off two years later.

Tara:  Yes.

Michelle:  I mean, it’s not an instant, like, make $10,000 in 60 minutes kind of thing, but it is very much, like, okay, if I’m strategic about this and I have a way to nurture people, they will become my clients.  And this time, it was like within three weeks they became clients, but sometimes, it’s a month, two months, or even two years.

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  I totally agree.  I mean, Pioneer Nation is an event that I’ve done twice and have gotten really great … those same results for.  Didn’t get paid, but probably from the first one, made at least $50,000-$60,000 over the course of two years.  That’s nothing to sneeze at, and so I think that’s really something to think about when you’re approached with a free speaking gig.

Michelle:  Yeah, and I think it’s all about the strategy, because if you don’t have a speech that’s really aligned with your business and leads them to the next natural step, that whole client attraction speech will not work for you.

Tara:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  So the other piece of this that I really like, too, is that, you know, I encourage people to create events towards the end of their launches to get people really, or like right before they make their pitch, to get people really on the edge of their seats, ready to buy, and what you’ve done here is not create an event, but leverage an existing event, so you had to do less work to get those customers excited and ready to buy from you, and I think that that’s something, I hope everyone takes that away.  Is that something that you’ve done in the past?  Was this the first time that you’ve done something like that before?

Michelle:  I was never so strategic about it before.

Tara:  Okay.

Michelle:  Because I was looking, because I knew I had the Quiet Power Strategy Summit coming up, and then I was like, okay, well, when am I going to launch the Bootcamp next?  Why don’t I launch it right after that event?  It just made a ton of sense to me to do it that way, so I was able to be very, very strategic, but even with this event in Portland, I’m not launching anything after it, but I’m giving a speech called Your Unfair Speaking Advantage.  My opt-in is called Your Unfair Speaking Advantage.  And then I’m able to nurture people, and have them get to know me, and tell them, like, what I do, and make my offer to them.

Tara:  Okay, all right.  So let’s talk about that for a little bit, because clearly, consistency is key when it comes to your message.  What else are you thinking about when you’re considering what is the message, what’s the takeaway, what’s the big idea that I want to leave with in a particular talk?

Michelle:  Yeah.  I’m very audience focused and audience-centered.  So I like to give the audience a bite-sized result that they can walk away with.  So for example, when I’m speaking in Portland, it’s all about how do you stand out, and I really want them to identify an idea that they’re either passionate about or it makes them go on a rant, and they’re like, oh, that makes me so mad and I want to do something different.  And for me, that’s a great result, because then they can take that, and whether they’re a speaker or not a speaker, they can write a blog post around it, they can do a Facebook Live, they can incorporate it into their speech, and they get one step clearer to really understanding what makes them different from all the other businesses and all the other speakers.  So I love to give them that bite-size result, because I know that audience struggles with what’s my message and how am I different from every other business coach or social media strategist out there.

Tara:  Got ya.  Okay.  And so that brings us to another kind of important takeaway for people, too, which is that your goal when you’re on stage or I’m sure on a webinar or you know, wherever you’re doing speaking, especially when you’re trying to attract and nurture new clients is not how can I be inspiring, or even what can I teach them, it’s what can they do because of this talk, right?

Michelle:  Absolutely.  I am all about action and change, and I feel like I have done my job if they do something differently after they hear me speak.  So I’m not … I always say inspiration is cheap, action is priceless.  So if we can get the audience taking action, if you can get them a result in a 20-minute talk, they are going to be like, “I love you so much.”

Tara:  Yeah.

Michelle:  Tell me more.  Like, tell me more about what you do.  So that’s what I’m always aiming for is that action piece.

Tara:  Beautiful.  Love it.  All right, let’s shift gears a little bit.  How do you go about looking for or booking speaking gigs?

Michelle:  So for me, a lot of them come through referral at this point in time, and I always tell people your speech is your best marketing tool, because if you can go to a speaking gig and knock it out of the park, other gigs will come from that.  So I get a lot of mine from referrals.  Yeah, probably the vast majority of even my workshops come through referrals, because somebody talked to somebody else, and I think that’s the best way to get speaking gigs, and I do do some pitching.  So if there’s an event that I’m really interested in that I want to be on their stage, I first, I don’t pitch right away.  I work on cultivating that relationship, first, and getting to know them, or maybe, I don’t know, going to the event.  Hmmm.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Michelle:  Because once you have that personal connection, it’s easier to pitch yourself as a speaker, so I’m not one of those people who will be like, you know, cold call ten people today to find your next speaking gig, because yeah, it’s a numbers game, and eventually, you’ll book one or two gigs after you make 100 calls, but ugh, that is not the way I want to run my business or do speaking.

Tara:  Yeah, I’m really glad that you pointed out actually going to events before you try pitching an event organization or pitching, you know, an event committee, because one misstep I think I see people make is for those people who want to get into public speaking, they will only go to conferences, you know, that they have successfully pitched, or they will only go to a conference when they’ve pitched it, and it’s like, well, but you’re missing out on all of those relationships that you could be building with people who could be booking you, and so your impact, even though, sure, okay, great, now, you’re getting to speak, your impact is so much smaller than if you just make that kind of short-term investment in actually going to an event and making those relationships happen.

Michelle:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think that’s the key thing.  Like get out of your house and go to the event where you most want to be speaking at, and meet people and be insanely helpful to them.

Tara:  Yeah.

Michelle:  And that’s the way you’re going to develop a relationship with them, and that makes booking speaking gigs so much easier.

Tara:  Yeah, okay, so this makes me think about, sort of like how public speaking is a long game.

Michelle:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  Can you talk about that a little bit?  I don’t know that I have a fully-formed question, but I feel like you probably have some really good inside on playing that long game of public speaking.

Michelle:  Yes, it is a long game, and I hate all of the marketing that’s like, “Make 6 figures from speaking in 6 weeks,” or, “I made a million dollars and so can you,” because I think that gives the wrong idea about what speaking is about, because the first step of it is you have to have something to say.  You have to have a speech that you can market and sell into an organization, and then once you have something that’s good and remarkable and people really want.  Then it’s about okay, how can I book this?  How can I sell this into different organizations?  And who do I know?  And going to those events.  And I think about one of my clients, and she and I have been working on and off for like two years, and she’s finally getting a ton of momentum.  Like, she spoke at Google a couple of weeks ago, and she, every time she goes out and speaks, she’s booking more gigs, but it’s been two years in order for that to happen.  So if you need to make money fast in your business, speaking is not the way to go.  But if it is a way that you know you want to get your message out there, start with writing that speech and giving it to anyone who listens at first, and then really focus on the selling and the marketing of that.

Tara:  Yeah.  It’s just like so many things in business.  If you know you want to do it eventually, like, start now, because it’s going to take time.

Michelle:  I know.  Every once in a while, somebody will say, “Well, you know, public, I’m going to hit it out of the park next year with my speaking.” 

I’m like, “Great, so how’s your speech?” 

“Oh, well, I’ll do that next year.”

And I’m like, “No.”

Tara:  No.

Michelle:  I’m so sorry, it’s not going to work for you like that.

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Tara:  All right, let’s go back to booking gigs.  So what’s the first thing that you do or the first thing you think about when you get an inquiry for a speaking gig?

Michelle:  Yeah, the first thing that I do, especially if I don’t know the person or the organization, is I Google them.  I find out who their audience is.  I find out all about their event.  I find out if they’re charging for their event, how much they’re charging for their event, because then I kind of get an idea of like do they have a budget or is this something that I’m going to have to negotiate, like, will you buy my books in order for me to speak.  So it just gives me a good idea about what they’re about.  I also look at like … like their Board of Directors and see if I know anyone or someone I know knows them.  So I just really do my research before I respond back, because it also tells me if these people are the people that I want to be talking to.  Especially if they can’t pay me, I need to be in front of my ideal audience for my speech to work.  So research is always first.

Tara:  Totally agree with that.  I’m so glad you brought up research.  Because yeah, I will still speak for free, too, if I’m talking to exactly the right people.  If I’m not talking to exactly the right people, I need to get paid, because I’m not going to make that money on the backend, right?  And that is so important.  It’s so important to know that and think about that, because when that email comes into your inbox, and you’re like, “Can you come speak in,” I don’t know, a great city, “San Diego?”  Yes, I would love to speak in San Diego.  What do you want me to talk about?  Science fiction?  Sure.  You know, whatever it might be, but you know, as exciting as a new inquiry can be, I totally agree that research has to be the first step.

So what does that response then kind of look like from you?  Because I think immediately you get into that negotiation piece, where it feels like both parties are kind of a little, like, I don’t want to give you too much information.  I don’t want to give you too much information.  How do you handle that?  What does that first email back look like if you’re wanting to move forward?

Michelle:  I try to get them on the phone.

Tara:  Okay.

Michelle:  Because it’s so much easier to talk about the money thing.  I honestly feel like negotiating your speaking fee is like negotiating for a used car.  Because yeah, you’re right, nobody wants to give too much information.  Like, they won’t tell you your fee, they won’t tell you the budget.  It’s like trying to buy a car, and you’re like how much is that car?  They’re like, “I don’t know.  How much do you think it’s worth?”

Tara:  That is exactly what negotiating speaking fees feels like.

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Michelle:  And it causes a lot of stress, and I just did a workshop for my tribe around I don’t care if you’re speaking for free or not, you have to have a price in your head.  So whether they have the budget or not, you can decide whether to work with them, but if you don’t have a price, and you’re like, “Oh, yay, someone wants to pay me to speak, but I don’t know how much I charge,” that’s kind of a problem.  So having that price in your head is key, but I much would rather hop on the phone with someone for 15 minutes, and say, “Hey, yeah, so what is your budget?  And what are you looking for?  And what are you able to pay?”  And just have more of a dialog, because then it’s just, it’s easier that way.

Tara:  Yeah.  Can you talk a little bit about how you personally determine your speaking fee?

Michelle:  Yes.  So what … so in this webinar that I just did, I talked about coming up with like an hourly rate that represents your value, at least.  Because there’s a lot of intangible value in your speaking fee.  Because it’s not the hour you’re on stage.  It is your years of experience, your education, everything you’ve done to become the speaker you are today, and that needs to be considered.  And then there are other things that you can actually measure.  Like how long is it going to take me to prep and practice?  How long will it take me to travel?  How long am I on stage?  How much recovery time do I need?  So I consider all of those things for each, well, and I have a pretty standard fee right now, which I’ll just say it’s $4000.  It’s like …

Tara:  Thank you for sharing that.

Michelle:  I’ve done … I’ve done the math, it’s $4000, and that covers my costs, it covers my time away from business to do the speaking, it covers my practice time, and I feel like it represents my value really well.

Tara:  And just to stop you right there for a second, you’re expecting the organization to cover travel and other expenses on top of that?

Michelle:  Yes.

Tara:  That’s not included in the $4000.

Michelle:  Yes.  And I know there’s other models where people do say okay, I charge $10,000, but it’s all included.  Like travel is included, and my hotel, you don’t have to worry about any of that.

Tara:  Yeah, I need to switch to that model, because I’m very picky.  Just so we’re all clear on that, I’m a little bit of a diva when it comes to travel.  Okay, I feel like I have … oh, I know what my follow-up question to that was.  You mentioned earlier kind of negotiating fees maybe around something like are they going to also buy your books.  Can you talk about maybe some of the creative negotiations that you’ve done over the years?  You don’t need to need names.

Michelle:  Yeah.

Tara:  Just, I think people don’t think about all of the options that they have for getting compensated for a speaking engagement that is not financial.

Michelle:  Yes.  So sometimes, they don’t have a budget for speakers, but they have a budget for swag.  So they’ll say, “Okay, well, can you buy a book for every single person who comes to this event,” and if they have 200 people and you charge $20 per book, that is a pretty great fee for you.  So thinking about your books and having them buy those and give them out as swag.  Thinking about sponsorships.  Like either having someone sponsor you to speak at the event, or negotiating with one of the event sponsors to speak at the event.  There’s also things like video, which is so valuable for speaking, and photos.  So if they have a professional videographer and a photographer, you can use that for all your speaker marketing materials, and that has value, because that means you’re not paying, you know, two grand out of your own pocket to get video of you on stage in your element.

Tara:  Yes, amen.  I’ve also negotiated around promotional consideration before, too.  So like are you willing to feature me in your newsletter a couple of times?  Can I do a webinar with your audience outside of the … like with your whole audience, instead of just the conference attendees.

Michelle:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  And doing things like that can be really beneficial to me.

Michelle:  Yep.

Tara:  But it goes the other way, too, where you may want to negotiate a higher fee based on how much promotional consideration they’re looking for from you.

Michelle:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  Yes.  So good.  So good.  So good.  Okay.  So how do you go about preparing for a talk once you’ve booked the gig.

Michelle:  Yes.  So at this point, I have two signature talks that I give all the time.

Tara:  Okay.

Michelle:  Which is great.  So that means I don’t have to write it.  But if I ever do have to write a new talk, I use my Speak for Impact methodology, because it’s a great way, it’s the way I use with my clients to write a speech that gets results for the audience.  So I use that method, and then as I prepare, I kind of revisit the method, and I decide things like which stories should I tell for the audience.  At this point in time, I have like three openers for my speech, and I have one that’s a Rocky Horror Picture Show opening, and for edgy audiences, that’s awesome.  Like, they love it, they eat it up.  For more conservative audiences, it’s like, no, I’m going to do like the what do you want to be when you grow up, or the visualization one.  So I have these three openers that work really well, they’re tested, so I kind of figure out which one is best, and then I go through.  And my main content never really changes.  It’s typically the stories and the examples that will change based on the audience and what they need.

Tara:  Ah, I love that.  So it’s almost like building with different puzzle pieces, or from building blocks, or like Breanne would say, Lego.

Michelle:  Yeah, it’s exactly like that, and once you get to the point, it’s like, okay, this is my core message, now, I can just plug and play different stories that I know that work, different introductions, different conclusions, and customize it for that audience.

Tara:  Nice.  Okay, so you mentioned you have two core talks that you give.  And I know how this goes.  I mean, like, I have two or three core ones that I give as well, but an event organizer comes to you and they say, “We’d really like you to talk about X,” and X is not actually one of your core talks.  What do you do then?

Michelle:  I try to negotiate.

Tara:  Okay.

Michelle:  Because I feel it’s very important, in order for you to get known as a speaker, you have to have a consistent message.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Michelle:  You know, I think about like Sally Hogshead or Brene Brown, they’re not going to be talking about topics outside of their area because an organizer wants them to.  And sometimes, I think you get to a point, and you’re like, nope, sorry, I don’t talk on that, I just can’t, it’s not my area of expertise, I’m not comfortable, I can talk to you on this, but you know, trying to negotiate and I’m always super creative.  Like I am good at making the link between whatever they want to talk about and whatever I want to talk about.

Tara:  Yeah, I’m really glad you brought that up, because I think there’s … there’s sort of an objection to that, or an immediate objection to that, which is, well, but I want to book the gig, so I want to do what they want me to do, right?

Michelle:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  But I think there’s a way to balance that against what you also need to be talking about that’s best for your own personal business strategy.

Michelle:  Yes.  Like, for example, I was working with a client, and she wanted to pitch this CEO group, and she talks about people problems, and how to solve people problems through leadership, and she’s like, “Oh, but they want strategy and technology,” and I was like, “Weren’t you just telling me the other day that in order to have successful strategy, that you have to have your team on board before you do the strategy?  And that’s the people part?”  I was like, “So actually, your talk fits into the strategy pocket,” and she’s like, “You’re brilliant.  Thank you.”  But for me, it was just like, oh, well, there’s a very clear connection between what you talk about and what they need.

Tara:  Yes.  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  So that’s brilliant.  Just what is … what’s the thread that ties these things together so that you can stay on message, but also give the event what they need as well.  Perfect.  Okay, so what do you do after a gig is over?

Michelle:  I rest.

Tara:  And what do you, Dr. Michelle Mazur, do to rest after a gig?

Michelle:  Mostly, it’s Netflix, going out to breweries, and going out to dinner with the hubby, because I am spent.  Now, I’m an ambivert, but I even hear from my extroverted clients that they need that recovery time, and I remember once I did three speaking gigs in one day, and literally, my friend watched my brain shut down.  So I spend some time recovering, and then after I’ve had my recovery day, I will definitely follow up with the organizer, I will follow up with people who chatted with me at the event, and start building those relationships.

Tara:  Yeah.

Michelle:  So, but that recovery is so important.  You just can’t go right back into business right after speaking.

Tara:  No.  You can’t.  And just to kind of remind everybody that you mentioned that when you were talking about your speaking fee, too, because it’s not … it’s not just something that you have to … to block off in your calendar, and you do absolutely need to block it off in your calendar when you’re putting that speaking gig on, you know, in your schedule, but you also have to include that time in your fee, as well.

Michelle:  Yes.

Tara:  Very, very important.  All right.  Can you tell us more about the book?

Michelle:  Sure.  Well, I’ll give a shout out to CreativeLive, because I did your publishing course on CreativeLive.

Tara:  How to Write and Publish an EBook.

Michelle: In five days, or I did mine in a month, and it was so incredibly easy.  Like, it was actually a very joyful process for me, because I took an existing blog post that I had that was all about writing your speech as your next bestselling product, because I believe that your speech is a product that you’re going to sell in your business.

Tara:  Which we also talked about in a CreativeLive class.

Michelle:  Yes, which we also talked about in a CreativeLive class.  And so I wrote this, like, 4000-word blog post around that topic, and I was like, oh my gosh, this is awesome.  I have this blog post, and then I just wrote some bridge content.  I pulled in some other blog posts, because I felt like there were some missing links, and sent it off for copy editing.  I got it out within four weeks, and I had a fabulous launch.  Like, I was able … it was kind of insane.  I decided to put a street team together, and I emailed my list, and I was like, “Hey guys, I’m releasing this book, if you want a free copy, I would love to have you on the launch team.  Here’s what’s involved with that,” and I walked away from my computer to work with a client, and an hour later, I had 40 applications, and had to shut the launch team down.

Tara:  Wow.

Michelle:  Because I’m like too much, too much, okay.  And I think the launch team made it a success.  I also reached out to influencers.  I was telling you about the book.  People like Tonya Geissler, and just letting everyone know, and people really rallied around it, and that’s what I felt, like, the book is definitely what I want to be known for.  Like, building your speech as a product and here’s a strategy to do it, and I felt the positioning was good, because all public speaking is about skills, and this is like, okay, let’s think about this strategically, people, and then the marketing was just so easy.  It was so much fun and effortless and it was just a joy to do.

Tara:  That’s awesome.  And tell us how well it sold.

Michelle:  Oh, yeah, like it climbed to number one in all of its categories within hours after it launched.

Tara:  Yeah.

Michelle:  And it’s staying in the top ten.  Like, I’m like three weeks out from launch, and every once in a while, I’ll log into Amazon to like spy on the book, and I’m like, “Oh, look, it’s number one again.”

Tara:  Yeah.

Michelle:  And there’s … and I know Amazon’s been promoting it, so I’ll see like a spike in sales.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Michelle:  But it’s doing really well.  I’m curious to see what’s going to become of it in like six months, because it’s just kind of that little engine that could, and the feedback I’ve gotten from people, they’re like, “I love this book.”  They’re like, “It’s so strategic.”  And they’re like, “Yet, you write in such a way that’s approachable, and it’s not stuffy at all, it’s really fun.”  So it’s been such a great experience.

Tara:  That’s awesome.  And just to kind of bring it full circle then, is the book one of … is the topic of the book one of the core topics that you speak on then?

Michelle:  Yes, that is my other signature talk is Speak for Impact, and talking about how to build your speech like a product, how to make money from speaking, and how to really get known for your idea.  So that is in a speech of itself, so the book lines super well with my speaking, it aligns well with my one-on-one service, and I just feel like … in some ways, it was like marking my territory on this idea, writing that book, because no one else is talking about it this way, and I felt like okay, it is my time to mark my territory, and now, I … this is my viewpoint, and if people want to know how I’m different from other speaking coaches and consultants, they can read that book and figure it out in an hour.

Tara:  Brilliant.  Brilliant.  Brilliant.  Brilliant.  Okay, two more questions.  The first one, for people who have been speaking kind of casually, maybe they get those inquiries about a free gig here or there, or they’ve been doing webinars and they really want to get on stage, what would be one or two things that they should do next to really start accelerating their speaking career?

Michelle:  I think the first thing is really deciding on what your signature talk is going to be and building that and writing that, and I have to say, I know for some people, that’s like the struggle part.  It’s much more fun to get a gig, and then write a speech, but it’s so necessary for you to be known for what you want to do.  So if you’re doing it casually, and especially if you’re reinventing the wheel every single time you’re speaking, you’re wasting your time and you’re blowing any momentum you’re getting from that speaking gig.  So having that one, like, one or two go-to talks, and just knocking it out of the park would be the first step, and then I think at some point in time, you’ve got to get serious, and make the business decisions.  How am I going to get paid?  Like how am I going to make money from this?  Am I okay?  Like, and how many times do I want to speak a year?  Like, for me, I have … I want to speak six to eight times a year, because in a past life, I was on the road a lot speaking, and I’m over it.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Michelle:  Like I want to be at home with my cats and my husband, and making some of those business decisions, like how am I going to make money, how often do I want to be speaking?  What kinds of events do I want to be speaking at?  Because at some point, you have to make the decision to assume the identity of speaker, instead of just playing at it.

Tara:  Oh, brilliant.  Okay, last question.  What’s next for you and your business?

Michelle:  Yeah, right now, I am working on getting my Speak for Impact process out as like a DIY just in time learning course, because it’s a great way to write a speech, and I know most people don’t know how to write a speech and they waste a lot of time and put a lot of effort into something that audiences don’t want.  And then the other thing that I’m thinking late 2017, early 2018 is I want to do my own live event that’s an alternative to TED.

Tara:  Ooh.

Michelle:  Which … so this is new.

Tara:  No kidding.

Michelle:  I mean, this is like breaking news.

Tara:  You heard it here first, folks.

Michelle:  I know.  Because I love TED, I love what they do.  The, you know, Ideas Worth Spreading, but I also think ideas aren’t enough, it’s change and action are where it’s at.  So I want to have speakers who are more for social justice, more for change, sustainability, having some of those conversations.  So I’m really scared telling you this, but I’m really … I know that that’s the next step for me.

Tara:  That is so awesome.  I’m so excited for you.  Well, Dr. Michelle Mazur, thank you so much for joining me.

Michelle:  Thank you, Tara, I’m so pleased to be here.

Tara:  Find Dr. Michelle Mazur online at DrMichelleMazur.com or at The Rebel Speaker Podcast on iTunes.

Next week, I talk with Debbie Millman, host of the first and longest running podcast about design, Design Matters.  Debbie and I talk about the 10 to 12 hours she puts into interview prep, how she started with just a phone line back in 2005, and the opportunities that have come her way thanks to the podcast.

CreativeLive is highly-curated classes from the world’s top experts.  Watch free, live video classes every day from acclaimed instructors in photography, design, audio, craft, business, and personal development.  Stream it now at CreativeLive.com.

This has been Tara Gentile.  Discover how to accelerate your earning as a small business owner with my free class, Revenue Catalyst, at QuietPowerStrategy.com/PPP.

That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., a CreativeLive podcast.  Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes.  If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend.  It means the world to us.

Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Kellen Shimizu.  This episode was produced by Michael Karsh.  We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week.  Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode.

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The Next Big Thing in Social Media Is Small

The next big thing is social media is small.

The next big thing in social media is small.

As my friend and mastermind buddy Sarah Bray puts it, it’s the difference between big box stores and small shops:

When I was growing up, Wal-Mart was inevitable. It was just this place you had to go to get basic stuff. You needed it, and you didn’t think twice about how horrible it was. It was cheap and it was there.

But now, we have all these other options. We can shop locally. We can shop online. We can shop at Target. We don’t have to go to Wal-Mart anymore.

I hope this is what is happening with the web right now. That more of us are deciding that the Wal-Marts of the Internet aren’t really what we need, and that we can do better.

Wal-Mart, of course, is Facebook. Or maybe it’s Twitter. Really, it’s wherever you don’t want to be but feel like you have to for the sake of “getting the word out” about your business.

Social media–as a behemoth ready to send you tons of free traffic if only you can crack the code–is all but dead. 

And yet…

Long live social media!

Social media is getting smaller, more organized and less algorithmic, more people-focused and less startup-focused.

What this means for you is that you have a lot of control. Now, you no longer only have control over your content, you have control over the platform because the platform is yours.

You create the space, invite the people, and play in it together as you see fit.

You don’t “go on” social, you  are social.

Sarah is doing this with her own community and virtual co-working space, Gathered. I do this with The Lab.

But you don’t have to go rogue to make this new wave of social work for you and your community.

Live video is also working to create these spaces–within big boxes like Facebook or in small, private spaces like on Crowdcast (my new favorite thing).

With live video, each post becomes a gathering spot. 

It’s fleeting, yes. But it’s also incredibly powerful. When you make an eyeball-to-eyeball connection with 5, 100, or 10,000 people for 5 minutes, you’re doing more good for your business in that time than a lifetime on Twitter.

Live video isn’t the next big thing because it’s new technology or a new tactic for connecting with your audience. Live video is big because of how small it makes our world for a few powerful moments. 

I suspect that more technology will come along and mimic this small world environment soon. 

I spoke with one of the pioneers of online business and social media marketing, Joel Comm, for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Joel told me that he sees live video as the thing we’ll be talking about with social for quite some time to come.

If you want to hear more about how live video creates small gathering spots for your community–and how Joel approaches new technology, platforms, and trends in social media, check out this week’s episode.

Click here to read the transcript or listen in to our conversation.

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Strategic Social Media Without the Hustle with Joel Comm

Social Media Without the Hustle with Joel Comm on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

It’s always about relationship, first.  You know, any time we approach social as selling, we’re likely going to fail, because even if you are selling, a solid 90-95% of your time should be content and relationship-building, and the selling is, you know, always, “Oh, also, we have this, if this interests you.”

— Joel Comm

Tara:  Welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m your host, Tara Gentile, and together with my friends at CreativeLive, we talk to powerhouse small business owners about the nitty gritty details of running their businesses, making money, and pursuing what’s most important to them.  Each week, I deep dive with a thriving entrepreneur on topics like time management, team building, marketing, business models, and mindset.  Our goal each week is to expose you to something new that you can immediately apply to growing your own business.

This week, I’m joined by Joel Comm, whose been building businesses online for more than twenty years.  He’s the New York Times bestselling author of twelve books, including The AdSense Code, How to Run an Online Business That Pays, and Twitter Power.  He consults with businesses large and small, and speaks on social media and marketing.  I asked Joel about how he puts social media to use in his own business.  We talk about how he chooses new platforms, why he’s betting big on live video, and how his businesses have been impacted by social media.

Joel Comm, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Joel:  It is my pleasure.  Thanks for having me.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So you have been using the internet to grow business for over twenty years now.  At what point did you start incorporating social media into your marketing strategy?

Joel:  Oh, gosh, it’s pretty early in the whole social media era.  You know, what we call social media now.  Because before social media, we had message boards with members.  We had chat rooms where people had to log in and be social, so you know, that was social media, and we’re talking as far back as 1995, but you know, what we’re talking about now when we say social media is kind of everything from Myspace forward, and it was really 2007 when I signed up for Twitter and Facebook, and that was the year that I started using the power of social media to attract people to my business.

Tara:  Awesome.  Actually, that’s a later date than I would have expected from you, so that’s really interesting, but I’m really glad that you brought up, like, message boards and the things that were social on the internet before this current era of social media, if you will.  Were you using message boards and that kind of technology or that kind of media on the internet to grow your business then as well?

Joel:  Yeah, you know, I’ve had different kinds of businesses online, and back before I became an author and speaker with, you know, a public face, my company built websites, content-oriented sites, such as a bargain side called DealofDay.com that I launched back in 1999, and one of the reasons Deal of Day was popular was because of the message forums, where people would share the various deals and coupons that they found from online and offline merchants, and we would have, you know, 100,000 or so people each month come through the member site there, and so I was using that form of social media back in 1999.

Tara:  Love that.  That’s awesome.  So speaking of which, social media has really changed a lot over, you know, the past 10-15 years or so.  At least in the time that you and I have been using social media for our businesses or this present wave.  Can you talk about how your social strategy in particular has changed over the last 9 or 10 years?

Joel:  Well, there’s a lot more sites and tools to choose from now.  Especially in the last couple years as I’ve moved strongly into live video and Snapchat and these types of applications.  They’re more of a rich medium that allow us to do more than just share words and pictures.  You know, there’s something about video that adds a whole new dimension and really, the live video sites are the new media.  Facebook Live and Periscope are the new television, and that’s the direction things are going, so that change has meant a lot to me, personally, because as an old-school broadcaster – I’m a former radio DJ, before I ever was online, I was doing radio, and before there was ever, you know, podcasts, I was doing shows, you know, audio shows on the internet – and so for me, just an opportunity to be able to leverage all the technologies we have now is giving me an opportunity to share my message to more people in real time.

Tara:  Got you.  Okay, so I want to come back to Facebook Live in a minute, because I’d love to find out how you’re using that, but before we get to that, I’d love to know how you decide whether you’ll jump on a new platform or not, because this is something that my clients are asking me about constantly.  “Well, should I try this or should I try that?”  How do you personally make that decision?

Joel:  Well, there’s too many choices to try them all, and so with me, the way it always begins is with curiosity.  If I’m curious about something, I want to go try it out and see, hey, what is this all about?  It looks interesting, it looks fun, would I enjoy using it?  If I would enjoy using it, and I discover that I do, then the next question is, “Will people engage with me on this platform?”  And that’s kind of how I end up wherever it is I end up.  It’s not because all the cool kids are doing it or because anybody else tells me I need to be, because I am not active on all the social platforms.

Tara:  Okay, so let’s talk about Facebook Live, because this is something that I am falling in love with, slowly but surely, and I’d love to hear how you’re using it specifically.

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Joel:  Yeah, so all the live platforms, I use in different ways, and really, I’m involved in three of them on a regular basis, and then I dabble with some of the others.  Facebook Live is really about sharing very specific content.  It’s less about the conversation and more about broadcasting for me, and I usually use desktop software such as OBS Studio, which is a free tool that you can use, and then we also have Wirecast, which is a paid, more professional version, that allows me to do more than just use the native app.  It allows me to use desktop tools to put in lower thirds or picture-in-picture or show screenshares of what I’m talking about.  So typically, what you’ll see me doing on Facebook Live is demonstrating a new technology.  For example, I know people will hear this later, but today, Google came out with their new Duo Video Calling App, which competes with Facetime.  Of course, Facetime doesn’t work on Android devices, it’s an Apple product, and Google Duo works on both iOS and Android, and so I did a Facebook Live where I demonstrated how this worked.  It allowed me to do … show the screen of the application as I was demonstrating, and you really can’t do that with the native Facebook app.  You’ve just got the front and rear-facing cameras to play with.

Tara:  Got ya.  Okay, perfect.  So what’s … what kind of systems do you use to track social media?  How do you know whether what you’re doing is quote/unquote working or not?

Joel:  You know, I’m really basic.  You might be surprised to find that I’m not highly analytical.  I do use Buffer and Hootsuite for some of what I do online, but really, the best measurement for me is whether or not people are engaging.  On Facebook, it’s, you know, views of my videos.  It’s likes.  It’s comments.  It’s shares.  On Twitter, it’s, you know, hearts and retweets and replies.  On Periscopes, it’s the number, it’s looking at the graph when the broadcast is over and seeing did people stick around?  Did they engage with me?  You know, did they drop off?  Or did my audience grow over time?  Same thing with Snapchat.  If I’m watching and I see my stories, people are watching the first Snap and then dropping off, then I can see okay, what I’m doing here isn’t necessarily working.

Tara:  Okay, I’m really glad that you shared that, because that makes me feel better about how I run things as well.  You know, I know there’s lots of people out there that have, you know, big complicated spreadsheets for keeping track of that stuff, but I think what you talked about is …

Joel:  And maybe they like that.

Tara:  Yeah.

Joel:  Maybe that’s their thing.  You know, I’m not going to do what I don’t want to do, because then my, what I’m loving to do, starts to feel like work, and I think the moment we start separating our work and our play, right?  That which we love to do and enjoy from that which we have to do, that … that’s a chasm that then becomes real difficult to breach, and I just don’t want to live like that.  I would rather have a lifestyle of doing what I want to do, when I want to do, who I want to do it with, for whatever my reasons are, then amass more money.  I just … there’s not an end-game to that, whereas I feel like life is to be lived.

Tara:  Awesome.  So I’m wondering, then if that kind of bleeds over into how much you plan or don’t plan the content that you share as well, because it sounds like you’re probably pretty spontaneous with your social media usage.

Joel:  Well, I can be.  I’m very specific with the methods that I’ve fallen into of how I use them.  For example, Twitter is, you know, I don’t want to belittle Twitter, because I’m a fan.  I have a lot of followers, I think Twitter’s very powerful, obviously, I’ve written several books on the topic, but Tweets are kind of throwaways, right?  You put it out there, and then it goes out to the great Twitter ether, and some people engage and react, and then it goes away, and it’s gone.  There’s something about the Facebook timeline that feels more permanent.  It’s more … I take more care in what I post on Facebook, and this is just me personally.  Some people treat Facebook like Twitter, and if that works for them, then that’s fine, but you know, when it comes to Facebook Live, for example, I saw the Google app came out late last night, and I thought this morning, “Oh, I’m going to go Live with it,” so it was spontaneous.  My Periscopes, I do almost one a day, and depending upon where I am and what I’m doing, who I’m with, or what I’m thinking about, that time of day can change dramatically.  I go, oh, I’ll want to talk about this.  Whereas the shows that I produce, I do a show called the Joel Comm Show, that is an interview with business, social leaders, and the like, I do on Crowdcast, and it allows me to have that interview format where I can have up to four people, including myself, on screen at a time, and for those, I plan ahead.  I create a graphic banner to go with it, I schedule the show, I promote the show so that people can sign up, and know this is when to be there to enjoy this broadcast live.

Tara:  Mm.  So it sounds like it’s a real balance, then, between, you know, maybe the content itself being spontaneous, but the … the intention that you have behind each platform being really set depending on how you … how you feel about the platform, how people engage with you there.  Is that … would you say that’s accurate?

Joel:  Yeah, I think so.  The platforms are definitely different.  I don’t see Facebook Live, Periscope, Crowdcast, or you know, any of the others in the same way.  They all have their place, and I think for anybody learning to use them, the more they dabble with them and play with them and understand the features and functionality and find themselves using each of those platforms in a way that feels natural and authentic and organic to them, then you’ll find that it kind of ends up at a certain pocket there in your, you know, your multi-pocketed outfit.

Tara:  Love it.  And I’m so glad you brought up Crowdcast, too, because it is my new favorite thing.  Everyone in my community is loving it, and loving that I’m on it, and so I’m really glad that you gave them a shout out, too.

Joel:  Yeah, I’ve looked at all of the other platforms.  Of course, I was really, heavily into Blab.im.  They started just a little over a year ago, and they shut their doors just the other day without much fanfare.  They didn’t really give us a chance to say … tell our followers where to find us, and I was the most followed person on Blab with something like 85,000 people, so I’ve been looking at some of the other platforms, Firetalk, Huzzah, and Crowdcast, and I really feel like, for myself, Crowdcast provides the best solution at the moment.

Tara:  Yeah.

Joel:  Not to say that I’m getting married and sticking with it forever, but for right now, it’s a good place to my weekly shows.

Tara:  Yeah, exactly.  Things change so fast.  Do you have a team that’s involved at all in your social media strategy or the implementation of your social media?

Joel:  You know, very little of it is actually outside of myself.  I do have one person that checks in on my Twitter and lets me know if I have any DMs that need … I get so many of them.

Tara:  Yeah.

Joel:  And I just, I can’t look at them myself.  You know, the basic tweets that people tweet me, hi, nice to meet you, that type of thing, I have an approved list of things that she can, you know, say to those people, but nobody ever, other than that, I handle it all myself.  I feel like it needs to be really personal.  I post what I want, when I want, how I want, and I probably could benefit from having some more structure, but you know, I’ve made it to 52 years old, and 20, you know, almost 22 years in business doing this without having too much of that, and so I’m probably not going to change, now.

Tara:  I might be a professional educator and expert, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning.  When I’m ready to learn a new skill, the first place I go is CreativeLive.  Check out this great class.

Debbie:  Are you feeling stuck?  I’m Debbie Millman, the host of the podcast, Design Matters.  I’m teaching a class on CreativeLive called A Brand Called You.  In my class, I cover everything you need to know about how to position yourself to get the job that you love, the job of your dreams.  I’ll help you understand how to position yourself in the marketplace, how to create a mission with sincerity and stature, how to write a resume and a cover letter, and even how to track your progress.  This class is for anyone looking to improve their career and their life.  Join me now, and get the job you were meant to have.

Tara:  Your audience is pretty diverse.  I mean, I know there are small business owners that follow you.  There are entrepreneurs, people kind of in the startup scene that follow you, and there’s marketers at big corporations that follow you.  How has social media allowed you, or how has it helped you kind of build an audience that is that diverse?  How do you see those things kind of going together?

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Joel:  Well, part of it is that I’ve danced in a lot of different arenas to begin with.  I’ve not been stuck in one vertical in building my businesses.  I’ve done everything from building sites and selling sites to affiliate marketing, internet marketing, information products, software, applications, speaking, authoring books, you know, and then the various social media tools, YouTube and then live video, so entrepreneurship, because I, you know, play in so many of these different sandboxes, it opens me up to be able to reach out to a lot of different audiences.  Which is one reason that when I write physical books, and I’ve just released my thirteenth book, I tend to pick different topics, unless it’s an updated edition of a previous book, like Twitter Power and Twitter Power 2 and Twitter Power 3, because they reach whole new audiences with whatever it is that I’m talking about at that time, and when you do that, it just gives you more opportunities to reach different, diverse groups of people.

Tara:  Mm.  Love that.  Okay, so that makes me then think about sales and selling, and I know one question that I get asked often is how social media affects your sales strategy, plays into your sales strategy.  So how do you approach that?  Do you … are you ever selling through social?  Or are you using social more to nurture relationships?

Joel:  It’s always about relationship, first.  You know, any time we approach social as selling, we’re likely going to fail, because even if you are selling, a solid 90-95% of your time should be content and relationship-building, and the selling is, you know, always, “Oh, also, we have this, if this interests you.”  But I do find myself offering my products and service very incidentally.  For example, I told you my thirteenth book just came out, and it’s based on my brand, Do Good Stuff, which I have the hashtag for, the website, I’ve got a t-shirt brand, and we just came out with some journals, blank books, with the Do Good Stuff logo on the front that are on Amazon, and so when I did a broadcast this morning on Busker, which is another live video application, I shared that with people, and you know, it’s fun to watch and see your numbers, because you can tell after you’ve done a broadcast and you’ve shared it with somebody, when the sales start going through, you watch your ranking on Amazon.  So I don’t really push anything hard, but I do offer opportunities for people to purchase products.  I have sometimes as an affiliate for other people’s products, and often, just to invite people to sign up for my list or my text notification system.

Tara:  Okay, perfect.  So then are you advertising on social at all?  Or have you kind of stuck with the more native use of social?

Joel:  Yeah, pretty native.  I don’t do much advertising on social.  I just share what I have, and I kind of trust the process that if I’m putting good content out there, that people will be drawn to me, and so far, it seems to be working.

Tara:  Yeah, I’d say so.  Okay, so for you personally, which platform has had the greatest impact on your success over the years?  And you know, feel free to kind of spread that out and really look at, you know, maybe it was in the past that you had a big platform perform well for you.

Joel:  Well, I think my blog has probably been the most important platform that I’ve been on, because you know, it’s my home, and it’s the only place that I control completely that can’t be taken from me, and it’s where I build my email list.  You know, as far as the social platforms go, I think I’m going to give credit to both Facebook and Twitter for playing an important role.  Facebook has a very engaged audience of people for me, more through my personal page than my fan page.  I’ve got about 40,000 people who like my fan page, but I’m not paying Facebook to, you know, to engage with people.  I want people to engage because they want to.  Because it’s organic.  So I get more on my personal page.  But career-wise, because I got involved in Twitter so early, I got asked to write a book, which John Wiley and Sons put out in 2009, Twitter Power, and we’ve done two editions since then, and the Twitter Power series has given me all kinds of open doors into corporate training, speaking, joint ventures, and partnerships, and so indirectly, I think that Twitter’s been just as powerful for me as Facebook.

Tara:  Okay.  You mentioned your blog, and I think, can you … You mentioned your blog, can you talk about the relationship between your blog and your social media usage?  How … are you promoting your blog?  Are you sharing complimentary content?  What does that relationship look like?

Joel:  Yeah, I publish a lot of content on my blog.  I write for Inc. and Entrepreneur, as well, and after a certain period of time, I can take that same content and repurpose it to my blog.  Other times, I’ll put original content on my blog, and when I put videos on my YouTube channel, I will write a blog entry and embed them on my site as well.  I always post those on to my Buffer account so that they get tweeted out on a regular basis, and that drives traffic to that site.  Depending upon the nature of the article I’ve posted, I may post it to Facebook, to LinkedIn, occasionally to Google+, because it probably does get a few clicks, and so, you know, I try to leverage the exposure I have in these other platforms to drive traffic back to my home.

Tara:  Got you.  You’re really known for kind of always being on the wave of the next big thing, or you know, always being someone who is an authority on what’s new.  Like you mentioned the Google app that you did the Facebook Live on this morning.  Have you ever felt yourself on, like, behind that wave?  Has there ever been something that you wish you would have gotten on sooner?

Joel:  Oh, gosh, yeah.  You know, Snapchat was one.  I … so I was kind of on the early wave of the entrepreneurs and business people.  I was on last November, which was before everybody was talking about Snapchat.  But I had heard some of my friends talk about it a year before then, and you know, I kind of poo-pooed it.  Snapchat, it’s for, you know, kids and perverts, and maybe at that time, it was more true, but I do wish that I’d gotten an earlier start on it.

Tara:  Yeah, does your strategy change when you’re coming at something a little later than when you’re at the bleeding edge of it?

Joel:  No.  I just use it, you know, in a way that feels right to me.  I think one of the reasons that people follow me is because what they see is what they get.  There’s … there’s no pretense, or at least there still might be some there, you know, we’re all so flawed and imperfect, but I just try to use it in a way that is interesting to me.  If it doesn’t intrigue me, if I don’t think it’s going to be fun or productive to do something with the platform, then I’m bored and I don’t want to do it.  I will go do something else that doesn’t make money, if need be, because I would rather enjoy my day, you know.  I’m not going to … whenever my deathbed happens, you know, hopefully many, many decades from now, I doubt that I’m going to look back and go, “Gee, I wish I spent more time working at (fill in the blank).”

Tara:  Yeah.

Joel:  I just … I don’t see that happening, and so I want to make sure that lifestyle is the most important.  That’s why I’m a … I am not a fan of the current messaging that is out there about hustling and grinding.  I just … I feel … and sorry for commandeering the conversation, but it kind of opened up that door if we can talk about that for a moment.

Tara:  I would love for you to talk about it, because we are totally on the same page, I think, on this.

Joel:  I just … I think that it can be dangerous.  Now, there’s certain audiences, and you know, let’s talk about some of the millennials, okay?  Not all of them, but there is a segment of millennials, there is … there’s some truth to the stereotype of entitlement and having everything handed to you, and I think for that group, sharing that message that says, hey, get off your butt and go work, and if you want it, go work hard, there’s nothing wrong with that.  But you know, when I see people saying, “Hey, you want a big house?  You want a fast car?  You know, you want a boat and never work again, then you’ve got to get up at 5:00 in the morning and you’ve got to work until 11:00 at night, and you’ve got to do it 7 days a week,” and I am just exhausted hearing them even say that, let alone thinking about what that looks like.  You know, you got to … you have to have a life.  You have to be doing what you like.  If your pursuit is just to build up and stockpile money and material goods, then when you get to the other side of that, you’re going to be like, “Oh, now what do I do?”  And meanwhile, you know, your kids are grown, your relationships are left untended to, and what have you got to show for it?  A cache of … you know, a stack of cash?  I’ve … listen, I’ve made millions, I’ve lost millions, I know how to make money, I know how to lose it, and it’s no longer my focus.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like having money.  It’s, you know, but once I’m at a place where I have enough to enjoy my lifestyle and be able to do the things I want to do and hang out with the people I want to hang out with and travel when I want to travel, I don’t need to sock away this … you know, I don’t the big house and the fast car.  And if that’s, you know, if somebody’s passionate about fast cars, that’s fine, I’m not knocking that.  I’m just saying that chasing those things, at the altar of, losing out on what life is really about, and it’s about the people in our lives, then I think, you know, you’re going to wake up with a … it’s going to be a rude awakening when it hits you.  I want to have fun.

Tara:  Absolutely.

Joel:  You know, maybe it’s not very businessy to say that, but it is my attitude.  I see myself as a kid with a pail and a shovel looking for a sandbox to play in and to build something, and when you think about what that’s like when you were a child and you hit the beach and you were building castles in the sand, you were having fun, but here we are, doing it in the adult, grown-up world.  Well, I don’t know what this whole grown up thing is.  I’m adulting well, but I’m not doing the grown-up thing.  Whatever that is.  There’s somehow we’re supposed to lost that curiosity and wonder and playfulness.  Whoever sold us that, sold us a load of hooey, and I’m not going to subscribe to it now or ever.

Tara:  Yeah, well, you know, I think the … one of the other issues with this whole grind and hustle kind of messaging is that it actually forces people into really bad business decisions, because they’re not being smart about how they can make money and still have space, how they can make money and still have fun, and so it … what it sounds like is you’ve really identified these constraints of having time, enjoying your life, having a lot of fun, that actually lead you to making smarter business decisions, and that’s how, ultimately, you’ve gotten to the place that you are.  Would you agree?

Joel:  I would agree with that, and I think it pays to recognize there’s a huge difference between working hard and working smart.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Joel:  And I’ve reverse engineered my successes throughout the past couple decades or so, and it’s really interesting, I can point to the one phone call, that simple connection, going to that one event, meeting this one person.  You know, taking the small risk that really led to all of the big successes, that much of what I did, and I learned about this the hard way, because I did, you know, I didn’t spend as much time with my kids when they were growing up as I wanted to.  I’m not saying I wasn’t a good dad, I did spend a lot of time, and you know, never missed birthdays or recitals or any of that stuff, but you could always spend more time, and I look at how much time I spent spinning my wheels, doing busywork that didn’t serve anything other than just to keep me busy, and so I choose to … to … rather than push a little mound of snow up the mountain to turn it into a big snowball, I look for the snowballs that are already at the top of the mountain, which ones do I just need to give a gentle push to, you know, to take off.  That’s kind of my philosophy.

Tara:  Yeah.  So I can hear our listeners in my head thinking, well, Joel, that’s great for you, because you’re Joel Comm, and you have these huge followings already, and you have made millions, and you know, you’ve got all of this reputation behind you, but it also sounds like you’re pretty much spending all day on social media.  How do you balance that?  Or how … what does that actually look like in your life?  How much time are you really spending?  How does that relate to results?  And how does that kind of allow you to live this life that you’re talking about?

Joel:  I’m not spending nearly as much time as it looks like I am, I’ll tell you that.  In fact, before we got on this interview today, I was playing a new game on Steam called No Man’s Sky.  I’m an old school computer gamer, and it is not unusual to walk into my office here and see me blowing things up and shooting, you know, other people online in a very non-threatening kind of way.  You know, and going out for my daily walks and making that as productive for me.  Staying up late or sleeping in, which is pretty much it’s a lifestyle for me.  Going with friends to a concert.  I’m going to Red Rocks tomorrow night for a show with, you know, one of my friends.  There is a lot of play in my life, and there’s a lot of projects, and there’s things that are sitting here undone that need to be done.  For example, I have a contract with my agent, he’s ready to pitch my next book to the big publishing houses, and for two months, I’ve been sitting on putting this together, and I don’t pressure myself to say, “Well, he’s waiting on this.  You have to do it.”  I trust that when it’s time, and when I’m all in on it, I will sit down and I will bang out a quality piece that he will then be able to take and sell and that will open up the next chapter for me.  But I don’t need to get it all done today.  That’s way too much pressure, way too much stress.  I want to have all the other good things that life has to offer.

Tara:  You don’t have to get it all done today.  I think that is a huge takeaway for people.

Joel:  No, because first of all, assuming you wake up tomorrow, there’s a tomorrow.  And if you don’t, you don’t have to worry about whether you got it done today or not, right?  Unless we’re talking about your will, you know.

Tara:  Yeah.

Joel:  Have that in place.  But other than that, it doesn’t really matter.  And you know what, the people listening that say, “Well, you’re Joel Comm, and you’ve got your following.”  I didn’t always.  In 1995, I was a guy working for a nationally syndicated radio ministry that was really, I brought home a little money from that.  You know, it was a … wasn’t getting paid a lot, and I was supplementing it with my first business, entrepreneurial venture, which I was a mobile DJ.  I started out in radio as a disc jockey, and started my own business, and I went out there, and I got gigs to do weddings and pool parties and class reunions and bar mitzvahs, and in 1995, when the web was a new thing, that’s what I was doing.  And I remember a year into it, just about being out of money.  You know, I asked my former wife the other day, I said, “In 1996, exactly how much do you recall that we had?”  She says it was less than $1 in the checking account, and I honestly can’t take credit for what happened next, and you know, not to over-spiritualize stuff, but I remember in that moment feeling very helpless, and I … I’m not a religious person, but I am a … I do have a faith, and at that moment, I prayed, and I said, “All right, God, if you want this thing to happen, and I thought that’s what you were leading me to do, you’re going to need to drop money out of the sky.” 

And I got to tell ya, within a week, I got an email from a guy I didn’t know in another state representing a Japanese multimedia conglomerate that I had never heard of, let alone couldn’t pronounce, and they wanted to license some of the content that I had created on one of my websites.  And from that moment on, everything changed.  And that’s why I talk about the small things that can move mountains, and it was simply following through on that call that came to me that opened the door for me to support my family and go onto the next venture.  And so, you know, I wasn’t always this guy, and I’m not the guy I was then, and I’m not the guy that I’ll be, you know, a few years from now.  It’s just a journey.

Tara:  Yeah.  So it sounds like the work that you are regularly doing is always building that foundation for those little things to happen that propel you forward.

Joel:  It’s showing up.  It really is.  That’s a great way to summarize it.  It’s going to an event when you don’t even necessarily know why you’re going, but you just feel drawn.  You’re curious.  You want to see who’s there.  What are they saying?  What’s the networking like?  Showing up and talking and listening and asking questions opens up all kinds of doors.  You know, and I get asked frequently, if you were starting over, what would you do?  Let’s say you weren’t you with your reputation, and you wanted to be in and you felt drawn to a certain business.  I would get my butt onto a plane or even locally, if they had it, and find events that are in that industry and go talk to people and ask them questions.  Don’t try to sell yourself.  Ask them what they … what they do and what they need, and how you can best serve them, and people will tell you the areas that they need help in, and you’ll know when somebody says they need something that you can provide the solution to, and that’s how you start.

Tara:  Awesome.  And that is such a fantastic metaphor, I think, for social media in general.  It’s a brilliant, you know, strategy for life and for networking and for building a business, but I think it’s also really specific to social media.  So to kind of bring it back full circle, then, as we start to wrap up here, I’d love to just ask you what do you see as kind of the next big thing, or the next big wave in this social media jungle that we’re all playing in?

Joel:  Well, I’m already in it, and people are starting to catch it right now, but it’s definitely live video.  Live video is the new TV.  This is something that I’ve been really preaching for the last couple years, and we’re starting … we’re coming to the end of the early adopter phase.  2017’s going to bring us into mass adoption, and so those who want to carve out a piece of the pie, this is the time to do it.  Find the platform that best suits you, your style, your message, where people engage with you, and start building up your audience and deliver your content through that method, because this thing is getting ready to blow up, and as viewership of traditional broadcast television and cable television falls, people are turning to the web, and soon, the two will be melded into one, where what’s popular on Facebook Live and maybe some other platforms will start appearing on your television screen.  And this is going to happen.  This is the wave that I’m riding and it’s a great deal of fun, so I’m trying to encourage as many other individuals, small businesses, corporations to do this, and trying to train as many on the hows as I can.

Tara:  I love it.  So what’s next for you personally?

Joel:  Oh, gosh, well, there’s the book that I’m ready to, just about ready, in fact, my laptop in my other room is open to the proposal document, so I’m posturing myself to get ready at some point to sit down to do it.  I’m working on putting together a new podcast.  Of course, I’ll be teaching at CreativeLive, which I’m really excited about on both live video and on how to use Snapchat, and I’m going to keep doing a lot more broadcasting.  I just … I really enjoy doing my own broadcasts and interviewing people and introducing my audience to some really amazing people.

Tara:  Awesome.  Wonderful.  Joel Comm, thank you so much for joining me.  This has been a great conversation.

Joel:  Love it.  Thanks for having me.

Tara:  Find out more about Joel Comm at JoelComm.com.  You can find his class, How to Leverage the Power of Live Online Broadcasts, at CreativeLive.com.

Next week, I talk to Dr. Michelle Mazur, founder of Communication Rebel and a coach for entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, and thought leaders who want to speak with impact.  Michelle and I talk about negotiating a new engagement, preparing for a talk, getting paid, and all the ways you can speak without ever stepping on stage.

CreativeLive is highly-curated classes from the world’s top experts.  Watch free, live video classes every day from acclaimed instructors in photography, design, audio, craft, business, and personal development, stream it now at CreativeLive.com.

This has been Tara Gentile.  Discover how to accelerate your earning as a small business owner with my free class, Revenue Catalyst, at QuietPowerStrategy.com/PPP.

That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., a CreativeLive podcast.  Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes.  If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend.  It means the world to us.

Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Kellen Shimizu.  This episode was produced by Michael Karsh.  We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week.  Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode.

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When “Enough” Isn’t Enough

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Sometimes “enough” isn’t enough.

Set the bar for “enough” and, if you fall just a little short, you no longer have enough.

Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you know that 8 clients per quarter is enough for your web design business. You have 6 lined up with deposits paid, so you announce you have 2 more openings.

You find those 2 new clients and you put them on the schedule. You stop looking.

One of them falls through. They have a hiccup and their plans just don’t work for working with you.

Now you only have 7 clients for the quarter.

Not too big of a deal… but it does represent about $6000 in revenue that you may or may not be able to find a replacement for.

The next quarter, the same thing happens.

Now you’re down $12000 for the year and things start to get tight.

This is what I mean when I say “enough” isn’t enough.

If you plan for just enough, you end up only doing enough to get “enough.”

Any bump in the road on the way to “enough” and now you have, well, less than enough.

That’s no way to plan for your business.

Or, your life.

When you plan to line up 12 clients per quarter, assuming 4 will fall through, the worst scenario you have to deal with is finding a junior designer to take on some of the workload.

That’s, potentially, another $18,000 in profit every quarter.

The other thing that happens is that your behavior starts to change.

You work differently when you’re aiming for a substantially bigger goal. You don’t just try to do more, you try new things.

When you think beyond enough, you fundamentally change how you approach the problem. Doing things differently can get you much bigger results.

That’s just one of the things I talked about with my clients and friends, Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson, this week on the Being Boss podcast.

We also geeked out on business models, some of the challenges Kathleen & Emily have faced in growing the Being Boss business, and common mistakes that business owners make that hold them back from explosive growth.

I had a blast recording this interview–it’s a real inside look at my conversations with clients.

Check it out:

Why You Should Hire for Happiness

Why you should hire for happiness

Business owners get too hung up on titles when it comes to hiring.

“Who should I hire first, a VA or a social media person?” people often ask me.

The answer is neither.

Whether you’re on your first hire, your 10th hire, or your 100th hire, you should only look to hire people who would be insanely happy tackling the responsibilities you need help with.

That probably sounds like a pipe dream.

It’s not. 

I talked to Vanessa Van Edwards, a behavioral scientist whose recent work has focused on happiness, about engineering happy teams. She said that through “job crafting” you can help people experience happiness every single day.

Now, in our interview, she described this process as part of reorganizing and optimizing her existing team. 

But you can–and should–hire this way too.

The first step is to determine what responsibilities you need help with. Sometimes this means delegating work you’re already doing, sometimes this means assigning work that’s been going undone but could really move the needle on your business.

Next, take those responsibilities and organize them into a job description. Forget trying to assign a title to it at first. Definitely don’t assign responsibilities based on what you think a certain title or role should be doing.

Then, you can use the process Vanessa describes as job crafting to make clear who you’re looking for. Instead of just listing responsibilities, include qualifiers:

The ideal candidate would:

  • Feel happy making customers feel understood and taken care of–even when we make mistakes.
  • Feel masterful when it comes to spotting places we could improve our customer service procedures and creating solutions to those challenges.
  • Love to craft customer-focused communication and reach out to existing customers to offer them additional opportunities
  • Feel capable analyzing customer communication and surveys and provide recommendations to the leadership team.

Once you have your job description fleshed out, you can pass it around to friends. Ask them if they know people who are happy doing the things you’ve outlined–not just moderately capable. 

You might be surprised at the quality of people who would respond to such a job description who would never think of themselves as a VA, marketing assistant, customers service rep, or project manager.

Of course, if you don’t find people through your friends or network, you can post about the job publicly, email your list, or advertise the job locally.

How would your life–and your team–be different if you were surrounded by people doing things they loved?

Want more on job crafting and engineering a happy team? Definitely listen to this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Vanessa.

Click here to listen to the episode or read the transcript.

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How to Build a Happy Team with Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards on building happy teams with Tara Gentile on Profit. Power. Pursuit. 

40% of our happiness is genetic.  About 10% is our environment.  The rest of the percent goes to our behavior and mindset.  This is where we have a lot more control over our happiness.

— Vanessa Van Edwards

Tara:  Welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m your host, Tara Gentile, and together with my friends at CreativeLive, we talk to powerhouse small business owners about the nitty gritty details of running their businesses, making money, and pursuing what’s most important to them.  Each week, I deep dive with a thriving entrepreneur on topics like time management, team building, marketing, business models, and mindset.  Our goal each week is to expose you to something new that you can immediately apply to growing your own business.

This week, we’re bringing back listener favorite, my personal friend, and friend of CreativeLive, Vanessa Van Edwards.  Vanessa is a behavioral investigator and the founder of the Science of People.  She’s also an author, sought-after speaker and trainer, and a self-described recovering awkward person.  Her recent research and her newest CreativeLive class have focused on what makes us happy.  I wanted to find out how Vanessa has been using her work on happiness to build and nurture the Science of People team.  We talk about company culture, difficult conversations, and her personal pursuit of happiness.

Vanessa Van Edwards, welcome back to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thanks for coming back and talking with us again.

Vanessa:  I am so excited to be back.  It’s always good.

Tara:  Awesome.  So you’ve been doing a lot of work on the subject of happiness lately.  I’m … I’d love to know what made you so interested in what makes people happy?

Vanessa:  Yes.  So it was a very personal, started as a personal adventure.  I am not one of those people who was sort of born as a happy-go-lucky, high positivity naturally.  Unfortunately.  I’m a neurotic, for sure, definitely a worrier, and so I always felt like there were, there was all these people were just like born happier than me, and I wanted to know if that was actually true from a scientific perspective, because I’m a total geek, and started to dive into it to see could I change my happiness levels as my own human guinea pig, and what would it take to do that?

Tara:  Wow.  That’s awesome.  And I can totally identify with that, too, because I am also not like a naturally happy person.  So what did you find?  Are you normal?  Or, you know, were you able to change that happiness level for yourself?

Vanessa:  Yeah.  So basically what we found is … so first, we did … I always like to start with the academic review.  So the big academic review, we looked at 246 happiness studies, and there is some basic happy math that I think everyone should know, and I was kind of surprised I didn’t know this.  It made me feel less bad about not being that happy-go-lucky person.  So here’s the happy math.  So about 40% of our happiness is genetic, and that’s, you know, directly from our parents, what our genes are programmed for our happiness expressions or happiness levels.  About 10% is our environment, and this is the one that really gets us tripped up, because as humans, we have the tendency to say, “Hmm, I’m not happy.  I am going to move to California.  I’m going to buy a new car.  I’m going to get a new house.  I’d better find a mate.”  We like have all of these things that are almost exclusively environment, but the problem is, is that’s only 10% of our happiness levels.  So we put 90% of our energy into 10% return.  Which is why we have so many unhappy people, and why I think I was unhappy for so long.  The last one is, the rest of the percent goes to our behavior and mindset.  So this is where we have a lot more control over our happiness, and the problem is behavior and mindset seems really fuzzy, and that’s where we started to dig into our research of how could I change my behavior and mindset beyond whatever Cosmo and Marie Claire article has ever told us, which is just journal more.  Just do a gratitude journal.  Just say nightly affirmations.  Which doesn’t work for me.

Tara:  No.

Vanessa:  And I think doesn’t work for a lot of people.  So that, that’s where we focused a lot of our energy was on that behavior and mindset.

Tara:  That’s really interesting, because Michael and I, before we … before we buzzed you on the Skype were just talking about how what makes you really extraordinary is this sort of crazy ability that you have to pull out really actionable, really concrete, really just, you know, take it and do it and actually run with it things from a lot of crap that is otherwise construed as woowoo.  Like you know, journal more, which …

Vanessa:  You know, I’m allergic to fluff.

Tara:  Yeah.

Vanessa:  I don’t like that stuff.

Tara:  Yeah, totally.  So that made me wonder, like, I guess, let’s just dive right into the research.

Vanessa:  Yeah.

Tara:  That you’ve done.  So what are one or two of the things that kind of surprised you about what makes people happy, and how could we immediately apply those to our daily lives?

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Vanessa:  Okay, okay, I love it.  Okay, now, we’re getting to the good stuff.  So I’m actually, like, I actually … I raised my hands up in the air, you couldn’t see, it was very … it was very nerdy of me.  Okay.  Yes, I’m excited.  So the first thing that I was really surprised about was that when we did, we did a huge happiness audit.  So we took all these 246 academic papers, pulled out the patterns that we actually thought were doable.  Like, there were patterns in those academic papers that were great, but like weren’t actionable.  I think, you know, it was like live in a happier country.  It’s like, well, you know, I can’t like do an article and be like, “Just move to Switzerland, everyone, that’s the answer.”  So we took out the patterns that actually would work, and then we created what I call the happiness audit.  So it was a free quiz that we put up on our website, and it was running for a long time, because I wanted massive data.  I wanted over 15,000 responses, and I wanted them, you know, across ages and genders.  And what we looked at was not all the responses, but we specifically pulled out the happiest people and the unhappiest people in this data set, and we looked at what was different about the unhappy group versus the happy group, specifically, and we found that they were using happiness as a skill. 

So instead of thinking of happiness as a byproduct of an action, they actually thought of it like a language or a skill.  So the way they approached their happiness or talked about happiness was like a practice, and this is the biggest difference between the happiest and unhappiest people is the happiest people go for things in their to do list, their to do lists look like this, “Answer all my emails, hit my financial goal, buy a new house, and get my business to the next level.”  Very, very practical goals, but they were hoping that happiness would be a byproduct of those professional achievements.  Whereas happy people actually built happiness into their daily life in the structure of their life.  In other words, they didn’t let it sort of be the end result, they had it be the cause, and that is how happiness works from a scientific perspective as well.  When you look at a lot of the studies, you know, lottery winners are no happier than they were a year before they won the lottery.  They’re exactly the same level of happy.  If you look at Forbes 400 richest Americans, they have the exact same happiness levels as the Pennsylvania Amish.  Exactly the same.  So more money does not make us happier.  You know, the most beautiful people, they did a study with models, supermodels.  Supermodels and fashion models are not any happier than the rest of us.  And that is all those people who say, “When I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be happier.”  The thinnest people on Earth, literally, the thinnest people on Earth are no happier than the rest of us.

Tara:  Brilliant.  So you told us what they unhappy people’s to do lists look like, and why that doesn’t actually produce more happiness.  What does happy on a to do list look like?

Vanessa:  Yes, okay, so the happiest, so happy is a really weird word, right?  It’s like this sort of thing that we think of like skipping through the meadow, and I don’t know about you, Tara, but like on a daily basis, like I don’t skip, nor do I have any meadows like nearby.

Tara:  Oh, God, no.

Vanessa:  Yeah.  So typically, actually, the happy makers are things like capability.  Things like awe.  So capability is a big one.  That is the easiest way to increase your happiness.  We don’t think about capability in terms of happiness, so when I say capability, I mean, power, feeling like you are badass at something, feeling like you are better than other people at what you are doing, and so what happy people’s to do lists tend to look like is they tend to do what’s called job crafting.  So they create their day around their skills.  So they are doing things on a day-to-day basis, and they can’t do everything like this, but they know that there are anchors throughout the day where they are using their skills that make them feel like, “Damn, I’m good at this.”

Tara:  All right.  So I want to get back to the job crafting thing in a little bit, because I think that that’s a great thing to talk about in terms of your team, which is where I want to head, but there was one other thing that I want to make sure that we talk about maybe a little bit further, which is something that’s interesting about the way you’ve talked about the research so far is that you were focused on the biggest ways you could have an impact on your personal happiness level.  Like what your personal happiness ROI was going to be, and you pointed out that, you know, the things that we think about, you know, moving to a different state, getting a car, changing your job, whatever it might be, those things are really only 10%, and so if you spend 90% of your energy just affecting 10% of the results, like that’s not good.  Like, right, the 80/20 Rule tells us that we want to spend 20, or you know, we want to spend time on the things that create the biggest output, right?

Vanessa:  Yes.  Yes.

Tara:  So can you talk a little bit more about that?  Like what does … how does that impact, you know, our daily routines or the ways we approach structuring our lives to be in that state of happiness more often?

Vanessa:  Yeah.  So here’s the good news, is that the things that make us the happiest are actually the smallest things.  So, and this … we don’t … this is why a lot of people who feel like they are either anxious or they dread their mornings or they wake up with anxiety, they fell like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to quit my job or move or restructure my entire life to get happier,” and that is not the case at all.  Actually, the smallest things have the biggest impact.  So the three things that you really want to focus on, if I had to sort of boil it down into three things, it would be focusing more on capability.  So using more of your skills and more of your skills in new and different ways, and that can be as small as making an amazing breakfast, making an amazing cup of coffee, responding to an email in a really organized and conscientious way.  Whatever, you know, sort of that your capability is.  Second is hope.  Now, hope is a really kind of an abstract concept.  When you break down hope, we can easily do that by learning, and that … that I do with what I call a learning bucket list, which we can talk about in a little bit.  And the third one is awe.  So awe is the easiest, cheapest way to get more happiness into your life, and what studies show is just thinking about watching your favorite movie produces pleasure. 

Tara:  Wow.

Vanessa:  It actually increases 27% more endorphins, just thinking about watching your favorite movie.  So when I talk about awe, I’m talking about what are the very, very small things, including your lunch that you have waiting for you in the fridge, the movie that you’re going to watch this weekend with your friends, or a beautiful view on your Instagram account, those very little things are actually the things that add up to much greater happiness.

Tara:  That’s incredible, and it sounds like it’s really just sort of an ounce of mindfulness about how you can pre-plan to experience those little things that do add up.  Is that accurate?

Vanessa:  Yeah.  It’s … you know how we’re all really conditioned to like eat well?  We’re like, oh, you know, people track their calories and they try to get 30 minutes of exercise in a day and they get 8 ounces of water.  Just like you measure your calorie output, your exercise minutes, and your water ounces, you can do the exact same thing with your dopamine, your endorphins, and your serotonin.

Tara:  Well, brilliant.  I mean, that’s great news for nerds like us, right?

Vanessa:  Exactly, exactly.  And I promise for my non-nerds listening, I will break that into a much more digestible, non-geek chemical words as well.

Tara:  Yeah, okay, awesome.  So I do want to transition a little bit and talk about your team and what role happiness plays inside the Science of People, because it’s one thing for you to study it as a team, it’s one thing for you to teach about it as you and as your team, but it’s another thing to kind of engineer it into your company culture.  So let’s talk about exactly that.  What role does happiness play in your team culture?

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Vanessa:  Yeah, okay, so there are kind of four ways that we tackle happiness from a team perspective, and I actually think that talking about my team is a perfect way for you to think about your own happiness, because they are used in the exact same way.  So the very first thing that we did after doing this research, and we finished this research about a year ago, so all of these changes have happened in the last 12 months, and it’s been incredible to see the changes in productivity, in ROI, our numbers.  The ROI has been tremendous in terms of the growth of the company.

So the first thing is we did something called job crafting with all of our employees.  So what this is, is you look at all the tasks that you do on a daily basis, and you can do this yourself.  Make a list of all the tasks that you typically do in the average day or the average week.  And then in the column next to it, you want to write down the skills that you’re using to complete those tasks.  So you might find that all of your skill, all of your tasks, fall into the organization skill.  Or that all of your tasks, let’s say you’re a coach, all of your tasks fall into the listening skill.  So I want you to write down all the tasks and all the skills that are associated.  That might be three skills.  That might be thirty skills.  And then I want you to, on the list of skills, star or circle the ones that you feel like you are exceptionally good at.  The ones that like you’re like, “I was made for this.  I was born for this.  I love doing it.  I feel so good when I do it.”  That’s hopefully going to be only two or three, right?  We don’t … you can put modesty aside, right?  If you’re awesome, awesome at 10, cool, good on you, that’s awesome, too, but if you only have two or three, that’s about average.  So what we did is we looked at all the tasks and skills that were happening amongst our team members, and right now, we’re a team of six, and then we began to figure out which skills matched with who.  So for example, I learned that one of my employees is really, really visual.  She’s really good at graphics.  She’s amazing at seeing colors and shapes and fonts.  I’m really bad at visual things, so basically, we started to trade tasks.  So we line … I know all the skills of my employees, and we began to trade to see where could we focus our skills, and maximize the amount of I love doing this work, I feel really good at doing this work. 

That is a much easier thing than I want to do what I’m passionate about, right?  Like everyone talks about passion, but actually, you’re much better off talking about capability, and that’s an easier thing to do on a day-to-day basis than passion.

Tara:  Oh, brilliant.  Yes, I mean, I could go off on a whole tirade about passion.  I love the idea of talking about capability instead, and you know, that getting into the flow, and feeling like … Sally Hogshead talks about wellspring activities, you know, those things that energize you, and I totally agree, it’s so much easier to identify those things for yourself, and you know, tell yourself the story, remember those stories, remember those moments when you felt like that, and it seems like a much more productive conversation to have with your employer as well, but I’m sure it’s something that people can do in their own businesses, too.  So whether they have a team or not, it can be a real opportunity to look and see how could you improve your happiness?  How could you better job craft, even if you’re a business of one now, so that you better understand how you could grow a team into the future.

Vanessa:  Exactly.  And like a quick example of this is if you’re a photographer, I was just talking about this with my photographer.  So my photographer is Maggie Hudson at Honeysuckle Photography, and her skill, obviously, is photography, lighting, working with people.  She does not like editing.  She can do it.  She’s good at it.  But she doesn’t love it.  So she started building into her packages hiring a contractor editor, and that made her so much happier to take on new clients and do what she does, because she’s just putting way more energy and charging differently than she would have, because she wants to be able to know that someone else who loves editing can do it.

Tara:  Brilliant.  And okay, and so that was so important, because you said she’s so much happier to take on new clients, which means she’s more likely to do what she needs to do to sell, right?

Vanessa:  Yeah.

Tara:  And that’s one of those things that I don’t think people, especially small business owners, realize all of the personal hurdles that they have to selling.  It’s not actually selling itself that’s hard, it’s these personal hurdles that we put in front of ourselves, and that’s one of them, doing work we don’t want to be doing.

Vanessa:  And that is a surprisingly easy thing to do when you break down your tasks and your skills.

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Tara:  I know you just had your Science of People team all together in Portland.  It was World Domination Summit weekend, and you guys all got together.  I was watching the pictures, it looked awesome.  What did you guys do during that company retreat to kind of spark happiness for your team while they were visiting?

Vanessa:  Yeah, so the next kind of thing that really contributes to happiness is growth, and the idea, and this ties into hope as well, is that failures are not … do not mean that you’re a failure, they just mean that that specific thing was a mistake or a failure, and that anything can be learned, and actually, learning provides a lot of happiness.  So the reason why I bought my entire team to WDS was because I wanted them to know that they have a lot of learning in their lives, and so we have something that I encourage all my employees to do called the Learning Bucket List.  So a learning bucket list is all the skills, lessons, ideas, and things you want to learn about in your lifetime.  And we don’t often think about learning like that, but so I have all of my employees think about what are the skills they want to learn, and how can I fund that for them.  So I will frequently pay for trainings for them.  Like if they want to learn, like for example, one of my employees really wants to learn video editing.  Fantastic.  We do a ton of videos.  I’m happy to pay for his online course to learn how to do video editing and buy the software for him.  We also have what’s called a book fund.  So any employee who wants to get a book, and it does not have to do with business, it can be any book, they just have to submit me an email for why they want the book and what they want to learn from it, and I will buy it for them.  And so that is a way that I am trying to encourage that learning on a day-to-day basis.

Tara:  That is awesome.  I think everyone should go out and make their learning bucket list now.  I think that’s incredible.

Vanessa:  What’s on yours?

Tara:  The thing that makes me happiest in terms of learning right now is copywriting.  I just totally nerd out on copywriting, and it’s something that yeah, it just, it makes me really, really happy.  Obviously, it fulfills a need in my business as well, and it’s a skill that, you know, makes sense for me to improve, but it also makes me insanely happy.  Probably the other thing, then, is, you know, my partner and I are constantly talking about me going back to school and following through on the academic goals that I once had, and I think, you know, there’s … there’s no good reason … like there’s no good financial reason for me to do that.  There’s no, like, there’s no promotion that would be in my future if I went back to school and got my PhD, but would it make me happy?  Yeah, probably.  So those would be two things.

Vanessa:  That could be an investment in happiness, right?

Tara:  Yeah.

Vanessa:  Like, that would be a pure investment in happiness, which would definitely come out in other areas.

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  Absolutely.  I’m sure I could find the financial ROI on that for sure.  So you mentioned failure a little bit ago, and that brought to mind, you know, one of the difficult parts of growing a team and owning a small business, which is having difficult conversations with people?  So how do you balance performance management, having difficult conversations, and still keep this culture of happiness going in your company?

Vanessa:  Yeah, so it’s … I … what we try to focus on is progress does not mean that you can’t have setbacks, and progress is actually the number one way to motivate people.  So if you look at any kind of goal, weight loss goals, savings goals, employee goals … money, bonuses, promotions, not high on the list.  Compliments, not high on the list.  The biggest thing you can do to encourage progress, I’m sorry, to encourage achievement is actually highlighting progress.  So the way that we do this is we do monthly check-ins.  We have kind of like a scoreboard, where basically, we have all of our analytics, and we’re very analytics-driven, you know.  We just hit 80,000 subscribers on YouTube, and our goal is to hit 100,000 right?  We have 100,000 email subscribers; our goal is to hit 120,000.  So we are very, very aware of those goals.  Now, a failure could be not posting enough on YouTube or posting a YouTube video that gets a lot of dislikes or not a lot of views, right?  That could be, I guess, considered a failure.  However, it did get some views, and we can look at that video and be like why is this video different than the other videos that performed well.  So we look at every single thing as a mark on the progress chart.  So it’s not a failure, it’s just a mark on the chart.  And that helps sort of reshift the … I want them to take risks, right?  Like every single person on the team owns one of those metrics.  Right?  Like Robbie’s in charge of YouTube and Yael’s in charge of our email subscribers.  Ben’s in charge of our top of the funnel getting Google organic traffic.  Lauren’s in front of, charge of Twitter.  They own those numbers.  And so I can say to them, all right, whatever you want to do to get our Twitter subscribers up to 20,000, do it.  Play, adventure it, be adventurous, as long as you’re tracking it, I don’t care.  So that’s a very different way of thinking about failure.  It’s just a stop on the progress line.

Tara:  Wow.  Wow.  Okay, so do you have those same kind of conversations individually then?  I mean, it sounds like if people have these … have this ownership over particular pieces, you know, are you having progress conversations on an individual level and kind of what does that look like?

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Vanessa:  You know, we don’t do performance reviews.

Tara:  Okay.

Vanessa:  I don’t do one-on-one performance reviews.  Which I usually will check in with people via email.  Like I’ll say, you know, how’s it going?  How you feeling?  How you liking everything?  We do something that I call start/stop/continue.  So start/stop/continue is every month, every four weeks I ask each of them what would you like to start?  What would you like to stop doing?  What would you like to start doing more of?  What would you like to stop doing or do less of?  And what would you like to continue?  So they’re very used to, and they prepare to tell me those stop/start/continue things.  Typically, they happen in a group or over email.

Tara:  Wow.  Okay, so it really does sound like everything from top to bottom in the way you manage your people is focused on making sure they’re working at their highest capability, helping them fulfill the learning, and then, you know, therefore making them as happy as possible.  That’s incredible.

Vanessa:  And I think that every … every single one of us, no matter what we do, should be doing stop/start/continue.  Just like job crafting with my employees, I think all of us, every week or every four weeks, should sit down and say what should I be doing more of, what should I be doing less of, and what should I start doing.

Tara:  Yeah.

Vanessa:  Right?  Like that is an incredibly powerful exercise for anyone.

Tara:  Yeah, and it’s also not super intimidating, either, right?  Like it leads to incremental changes, instead of like earlier, you mentioned, you know, if you’re unhappy, you might think that you have to completely change everything to create a happier experience for yourself, but stop/start/continue really gives you this opportunity to, you know, you could just stop two things, or you could stop one thing.

Vanessa:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  You know, each time you check in and little bit by little bit, you’re chiseling away at the things that aren’t making you happy or that aren’t allowing you to kind of operate at your highest capability.

Vanessa:  Exactly.  That’s exactly it.

Tara:  Awesome.  So Vanessa, what makes you happy?

Vanessa:  I really, really like quests, and that is something that I discovered I think accidentally.  It was … a Quest, a la Chris Guillebeau, for anyone who’s read The Happiness of Pursuit, is a very defined challenge or adventure.  So it could be reading every book on the New York Times bestseller list in a year, or the top 1 books in a year.  It could be traveling to all fifty states.  It could be cooking cuisine from every, you know, all the major countries.  It could be learning a language.  I have found that that is a magic, very potent combination.  One, it’s learning, right?  You’re usually doing some kind of learning in a quest.  Two, it gives you a lot of hope and anticipation, right?  Every time you think about completing the quest, you actually get endorphins.  Just like when you think about watching your favorite movie, it produces endorphins.  And third is it’s progress.  Right?  Every time you go to a state, every time you cook a dish, every time you learn a new vocab word, check, you get that off the list.  Oh, and lastly, bonus, is that you feel really, really awesome the further you go down the list.  And so I have a lot of quests constantly going in my life, both personal and professional, and that’s sort of how I gear all the chapters of my life is around them.

Tara:  That’s awesome.  What is one of the quests that you’re on right now?

Vanessa:  So one of my quests is that I want to try every single top-rated restaurant in Portland.

Tara:  That sounds awesome.

Vanessa:  I know.  And I like … and it’s basically an excuse for me to invite all my friends out, because they all know that I’m on this quest, so I have like a big spreadsheet, and I invited a bunch of my friends on it, and they just put their name down on the restaurants they also want to try.

Tara:  Wow.  That’s amazing.  That’s totally awesome.  Okay, so tell us about your new CreativeLive class.

Vanessa:  Okay, so I am … I am really, like I can’t even describe.  Like excited isn’t the right word for it.  I feel like this course is the course that I wish I had ten years ago.  The unhappiest day of my life was my college graduation.  It was one of those days where I realized that I was making all my decisions based on things I thought I should do, and nothing that I actually wanted to do, and so it took me a very long time to get off of that structure.  And we will talk about, in the CreativeLive course, about the four systems that cause us to make decisions.  And so my goal with this course is to sort of shake up the personal happiness value system that we have.  I want everyone coming into the course to re-evaluate how they make decisions.  The small decisions, like what they’re eating for breakfast and what they are going to put on their to do list, and the big decisions, like what’s my purpose here, what’s my legacy, what do I want to be remembered for.  Because I think that if we don’t stop and do that now, there’s that famous Chinese proverb that said the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, but the second best time is now.  That’s how I feel about happiness.

Tara:  Oh, that is so good.  I am definitely going to be tuning into that.  I will also be making Shawn tune into that, as well.

Vanessa:  Yes.

Tara:  And then can you tell us also about your upcoming book?

Vanessa:  Oh, gosh, yeah.  Yeah, so … so many years in the making, that book.  So I have a book coming out April 25th, it’s called Captivate, and it is on hacking human behavior.  So I love people skills, I do not consider them soft skills, I consider them hard skills.  So I want, this is the first time, I think, anyone’s endeavored to teach people skills like you would learn math or science.  So I break down conversation formulas, we talk about algorithms, we talk about basically the language of people skills from a very black and white perspective.

Tara:  Wow.  This is your life’s work to this point.

Vanessa:  This is … someone asked me recently, “So how long did it take you to write the book?”  And I was like, “Uh, 31 years.”

Tara:  Yes, that is … that’s awesome.  Well, I don’t … I don’t even know where to go from there.  I’m so excited for you.  What … is there anything else that we should know about that you’re working on that’s coming up for you in your business?  What, you know, what’s your next big project?

Vanessa:  Yeah, you know, actually, the next big project is sort of the next phase of the happiness research, so if you’re getting ready to listen to the CreativeLive Power of Happiness course, or you’re thinking about it, one thing you can do is you can actually go to our website, and take the happiness audit.  So the happiness audit will actually kind of clue you in right now, if you’re like, whoa, I don’t want to wait until October.  I know, it’s really far, I don’t want to wait to take the class.  You can go take the happiness audit now, and that also helps us with the next phase of our research.  So it’s ScienceofPeople.com/audit, and it’s all free.  Just fly through it.  You know, don’t overthink the answers, and that will not only help you give you some insight into, you know, the course and your own happiness, but it will also help us with our next phase of the research.

Tara:  Awesome.  Everyone loves a good quiz.

Vanessa:  Yeah, I know.

Tara:  All right.  Well, Vanessa Van Edwards, thank you so much for coming back on Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for talking about happiness and your team and yourself and your own journey.  This has been a really fascinating conversation.  I am excited about telling people about what you’ve just told us, so thank you.

Vanessa:  Thank you so much for having me.  Bye guys.

Tara:  Find out more about Vanessa Van Edwards at ScienceofPeople.com.  You can also find her new CreativeLive class, the Power of Happiness, at CreativeLive.com.

Next week, my guest is online business pioneer and social media expert, Joel Comm.  We talk about how he chooses new platforms, why he’s betting big on live video, and how his businesses have been impacted by social media.

CreativeLive is highly-curated classes from the world’s top experts.  Watch free, live video classes every day from acclaimed instructors in photography, design, audio, craft, business, and personal development, stream it now at CreativeLive.com.

This has been Tara Gentile.  Discover how to accelerate your earning as a small business owner with my free class, Revenue Catalyst, at QuietPowerStrategy.com/PPP.

That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., a CreativeLive podcast.  Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes.  If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend.  It means the world to us.

Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Kellen Shimizu.  This episode was produced by Michael Karsh.  We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week.  Subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode.

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