Building Relationships & Communities to Fuel Your Business with Justin Shiels

Building Relationships and Communities to Fuel Your Business with Justin Shiels on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

When it comes to networking, I’m a little intense. I’ve actually reserved every Wednesday at 3pm for a meeting with a close friend or a new stranger who I’m interested in meeting. So I literally email, Facebook, or Instagram someone who I think is doing something interesting.

— Justin Shiels, marketer, speaker, and community builder

This week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. guest is Justin Shiels the founder of This Creative Lab and Curious Tribe. Justin has over 9 years experience in communications, marketing, and graphic design. He uses his passion for community and his hometown of New Orleans to fuel his work. In 2014 Justin cofounded Venture Pop, a conference for creative entrepreneurs.

Justin and I talk about the power of nurturing relationships, the specific tactics he uses to connect with new people, and his value of diversity in building creative communities.

A Simple Networking Tactic Even You Can Use Every Day

Aside from his weekly standing meetings to get to know new people, Justin also recommends a networking tactic (oy, that sounds so cold and impersonal for such a friendly thing) for staying in touch with the people he meets. I’ve been trying to implement this networking tactic myself all year–and it’s panned out beautifully.

The process is simple: 

If you read something, see something, hear something, or think something that reminds you of someone you know, let them know. Don’t let the thought pass and wonder why you haven’t talked to them in forever.

Drop them an email, text them, post on their Facebook wall…

…heck, pick up the phone and call them!

Share the thought, article, or video that made you think of them and tell them why. That’s it!

These small gestures–whether you actually reconnect with the person or not–puts you (and your business, mission, movement, ideas, etc…) back on the top-of-mind for the person you just thought of.

It’s a little thing that can have big results.

Take Action Now

In fact, why not give it a try right now.

Who do you know who is a natural relationship-builder? An authentic networker? A consummate community-wrangler? 

Let them know what Justin’s interview made you think of them. Tell them how much you appreciate their curiosity, friendliness, and openness.

Love this episode? Subscribe on iTunes and while you’re there, leave us a review, too! It helps us reach more smart & ambitious small business owners like you.

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

 

Growing an Agency with Aeolidia Founder Arianne Foulks

Growing an Agency with Aeolidia Founder Arianne Foulks on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

When I first started thinking about adding more people to the team, I was totally resistant to it, because I would not call myself a perfectionist, but I have a very high standard for the work that I’m doing, and people need so much stuff when they want to put together an ecommerce site.

— Arianne Foulks, Founder of Aeolidia

Tara:  We’re working on a few special episodes featuring you, our listeners.  Have a question on time management, business and revenue models, expanding your audience, marketing your business, or building your team?  Here’s what you need to do:  Use your phone or computer to make a short audio recording of your question.  Include who you are, what you do, and where we can find you online.  Then attach the recording to an email, and send it to podcast@taragentile.com.  I’ll be answering your questions between November 29th and December 20th, and the deadline for submission is November 20th.  We’d also love to hear your success stories implementing lessons you learned from our guests, so send those along, too.  If we choose your question, we’ll give you a free CreativeLive class of your choice.

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 sit down with Arianne Foulks, the captain and founder of Aeolidia, a web and graphic design studio that’s been working with creative, design-oriented shops since 2004.  Aeolidia serves those at early stages on their path with an informative blog and supportive community, and her agency builds fully custom ecommerce sites for established business at that tipping point where strategic design can be transformative and cause exponential growth.  Learn how Arianne decided to build an agency instead of going it alone at web design.  We talk about who she hired first, how her team works together, and both the first and last steps of any client project.

Arianne Foulks, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me today.

Arianne:  Thank you for having me, Tara.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So I’ve always looked to your agency as sort of a leader in web design for creative business.  You guys have been around for a long time, but everyone starts somewhere, right?  So how did Aeolidia get started?

Arianne:  Thank you.  We definitely did start somewhere.  We started very small and humble, and in fact, like, I’m always so busy keeping my nose in my own textbook, that I don’t even really notice how much word about us has spread, and I always get kind of surprised when people have heard of me.  But yeah, we started as just me sitting on my couch with my laptop.  I didn’t have a computer when I was growing up, so when I went away to college, and I had unlimited access to the computer lab, I found myself spending a ton of time in there, and I figured out how to make a website on GeoCities.

Tara:  Nice.

Arianne:  Which will be hilarious to anybody as old as I am.  And I spent a lot of time designing a website for my zine and redesigning it and redesigning and redesigning it, because it was fun, and eventually, my friends noticed that I had a skill there, and they wanted websites for their band or their record label.  Most of the people that I helped out at the start were in the music business somehow, and of course, they were not loaded with riches or anything like that, so I ended up doing a lot of websites as favors, or just for fun, or maybe as a trade or something like that.  And then eventually, I had a friend who had an ecommerce shop, which I had no experience with ecommerce, yet, but she wanted me to help her make it look better.  So I came in and helped her figure out this new ecommerce software, which I’d never heard of, and I was like, oh, look at all this, it’s HTML, which I know, but there’s also this PHP and all this crazy stuff, but I figured it out and we made her website, and it looked pretty darn good, and from that one project, I got introduced to kind of this world of pre-Etsy handcrafters.  They had a little community going, and I think it was the year before Etsy began that I really started working on projects with crafters.  And so before Etsy, there was no easy way to get a website up online.  You had to actually get web hosting and know how to use ftp and upload all these files to your server, and you had to, if you wanted to change anything, you had to know HTML or CSS or PHP, so you know, they couldn’t really just pop up a website like you can nowadays.  They needed somebody technical to be able to help them, so I was quite busy for quite a while in this little niche that, you know, had a need that wasn’t really being served.  So yeah, I was super busy with a bunch of crafters, and it was all word of mouth.  I wasn’t trying to advertise or find new clients or anything like that.  In fact, I was often turning away people when they asked me, because I was just too darn busy, because it was just me.

Tara:  Yeah.  And were you operating under the Aeolidia brand then?  Or was that something that kind of came along later?

Arianne:  I was.  I think I had a couple different names as I was transitioning from hobby to more of a business, but when we, when I started doing sites for crafters, we were … I was Aeolidia back then, yeah.

Tara:  Got ya.  All right, well, that’s a really good segue into my next question, then, which is about, you know, how lots of web designers really, they choose to go it on their own, or they think that that’s kind of their only option.  Either they’re working with, you know, a developer, or they’re doing even everything, you know, development-wise themselves.  How did you make the decision to build out an agency and start working with more and more people to produce the sites that you wanted to produce?

Arianne:  Right.  Well, that’s very complimentary that you called it decision.  I was not making any strategic decisions back then.  It’s something that just kind of happened.  So, in fact, when I first started thinking about adding more people to the team, I was totally resistant to it, because I knew I didn’t want to become just like the boss, and I wasn’t doing any creative fun work anymore, and I was like, nope, nope, that’s never going to happen, I don’t want to do anything like that.  But at the same time, I would not call myself a perfectionist, but I have a very high standard for the work that I’m doing, and people need so much stuff when they want to put together an ecommerce site.  So, you know, I would just dig in there and get going, but they would come to me and they wouldn’t have a logo, and so I’d have to like try and just type their name in a nice font, and I eventually ended up learning how to design logos myself, because people needed them so often.  People needed product photography, and I’m not a photographer, but I didn’t know any photographers to refer them to, and I didn’t really like the idea of referring people to a third party, because it was totally out of my control.  I didn’t know if the quality was going to be high.  I didn’t know if the product they brought back to me was going to work for the website.  The whole thing just felt very uncomfortable. 

So I ended up actually bringing on people to do all these different services that it turns out my clients just kept needing that would pop up as a surprise.  Eventually, we ended up adding people to do all of those things in house, so we could, you know, be in charge of the whole project, and know what was going to happen with all the parts and know we were going to get something that was up to our standards.  So you know, it all ended up being in house, and I was so worried about losing the work that I had to do sitting there and designing websites, but let me tell you right now, I am thankful every day that I don’t need to sit down at Photoshop looking at that blank white screen and try to figure out what to make for somebody.  I don’t regret it at all, now that I see how it worked out.

Tara:  Yeah.  And I love that you talk about the reason that you brought people in house, the reason you, you know, wanted to bring other people in period is because you had this need, you know, you’re a bit of a perfectionist, maybe even a bit of a control freak, and so I love thinking about going the agency route as being a way to appease your perfectionism and control freakness, because I think a lot of times, perfectionists kind of isolate themselves, and I love your solution much better.

Arianne:  Well, the best part is, it turns out everybody I’ve hired along the way has ended up being much better than I ever was at all the things I was trying to do by myself, which I love and is the best thing about running Aeolidia.

Tara:  Yes.  Amen to that.  Okay, so who was your first hire?

Arianne:  So I was thinking about this.  My first hire was actually a small troop of illustrators, because I just loved illustration so much, personally, and when I was sitting there with that blank, white Photoshop page, I really wanted to have something awesome to start with, and I hated having to have a very text-heavy site or just sticking with my clients’ awful photography or going to some terrible clip art or stock photography site, which back then, there were not a lot of options, and it was really kind of terrible.  So I just reached out to a few illustrators.  They weren’t, some of them weren’t even doing client work.  Some of them were just illustrators that were doing it as a creative hobby, and I asked them if they would like to be paid to make illustrations for my clients, and that worked out really nicely.  And even though I was working with maybe, I don’t know, at some point, we had … we had a lot of illustrators at one point, and things have gotten a lot more sleek and clean and modern lately, but you know, I would have maybe five different illustrators and me, but people would tell me back then that they knew it was an Aeolidia site before they even scrolled to the bottom and saw our credit, just because I think we were doing something there that you didn’t see a lot on the internet at that time, and our sites looked a lot more creative and illustrated and arty and interesting than people were used to seeing, so that was really awesome.

Tara:  Yes.

Arianne:  But, you know, that didn’t feel like, I didn’t feel like a studio at that point.  I felt like I was just making websites and I had a couple helpers.  I did bring my friend, and my best friend from college had been doing web design and development, and when she moved up to Seattle, I was like, you know, I’m turning away clients left and right.  I think it would make a lot of sense if we just worked together on this, and then you could do some and I could do some, and maybe I wouldn’t have to say no so often.  And so we both ended up working together.  She managed her own projects.  I mostly just kind of got people started and took care of the money part of it, but we were basically two freelancers who happened to be working together.  And then I also brought my husband in.  He had been doing this really boring cubicle-style office job, and I think I just wanted to save him from the cube.  I was like hey, you know, you could learn MySQL and PHP and help us with these databases and we can all work together. 

So that still didn’t feel like I was building an agency.  That felt like we were maybe like a mom and pop shop kind of thing, like a little family business.  I think the big change happened when a designer who I admired reach out to me to ask if she could work with us.  And this seemed, I mean, already, I had hired some people, but this seemed super foreign to me when she said this, and I was like what?  Hire somebody?  That’s crazy.  I don’t know if we should do that.  I mean, how would we keep control of what’s going on?  Will it still look like an Aeolidia site?  Like it all just seemed fraught with peril, but I was pregnant with my first child, and I knew that I had no idea what was going to happen to my schedule after he was born.  So it seemed like a really good time to just go for it and see how it worked out.  So we hired her, and it was awesome.  It was the best.  I was able to just like fade into the background with a baby for a while.  She was designing sites, my husband was developing them, my friend, Shoshanna, who’d been working with me all along was taking care of her own clients, and it was really a great way for the business to keep afloat while I basically could hardly do anything.  So I think that was our big tipping point where it began to be more of an agency.

Tara:  Yeah, I love that.  And so now, is … are … are … is the group that you have, are they a mix of, like, W2 employees and contractors?  Or is it one way or the other?

Arianne:  So all of our workers that provide a service are contract workers, so they’re all either freelancers or they have their own small studio.  My only employee is my project manager, Sam, and she takes care of all the project management stuff that I started having to do when we brought more people onto the team.  Other than that, everybody who works for me, you know, we all live in different places.  We have a designer in Australia, we’ve got a developer in Canada, we have people all over the United States.  My one employee, Sam, is actually in San Jose while I’m in Seattle, so we all work remotely as a, just kind of a magical team.

Tara:  Nice.  I love that.  I love that.  Sounds like you’re super-flexible.  Is flexibility important to you?

Arianne:  Yeah, it totally is.  I … I always think if I had to go back to like a regular job and lose my flexibility, I don’t even know if I’m employable anymore.

Tara:  That’s great.  That’s great.  So you mentioned earlier that you’re really glad you don’t have to stare at the white, scary Photoshop screen anymore, and so that makes me curious how you’re actually spending your time in your business.  What role are you personally, or have you personally taken on with the agency?

Arianne:  So it’s super-interesting to me, because when I was resisting the role that I have now, I was not fully imagining what I would actually be doing.  I just pictured myself bossing people around all day long, which I totally don’t do.  I hardly ever boss anybody around.  I spend most of my day doing content creation and marketing type stuff, because finding work for 19 people is a lot more work than finding work for yourself or maybe three people.  So I write for the blog a lot, I do our social media.  I’m the mastermind of thinking of what new things we need to be doing or how we need to change our process or what we should be working on next or what our clients need, all that kind of thing.  I’m the tricky situation smoother-outer.  Whenever anything weird comes up, I get to pop in there and unruffle everybody’s feathers and figure out good solutions.  And all that kind of problem-solving stuff is what I love doing, and I’m way better at problem-solving than I ever was at designing a website, so I’m really glad I’m doing what I do now.  And I do still have the blank page problem, because I write for the blog a lot, so I sit there in front of the blank WordPress screen, but that is a lot less intimidating to me.

Tara:  That’s awesome.  So it sounds like it’s sort of a, like, dual CEO/CMO role.

Arianne:  Yeah, I guess so.  I would eventually like some help with the marketing, because a lot of it is a drag to me.  Like, I love doing the blogging, and I love talking one-on-one with business owners and solving people’s problems.  In fact, I spent a lot of time kind of doing free consulting work for people, just because if somebody puts a really interesting question in my inbox, I cannot resist getting in there and figuring out how to crack that nut.

Tara:  Yup.

Arianne:  So sometimes, I’ll just go and I’ll help people out, but then what I do is I turn it into a blog post that is super helpful for other people in the business.  So it all works out, but yeah, it’s all fun for me to just sort of figure out how to make things better for Aeolidia and for our clients and other small business owners.

Tara:  Perfect.  Cool.  So you’ve started talking about this a little bit, but I want to drill down into it a little bit more, too, and that is how have you decided to add people to your team?  It sounds like some of them have presented themselves to you, some of it’s been by need.  When you’re looking at your business right now and thinking about those new directions, or you know, maybe new services that you want to add for clients, how are you thinking about who you’re going to bring into the business, too?

Arianne:  Right.  So I have become a lot more strategic about this in recent years, but in the olden days, I used to just kind of add people if somebody asked and I thought that they would be an amazing fit or if I saw somebody online where I just loved their design work and I thought they’d be perfect, and we also spent some time trying to figure out to balance our team, because for a website project, you need a web designer and a web developer, and we didn’t want one group of people being super busy while the other was kind of sitting around twiddling their thumbs looking for work. 

So we would do that kind of thing or maybe replace people as they left, but now we have a more businessy type way of figuring this out.  So we have a certain amount of projects that we would like to be working on each month, and we’ve actually finally gone through the numbers and figured out how we stay profitable, and so we’ve just figured out how many projects each person can do, and that tends to be different for each different worker, and then we plan our team based on that.  So if we know that want to be doing 12 or 14 projects in one of our two-month blocks, we look at who we’re going to have then and how many they can do, and if it looks like we don’t have enough manpower, then I can go out and try to find somebody else to add to the team, and that is what we have been doing recently.  And right now, we, it feels like we’re at just the perfect size, because we’ve recently added a couple designers to the team to replace some designers who are out on maternity leave, and I think we should be set for a while.

Tara:  Nice.  Awesome.  How do your team members work together?  Are they talking to each other?  Does everything go through the project manager?  How does that work?

Arianne:  So we have used Basecamp ever since it existed, I think, to talk to our clients.  I was thinking the other day, I was doing something before Basecamp where I just had like a bunch of tasks written out into a text document, and I seriously have no idea how I used to ever get any work done.  But now we have wonderful tools, so we use Basecamp with our clients, but the thing that’s been huge for us internally is we started using Slack when Slack started existing, and that is a tool that lets us all chat with each other with no clients ever involved.  Like we definitely had a couple of mistakes in the early years where we think we were sending a private message on Basecamp and the client would get it, so now, you know, we’ve got our internal team on the internal software with no clients on it and we can all just sit there and chat with each other, and that has been huge not only for just organizing projects, but it has really made our team feel like a cohesive team of people that all actually work together, whereas I think before everybody kind of felt like freelancer that was just doing their own job, and the project manager would be popping in to ask them about it, and you know, we would be emailing back and forth on Basecamp to ask each other questions, but now with Slack, we have a way to all, you know, make jokes and share random stuff we like on the internet and figure out ways to do stuff better and have little chats where we improve things, which has been so awesome, and I feel like we’re much more of a team now.

Tara:  I love it.  I love Slack for all the same reasons.  It brings … it brings people together.  It brings the team together.  It creates a culture, and it’s, obviously, it’s just great for communicating, too.  So that’s …

Arianne:  Totally.

Tara:  Yeah, so that’s super helpful.  Okay, so can you walk us through what happens internally after you’ve signed a new client?  What are the … what are the first steps there?  How do you get started working on that new project?

Arianne:  Yes.  And I am very happy with what we’re doing now.  We spent the last year kind of building this out, and it’s all working so well.  So we used to just take on a project willy-nilly whenever the client was ready.  We’re like, okay, here we go, let’s get started.  And it was chaos.  And now we have kind of switched to a block system.  So in the block system, we have two-month blocks throughout the year.  We have five this year.  I think next we’re going to try to make it six.  And each client project is going to take at least one block, or maybe two, possibly three.  So if you’re doing a logo and a website, that ends up being three blocks, because we do two months on the logo, two on the website design, and two on the website development.  So before the block starts, we have a phase that we call Phase 0, and we like that to be about a month long, although we can get away with less, sometimes, but a month gives us lots of time to get everything done.  So what we have been doing, we used to just kind of collect content from clients as we worked, and if they didn’t have photos, for instance, we would use placeholders, and it was hard to do our best work. 

Now, we insist on having everything totally ready for us before design begins.  So Sam works with our client to gather content, so that would be like product descriptions, whatever they want to write on the home page, what the about page is going to say, all their photography, their preferences, feature requests, that all happens during Phase 0, and that is also when we bring in our copywriter to create content for them or edit what they’ve got, and our product photographer to take their beautiful hero shots for the front page of their website and all their product shots, and so all that time is mostly, you know, the designer and developer relaxing and Sam is in there with the client digging everything together.  At the end of Phase 0, when we have everything ready, we all get together in Slack for an internal project planning meeting, and this has been wonderful.  We used to just kind of go by whatever the proposal said and then work out any kinks as they happened.  Now, we try to work out all the kinds before they happen, which is a much better way of doing it.  So now, we look at both what the client has given us and all the content, and we check out their goals and their objectives and first, we look through the proposal and make sure that we didn’t put in anything that was unnecessary or didn’t leave out anything that is going to be really helpful.  So sometimes, we make some adjustments to scope right there at the start with the client’s agreement, and then we spend some time just kind of making our rough plan for how we’re going to do things, and we try to pinpoint any possible problems that might come up or like unusual requests or things that we don’t often do, and we try to make a plan for how that’s going to work and what’s going to happen, and during this time, we also tend to show the client either a wireframe of what we’re planning for their site, or we will give them some information, like for example, we often end up editing and adjusting a client’s category list.  So they’ll give us this list of like maybe 18 product categories, and we help them whittle it down and reorganize it and make it make sense to their customer.

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.

Vanessa:  Did you know that happy people make an average of $1766 more per year than unhappy people?  Or that happy employees take 15 less sick days per year than unhappy employees?  People who have higher levels of happiness have more career success, higher income, better romantic relationships, stronger social support, are better able to cope with stress, and even have a better immune system.  Here’s the best part:  We can change our happiness levels.  Research has found that about 50% of our happiness is genetic, 10% is due to the environment, and 40% is caused by our behavior and mindset.  That means you and I have 40% of our happiness to work with.  So let’s make the most of it.  My name is Vanessa Van Edwards.  I’ve taught over 42,000 students how to change their lives by making happiness a daily practice.  Now, I want to help you, too.

Tara:  Want to experience this and other life-changing CreativeLive courses?  Go to CreativeLive.com/podcast, and use the code PPP15 for 15% off your next purchase.

Tara:  Is the average project that you’re doing average?  Like, do the projects look very similar or is there a lot of disparity between the different types of projects that you’re taking on? 

Arianne:  They do look very similar, and the reason is because we only do ecommerce projects right now, so we don’t do informational sites or service-based businesses, we only do product-based businesses, and if you want somebody to shop online, there are a certain about of expectations that your customer has from shopping on Amazon and other big sites.  They’re expecting the cart to be in a certain place, they’re expecting the login link to be in a certain place, they know kind of what an add-to-cart button looks like.  So you have a lot of constraints when you’re designing for ecommerce, which actually turns out to be wonderful, because you’re not reinventing the wheel each time.  So most of our client projects are very similar.  Like, they’re so similar, in fact, that we just kind of go through a checklist when we’re making a proposal of which things to include and not include.  We don’t have to come up with new crazy things very often.  We usually have a flat rate or a set price for each type of feature we’re adding.  Yeah, so things, you know, we get to put our own spin on it and our own details, and there’s usually not a lot of wild variation going on.

Tara:  Got you.  That’s … that’s really interesting, and I love the … I love the hyperfocus that you have on who your target client is, and how that not only makes it probably easier to find new clients, but also has streamlined your process so that it’s as efficient as possible for you, and I think that should be a huge takeaway for anybody, whether they’re running a web design agency, or you know, any kind of business that they’re doing, I think that kind of hyperfocus on who you’re selling to really has ripple effects through your entire business strategy, so that’s awesome.  Do you mind if I ask you what your average project fee is?

Arianne:  So we have kind of a minimum and maximum right now.

Tara:  Okay.

Arianne:  So most of our clients that come in … So we have a starting at price and then we just add on features that they need to it.  So some clients want a blog and some don’t.  Some clients have a bunch of informational pages.  Some need to add things like downloadable products and stuff like that.  So our starting at price for a custom Shopify site is $14,000, and we have had projects go up to $25,000 and $30,000, but that’s usually when we’re adding in completely separate services like marketing and SEO and stuff like that on top of what we normally do.

Tara:  Great.  Awesome.  That’s super helpful.  I think fees for web design, well, one, are all over the place, and two, people never know what to expect, and I just, I love hearing, you know, what people are charging.  I think that’s really helpful.

Arianne:  Right.  And they’re totally all over the place, because there’s so many different things you can get.

Tara:  Right.

Arianne:  Because if you want to set up a shop on Shopify, you could do it over the weekend for $0 by getting a theme from the theme store, and that is probably going to work for you, though it might not be the best.  The clients we work with have been in business for a while, and they have seen success and things are working for them, but they feel like it could be working better, so when we come in, we are not starting with any kind of framework or theme or anything.  We are starting from scratch based on their goals, based on their objectives.  We’ve been huge on return on investment lately, and figuring out what’s actually going to help the client make money, not just make a pretty website.  So yeah, there’s a big difference in services there.

Tara:  Perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  Okay.  So we’ve talked about the beginning of the process.  Now, can you walk us through what happens when you’re completing with a client?  What are … what are those last few steps where someone’s working with you, you’re finishing up this site, what does that look like?

Arianne:  So the last thing we do is testing.  We have a browser tester on staff who goes through and looks at each website we’ve designed on every reasonable platform.  So she’s in there looking on the iPad and the iPhone and on Android and different browsers and Macs and PCs, and she sends this whole crazy report back to the developer to get everything fixed up, and then when we like it on our end, we send it to the client to do their user testing, because we found over the years when you don’t have the website owner go through the entire checkout process, they come back two months later surprised by something that they’ve never seen before, or they didn’t realize their shipping was working that way or something like that, so we have our clients go through the site as a customer, and we have them complete checkout and use the different payment methods, try the different shipping methods, make sure the order emails they get all make sense.  You know, we want them to see everything their customer’s going to see, so they have a chance to customize it if needed and change it if they don’t think it’s going to work and all that good stuff.  And then we are ready to launch their site, and then after launch, we spent some time to prepare them and our team for their six-month checkup, which is something we started doing this last year, where we launch them on their way and they get to set sail, and then we meet back up with them after six months to see if they’re on the path to achieving their goal and how it’s going, what’s working, what hasn’t been working, and we’re available at that point to do some updates or changes to the site if needed, and we try to make that very stats and sales-based, so we’re not just, you know, changing the blue to a lighter blue for fun, but doing something that’s actually going to be effective for them.  And then it’s just we have a week in between ending a block and starting a new block, and during that week, we do a lot of internal marketing type stuff, like the designer makes some graphics for the portfolio and blog posts, and I plan out what we’re going to blog about for each client, and we get their testimonial, and we see if they’ll send us the print work we designed for them so we can take photos and all that good stuff.

Tara:  Cool.  Very, very cool.  Are there any trends that you see coming in web design or in ecommerce?

Arianne:  Oh my goodness.  It’s so hard to know, like, what is going to be an important thing to do and what is going to be a silly trend that nobody’s going to care about in a little while.  But you know, we keep our eye out, and it’s actually really good, Shopify has got a really good blog for following along and seeing what is happening with ecommerce, because they really are trying to stay ahead of the curve.  In fact, we went to the Shopify partner conference just for their developers and designers and experts, and they were demonstrating virtual reality shopping, where you put on like the headgear and the gloves and you’re walking around in a store and grabbing things off the shelves, and I have no plans to start doing anything like that for Aeolidia clients yet, but it’s definitely interesting to look at.  We, personally, have been seeing a lot more video on websites, which is nice.  Like you can do video on product pages to just make people really understand what it’s going to be like to have the product, or like a video of your brick and mortar shop, or whatever your process, whatever’s special on the home page to get people interested, so that is something we’ve been looking at.  Mostly, we try to stick to what we know works and not get too wild, because if you get super experimental with somebody’s product-based business, you could be costing them money, so we try to stick to what we know is working at the time.

Tara:  Cool.  Awesome.  All right, last question for today.  What’s next for you and Aeolidia?

Arianne:  What’s next?  So I am working with one of my developers on building kind of a members area on the Aeolidia site, which is just something for our newsletter subscribers.  It’s free.  It’s something that exists right now, but it’s a total mess, because it … it made sense when I had three things for them, but now that I have tons of things for them, it’s just getting confusing.  So I’ve been making a lot of content upgrades for my blog posts where there’s maybe some more information or like a guide you could use or a workbook or a video to watch and all that kind of good stuff.  So I’ve been saving that stuff in a members area for people who subscribe to my newsletter.  It doesn’t cost anything, just your email address, but that is kind of just, I just keep adding to it, and it’s been going totally crazy, so I’m trying to turn it into an actual nice resource area for somebody who is either starting or growing a small creative business can use all the info we’ve put together over the years to really make some good next steps for themselves.  So we’re working at that, tapping away at it.  I am also speaking at the State of Making summit, which is something the Academy of Handmade is putting on, and we’re going to be talking about what changes we have seen in the industry over the last year, and I am pretty excited about that, and other than that, I’m just kind of sitting back hear and any time I see things that are not perfect in our process, I am sneaking in there and improving them, and making it better for everybody.

Tara:  Awesome, awesome, awesome.  Well, that’s a perfect place to leave it.  Arianne Foulks, thank you so much for talking with me today.

Arianne:  Thank you, it’s been fun.

Tara:  Find out more about Arianne Foulks and Aeolidia at Aeolidia.com

Next week, I talk with Jill Knouse, who gave up a lucrative career in the financial field to become a certified yoga instructor and massage therapist.  Jill and I talk about creating an innovative business model in a saturated field, and we jam about collaboration, creating events people love, and testing new ideas.

CreativeLive is highly-curated classes from the world’s top experts.  Watch free, live video classes from acclaimed instructors in photography, design, craft, business, and personal development every day at CreativeLive.com/podcast or on our brand new iOS or AppleTV app.  Use code PPP15 to get 15% off your next purchase.

That’s it for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.  You can download other episodes of this podcast and subscribe in the iTunes store.  If you enjoy what you heard, we appreciate your reviews and recommendations, because they help us reach as many emerging entrepreneurs as possible.

This episode was produced by Michael Karsh at CreativeLive.  Our audio engineer was Chris Stow.  Daniel Peterson wrote our theme song and also edited this episode.  Tune in every week for new interviews that give you the inside scoop on how successful small businesses run and grow.

Use Your Finances to Make Better Business Decisions with Evolved Finance

Analyzing Your Business Finances with Corey Whitaker & Parker Stevenson from Evolved Finance on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

I think in order to run a stable business is you just have to be ready to make sometimes sacrifices on your own payroll if you need to build that buffer or if you need to cover maybe a larger expense one month versus another.

— Parker Stevenson, Evolved Finance

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.

My guests this week are Corey Whitaker and Parker Stevenson from Evolved Finance.  Evolved Finance is a bookkeeping firm and small business consultancy that specializes in online businesses, ranging from personal coaches and affiliate marketers to lawyers and bloggers.  These are actually the guys I trust with my own business’s finances.  Instead of asking for financial advice, I wanted to turn the tables and find out how they use financial reports and tracking in their own business to project cash flow, make hiring decisions, and plan for the future.  I talk with Corey and Parker about the schedule they use to review their own books, the exact reports they use to track the numbers, and how they set financial goals.

Corey Whitaker and Parker Stevenson, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Corey Whitaker:  Yeah, thanks for having us.

Parker Stevenson:  Yeah, thank you.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So you guys run a bookkeeping and small business consultancy that specializes in online businesses, like many of our listeners own.  Kind of an unusual specialty, which I love, and as I mentioned to you earlier, I’d really like to take this discussion kind of meta, and find out how you guys track your own finances, and how that really affects the decisions that you make in your business.  But before we get into that, can you guys tell me how you got into bookkeeping and consulting to begin with?

Corey:  Yeah, sure, so this is … this is Corey, so you guys don’t confuse our voices.  About ten years ago, I started working for a successful lawyer, Alexis Neeley.  Tara, you actually know her.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Corey:  And I was working as her personal assistant, or that’s what I was hired to do.  During that time that I was working for her, I was attending college, and as a requirement for my degree, I had to … I had to take a few accounting courses, and I realized during that time that I loved numbers, but actually, quite frankly, I hated accounting.  I loved learning about how businesses made money and how they spent them and everything that goes along with that, but I definitely was not interested in accounting.  So around that time, the crash of 2007-2008 happened, and my boss, Alexis, she needed to consolidate her payroll.  She was looking to cut expenses.  And I had already expressed to her some interest in working with her in the numbers area of her business, and getting to know that a little bit more intimately, and so she decided that I was going to be her bookkeeper.  Which is crazy, because I had … I had no experience bookkeeping when she decided that at all.  She actually, I guess she just believed in me, I don’t know, and she paid her then current bookkeeper to train me to do bookkeeping, and then she let her old bookkeeper go.  And then I also befriended in the process her accountant.  So I sort of just got thrown into the fire and started just trying to learn everything I could about bookkeeping, even about accounting, talking to her accountant quite a bit, spending tons of time with Alexis herself, and learning everything that she knew about her numbers. 

And then about, I don’t know, maybe six months later, seven months later, she started getting involved more in the entrepreneur world.  Things like digital marketing and affiliate marketing and all that kind of stuff, and she realized, I think she … I guess … I think she realized my potential, and she started to meet people in the entrepreneur world, and then started to refer them to me to work with me.  So flash forward about eight years, and here we are now.  It obviously has been quite an evolution since I started eight years ago, but it really is pretty remarkable.  Ten years ago, if you’d asked me that I … if you told me that I would be working as a bookkeeper and own a big business as big as Evolved Finance is, I would tell you you were crazy and that I couldn’t do that, but here we are.  So that’s sort of in a nutshell how things kind of got started.

Tara:  I love that.  I feel the same way, too.  If you told me eight years ago what I’d be doing now, and besides my business, I would be shocked and dismayed.  So can you guys …

Corey:  Yeah.

Tara:  Can you guys both kind of talk about what roles you each play in the business?

Corey:  Yeah, yeah, for sure.  I’ll start.  I … I am like the operations guy.  I know everything about how to do bookkeeping.  I know everything about how the business runs, and Parker is really, really good at sales and marketing.  I am not so great at that.  So Parker can … Parker can talk a little bit about that if he wants to, I don’t know.

Parker:  Well, no, yeah, I think that’s … I mean, Corey’s been doing this so long, he knows the bookkeeping side of things and the operations side, and that’s really where he … we have two other bookkeepers.  Corey is working closely with them, because they work out of the same office together.  I work remotely in San Diego, so I’m not part of the party every day in the office, but when Corey and I were talking about bringing me in the business, and he was telling me about the business, I was just kind of blown away by the niche he’s kind of developed and how appreciative his clients were of what he did, so I felt like there was an opportunity to grow the business and take on more clients and potentially create some digital products and grow the revenue streams, so that’s where I got involved.  I’ve learned how to do the bookkeeping side of things.  Corey’s taught me way more about finance than I ever thought I’d know, and it allows me to support our clients in a really great way as well, but while Corey is managing the business and using all his extra time to make sure the business is running well, I’m using all the extra time when I’m not with … talking with our clients or servicing our clients, we’re working on our new online course that we’re launching in October, and working on developing our website and just overall developing our brand and developing our sales and marketing strategies overall.

Tara:  All right.  Fantastic.  And Parker, I’m not actually sure that I know the answer to this question, even though I feel like I know you guys pretty well, but how exactly did you get started with Evolved Finance in the first place?

Parker:  Well, it’s interesting, because I think, you know, with Corey’s story, he kind of had an opportunity in front of him, and so he jumped on it, and that’s Evolved Finance, and I think for me, you know, Corey is actually known, Corey and his wife have known my wife for years.  They grew up together in L.A., essentially, and so Corey has kind of been a part of my life for a long time, and I was in the corporate world and Corey was, you know, running his own business, and Corey, I think, at one point was going, “Man, maybe it would be fun to go work at a company, and not run, you know, my own business,” and I was like Corey, are you crazy?  You’re insane.  Like, stay with the business, man, you can control, you know, your schedule, you can control how much money you make, blah, blah, blah, and so we just got to talking.  So that’s kind of how I got involved in the business.  It’s just we were friends, we were hanging out, we both loved business.  I was interested in what Corey was doing and where the business was going, and again, it’s one of those things where if you had told me three years ago that Corey and I would be running a business together, I would not have believed that myself.

Tara:  Awesome.  And I love that you guys shared that you have such complimentary skills.  You don’t have matching skills, you have complimentary skills, and I think a lot of people when they think about business relationships are not necessarily taking that into account, and I think it’s really, really important.

Parker:  It is.  It is really important, and just to touch on that is I think that’s one of the reasons why Corey and I wanted to work together, is we had spent so much time together, and I was actually a musician when I was younger, and I was in a band, and I was playing in a band with the same guys for, gosh, seven, eight years, so I know how difficult it can be to work with somebody even if you are friends, and I think that’s the one thing Corey and I realized is that because we had complimentary skillsets, it’s made working together like almost scary easy.  Sometimes, it’s almost too good to be true.

Tara:  Oh, that’s so good to hear.

Parker:  Yeah.

Tara:  Yeah, so let’s get into that, the nitty gritty of how you guys handle your finances.  So first, let’s talk about schedule.  What kind of schedule do you have in place for reviewing your finances, the business’s finances, internally?

Corey:  Yeah, so Parker and I, we review our financial reports once a month at the minimum, and if something comes up that needs both of our attention, I’ll ping Parker, or you know, we’ll get on the phone and talk.  But I’m pretty proactive without Parker.  I’m constantly looking at our numbers and thinking about our goals, and what sort of … what we want, where we want to be kind of stuff, and Parker’s a really good … He helps me.  Since we’re obviously consistent with that monthly call, but I obviously, throughout the month, I have random thoughts that come across my mind that I’m like, “Hey, Parker, what do you think about this?  What do you think about that?”  So I think the schedule is pretty, you know, it’s once a month, but it really is we talk all the time.

Parker:  And we do … we do schedule it for the first week of the month.  Corey will typically make sure the books are done the first week of the month so that way, we can take a look.  Now, with our business, because we are a service-based business right now, a big part of that, you know, is just, you know, making sure the clients have all paid.  They’re, like Corey said, he’s proactive with a lot of stuff, so there isn’t … there’s not a lot of, like, sales revenue conversation or anything like do we have to have a new promotion or anything like that, because, you know, it’s a fairly steady business, but it is, regardless, still a really good opportunity for us to see what’s actually going on, and see if there’s anything we need to do to change the numbers we’re seeing on the P&L.

Tara:  Fantastic.  Okay.  So you mentioned the P&L.  That’s what the next question is.  Can you tell me what reports you’re actually looking at?  Because you know, my clients hear from me, well, track your numbers, look at your numbers, watch your numbers, use your numbers, and we rarely talk about what that actually means.  So can you talk about the different reports that you guys are looking at, how you kind of parse them out, and yeah, just how you start using those reports in your business?

Corey:  Yeah, yeah, for sure.  So we … I review every month with Parker the … sort of the foundation of our call that we have is to go over the profit and loss statement, and actually, in fact, all of our clients, that’s the foundation of our call, and then conversations come from that.  That, you know, kind of sort of brings up other things that happen in the business and all that jazz, and then we also … we have … a lot of our income is reoccurring, and so we have to talk about accounts receivable, so we review the accounts receivable report.  We also have a cash projection spreadsheet, which goes out for 60 days, and it basically shows us the ins and outs of our cash on a daily basis to see, you know, if we’re ever going to have a cash crunch.  And then we’re also looking at our budget.  We’ve built a budget that we basically use to do … to incorporate our projections and then we look at it for variance purposes.

Parker:  And to set goals, too.

Corey:  Yeah, and to set goals.  Exactly.  And I … sometimes, I randomly will create reports from these conversations that we have on a monthly basis that sort of help us, guide us, and things like looking at our client attrition, how efficient is our labor, how profitable is Parker, how profitable am I, how profitable is my wife, who is also an account manager.  So that’s really … the core, though, is really the monthly P&L, accounts receivable, and then the cash projections.  So that’s … that’s more or less what we’re looking at.

Tara:  Perfect.

Parker:  And what I will … what I will say is Corey is an advanced report creator.  He’s kind of … he has a … just because of the nature of what we do, he has more skillsets than I’d say probably most of the people who are listening would have in the financial realm, but the P&L is a really, really easy report to put together if you are doing your bookkeeping, and we could still have really, really good conversations every month just with the P&L, but because we’re both numbers nerds, we do get into it a little deeper probably than most businesses do.

Tara:  Yeah.

Corey:  Yeah.

Tara:  Totally.  So let’s actually go a little deeper on the P&L specifically, because I think people hear it, maybe they hear, ah, corporate job, maybe they hear, ooh, scary.  Can you tell me exactly what a profit and loss report is and what you’re looking for when you’re looking at it?

Corey:  Yeah, profit and loss statement really is … it’s really quite simple.  It shows your income, how much money you made, and shows your expenses, how much money you spent, and then at the end, it shows you how much profit you made, after expenses.  So income minus expenses equals profit, and when we … when we look at our P&L, the number one thing I think we’re looking at is really the profitability.  I like to look at it on a, like a monthly basis for however long we’re into the year.  So we might look at six months of profit by month, and just see how things are fluctuating, and the things that we look for as well are like expenses that might be more than normal, although our business, like Parker said earlier, it’s really quite structured.  There’s not a whole lot of fluctuation in our spending.  Our main expense is payroll, so we don’t have huge fluctuations in marketing, for example, but that might be something you want to look at is, you know, why is marketing so much higher this month?  What’s going on there?  You know, is there some ROI that we need to be looking at.  Return on Investment.  So that’s more or less what we’re looking for on our specific P&L, though.  And Parker, is there anything else that … anything else you think …

Parker:  Yeah, I mean, the P&L side of things for us, even though our revenue should be really consistent because we have X amount of clients, those clients pay us on a monthly basis, but anyone who invoices their clients for a living knows that it’s not always that simple, so a big part of it is for us to see was one month did we have less revenue because a couple clients paid us late and it went into the next month?  And then did that next month end up being a lot higher from a revenue standpoint just because of the way people were paying us?  Or sometimes, we might have a new client that comes on, and we have to do some back work for them, we have to catch them up for the year, so that’s an influx of cash for us that we also try to take into consideration and try to track on our P&L so we can see, all right, how much money are we making from reoccurring revenue from just building our regular clients versus where are we getting opportunities to get some influxes of cash because of back work projects, which again, it’s just catching up people who are getting started with us in the middle or at the end of the year, and they need to get all, you know, their books caught up. 

So that’s really what we’re looking at from a revenue standpoint, and then when it comes to expenses like Corey said, our expenses are fairly consistent, because it’s our labor and it’s our software, but you know, there’s inevitably things that are going to pop up.  You know, sometimes we, like microphones for this podcast, or you know, getting, like recently, we just purchased stand up desks for two of our employees.  So there’s things like that that we’re also kind of talking about, going all right, we have money, you know, in the bank, you know, can we cover a cost if we need to, and it’s just these little conversations that sound totally boring as I explain it to you, Tara, but you know, when you’re running your own business, these things are important, and I think for a lot of businesses, it’s just too easy to just see money in the bank account, and just kind of spend it, because it’s just easier to do that, but I will say is I think the reason the business has stayed so stable for so long is because Corey has paid attention to this far before I ever got involved in the business, so there’s very rarely any surprises.  As with any business, sometimes, you lose clients, sometimes you have unexpected expenses.  That’s just the nature of the game, but because we’re looking every month and we’re doing some forecasting ahead, there’s never really any situation that’s going to come across … come across as that we’re not going to be prepared for or aren’t going to be able to handle.

Corey:  Yeah.

Parker:  Aside from all of our clients leaving us at the same time, which is everybody’s nightmare, but we don’t really plan on that happening.

Corey:  We don’t think about that.

Tara:  No, no, no, no.

Corey:  And then one thing I forgot to add that’s really actually quite important that we do is every month we look at the P&L, look at the profit, and then we set aside a certain amount of money for taxes.  We take basically a percentage of our profit, and that gets pushed into our tax savings account for when we go to pay our quarterlies, and so that’s sitting there, ready to go, stipend set aside and not even worrying about it.

Tara:  Perfect.  I’m glad you mentioned that, because that is something that we sometimes all forget to do.

Corey:  Yeah.

Tara:  Or forget the importance of, and that creates problems later on down the line.  All right, I’d also love to hear about how you guys do your cash projections as well, because I think while it might be something that is perhaps a little bit more advanced or takes a little bit more of a financial skillset, I think it’s probably something our listeners are going to be really intrigued by.  How do you know, or how do you have an idea of how much cash you can expect to be coming in at any given time?

Corey:  Yeah, so again, with our business, it’s pretty straightforward, because we have a set amount of billing every month that we can rely on, for businesses that have huge influxes of cash, it’s a little bit more difficult, but definitely still possible, so we use a … I mentioned it earlier, we use a 60-day cash projection that basically shows the ins and outs of all the cash in the business on a daily basis, and you can … we typically, in my business, we use it to … we use it to just make sure we don’t run out of cash, but if you wanted to, it’s something that you could very easily experiment with and say, hey, I think I’m going to do this much, I’m going to make this much money in the next 30 days, if I do hit that goal, how is that going to change things for me for this month?  And then what expenses are associated with generating that extra revenue?  So we’re obviously using Excel, that is all formulated, and it’s actually not that fancy, to be honest.  It’s actually pretty straightforward, and really, I think anyone could use it.

Parker:  Well, it’s straightforward to you, Corey.

Corey:  Yeah, I know.

Parker:  Because you’re a spreadsheet guy, but what I will say is the concept behind it isn’t super difficult.  It’s essentially, you know, a spreadsheet where you plug in when you think you’re going to get your money on which days, and you plug in when you think you’re going to have to pay bills on specific days, and so it’s something if you did a little research, you could put together.  What I will say is our course that we’re launching in October, part of the course that we’re launching is going to have this spreadsheet in it, and we actually will teach our students how to utilize this spreadsheet in their own business, because the concept in general isn’t difficult, but it’s … it’s just you need to take the time to do it, because you do have to go through and see when you’re invoicing people or when you’re expecting to get revenue, and then you also need to, you know, actually go and dive into your expenses, and see when you’re planning on paying people, and I think if you’re willing to go in and do that, especially if cash flow is an issue for you, it’s definitely worth it, because it’s been really valuable for us, and once you kind of set it up, it becomes easy to maintain.

Tara:  Yeah.  That sounds like an amazing tool, and I’m … So I know you said that you’re going to have resources where this is better explained, but just so I’m making sure I’m wrapping my head around it right now, I’m assuming you could go into your bank statements, your credit card statements, your PayPal account, your Stripe account, wherever the money’s coming in or going out, and actually look and see historically over say the last month or the last 60 days when the money’s come in, when it’s gone out, and whether that’s going to reoccur in the future.

Corey:  Yeah.

Tara:  Am I on the right track?

Corey:  Yeah.

Parker:  Yeah, exactly.

Tara:  Okay, perfect.

Parker:  And if you do have your bookkeeping up to date, it can make that a heck of a lot easier, because then you’re just going into your QuickBooks account or whatever and looking at, you know, you can generate a report, and it’s a lot easier to click and find transactions, versus trying to just go through your bank statements and your credit card statements.  It’s still possible, but I know it would make things a heck of a lot more difficult for us if we had to do it that way.

Tara:  Yes, exactly, that’s what I was thinking to myself is like I have all of this information readily available to me, I really should have this report, you know, sitting on my desktop.  That’s kind of brilliant.  And then you’re also … are you balancing that against, then, cash in the bank?

Corey:  Yeah, exactly.

Tara:  Okay.

Parker:  So the first transaction that we have our clients, and the product we have that we … in the tutorial, is we … you enter the bank balance.  Whatever bank, whatever your checking account balance has in it, that’s the first thing you do, and then you go through the income, then you go through the expenses, and then make decisions based on the data that’s showing up.

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.

Alex:  Anyone can benefit from learning to tell better audio stories, whether you’re a reporter on the radio, or you’re an entrepreneur trying to tell an effective story about your business.  In this workshop, what I’m doing is sort of unpacking what exactly is a story, how can you be effective in telling stories, and how can you lay them out in a way that they get maximum impact with your audience.  You’re also going to learn a lot about the art of the interview.  If you’re interviewing somebody, how do you make sure that the interview is engaging, is informative, has moments of emotional resonance.  I also have a formula that is actually, you know, it’s actually a mathematical formula that tells you how am I on the right track when I’m thinking about telling a story.  I’m Alex Bloomberg, and this is Power Your Podcast with Storytelling.

Tara:  I think Parker mentioned QuickBooks, which is what you guys have me using and I absolutely adore it, is that what you guys use internally as well.

Corey:  Yeah, we use QuickBooks exclusively with all of our clients, including internally.

Tara:  Awesome.

Corey:  Yeah.

Tara:  Is there, are there any other tools that we should be looking at?  Or just, you know, stick with QuickBooks?

Corey:  QuickBooks is really great.  Their customer service is terrible.  Intuit is a very, very large corporation, and nobody, nobody knows what they’re doing whenever you call, so if you don’t have a whole lot of experience with QuickBooks, you either have to get, like, formally trained by someone, maybe take a class or something, or there’s a really great software out there, it’s called Xero, X-E-R-O, and that is really something that a lot of bookkeepers are moving toward, but it’s obviously, it’s a whole new process.  It’s a whole different interface.  So it’s quite a big investment of time, energy, money, all of the above to make the shift, but it’s something that we’ve actually considered, just haven’t executed on, yet.

Tara:  Huh.

Parker: Well, and this is what I’ll say, QuickBooks is the standard.

Corey:  Yup.

Parker:  So if you’re trying to get set up for your business and you want to maximize your ability to transition over to a bookkeeper, or to have your accountant be able to access your information, QuickBooks is it, because it can do everything, and we actually use QuickBooks online for both our own business and our clients, and it’s something that they’re improving much more regularly versus the desktop version, but if we weren’t bookkeepers, we would hire someone to do our bookkeeping for us, because a lot of the times, it’s a very specific skillset, knowing how to do your bookkeeping, and obviously, we are extremely biased, because we have a bookkeeping business, but every new client we’ve brought on who was doing their own bookkeeping, it ends up them doing a lot of work that doesn’t really provide a whole lot of value or make things easier for anybody.  So if you are going to get QuickBooks online or get set up with something like that, either do some research, take a course, take a class, do something if you’re committed to doing your own books, but otherwise, again, maybe we’re just supporting our industry and you think we’re full of crap here.  As soon as you can afford to get a bookkeeper involved in your business that knows what they’re doing, it’s going to … your accountant’s going to thank you, and you’re going to be so much happier knowing someone who actually does this for a living is managing your finances for you.

Tara:  Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.  I wish I would have done it sooner.  So let’s talk about decision-making now.  What are you looking at in your financial information with your, you know, financial knowledge, when you’re say, looking, thinking about hiring someone new or when you want to go buy, you know, standing desks for the office, or maybe you want to attend a big conference, how do you decide whether you can afford it or not?  Whether that’s a good business decision or not?

Corey:  Yeah, this is something that I think Parker and I have different views on.  It’s actually, I think, one of the things we struggle with most as a partnership.  I am much more willing and quick to invest in things, like standing desks.  Not to throw you under the bus there, Parker.

Parker:  That’s okay.  I can be … I can be a cheap ass sometimes.

Corey:  Yeah, yeah, and Parker is much more analytical.  You know, he thinks things through, and it’s a really good balance.  Luckily, I don’t have to think about things, I just tell Parker, “Hey Parker, can we do this?”  And then he’ll interject and say yes or no, or he’ll say no, and we’ll have a discussion about it and go from there, but generally speaking, we don’t really have an issue of should we invest in this, should we invest in that.  We pretty much most of the time, we just do it.  We don’t really have to … we have the luxury of not having to think about it.  Now, I will say with this product, that was a lot more difficult, that was a tough call, and obviously, hiring people, it’s a tough call.  We, with hiring, with regard to hiring, specifically, we typically, we like to have a huge, a very large amount of prospects in the pipeline that we could potentially execute on if we hired someone.  So that’s how … that’s more or less how we decide to hire more people, and then with regard to the product, that one was, you know, it’s basically a year of investment and time and money, again, and energy, and so we also had to slow down our engagement pretty dramatically to take on that level of work.  In the meantime, my wife also had twins, so we had a lot going on when we were trying to make the decision about creating the product, but ultimately, I think it’s going to … it’s going to pay off.  It’s a huge gamble, though, no doubt.

Parker:  Well, and the one thing I’ll say is, you know, again, because we are a very steady revenue type business, we only have a certain amount of leftover money every month, unless, you know, because our … our revenue is definitely, like since I came on in the business, our revenue has increased dramatically, but we’ve also taken on my salary, we’ve taken on another bookkeeper’s salary, so it kind of balances out all the extra money that comes into the business.  So for us, we have … it’s not like someone who’s launching products who all of a sudden has an influx of cash and goes, “Oh, I have all this extra money, so I’m going to go spend 10 grand and go work with this coach I’ve wanted to work with,” or buy, you know, new equipment and new computers for everybody or something.  It … again, because it’s so steady that, you know, when we do make an investment, it’s typically not going to be a massive investment. 

If we need to get a new computer for somebody, we can cover that.  If we need to get the desks, we can cover that, because as much as Corey is making everyone think that he just spends money whenever he needs it, we also … He’s also done a good job of making sure there’s always kind of a buffer in the business to cover that, because to us, a buffer is really important.  Having some extra cash every month that sits there and builds up in a reserve, and it’s something that we’re … we want to build to be even bigger, because it allows … that buffer allows us to make these investments when we need to, and it also allows us to not stress out if one of our clients has to leave because their business is struggling or something along those lines, then we’re not stressed out about having to replace that revenue so quickly. 

So that’s the one thing that is very important to me, and I think Corey feels it’s really important, too, is just trying not to spend all the money in your business every month, because especially, I know a big struggle when you’re starting a business is making sure you can pay yourself, and that’s something Corey and I, you know, we have set amounts that we know we want to be making every month, but you have to … I think in order to run a stable business, and at least this is the way we’ve been doing it, is you just have to be ready to make sometimes sacrifices on your own payroll if you need to build that buffer or if you need to cover maybe a larger expense one month versus another.

Tara:  Yes, awesome, thank you for sharing that, and you … I forget which one of you said, you know, you have the luxury of being able to cover these different expenses.  You know, maybe not that giant $10,000 coaching package or whatever it might be, but these things that come up on a regular basis that you just want to be able to pay for, you have the luxury of being able to do that, and I think I want to make the point to people listening that it’s less that you have the luxury to be able to do that because your business is so successful, and more that you have the luxury to be able to do that because of everything you’ve described to this point.  The fact that you are checking your numbers, the fact that you know what your cash projections are, the fact that you know how much cash is going to be in the bank from day-to-day.  I think that’s where the real luxury is, right? 

Corey:  Yeah, yeah.  That’s a really good point.  Excellent point.  Yeah.

Parker:  Yeah, and that’s … and that’s where I think Corey and I definitely both agree.  As much as I think Corey doesn’t worry about spending as much as we do, we both feel very strongly that planning and forecasting and looking ahead and trying to stay ahead of our business is really, really important.

Tara:  Amen.  All right.  Let’s talk … so I want to talk more about the impact that developing this program has had on your business, but there’s one more question I have just sort of on the general financials that I want to get to, which is how do you guys set goals for sales or for new clients?  What are you looking at?  What are you basing those kind of goals on?  Because this is a question that I get asked all the time, and I want to have a better answer for it.

Corey:  Yeah, yeah, so we have, Parker and I have an agreed upon goal, a monthly goal, for client attraction or engagement, really, and that’s 2.  So we try and engage two clients a month, and if we have a client leave, we just simply add that to our goal.  We don’t meet it every month, and that’s fine.  We do our best to meet that goal, though.  So that’s … that’s … that’s our main goal, and then obviously, we have … we have other … other goals in the business, like I just had one top of my head, what was it?  I can’t remember.

Parker:  Well, in general, and you know, one thing I want to add, Corey, is the fact that we’re wanting these two clients a month because we do have a monthly target that we’re working towards getting, because when I started in the business, we had a much smaller goal, and as I got more skilled and we were taking on more clients, and we had a better idea of what both Corey and I want to be making and what we want to be paying our employees.  That’s a goal that we’ve essentially hit, but now, we’re looking to get a goal that is going to make sure that everybody on the team has plenty of work to do and is fully maximized, and then also making sure that we have the target amount we want to have extra every month, because we have some months where we will have some extra money we put in the bank just because of, again, those back work projects where we might get an influx of cash outside of what our clients are paying us on a monthly basis, and some months, because a client’s paid late, we might get an influx of revenue that gives us a little extra profit at the end of that month, but we want to work towards getting our monthly revenue to a place where Corey and I are making what we want to make, our employees are making what we want them to make, and we have a certain amount of extra, again, savings. 

I always call it buffer, it’s kind … just because it’s that extra money that just you can put into your savings and just know that you’re building a buffer or cushion for the business every month, and we do have an ultimate goal of what we want to build our savings up to, just to … to make the business even more stable, but you have to start somewhere, and the best way to start is to get your monthly target, hit that monthly target, and then stick with it every month, and just try to maintain it.  Which, you know, there’s ups and downs of every business, but I’d say so far, I think we’ve been, you know, we’ve been working towards that target pretty successfully.

Corey:  And then if I could just add one more thing, Tara.

Tara:  Yeah.

Corey:  Real quick.  I just remembered what it was.  Another really big aspect, I know you asked about specifically sales or new clients, but a big aspect of sort of our goal setting is surrounding customer service.  We … we … I think there’s an untold truth between me and Parker that our clients take priority above all, and so obviously, it’s very expensive to lose a client, and it’s also very expensive to acquire a client, so keeping our clients happy and doing everything we can to support them really is our number one goal, because once they’re in the door, then you know, we want them for life.  We don’t want them to leave.  And that’s actually, I pride myself about that.  We don’t lose clients.  It’s very rare.

Tara:  Kind of go back to what Parker was saying, too, it sounds like your sales goals are based on sort of an almost like an ideal P&L that you kind of have set in terms of targets.  Like this is the profit you want to have, this is how much of that profit.

Corey:  Yeah.

Tara:  Yeah, and then that I think is …

Parker:  That’s perfect.

Tara:  I think that’s like a gamechanger for a lot of people, because I think the first place we go is how much of this do I want to sell, whereas if we’re focused on the sort of the supporting financials of that, how much do I want to have in the bank, how much do I want to pay myself this month.  That helps us create much more informed goals that have meaning to them.  It’s not just a sales goal that’s out there sitting and doing, you know, that means nothing to us.  It has real substance in our businesses.

Corey:  Our budget … our budget, actually, that’s exactly what we do.  That’s how we know what our targets are, because we have an ideal P&L that we were sort of working toward, and that’s … so that’s how we know that we need two clients a month.  So that’s what we’re working toward.

Parker:  And that’s not something we’re necessarily looking at every month on our call, but we do look at it fairly regularly, just because again, we … because we’ve been doing the bookkeeping for so long and we have lots of historical data, it’s really easy for us to pull up an average P&L of what our business looks like every month.  So for us, it’s very easy to just go, okay, let’s change that revenue target, let’s change any expenses that might go up with that revenue target.  For instance, if your revenue goes up, your merchant fees are probably going to go up, but just make some little adjustments there, and then it becomes very clear what we need to work towards, and it’s very difficult to do that if you don’t have any financial organization set up in your business whatsoever.

Corey:  Yeah, and Parker and I have a sticky pad on our desks that’s a goal, it’s a number, and that’s what we’re working toward, and there’s actual hard data behind that number, it’s not just some … something we’ve pulled out of thin air and decided okay, this is a goal.  There’s actual … there’s actually a path that we’re trying to … that we’re on to try and hit that goal by a certain day.

Tara:  Love it.  Love it, love it, love it.  Love goals, especially sales goals.  All right.  So you guys have talked about the kind of do it yourself program that you’ve created, and you’ve also talked about how that really required investing basically a year’s worth of time and energy.

Corey:  Yeah.

Tara:  And you know, maybe hiring some additional contractors, hiring some help.  Can you talk about both the impact that’s had on your financials so far, and the impact that you expect to have on your financials in the future?

Parker:  Yeah, so this has been, this is going to be a gamechanger for us, because as we’ve just talked about, we have a steady business, and I think, Tara, you’ve probably been in this situation yourself, where you have a steady client base, and that helps to create a somewhat steady revenue stream, but to us, a stable business is a business that has multiple revenue streams.  It just helps to protect the business if, you know, some clients leave, well, you know, we’re doing well with the product, so that’s building up our savings.  So for us, it was a no-brainer, and it’s a big reason why I, you know, Corey and I decided to work together, because … because of my background, the product creation was right up my alley, because I have experience with video and video editing and audio and audio editing and I’ve done a lot of presentations and put together PowerPoints and so, and that’s something Corey just didn’t have as much experience in, but as Corey eluded to earlier, you know, in doing so, we … we kind of slowed down.  Like, you can only focus on so much in your business. 

I think it’s something everybody experiences, and we definitely experienced it this year, is you can’t … you can’t do everything.  You have to figure out what’s the most important thing to your business, believe in that, and then take action towards it, and we knew we could continue to grow our client base, but there just gets to be a certain point where we’re going to max out, and you know, we’re going to have to hire somebody else, and it’s just a slower process.  It’s something we don’t mind doing, but we felt like if we could say, hey, we’ll slow down taking on some clients right now, so it would free me up to have a little extra time to work on the product every week, and even though we did sacrifice some potential revenue during that time, we feel like it’s going to be so much more worthwhile, because we can get back to growing our client base, and when we launch our course in October, it’s going to not only be a promotional tool for us, but it’s also going to be an extra revenue stream, and that’s going to open up so many more doors for our business, because now we’ll have the consistent revenue from our clients every month.  We’re still going to be focusing on servicing our clients every month, but now we’ll have this … this product that’s going to generate revenue that doesn’t demand our individual time.  Like I think, Tara, you call it, like, hours for money, or however …

Tara:  Yeah, time for money, yup.

Parker:  Time for money.  That’s going to kind of be working for us.  Now, obviously, I still will need to be, you know, working on it and supporting the customers that are happening there.  Like, there’s no question that’s going to happen, but it’s just going to … it’s going to generate revenue for us that we just couldn’t generate by just taking on clients every month, so that’s going to allow us to build up our savings a lot more and stabilize the business, and it’s going to allow us to invest in our business in new and different ways that we just wouldn’t have been able to do so before.  So we’re really excited about it, but for us, either way, however successful the launch is and however successful this product is for us, it’s still just icing on the cake for us, and that’s where we feel very lucky that we do have a stable revenue stream right now, and whatever we do with the product is just going to add on top of that steady revenue stream and make the business more stable.  It’s not something where we’re going to have to rely on the revenue from the product to cover certain expenses or pay ourselves from.

Tara:  Brilliant.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.  Thank you so much for sharing that with everyone, because you know, everyone out … not everyone, but a lot of people out there are, you know, trying to build a business based off of a passive income product like that when there is a clear path to profitability with a service or with something that’s more hands on, something that’s done for you, and what you guys have just demonstrated with that is that there is this huge, potentially a much bigger opportunity to create an income stream in your business that is icing on the cake, and that is, I think that’s great.  I wish that for everybody.  I want to see more businesses built with that kind of model in mind, because I think it’s just so smart.

Corey:  Thank you.

Tara:  Yeah. 

Parker:  Well, and I think, and I just one thing I wanted to add on that is I think there’s a little bit of so many business owners go I don’t want to have to, I want that passive income, because I … I don’t know if it’s just a matter of not wanting to work so much or if there’s just the time for money scenario just isn’t as appealing, but I know for us, stability is really important.  We’re both married, Corey has a family, we have mortgages, so for us, that stability means the world to us.  So even if we might, if we may have sacrificed some opportunities in the past to generate some influx of … influxes of cash, and as nice as that would have been, we would never sacrifice a launch or an influx of cash, we would never sacrifice that for the stability we have in our business right now, and that’s just the way we look at it.

Tara:  Awesome, awesome.  So real quick, can you tell us what the product, what the program actually is?

Parker:  Yeah, so because we work every day with … with entrepreneurs and primarily online entrepreneurs, that’s our niche, we just have, we realized a long time ago that there’s just not enough information about what do you do with your money in your business?  How do you create stability in your business?  How do you create systems in your business that just make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect and grow and nurture your business?  And I think, for us, we always felt like what we do isn’t particularly sexy, but as soon as we bring on a new client and they see what we do and they start to learn really what it takes to stabilize your business and put good financial practices in their businesses, it demystifies things, and I know, like, with you Tara, when we first started, you didn’t feel like you were that numbers, finance person, and now, it’s like you’re a P&L pro, and that’s the stuff that we … we love to see, because we know the difference it makes in our business, we know the difference it makes in our client’s business, but you know, not everyone can work with us.  There’s only, you know, Corey and I can only take on so many clients. 

So that’s, I think it’s a typical story when it comes to the reasons behind wanting to develop a course, but we felt like we just got so much feedback from people saying, “I just wish I understood this part of my business more,” that we just said there’s a huge opportunity for us to educate the online entrepreneur community, and do so in a way that’s not intimidating, and gives every entrepreneur the opportunity to learn the basics that every business owner just should know about their business, you know, why they should have a business entity and the relationship they should have with their bookkeeper and what their accountant should be doing for them and how they can set up their own budget and how they can set up their P&L the way we set up the P&L for our business and for our client’s businesses.  It’s again, kind of these tactical things that are really second nature to Corey and I now, and I think fairly second nature to most of our clients, just because most of our clients have been working with us for at least a year, two, three years, but for so many entrepreneurs who aren’t exposed to this, it’s … it’s game changing.  So that’s where this course that we’re launching in October is just going to allow us to give every entrepreneur the opportunity to learn the basics of what they should be doing in their business to set themselves up for success and to manage their finances in a way that other successful businesses are managing them.

Tara:  Awesome.  I love it.  Guys, thank you so much for joining me.  This has been absolutely fascinating to me.  I hope it’s fascinating to our audience, and we’ve said game changing a couple times, but I know that this interview’s going to be a gamechanger for a lot of people out there.

Parker:  No, thank you for having us.

Corey:  Awesome.

Parker:  We just love the opportunity to talk about our nerdy numbers stuff.

Corey:  Thanks, Tara.

Tara:  Thank you. 

Find out more about Corey, Parker, and Evolved Finance at EvolvedFinance.com.

Next week, I talk with Nicole Stevenson, cofounder of popular maker conference, Craftcation.  Nicole and I talk about how she works with event sponsors, how she prices the event, and the unexpected challenges that ultimately arise producing an event of Craftcations magnitude.

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.

Growing Your Personal Brand with Podcasting with Debbie Millman

Growing Your Brand With a Podcast with Debbie Millman on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

I think a good interview is like a game of pool.  You not only want to have a good question and a great answer, but know where that answer might end up, so that you can prepare where to shoot next, so to speak.

— Debbie Millman

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.

My guest this week is Debbie Millman, host of the first and longest running podcast about design, Design Matters.  Debbie is also an author, educator, and brand strategist.  She’s the chair of the School of Visual Arts Masters of Branding program, the Chief Marketing Officer at Sterling Brands, and President Emeritus at AIGA.  She’s interviewed superstars, and some of my personal heroes, like Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, and Seth Godin.  Last year, iTunes named Design Matters one of the top 15 podcasts.  I wanted to find out how hosting Design Matters has impacted Debbie’s life and career.  We 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.

Debbie Millman, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me today.

Debbie:  My pleasure, Tara, thank you for having me.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So you’ve been running the internet radio show and podcast Design Matters for over 10 years, which is a long time in any internet pursuit at all.  Can you tell me how the show got started and why you decided to incorporate this, you know, at the time, fairly new media into your design and branding career?

Debbie:  Absolutely.  Well, I should clarify in some ways that the show didn’t start out as a podcast, because there were no podcasts back then.  The show actually started out on an internet radio network called Voice America, and it was a little operation that ran out of Arizona, and I believe they’re still in business, but at the time, it was a really fledgling enterprise, and working with them was a little bit like working with Garth and Wayne on Wayne’s World, but they were really wonderful people.  I actually got cold called from them about doing a show on design and branding, and at the time, I was really honored and thought that they were offering me a job, and what I later came to find out was that actually, they were cold calling me to be a host, which would require my paying them to pay for the production and the air time, but at the time, this was 2004, I had just begun to start doing  personal work again after essentially abandoning all my personal work in an effort to build my branding career for the previous 10 years. 

And the call came at a time when I really felt like my creative soul was perishing and had just begun to start writing again.  I hadn’t begun to start doing any of my personal illustration yet, and I felt like I needed something to buoy my creative spirit, something that didn’t have anything to do with marketing and positioning and market share and research, and something that required … I didn’t want to have to be selling anybody anything in doing this, and here was an opportunity that I had never, ever gotten before, and thought why not invest a little bit of money in myself and my desire to try something new, and Design Matters was born, and I often say now that it was born with a wish and a telephone line, because that’s how I did the show.  I would use a telephone handset to do my show, and my guest would be on the phone with me.  Often, my guest was in front of me, and so we were both on handsets, and so I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up a landline while somebody else was on the same landline in your vicinity, but you often get an echo, and so that’s how I did the show.  There was always an echo going on.  My listeners didn’t hear the echo part, but it was really distracting. 

I had really, really goofy ads that ran at different times during the show, but it gave me an opportunity to approach the people that I admired most in the design business and interview them, and essentially, I was given carte blanche via the use of an interview, or the excuse of an interview, to ask all of the questions that I was curious about, and I had a million questions, and so I did the first 100 episodes on Voice America, and then in 2009, the late, great Bill Drenttel, the founder of Design Observer, invited me to bring the show over to Design Observer, with the proviso that I improve the sound quality.  And he introduced me to Curtis Fox, who is a producer, and at the time, he was working at the New Yorker and the Poetry Foundation doing their podcasts, and so we started working together.  The School of Visual Arts was very supportive.  That’s where I have my branding program, and we were first building the studio, and so they incorporated a podcast studio into my space, and so since 2009, I have been recording the show live at my studio at the School of Visual Arts in front of my students, live student audience, sort of like Inside the Actors’ Studio, and then my guests, when they’re finished with the interview, they come out, and they’re asked questions by my students, which is really, really fun for them, and for the guests, and I’ve done I think about 260 or 70 episodes at this point.  So the show won the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2011, which Bill was really, really involved in helping me win, and then last year, iTunes named it one of the top 15 podcasts on iTunes, which was a dream and a miracle.

Tara:  That is so awesome, and I totally missed that you recorded live in front of your students in my research, and I find that fascinating.  Can you talk just a little bit about how that works, and like what your students get out of it, why you decided to do that?

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

Debbie:  Absolutely.  One of the gifts that I could provide to the students was access to these incredible minds, and what better way for somebody to learn through listening to somebody talk about their life, and to be inspired by their trajectory.  And the show has changed a little bit over the years.  The show really began, initially, as a show very much about design and branding.  The show now is really, it’s still … it’s still very much about design and branding, but the centerpiece of the show is really for me to talk to my guests about how they design a life filled with creativity and purpose.  And so for students, and these are my graduate students, although my undergrads can also sit in if they like, they are given access to the journey that the artist, the writer, the designer, the creative soul has created their path.  What decisions did they make?  What obstacles did they face?  How did they design the arc of their life to date?  And I think that it’s become a really meaningful component to the program that I have at SVA, the Master’s program in branding, because it teaches people how essentially my guests have branded themselves, and how they have created a life that stands for something, and that’s really, in my mind, what branding is.  Deliberate differentiation, and how do you stand for something that you believe in. 

And so I think the students get a tremendous amount out of it.  They’ve gotten jobs from some of my guests and have learned an incredible amount and have read incredible books in preparation for their own questioning, and so I think it’s a really signature part of the program now.

Tara:  That is so cool.  I will be filling out my application after this interview.  No.  Seriously, though, Michael and I, my producer and I were just talking about this yesterday, how hosting a podcast is very much like having sort of a private but public mastermind where you just get to pick other people’s brains and find out how things work, and I just … I love that you’re involving your grad students in that as well, and I think that’s such a powerful tool for them, and I just can’t even imagine how powerful that experience might be.

I do want to rewind a little bit as well back to your first answer, and ask you a little bit more about, you know, you said you were just … when the podcast started, you were just starting to write again and you hadn’t yet starting doing illustration again, and you know, you needed to flex your own creative muscles some outside of the business world.  Can you talk about how your personal creative pursuits have informed the way you’ve, you know, molded the podcast, or even just molded your career in general?

Debbie:  Sure.  When I graduated college, I had a degree in English Literature and a minor in Russian Literature. And I went to SUNY-Albany, which was an extraordinary experience for me.  My on-the-job training really was as editor of the arts and features section of the school newspaper, and so when I graduated, and I often joke I have a degree in reading, I … my only marketable skill, in order to get a job that had some aspect of creativity to it was doing very traditional old school layout and paste-up, and so … and that’s how I got a job.  I was absolutely determined to live in Manhattan.  I wanted to live in Manhattan.  That was the only thing I can look back on the journey of my life and say that’s the one thing I knew for sure.  Everything else was very much how could I do this?  Am I good enough?  Am I smart enough?  Am I capable enough? 

But moving to New York required just the deep, deep desire to do it, and I had to figure out how to pay my rent, and so I really … I felt really bad about myself, and I didn’t have any confidence to pursue what I really felt in my heart I wanted to do, which was a combination of art and writing and music and a really creative life.  More fine art than commercial art.  But I only had my commercial art skills, and for the first 10 years of my life, I really floundered.  I had very little confidence.  I had very little experience, and just kept sort of going from rejection to rejection, and sort of failure to failure.  I quite by accident ended up in the field of branding, and because my background growing up included working in my father’s pharmacy, I had had a relationship with brands almost as early as I could talk and walk, and had spent a tremendous amount of time in his pharmacy, spent a lot of time at the cash register helping him out, and really had this innate understanding of brands and how people shop and why they buy the things that they do. 

His pharmacy was more of a general store than just a pharmacy.  It was a general store with a pharmacy in the back, and so I found quite by accident … and probably serendipitously, that I was very good at branding.  Almost as if it were a natural talent.  So the second ten years of my career were building this career.  Building this ability, and finding that I was really successful at it, and that began to help me build some confidence, and I talk quite a lot about how I’ve come to believe that confidence is really overrated.  Dani Shapiro said this once to my students after her podcast when somebody asked her about being confident in life, and she felt  that confidence was overrated and felt that most really confident, overly confident people, or very visibly confident people can often be kind of obnoxious, and felt that what was way more important was courage.  The courage to take that step before you have any success.  And I think all confidence really is, is repeated success at doing something over and over.  You’ve done it before.  You know it’s come out well.  You expect that when you’re going to do it again, you’re going to do it well again.  So what is really more important is courage.  To take that first step before you know if you are going to be successful at doing something, and then confidence is built from there.  But I think that because I started to feel somewhat more successful, and definitely more secure financially for the first time in my life.  I then had a little bit more freedom to begin to do all the things that I had given up in pursuit of my branding career, which included writing and painting and drawing and creating things with my hands.

Tara:  I love that.  I love the transformation, and I love the reframe around confidence and courage.  I know that’s going to be a big takeaway for people.

So shifting gears a little bit.  I listened to the Creative Mornings presentation that you did on their podcast, and you said that if you’re not making enough mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks.  So what are some of the risks and mistakes that you’ve made with the Design Matters podcast?

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

Debbie:  Well, I think the biggest mistake that I made was underestimating how long I would do it, and I mean, I hope to be able to do Design Matters for the rest of my life.  It’s one of the things that I feel most important to me, and really helps … has helped give me a sense of purpose for being alive.  But when I started the show, I started it with this little fledgling phone line, and the sound quality was really terrible, so I had done these 100 episodes, and the sound is sometimes so bad, you can’t even listen to the show.  So those, so I wish that I had taken it more seriously from the start, but it’s very, very … it’s … this is something that I tend to do in my life. 

I don’t take things as seriously as maybe I could or should, just because I’m the one doing it, and so I wish that I had taken it a little bit more seriously or taken the effort more seriously, because those hundred episodes don’t really sound as good as I would like them to sound.  That’s the biggest regret.  Other than that, I didn’t have a logo for the show for the first … which is kind of ironic.  I finally asked Armin Vitt to help me do that.  I’ve never … I don’t think I’ve given the show my own sort of personal respect in the way that I probably should.  It took me a really long time to get my own website.  It took me a really long time to get my own logo.  Armin Vitt has been really helpful in helping me do that.  I … Maria Popova has helped me, my partner, Maria, has helped me really understand how to better talk about the show online and take the social media aspect of it a lot more seriously, because it’s a labor of love, and not something that I ever did to, for business purposes or to raise money or to make money.  I probably have not been as diligent about building the brand, so to speak, as I have in my other work.

Tara:  That’s fascinating, and very relatable.

Debbie:  Yeah.

Tara:  So, you know, you just said that you haven’t ever done this for business purposes, but at the same time, I’m sure the podcast has had a big influence on your career, maybe on opportunities that have come your way.  Can you talk about how the podcast itself has really influenced your branding and design career?

Debbie:  Well, I don’t have any empirical today to say that because I did this, this occurred, but I think that it was my entree into the design discourse of our culture, and that has, because this show tends to travel far and wide via iTunes and Soundcloud and Stitcher and so forth.  There are people that listen to the show that I never would have imagined would receive and be interested in it, and so I think that most of the invitations that I get to speak in different countries, most of the invitations I get to judge competitions come via people being exposed to me through the podcast, and so I think either that or my books, and both of those sort of happened consecutively, and so, or concurrently, rather, and so I think that … that it has helped introduce my thinking to the broader design community globally.

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.

Alex:  Anyone can benefit from learning to tell better audio stories.  Whether you’re a reporter on the radio, or you’re an entrepreneur trying to tell an effective story about your business.  In this workshop, what I’m doing is sort of unpacking what exactly is a story, how can you be effective in telling stories, and how can you lay them out in a way that they get maximum impact with your audience.  You’re also going to learn a lot about the art of the interview.  If you’re interviewing somebody, how do you make sure that the interview is engaging, is informative, has moments of emotional resonance?  I also have a formula that is actually, you know, it’s actually a mathematical formula that tells you how am I on the right track when I’m thinking about telling a story.  I’m Alex Bloomberg, and this is Power Your Podcast with Storytelling.

Tara:  So we really like to get into the nitty gritty here.  So I want to know how you personally prepare for interviews, because I know how I prepare for interviews, but I’d love to hear, you know, what’s your process?  When you’ve got a great guest, and you have had some amazing guests, what is your process for thinking about how you’re going to approach that interview, what you … what kind of background you want to know, what maybe you don’t want to know before you sit down with that person?

Debbie:  I believe that my podcast, a podcast, any podcast that I do is successful when the guest looks at me and says, “How do you know that?  How did you find that out?  Did you talk to my mother?”  I do a tremendous amount of research.  I probably spend upwards of 10-12 hours preparing for the one hour interview.  I … if they’re somebody that has published books, I like to read everything that they’ve written.  If they have created work, I try to see everything I can possibly see.  I am vigilant, and I love researching.  I mean, how many times do we go internet surfing and feel guilty that we might be, so to speak, wasting time going into these little wormholes of research just for the fun of it?  Well, I get to do it as part of my job.  So I’ll start with a link, and that’ll take me to something else, and that’ll take me to something else, and before you know it, I’m, you know, at their birth certificate.  So I just do a tremendous amount of investigation, essentially, trying to understand the entire arc of a person’s life.  Where were they born?  What were they like when they were kids?  Where did they go to school?  What did they major in?  Did they get a graduate degree?  Where did they work?  Where did they … where is every place they’ve ever worked?  What is everything they’ve ever made?  And go from there.

Tara:  Ah, okay.  Do you think design thinking has influenced your, you know, the approach that you use to that research or to that preparation for your podcast?

Debbie:  Probably.  I use a lot of post-its.

Tara:  Awesome.

Debbie:  Yeah, I do think so.  I mean, part of what I do for every show is essentially create a script, and I have probably somewheres between 40 and 50 questions prepared.  And I think a good interview is like a game of pool.  You not only want to have a good question and a great answer, but know where that answer might end up so that you can prepare where to shoot next, so to speak.  And that’s what you want to do in a game of pool.  You want to not only shoot a ball into a hole, but you want to be able to shoot the next ball into the next hole, so it’s very strategic, and so for me, I feel most secure when I am doing an interview that any answer that my guest would provide, in many ways, I already know the answer and know where I want to take the conversation next, or if they surprise me, I want to be able to at least know enough about the topic to be able to ask an interesting question.  I never want to ask questions that my listeners would already know the answers to.  I want to be able to constantly surprise my listeners with information about my guests that they might not be able to get otherwise all in one place.

Tara:  Wow.  That is a game-changing answer for me.  I will be incorporating that for sure in my own process from now on.  Do you have a team helping you out with the podcast?

Debbie:  No.  I do everything myself, except for the production.  And the production is done by Curtis Fox.  He’s been my producer since 2009, and he has really helped me evolve the show to where it is now.  So he … his voice at the beginning and end of each episode, and he essentially takes what usually is about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes worth of tape and edits it into usually about half of what I’ve taped for.  So if it’s an hour and fifteen, it’s half that.  If it’s an hour, then he ends up with about 30-35 minutes, and essentially, he edits based on what he thinks is interesting.  Am I getting bored while I’m listening to this?  Or do I feel like it’s keeping my attention throughout?  So he keeps it really snappy, really breezy, takes out all of my mistakes.  I often make mistakes, and takes out the ums and the uhs and the likes and the kind of sorta things like that.

Tara:  Fascinating.  And do you guys collaborate on that at all?  Or is that just, that’s his role?

Debbie:  That’s his role.

Tara:  Wow.

Debbie:  I do not … I do not listen to the edited podcast.  I trust him entirely.

Tara:  Wow.  That’s amazing and awesome.  Thanks for sharing that.  All right, so one more question about the podcast, and then I want to ask you about the class that you have coming up for CreativeLive.  How do you balance the needs of the podcast, and I know there are many, I mean, you said you prepare 10 to 12 hours for each guest, against the demands of the rest of your career, because you’ve got a lot going on as well with that, and you know, our listeners are always interested in, you know, how people balance things, how they manage their time, how they fit it all in.  So can you talk about that a little bit?

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

Debbie:  Absolutely.  I don’t really believe in work/life balance.  I feel that my, almost all of my work is a labor of love, and I love doing it, and I feel privileged to be able to do it, so I don’t feel resentful of the time that I dedicate to doing, I would say, most if not all of my work.  I love doing it, and because it’s such a privilege, I … what I … I often say that I don’t find the time to do things, I make the time to do things.  And one of my favorite slogans is that busy is a decision.  You prioritize what you want to do in the order you want to do them, and if you don’t make the time to do something and say that you’re too busy to do it, what it really means is you don’t want to do it, and so I often urge my students to be really clear about what they say they can and can’t do because of busyness, because if they can’t do something because they’re too busy, maybe they should reconsider how much Game of Thrones they want to watch, or what they do while they’re watching Game of Thrones.  And so I spend a lot of time doing the things that I love and have been really trying hard over the last three years or so to only do things that I love.  I’m approaching my 55th birthday, and want to be really clear the older I get to only be doing the things that I truly, truly love, and then it’s just about joy and doing things with my whole heart.

Tara:  Nice.  Nice.  And yes, busy is a choice.  I love that.  So you’re teaching a class here on CreativeLive.  Can you tell us what we can look forward to with that?

Debbie:  Yes.  Part of what I discovered having that first 10 years of what I call experiment and rejection and failure, and then the next ten years really trying to make a career is how much how you feel about yourself influences your success, and so much of what we can and can’t do in our lives comes from how we edit, how we censor, and how we tell ourselves what we can and can’t do because of how we feel about what we can and can’t do.  So this is a class called A Brand Called You, and it’s very much how to position yourself to create a career that you love, to create a life that you love, based on what it is that you love as opposed to what it is that you fear, and so it’s very much about how to create a point of view, how to develop a resume and a portfolio, and your own personal marketing campaign to go after what you want and get it.

Tara:  Beautiful.  So important.  Absolutely love it.  Well, Debbie Millman, thank you so much for talking with me today.  This has been really great.

Debbie:  My pleasure.  Thank you so much for having me.

Tara:  Find out more about Debbie Millman at DebbieMillman.com, or find her podcast, Design Matters, on iTunes. 

Next week, I talk with Cory Whitaker and Parker Stevenson from Evolved Finance.  I turn the tables on them, and find out how they use financial reports and tracking in their own business to project cash flow, make hiring decisions, and set goals.

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.

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

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?

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

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.

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:  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.

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

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.

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

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.

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

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?

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit

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.

Your VIP Pass Is Waiting

Every week, I share more behind-the-scenes insights and action ideas from the podcast. Don't miss a thing! Enter your email address below for your VIP pass.

Powered by ConvertKit