Building Brands & Closing Sales with Monaica Ledell of Truth Hacking

Monaica Ledell, copywriter, brand strategist, and founder of Truth Hacking, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

Tara:  Hey everyone, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m Tara Gentile, your host, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passions, and pursue what’s truly important to them.

My guest this week is Monaica Ledell, a sought after copywriter and digital strategist.copywriter and digital strategist.  In the last decade, she’s helped her clients create nearly $10 million in revenue, and worked with personal and entrepreneurial giants like Lisa Nichols, Jaime Tardy, Jonathon Fields, and Author Benjamin.  She’s the president of Truth Hacking, and unconventional branding and sales positioning company that builds profitable, results-based brands, and the creator of Mommy Breadwinner, a blog for working moms who want more play and dough.

Monaica and I talk about her process for creating stories and brands that sell, how she connects with clients who don’t have time for your content marketing, and how she divides her time between client services and business development.  Monaica Ledell, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Monaica:  Of course.  What an honor and a privilege. 

Tara:  Absolutely.  Thank you.  So let’s start off by talking about how you got into copywriting and branding.  What kind of drew you into this work?

Monaica:  Well, it was by accident, because plans in my life just don’t work out when I make them.  You know, like life plans?  I can make lots of business plans, Tara, but … but doing life plan stuff, like it just always takes its own kind of angle and twists and turns, so I was in another business, it really wasn’t working out.  I was down in Mexico at an event.  This is ten, eleven, twelve years ago, and actually, eleven, and I meet this guy who I thought had all the answers, and he really did at the time, and he became my mentor.  I just wanted to know how to be successful, and so this guy ended up becoming my mentor, which is a story in and of itself, and I didn’t fall into copywriting or anything like that, although my high school AP English teacher told my parents as a senior I could write romance novels at the time, but anyway.  So he … this guy called me one day, Tara, and he said, “Monaica, I’m mentoring you, but I want to do something different.”  And I said okay.  And I, you know, I’m in my early twenties, and he said, “I want to teach you sales.”

And I said, “Well, I don’t have any interest in learning sales, David,” and I didn’t say it like that, but that was basically the gist.

And he was like, “No, I’m going to teach you this, and it’s the way it’s going to be, because if you don’t know how to do this, then you’re not going to be successful in business, but if you do know how to sell, you can go anywhere.  It doesn’t matter what happens in your life or your business.”

And I said okay.  Because it was contingent.  Like this guy was not going to mentor me if I didn’t do it his way.  So as I grew in that mentorship, things just started to happen.  So I started doing email copywriting when it really became a thing.  So in some ways, I guess I’m kind of like a little bit of a veteran, which is strange, but anyway, it’s the truth.  And we just started using other tools and I was adopting them as I was learning sales, and that’s really how it all came about.

Branding was a different story, if you want me to tell you that.

Tara:  Yeah, please.

Monaica:  Yeah, so what I realized over the years, after doing a ton of launches, you know, because you kind of get into this thing, and you’re like, I mean, we were using Constant Contact at the time, right?

Tara:  Wow.

Monaica:  I mean, that’s all there was, really, and besides like just sending things through, like, your computer, you know, on a mass email list, which we would never do anymore, right?  But what I realized through the years after doing all of these launches and producing so many people and products and services and pitching them out into the world is that you could have a great performing ad, you could have all of the strategic thingies on your website, like I got the opt-in here, and I got this here, and it looks good, and it’s on the right hand, and the blah, blah, blah, right, and then you could have like a highly-targeted ad with Google ads or even Facebook now, and everything could still underperform, right?  Or it could perform at subpar levels, so it was like what’s the deal on that?  If they’re following the quote/unquote marketing, internet marketing rules, why is this happening?  Right?  Well, the brand is off, and when you talk to high-level brand, I mean, sorry, funnel experts, they will tell you if you don’t have your story right, like the whole thing is going to underperform.  So that’s when I started to be able to really step into my creative juice and my psychology background and go, ah, I know what makes people tick, I can get them to move, right?  But then the … the brand piece goes further, because it’s layered, Tara, and so you know, over time, what I developed was a really incredible skillset, which is how do you create market disruption?  Right?  How do you actually take this amazing, genius individual who has all of these talents, and how do you help the world make sense of who they are.

Tara:  Mmm, okay.  We need to dive into that a little bit further.

Monaica:  That’s okay.

Tara:  Really good.  So what is your thought process when you’re trying to figure out how do I make the world make sense of this person or this brand or this company or this idea?

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Monaica:  Well, sometimes, I tell people, I really, what I really have is human investigative company, right?

Tara:  Mm-hmm.

Monaica:  I do a lot of upfront work, and to this day … now, I don’t know if I’ll always be able to say this, but I can now, so I do, but I always preface it with this, to this day, I’ve never been wrong about a brand, ever, not once, yet.  And I just dig and I dig and I dig, and I get to know somebody.  I mean, like when I kick off, and I start with a client, Tara, I start with, “So where were you born?  What was your dad like?  What was your mom like?  What kind of house did you grow up in?  Were they married?”  You know?  And we get all the way up to kindergarten, and we’ve probably been talking for a half hour before we get up to kindergarten.  So I have to know the whole story, and many, many times, I’m the first person who’s ever got the whole story.  And then there will be this … there’s this piece that like how do you quantify it?  Right?  Like, I see people like my clients in their creative genius, and they get into that zone, right?  Where they’re just so connected.  You know, like when you’re just writing or you’re doing something or you’re singing.  It doesn’t matter what it is, but you’re like … like time literally stops, okay?  You know that feeling, right?  And so you know that that’s the zone.  I learned from this woman who is a, I don’t know, some sort of specialist in this kind of zone area.  She says, and I believe her, that most people in the world only get to experience that a couple of times in their life, and when I was sitting in this really private, ten-person kind of mastermind two years ago, I thought to myself, “Man, I’m freaking lucky as hell, because I get to feel that like several times a week,” and then, of course, that high, ambitious entrepreneur was like, “Hey, how can I feel that every day?”  Right?  But when you get into that place, there’s this intuition that happens, and you’re like, eh, they’re holding back, or they’re not clear, and so my job is to help them get really, really clear. 

Like, the whole crux of this one individual’s brand, who is a huge success story for us, right?  And as so many of our clients are.  I get down to about … we get up to about five, you know, and she’s making coffee and she’s waiting for her daddy, because her daddy is a … she’s using the terms daddy, her daddy is a grass farmer in Texas, and she’s living with her grandma, and anyway, and I just kept pressing and pressing and pressing, and I’m like, “So what did you do when you would wait for him to get to work,” because they had this house on this property and he would come into work in this house, and she said, “Well, I would make coffee.”  And now I’ve got the footage rolling in my head of this little, tiny girl, who’s so ultra-responsible, making coffee for her dad at five years old.  And I said, “So, did you drink it?”  You know, like I’m looking for every detail, and she goes, “Well, as a matter of fact, I would.”  Would you put cream and sugar in it?  She goes, “No, I took it black.”  And so it’s all of those little details that start to come together where you really start to get fully immersed in a human being, right?  Who they really are?  In addition to that, I do tons of interviews.  So I don’t want to just take their word for it.  Like, I’m interviewing people on their behalf.  Like, I want to know how the world sees them.

And so there are these other, you know, brand experts who kind of DIY it, and they’re like … and there’s nothing wrong with this, by the way, because it can get you started, but it’s like so, go ask people what they think of you.  All right.  Well, the problem with that, and if you have a background in psychology or you’ve experienced this, you would know, is that when two people get into a conversation like that, it’s pretty vulnerable.  So Tara, tell me what’s awesome about me.  Right?  And like … like what are my gifts and blah, blah, blah.  Like, those are uncomfortable questions to ask, for starters.  Secondly, you’re going to be put on the spot, so it’s not like, you know, human nature doesn’t want to come back and be like, well, you know, you, you know, I think that these are your gifts, but you’re going to kind of shade it and tell me what you think I want to hear, even if you’re up front, because it’s just … it’s just too vulnerable, and then whatever you’re telling me, even if it’s like amazing, 100% truth, I’m probably only going to hear about of that and be able to interpret it, because it’s vulnerable for me to accept that truth and reality about myself. 

So when I say we run a human investigative company, I’m doing a whole lot of up front work to talk to these people and figure out where their true genius is, and then it’s about putting the magnifying glass in the right spot.  Because I could be like, “Oh, you’re the most amazing author in the world,” and a lot of our clients are, but like is that how we really want to step out there in the world?  Or is it the fact that they do this, instead, and then secondary to that, they’re an amazing author?  Right?  We have to find that white space in the marketplace and put them right there, so that now they have their own segment of the market that they’ve just swooped up and taken, nobody else owns it.  Does that make sense?

Tara:  Yeah, it does.  Okay, so you’ve … you’ve talked about your interview process with a client.  You’ve talked about sort of the interview process that happens with their clients.  And then you mentioned, you know, where … where do you put the magnifying lens, how do you find that white space in the market, and that makes me think that you’re also doing a good bit of market analysis, sort of as a three-prong approach.  Is that true?

Monaica:  Yes, we do do that piece, too.

Tara:  So what does that look like?

Monaica:  Well, I’m doing … I do a couple of things.  First, I research within the marketplace, and then I research just outside of the marketplace, because sometimes, a client comes in, and they’re like, “I want to be here,” but where they really need to be is over here, right?

Tara:  Mm-hmm.

Monaica:  Which is a totally different spot.  And so if I were to just go into their competitive market and look at it, we’re leaving out a humongous opportunity here.  You have to really look at … you have to be able to dive deep, not only within a client, but within a marketplace, and also look at something globally.  And then you have to be able to theorize, this takes me back to like psychology research college days, what would be the domino effect if we theoretically put somebody right here instead? 

So I had a client, this is a really good example, it just was very plain as day.  She’s at the top of a network marketing company.  At the very top.  She’s a veteran.  She’s been there for a long time.  She makes a hell of a lot of money.  She travels the world.  Everybody knows who she is.  And so she’s at the very top of this network marketing company, and we get into some of the competitive research, and we’re looking at who her competitors are, like you know, other competitors within the network marketing industry and some of the other personal development.  Something just wasn’t sitting right, you know.  And so as we talked and talked and talked, I finally … we got down to the truth, and she was like, “I think I figured it out, where my resistance is.”  And I was like, “What is it?”  Because I’m just trying to get her feedback about the market.  Like where are her creative boundaries, right?  I’ve got to push her to this edge and this edge to figure out where her creative boundaries are.  And she’s like, “I don’t really resonate with anybody in my market.”  And I was like bingo.  Okay. 

So then we went in a totally different direction, right?  And she was so excited and enthusiastic about that, because she doesn’t really feel like she fits in over there, and the truth is, she really doesn’t, but it was this whole discovery process.  So then we go to have fun and say, okay, so if you got to pick, where do you want to be?  And I think people forget that, too.  Like, it’s not just about talking to an expert or a coach or a friend and saying hey, you know, this is what I want, help me create that, what do you think, right?  I’m sorry, what do you think?  Tara, what do you think I should do?  What do you, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, right?  What’s your advice?  The truth is you get to pick.

Tara:  Absolutely.  And daunting.  But awesome.

Monaica:  It is, yeah.

Tara:  All right.  Let’s pull back a little bit, because I could go way down the rabbit hole with you with this … with this particular topic.  We could talk about this all day. So I want to … I want to come back to as you’re starting your business again.  What kind of misconceptions did you have about starting your business and maybe what kind of misconceptions have you had in growing your business?

Monaica:  Okay, well, I think probably the biggest misconception is like I have this public mentor.  I mean, he was known in some spaces, authors, coaches, you know, all these other things.  He was a protégé of Bob Proctor, and so I make a lot of money for him.  I make a lot of money.  He teaches me sales.  It was the scariest thing that I ever went through in my life to learn how to sell and influence people, right?  And … but I learned I actually was pretty gifted at it.  I didn’t know it.  He just kind of helped me uncover that.  I think that’s true of probably a lot of people? 

At any rate, so I decide it’s time for me to go out on my own, and that was perfectly fine decision.  I mean, it was scary in its own right, I weighed the pros and cons, and anyway, I left, and I started to do my own thing, which was consulting at the time, and I just kind of thought, well, because I was in these inner circles meeting with all of these high profile people, the clients will just come, and the clients they did not come, Tara.  They just … they just like didn’t show up.  I’m like why aren’t people knocking at my door, I don’t understand.  What’s going on here?  Don’t you guys remember who I worked with?  You know, you make a couple calls, and it just doesn’t happen like that.  Like there’s a whole new hustle that happens when you shift gears in a business, and it actually took me a while to accept.  That, and then once I did, I was like oh my God.  Like, let me tell you what I actually did, Tara, I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, and I don’t know if this is that big of a deal, I just don’t think I’ve ever shared it.  I didn’t really work for like a year.  I was just like yeah, I’m just gonna let it like morph into its own thing, and like … like let the universe direct me, or what … I don’t know what I was thinking, but like at the very least, I should have kept my feet busy, like, doing something.  Like go get a job at Starbucks.  Just stay in it.  Do something.  I didn’t do anything.  Partially because I didn’t have to, right, for that year.  The pain wasn’t there.  So the pain’s not there, you just kind of like yeah, do what I want, right?  Or the motivation’s not there.  I really thought it would just manifest all by itself, and it just didn’t.  And so I get down to a year, and I’m like okay, I really … I haven’t done that, and then I had to learn marketing, and there’s a difference between sales and marketing, and I didn’t understand what the true difference was.

Tara:  Can you talk about that difference?  Because most people don’t.

Monaica:  Yeah, I mean, so I thought I could write some emails and I can convert.  And to this day, if you give me an email list or a leads, I don’t have problems converting leads.  I have like an insanely high close rate.  It’s like 86%.  It’s like ridiculous, right?  People think that I’m lying.  Or I’ve had men, and not knocking on men at all, it’s just the only people who have accused me of lying have been men up until this point.  But … but like who do you have to email to?  Where’s your list?  How did you build that list?  That’s all marketing, right?  Like, it’s getting out there.  It’s running ads.  It’s figuring out how to do it.  It’s figuring out what your niche is.  It’s … I mean, it’s like oh my gosh, marketing is this whole ‘nother Universe, right?  And for awhile, it was like I’m just going to go gangbusters, and I’m just going to do everything, and you know when you do that, and you make those kind of decisions … when you’re trying to grow a business, which is the second part of the question you asked, you really do nothing well.  Or not … even if you’re able to like kind of like C level it, like I’m getting a C in marketing, nothing really takes shape that quickly.  Like if you were to just really narrow your focus, and go I’m just going to do this one thing, and I’m just going to dominate it. 

Since … since that time, what I’ve learned is that I always have five things in the hopper.  If I have three, it’s still a little dangerous to me, because I used to ride out the waters of the ocean on my silver bullet, right?  So when I say focus on the one, focus on one, get it up, but then get two and three up pretty quickly, and four and five, right?  And so I always take this five-pronged approach.  When I’m working with a client or when I’m working on my own business, because I can’t totally know if something’s going to over perform or underperform.  Like, I could think I have the best darn opt-in and like this video’s going to be amazing, right, and like nobody wants it.  So what do you do then?  How do you handle that?  Well, I don’t want the silver bullet.  That’s too dangerous for me.

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  So let me ask you … so you’ve essentially got like plan A, B, C, D, E, right, if you’ve got five things in the hopper. 

Monaica:  Yeah.

Tara:  When do you, or do you ever pull back on one of those things?  You see it’s underperforming, or you see something, one of the other things is way over performing.  When do you choose to narrow your focus, or do you choose to narrow your focus?

Monaica:  Well, again, I credit … you know, you get into college, and you’re like, oh, this is all, like, worthless.  I mean … you know what I mean?  Like, I’m not going to use this stuff.  Western Civ?  How am I going to use this out in the world, right?  Well, who knew that I would be studying Seneca some day on my own as a little hobby?  I don’t know.  Anyway.  Anyway.  So I … what I … what I learned, and again, it was in these upper level psych classes and some of the statistics and things is that, you know, you can’t just pull back after like a week.  Like, you’ve got to give some things some time here, or it’s not going to work.  I’m not talking about, okay, obviously, you just spent $500 on Facebook and it’s not performing, like let’s give it six months and let’s just keep wasting money.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  If it’s just glaring, that’s so in your face, well, you need to pivot right away, right?  But … but do you actually pull back and just stop Facebook?  No.  You just pivot, right?  You just start tweaking.  Can I get … I always tell clients, and they … then they sound hopeful, because they’re like, oh, I want a 50% conversion rate.  I want a 67% conversion rate, because you’ve written landing pages that have converted that high.  Well, yeah, but look, I’m looking for the 1%.  If I have a 1% conversion rate, I have something to work with, Tara.

Tara:  Mm-hmm.

Monaica:  If I have 0, I have nothing to work with, right?  And so sometimes, you have to accept that that’s part of the journey.  Pulling back entirely is just when it’s obviously glaring, right?  Like it’s just not working.  But otherwise, I like to let things germinate for 90 days to 6 months.  I mean, you can’t go heavy at PR and get turned down twice, and this has happened to many of my clients, and they’re like, well, I’m just going to, you know, not invest in PR anymore.  Why?  Like it’s … there’s nothing hotter that’s going to give you more oomph in your business than PR.  It’s like the most undervalued marketing strategy ever, right?  Like, it’s going to take awhile, so you’re going to get turned down, but like, you know, it only takes once to get into Marie Claire or CNN Money, and I’ve been featured in both of those, right?

Tara:  Awesome.  All right.  Let’s … let’s talk specifically about how you’re generating revenue right now, because I want to make sure that people understand, you know, how your business is actually set up.  So what are all the ways that you are currently bringing in money into your company?

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Monaica:  Well, lately, I’ve been inventing new ways, and it’s been working, so I encourage anybody who’s wanting to invent new ways of earning money in their business to do so.  I … most of what I do is this brand sales positioning.  Okay?  So again, those words for me are synonymous in the marketplace.  They should be.  People should be teaching it that way, although they’re not.  I learned how to merge creative with strategic, right, and layer in all that revenue.  So the main way that I make money is by building these incredible sales platforms for people, or launching these incredible brands out to the world.  There are other ways, then, that I realized … I got burned out on consulting, Tara, and I was like, uh, I’m just going to do this process, because if they would go through this process with my entire team, me being at the helm, right, but then they get to touch some of the other team members, they are going to come out so much further on top, which is the truth, but then I wanted them to be done, and I realized that the clients are always going to come knocking again, and really, like, that’s where your true revenue is. 

I mean, again, we have high-end programs, but the money is in the repeat customer, and so it’s been an unraveling for me, because I consulted for so long that my company in August will turn 3.  It’s not even that old, right, and we’ve done well in less than 3 years, but these clients are going to come back, and you need to be able to service them, right, with something that gives you joy, or in … is … and provides value for them.  So while I just wanted to be a brand identification company, and you know, do some copy writing and launching stuff, what I realized is that I really needed to move into brand-building, because we are very skilled at that.  I’ve run national campaigns many times, and so we do copy writing, we do copy editing.  Like, if you just need sales conversion editing, right?  And that was something I kind of fought, but then I realized how beautiful, like, if they want to write their own copy and become skilled at sales copy, they should, but maybe they just need somebody to come in to edit it for higher conversions.  Okay, cook, we can handle that, too, right?  We can do that high-end brand platform.  I also, lately, started pitching these strategic sales and marketing plans where I just come in for 90 minutes and I leave and I develop a plan for you.  You know, we talk for 90 minutes, I leave, I develop this incredible plan for you that you can ride on for the next 6 to 12 months.  People are loving it.  It was a total test.  I didn’t know if I could sell it and they would buy it, but they totally do.  And it’s easy, easy, easy work for me.  It’s like drinking water, and it really gets them going.  Those are really the core things.

And then my husband has a design company where he does a lot of like sales page, landing page, web development and design, right?  And little Facebook design stuff, just all of that, and so because we’re married, I get to refer him a lot of business, and he gets to help me out with a lot of cool clients, and we get to work together, and so then we’ve got that income coming in, right?

That’s mainly the core ways that we generate money.

Tara:  Okay, that’s … that is perfect.  That’s exactly what I needed.  Now, you mentioned your team.  Can you tell us what your team looks like right now?

Monaica:  People are usually surprised when I tell them this that our bench is now about 19 people deep.

Tara:  Nice.

Monaica:  They’re like, “What?”  I’m like yes.  They’re like, “But you have a brand new company.”  I’m like I know.  But there’s a genius behind it, and it was because of another mentor who taught me this, and he … he’s a really credible guy.  He sold his last company for half a billion dollars, Tara, and he told me two things that changed my life, and one of those things was don’t ever have people step out of their genius.  Ever.  He has like twelve companies now that he owns, and he’s like in his mid-70s, okay, and I’m like don’t ever let people step out of their genius.  He’s like, “Yeah, like the Toyota way.”  Like just pile people down, like a VA, with a bunch of skills that they don’t actually have and get them to develop it.  No, no, no, no, no.  You keep people in their genius all the time, 100% of the day.  So like video guys does only video.  Audio guy does only audio.  It’s not that video and audio … I could probably find one guy to do both, it’s just that we found two guys, and they’re amazing at each one, and so we just keep them there.  Copy, storytelling, Kyle, he does just that.  I could give him other things so he could earn more money within our company, but I don’t.  So I think it’s really important, and this way of doing business has never failed me.  Like, in fact, people are so happy, Tara.  You know why?  Because they’re in their passion, they’re in their gifting, and it doesn’t mean that they can’t pursue other things.  Like, I’m totally pro them doing that.  I have the most incredible project manager in the entire world.  Like, I love this woman.  I would be drowning if it were not for her.  She has an ROTC background, she has a Master’s in Leadership Development, like, she’s incredible.  Like, I’m so lucky to have her, right, and she … that’s her gifting, but she wants to try lead gen, because she has an interest.  Well, then I let her play, because I don’t know if something else is going to spark, but her core … we have other lead gen things that we’re doing, so it’s not like I’ve let her like step out of her genius, but the distinction is she’s playing, and that’s okay.  You know, I think it’s okay to let people experiment, because our company has been built, the way I wanted it designed, was that if you put … it’s an us company, not a Monaica company, and if you put value into this company, it should output dollars to you, right?

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  So the more value you add, the greater amount of, you know, money you’ll make here.

Tara:  I love it.  It sounds like you guys have a real value for flexibility, too.  Personal flexibility, team flexibility, structural, flexibility.  Would you say that’s true?

Monaica:  Yeah, totally.  I just … I don’t want people to feel handcuffed.  I don’t want them to get up … you know, we don’t become entrepreneurs to like hate our jobs or our businesses, you know?

Tara:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  So the clients that you work with are high-performing clients, and they’re not the kinds of people who get wooed by content marketing or email marketing necessarily.  You know, they’re busy people, right?  And they don’t … they’re not going around reading your blog, maybe.  So how do you … how do you, and how does your team connect with the right people for your business?

Monaica:  Our business is 99% referral.  I tell people … is it okay to get a little cheeky here?

Tara:  Absolutely.

Monaica:  Okay.  I tell people, you know, I should be in this to make money, right?  Of course, I’m in it to impact the world and change the world, because our clients, 100% of them are doing incredible things in the world and impacting the world in a good way.  That goes without saying, but what I really, what like really gets me going, Tara, is like I’m a total whore for testimonials, okay?

Tara:  I love it.

Monaica:  Like … like, I let clients know I am here to help you have an extraordinary experience.  I am so good at that courtship piece, and being able to carry it through the entire time.  I took the Five Love Languages, and I broke it down, and I know this is an unconventional way of talking about how do you get clients, right?  But I … but this is the truth.  I broke it down, and I was like how can I incorporate each one of these five love languages into our business, right?  For our clients.  Because I want them to experience me being all in, because I want my client to be all in, right?  And so they start having such this incredible experience that they’re like holy cow, then the referrals come, and the start talking about you.  You know, let’s give them something to talk about.  That’s exactly what we do, and I’m just really good at doing that, and … but I’m always trying to like up level that in a bigger and bolder way.  I would say almost all of our clients end up becoming good friends.  They’ve invited me into their homes.  I get packages on my doorstep.  I don’t … these are unsolicited packages, and then I get this text like, “Did you get your gift?”  And I’m like what?  And like I got a soda machine in the mail, and it’s like epic.  It’s like amazing, and my kids are like oh my God, I got a soda machine, you know, and I’m like, I know, this is awesome.  You know, they’ll send me flowers.  I’ve had them send me organic, like, grass-fed full frozen meals that were like a couple hundred dollars, you know.  Like just ridiculous stuff for them to reciprocate.  It’s just a beautiful experience when you can do that, and they just … they naturally want to send clients to you, because the people that these influencers hang out with, well, and everybody, right?  But their circle, like they want to share that, and they want those people to have another incredible experience, right?  So if you can create the extraordinary for somebody, you’re going to get referrals.

Now, that will only take you so far, and it’s pretty … it’s passive.  Like not a lot of control in that.  Like you can’t … kind of hard to anticipate.  I mean, you can look at trends.  Like, oh, I might get 10 referrals this month.  That’s not likely for us at this point.  I mean, that would be a whole lot, because we don’t really serve that many people over the course of a year.  You could look at trends, but there’s no real control in that, so at the same time, I’m being a smart business woman by saying how can I actually go replicate some sort of funnel experience that would be extraordinary.  Not like totally douchey.  You know, like, and I’m a funnel girl, right?  I’ve created a million of them, but like I don’t want to just take people through the tripwire and to this and to that and blah, blah, blah, blah.  Like how can I just blow it out of the water so that I can maybe draw in these clients?  And it’s just barely starting to happen.  They’re not coming into our higher level package, but I can … I’m quick on my feet, and so I have designed a lower level package that’s still really incredible, and this is literally within the last 90 days, and that’s selling really well, almost every time.  So it’s happening, but I would say that it always goes back to creating extraordinary experience for somebody.

Tara:  I love that.  I love that.  I love the idea, too, just to kind of back up for a second of translating the Five Love Languages into a way, like giving … having that as your structure for creating your client experience or your funnel experience.  I think that’s absolutely brilliant.  So can you talk a little bit about how you divide your time between being the executive of your business and actually providing client services?  How much, you know, on an average day, you know, how much time are you spending on executive functions, how much time are you spending on client services, that kind of thing.

Monaica:  Well, I have another mentor helping me out with that one.  Seriously.  And he’s incredible.  Okay.  So I would say that at this point in the business and my career, I am head lead of creative.  Nothing goes out the door without me seeing it, looking at it.  I am, you know, my creative team is amazing, but like to give you some perspective, a client never knows this.  Maybe I should tell them.  We’ll go through 80 to 90 concepts before I finally pull the trigger on the one, and we never tell the client the other 89.  I only give them the one concept that I said this is your brand and this is what we’re running with, right?  And so I can kind of like make my team mad, because they’re like why don’t you like that, and I’m like, it’s not the one.  I mean, you know, there’s a little bit of, like, kind of a romantic Mad Men thing going on, right?  Like it makes you feel really cool when you think about it if you’re not letting things be sleazy.  So there’s that piece.  So I would say 60-70% of my time is actually being spent in creative with clients every single week.  Maybe it’s closer to 60, because I’m also lead sales person, right?  I mean, I am the strongest sales person on our entire team.  No question about that.  So I need to pick up all of that.  And my mentor defines the creative and then the salesperson and then the CEO all differently, and that’s just the way he’s defined it.  A lot of people will kind of merge CEO and sales in one, and that’s fine, too, but for me, he separated the three of them, and then I would say maybe 10%, I’m 5-10% spending on business development.  I’m trying to change that, but what I have to find, and I have to be really particular, is a person that is like a me on the creative, right?  Like we can really get into it.  So I’m kind of like trying to bring my best friend, one of my best friends over.  She’s a documentary filmmaker, and she does … she’s done some filming for some of our clients and she and I could do this together.  She’s just like really busy, always on set, like traveling the world, so there’s that problem.  But I think that if … what I’m learning to do is delegate up, right?  So my tendency is Monaica can just take on the world and do everything.  Well, I can’t.  I mean, that’s ridiculous and it’s not effective and I’m six months pregnant, so that’s not really going to work out.  But if I can really empower the team, and people talk about it, you know, like what the hell does that mean?  But like really, really, really, really put people in their genius, and then have that expectation of leadership, like I … not in a rude way, not in a mean, bitchy way, but like in an I expect you to figure this out, because I trust you and I believe in you, and you know what, I bet you can do a better job than me.  And every time I let the reigns go and I have that conversation, like I bet you can do a better job than me, they always do a better job than I could have done.

Tara:  Mm-hmm.

Monaica:  So some of that executive stuff, like, actually gets taken care of, which is nice.  Like giving the reigns to my husband when we were doing this whole transition into Scrum, which I don’t know if your audience knows about, yet, but you can have a whole show about that.

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  Right?  Like I gave him the reigns as Scrummaster, which is like not a glorified project manager, but like a … he has a really important job.  Well, like, I kind of wanted the job, and I’m probably going to be pretty good at the job, but you know what, Andrew can, he’s actually going to be better at the job when I really step back from it, and he’s been great, and it’s given him a leadership opportunity.  So that executive stuff he can handle.

Tara:  Yeah.  So it sounds like, you know, and I suffer from this, I guess it’s a problem, it’s not really a problem, it’s a quality problem to have, right, where you’re just good at a lot of things.  Like, it sounds like you’re good at a lot of things, right?  But you have this, you have this value for genius, for being in the zone at the same time, and so it sounds like what you’ve started to recognize is well, yeah, you could be the Scrummaster, somebody’s going to be better at being the Scrummaster than you are.  Just because you could be good at it doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone else out there that’s best for it, right?

Monaica:  Yeah, there’s a lot of that.  I mean, and that comes with some humility, you know, too.  Like, hey, let’s not get your ego involved, Monaica.  Not like you really have to.  And like you really have to trust people, and … and I think that when you have, as so many creative do, I’ve found … okay, you may think this is, or maybe you agree, I don’t know.  We naturally value excellence, and when you want to show up in the world, like you know you can dominate something, even if you’ve never done it, and you usually can, because the underlying value is excellence.  But like give that to somebody else.  Like you don’t have to like try so hard all the time, Monaica.  Like … like, yes, I’m trying to reconcile that whole genius thing within myself, and it’s been an unraveling trying to figure out where am I actually best suited, and the truth is, I may find out it’s actually sales, and it’s not in the creative development, although I’m very gifted at it.

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  I don’t know.  I’m … I’m willing to look at it over the next year.

Tara:  Yeah.  It’s a really interesting process, I think.  You know, wherever you’re falling, whatever decisions you’re wrestling with in terms of, you know, where you’re putting your attention or where you’re finding out what your genius is, I think the process for it is really interesting.

All right, so as we start to wrap up, I wanted to ask you about your side projects, because as we were doing research on what I wanted to talk to you about, I … my assistant just kept kind of uncovering all of these domain names that had your name attached to them, and so I’d love to find out more about that.  You know, how are … you know, what part of you are you spending on side projects, or you know, other businesses?  How does that affect your day-to-day, your week-to week?  What does that look like for you?

Monaica:  Okay, so full disclosure, I’m not really supposed to be quote/unquote working on my side projects, and I know that we’re in like the same group with, you know, same group of people in this two group mastermind.  However, I can’t get it out of my system, and you know what, Jaime knows I’m going to do exactly whatever I want to do.

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  So here’s what happened, okay?  Quickly.  Five years ago, six years ago, I’m with this client, we’re at the Oprah show thing trying out in Georgia.  She just wanted me to be in Atlanta with her.  I wasn’t doing it.  Hell no.  I’m not going to go try out for Oprah’s show, like OWN.  I don’t know what I’m doing.  What would I do?  I’m just there to support her, and like, anyway.  So what happens is I get this idea, and it was Mommy Breadwinner, and it was something that was so reflective of me.  I’ve always been the breadwinner.  I thought I was going to marry a brain surgeon.  I did not marry a brain surgeon.  It still shocked me years later when I realized I did not marry a brain surgeon.  I don’t know why that was so hard for me.  I was not intuitively one of those women, although I wanted to be, that was like, oh, I want to just let my husband stay at home, and like, I don’t really want to take care of the kids, and I wanted a career.  I wanted that stuff, but like I really wanted to be a mom, so that caused a lot of issues with us.  Full disclosure, right?  And so it took us a long time.  We’ve been together for 15 years.  We’ll be married 13 in July, and so it took us a long time to really get past that, and for me to realize that there are different seasons.  I may not always be the breadwinner, but I’ve got to start taking control of my life.  I’m not … I’m also not victimized by this, right?  Like well, if he would make more money, I could stay home, or if … because you know, I’m not really a stay-at-home kind of girl.  Like I get bored, right?

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  Like I spent four hours on Sunday making a freaking alphabet box for my three-year-old that’s epic, mind you, right?  It’s like total Montessori and epic, but like, you know, I get really bored, and so what was I going to do?  And I know that there are other women who are conflicted, and I know that there are women that are not, they’re just like owning it, and that just wasn’t me, and I’ve also had to accept that.  So where’s that balance?  And how can, you know, and then I had to kind of decide what was I going to do, and so I tried to do a little bit of Mommy Breadwinner stuff, and then I just let it go, but I just couldn’t let it go.  And then the only publicity I’ve picked up is not because I’m like an awesome brander.  Like, apparently, the marketplace and publicity, they don’t care about that, but they care about me being Mommy Breadwinner.  And so I thought, you know what, there’s something to this, and I just can’t let it go.  I’m getting some market confirmation out of some of this.  Like I recently, like, just got this plan together.  I bet we spend, I bet I spend 10 hours on that a week.  That’s not a lot for a side hustle.  I’d like to spend more.  But I just want to be … I want to teach women how to create more sales, and of course, we’ll drop in some sticky lifestyle content.  It’s my experiment, and I never gave it my full.  I never gave it my all.  Now, 10 hours might feel like the all, but I’m investing a whole lot of money in this, as well, and a lot of time.  Time that I’ve never invested before, right?  So 10 hours is actually quite a bit for me to invest in a side gig.  That’s not maybe all in, because I’m all in in the other business, because it’s the only thing that’s making money for us, right?

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  Like Mommy Breadwinner is not making money, yet, but we just relaunched it. Like, I don’t know, less than 6 months ago.  Money fixes a lot of things.  Sales can fix an awful lot of things in your life and your business.  And it’s okay, and how can I help women get okay with that comfortable … and get into that comfortable spot?  And also not make them feel like they are doing something wrong.  I think most women have been taught by … most successful women salespeople have been taught by men who have been taught by men.  And again, this is not a male/female top thing.  Like I’m not bashing them.  I love men, okay, but those tactics don’t work for women, and they have this other, like, overwhelming intuitive thing that’s happening, and they have to listen to that if they want to be successful and make money.

Tara:  Love it.  Love it.  Well, Monaica, what’s next for you?

Monaica:  Well, a baby.

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  That’s really my focus.  I mean, I’m trying to hustle and do all these crazy things before the baby gets here to see how much time I can take off, right?  So that’s what I’m working on right now.  And then I want to blow this out of the water.  I mean, of course I do.  Have you heard me talk this whole time?

Tara:  Yeah.

Monaica:  I’m super motivated.  Actually, I’m finally ready to kind of step outside, behind the people, and I think I’m ready to come out publicly, just to say, yeah, you know, I’ve done some really cool shit, and you should maybe know about it.

Tara:  Love it.  Monaica Ledell, thank you so much for joining me.

Monaica:  Thank you.

Tara:  Find out more about Monaica and her team at TruthHacking.com.  My guests next week are husband and wife duo, Jason and Jody Womack.  I speak with Jason and Jody about the importance of offline relationship building in an online world, the unique challenges of wooing corporate clients, and what they do to create momentum when even they get stuck.

That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., a CreativeLive podcast.  Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes.  If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend.  It means the world to us.  Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Kellen Shimizu.  This episode was produced by Michael Karsh.  We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week.  Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts, so you never miss an episode.

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The Illusion of Personality Branding and the Danger of Personality Business

It’s a personality brand, not a personality business.

Running a business that incorporates some level of personality branding is like driving a car. You put yourself in the driver’s seat but you turn the steering wheel, not the car wheels themselves. You step on the gas pedal and a hundred tiny reactions make the motor whir & the wheels spin.

You are not the car.

The car still functions whether it’s you in the driver’s seat or your best friend.

There are two real dangers of personality business – as opposed to personality branding:

  1. You risk being the only engine of growth for your business.
  2. You risk creating a customer base of sycophants.

Let’s examine the first risk.

When you are the only engine of growth for your business, you can’t maximize your effort-to-results ratio. In other words, to get results, you need to put in a comparable amount of work. You don’t move forward unless you’re putting in the effort.

Your goal is find your sweet spot (click here for a guide to finding your sweet spot) such that all you need to do is flick a switch here or there to create big rewards for both yourself and your customers.

  • Do you have a product (program, blog, service, project, etc…) that generates new sales without advertising? That spreads exponentially through word-of-mouth from delighted soul to delighted soul?
  • Do you have systems or applications that automate as much of your workflow as possible?
  • Are your offerings progressive? Do they grow with your customers to generate additional revenue?

Now, the second risk.

This is an altogether more controversial statement. But one that needs to be made. There are too many businesses in this space that are driven by the desire of the customer to be more like the business owner. Are your customers working towards their own version of success or they working on being more like you?

  • Are they out to please you in anyway they can? Or are they willing to push back when they have a new need or a question about your vision?
  • Do they engage you in meaningful conversation or just want to be “doing things right?”
  • Do they apply your teaching, product, or solution? Or do they just keep coming back for more?

And in fact, these risks are interrelated. In an effort to launch a relationship-based, personality brand, many business owners – and rightly so – offer their services 1:1. Then, due to a marketing misunderstanding, they position the offer as essentially “spend some time with me” instead of “get xyz results.”

If your business is positioned to be about just spending time with you, it’s near impossible to not be the sole engine of growth. If all you’re selling is access to your world, you’ll be forced to create & recreate that world… and all the logistics that go along with it. It’s a slippery slope of of too much work, too much frustration, and too much energy drained.

You can be a role model without creating an atmosphere of “I wanna be just like you!” You can create offerings that sell your ideas instead of yourself. You can create a brand is driven by your unique talents, experience, and perspective without being a slave to a business that requires your 24/7 supervision.

Here’s a 3 point plan:

1. Sever the emotional attachment you have to your business. Yes, I believe in work/life integration. But I also believe that your business cannot thrive if you allow it to control your sense of self-worth or self-knowledge.

Just like being a mother or father doesn’t wholly define you, being your business can’t define you either. Personality brands blur this line but they don’t erase it. Understand where you stop and your business begins. Hat tip to Adam on this one.

2. Separate your work from your technique or ideas. Your ideas and your technique exist separate from the work you put into your business. Others can (and should) run with your ideas. Others can (and should) execute your techniques.

It’s easy to get caught up and assuming you are a necessary part of the equation. You are not. Unless you’re prepared to helicopter-parent your business (gosh, I sure hope you’re not), build a business that’s based on scaling your ideas or technique.

3. Save yourself from over-sharing. Some business owners like to leak their own gossip in the name of “authenticity.” It’s all out front because there’s little in the way of strategy on the back end.

Authenticity isn’t an excuse or a demand to air your dirty laundry. Authenticity is an opportunity ask potential customers to align with your values, the value you provide to them, and the vision you have for who they’re becoming as human beings. Hat tip to Ali Shapiro on this one.

The illusion of personality branding is that you’re selling yourself. The risk is that you find yourself sold to a business model that crashes into a tree.

Make your goal to be the confident, in-control driver of your business. Not the commodity being sold.

— PS —

Kick Start Labs is about to release a brand new resource on the basics of product development. If you’ve found yourself little more than a commodity in your business, it’s time to take a serious look at how you can develop a product or service that liberates you. Keep your eyes peeled – registration opens Friday.