You can always do what you love and still make a living. Victoria Wieck introduces Isabel Leong, a successful travel blogger who loves giving tips to help others succeed. Isabel became a travel blogger by following her passion for curiosity and travel. She learned how to get her blog noticed on the Internet by mastering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and hacking the social media game.
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Isabel Leong – Travel Blogger’s Tips On How To Get Noticed On the Internet
I know that all of us have New Year’s resolutions. New year, new you, and new goals. We’ve got new priorities. If you always dreamt about living a life of a traveler, wanderer or doing what you want to do with your life and be free, I have somebody who has turned her dream into real life. Her name is Isabel Leong. She is chatting with us from Peru. I will have Isabel tell you about how she was able to turn her dream into a true reality. Without further ado, welcome to the show. Happy New Year to you, Isabel.
Thanks for having me. It has been a pleasure.
A lot of people, especially people your age, dream about going to all these other countries. Travel seems to be glamorous. You are probably like me because you travel a lot. I have this undying curiosity about how other people live before me, relationships, food, cuisine, and colors they come up with. It’s amazing to go from place to place and most people can’t do that. They only dream about it. This is why all the travel blogs and magazines are popular. Tell me a little bit about how you came about doing that. Did you wake up one morning and say, “I’m tired of this. I’m going to get up and start traveling?” Was this a planned life decision?
It’s an accumulation of different circumstances that happened to me. I always loved traveling but it was this one experience that opened my eyes to a whole different way of living. That is when I booked a one-way ticket to Europe. I’m from Singapore, Asia. I haven’t been that far before. I did a semester exchange in France. That was when I did this big, bold step to travel so far on my own and live in Europe like a local.
I was a student back then. I had a student budget. I was utilizing different methods and ways of living. One of which was CouchSurfing. This helped me immerse in the culture because you are living with a local. You are listening to their stories. They don’t go to tourist places. They go to local places to explore, eat and hang out. Also, this opened my eyes to the different occupations that they were doing to make a living.
Coming from Singapore, where it’s so technologically advanced, most of the education style was trying to educate you into a full-time corporate job because that’s where the opportunities lie. It was through talking to artists, musicians, and people with alternative lifestyles that made me realize, “I don’t necessarily have to follow this one straight path of working in a corporate job. I can always do what I love and still make a living, even if I’m not rich.” That awakened me when I started traveling.
You don’t necessarily have to follow this one straight path of working in a corporate job. You can always do what you love and still make a living.
I started a travel blog for the purpose of documenting my travels and pictures. I’m trying to share my itinerary with other people who are traveling in the same shoes as me. That was how the travel blog was formed, Bel Around The World. When I came back, it was a hobby blog because back then, in 2015, there were not many profiles that have turned a full-time lifestyle with travel blogging alone. I still had to work a full-time job but I never enjoyed the corporate life.
There was one opportunity at the end of 2017 that offered me a free-pass trip to New Zealand. They were gathering a bunch of journalists on an all-expense trip to cover different highlights and spots in New Zealand. As journalists, we were supposed to cover and promote the destination. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for such a small blogger like me back then. That was the other pivoting point where I threw in my resignation letter and decided to embark on this journey full-time and take travel blogging seriously.
Thank you for sharing that. I wrote a bunch of things on you because you unloaded some incredible nuggets here. Number one, coming from Singapore, there’s this notion by a lot of people all around the world. They don’t realize how technologically advanced Asia is as a whole continent. I remember when I was in Japan in the year 2010. I would go to a bank. They had this thing that came out and took a picture of your pupils. You don’t have to put a PIN code, ID or anything like that. They were already using touchless menus with their iPads way back then.
In most high-end Asian hotels, you go there and put your key into the thing. It automatically gets all your temperature. A lot of people don’t realize how advanced Asia is. It’s such an adjustment when you come back to the States that still have turnkeys or key codes that you have to log that stuff. Aside from that, I love how you started. I’m a huge believer in being authentic, honest, and doing something because you love to do it. It’s not because you are getting paid a lot of money or there was any thought.
You started your travel blog to document your travels and share it so other people can follow that path or get something out of that. You shared that originality and authenticity freely. There was no expectation of making money. A lot of times, a lot of bloggers will make money with the expectations of making money. They are down to like, “How many words? How much time can I spend on those words?” They look at keyword searches. Pretty much after reading the blog, you know if it’s a paid blogger.
You started pretty much wanting to help other people in documenting. You were so happy and joyful about what you were doing that you shared it. It’s amazing when you write these blogs, even if you are not a professional writer. Those feelings pop off the page. People get attracted to that. It doesn’t matter if you make a few mistakes, grammatical errors or the thoughts aren’t always put together like a fine arts writer.
Travel Blogger Tips: Start creating content so you can learn as you go.
The last thing you said was that you wanted to travel, be free, and do your thing, even if you are not going to be rich. There’s a lot of wisdom to that as well. How do you define the word rich? There’s richness in the life that you live. You gained richness. I like everything that you have said.What I want to talk about is from that start, what you are doing now and how you can help my audience. A lot of people in my audience dream about doing that but the reality is they might have four kids or a job that they have to sustain themselves. Quite a few of my readers are female entrepreneurs juggling a lot. They are the glue to the society here.
Along the way, you learned what is working in terms of social media, blogging and SEO. All of that came into the picture because you now have a substantial following. It’s something like 50,000 people. It’s not 5 million but I always say, “I would rather have 50,000 loyal people who follow and connect with you than 5 million followers that you don’t know who they are.” Tell me a little bit about how you help other people get visibility and get noticed in this world of the internet where very few people get noticed unless they spend an absolute fortune for it.
I have to share how I’ve got there. I was writing freely and experimenting with different ideas. I was writing different articles, how-tos, things to do, and where to visit. Beyond everything that you have to do as a blogger growing your social following and creating videos, I found that the easiest way for me to get traffic was through SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Thanks to SEO that I have been able to get consistent traffic, not counting the pandemic because the pandemic made my traffic drop to 75%.
Beyond that, it has always been steadily increasing. Thanks to the knowledge of SEO and being able to write with proper keywords in mind. During the pandemic, I have decided to pivot towards becoming more of an educator because I felt like I had already mastered everything through all those years of blogging. I found that SEO is the key ingredient for growing your traffic quickly, even if you are a small business owner or if you have started a blog. I created a free SEO course for your audience. I’m happy to share about it.
It’s very important to focus on SEO because if anyone wants to grow a business and monetize with a blog, it always takes traffic and lead generation. That comes from new organic traffic. With more traffic, you will then be able to monetize your site with maybe ads or have more sponsored opportunities because your blog has a following and has gained credibility. That’s why I’m starting to offer more SEO-related tips to share with my audience.
The easiest way to get traffic is through SEO.
It’s interesting because SEO is something that we all understand but none of us really understand it. I’m in jewelry design. It’s a very different thing than engineering, even though I use a lot of designing software for that. What Isabel is trying to say is that, whether you are on social media, you’ve got a website or whatever it is that you do, you need to get some visibility. When somebody searches your topic, you want to pop up there. A lot of people are shy or they turn away from SEO because they feel they all believe in it. Therefore, they spend all this money trying to impact their visibility and haven’t gotten anywhere.
You said another thing that’s interesting. During the pandemic, something like March of 2020 to December of 2021, there have been billions of dollars a month of increase in coaching. People who have no business and don’t know what they are doing are coaching. People who barely learned how to do something on Google are now teaching masterminds. It happened with SEO people way back when people who barely knew a little bit more than other people were collecting money to tell you what to do with SEO.
With everything in life, there’s a shortcut. There’s a more direct but more efficient way to get something done. In your SEO, you help small business people who don’t have a huge budget to be able to do what they can to get visibility so that you can get more money to your site and traffic. Blogging, social media, and everything impact your SEO, whether you know this or not. For your SEO, you’ve got BelAroundTheWorld.com/sign-up-seo.
I love what you are doing, which is you are still living the life you want to live. You are in Peru. A lot of people can’t even travel because of all the travel restrictions. That’s one thing I do miss too because I’m somebody who is very curious. I have friends all over the world. I envy you for being in Peru. We are talking about all the seafood. Peruvian seafood is great. The art goes back thousands of years. That’s great, too. If you had to give small business owners a couple of tips or one advice who wants to do what you do, what would your advice be?
Start now. A lot of people put off starting a blog and creating a website because they think that there are a bunch of technical jargon and settings that they don’t understand. You have to start creating content so that you can learn as you go. As you apply the methods and new learnings that you have learned, you will slowly improve the website. With patience, your lead generation will start coming in. People will start visiting your blog traffic as long as you are putting out quality content and it comes from the heart, sharing what you know and providing the best value to your target audience.
I’m glad you said that. I love that advice you gave, “Get started.” I do a lot of coaching of young female entrepreneurs. That’s exactly the experience I have had. A lot of people are like, “I don’t know how to get started. It might take me $4,000 or all these hours. I don’t know what I’m doing.” A lot of times, when you start a business, many people start their businesses and then they realize, “I thought I was going to sell baked croissants but what they really want were sandwiches.” They will say something like, “I wanted haircare for women who have dry hair when I found out that women want healthy hair.”
Travel Blogger Tips: With more traffic, you’ll be able to monetize your site with ads or have more sponsors.
The point is that when you start your business, you might have to pivot a few times. If you spend all that money upfront on all the wrong, there’s more than a 50% chance that you can start. Maybe you are selling haircare and you love it. It’s organic and everybody loves their stuff but there’s a competitor down the street who does it for half the price or whatever it is.
You might have to pivot a few times but you don’t know that until you get started and put out what you have. I know people who have to pivot twelve different times before they come up with something. You can make those changes as you get some feedback. Get started. Now is a better time than any other time before. For people who want to find your blog or read about you, what is the name of the blog?
It’s BelAroundTheWorld.com. You can find me on all social platforms. I’m present on all of them. If you have any direct questions, you can always DM me on either platform.
Check her travel life out, even if you can’t get to these exotic places. Singapore is one of the places I want to go to. It was far-off. I used to do trips to Asia 5 to 6 times a year. It’s a whole other continent by itself. I’ve never got there and I would love to do that. To all of you who are reading, thank you so much for reading another episode.
If you like what you are reading in this episode or any other episode, please be sure to subscribe and share it so that more can benefit from that. Don’t forget to sign up for all of the free classes on the Victoria Wieck website as well, VictoriaWieck.com. Thank you so much, Isabel, for coming all the way from Peru. I appreciate your time and knowledge. You have inspired all of us.
Full-time travel blogger and SEO coach roaming the world at whim, I draw energy from being outdoors. An explorer at heart, the world is my playground. I help aspiring bloggers and brands get the most out of their online presence and financial freedom by ranking on Google faster w SEO and expose millennial travellers to experiences beyond their imaginations.
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/55MDH_square.jpg600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2022-01-19 03:00:422022-01-18 07:34:23Isabel Leong – Travel Blogger’s Tips On How To Get Noticed On the Internet
Your brand is the epitome of your business. It is what makes you unique and what attracts people to your product. So, what can you do to attract people? How do you amplify your brand? Victoria Wieck discusses this and more with the founder of PodMatch, Alex Sanfilippo. Alex discusses his early forays into entrepreneurship, keeping a day one mentality, and creating solutions for customer problems. Learn more about amplifying your brand and how the popular platform is connecting podcast host and guests.
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Amplify Your Brand With PodMatch With Alex Sanfilippo
I have Alex Sanfilippo, who started the PodMatch. It’s the service that I often use to find you these amazing guests. Once I started PodMatch, I’ve got addicted to it. I’m so excited to be interviewing Alex because, as crazy as it sounds, he’s built a whole platform. His backstory, how he came about creating PodMatch, and all that you are going to find that interesting, informative and encouraging. Without further ado, I would like to welcome Alex.
Victoria, thank you so much for having me here. I appreciate it.
In your bio, there’s something I didn’t think about before. You started your business at age ten. The entrepreneurship desire or blood runs through your veins. Tell me a little bit about your backstory. What did you do in your childhood? A lot of times, your early years shaped what you do later on in life. Do you want to share a little bit about yourself?
I completely agree with that statement. At one point in my life, I did some reflecting back to my childhood to rediscover who I was but that’s an important practice for anybody to do. For me, at ten years old and most people hear this, they were like, “What on Earth was this guy doing at ten?” I was selling used golf balls.
Across the street from the house that I grew up in, there was a golf course. What I did was I started collecting golf balls and selling them. It was interesting, though, because at ten years old, I was a very self-aware child, which may be strange for a ten-year-old. I had three younger brothers, and we had a bunch of neighborhood friends. A lot of them are good at sports and others are good at school. They are very smart. Most of them were good at video games at that point.
All these different kids were good at these different things. I realized that I wasn’t good at those things. It didn’t necessarily depress me. It made me wonder where I fit in. That’s super weird for a ten-year-old kid to be that self-aware but that’s how I felt. The first time I picked up a golf ball and a golfer offered to buy it from me for $3, it was Titleist Pro V1, which is an expensive ball. I’m not a golfer myself. I knew how to sell used golf balls as a kid. As soon as I did that, I realized, “Maybe I should find more of these.” What I realized I enjoyed wasn’t even making the money. It was the art of building some system that drives a profit.
I started recruiting my brothers and some of the friends in the neighborhood, saying, “Let’s go through the lakes, get some guys to clean the golf balls, get some to organize them into different bins, and then set up a time and day that we can sell these things back to the golfers.” That’s what I did for a couple of years, from 10 to 12. For the first time in my life, I know it was very young, I discovered something that I was good at. It was the art of business.
Blogging doesn’t capture the same essence as a podcast.
In that ten-year-old mind, you were doing what a modern entrepreneur has to do, which is find a product that has that in demand, figure out the price and find a bunch of people that’s going to help you. You were like a little boss of that thing that was going on. You were the CEO of the ten-year-old crowds. That’s astonishing.
In our schools, unfortunately, we teach Math, Science and all these things that have numbers. We don’t teach Entrepreneurship or relationship to money, Finances, and how much you have to work to buy something. I wish somebody would go and teach that in school. Fast forward a little bit. You are a ten-year-old child selling Titleist Pro V1 for $3. $3 to a 10-year-old kid is a lot of money. Once you get a little taste of that, you want to multiply that. You then found different systems in your life. Tell us what happened after that. What was your second venture?
You can only sell golf balls that are used back to the golfers that hit them in the lakes for so long until you are not cute anymore that they want to punch you for taking their golf ball to the lake. From about 10 to 12, I was doing that. The truth is some guy came through on his golf cart. He liked the collection of golf balls we had so much. He said he would buy them all if we would go ahead and close down. At that point, we had 600 or 700 golf balls. At the end of the day, he finished his round of golf. He came, picked them all up, paid me and the neighborhood guys for them. At that point, we were like, “It’s a good time to stop. We were done.” That was my first and only successful exit.
I was getting into high school or late middle school. As I’ve got into my late teens, I had an opportunity to do some work in real estate. I wasn’t good at video games but I was good at computers. There was a friend of my dad who was starting a company where they were trying to create these virtual tours of homes, which we all see them. You look home on Zillow or something like that. You can drag the mouse around, see the roof and the whole room.
We were building those tours. He brought me on as a contractor, saying, “Let’s work together.” I had my company, he had his. I started hiring photographers and editors. We started building these virtual tours for the MLS directly. We were posting on the MLS every single day because we became in high demand fast. That was a fun thing for me. I was seventeen when I started that.
It was cool because when I looked at it, I also had a remote team. None of us worked in an office like everyone worked in their places. We were using AIM back then to instant message back and forth. That’s how we were communicating throughout the day. That was another fun experience for me to learn the business and see how something could run, operate and grow. At this point, I was also paying taxes.
At ten years old, you started your company, then you had a successful exit. What I find astonishing about the whole story that you have told is the MLS having the virtual tours and all of that, we take it for granted. I sold my home in Las Vegas at a very substantial price, and the person never saw it. They felt comfortable enough. They were able to go up to the roof, do all that, and be able to see the whole house without being there.
Amplify Your Brand: We identified the problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.
With COVID, they couldn’t travel, so they bought the house unseen. When you did that technology, the idea of touring a home at any price, $200,000, $300,000, $1 million, that would be unthinkable. You did it because you believed in it, and you felt that the world was going to have to go that way at some point. You had a pulse on what was going on, and you were a few steps ahead of the rest of the world.
That’s important. I’m going to fast forward a little bit more because you have done other things in between compared to what you are doing, which I’m excited about. I’m an avid user of PodMatch. You created a platform for podcasters. I have to tell you that the podcasting industry is exploding. Back in 1998, when HSN first called me and they said, “We are the home shopping network,” I was like, “You are what? Is that some kind of a club?” I had no clue what was going on.” Remember, in ’98, they had a 1-800 number at the catalogs. I thought that would be the next revolution.
With you, podcasting is exploding. It makes complete sense that there are more people at home listening. We all want to educate ourselves. It’s only a twenty-minute investment. Everything is free out there like most podcasts are free to listen to. If you are going to be a successful podcaster, it takes an enormous amount of time to find the right guest for your show. I know a lot of famous people but they are not necessarily right for my show.
My show is about transformation stories. A lot of times, it’s the lesser-known people that have done some extraordinary things. You created a platform, so people like us can go find somebody easily at my fingertips at night. After everybody has gone to bed, I can do this in twenty minutes at a time. Tell me a little bit about how and why you created all of this. How long did it take for you to do this?
Thank you for being a member of PodMatch. You are a great supporter. My day has been made talking to you. I appreciate that. I’ve got into podcasting years before I started PodMatch, me as an individual, with my show. I saw that was an industry that was taking off. I didn’t do it, so I could become famous or anything like that. I wanted to have conversations with people and record them somehow. Before that, I did a bit of blogging. As much as I love blogging, it didn’t capture the same essence. When you do a written interview back and forth, it’s not the same.
I was like, “This audio platform has been great for me. I have been listening for years. While I’m in the gym or running, I listen to podcasts.” I decided, “I want to start my show.” Right when I started, I noticed something interesting. People that are in podcasting are very kind. A lot of other show hosts that I meet are so nice. That made me want to get even more into the industry. When I was starting to take off, that’s when I decided, “I’m going to do anything I can to support this industry.” It’s going to grow. If there was a business starting in here, it’s not going to crash in a year or two. Someday, podcasting might be a thing of the past but it’s still on the up and up.
I made it a devotion at that point to find something that could do to help the industry. The way I did it is a simple framework. I’m passionate about podcasting. I found the people that made up the ecosystem of it. I asked the hosts, “What are you struggling with?” It can be tough going in looking for guests when you are not sure if people even want to be on shows.
It can be tough going in looking for guests when you’re not sure if people even want to be on shows.
We’ve all got a cousin or a friend that started a business that could jump on our shows, maybe but finding those people who are saying, “I’m looking for shows. I have a message that will resonate well with your listeners.” That’s not easy to find. I identified that problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.
Like your golf ball story, you found a need that could be in high demand and a friction point. I love PodMatch because it is so simple, the diversity of the people that are there, and the shows as well. I agree with you on the caliber of people within the podcast industry. The TV industry is completely different. It is so catty and the most cutthroat business. People always ask me, “How do you ever survive twenty years of TV?” It’s either you do not have a pulse, have to be so numb or don’t see anything.
When I’ve got into podcasting, people were so nice. They were offering me everything. My microphone was all set up by people that didn’t charge me a penny. They gave me their heart and soul. “You understand video but in audio, you’ve got to do this and that.” Everything was free. I love that community of people that give their all.
The other thing about the podcasting platform is that it’s true that video has a lot more impact. If I was watching a YouTube video, I can’t be driving. If I’m driving to San Diego, that’s 2 hours that I can listen to 4 different podcasts but I can’t watch a single video because you are going to get into a car accident if you were watching that.
The platform is great. As far as creating this platform, without giving away your preparatory sequence, was it hard to come up with a technology piece? You’ve got the technology piece in terms of how the software works behind the scenes. You’ve got to go find all these podcasters, and then you have to find all the potential guests. All these other pieces have to come in. How difficult was that to coordinate all that? How much time did it take? Is it 2 years, 2 months, 20 years?
The timing in business is so important. It’s the number one factor if you ask Bill Gross. He’s the unicorn billionaire. He started seven multibillion-dollar companies or something like that. He says that timing is the most important factor. We happened to be at the right time. I’m not saying we couldn’t do it again. I say we because I have a Cofounder.
For me, I am more on the sales side of things. I’m customer service. I can build systems. I understand how the industry works. I have a friend that is someone that I knew for years. He and I had always planned on working together at some point. As matter of fact, we did one other project together years prior, and it was cool. We had good synergy.
Amplify Your Brand: We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year.
When I had this idea, it was right after PodFest 2020. It was the last in-person conference ever. I spoke at that conference, and that’s where I’ve got the idea for it. Identified the problem. I said, “I’m going to build a solution for us.” I came home that next week. On March 10th, 2020, I wrote it all out on three whiteboards. I immediately picked up my phone and called that friend. I said, “Jesse, I don’t know if you can work part-time on a project but I would love to do something with you.” It was crazy. That was a Tuesday. That Sunday night, he finished a multi-year project that he had been working on. He was like, “I’ve got capacity.”
What we did is we drafted up documentation saying we are 50/50 partners and decided to run with it. March 10th, 2020, is when we started working on it and launched an early beta on June 10th, 2020. It’s a few short months from start to finish. He is brilliant. He was able to save us a lot of money by doing that. We bootstrapped with $5,000 each of us, put $2,500 into account, and we went for it.
I wish you and your friend, Jesse, all the luck in the world. Let me give you some encouragement, not that you need it but I was at a Harvard Business School Reunion. Harvard Business School makes you go back to class once you have been there all that time. They had a panel of graduates that have been out of school for years. They talked about what are your challenges and so forth.
They had Harvard alumni from Google, Apple, Facebook, and all these different companies that are running our world seemingly. They asked them, “What keeps you up at night?” The answer was that we all work for a founder that started their company with under $5,000 in their garage. I didn’t think about it that way but it’s true. Apple started with less than $5,000 as well. You fit that bill exactly.
That’s good to know. That encouragement goes a long way. Thank you.
I thought that you might find that comparison very timely. When it comes to how you and Jesse and how you feel like you were at the right place at the right time, I also feel that way a lot of times about my little successes. Every time I hit a milestone, I would think, “I lucked out.” I like to also believe that it’s a preparation meeting opportunity because we are all here at the same time at the same place but you had the ideas, which not all of us had. You took action on that. It could be a divine alignment of some sort of a preparation meeting opportunity.
Kudos to you and Jesse. You have created a brand called Creating a Brand. You want it to make it simple. I love that you are a customer-centric company. That’s how Amazon made this very simple for their customers. You are rebranding into PodPros. It’s PodPros.com. What’s next for PodMatch and PodPros?
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
You are the first person to ever announce that company name. I have never said it to anyone other than you, so thank you for being that person. There’s something that I want to mention real quick. It goes back to something that Leonardo da Vinci said. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” It’s something that many of us need to remember because PodMatch is a complex system.
If you look through the backend code like me, it made my head explode seeing all that. In a day, we had one problem to solve, which is can we get the right guests in front of the right host and vice versa? At the end of the day, could we simply do that and continuously improve that process to make it faster and more streamlined? I look at the different things that I’m doing. I had to have a real “come to Jesus moment,” as I call it. For me, it was a time in prayer. “God, I’m doing too much. I’ve got my podcast. I have podcasts, PodMatch, and these other companies that we are reaching out and starting.”
I did that deep self-reflection and realized, “This is going to get complicated and cumbersome for other people to try to understand what I even do.” That’s why we decided to rebrand under PodPros. The idea was to bring it back to a simplistic form. What’s adding the most value to the people that we care about the most? Let’s focus on that one thing. PodcastSOP is a new company that we are launching. It’s project management software specifically for podcasters.
A lot of new ones are using sticky notes and word documents. They are trying to keep it organized. We want to help people do that easily because I feel the same way about this. We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year. It’s only 10% that make it. I wanted to help and see more people through that first year, so they can continue adding that value to people’s lives. Our big focus is we continue helping more podcasters get their message out there to the world.
I’m 1 of the 50 beta testing people. Before PodMatch, I was using 4 or 5 different software. You are using scheduling software, organization software, and all of the bios. It’s a whole amount of work. A lot of podcasts start as a side hustle. They don’t start as monetizing it. Most podcasters start because they are passionate about something and want to help people. Ninety percent of them don’t make it. I’m with you on that. I like to see that percentage go higher. If you think about it, 90% is almost the same as any other small business. It takes a lot of discipline and understanding the basics, who are your target audience, and all that stuff as well.
You have been in the industry for a while, and you are also seeing some of the mistakes that podcasters make. Going back to what you, Leonardo da Vinci said about simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, I agree with that but I also want to tell you one thing. One of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill. He said something to the effect that, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal.” A lot of people think that failure is not fatal is what they focus on. I like to think about success is not final because you had a very successful platform. There was nothing like PodMatch a year ago.
You continue to evolve because success is not final. A lot of times, when people are successful, they are so busy protecting that success or using that success to live their life however they want to live that they forget to evolve. One thing I noticed about PodMatch almost every time I’m on vacation or something, I come back and shut my brain off for a little bit, you have improved the site, again and again, everything from visual to how it operates, how we upload our bios and link our calendar. Since I became a PodMatch member in maybe April or May 2021, you have gone through many different upgrades already. Kudos to there as well.
Amplify Your Brand: If you continuously have that mindset of “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to really focus in, you’re going to do really well in podcasting.
That has been something that we wanted to always do. We asked the members that use it, “What works? What doesn’t?” We let them help us with the roadmap but the idea is to focus on continuous improvement. Jeff Bezos made this famous. We didn’t come up with it but his whole concept is, “Always day one.” We can’t ever let people decide. We can’t ever decide internally like, “We have made it. We have arrived. It’s day two.” It’s always day one, which means we are always on the ground floor getting started, and that’s always the mentality that we are going to keep.
What is your advice to a brand-new podcaster starting out facing that 90% failure rate?
The very first thing you have to do is develop a strong why for yourself. “Why are you podcasting?” If it’s something like, “I want to make money. I want 1,000 or 10 million downloads,” or whatever it might be, those reasons might be a little bit too shallow. They are not bad. They can be part of it but you need to begin with, “Who are you serving? Who’s going to be that person listening?” That comes in form of identifying what I call an avatar, which is your most ideal listener. Come up with one person. This is someone who would listen and anybody like them. Develop a strong why around that.
What I would recommend doing is if you have unspecific goals, you are going to have specific results. That has always been true. If it’s day one you are starting, determine that why. Decide what you want the avatar to have learned twelve months from now. Think 365 days in advance. Let’s say they are with you from day one until then. Where do you want them to have gone on their journey as a direct result of listening to you? If you continuously have that mindset of, “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to focus in, you are going to do well in podcasting.
If people want to find you, other than PodPros.com, is there any other place that they can connect you with?
Thankfully, that’s it. I commend you for how organized you are. Another thing that helps podcasters is the organization. You are the most organized host I have ever had the opportunity to be a guest with. Also, you do a great job with the show. I’m a reader myself. You had an episode with Nathan Bynum about how to build a website to test your products. It’s a brilliant conversation. I recommend the readers go check that one out if they haven’t read it. I appreciate you having me here and what you are doing with the show.
Thank you so much. Good luck to you. If you ever need feedback from some of the podcasters, make sure to reach out to me. I’ve got a lot to say.
It’s always day one, which means we’re always on the ground floor getting started. That’s the mentality that we’re going to keep.
You’ve got very valid feedback. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Thank you for reading this episode. If you haven’t rated and reviewed my show, please go ahead and do so. Please stay happy, healthy. Remember, happiness is your choice. I hope you make optimistic choices.
Alex Sanfilippo is the host of the top-rated entrepreneurship podcast, Creating a Brand, and the founder of two podcasting software’s, PodMatch.com, a service that matches podcast guests and hosts together for interviews and PodcastSOP, a project management software that is specifically for podcasters to help them keep episode releases on track!
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/54MDHsquare.jpg600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2022-01-12 03:00:172022-01-12 14:05:03Amplify Your Brand With PodMatch With Alex Sanfilippo
As an entrepreneur, it’s very important that you know why you are doing what you’re doing. Because that is what investors will look at. If you are a small business trying to raise capital, then this episode will be a treat! Funding the future, Joe Cecala founded Dream Exchange. And he sits down with Victoria Wieck to share how you can attract investors as a small business. Remember, investors invest in passion. If they wanted sure cash flow, they would’ve bought themselves an apartment complex. Learn how to build those investor relationships so that you can make your dreams come true. Join this conversation as Joe provides practical steps to raising capital.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
The Dream Exchange – How To Attract Investors For Your Idea Or Business With Joe Cecala
As I say, week after week, there are two reasons why most small businesses fail. The first reason is lack of funding and the second reason is lack of visibility. That’s my opinion. It’s not something that’s widely understood, but many of you who are tuning in to this show probably can relate to that. At some point in your life, you’ve probably gone through that phase or maybe you’re in that now.
My guest Joe Cecala is an amazing person and also has extreme expertise because this guy has done everything. He has written articles, helped people and had a fund in the stock exchange. I thought I’d invite him over and see what it takes to get some money for your businesses. Without further ado, we’ll get into Joe’s credentials and all the things he’s done, how he became the expert and how he helps you. I want to welcome him and have him tell his story because I think it’s a lot more interesting when it tells you his story rather than me relating it to you. Welcome to the show, Joe.
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to sharing my story. Your audience and the entrepreneurial world are my million-dollar passion.
It’s helping other people with the credentials you have and all the things you’ve accomplished. I’ve been on TV for many years and I’ve met a lot of famous people. I’m not just tooting my horn, but what I want to tell you is that I’ve never known anyone who has written an article in the Oxford University’s Handbook. In fact, I know only two people who went to Oxford. One of them was on a tourist visa vacation and the other one actually attended the school.
You’ve done all of this work. Tell me a little bit about your early background because sometimes your early life shapes what you do later on down the line. Is there any point in your life that shaped you in the financial world and specifically, how you have now shared that knowledge to enable hundreds or thousands of people to transform their lives?
I grew up in North Austin in Chicago, which is widely regarded as one of the most violent and suppressed areas in our country. I’m not a child of privilege. My father was a union worker. I’m born out of hardworking people. I was among the first two people in my family to go to college, go to professional school and become a lawyer.
In many years of my career, I spent representing Angel investors and venture capitalists to evaluate the companies that they were going to invest in. The bulk of my career was representing people with money on how they view a small company or a small opportunity to see how it would proceed. What shaped me was I began to notice that the best ideas and the best companies are not necessarily born of the best pedigree. They come from everywhere. They come from small communities. Entrepreneurs are every one of us now.
The best ideas and companies are not necessarily born of the best pedigree. They come from everywhere.
I began to realize that what we have to do as finance professionals is to help the investors to locate the most imaginative best companies, and usually, when we do that, we find that those are products and services that help the world survive better. The invention of things comes from every area in all walks of life. The things that we need to help one another get along, live a better and more easy life are not always born in expensive laboratories somewhere.
I took my experiences in life and started to channel them into using finance and the expertise that I have in helping those companies learn a very valuable process of how to communicate with investors and how to keep graduating to ever-increasingly more investment funds. The two problems you outlined, at least one of them could disappear entirely, which is we don’t want the ideas to die by virtue of a lack of our own dedication to funding them. That’s how we’ve gotten here.
First of all, for those of you who are reading, I didn’t mention this, but Joe is a licensed CPA and a lawyer. He’s in a perfect position to give you the straightforward financials, but also the legal side of this because anytime and every time you raise money, you put anything on paper. If you try to go get a loan for a home nowadays, it’s like a fund book of things that you have to sign. Having that legal background and making sure that there’s 100% transparency for both the venture capitalist who is investing money in you, as well as the person who is seeking funding, you’re in that perfect position to see potential problems down the road, so you don’t have to go and hire a separate lawyer.
The other thing I love about what you’ve done is that when you were working for this venture capitalist, you had a front seat on what they’re looking for, how they view your type of business and when they’re most likely to fund something. I’m not a venture capitalist. I’ve never looked for money. I should have, but I have not. What are venture capitalists looking for? Is there a good time versus a less desirable time to look for funding?
There is no time like the present. What you have to evaluate is what stage of development you are in, which will then inform you as to what type of investor is needed at your stage. For example, the very earliest stage companies, the Angel investor, people like to call it the family and friends’ rounds of money that those initial launch monies seed investing. It’s always a good practice to begin the communication and transparency.
I can’t emphasize transparency enough, especially the early-stage investor. If they understand your obstacles well and you’re honest about your obstacles, it’s my experience for all the years I’ve been doing this that the investor is rooting for you, especially if they are interested in the investment. That’s the first evaluation. If you’re making something or you have a technology or you’re creating some particular product, those early investors have to be pioneers with you. They have to really have an interest in your version of what help is and then they’ll support you. They tend to support you through the earliest stage struggles.
That’s what’s in Oxford’s Handbook. When you look at what we’ve written, you can identify the particular characteristics of companies that make it. You have to do a bit of your own self-study. There are organizations like ours that are willing to help with that, but the answer is there’s no time like the present and what you want to communicate first is the potential bigness of your idea. How imaginative are you? That’s what they’re interested in.
They’re not interested in something that is going to be average. They’re interested in the extraordinary and I find that there are tens of thousands of extraordinary people with extraordinary ideas, yet they get caught up in all the language of finance and the mechanics of financial data and the legalities. If you’re an entrepreneur, what you want to do is capture the goal of what you’re trying to accomplish in its biggest broadest sense and how your imagination supports that.
Dream Exchange: As an entrepreneur, you want to capture the goal of what you’re trying to accomplish in its broadest sense. It’s how your imagination supports that that will generate interest.
That will generate the interest and once the interest is there, be transparent as to what the barriers and obstacles in the road ahead are so you can keep people supporting you through those barriers and obstacles. That’s the primary help that we’re delivering in terms of financial literacy, education and connectivity between investors and entrepreneurs. When we’re all grown up, we’ll have a full-fledged small business stock exchange, but right now, in an immediate form, that’s how we’re helping the entrepreneur and the strategic investor or strategic consultant alike. We’re doing that now.
If you miss this, the one thing I’m going to direct all of you right now reading is to go to the Oxford University’s Handbook on IPO. It’s called the Main Street Growth Act H.R.2899. Is this on your website at DreamEx.com?
Yeah. You can also find links to the legislation.
I’ve been on TV for many years and the only reason I say that is because when you’re not transparent, people find out. You’re one click away from 100% transparent information all the time. The minute you’re not transparent about something, that’s either by misleading inaccurate information or omitting something altogether.
You then lose credibility on everything else you were saying. Transparency is a fair thing to do. I just sold a home in Las Vegas and I have to tell you, when we had to disclose all the things that were wrong with the house, it was 52 pages of a document that I didn’t even know, but I had to put myself in the shoes of the buyer when they come in, “Are these things that they would normally expect?”
It was a fairly large home. I went even as far as documenting where the ants come in when it rains because I didn’t want to be sued later on. I think that the transparency piece is very important, especially if they’re Angel investors. I love what you do and I would love to see a small dream stock exchange for small business owners because they have very specific needs that larger companies don’t have. They have the imagination, the drive and the passion, but the thing that they’re lacking is funding.
Most of the time, when you’re running a small business, unless you’re in the business of finance, we don’t think about finance the way that you guys do in the financial world. I don’t know how many times I talked to entrepreneurs that tell me, “I have so many more customers now than ever before it. My revenue is through the roof, but I don’t know why I have no money.” I’m like, “How is it that you don’t know you have any money?”
I want to emphasize this. It’s almost a little bit profound. It’s, “I’m generating so much interest. I’m generating so many sales, but the financial mechanics are taking over my life because I don’t have $2 million, $3 million and $5 million in profitability.” You’ll get pushed aside by many investors. What I want to say is that the world has changed. Tesla, the largest electronic auto manufacturer in the world, did not have a profitable quarter until last July 2021.
It’s a canary in the coal mine that shows what I’m trying to impart, which is the idea and the milestones toward accomplishing the idea are far more important, especially for the early-stage company than this overwhelming cashflow profitability. If you have an idea whose time has come, that’s of tremendous interest to investors. That’s why transparency is so important.
Investors are actually interested in why you do things, not how you do things.
If you tell them, “If you overcame these three obstacles, then this is how big this can become.” They want to know that. They don’t want to know that everything is fine, “Yes, sir, three bags full,” and I’ve found this to be the case very often. Small companies that are highly profitable are throwing off buckets and buckets of cash. They’re not looking for investors very often because they have cash.
What is the obstacle? The obstacle is, how can I get the funds to expand my idea because it’s bigger than merely, “Can I turn in immediate profit?” Throughout our world now, we know virtually how to solve anything. Human beings are ingenious. We can create solutions or how to solve a problem in hundreds of ways. What the investors are interested in when ideas become big is why. It’s not how we solve it. Why would we do this?
You talked about pets. I think George Carlin once made a joke that he brought home his kitten and he thought, “Why am I doing this? I’m buying a tragedy. Now it is my cat.” I have three pets. We all have them because the reasons why we do things go to the core of the very reason we’re alive. When you’re an entrepreneur and you’re creating something, it goes to that very core. That’s what I mean by looking at the big picture, “Why is this going to be so great?”
There may be many different mechanical ways to solve certain things or to produce something, but people become interested because it enhances their life. It enhances the joy of living or their ability to survive at all. That’s far more important in a discussion with an entrepreneur. You may not even know this about an investor. You may not even realize it at first, but they’re looking for you. They’re hunting for that early company with the great idea that everyone is going to become interested in and that solves a certain equation for how to make life and living a better thing on our planet.
That’s far more important than the financial mechanics. If you get lost in that, you may as well go back to college and get a degree in Accounting. That’s not what they’re interested in. They’re interested in you, your idea, your passion and how your passion will become a big enterprise someday. That’s what they invest in. If they wanted to invest in something that just provided cashflow, they can buy an apartment building.
When you talked about Tesla, I was thinking, “How many years was it before Jeff Bezos turned a profit?” It was years when quarter after quarter, he’d get on CNBC talking about his vision and what it’ll do. In the meantime, he had lost another $100 million for that quarter.
How did he go about losing? Think about that. Who paid for the $100 million loss? His investors. Why? They saw that the convenience of Amazon in all of our lives was practically one of the biggest ideas. There are some big ideas out there now, but it is perhaps one of the biggest ideas ever to circulate in our society. It’s no wonder the company is worth billions and billions. We have companies that are worth over $1 trillion.
What I would say to the entrepreneur is you don’t have to be a trillion-dollar company. You don’t have to have the vision of, “I’m going to be a trillion dollars,” to attract a good investor who wants to help and who sees your niche. “Can we do $50 million?” That would be wonderful from where you are now. That intermediate benchmark is the exact same conversation from raising $1 million to raising $50 million to raising $5 billion. It’s the same interest. You have to think of the big idea and communicate it with a sufficient amount of transparency. I’ve said this more times in the last couple of years than ever in my life. Sometimes, a very good answer is I don’t know the answer.
They appreciate the transparency that you don’t know. You don’t have to know everything.
Dream Exchange: Investors are looking for you. They want to invest in you. If they wanted to invest in something that provides cash flow, they would’ve bought an apartment building.
“I’m working on it. This is what we’re working on currently. I invented electricity last week. I’m not exactly sure when the light bulb will be finished.” That’s a perfectly acceptable solution.
There was this thought amongst small business owners, especially minority female business owners, that when you talk about venture capitalists, they’re vultures. What would you say to that? How would you explain to somebody that you’re not there to be a vulture? You’re there to get them the help that they need in exchange for a certain amount of money.
I had a friend who was a fitness instructor. She was having a tough time getting ten people in her living room to teach fitness classes, and eventually, there was an investor who believe in the idea of fitness. This guy invested $1 million in her business, but it was in exchange for a lot of things. When the brand was doing $200 million or $300 million a year, she wanted to change the deal. Growth happened very quickly too.
She cried wolf about the unfairness of the deal. His whole response to that was, “Without me, you’d still be coaching the fitness classes and not being able to pay rent,” because she had these little flyers at the grocery store. She knew somebody who knew somebody who invested this money. I see both sides of it. How would you go about bucking that statement?
Venture capitalist, Angel investor and entrepreneur, everyone alike, you have to take a viewpoint, especially in the earliest stages of your business that you’re creating a relationship. It is a relationship-driven environment. With the years of financial and mechanical training that I’ve had, I’m sure I’d have professors who would scream at me right now, but the point is that the relationship has to have fundamental fairness.
In other words, at the earliest stage, the investor is looking at the idea and the entrepreneur is looking at the need for money and there’s this balance that one has to strike. We have a formula called Equilibrium Pricing, where what is fundamentally fair at the outset of the business may eventually become unfair as time goes by. It’s because the importance of the $1 million when you have a studio of ten people is clearly significantly higher than when the brand is a national brand and it’s all over the United States. The reward for the person who had the idea, very often in the earliest stage, can include terms that are suppressive to the person who is creating.
What’s important about the story you articulated is that the external world to the business is where the real barriers to expansion exist. What you want to make sure of is that internally, you don’t create a disincentive between the investor and the entrepreneur. In other words, if you’re working and it’s so suppressive that the next dollar you make, $0.99 of it, has to go to your investors, what’s your incentive as an entrepreneur to make your idea great any longer? At some point, there’s an equilibrium. It’s like, “When will the things start to turn that they’re not fair for one party or the other?”
Vulture capitalist is an appropriate name to some of them because there are people who do suppress. On the other hand, there are good investors and they say, “Here we are today with my $1 million and your very good idea. In five years, if we’ve gone through my $1 million and your idea turns out to be worth less than what I paid for it, we’ll be sitting with your bad idea and my $1 million will be gone.”
That’s just a justification for an investor not being able to estimate well enough how that entrepreneur will perform. That’s where the transparency, the barriers and you providing enough information to say, “If this, in fact, does go as big as it is, these are the rewards I’m going to expect from you.” It does become unfair where the person who merely wrote a check was their effort. The entrepreneur went through slavery, sweat labor and the worrisome nights of getting that business moving.
Sometimes, a good answer is, “I don’t know the answer,” because that shows transparency.
Someday, if the $1 million is worth $100 million and the whole company is only worth $110 million, it’s patently unfair to say that $1 million created the totality of that business. That’s not true, because his money was just money. Any other $1 million would have done it. Him saying, “I believed in your way back when,” doesn’t somehow create fundamental fairness or resolve the injustice that only the money got really wealthy and the entrepreneur is going to go onto their next entrepreneurship, again, not paying the rent with a new idea. There’s a balance to that. We help with that. One of the things is getting your relationship intact with your earliest investors to assure that they’re aligned behind the purposes and want to see you flourish and prosper as much as they do.
I know several of my audience personally pretty well and they have some crazy and amazing ideas for the next invention. They’re running pretty decent businesses right now. If they’re trying to find money, would you recommend that they do some package together? Is that something you help out with, their vision, mission and all that stuff with what they’re doing?
Yeah. As I said, what are we doing now because we’re not open as a stock exchange and probably won’t be for another year. We do have a social media site called DreamEx Connect. What we’ve designed the social media site to do is to be a menu-driven identity. It’s a menu-driven way that you can put your profile into an environment where you, as the entrepreneur, don’t have to think through all the potential questions that someone’s going to ask. I call it being strategically involved.
We’ve just started. We have 2,000 personalities in there already, both strategic consultants, investors, as well as entrepreneurs. If you follow the menus, there’s also the ability to put in your own PowerPoints, videos and all of the data that you’d normally associate with social media. We also have an internal messaging board so you can search among the investors and people who have created profiles for someone who would be strategically aligned with you.
You can then custom make the packaging. We have other products that are designed to help with the mechanics, because as soon as you start, what’s the package going to look like? What are the key mechanical and financial forecasts and ways to communicate to the investor? We have a lot of resources through DreamEx Connect that will help you if you start your relationship. If you find an investor and the two of you are interested, there are some products we have that will help facilitate how you communicate with one another after you’ve done your online social media exercise and you can search.
The investors have profiles. They say, “I only invest in the earliest stage companies. I’m only interested in environmentally sound companies or companies that do wastewater management.” Whatever their profile says, you can search within the DreamEx Connect environment and begin the relationship process. That will drive what goes into the packaging because you are your packaging. You’re selling some part of your company. You have to put the best appearance on it and transparently let them know what it is they’re going to be involved in eventually. We have a lot of tools to help through DreamEx Connect.
What you’re describing is that the DreamEx Connect is almost like a platform where the investors can search for the right investment that they want to get involved in or the next big idea they want to invest in. You have a bunch of people that have great ideas looking for funding and I think that’s great. What you’re describing reminds me a little bit of the retail environment. I’m in retail and so many people approach me and they want to get on TV. They want their product on TV, and they’ll ask me, “How do I pitch them?”
I tell them the same thing that you said, which is that the buyers of all the department stores like Saks, and Neiman Marcus, all those buyers are busy and I’ve dealt with all of them. The only ones that I haven’t dealt with are Target and Walmart in this country. I’ve done TV, Duty Free and all that. Those professional buyers’ job is to buy something every day. They are looking for the next big thing in their category. Just like people who are professional investors, they’re pretty good at what they do and they know what they’re looking for. They are looking for the next big idea that could be shaped into something that improves lives or adds value.
Dream Exchange: A relationship between an investor and entrepreneur has to have fundamental fairness. The investor is looking for the idea, and the entrepreneur is looking for money. It’s called equilibrium pricing.
It’s not like you are begging for their sympathy money. You’re asking to be discovered for your thing. You have given me and my audience a lot of information. I love what you do and how you broke down the funding issue because it’s not necessarily for big companies with all the CPAs and lawyers on their teams. You don’t have to necessarily get to that point before you look for money. You’re creating this stock exchange for small business owners specifically because I think there are so many more small business owners than the big companies out there that could use it.
I love what you do and all the things that you’ve done to make it easy. The financial market is more accessible and easier to understand than before you came on the show. For those of you who think that you are not looking for money, I would say to go ahead and check out Joe’s website because one of the things that small business people are horrible about is having any exit strategy.
I think of so many businesses and I know you can too, in Chicago. There are a lot of family-owned businesses or family-owned restaurants that have been there for 20, 30, or 40 years and the next generation of people come in and they don’t want to have anything to do with that. There’s all that equity, trust and goodwill that goes out the window. Sometimes it’s better to have some idea of what your business is worth and how attractive it would be if you have to get out. Having that pulse on your assets and your branding would be helpful to everybody.
What you said is another profound statement. It takes about a few years of planning to exit properly. When you say exit strategy, you can’t say, “I’m going to sell my business tomorrow.” That’s why catching the earliest involvement you can get to prepare yourself for the eventuality of dealing with the financial professionals, the consultants, the lawyers and all that laboring work is not something you become educated in overnight.
The earliest possible communication and at the earliest possible stage, so you’re planning at every step along the way to properly exit and protect your wealth that you’ve put your life’s work into. That is the main purpose of the Dream Exchange. It’s to create a financial marketplace where people are able to harvest the wealth of years of their life’s energy being poured into a business and not have it, as you said, go by the boards because they didn’t plan to exit properly.
I love your branding of Dream Exchange. It’s catchy and it sticks. Do you have any parting words of wisdom for the audience?
To the entrepreneurs, I have two words. The two words that are near and dear to my heart are to never quit. To the investors, it’s similar but a little more wordy. “You only lose your money when you sell.” There are bad entrepreneurial days. You have to not quit and get through them. The funds and the sales will come. I think it was Thomas Edison who was asked, “It took you 4,000 tries to develop the light bulb. How do you feel about that? You failed 3,999 times.” He said, “No. I learned 3,999 ways not to make a light bulb,” and that’s all it is.
You have to keep the intestinal fortitude to keep going until your light bulb turns on. I meet these people every day. I’m on your side. The world is on your side. You have friends and resources. People who are willing to help. You have to reach for the proper relationship to get the help you need to see your ideas come. That’s the dream. To see your dreams come true with your small business. That’s what we’re all about at the Dream Exchange.
Go check out Joe’s social media, the Dream Exchange and then you can find out all about the articles he wrote and all of his astonishing accomplishments on DreamEx.com. Thank you so much for coming in and sharing your knowledge, expertise and your passion. For those of you who are reading, make sure that you share this episode because when we share our knowledge and our passion, it goes one step closer to living a better world and lifting everybody else. It’s time to stop competing. It is time to collaborate with everyone. Until next time, please stay healthy and happy. As I always say, happiness is your choice and I hope you make great choices.
Joe Cecala was a lawyer who worked on many small capital transactions for more than fifteen years. In that time, he saw that small capital transactions, however good, always lack a clear exit. Answering the investor question “How do I sell my investment?” was a constant problem. This, and other problems in raising capital, were especially pronounced in the black community as his firm worked with the Chicago Urban League attempting to help the “Next One” entrepreneurship program.
Early in his legal career, Mr. Cecala learned how stock exchanges “hunt” for liquidity because he was the lawyer for the founders of Archipelago, one of the first and the biggest electronic stock exchanges in the world. Archipelago grew and was eventually acquired by the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the electronic infrastructure for the NYSE still used today. Because of his experience in understanding the formation of the world’s greatest electronic stock exchange, Mr. Cecala learned how a stock exchange creates and controls liquidity in the markets.
Following his involvement with Archipelago, Mr. Cecala spent years researching capital markets. In that time, he discovered that the structure of the US capital markets and the current stock exchanges favor only the largest transactions with celebrity companies. Mr. Cecala’s research showed that, prior to Archipelago, the overwhelming majority of IPO’s were $50.0 million and under! By 2004, small capital IPO’s had all but disappeared. After years of working with minority businesses, in addition to this, he realized as well that minority businesses were nearly absent from all IPO and public company listings.
In 2018, Joe Cecala founded the Dream Exchange to solve these long-standing market problems by creating a stock exchange to become completely inclusive and expand access to capital markets for companies with great imagination and foresight into the future as well as make an impact on the lacking diversity in the capital markets. In 2020, a black owned private equity firm, Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, entered an agreement to become the majority owner in Dream Exchange, thus creating the first black owned stock exchange in the history of America.
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/53MDHsquare.jpg600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2022-01-05 03:00:302022-01-13 13:57:29The Dream Exchange – How To Attract Investors For Your Idea Or Business With Joe Cecala
Storytelling is all about answering your audience’s biggest questions and dilemmas. Corporate storytelling makes you more relatable to customers and investors. In fact, you won’t be remembered for your business model; you’ll be remembered for your story. Discover the ins and outs of storytelling with your host Victoria Wieck and her guest Donna Griffit. Donna is a Corporate Storyteller who has worked globally for over 16 years with just about anybody. Join in the conversation and learn how to communicate with your customer and investor with storytelling.
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Using Corporate Storytelling To Attract Investors With Donna Griffit
Week after week, we bring you some amazing guests with incredible expertise and real-life experiences in their area of expertise. In this episode, I have Donna Griffit, a person that you might want to follow. All the things that she does, you can find on her website, DonnaGriffit.com. You’ll find out that she has helped many Fortune 500 companies raise money and come up with amazing storytelling so they sound more lovable. Before I get too much into this, I want to welcome Donna to the show.
Thanks for having me, Victoria.
I’m so excited to get into this topic. I know that you have amazing expertise in all the related categories, such as finding your target audience, your voice and all that. Since the show is very short, I wanted to focus on the one that I think our readers are going to respond to, which has to do with storytelling, specifically storytelling from a brand and corporate perspective.
I think this is the one thing that a lot of female entrepreneurs don’t often use to their advantage. Many of us do things for people. You don’t want to be braggadocious. You don’t want to be talking about yourself all the time. We’d rather do the things. Tell me a little bit about how you got to be this expert? What is it you do to add value to these amazing companies that you’ve helped?
I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, but the past decade-plus has been devoted to startups. After the last financial crisis, startups were in a very challenging place because then it was not a pandemic. It was the crumbling of the economy. When COVID started, there was a lot of uncertainty, but there have been some amazing investments happen. Back then, it wasn’t quite as quick to come back. I think startups also realized that in order to stand out and persuade investors, they needed to be able to tell a better story.
Understanding that you need to do something and knowing how to do it, there’s a gap there. Storytelling is a big buzzword now where we would go, “Storytelling is so important.” Very few people that I find know what that means. It’s not standing around telling a story and jokes. The story is a structure. It’s an art form. Incorporating stories of your own journey into it and your understanding of your audience and their story is where the win is because people remember stories and messages that are created like stories.
If you want to be memorable, you want to stand out. They’re not going to remember your pack, LTV, and business model. They’re going to remember stories. I remember startups that I worked on several years ago. They had a great origin story or founder story. I still remember it because it sits, resonates, and that’s what you want.
In order for startups to stand out and persuade investors, they need to be able to tell a better story.
I completely agree with everything you’re saying. I think that more and more, all the research I’ve done for my book, which is coming out in 2022 called Million-Dollar Passion, which is that people now more than ever, in the age of Federal Express and digital marketing, it seems like everything is static and yet, we do business with people that we can relate to. We do business with people that we like. If you are buying from a company that has a great story, you’d rather buy from them if it wasn’t like 200%, 300%, 400% higher.
The art form of storytelling, “What story do we tell?” How do we tell it, the tone? How long does it have to be? Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and a lot of entrepreneurs that I work with know the importance of storytelling, but they don’t know how to go about it. In your opinion, what are the things that need to be in a story? When you said there was a structure, there’s like a beginning, middle and the end. Is there a formula?
Yes, absolutely. For the formula, all we have to do is look back a few thousand years like the Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, or check all the great early writers and see how they wrote. They were writing from a very primal place of how our brains with no technology, no bits and bytes took in the information. There’s a very specific way that our brains are hardwired to take in information, and it’s in chunks.
There’s a principle of chunking it’s called, which is basically 5 plus 2 minus 2. Meaning, anywhere between 3 to 7 chunks of information is all our poor human brains are capable of taking on. All-day long, we’re getting a lot of information thrown at us, and our brain is busy putting that information away into little folders and buckets. You shared something with me. I’m like, “That sounds familiar. That goes in that folder.” A new thing comes in. I don’t quite know what to do with it. I’m struggling with it. I either ignore it or fight that.
In order to keep people streamlined with the information, you want to chunk your message in a way that they’re capable of taking it. Looking back at Greek tragedies and Shakespeare, everybody wrote an Act 1, 2, 3, 4, and very specific things that happened in the act. Act 1 is the exposition, problem, opportunity, and something that’s happening. There’s a tendency when we’re selling something to want to start with ourselves, our products, how great they are, how amazing they are, but without the context, nobody cares unless they get what it has to do for them and their lives.
If we’re talking investors, how they’re going to make a lot of money off this investment that you are truly going to change people’s lives for. We have to understand that need. People are probably thinking, “The problem solution,” that’s dated. It’s thousands of years old. There’s a reason that it’s persevered and Hollywood still writes this way. This is exactly how we’re used to taking in information, but it’s a seamless structure. We start off with the problem need and we go to your solution and how it informs that need. That’s the key. You need to constantly show how you are solving the pain for your target audience.
The third act is what the business is behind it. What are the numbers saying? What is the market saying? What’s your competition doing? All of the things that back it up, but note that only comes in the third place. You can talk about how big the market is when you’re talking about the problem. That definitely is a great seed to plant, but the business thing only comes after they get what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Corporate Storytelling: Storytelling is an art form. You need to be able to understand your audience’s story. That’s where you’ll win because people remember stories. They don’t remember your packaging or your business model.
Finally, the fourth act, which people often leave off, is what’s next, your vision for the future. You’re doing this now. Is this leading to a bigger end game? What do you need in order to get there? What are the milestones along the way that we can see that you’re succeeding in getting there? Asking for the funding that you need or for the sale or whatever your call to action is, in the end, makes sense because they know why you’re asking her for the money and what you’re going to do with it.
What Donna talked about is storytelling targeted toward a particular group of investors or people interested in funding your project. She also does storytelling for business to consumer. Is that correct?
I do B2C, B2B.
What she described is the storytelling structure that investors expect.
Without knowing it, they’d never say, “I want you to talk to me about the hero and the villain.”
No, for sure. I discussed this in my book very extensively. If you know who your target market is, the first thing I always say to everybody, and I know you’d agree with this too, is you have to figure out what your service does to add value to somebody’s life. That has to be so clear before any story can begin. I do a lot of business, I still now with Corporate America, probably a lot of your clients. I’m selling to department and Duty Free stores. I’m talking to TV stations about a new collection. What they’re interested in is, “How much money can I make off of this? How are you going to make me more money than the next guy down the street?”
I usually start with, “Here is a problem.” For example, we can say rose gold is hot right now. A lot of things you have, you’re not offering. The customers that are looking for rose gold are people that are very trend-conscious, and you’re not offering the trend pieces in rose gold. I designed these pieces for you. For example, that would be like the problem.
Storytelling is made up of answering your audience’s biggest questions and dilemmas.
It’s not our lives are miserable because we don’t have rose gold, but if people want it, making their lives better and happier. They’re willing to put money on it. That’s an opportunity. It doesn’t have to be solving brain cancer or world peace. It’s finding the need and the people willing to pay for that need. That is where the meeting place of making a difference and people’s lives better, and being able to make a lot of money on it.
I think sometimes people think, “No, I don’t want to talk about the making money piece.” When you’re getting into capital investment, it’s not called venture philanthropy. It’s called venture capital. They are looking without a doubt to make a 10X on their investment, at least. You need to be able to show them, “I am impacting people’s lives. This is something you want. There’s a real demand. There’s a real need. I can prove it from my numbers, but we’re going to make a lot of money on this.”
You’re good at this. For example, let’s say you have a client you’ve taken to an investor. They succinctly describe the problem and a problem that’s big enough where they can make money off of. You’re offering them either a solution or a solution and an opportunity and the growth potential of the market. Do they respect you more than doing that rather than rambling on about, ‘I love this product,’ and whatever?
Absolutely. You’ve done the work for them. Basically, storytelling is made up of answering your audience’s biggest questions and dilemmas. The structure that I have for the investor deck, which I’ve created, and there’s a cheat sheet for it on my website under resources and guides. There’s one for the investor deck and one for the sales deck.
What I did was take a whole list of questions that I know that investors ask and want to know. This is from years of doing this, talking to them, seeing them deconstruct pitches and put together that list, then chunk it into these four sections, and answering those questions as we go. What’s basically happening is you are addressing their questions and their argument pieces before they even come. That’s melting the resistance and showing credibility, “This person knows what they’re doing. They understand this. They’ve got the questions I would have asked before I even asked it.”
“They understand my pain.” The other thing too, you find that a lot of times when you go to an investor group or potential investor and you have done all the homework, they were surprised that they didn’t know that there was a problem. They didn’t even realize there was a market for something like that.
Most investors are extremely savvy, especially in Silicon Valley, on trends and things that are going on, but I’ve heard investors say, “If I learned something new from a meeting with a founder, I consider that a win.” It’s not that they’re probably not going to know anything about what you’re talking about, but if it’s new and more complex things. Things around crypto, blockchain, Kubernetes and other new trends like NFT, there are always new things emerging. They may not understand the technology under the hood in-depth and maybe they do, but at the same time, you need to level set.
Corporate Storytelling: Your brain is hardwired to take in information in chunks. The principle of chunking is where your brain can only take between three to seven chunks of information.
You might be talking and can find out the beginning. Are you familiar with NFTs? “Yes, I’ve done great.” You can have a slide that’s like a primer, a 101 that level sets without going too deep. It’s a very simple way to set it. If they need it, great. If not, move on. They will appreciate that you can explain it in a simple way. Einstein said, “If you can explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” If you’re rambling on about complex technologies and the ins and outs, you’re going to lose them so fast. It doesn’t matter how it works inside. It matters that it works and it’s doing its job. They’re going to dive into the technology when they do due diligence.
Donna, I help a lot of female business owners, and the one common thread I see all the time, and it drives me crazy myself, is about my personality. I know it’s something that doesn’t work, but they hang on to this. I get a lot of people saying, “My business is growing like crazy. I get 200,000 people visiting my websites. I don’t know how to monetize it, so and so. I want to find investors.” I tell them, “What do you want to say?” The first thing they do is list all the statistics. I’m like, “Those numbers are so boring.”
Some of them can be extremely interesting. I think numbers are the language of love of investors. I often tell people if you have amazing numbers like that, do what I call the brag slide. Upfront, put the six biggest, most exciting numbers, patents filed, growth month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, pipeline value, and monthly active users.
If they see these big numbers, six of them, not the whole list of every stat you have, that makes them sit up and take attention like, “You’ve got me now, what do you have?” You bought yourself a few more minutes of their attention. They’re like, “I’m dealing with someone that A) Has momentum and B) Knows the numbers that would pique my interest. I’m ready to hear some more.” Don’t rattle off a whole list of features or stats, but do put front and center the big moments.
Whenever I presented things, I would usually summarize what the stats say first. For example, I have a client who’s a nonprofit. This basically has to do with climate change, animal welfare, all the different things. She lists 43% of the planet is so and so, and 23% of the wildlife in Africa is so and so.” You go through it without a whole list of things. The whole point they’re trying to say is we’re in code red. There are all these things that were happening at the same time. What I advised her was you can use the stats to support what you were saying, but when you’re going through 43%, 23%, all these numbers, I feel like you’re not getting that emotional connection.
Let’s separate between the numbers about your achievements, the numbers that you’ve hit and the numbers in the market. With startup, if you have great numbers, then talk about the need out there. You can pepper it with a couple of stats. It’s an 87% growth in the last two years the demand for rose gold. Throw in some things that show that you know the market. You don’t have to say too much, just the big names. Either that they know or they might find interesting, “I did not know that.” Look for that surprise moment.
I’m glad that you clarified that because I struggled with numbers. I’m a designer, so I don’t do a lot of math. When I see this sea of numbers when they’re pitching me, it’s giving me a headache already. If they would summarize what they’re trying to say, I can look and pick out the biggest numbers out there. I’m not an investor either.
Get as far as you possibly can without raising funding, if possible. Only raise when you’re ready to scale.
Another thing I wanted to ask you about is a lot of my clients and audience, frankly, are people that could use investors or they could go on their own. They could grow slowly or bring in some investors. Is there a number that the Silicon Valley or the venture capital community likes to see? Is there a number that they won’t even touch if it’s too early in a startup space?
Victoria, I think all the cards have been shuffled in the last year and a half. I once might have answered that. Now, I am seeing things that perplex me and massive investments in companies that I am like, “They don’t have anything yet?” I’m seeing companies that have incredible sales, a great product, and a great team not getting funded as fast as I thought they would. I am just as perplexed about it as you are. I will say this, get as far as you possibly can without raising funding if possible.
I know that that’s changed now because a lot of people are raising on the idea and just on having it there, but unless you’re a serial entrepreneur, that’s not a given. If you can build an MVP, you can get a proof of concept and some early traction to show that it works. The people like this and people are waiting for this. You’re then going to have a much easier time. You always run the risk of them saying, “Those are some early numbers. Let’s wait and see how it goes.” The further you can get being scrappy and lean only raises when you’re ready to scale and have a justification for it. Don’t raise because you think, “All startups need to raise.”
That’s very good advice. Whenever you make base money, you do give up some control.
You give up equity. You give up your blood, sweat, tears, and it’s going to have a price down the road. I’ve seen founders left at the end of the life cycle of the startup. There was a company that I’ve known for many years. It’s announced that they were acquired by a big company for less than they raised. The founders are left with nothing to show for 10, 11, 12, 13 years of work. You give away this equity. People think, “I raised funding. That’s a huge achievement. Yay me.” That’s the achievement. Meaning somebody believed in you. Now, you’re ready to get out there and prove it for yourself.
That leads me to my next question. How would you go about doing your storytelling differently if you were not crowdsourcing?
You want to tell the story, but you’re talking to the crowd who are investing in you, but they also need to believe in the product more. They might be potential users or see the value for an audience. I would go the same route of looking for the pain, but it can be much more direct. You have to be much less capitally focused because even if it’s equity crowdfunding, they’re not as savvy as Angel and VC investors would be.
Corporate Storytelling: Put your six biggest and most exciting stats and numbers upfront. Don’t list them all, only six because that will make investors sit up and take notice. You have bought some of their attention now.
They need to understand that they have the potential of making money here, but they’re not investing because they’re putting in their $500 to $5,000. They’re going to see incredible returns on that. They know that it’s like playing the stock market in a sense, but they do want to believe in what you’re doing. Perhaps if it’s a product campaign, get the product, want it and see the value in it.
You can see Donna has got quite a bit of experience with all the different phases of startups, the growth, the scale and the exit. I’m going to switch gears for a little bit from the business to consumer. There are quite a few people who do great business having 4,000 or 5,000 customers that repeatedly buy. I think that was good because, in my opinion, the business to consumer, you do have to sell your why and that emotional connection. They have to believe they’re buying more of a personalized product. Would it be the same storytelling?
It depends if you’re telling your B2C story to an investor or your audience. I’m working with an incredible woman-founder of a company called Pashion. It’s shoes that go from flats to heels. She’s got a utility patent on it. It’s super comfortable and also fun because it completely transforms your shoes. Her customers love it because she’s understood that, in this day and age, we want comfort and style. We’ve gotten used to being at home in our yoga pants. Putting back on those six-inch stilettos, and she’s been working on this for many years before COVID, but it’s getting your finger on the pulse. Also, it’s the sustainability play.
Millennials and Gen Zs don’t want to be spending money on a closet full of shoes, yet they do want that style. There are so many different versatile ways to use it. With investors, we have to also spin it in the way of positioning it among big brands that have made this big shift. Look at the Rockies, Allbirds, ThirdLove, Spanx, and how they’ve redefined a category. That is what Haley is doing. She’s redefining a category. We also need to paint the big vision picture of, “This is going to be that next big life and market-changing category,” and have the gumption to come out there and say it.
I think that many of you, I know, one of the most favorite topics of this show is storytelling. It seems to be something that you can never learn enough of. First of all, it’s always evolving. Secondly, there are different ways of telling stories. As you said, stories are easier to remember and much more emotionally connecting. It’s easier to remember than numbers. Stories are memorable. Some of the most memorable things I can remember like movies and books. We all have our favorite books. They are very memorable.
It’s a known fact that things like Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and all these things are timeless. I think storytelling is having its day. I’m glad that you have all the expertise because you were practicing storytelling long before it became in vogue for a long time. Probably several years early, and I’m sure that in that career, you’ve had some great stories, some not so great, but I think we’re now having the benefit of that.
I loved how you simplified it to the four-act structure because it’s easy to follow. You can plug it in. Donna has amazing resources on her website. It’s DonnaGriffit.com, where you could get a lot of free resources, practice before you hire her for the real big thing that you’ve got coming up. Donna, any last words about storytelling or female entrepreneurs in general? Any advice that you have?
Everybody has a story. Don’t ever sell yourself short on the power of your own story.
My passion is helping women find and amplify their voices. I lead a community online called Women Founders Unite, where it’s women founders, investors and business owners in the startup space. It’s very supportive. Women are there to give advice to each other, to help and to scaffold it. I think that the only way we’re going to flip the ratio is by women helping each other. I’ll go the opposite of what Madeleine Albright said, “There’s this place in hell for women that don’t help each other.” I’ll say, “There’s a special place in karma for women who do help each other and for being there for each other.” That’s one piece and you’re welcome to join the community on Facebook.
The other piece is everybody has a story. You might take it for granted, but you have a fascinating story. Someone out there, at least one person, is going to listen to it and not just your mother and think, “That’s inspiring. That has changed the way I look at things.” Don’t ever sell yourself short on the power of your own story.
All of our life experiences are interesting to somebody. You only need a small group of people to believe, love you and fall in love with you and your product. I can’t agree with you more about women lifting each other because it’s time now that we learn to collaborate, stop competing and doing all the things because it would only lift a whole community of people globally. How can people get ahold of you? Is it still DonnaGriffit.com?
Donna@DonnaGriffit.com is my email, or you can click Contact or Let’s Talk on my website, and send me a message. I’m pretty quick to answer emails. You can also schedule a call, and please do mention Victoria’s show is where you’ve heard me because there will be a special discount waiting for you as well if you do engage my services. If you want to say thanks and share something that you were able to use, I love hearing that it was helpful.
Many of you know how I feel about this whole area of coaching and consulting. I find that a lot of people who now coach storytelling has never done it before. They’ve learned to coach storytelling, but they’ve had to live with a story that they helped tell for years. I’m glad that you come to this show with a lot of firsthand knowledge, experience, and expertise that’s relevant now. I’m thankful that you were able to spend this time with us. Many of you, I know that you might want to go through all the free resources there first.
Anyway, this show only has 30 guests a year because I do a whole bunch of them on my own. We choose them very carefully because I want my audience to get real people, real expertise. It’s very relevant. I’m so honored to have you here. Until next time, all of you, stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice, and I hope you all make great choices. Be sure to subscribe, rate and review. I’ll see you on the next episode.
Donna Griffit, a Corporate Storyteller, has worked globally for over 16 years with Fortune 500 companies, Start-Ups, and investors in a wide variety of industries. She has consulted and trained clients in over 30 countries. Through her guidance, clients have raised over a billion dollars. In addition, Donna has the ability to magically spin raw data into compelling stories that captivate audiences and drive results.
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/52MDHsquare.jpg600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2021-12-29 03:00:552022-01-10 11:55:08Using Corporate Storytelling To Attract Investors With Donna Griffit
Behind the glimmering beauty of diamonds is the uncomfortable truth of what it truly takes to produce just a single piece of this stone. Victoria Wieck unveils the curtain about conflict-free diamonds, explaining how one piece of paper cannot guarantee that its production has no legal issues. She discusses how child labor, smuggling, civil conflicts, and death continue to paint diamonds red before they reach the store you are buying from. Victoria also presents a suitable alternative to save yourself from contributing to the hidden and worsening horrors of the diamond industry.
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First of all, welcome everybody. If you haven’t subscribed to my show yet, please go ahead and do so. I don’t know why I took so long to do this episode. It is something that’s very much in my heart. It’s something I’m extremely passionate about. In fact, I founded a whole company based on my passion for this. I’m glad to be able to do this episode.
It’s a solo episode. I have no guests. It is about Conflict Free Diamonds. I know that the Christmas season is coming right up in the corner. In fact, we are right in the middle of it now. Every year, millions of Americans buy diamonds of some sort because 75% of American women won’t have jewelry on their wish list for Christmas.
I want to talk a little bit about conflict-free diamonds. Many of you know that I have been in the jewelry business for many years. About 33 years of that, I was in my own business but before that, I worked for other people as well. The idea of conflict-free diamonds is something that’s new and many of you who are Millennial buyers looking for your bridal ring for the first time. It’s such an exciting time in your life and such an event. The anticipation of getting married, starting a whole new chapter that should be full of excitement and anticipation in many good ways.
This is when you are building the building blocks of your life with your significant other. There are quite a few of you who are getting married for the second time, learning from the first one, and starting a whole new life as well. If you are a diehard believer of earth-mined diamonds and you think that because you’ve got a piece of paper from some retailer saying that we guarantee that everything is conflict-free, I don’t judge you by that. I want to give you some information about what I know, having been the leader in the industry for a long time. It’s a free country. You can make all your own judgments.
More than 75% of American women will have jewelry on their wishlist for Christmas every year.
Let’s talk about conflict-free diamonds. First off, what is the definition of conflict-free? We know that there are 3.8 million people that have died in the mining and cutting because of the diamond industry. Most of the killing and the death, and all that has stopped. There is no diamond war. “Is there such thing as true conflict-free oil?” I want to ask you that question, I’m going to close this whole session with that question. What is your moral standard for conflict-free?
Have you ever watched the movie Blood Diamond with Leonardo DiCaprio? If you have, good for you. In my opinion, that was well done. It’s very factual. At that time that movie was made, all that stuff was going on, the killing, kidnapping, war, and smuggling are very active. If you have not watched the movie, I suggest that you do that because to me, it’s very important.
There was such an outcry and outrage when the movie came out about how diamonds are mined, how it gets here, and what causes all of the destruction, death, and suffering. Needlessly, because American brides want a white rock for their wedding. Along with a lot of other things, such as the internet, people are able to google stuff and go to these places virtually by way of the internet that it led to this whole idea now that a lot of retailers are promoting their diamonds as conflict-free. Some of them will even advertise that they strictly adhere to the Kimberley Process.
If you haven’t watched the movie, watch the movie, because this will give you a lot of contexts. If you watched the movie, you saw a lot of innocent people, mostly young men, including little boys being kidnapped to work in these mines. The lucky ones work there for several years before they escape but a lot of them don’t escape and they die.
The 3.8 million people that have died in connection with diamond mining, mostly in the 23 diamond-producing countries, mostly in Africa, that fact comes from Amnesty International and a lot of other international authorities. I don’t think there was a dispute on that. Diamonds have been mined for the last thousand years in those countries.
I’m in the business, many of the people that will tell you that, “We adhere to Kimberley Process and all of that.” The things that are going on, do you think it’s okay for children under 18 or are 9, 10, 5 years old to be living near the mine, not going to school, not seeing medical care because both their parents’ work. They don’t have a babysitter or anything like that. Even though these kids are not mining actively at age 7, 8 or 9, they are not going to school and getting educated. To me, that’s conflict.
Conflict-Free Diamonds: Most factories complying with anti-child labor laws are usually just for cover stories. In reality, they are not enforced because of the fear of losing more than half of their workers.
How can a retailer or your local jeweler in America, who has never been there guarantee you that diamonds do not hurt the economy, environment or do not have kids in those mines because they don’t even know where these mines are half the time when they get it to their stores and sell it? Using that as a backdrop, I’m not saying that every retailer in America is out there to screw you. I’m saying that maybe some of them believe that they are getting conflict-free diamonds, the war in Sierra Leone, all the warlords that have stopped, so people aren’t killing themselves.
If you have a higher moral standard of what is happening instead of killings, I don’t think it’s conflict-free. If you tell me, “I’m going to give you this piece of paper. I’m going to give you the seal of my stamp that says, ‘These diamonds conflict-free and I’m Victoria Wieck.’ Would you buy it from me?” You wouldn’t. If you get it from some major retail store that has about 50 stores, would you buy it from them? They don’t have a mine up there. I don’t know how they can.
The other thing is I will say that in some mines they may have rules posted like, “Kids under eighteen can’t work here,” whatever. I have been to a lot of factories all over the world. I have been to numerous countries. I can’t even name half the countries that I have been to because I have been to a lot of them. I care about people, manufacturers, and quality so I took the time to go and meet people, work among them, eat with them.
They can post it all day long but there are lots of times they will look the other way around because they want a cover story that, “Our mine is strict about this or that,” but in reality, they can’t enforce that because they will lose half of their workers. They reproduced a lot. There are a lot of kids there. For me, that’s not conflict-free.
The other thing that may shock you is that most diamond mines all over the world, there are a few exceptions and they are not in Africa. None of the diamond mines in Africa have their own cutting facilities. What happens is they mine diamonds, some of them are smuggled out, done by the village lords, government sanctions or whatever. They are all mined there and shipped in individual packages to cutting centers around the world. Most cutting centers are in places like India, Russia and Belgium. Cutting centers are all over the world and there are quite a few of them.
When day grab 50-karats from here, 5-karats from there, 1-karat from there, do you think they have a chain of custody for every single stone? We are talking millions of karats and stones. No, they can’t. In the cutting centers, they are all mixed in because these cutting centers are not going to cut it and send it back to the miner. They buy the stuff and mix it all up.
It’s like if you are a farmer, you buy a wine producer and grapes from Mexico and California or wherever, and you are having to mark every little bottle of grape, “This is from this winery. That’s from that farm,” it’s like saying, “I’m having a certificate for every single grain of rice in the bag.” That doesn’t happen.
Around 3.8 million people have died in the mining and cutting of the diamond industry.
To me, the guarantee is a suspect. Those two things happen. As I sit here, is there no conflict? Is there no place where we can get conflict-free diamonds then? Yes, there are. You can get them in Canada. Canadians do mine diamonds and it’s mined in the Arctic Circle within Canada. It’s cold, they only mine a couple of months a year and they use a lot of technology like robots and grownups that have to use engineering science to go do that. Canadian diamonds are laser engraved with the maple leaf before it leaves the country. That’s how you know that it’s a Canadian diamond.
My daughter started her diamond company because she was outraged. Her company is called Rachel and Victoria. Her name is Rachel Victoria Wieck. When she went shopping because her mother is a designer, she didn’t have intentions of buying any diamonds there. I’m busy, so she wanted to shop for styles. She walked into a retail store in San Diego, a very upper-end store. It’s sat right next to Tiffany’s. It’s a pretty high-end store. She asked if she could see the Canadian diamonds and the behind the counter said, “Yes,” and showed her a bunch of stuff.
She said, “Where’s the little maple leaf because I have heard that it has a maple leaf on the girdle?” He said, “When you buy it, we will engrave it for you.” Obviously, that’s not kosher. It’s not right because Canadian diamonds leave Canada before it’s exported here. The other place we can get true conflict-free diamonds would be places like Australia in Argyle mine, which is out of Australia. They don’t produce high-quality white diamonds. They do a lot of the champagne diamonds and other color diamonds but they don’t use child labor. They don’t have children. They don’t pay subpar wages. Those two that I know are at the top of my head.
The other option you have, if you are into diamonds, is lab-grown diamonds. These are diamonds that are not cubic zirconia or moissanite. They DNA-cloned a mother diamond. They will take a diamond and DNA clone it. It grows in the exact same process that Mother Earth does but it does it much faster. It does it in a lab. Mr. DiCaprio is an investor in one of the processes. Those are the choices you have.
The reason why this was very dear to me is that, when I was getting married, I didn’t know anything about this. We did not know the whole backstory about the destruction and all of that. The war didn’t happen either at that point but I have grown and I have been educated about this. For example, when I go to a trade show and I listened to some diamond guy lecturing about what’s wrong with the lab-grown diamonds, the CZs, everything other than the diamond.
He will tell the audience that the diamond industry is the most generous industry in the world. They are out there giving jobs to the poorest countries in the world. I would ask them, “You have been mining diamonds in Africa for a thousand years and diamonds have sold at some crazy high prices, higher than any other gemstone in the world. Why are these countries still poor? Shouldn’t they be ruling the world because they have it pretty abundantly over there?”
The other thing about diamonds is they are not rare. It’s one of the plentiful gemstones in the world. “Why are they still poor since you are generous?” That’s my first question. The more logical questions I ask, the more I was educated. I want to give you some education so that you can make a decision based on the information because I didn’t have the information.
Conflict-Free Diamonds: The diamond industry is the most generous industry in the world. They’re giving jobs to the poorest countries in the world.
For example, sun damage can kill you and cause cancer. I didn’t have any of that information. Thank God, I was allergic to the sun pretty much most of my life. I couldn’t go out in the sun, on the beach as everybody else could but a lot of my friends did get skin cancer or melanoma from over baking their bodies the whole time. We didn’t know that.
When I was growing up, nobody told us that cigarette smoking can kill you. There were lawsuits and all this coverage about secondhand smoking as well. We now know that firsthand smoking kills you and secondhand smoking kills you most of the time as well. If you had information, I want you to know if you are going to still go and buy the Earth-mined diamond, try to make sure that you stick with the Canadian diamonds or you go with the Argyle diamonds. A piece of paper isn’t something that can guarantee you that they are paying high wages or they have no children there, all those stuff.
For me, the moral standard conflict-free has to be a little bit higher than nobody is dying now. It’s from the same people that caused 3.8 million people to die. That’s my thing on the conflict-free diamond. If you want more information, you can go and check out my daughter’s website, which is RachelAndVictoria.com. As far as we know, it’s the only bridal site dedicated to Millennial brides that sell only truly conflict-free. We don’t give you pieces of paper. We don’t even deal with Earth-mined diamonds. We only deal with diamonds that we know for a fact use this technology to grow it and all the other stuff.
That’s my information on conflict-free diamonds. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season this 2021. Keep doing everything that you are doing. I love connecting with you. Also, check out all the freebie webinars that I give. It’s helped a lot of people to unlock the secret to certain parts of their businesses. Thank you much for reading. Until next time. Please, stay healthy and happy. I wish you a happy Christmas. Stay well.
Most humans are, well, human. People’s productivity tends to ebb and flow with their motivation levels. Their ability to implement and stick with personal habit changes is as variable as their shifting moods. So how do you get people motivated? We answer these questions and more in this episode as Victoria Wieck talks to best-selling author, mental training and performance specialist, and business strategy consultant Mike Kavanagh. Mike discusses why people lose their motivation to work and how they can go around maintaining balance in life. Do you frequently fall victim to the villain we all know as procrastination? Perhaps you need to implement the Coach’s Plan. Curious? Tune in for more and be inspired.
Watch the episode here:
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Coach’s Plan: How To Keep Your Motivation Levels High With Mike Kavanagh
In this episode, we have Mike Kavanagh, who has been coaching for a while. He’s also the author of several books and one of those books is called What Is Your Calling?If you read my show week after week, you’ll know that it’s something close to my heart. He has a book called Coach’s Plan. He’s a successful manager and also a podcaster. His podcast is called Fueled By Impact. Without further ado, I wanted to introduce you to Mike and welcome him to the show so he can share all of his wisdom and passion here as well. Welcome to the show, Mike.
Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be here.
Thank you for agreeing to spend this time with my audience. Give me a little bit of your backstory because what you’re doing is a culmination of your entire life’s journey. I wanted to add a little context. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what got you here.
I left a graduate school program and got into the business. I started off doing management consulting. What happened was I very quickly was thrown into situations where I was able to advise senior leaders of very large companies on very big issues. It gave me a big exposure at a very young age, got thrown into some very unusual situations for somebody in their mid-twenties. In some regards, that almost catapults it. That was my business school.
You have your MBA background. My MBA came from this experience. I did that work for probably about a decade and then got wooed over to the corporate leadership side. I worked in a variety of different corporate leadership roles, including as a C-level executive leading product development and strategy for a large manufacturing company.
Throughout that whole time, on the side, I was nurturing these passions. I enjoyed a lot of what I did but I also felt like I was getting pulled in the direction. There was a lot of momentum of these opportunities would come my way and I would say yes to them, even though there was this other part of me that I wasn’t necessarily cultivating or nurturing as much.
I was doing that more as a side hobby, which was all-around mind, body, performance and wellbeing. That was a big interest for me, everything from meditation. I teach meditation, breathwork and fitness. I was doing a small amount of coaching and that work on the side while my day job was senior leadership in Corporate America.
I was primed and ready for a change but the change happened to me. The company that I was working for went through a leadership shakeup. Private equity bought the company. There was a new leadership team put in place. I was let go. For me, that was the moment where I was like, “If not now, when?” Since then, I’ve been doing what I love, including writing a book that’s very personal about helping people find their calling and find work that they love because that was a struggle for me over the years.
It’s great to have an expert come in and help you every now and then, but most of the time, if you did everything you knew you should do, you would be in an incredible position.
First of all, in your little intro, you have gone through what you thought at the time was a great career. You thought, “This was a great career. I was so fortunate to be leading this C-suite leader and all of this stuff.” In the beginning, you think this was a great thing. You have the real passion, which is about aligning your mind to body and how that impacts your overall performance as a human being and in a corporate world. You weren’t free to exercise that passion.
I’ve traveled probably about 50 countries, which is a very significant part of the world. In America, we tend to compartmentalize a lot. We tend to go, “This is my work self. This is when I come home. This is when I become a dad. This is my time.” When in fact you, as a person don’t change through all those things. You could be that whole amazing dad, inspiration, motivator, leader and worker. All of that is in one being.
I’m not sure if we’re out of COVID yet or not but having gone through 2020, it seems like we’re living with that. The world has woken up to think about how much we are impacted by our health and the health of our coworkers, their children and society as a whole. That health means both physical health and mind. You are ahead of your time on that.
Let’s talk a little bit about what your calling is because here’s another place where you and I are completely aligned on our belief system that we all have a calling. You may not realize it. You may think that calling came masked and disguised as it becoming a great senior vice president of some company that you don’t connect to. Tell me a little bit about the book and why you wrote the book.
It was ten years in the making because there was a point along my journey where I started reaching out to people who are doing some of the things that I wanted to make more a part of my livelihood. I went through some periods where I felt like my mental health and overall wellbeing were at an all-time low. It manifested in some lack of health in various ways because I felt like these two things weren’t aligned in terms of livelihood and who I was as a person. It didn’t feel authentic to me. That is a hard place to be. A lot of people find themselves in that place.
I started reaching out to people who had taken a risk, people who are freelance artists, living their passion. I asked them, “Can I write about you because one of my passions is writing?” I started a blog and profiled these people on that blog. I knew that there was more there that needed to be told. When I was laid off, I went through a real soul-searching period to say, “What is my reason for being here? What brings me purpose and passion? What would I truly love and enjoy?”
I saw that process that I went through, which had didn’t happen at that time but had been building that point. It was something that I felt like more people could be going through. If they had a little bit of guidance then perhaps, they’d be asking themselves these bigger questions and might be willing to take that risk. I wanted to help be that catalyst for people who felt like I did.
The book is trying to be almost an end-to-end view of how you go from discovering what it is whether it’s your calling or something that you feel a sense of passion around if you don’t know what that is through to how you take the risk and go for it, including some of these profiles of people who have to live the path.
What Is Your Calling?: The Journey to Find Work You Love
For those of you who are reading, I would go ahead and encourage you to find this book called What Is Your Calling?: The Journey to Find Work You Love. That’s the complete title and the subtitle of the book. It’s a real low investment financially but it’s also a good read. We all have a calling and very few people are ever fortunate enough to discover the calling and even fewer people die without ever knowing what that is. Especially during this COVID time, when you are shifting priorities to figure out, “Who are the people that are going to have my back? Who are the people that are going to be here if I ever get COVID?” I’m sure most of you have thought these things through so try to discover your calling.
I came from a very humble background. My parents came here with $30. When you have nothing, maybe you’ll find bankruptcy, go through a divorce or get laid off like Mike has, whatever it is, in those times, you have to think about what is the purpose of your life? If you can sit there and complain about, “My horrible boss laid me off. This corporation wanted to make more money so they’ll replace all of us who are experienced with college graduates,” you have time to figure out what your purpose in life is. That time could be 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 15 minutes a day. Pick up the book and it all enriches your life multifold.
You’ve got the successful manager and your book, which is called a Coach’s Plan. I’m interested in the book because, at this point, you are coaching other people. With your first book, you’re asking them to discover their passion and purpose and how you then take a reasonable risk. We’re not saying you should take a leap of faith or jump in the pool to find that if you can swim. Check out the lay of the land, how you fit in that and take that risk. In Coach’s Plan, you’re teaching people how to be productive on your own, for yourself and for the people that you’re responsible for. Tell me a little bit about that book.
Maybe I’ll tell you how it came about because I’m probably picking up on a theme where my books are largely solving problems that in my life, I felt like maybe I had something to share.
That’s the best thing. A lot of people who coach have never lived their life. They’ve never lived the pain or experienced any of it. I’ve known a lot of coaches who’ve always been coached. They were told by a coach and they coached. A lot of my professors in school are still teaching professorship and primarily the same things that they taught years ago to me, which were already outdated then. You think about that. The fact that you are writing books from your heart, based on your personal life experiences and what you have seen, the commonality between your experience versus a lot of other people, that’s the best way to impact people.
It’s funny because part of my background and the thing that I’m trying to encourage people to do has to do with mind, body, health and wellbeing. I’m on this mission in one avenue in my life to try to bring that into more of the business world, whether that’s entrepreneurs taking better care of themselves, leaders, people in corporate roles, recognizing that, “If I’m going to do that job well, have a good life and enjoy myself then I need to see how all of these different things feed into me showing up as my best self.” That was something that I had been helping people within various forms in terms of teaching meditation, fitness and trying to coach people within the corporate context.
I went through my transition where I was getting started on more of an entrepreneurial. In my case, starting as the one-man show. I had a real hard time. I’m a hard worker and normally don’t struggle with some of the things that I found myself struggling with. There were a lot of factors involved, as there always are. We have a new baby in the house and the pandemic. When you look at it, it always boils down to mindset in some way. I felt almost like it was a very humbling experience and maybe even a little awkward because you’re trying to help other people and be an inspiration or a motivation to them, yet you’re falling off the wagon right and left. That was how it was for me.
Even productivity-wise, what was happening was I was working a lot of hours but I wasn’t getting the results but more so, it was that I could tell I wasn’t doing the hard things. I was avoiding the uncomfortable things. I was filling my time but it wasn’t the level of productivity I needed. It certainly wasn’t the level of productivity to have a balanced life where you and I share the same interest. I’m a father of two kids. I don’t want to be the guy that burns the candle at both ends, doesn’t have time for my family, all that. I was like, “How can I solve this problem?” This light bulb went off for me.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to take a moment, take a step back and ask yourself, “why am I doing this now? Why am I leading things this certain way?”
I talk about it in the book. It’s a short book. It’ll take an hour to read. The audiobook will be out soon and it’s very short. It was, “Here’s how I solved this problem,” which became the system called Coach’s Plan. The realization was we’re all this inner ball of conflicts. There’s you at night and you the next morning. There’s you who says, “I’m going to start the diet tomorrow. I’m going to make those tough calls tomorrow.” Then tomorrow rolls around and it’s a different you who shows up. What I started to realize is, “If I treated myself where I was the coach and the coachee, all of a sudden, this entire system emerged from that of how I could craft a plan that I could then follow that freed me to be extremely productive.”
I didn’t even think it was going to work but I tried it because it was like, “Nothing else is working now.” Soon I noticed that not only was I doing much better concerning my days were mapped out, I was tackling the hard things but I was also starting to do other things like habit changes. Things that had come very difficult in the past were starting to become easy things for me to throw into Coach’s Plan.
To be clear, Coach’s Plan is not me telling anybody what to do. In Coach’s Plan, you’re the coach. This whole thing is how do you find the way to bring this coaching aspect of yourself but translate it into actual action and results in your life. I discovered a system that works for me that I’ve got to imagine there are other people out there who are like me who might be able to find some benefit from trying this approach as well.
Do you play golf or tennis?
I play tennis and I’m a terrible golfer.
My kids played USTA competitive tennis. There were nationally ranked kids. I’m not good at tennis but one of the things I did was I spent unlimited time with them while they were awake. All of their tennis lessons, I sat, watching the kids being coached. They’re in the warmup and they’re great. All their shots beforehand, the backend, everything went great. When the kids were playing national-level competition, there was a lot of other great kids. All of a sudden, my daughter wouldn’t get a serve. Nothing goes in.
The parents can’t coach them when they’re on but in between one match, if they survive it, even at the junior level, the mom can teach them what they’re doing wrong. I asked how the coach how and he said, “If all the balls are going beyond the service line, that means they’re not rotating. If you have to toss the ball one way or the other, make them feel like they’re rotating it.” They taught me all the ways to be a guide sitting next to them.
It’s interesting because what you’re describing is doing that, giving somebody the framework where they could assess their little problems. If these four things consistently happen, you got to fix this. That’s great. When you were talking about productivity, entrepreneurs and C-suite leaders suffer from this as well.
Coach’s Plan: The Personal Productivity System That Changed My Life
If you ask entrepreneurs like, “Why did you start a business?” They will tell you they want freedom, emotional freedom, financial freedom, be the boss and dictate their own time, yet they’re working probably twice as many hours as to when they were working in a corporate world. They’re making less money and have quadruple the stress level of dealing with the finances. It could be almost like a vicious cycle where they feel like the more hours they work, the more money they make so they feel guilty after taking time off.
Even when they are spending time with their son or daughter, they’re 4 or 5 years old at a soccer field, you’re like, “I got to get to this phone call.” If you can discipline yourself to be productive, have the hours that you do work by tackling things that are uncomfortable for you. Most of us come to work. I got up and kid you not, I had about 200 emails but 60 of them had to be answered. If you write down all the things you have to do, leaders in the corporate world and maybe not even leaders but anybody in the corporate world, go to the easiest things to check off first because they feel like, “At least, I can get rid half of them out of my calendar.”
As an entrepreneur or a C-suite leader, you got two types of decisions. One type is where you bet the farm, go all in and it can make or break you. The other type is, do we go with this advertising or that advertising? Do we want that color or another color? Do I want to have a meeting at 3:00 or 5:00? None of these things will make a huge difference in your life. You don’t even have to make those decisions. One of those things is you have to figure out what are the things that have to be tackled that day.
Those things you have to work on it, even if it’s uncomfortable because the more you do it, the easier it becomes but if you never tackle it, the mantra becomes bigger. If you don’t even touch it, you will hire somebody later on the road. First some amount of money then they don’t know what to do and make mistakes. You eventually end up tackling it yourself.
I love the Coach’s Plan, which is not for coaches but for all of you to coach yourself. If you had a coach, what would that plan be for you? You know yourself better. I went through all the different tennis coaches with the kids. You know your kids and yourself. Both of my kids played national-level tennis and play a completely different style of tennis.They’re both good. There’s no right or wrong. I like that you have this framework there.
In terms of mind and body, I am a firm believer in that. My father was an acupuncturist. I come from an Asian culture where everything is always connected. When I used to first preach that like yoga, meditation, all of that, people used to think I was crazy years ago. They used to think like, “That’s a coo-coo, earthy tree hugger.” They used to call me whatever they want it. I’ve been called the worst. Your brain is not disconnected from your body. Your brain is a muscle. The more aligned your mind and body is, the more productive you’re going to be.
Talking about productivity, if you are sleep-deprived, staying up at night at 2:00 because you’re worried about something, don’t get to sleep back because you’ve filled out at 4:00 and have the first call at 6:00, the quality of your time the next day decreases hugely when you can hardly think. How can you think with clarity?
That mind-body alignment is one of the critical facets of success. When I was in the corporate world, I used to say to somebody, “How are you?” She would say, “Do I look sick?” She meant it because people have said, “Are you well?” That can’t start your day well. The first thing is I go, “Do I look sick?” This mind and body is the key thing. You go even further than that. You do not only the meditation mind and body connection but you’re also coaching people how to stay fit.
Everything that you are doing, the deepest why behind that, always comes back to either a sense of happiness, contentment, or fulfillment that you’re seeking.
I’m not talking about necessarily weight loss but I’ve been at times where I was more fit than other times. When you’re more fit, you have more energy and are optimistic about things. You feel like you can tackle more things and go the next ten hours but you don’t need to. Give me a quick few tips on how you execute the mind-body alignment?
For everybody sometimes the place to start could be a little different depending on where you tend to focus and what already is working for you. You spoke about the fact of sleep. We all know that all this stuff is interconnected. The only thing that is out of balance ends up having this cascading effect on a lot of other things. Over the years, I used to be much more because I got a lot of my start in fitness and meditation. I was like, “It’s all these two things.” That’s what it’s about.
I realize many years later that almost anything impacts your energy level and inner sense of wellbeing. That could be things around your relationships, work or sense of meaning or purpose that comes from work. All these different things feed into how you’re living your day. Are you enjoying yourself and feeling your best?
I have all of these tools and techniques that I’ve trained in over the years whether it’s meditation, breathwork or heart rate variability. To me, it’s a toolkit that you can pluck out whatever works the best for you that allows you to find and hone that sense of balance and energy that is going to allow you to feel your best, which ends up translating into performing your best. I believe that most people know. It’s great to have an expert come in and help you but most of the time, if you did everything you know and do, you’re in an incredible position.
The question a lot of times ends up becoming, “Can I take an honest look and say, ‘What am I not doing? Why?’” This comes back to then focusing more of your energy on training, what I might call the meta-skills. Training yourself in how to become better and personal change is more important than implementing one specific personal change.
If I’m doing a workshop for a team in a corporate environment, I’m focused much more on, “Let’s zero in on those meta-skills. Train your mind training and ability.” Coach’s Plan is an example of a way to almost hack yourself so that you get better at personal change. Therefore, you’re armed to say, “I want to make a nutrition change and incorporate more exercise or yoga in my life. I’m going to follow through with it.” That’s been a lot of my mentality. It’s shifted, as you can tell, from where I began to how I see things.
When I want to do something and somebody says to me, for example. “I don’t like pita. I felt like it’s very greasy. It’s something I’ve never going to like.” If you told me tomorrow, “You could do whatever you want to do but except eat pita,” that’s all I’m going to want to eat. I don’t know why. That’s how your mind works. The other thing that’s astonishing too is a lot of times when you look at a fitness person who focused on fitness, they’re talking about cardio and pumping iron. They’re not necessarily talking about yoga or meditation.
The goal is to develop tools to implement personal change. That personal change is different from person to person. Everybody has different goals, body types, situations and amount of time that they can spend. You’re giving everybody a preview of all the different tools there. If somebody needs a kitchen knife, food processor or a different tool, you are sitting there going, “Here’s the best knife. Here’s the best whatever.” Those are all the different tools and they can figure out what’s going to work best for them.
Coach’s Plan: “If not now, when? Am I living my life in a way that is both bringing the greatest sense of joy, love, and fulfillment for me personally as well as for the people I touch, help serve, or have an impact on in the world?”
I agree with you that most people know what’s good for them. Most people have the wisdom to understand what they need to do. Somehow they get all motivated. They have all these tools but have a tough time making that first step. It’s having somebody like you there as an example because you went through all this. Also, bring out with your blog all the other people who’ve gone through a similar change.
The time with all of you reading, you all know what we’re talking about. If you only got two hours of sleep, I doubt that you’re going to want to go to the gym and work out because you don’t have the energy level to even think straight. You don’t work out and the next day, it’s the same thing. It becomes a vicious cycle. At some point, that cycle has to stop.
I always ask people, “What would you do with your time if you find out that you don’t ever have to worry about money again?” It’s a good place to start about how you would be free. The money issue is such a big issue where people are like, “How do I pay my bills? I need to pay my bills so I need to put off all these things that I need to do.” Start now because your mind and body health can never wait. It needs to be healthy pretty quick before any other thing can change.
If you convinced yourself that, “You’re not just an entrepreneur. You’re going to be a great leader in a corporate world or maybe in a nonprofit,” that’s fine but you still need to be the best leader you can be because you’re still impacting people every day. You can’t be that best leader unless you’re your best self.
Between Mike’s two books, What Is Your Calling, Coach’s Plan and his podcast Fueled by Impact, at least make that small change. I’m not asking and I’m sure you’re not, to make a huge change because it’s all those little changes that add up to the big thing. Any other words of wisdom you might want to impart before we end the show?
For me, the place that I would always want to bring it back to is everything that you are doing, the deepest why behind that, always comes back to either a sense of happiness, contentment or fulfillment that you’re seeking or a sense of contribution and having a positive impact on the other people in your life. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a moment and step back. “Why am I doing this? Why am I leading things this certain way?” The big questions as well are the smaller ones. Remind yourself is there a more direct route to those things?
To me, we’ve only got this one life. This global pandemic has shined a light on it for people that, “If not now, when? Am I living my life in a way that is both bringing the greatest sense of joy, love and fulfillment for me personally, as well as for the people who I touch, help serve or have an impact on in the world?”
How do people reach you other than buying the books and listening to your podcast?
The best place to go is MikeKav.com. That will route you anywhere. I got the books on there, the podcast, the online course, Self-Mastery for Leaders that I have as well as even the corporate work that I do and more of the business and strategy side of things. You can find anything that I do through that website.
Thank you so much, Mike, for coming in and sharing your wisdom and time. That’s very generous of you. Until next time. Please be happy and healthy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices. Thank you.
Mike Kavanagh is a #1 Amazon best-selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, and consultant in the areas of personal development, leadership, performance, and well-being. Mike has served as a trusted advisor to C-level execs of some of the world’s most recognizable names in business, he has led large organizations himself, and he has coached high-performers in mental training, meditation, fitness, and personal well-being. For more, visit www.mikekav.com.
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/49MDHsquare.jpg600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2021-12-08 03:00:282021-12-08 15:06:58Coach’s Plan: How To Keep Your Motivation Levels High With Mike Kavanagh
Entrepreneurship is a great equalizer and can be a great tool to uplift people from generational poverty. So how does one build a thriving business in this current economy? We’ll tell you how as Victoria Wieck talks to CEO, entrepreneur, and author John Meese about how to launch a successful business. John and Victoria discuss products and growth models and why it’s easier than ever to start your business. Learn more tips and strategies for entrepreneurs by tuning in to Victoria and her special guests.
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Survive And Thrive: Leveraging Entrepreneurship To Beat Generational Poverty With John Meese
How To Start A Business And Thrive In Any Economy
I have an amazing guest and you know what we do in every single episode. We bring you incredible tips from people who have done it, felt the pain, and somehow learned to persevere and thrive. My next guest is no exception to that role. He wrote a book called Survive and Thrive. His name is John Meese and he also has a podcast called the Thrive School and he’s on a mission to eradicate generational poverty. Now, instead of reading his whole bio, I prefer to let him tell his story because it’s probably a lot more interesting coming from him. Without further ado, I would like to welcome John Meese. Welcome to the show, John.
Thank you so much, Victoria. I’m glad to be here.
It’s great to have you. First off, there’s so much to unpack from your bio and all the things you have accomplished at such a young age but you are on a mission to eradicate Generational Poverty. One of the ways you do that is to share your knowledge and help entrepreneurs reach their dreams by working more efficiently, effectively, and having some tips that everybody should have. Tell me a little bit about your background because I think that a person’s background or events shaped you, what you are doing now and why you do what you do. Do you want to take a couple of minutes and tell us why you were on this mission?
It’s very personal in the sense that I come from a long line of a family with poor financial decisions. I was supposed to be the golden boy to change the family trajectory by becoming a first-generation college student. I became a first-generation college student. I’ve got a couple of pieces of paper that say I know some things. I graduated and started looking around for this magical wealth that’s supposed to appear once you have a college degree.
Didn’t you sign them?
No, I was seriously disappointed. It wasn’t like a massive surprise. As I was in academia, I began realizing, “This isn’t quite maybe what it’s cracked up to be, at least anymore.” I’ve got a degree in Economics and I’ve got another degree in Spanish but I worked for an economics research lab coming out of that and studying things that were going on, learning how to understand what was going on in the world and the global economy.
I latched on to this fascination with entrepreneurship. At that time, I was focused on building online businesses. I built my own online business and I was able to make that my full-time living. I was able to retire my new life from being a teacher with my online business and we were able to start a family. Along the way, I started getting more fascinated with the fact that entrepreneurship is the great equalizer.
The fact that your business doesn’t care about your race, gender, age, background, and even if your customers don’t care, your customers want to know if you have a solution to a real problem that they want to solve. I’ve got excited about that with my businesses but then that became my personal mission to say that there are so many people all over the world who are caught in these cycles of poverty. It’s tough for them to break out of that. I believe that if we can eradicate Generational Poverty, we make entrepreneurship more accessible.
That’s very profound. You suffered from the results of poor financial decisions by the people who are supposed to guide and teach you. It’s special that you are sharing your knowledge now because a lot of people that I know are entrepreneurs. I came from the corporate world then started my business. Even now, I counsel a lot of people who are in corporate. They can sit here and make a lot of money for their companies, and for everyone else but they don’t have the confidence that they can succeed partly because, either what they have been told or they have witnessed other people in their families start their businesses fail over and over again. It’s engraved in their brain. The smarter thing to do is to stay in a job that you may not even like.
Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One)
I like the fact that you have now dedicated your life to this cause. I know that you have also started your own business. You have had started three different businesses with no money basically, from scratch. Do you want to tell me a little bit about your first business and if there’s a common theme between all three that you started and scaled?
In my first business, I stumbled into, I was trying to figure out how to run an online business. Funny enough, I was creating software tutorials. I created a whole course on how to use a very specific niche type of software that only 3,000 people on the planet were using. I launched that online course. I built a hyper-target audience and launched that. I made it from scratch, no ad money or anything like that. I made a little over $10,000 in a week, which at that time, was an amazing life-changing amount of money.
What was fascinating about that was then I went and wrote up a whole blog post on every detail of how I did the launch and how it went well. That content, every time I would go over here and build the software tutorial part of my business, it would do well, and then I would do a write-up of, “Here’s everything I did. Here’s how it worked.” That content would blow up. At one point, there were several different businesses. ConvertKit was the software we used to run my email list. Brian Harris was the friend who taught me how to launch an online course. Platform University from Michael Hyatt was also another place I learned. Ray Edwards is where I learned copywriting.
At one point, all four of them were teaching webinars to their customers, saying, “John needs to do this $10,000 launch. Here are all the details he shared.” Everyone was far more interested in my content on how to build an online business. I paid attention to that. I shifted my business to focus more on teaching people that have to build their online business in 30 minutes a day. That was the core focus. Originally, it was to say, “You’ve got full-time family responsibilities. You’ve got a full-time job and you are trying to build an online business on the side.” That business did well. I was able to grow that essentially a course and coaching business.
Michael Hyatt was one of the people I learned from along the way. He reached out and asked if I would come work with him to take over Platform University, which was a huge multimillion-dollar membership site that he owned that was all focused on helping people do what I was teaching on my blog. I took over that essentially, a division we spun off as its own company for several years. A little over a few years later, behind the scenes, I was also preparing Platform University for acquisition. We did sell that to Pete Vargas.
That was when I began to focus more on my other businesses but that was incredible. Talk about skipping the line in terms of professional growth and education with business. Along the way, I also launched a software company called Notable. Our flagship product is called NotablePress. Essentially, it’s a super-powered WordPress theme for content creators like you. We’ve got podcasters, YouTubers, and bloggers.
What I hear from you, and I think my audience would probably going to agree with this, is I’m a huge believer in providing something to your customers like not agitated information, copying, pasting from this side or that side, whatever’s trending because that’s going to get you a little bit of lift for the day but consistently. What you were offering in your first online business was original content, original thoughts, how to do something different enough if people clicked on it, and it caught the eye of professionals in the business. The lesson here is if you have expertise that you want to share, it doesn’t have to cost you a huge fortune to start a business.
Look at the way John started his business. It was almost like a side hustle. As he said, he stumbled on to that, which led to the next thing. I always say to people to make sure that you have something that you can share that is original. We will get into this a little bit about your business philosophy in your book Survive and Thrive, which I love, by the way.
Your customers really want to know if you have a real solution to a real problem that they want to solve.
If you haven’t heard about this book, it’s titled Survive and Thrive. To go with that, John has a podcast along that same theme, Thrive School, where he shares a lot more information. One of the first things and you mentioned in your original introduction, is you have to figure out what you are providing to your target audience and how you are uniquely qualified to provide that.
It’s a matter of finding out what your customers want, what their problems are, what their pain points are, and alleviating that quickly at an affordable price. It’s like a Business Model 101, I would say you. I like to think about this. Your first three businesses were online and you’ve got a software company. I know that you have a coworking space. I would say that your podcast is also a business because you could easily monetize that as well. I know that you are a firm believer that there are three types of products that every entrepreneur should offer. What are those three?
First of all, I would say you can have 100 products or 1 product. There are many different ways to build your business but what I found is that there’s this framework that seems to work incredibly well for both balancing the needs of the business to generate revenue and profit. Also, the needs of a customer in an over-saturated world of information for the customer to be able to quickly understand how your products fit together in what I refer to as the selling story, where someone is not looking at your business. They are not seeing a bunch of things they can shove in a bag but they are seeing a story of how you can make their life better.
The first product is the Gateway Product. Think of this as a painless purchase. There are a lot of different terms for this. Some would call it a loss leader or a tripwire. I think of this as a gateway product because the goal here with your gateway product is not to generate a lot of profit in your business. The goal is to earn a customer’s trust with a gateway product. The gateway product is a painless purchase. Whatever price point your customer is comfortable with, you want to price it in such a way that it’s painless so they can go, “I can spend $5 or $50 on that item depending upon your demographic to test it.”
They are taking a gamble on you. Your job with the gateway product is to make sure that you go above and beyond their expectations and wow them with the gateway product. There’s no magic formula for this but I usually try to use about 10X as how to think about this. If someone is paying you $50 for a gateway product, try to give them at least $500 in value. Something that surprises them in a way that you earn their trust.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Flagship Product. The flagship product is the epitome of the full transformation of your business. Whatever transformation you are selling, the idea is the flagship product is probably the most expensive thing you offer but it’s the all-in package. If a customer is ready to go all-in, the question I will ask clients occasionally when we are trying to think through their business and say, “Now, what’s the most amount of transformation that you will let a customer go through?”
Relate to that, “What is the most amount of money that you allow a customer to pay you now?” People are like, “All of it.” I’m like, “No, you can’t pick up the phone.” If someone is looking through your business, whatever that is, online or in person, what is the most amount of money you will have to accept? The flagship product.
Victoria, you may have seen something similar. What I found is that in all the businesses that I have been involved in is less than 10% of your customer who is going to buy the flagship product. The goal for the rest of the customers, it gives them something to aspire to because you are communicating to them. This is the vision of where you are going. For those customers that do go all in, that can be a huge source of revenue.
Entrepreneurship: There are so many people all over the world who are caught in these cycles of poverty. It’s really tough for them to break out of that. We can eradicate generational poverty if we make entrepreneurship more accessible.
The third category is the Continuity or the Subscription Product. This is the glue that holds everything together. Between purchases, you want an automatic transaction with a customer where you are finding some recurring problem or need in their life that you can solve through a recurring subscription. This could be a delivery service like Dollar Shave Club. This could be an information product like a Thrive School Pro, my membership site.
There are so many ways you could do this but the goal here is you are creating an ongoing relationship with your customer. You can have other products but if you have those three at the core, that gateway product, a continuity product, and a flagship product, that’s enough to build a highly profitable business and serve your customers.
That’s funny you say that because I come from brick and mortar. In retail, we call that the good, better, best. Your gateway product would be a good product. We don’t call them cheap. It is the least expensive, I would call them. The second is going to be the better and the third one is the best. It’s like the window dressing.
If you go to a regular department store, go to Neiman’s, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, any of the fancy stores or whatever is at the window is there to give you the striking beauty factor. You want to go into the store to see what’s there. You go in there and I don’t think I have ever seen anybody buy anything on the window like it does its job. You are like, “It’s beautiful.”
Out of curiosity, if you ask how much is that dress, the price is going to be somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000. You probably went in there hoping to buy a $500 dress on sale for $300. They are like, “It’s $3,000 to $5,000. It’s such a good deal because the store down the streets sells them for $10,000 to $15,000.” What it does do, though, is if you do see a dress inside for $195, $300 or something that looks similar and you are like, “Why is it so cheap?” It sets the psychology that what you are buying is a pretty good deal. As opposed to, if you went to Target and you saw that same dress for $59 and you are like, “I’m at Target. Why is that so expensive? It should be $19.99 or $39.99 at the most.” It sets that thing.
In nowadays business, especially if you are selling online or coaching to have your gateway product, as you said, you need to earn the trust of the customer and you have the flagship product, which is the most expensive and it’s all in. I also think that having the gateway product and a transitional product because you are giving them irresistible offers at each point.
It makes sense because after they have experienced it the first time, they were like, “That was good for $50,” or whatever it is. You go in and you go, “It’s probably worth a few hundred dollars and I’ve got a good deal. I’ve got a lot more than I ever paid for. I’m ready to go to the next level.” The next level, again, adds more value. It’s a friction-free way to generate income, I would say.
You mentioned the good, better, best. Dollar Shave Club did this remarkably well when they first launched. The name of their whole company is Dollar Shave Club. The whole promise is that you can get a razor for $1 and that’s a painless purchase. That’s a crazy price for a razor and that’s one of the examples I go into my book because I have always dreaded walking down the line to try to pretend like I know what razor to buy.
The goal with your gateway product is actually not to generate a lot of profit in your business. The goal is to earn a customer’s trust.
The first time Dollar Shave Club said, “For $1, we will send you a simple razor every month that does what it needs to do.” I said, “Yes,” but as soon as I said yes to that gateway product, they said, “Great. Before we send it, by the way, did you know we have a good, better, best?” I’ve never got the $1 razor. I’ve got the $5 razor because, like most people, I consider myself a middle-of-the-road customer, so I bought the $5 a month razor.
Even the $5 is pretty cheap.
I checked, though. I spent over $1,000 with Dollar Shave Club because I checked my account added everything out because, over the years, it’s the $5 a month razor. They were like, “By the way, there’s a great travel bath bag with the razor has this perfect slot in it,” but then you get it. There were all these empty pockets. I accidentally spent over $1,000 with Dollar Shave Club because I signed up for their $1 video gateway product.
Here’s the thing. All the things you talk about in retail. The retailers know what they are doing. I don’t know if you realize this but when you go to a store, the way the displays are done and everything, it’s like when you go to casinos in Vegas. When you try to check into a room, you have to walk a mile of the tables before reaching the elevator. We tell very similar stories.
The fact that you buy the $5 razor because they gave you an opportunity to upgrade right there and then. When you get it and you have tried it a couple of times, the things like travel bags and all this stuff, that’s what we call the upsell. Normally speaking, if we are getting, let’s say, a 30% margin on the gateway product and you upgrade them, you are getting a 50% margin but in the upsell, you are getting a 200% margin because the upsell is a convenience product. We don’t expect everybody to buy it.
There’s no cost involved in selling this person because they are buying it themselves. You are only telling them, “You can make your life simpler.” That item is where they make real money. The other stuff you’ve got to keep is turning inventory to meet your dollar volume. It’s all free money for them. The other one is if you sell 1 out of 10 people, they have this upsell.
If they are going to order 100,000 pieces of the $5 razor, they only order 10,000. They sell that out before anything else because it’s an unlimited amount of it but they will charge you quite a bit of money. Usually, the travel bag was probably more money than all the razors put together. This is how you spent all those thousands of dollars.
The three core products we talked about are crucial and fundamental. The gateway product, continuity, and flagship, and you hit on 1 of the 2 other categories that I teach about in the book in terms of products. There are two types of upsells. There are supplementary products and complementary products. The backpack is a complementary product because it’s an add-on but the good, better, best versions of the razors are all supplementary products.
There’s a reason why I would want all three but they are different alternatives. Especially when entrepreneurs try to think, “How do I generate more revenue for my business?” Often, it’s tempting to create one more product. I ask, “Let’s back up for a second and make sure we are not confusing the customer by making it clear. Do you know what your gateway product is? What your continuity product and what is your flagship product is?” In every other product in your business, is it a compliment or a supplement to 1 of those 3? If it’s not, if you can’t tie back to 1 of those 3 things, it might not belong in your business. It might be a whole separate business.
Entrepreneurship: Less than 10% of your customers actually go through to buy the flagship product.
The other thing I’m a huge proponent of is I’m interviewing you, you are coaching a bunch of people, and you are writing a book. Again, the book is Survive and Thrive by John Meese, one of the Top Sellers on Amazon. Podcasts, to me, are like a mastermind class every week, so go and listen to his podcast, the Thrive School. Even if you can’t do it every week, at least catch it. Here’s the thing. None of us know who your customers are but I will tell you who your customer is not. A confused customer will never buy. They won’t buy anything.
You want to make sure that you give complete clarity to yourself also but to the customer, they have to know why, even if it’s an upsell. I talked about how the upsells. Usually, the upsells to me, the margins are very high but even then, you have to be crystal clear as to why that’s there, what it goes with, and the type of service that product does on its own and also in combination with other things. That’s interesting, John.
Even then, the basic principles of running a fantastic business don’t change because it’s finding a problem and a solution to this. When you talk about Generational Poverty so that you cycle and go on this again, could you explain the risk factor now? How much risk is acceptable, in your opinion? In other words, if somebody who was 30 now and wants to start a business, are you a proponent of them taking no financial risks? What’s your position on that? What is acceptable? Is that a yearly salary or do you borrow money from a bank or your parents?
If I’m assuming Generational Poverty is involved, that’s not an option for the students when I’m teaching. It’s a great question. The first thing I would say is that it is cheaper to become a highly successful entrepreneur now than at any other time in history like with the internet and with digital marketing. In 2019, we were at a 40-year low of entrepreneurship in America.
In America, being the leading country full of entrepreneurs in the world and being at a 40-year low or in entrepreneurship, that’s very concerning because that’s where our economy’s wealth and progress comes from. Now, 2020 was challenging for lots of reasons. In 2021, we have broken the record twice now in terms of businesses started each quarter. We are making a good term. This is a good trend. I want this trend to continue.
I would say the first thing to know is that it’s cheaper than it ever has been to start a business. Most of what I teach is in the bootstrapping category. I started with $500. I set aside $500 and opened a business checking account. I put $500 in it and that was it. I never put any other money in it. I took plenty of money out as the business grew but that was my budget. I think constraints are incredibly helpful.
I have a friend who was planning to start a business. He wanted to be as safe as possible. He worked very hard. He worked at his full-time job and saved enough money. He had an entire year’s worth of expenses set aside in a reserve account. He said, “I have a one-year runway to launch my business. I’m going to do it.”
He quit his job and spent eleven months playing around with being an entrepreneur. He spent 30 days growing his business. It wasn’t until he was running out of money that he started to feel the pressure. That’s when he started pushing through and seeing results. It’s healthy to have some real pressure and stakes, even if it’s only, “There’s $500 or $100 in my checking account. That’s it. Let’s go.” You can start with more than that, especially if you are new to the business. I’m not a fan of giving a new entrepreneur, whether it’s a bank, a parent or a venture capital investor. I’m not a huge fan of giving a brand-new entrepreneur $100,000 or $1 million and saying, “Go build something,” because there are so many mistakes that you are going to have to make.
I completely agree with you on that. My view on that is a risk no money. I started my company with $30. At that time, starting an online business was not possible. When I started, online businesses didn’t exist. We didn’t have internet, laptop, computers or anything like your generation takes completely for granted.
We didn’t have social media, so we didn’t even have a chance to try out our skills and get our word out. It’s very challenging. When I started my business, several people wanted to start their own. Many of them started as a side hustle. There’s a great book called Good to Great. I don’t know if you have ever read her or not.
It is cheaper to become a highly successful entrepreneur today than at any other time in history.
Basically, the whole premise of the book is that because things are good, you don’t become the best. For example, it’s a known fact that in many of the cities and states in America, our schools are failing. It has been a subject in those places where the schools are failing. It has been a point of contention for 50 years and they never fix it.
Even the most failing schools here in America are still better than schools all around the world in other countries, so we never fix it. In 2019, things were good like most people that the economy was good. They are getting a great salary. Even though they hated their jobs, their coworkers or probably could rarely stomach their customers, things were good.
It goes with that theme that we didn’t have a lot of entrepreneurs because they thought things were good. When things are good is when you have to buckle down and say, “This is a great opportunity for me.” I also found that to be not a coincidence at all that in 2021, the Census Bureau said that they had the most number of business licenses applied than any other time in our history. That makes sense. I haven’t gone through this myself. When you have no money, you are forced to do things with no money.
For example, I didn’t have any money to make any samples. I couldn’t make a physical sample of anything. I didn’t have any money to pay for it. People could say, “How can you sell jewelry without ever making a sample?” A sample cost anywhere from $300 to $1,200 per piece. It’s labor. Not gold. It’s only to make an original mold.
If you did 100 molds, you were looking at $10,000 to $50,000, an average of $500 before you ever tested, whether or not your designs were going to ever sell. What I did was I simply do them on a lookbook and painted them nicely. I have been to all the stores and asked them, “If you had something like this, would you be able to sell it?” I think that when you don’t have money, you could maybe be a little bit more creative in that.
I agree with you that you don’t need to make a whole lot of money and put your family or go to your parents as your bankers or anything like that. The most important thing is to figure out your business. What does your product do? Does it help save money and time? Does it help you do something faster? Does it help you create security around? Whatever it is, you need to figure out what it is that you are offering. If you are adding value to somebody else’s life, I think that’s the most critical thing. What John is preaching is understanding how you offer them with a lot of clarity and value to your customers.
I liked all of the things that you shared. As we come to near the end of our interview, are there real actionable tips? What are two major tips that you could share that maybe had guided you when you were going through it? I’m sure when you are running three different businesses, you have had times when you wonder like, “What the heck am I doing here? Why would I start this?” How did you survive those?
I will give one. This one is a bigger picture to start then we can talk about it a little more tactical. You and I have talked around this but it’s important to emphasize the fact that your business success is built on creating a real solution to a real problem, to real people. If you want to help how to figure out who your real people are or what their real problems are, that’s all in my book. It’s important to say that. I say real every time, a real solution and real problem with people because many businesses start and they struggle because they are focusing on the money. They are not taking into account the people on the other side.
You will pick up on this. You will be in a meeting with someone and they will be talking about all their numbers and might list 1,000 sales, 10,000 customers or 100,000 followers on social media. Anytime that I’m meeting with someone and work with a client or a partner and we are working on that stuff, I always like to pause for a minute to say, “Remember, those are real human beings. Every single one of those real human beings with aspirations, dreams, fears, problems, children, sickness, parents, death and all these things.”
Entrepreneurship: So many businesses really struggle because they’re focusing on the money and not really taking into account the people on the other side.
I think it’s a powerful human skill to tap into our ability to empathize with other human beings. That honestly is one of the most underutilized skills in business, where many businesses are focused on more sales, growth hacks, products, and forget the fact that their business is designed to help people either become happier, healthier and wealthier. Those are like the broad categories of products.
You have to remember that the key to your success is serving people. The businesses that do the best when economies change and shifts are the businesses that stay in tune with how their customer’s needs have changed. It’s not how we can shove our product down their throat. It’s, “Had their needs changed? Does our product need to change to meet that?” Those are the businesses that have done the best time again.
I agree with you on that for sure. Do you have a second point?
The other one is the flip side. The good thing is that it’s easier to build a business than ever before because there are so many ways to build a business. The problem is there are so many ways to grow your business. It can be incredibly overwhelming. A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to do one more thing. They were like, “Maybe we should get on TikTok. Maybe we should run a Facebook Ad campaign. I hear billboards are coming back. Maybe we should do SMS marketing.” The reality is any one of those things can grow your business. The key is you have to become the master of one growth model.
That’s to scale your business. If you are at the point where you could hire a marketing team to start taking over different growth models, then you can start getting into having different growth models going on in your business. Many entrepreneurs get lost because they are trying to do a little bit of a podcast, Facebook Ad campaign or something else. They are the master of none of those. From a tactical perspective, I would say, focus on one primary growth model. Double down on that and you will see way more success than if you are to do 5 or 10 different growth models at a surface.
I’m going to play a devil’s advocate. They might say, “If I did a one growth model but it doesn’t work, how do I know that I’m in the right growth model?” I think your 1st and 2nd point are tied together. Your first point was that we are selling real products or services to real people. We need to have empathy. Even more than that, it comes down to understanding who your customer is. What does she need? What does she suffer with? How can I help her? You need to have that question every single day. If you do that, then your business growth model becomes easier. Like my customers, they are all in a 35 to 55-ish, highly educated customer base.
I’ve got a lot of Millennial entrepreneurs. They are risking their money and creating wealth every single day because that’s how entrepreneurs make money and pay their people. They are going to realize that if you are selling, for example, anti-aging products or life insurance for the elderly, they are probably not going to hang out on TikTok. You can sit there and say, “I can get all cutesy and everything. I’ve got 30,000 followers on TikTok.” They are not your customer because that’s not where they hang out.
If you take time to understand where they are, they are not hanging out there by understanding who your customers are, where they hang out in big numbers, how they shop, what are their main gripes, and what do they value the most.I’m not a Millennial but I have to tell you I’m trying to attract Millennials to my business because they are the future.
In the jewelry business, for example, the people my age are big, bold, and things that are thicker because there’s more gold in there or whatever. Millennials like things that are very minimalistic. They like things that express without all the fuss. If I’m trying to get a lot of Millennials coming into my world, they might be hanging out at Instagram or Pinterest for visual stuff but they are not hanging out on Facebook. Basically, understanding what your customers want, where they hang out in large numbers because then if you have an Instagram post or whatever a post that you come up with, the messaging will be clearer because you understand who they are, why they hang there, and what they are looking for.
Your point number 1 and 2 is you have to know exactly who you are serving. You can’t be sitting there pretending that you are serving everybody because you are not. Try not to do that because you are not a superwoman. You are going to serve no one because your product is water down and everything else. I think those were very sound advice for any entrepreneur. I do quite a bit of coaching myself. The number one mistake that a lot of young entrepreneurs make is trying to be everything to everybody. Number two is, it’s true that you could sit there and talk about your customer numbers and your ROI.
It’s really important to emphasize the fact that your business success is built on creating a real solution to a real problem.
I’m going to go back to one more point you made earlier, which is the power of storytelling. Everybody’s story is very interesting. Yours is very interesting. I wish I was as smart as you when I was 30 because then I would be a billionaire by now. Unfortunately, I have had to learn lessons along the way. I had to learn the hard way but I would say that the power of storytelling, the authenticity, being vulnerable, being who you are, offering what you can, being honest that you don’t know everything, you own your mistakes and weaknesses.
Those are the key traits that entrepreneurs without a lot of money can hang on to because that’s whom we root for as Americans. We root for underdogs, for people who are not perfect, and who try hard. We hate perfect people. Who wants them? Who wants to take lessons from them? I would say everything you have shared so far is amazing. How can my audience get ahold of you, connect with you and get ahold of your book?
I wish we had the time to go too much deeper into it. I will be happy to share resources that will help. As we talked about growth models, for example, one of the things that I teach in the book Survive and Thrive:How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One) is specifically the fact that there are only five growth models and other things that fit underneath them. I would say go to SurviveAndThriveBook.com to get a copy of the book. That will have links where you can get it on Amazon, Audible, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble, wherever you prefer to get your books.
It also has a form where you can download a free one-page Playbook. Think of this like a one-page business plan that takes the principles we talked about of who are the real people you are serving, what is the real problem, what is your real solution, connects that to your growth model, and your core products. That’s a free resource that’s there as well at SurviveAndThriveBook.com.
As you mentioned, I hosted the Thrive School Podcast. If you want to listen in and love to share, I have some incredible interviews on there with incredibly successful entrepreneurs. The whole commitment there is building a thriving business. Not only profitable but enjoyable, too. A business that fuels your life. That’s something that I’m passionate about.
I preach this all the time. A lot of entrepreneurs start their businesses. If you ask people like, “Why do you want to be your own boss?” Money ranks about number four out of that. Most people want freedom of time, freedom of emotion and fulfillment. They want to be their own boss, so they can call their own shots. They want to work fewer hours for more money. Oftentimes, we find entrepreneurs working three times more hours and making less money.
A lot of you who are in the corporate world now, I have about 30% of them that are on the verge of starting something but they don’t have the courage to do that but if you look at someone like John, who wrote the Survive and Thrive, what he’s giving is almost like a plug-and-play framework for you to follow so that you are not having to make all the mistakes and learn. You will still make some, trust me.
A lot of the stuff that has been worked out by somebody who didn’t come from a lot of money, I think there are a lot of value in that. With that, I always end my show with this message, which is to stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices until we see each other next time. Thank you so much.
Amazon – Survive and Thrive:How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One
Audible – Survive and Thrive:How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One
Bookshop – Survive and Thrive:How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One
Barnes & Noble – Survive and Thrive:How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One
About John Meese
Hi friend 👋 I’m John Meese, the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur myself, I am on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch.
I’m the CEO of Cowork Inc, co-founder of Notable, and I regularly publish interviews and insight on my Thrive School podcast and right here at JohnMeese.com. I’ve worked closely with multiple clients who have repeatedly hit the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing privately-owned businesses in America. I currently offer strategic advisor services to a limited selection of companies, as well.
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/47MDHsquare.png600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2021-11-24 03:00:392021-11-11 06:12:37Survive And Thrive: Leveraging Entrepreneurship To Beat Generational Poverty With John Meese
Do you need the motivation to excel and live your dream life? Tune into this episode as the CEO and founder of the One Thought Away Project, Kerry Tepedino, discusses strategies that we can execute to accomplish our goals, enrich our mindset, and bring positive energy to the people around us. She shares the project she created that focuses on helping women, coaching them to have a good mindset and focus. It all starts with your personal development by having a proper mindset and taking control of your emotions. By this, you will slowly build your confidence and build momentum for success. She also shares a technique to perform to get more things done in your everyday life. Learn how you could increase your productivity and be the best version of yourself!
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Leading With Mindset And Emotional Mastery To Achieve Your Dream Life With Kerry Tepedino
One Thought Away From Your Dream Life
In this episode, we have Kerry Tepedino, who is a master and an expert in mindset mastery. She’s also the CEO and Founder of the One Thought Away Project. I want to tell you that if you’re an entrepreneur, as you know, that mindset piece is a key factor. Everything you want to accomplish in life starts with you and specifically with your mindset, how your mind aligns with your body and ultimately, how those two things help you achieve your goals. Kerry, welcome to the show.
We’ve talked a few times, and I want to say thank you so much for having me because I know you are a protective mama of your community and you only bring the best of the best. That’s one thing I appreciate about you and acknowledge about you. We’ve had lots of conversations about what you believe in, who you want to be the resource for and you don’t throw anybody onto your show. I’m excited to be here and have some fun.
Thank you so much for recognizing that. You might know that I only have about 26 guests a year. It’s a very selective process. I don’t want to brag about my show but I want to brag about my audience and that they’re experienced, sophisticated readers. They support the show and everything that you do. I want to take this time to shine a light on what you do and not you personally but also your community, the people that you impact in a way. Especially in COVID-19, we’ve got Delta and all these other variants coming in. You’re a new mom and sometimes you feel like you’re going to break down because there is much to do. In your professional opinion, is it like a woman’s thing where we don’t know how to say no and we take on everything around us?
I think it’s certain women. I’m glad we’re diving into this topic because I did training on this with my clients because I even have our pediatrician. For all of our friends here, as Victoria was sharing, I’m a new mom. At 48 years old, I had two twins. I had a little boy and a little girl. Even my pediatrician says, “Kerry, how are you getting so much done?” She doesn’t even know the extent of my business, Victoria. She’s seeing like the parts that she’s seeing.
I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart, the way that I am getting so much done is because of this personal development work that we’re discussing. Leading with mindset mastery and emotional mastery. When you have those pieces, the great thing that naturally and organically can happen is you up your time management but also your energy management. Even now, before we’re here speaking together, it’s amazing how much I’ve gotten done. With that being said, my kids aren’t being put on hold. My kids are still my priority.
I think it does have a lot to do with the mindset you were mentioning that we were talking about. To be a successful entrepreneur or businesswoman, you can have the best business strategy but if you don’t have the personal development work in place, you’re only going to get so far because of your stress, anxiety, you’re overwhelmed and your procrastination will derail you. All those goals that you have for your mission, your legacy, getting your product out in the world, whatever that million-dollar passion is, you won’t reach your potential if you’re not putting yourself first. That is hard for a lot of mamas to do.
I want to ask you a little bit about the One Thought Away Project. One of the key reasons why I was looking forward to this interview was that I’m a huge believer in the one single step that you can take. If you read the outro at the end, I end the show with, “A thousand-mile journey starts with a single step.” That single step doesn’t have to be a huge thing. I thought when I heard you talk about the One Thought Away, that’s a very close cousin, the one thought and the one single action.
If you use a different part of your brain every hour, you become more productive.
Tell me a little bit about how you came about with the One Thought Away Project and also what it does specifically for entrepreneurship owners because entrepreneurship female, you’re dealing with your family. Sometimes in our age groups, you’re looking at having to take care of your parents, your own children, your employees and then your community or a customer. That’s a lot. Some women can do it but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Tell me a little bit about how you found it at what it does?
The One Thought Away Project is all-encompassing. It’s the big umbrella for the different verticals in our business. Let me put it in a little bit more simple words. One Thought Away Project is our big vision and then within that, we have our group coaching for women. We have the events that we do. We have the book that’s coming out. There are different verticals underneath that big umbrella. The One Thought Away concept is our through-line. It is part of everything we do.
It is because if you don’t have that single focus on being the glass is half full, not half empty, being solution-focused versus problem-focused. If you don’t have that piece, it’s always going to feel like a struggle. Building your business, hitting your numbers, getting that new account, getting some new lead generation, getting that perfect mold for your jewelry or whatever it is, finding that perfect editor. It’s always going to feel extra hard.
Like attracts like. If we’re constantly in this thought of, “It’s too hard, I don’t have what it takes. I don’t know the right people.” The universe is going to want to match that and I’m not being rude but I’m saying, “If that’s what we’re focused on, that is what we’re going to continue to create.” You’re one thought away from being a total success with that million-dollar passion now or not. You’re one thought away from being healthy and happy now or not.
It is like, “Where am I going to put my focus because wherever I’m putting my focus and my energy, I am going to create more of that.” It’s a simple way to help women and entrepreneurs take this concept and continue to redirect them back on track because it’s easy to get off track. It doesn’t mean you’re bad or weak or wrong or not good enough, it means you’re human. What we get to do is the more we practice this personal development work, we catch ourselves faster.
When we go off track and we start going down that rabbit hole of it’s too hard or whatever it is, we can catch ourselves faster and bring ourselves back on track. What I’ve noticed is falling off track starts to happen less and less often and then I see entrepreneurs and women start to build up more confidence in themselves, their abilities. They start to see more successes and that starts to build their momentum up.
I’m not somebody who likes to generalize but I do a lot of work with GSFE. I work with a lot of entrepreneur women. They happen to be a little bit more creative than people who are not entrepreneurial because they have to go out and create value every single day for someone else in order to get paid. When you’re a creative person and especially in the design world or you are in that creative field, your mind is all over the place anyway and that’s the beauty of how your mind works. You don’t know the boundaries. You think everything is possible. You go off the track. It’s easy for creative people to get off track sometimes minute by minute.
Mindset And Emotional Mastery: Work on your personal development so you can be more productive and lead people better.
I completely hear you talking about how you think you’re on the right track for three days and then you’re off track because there was another new shiny toy or another thought. I know that you have developed simple rituals. Your website is OwnYourRituals.com, or that’s one of your websites. Tell us a little bit about that. I guess what you’re saying is that it’s normal to get off track and when you do, you need to teach yourself, trick your mind to go back on track. If you have a system that helps you do that, you can do this lesson less.
Let’s start with Own Your Rituals. It’s a free gift, OwnYourRituals.com. We’ve gotten incredible feedback. I hope that our friends here go and dive into that. It’s a gift, but the basis of that is to learn to bookend your days. You have your AM rituals and then PM rituals. What we’re doing is we’re helping our women entrepreneurs and people start their days with the right intention because if you’re starting your day already feeling like you’re behind or you’re starting your day feeling like, “How am I ever going to get to my to-do list?”
If you’re already starting working against yourself, you’re going to start deflated and it’s going to be hard to get even one thing done on your to-do list. It’s not so much you’re doing that we want to focus on but who are you being? I’m being focused, committed, kind, trusting and I’m trusting the process. I’m being motivated. It’s a beautiful proprietary system where we walk you through a process of visualization on your rituals, visualization as a journaling process. That helps you get clarity on who do you want to be in the world, business, personal life and as a woman you respect? What life am I committed to creating now?
With OwnYourRituals.com, we start with the AM ritual and then we’ll move on. We don’t want to throw everything at once because then it can get overwhelming and then some people will do nothing. We start with the AM ritual. We get that down so it becomes more of the core of who you are, like a natural way of being and then we can work in. Later in that program, we work in that gift, we work in the PM rituals. It’s very powerful.
I will give another tip as well that’s not in that because I think you bring up a good point for your readers, like a lot of creatives, artists and designers. There’s this other system that I use a lot called the 60-60-30. I didn’t make this up. I learned this from Eben Pagan several years ago. What he says is write down your list of everything you need to do now. Maybe that’s finding a new manufacturer, doing research on cost development or reaching out to a few hot leads that you got for some new accounts or partnerships.
You write everything down, you look at your list and you think, “What would bring me the most relief to complete now?” You choose three. If your list is 100 long, you only get to choose three. I know a lot of women freak out about that. Circle those three, get a new sheet of paper, put those three at the top of the paper, crumple up the to-do list and throw it away. I know that’s the part that gets hard, “I still have to do those things.” I know there’ll be there for you. Don’t worry.
When you look at those three and see like, “What is the 1 out of these 3 that will bring me the most relief to get complete?” Circle that one. It’s 60 minutes, 60 minutes, 30 minutes. For the first 60 minutes, set an alarm on your phone for 50 minutes and focus, put the blinders on. Even if you’re creative and even if that means bringing out a drawing board or a whiteboard where you’re creating new designs, it can be applied to the creative part of your brain.
We set intentions on who we’re going to be.
For 50 minutes, you just focus on that. Closed down email social media, anything that doesn’t have to do with that task. Your alarm is going to go off at 50 minutes. Stop whatever you’re doing, even if you’re in the mid-creative genius zone, set your alarm to ten minutes and go do something that is going to use a different part of your brain for ten minutes.
Research shows that if you use a different part of your brain every hour, you become more productive. Let’s say that for 50 minutes, you’re designing new jewelry designs or you’re doing something creative. You’re working on your 2022 and beyond launch program or launch schedule, then for ten minutes, go do something physical. Maybe you walk around the block, fold laundry or do something with a different part of your brain. That alarm goes off in ten minutes. You set it for 50 minutes again and let’s say this time you’re going to do something new. Maybe part of your million-dollar passion is to be using your hands and doing pottery, painting or jewelry development.
You do that for 50 minutes and then that 10 minutes that follow, use a different part of your brain and do something that’s more like thinking wise, like maybe reading and answering emails or maybe writing some email copy. That way, what you’re doing is you’re using the power and you’re leveraging the power of your brain to become more proficient with your time and energy and get more done versus over saturating, never getting up and taking a break, going into burnout, going all that other stuff that happens to a lot of entrepreneurs. Owning your rituals and this 60-60-30 are 2 awesome strategies for our friends here.
I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying and that I’ll go even one step further on this. When you get up in the morning and you think about all the things you’ve got to do, you first think about all the things you didn’t get to do yesterday and they get transferred over. There are some things that keep on transferring from day to day and then you wake up one day and you’re like, “I passed that deadline. I need to get that and you don’t want to do it.
When I was working, I did a lot of volunteer work. I’ve worked with inner-city kids, entrepreneurship women and all of that. I know you might agree with me on this, when I ask somebody, “Show me your calendar. What are the things you need to get done?” They will show me 60 things that have to get done. I said, “How much time is this going to take?” For example, you might say, “I need to create a whole new collection.” That’s like a five-day job. You have to decide how much time do I want to spend on that now because you can spend 24 hours a day. There’ll be things like, “I got to drop off my laundry.” That would be on your list. That could be a twenty-minute job depending on where you drop your laundry off.
What I found a lot of women do is they’ll go to the one that’s easy to check off. They’ll go, “I’ll do the groceries for my mom. I’ll drop off my husband’s laundry or my own laundry. I will delegate my staff to do these things.” The bigger things that bring you the most amount of money and probably will give you the most amount of belief, you don’t ever get done. Usually, it takes 60 minutes and 100% focus on the 60 minutes.
What you’re saying is prioritizing the three things that will give you the most relief. I completely agree with you. It didn’t occur to me until I had kids, especially after the second child because I was frazzled all the time and I thought to myself, “There’s no way I’m going to get to this.” Whatever happens with that thing is what’s going to happen. It’s not something I can control and even if I could control, it’s not worth it. I’ve had to learn to let go.
Mindset And Emotional Mastery: You can have the best business strategy, but if you don’t have the personal development work in place, you’re only going to get so far because your stress will derail you.
I used to be a control freak and now I’m still a control freak but I’m a controlled freak for a lot fewer things. I love the combination of the two having some a system, a ritual thing where you’re reminded every morning when you get up. I also love how you said, “Not what do I want to accomplish now. What do I want to do but who do I want to be?” The intention is powerful.
If you read my blog, time after time, the one thing I tell you and all the people who are reading is that success like material wealth and all of the success is completely hollow if you have had to sacrifice your family and you’ve had become a nasty person. I’m saying, you’re not a nasty person all the time but if you get screwed over by some manufacturer who didn’t give you the samples or took your money, it’s easy to be bitter and say, “The next one I run into, I’m going to go him.”
That would be like what society would expect you to be. It requires effort to try to be who you were born to be. That kind, gentle and amazing human being is capable of accomplishing not only great things but also lifting other people. I think that starting with that intention every day and reminding yourself, even if yesterday didn’t go too well, you start with that. End capping your day with another positive thought. I’m assuming that would be in the cards. The 60-60-30 to me is the application of that.
There are many things I loved about what you said. One of the things that I want to say is, isn’t it great and beautiful that we get to teach our children that? My eldest son is six. Even since he was four, we set intentions every morning and we don’t inset intentions on what we were going to do, we set intentions on who we were going to be. For example, “Grayson, who are you going to be? What are your intentions?” Honestly, Victoria, he does say this, “Now, I’m going to be confident and kind.” He gets to choose who he gets to be every day. I make a declaration to him so there’s that level of accountability and those brave declarations that are happening.
This is an incredible show for powerful women and strong women who have a mission in the world and not just personally but professionally. We’re blessed that we get to lead these younger generations and when we become the source of that next level of potential ourselves then I truly believe we’re not impacting and influencing the child that is ourselves, our spouses, our child, the client, the partner or the affiliate who’s in front of us. In regards to family, we’re impacting 7 generations in front of us and 7 generations behind us. There is a deep healing that gets to happen when we, as empowered women, choose to heal ourselves. Healers heal thyself first. When we choose to do this work and we become the source of all the results that are happening in our lives now and all the results that aren’t happening in our lives with our families, our parenting, our grandparenting, our businesses, our products.
When we have 100% full ownership of that, what happens is we stop pointing outwards like, “That manufacturer screwed me over or that person didn’t follow through, or that partner ripped me off and I have to declare bankruptcy,” or whatever it is. When we stop pointing out, we point to us and then anything is possible from that positioning.
As we close, I want to say that as a woman, you think you’re leading a tribe of people. You’re still leading your children, families, sisters, brothers and everybody around you and the best way you lead is by example. Where I come from Asia and I can not say all of Asia because I haven’t been to every single one of them, success is defined by a perfect balance of five different things. The first is health and then the second thing in that is your relationship with your loved ones because a lot of times when you’re focused on money something goes. Your relationship with your parents, your children or your friends, that’s the first thing that goes.
The third thing is wisdom, not necessarily intelligence like book-smart but wisdom to know when you’re doing the right things. It’s a little bit more on the moral compass side, and then you have longevity. You could enjoy that life for a long time. The last thing on that spectrum is wealth because if you do all the other things correctly, the wealth will come. It’s the other way around.
Lone wolfing is a lonely place, and it brings a lot of heartache with it.
Even though you probably may not have heard that before, everything you said now exemplifies that. I am glad that we had this time together. As we close, what is the one thing that you would advise to a young Millennial woman like my daughter, who is 29 years old, has a baby, has a business, when she’s struggling?
Get support. Hands down, that’s what I would say. In our programs, we call it lone wolfing. It’s so easy for us to have this big S on our chest as women, and we’re going to be Superwoman. We’re going to do it alone and reinvent the wheel. You know what, ladies, the wheel has been invented. Let’s streamline our process and save ourselves tons of time, energy, money and heartache. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s about surrounding yourself. Find a great mentor who can help you get to where you want to be as your guide and then find that community. I say, “I like to be in a strong community of women because I think we’re wired a bit differently in regards to how we commute.”
Find a mentor and community that has the strategies in the right order that can help you get from A to B because none of us need to lone wolf. It is a lonely place. It brings a lot of heartache with it and it’s not necessary. Even if we’re young mamas, new grandmas or whatever it is. Speaks to a friend. There is another woman on this planet who is living the life that you want to live that has that business, that is managing and balancing personal and professional at the same time. If she can do it so can you. It’s about finding that right support and not feeling like you have to get through the trenches alone. You don’t need to.
Kerry, how do people find you and connect with you? Where would you like them to get to know more about you and all the things and great stuff that you do for women?
Go to KerryTepedino.com and OwnYourRituals.com. You can go to that website alone or go to KerryTepedino.com, the gift is there. We do tons of fun things. We do the One Thought Away Challenge, where in seven short days, we help women start to get massive results in their businesses and in their lives. We have The BELIEVE Event that we do once or twice a year. There are many ways to lean in and participate. I highly suggest it. Let’s link arms. I want to partner with you. I don’t want to give you fish. It’s more about teaching the mindset and emotional mastery skills so that you can tap into them for the rest of your lives as you want.
Thank you for reading. If you have not subscribed to the show, please go ahead hit the subscribe button, rate and review because that’s how I get validated about any show being good or bad and you can also write to me as well. Thank you so much, Kerry, for spending your time, expertise, heart and soul. Until next time, stay healthy and thank you.
Kerry Tepedino has made her mark as a top leader in the personal development space for women. Kerry came from a hard background of low self-esteem, not believing in herself, being 45-50 pounds heavier than she is today and desperate for change. She came to a defining moment in her life where she got to make a decision to continue being unhappy and burned out… or find the freedom that her soul was craving.
Through deep study of personal development, leadership, holistic health, nutrition, Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, and breath work, Kerry created her Sacred Self System, which helped her life go from rock bottom to where she is today… loving a life that she never thought could be possible for her. She has influenced over 150,000 people worldwide in mindset mastery, emotional mastery, loving themselves, and believing that with the proper mentorship, community and strategies… anything is possible.
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/46MDHsquare.png600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2021-11-17 03:00:062021-11-10 10:44:07Leading With Mindset And Emotional Mastery To Achieve Your Dream Life With Kerry Tepedino
Did you know that you can actually make a profit just by renting out dresses? And did you know that you can do that on your own with your own wardrobe? Designerex is the platform to do it. It’s a technology platform that enables women to earn rental income from their designer outfits, as well as transform fashion into a more sustainable and ethical industry. Join your host Victoria Wieck and her guest Costa Koulis, the co-founder and co-creator of Designerex. Learn how the platform was built and how easy it is to rent a dress. Make the fashion industry a more secure and environmentally friendly industry today.
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An Interview With Costa Koulis – The Co-Creator Of Designerex – A Platform For Fashionistas
How To Make Money With Your Favorite Clothes In Your Closet
Welcome to another episode of the show. What we do here is bring you amazing guests with incredible stories. Many of them are transformation stories and unusual businesses. It’s called the Million Dollar Hobbies for a reason. It’s not like a lot of businesses that we bring are non-traditional businesses and this episode is no exception. I have an amazing guest and a good friend, Costa Koulis.
This man has done something that I would never ever be able to do. Somehow he makes it simple but more than anything, he’s transformed a lot of lives that you may not even know about. He’s about to change from my personal life as well. He is the finalist for the Online Retail Industry Award for 2020 and 2021 and the winner of the StartCon Australasian Startup Award and it goes on and on. I’m not going to bore you with that but without further ado, I would like to welcome Costa. Costa, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come to the show. I know you’re in Australia where it’s bright and early. It is exciting and interesting what you’ve done. A lot of people know companies like Rent the Runway, Airbnb and a lot of businesses even cars. They’re all being rented. You’ve got the same kind of a concept where you’re taking the middleman out of the picture here so you can go directly to your target market where people can make free money.
Our readers are not used to me hyping or using the word free very often. In fact, I think it’s probably the only time I’ve ever used the word free in my whole career because I don’t believe anything is free but this one is truly free. Costa, tell our readers what Designerex does. How is that different from Rent the Runway, which is your main competition?
Designerex is the world’s largest P2P design-a-dress sharing platform. We’ve got over 25,000 dresses and the big difference between us and Rent the Runway is we have built a technology platform that provides tools to many thousands of women all across the country to become their own mini Rent the Runways and untap the value out of their own fashion that they have in the wardrobes. That’s a big difference between us and Rent the Runway. You can become your own Rent the Runway.
Jennifer Hyman did a fantastic job with Rent the Runway. She had discovered something and that is fashion can earn you rental income. It’s vastly different from selling it. If you buy a dress after you’ve worn and got your value out of it, these days you typically don’t want to be seen in it again especially if it’s an event-type dress. You’ve got three options. It’s either going to stay in your wardrobe and do nothing. What a waste. You’re either going to sell it. If you sell it, you can maybe get up to 40% or 50% of the value of the dress if you’re lucky. Some dresses can rent out up to 30 times. You can rent it out. It’s all about economics and taking advantage of that gap of that sweet spot as we call it. You can make $1,200 or $2,000 from that $600 dress. That’s the big difference and benefit of renting dresses. We’ve built the tools that women are taking advantage of.
What’s interesting as you’re saying this is my husband is in real estate development. If you ever played the game Monopoly, all the people who win are the people who own those resorts or buildings so they keep getting that passive rental income. A lot of times in entrepreneurship journey, I interview people quite a lot with my show and when I ask them, “How did you get started?”
Fashion can actually earn you rental income.
Sometimes, it’s not like you plan something but you stumbled forward and you end up with something. If you start renting out and you get some passive income, you’re like, “This is pretty cool. Maybe I can get my neighbors, daughters or whoever and put them up there.” You then have a small side hustle business that is costing you no money. You’re not paying rent or anything. Everything is free on this thing. You end up with a little entrepreneurial spirit and you’re like, “I got extra money and the entrepreneurial spirit.” That’s cool.
The other thing is I come from the fashion industry and I can tell you why I would be doing something like this. This is one of the main reasons why I personally do not use the Rent the Runway because of the way the retail market is and it’s true in Australia, New Zealand and everywhere else. All the buyers and the designers do the same thing. If somebody says, “Burgundy’s the new black,” all the designers are making burgundy. They say the six key pieces, one’s a pants suit and the other one’s a scarf. All the designers are doing burgundy of those same six key pieces.
What happens is when you go to Rent the Runway, you’re going to get the same thing, essentially. If you want to stand out uniquely, you’re going to have to go to these places that are either custom made or go to a boutique that doesn’t go to a lot of these shows. For all of you who are reading, what Costa is saying is that in Designerex, you can go to your closet, pick out the things that don’t fit you anymore.
Pick out the things you were thinking, “I can never wear this,” or, “I thought I was going to go to such an event last 2020 and the event got canceled and out of 30 days money-back guarantee period. What do I do with this?” Typically speaking, if it’s an event dress or even if it’s a corporate event like going to work, you’re getting 2 to 3 wears out of it. You’re not getting a lot. Being able to recoup your costs and rent it out a few times is a huge benefit. When you’re done with that, you can still give it away for charity.
You can still get rent for charity if you like and you can still sell it if you really want to.
Let me ask you. Out of curiosity, did you wake up one day and dreamt of this? Is this something you planned for a long time? How did you come about doing this?
There are two cofounders. I’m one of the Cofounders and our other Cofounder is Kirsten is a female. She had an event to go to. It was a work event. It was an awards night and she couldn’t justify spending $1,000 for a dress knowing that she’s only going to wear it once. The whole rental proposition works. Leading on from then, she ended up finding a dress from a small business and ended up renting it. One thing that we’ve discovered at that point with that transaction is there’s no secure sharing platform where you can access not just that sensitive things with Rent the Runway.
If you go on Rent the Runway, all you can see is Rent the Runway. You’re not like Expedia. You’re not comparing what else is out there. Rent the Runway is limited by what they can offer consumers because generally, they’ll have a wholesale agreement because they’re in it to make money, which is fine for them. That’s great. The issue is they look for wholesale prices so the range of dresses is often only with designers that they’ve got agreements that they can buy wholesale and then it becomes profitable.
Renting Dresses Platform: When building a unique and secure dress-sharing platform that doesn’t exist yet, you have to find the right team to build it. It’s not about building your initial version. Every day you will be improving on it.
The big difference with Designerex is anything that’s available in the shops that women want to buy or wear becomes available on Designerex. We’re not limited with brands. That is a massive difference and it opens up a whole new door for consumers. It started along those lines where it was an event coming up. People had tried it but there was no secure and easy way of doing it. It’s a very long journey. One of the first things we looked at is security, “How do we make the sharing experience secure?”
Everything was built from scratch. We integrated real-time ID verification. If you get a booking from someone that wants to rent from LA to New York for example and it gets all over the country in the USA, you can request that you verify their ID prior to using the app. We sat down at that time, we thought, “What does this market need? What are the tools that will make it easy for women to be able to earn income from the dresses and on the other side, enable women to access thousands and unlimited range of dresses to service both sides of the marketplace?” We built everything from scratch and that’s how it started.
That’s quite interesting to see. When Costa talks about security, for clarification, you want to make sure that whoever is ending up with your dress or your outfit is going to pay you, keep it in a good condition and bring it back to you with care. It’s almost like a lot of other design platforms like Fiverr or Upwork. It’s almost like an Airbnb where somebody is making sure that the payment that they’re paying you is going to clear.
You’ve taken out a lot of the friction points of doing this individually. The other thing is if you’ve got 25,000 dresses, you’re offering a variety that is unparalleled. One thing I miss before and I used to hate it and now I miss it is I used to travel millions of miles a year all around the world. My products are sold in 35 different countries. Often, I would find something in London, Paris or Dubai and people would ask me, “Where’d you get all that?” When you go to Rent the Runway, not to trash them but they don’t have the collection.
Here, if I were to go ahead and rent them all out, you have shops in Tokyo, Spain and all these places that I’ve been to because I’m a very active shopper. I end up with a lot of stuff that’s beautiful that we’ll never have access to here. The variety is a huge thing. Secondly, the cost is a little bit lower. Do you ask them to be a member? Is there a membership fee? How do you work in terms of the charges?
You don’t need to be a member. We’re trying to make it as seamless as possible. We want you to be able to jump on Designerex.com, go on with your life and book whatever you want. You don’t need to be a member. After you book a dress, you sign up. You create a login to that extent but it’s free to access and browse. You simply log in to undertake a booking. We keep it as frictionless as possible.
It’s interesting because a lot of people will watch the awards shows every award season, the Oscars, Golden Globes and all this. People don’t realize how many of those dresses are rented. 80% to 90% of the outfits that a lot of the stars wear, some of them are designers who want to be discovered or whatever and they are truly custom made. I know on the jewelry side as well as a clothing side, quite a few and a significant percentage of that are rented.
This whole idea of renting or something for one event where you’re going to be seen and photographed and then you don’t ever see it again is very real. I love that. I don’t have a lot of tech junkies but what does it take to build a platform? You didn’t have a template or anything going on. You’re up pretty early so I’m not sure what happened.
80-90% of the dresses you see in televised events like the Oscars are rented.
Building a platform, where do you start? The thing is I’m not a programmer myself. I ended up being the product manager as one of my hats as being Co-CEO of Designerex. When we first started, we built and launched in 2016, we weren’t too sure what to build it on. We were looking at possibilities of Shopify for example. For a lot of your readers, that’s one way to quickly get into an online business is to use Shopify, Wix or one of those. In our case, we were building a unique and secure dress-sharing platform that doesn’t exist.
We set about looking for a team to build it. Through a contact in Australia, we ended up finding a team in Kathmandu in Nepal. We looked at Airbnb. We’ve had a big vision from the very start, what are they doing? We had to look and the site that your users can go on is a site called BuiltWith.com. We typed in Airbnb because we thought, “What are they built on?” We had this grand global vision that we’re going to need that technology. We saw that they are built on Ruby. We set about finding a team that was proficient in Ruby. That’s how we ended up through a contact finding a team in Nepal.
We were fortunate. We ended up with a good team and the product that we wanted because it’s not just about building your initial version. Ever since then, every day, we’ve been constantly improving and that’s been one of the reasons behind our success. We look at what behaviors and what the customers want. It’s all about the customer for us. What do they want? Dress rental return reminders, syncing the shipping so the dress lender and the dress renter are in sync. They both know where the dress is. All of these different real-time ID verification that I mentioned earlier and payments. All that is custom-built. Originally, it was built by our own Nepal team.
One of the most often asked questions about Rent the Runway and I checked it in their FAQ is how are these dresses cleaned and is that safe for me? Do you want to answer that question for the Designerex customers?
In Rent the Runway’s case because their business model is such that they buy dresses and they all come back to a centralized warehouse. They ended up in and I think t gets promoted as the largest laundry. In our case, we thought that the most efficient way for the market and to deliver the highest range of dress at the lowest possible price is to use the resources that currently are in the marketplace, which is your local dry cleaner. To cut a long story short, when you list your dress, which is risk-free and absolutely free, you also add your price for dry cleaning. That will be your local dry cleaner. That gets paid for through the booking and when you get your dress back from your booking, you simply take it to your local dry cleaner.
If you were to re-rent it, does the person who’s listing it show that that’s been dry cleaned? How does that work?
Generally, the dry cleaners will leave a tag on this. We say if possible, leave it on there but yes, it’s always dry cleaned and we ask that you always dry clean it. We expect that it’s always dry cleaned when you send it out.
In terms of other ways that you differentiate yourself from the Rent the Runway in the minds of the consumer as well as who’s renting it, what are some of the key differences other than the variety and the price?
Renting Dresses Platform: The most efficient way to deliver the highest range of dresses at the lowest possible price is to use resources that are currently in the market, which is the local dry cleaner.
Apart from the variety and the price, you can often find dresses that are right near you so you don’t have to look around for a Rent the Runway store geographically. Rent the Runway is not everywhere but consumers and people that buy dresses are. That’s the other big benefit.
If somebody wants to rent it 2 or 3 times. Maybe I rented it, I loved it and want to buy it. Is there a sale portion of this too or are you leaving it only to the renter?
One of the big reasons behind our massive growth is because we purely focus on renting. If you want to buy something, feel free. All the tools that we’ve built are to make the rental experience as seamless as possible. In answer to your question, we’re not the platform for buying but in terms of renting, we lead the way.
I love what you’re doing here because when you do the Rent the Runway, they buy the stuff at wholesale and their range is very limited. The other thing too is I came from the retail where manufacturing makes something and the buyer at a department store, TV station or whoever buys what she thinks that her customers might like. A lot of times, there’s a disconnect.
In my particular case, I’m not going to name any particular buyer but I fought this my whole life because I know what the end-user wants. I do a show on TV and immediately I get a flurry of responses, “I love this item. I love that item. I like this one too but I didn’t buy it because.” When they tell you all that because it gives you a pretty good reading as to why. Sometimes, they’ll say, “That piece is way too big for me. It’s too ostentatious.” I get the information that the season, they want something more dainty. They don’t want something big.
I tell that to my buyer, my buyer is like, “No.” The big stuff is still selling because you’re sounding in all other brands and they don’t listen to me. What happens is a lot of times and because the vendors have to make money, they’ll usually give in. The buyer ends up with all this stuff that a lot of people don’t want from your brand. They may want that from other brands or they don’t want it from it. In Rent the Runway’s case, their buyers came up with stuff that they think will rent well.
A lot of times, you get much more of a direct interaction with because you don’t have huge risks. You got 25,000 dresses to choose from and that’s great. The other thing too is I give away so much clothes. I have these giant trash bags and I go through 4 or 5 every season. I give them away to Military Wives, the Dress For Success people or the battered women. I give them away like crazy but there are some that I’m like, “I paid $3,000 for this and it’s way too good to give it away to The Salvation Army or to anybody,” so it just sits there.
Many of us have dresses that sit there. Either they never fit, they fit or you wore once. I have shoes and all this stuff that I haven’t worn yet and I have a difficult time letting go of some things. If you can rent it, you’re giving somebody else an opportunity to experience that moment. Secondly, if I put on ten dresses, I could probably pick up a few hundred dollars and that’s not bad.
Fashion is the world’s second-largest polluter. Fashion should not be worn once and wasted.
It’s a sitting asset that’s untapped. What our technology does at Designerex is it enables you to untap in a rental income. You touched on a very interesting point and that is having wasteful fashion. We want to remind your readers that fashion is the world’s second-largest polluter. What platforms like Designerex are now enabling is the repurposing of fashion. If you rent one dress for about $100 or $150, you’re alternative to that if you’re buying retail is something fast fashion.
The benefit of renting for $100 or $150 is you can wear designer. You can wear something nice instead of wearing a Zara outfit. One dress can be rented up to 30 times. One designer dress can save 30 fast-fashion dresses from going into a landfill. The consumer on one side is earning rental income. On the other side, she has gone to her event wearing an actual dress from a designer that should look and feel amazing. The repurposing industry is booming and Millennials are leading the way.
I have been to many factories. I started out as a fashion designer first. The fashion, a lot of the beautiful prints and things that we love some of them go through very toxic chemical dyes. They may say that, “Our cotton is grown organically,” but the minute they start to dye it unless if it’s going to bleed all over if it’s permanent print on them, it has gone through several layers. In some of those factories, if you don’t wear gloves, your fingers come out green or whatever color it is and it doesn’t go away for weeks so you know it’s not organic. The word organic is quite liberally used when it comes to fashion.
When Costa talked about fast fashion, I want to clarify that because a lot of people who are not in the industry don’t understand what that word means. In the old days where people used to go to their own tailor or dressmaker, would order something and they would order the fabric and custom make something for you. That would be old.
Many of your high-end designers like Gucci, Prada or whoever will come up with something that’s well thought out at 1 or 2 years then fast fashion people come in, they knock those things off and they’re in and out sheep. They’ll use something for $5 or $6 and sell it to you at the store level for $12 to $24 but they do massive numbers of them, millions of pieces like shiploads. You would wear them and a lot of customers since they didn’t pay a whole lot of money, they’ll throw it out after a season and they do that all over again. You can see the multiplication factor of the environmental damage that it does to our planet.
That also has a side benefit of that as well so you can feel good about doing your part social justice-wise and making money. You can make some good money. I haven’t asked you this question before but I wish that you could have a vintage section, almost like the Etsy section where it has to be above many years old because there’s beauty. Clothes from that era are beautifully made. They’re all lined with silk, linen and everything. They probably wore them once or twice in their whole lives. I wish that somebody would do it. I bet it’ll hit it well. I’m not talking fast fashion way back. I’m talking about beautiful gowns and things like that.
There’s always a possibility down the track but we don’t have that section at the moment. What we find is very popular and is selling at the shop is the current season but sometimes down because I agree in a quality fashion. People do prefer it without a doubt but it all comes down to cost. That’s what technology is now doing is providing access so you can have that designer dress at a fraction of the cost. The game’s changed now. Even when you’re buying a dress, it’s no longer a question of how much is this dress going to cost me.
This is why we feel that Designerex is working side-by-side with retailers because we’re incentivizing people to buy dresses knowing that they can earn income and in many cases become profitable. It’s no longer a question of how much is this dress going to cost me. It’s more like, “Let me check out Instagram. What can I possibly make out of this dress? Let me hop on Designerex. What are these dresses renting out for?” It’s changed the ball game at the retail and it’s incentivized women to buy more designer dresses and more upmarket dresses as opposed to having to rely on that on fast fashion, which is also detrimental to the planet.
Renting Dresses Platform: Designerex is actually incentivizing people to buy dresses, knowing that they can earn income from it. People now buy dresses based on how much they can make it out for.
Out of curiosity from the business end of this, how are you educating your clients both the renters and the rentee about that very benefit? Because a lot of times, people will calculate in their mind the cost per wear, “I’m going to wear it three times. I love this but it’s $1,000 to buy. Do I really need it?” If you think about it, you go, “I can rent it 4 to 5 times and I can recoup my costs. I rather have this than none.” Do you do anything to educate them on that incentive?
We do. We have what’s called a Rental Estimate Calculator on the platform. You can see what it can possibly rent out for. I’ll give you an example. A Zimmermann Lovestruck Pleated Gown was bought for a $1,200 rental price. You can rent it out for about $210. This is a real-life example. In this particular case, this Zimmermann dress was rented out ten different times. I’m getting back $2,400 with the owner receiving $2,000 in payouts from a dress that cost $1,200 at the shops.
Prior to Designerex, you would’ve bought that and that’s it. If you’re lucky, you can go to the resale market and get half your cost back but in this case, a $1,200 dress generated $2,000. It’s about being smart with how you monetize your clothes. Why go straight to the resale market when you know it’s current season? It’s not just you wanting that dress. There’s a demand for that dress and they’ve got an event coming up on Saturday and our platform connects that renter to rent your dress. You’ve got a window where you can get more of a monetary return.
That’s interesting too because when you’re trying to buy something and you’re looking at the cost per wear. In that particular case, she’s made money. It’s almost like she got the $2,000 plus it’s a $1,200 dress that she would have bought anyway. Basically, it’s the $3,200 swing. She still has a dress and hasn’t given it to somebody. When you sell something to resale stores, I don’t do that because, at my tax bracket, it’s more money to take a tax deduction. If you’re in California, depending on what county you live in, you’re out about a 62% tax bracket.
You’ve got the federal plus the state income taxes at 13.5%. Some of the city’s charged city tax, the county and all that stuff. I’m better off taking a tax deduction because you don’t get a whole lot. I agree with you. I found your platform, business, the business model very fascinating because this is something I can relate to. I go to a lot of events. I have a home in Los Angeles where there is a black-tie event. Before COVID, there was a black-tie event about 360 days a year. You don’t want to be seen with the same thing. It was also exhausting looking for dresses so that’s another thing. It’s the convenience of having something from your own home.
I know that we did touch on this a little bit. You are constantly improving, elevating and innovating to try to eliminate all the friction points for both the people who are renting it out as well as people receiving this stuff. I commend you for doing this and making our lives a little bit easier. He did bring a way to make free money from all the things that you already own and spent money on. My last question is what keeps you up at night now with this business?
Especially being a technology platform, technology is super important to us so anything from the way the servers are operating. Business is one big puzzle. It’s not just the technology. You got to get, in most cases, everything right for it to be successful and grow. Everything from, “How’s the bank balance going? How are our bookings going and how are your payment systems going?” Our biggest focus is technology. Having a connection with our tech team and any issues addressed. Also, being at the forefront of what’s new in eCommerce. You got to be at the forefront. Those are the things that we’re constantly innovating.
When Airbnb first came on the market, I can’t tell you how many people laughed at it. They thought it was going to be like, “Who is going to do what? It’s never going to go high-end.” The only time I use Airbnb is what I want to rent like a 10,000 square foot house somewhere that I can’t get in a hotel room. You’re getting to the higher-end people and they found a way to make this very safe.
One dress can be rented out up to 30 times, so one designer dress can save 30 fast-fashion dresses from going into landfills.
Now, people are renting out their cars the same way instead of going to Hertz and Avis and all that. I think the big tide is going all your direction. I hope that millions of women discover Designerex because you are adding value to other people’s lives. The individual people who are listing in it are helping save the planet, save time, money and get a better selection. All the way around, it’s a great platform you have. Thank you so much for coming. If people want to find more about this, they can go to Designerex.com.
I would like all of you to follow the 50,000 dresses. Some of them might be repeated but there are over 20,000 women who can’t be all that wrong that are enjoying free money every day from your own closet and you never lose it. According to his business model, you can then sell it to a resale store or give it away to charity, which is a neat thing. As I always say, until next time, please stay safe, healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice and I hope you make great choices. I’ll see you on the other side.
Costa Koulis is the Co-Founder of Designerex (https://designerex.com), the world’s largest peer-to-peer designer dress sharing platform with over 50,000 dresses listed since its inception. Designerex is a technology platform that has changed the way fashion is consumed, enabling women to earn rental income from their designer outfits, as well as transforming fashion into a more sustainable and ethical industry, having already re-purposed over $30 million in fashion retail value to-date. Designerex is a win for both consumers & retailers.
Finalist 2021 Online Retail Industry Awards (Industry Recognition)
Finalist 2020 Online Retail Industry Awards (Industry Recognition)
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/45MDHsquare.png600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2021-11-10 03:00:412021-11-10 13:06:16An Interview With Costa Koulis – The Co-Creator Of Designerex – A Platform For Fashionistas
Fear can cripple a person and their potential for success. With hypnosis and hypnotherapy, you can rewire your subconscious and unleash the better you. In this episode, Victoria Wieck sits down for a discussion with hypnotherapist, life coach and author Victoria Gallagher as they talk about hypnosis and rewiring your mind. Listen as they discuss how hypnotherapy works on the subconscious and how you can use it to grow as a person and as an entrepreneur. Learn more about mindfulness techniques and the subconscious by tuning in.
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Hypnosis: Towards A Better You With Victoria Gallagher
Welcome to another episode of the show. I know nothing about hypnosis other than what I see on TV or occasionally, there will be some news coverage on that. I’m super excited for my own adventure into a world that could unlock many things that I’ve always been curious about, some things about myself, and other things around the world.
If you’re into hypnosis or you’re interested in learning anything about that, I have the very best expert authority on this subject. Her name is Victoria Gallagher. She is an internationally acclaimed author, keynote speaker, podcaster and so much more. Before I get into all of her bio, I’d rather have her tell you her story. Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Victoria. Welcome to the show.
Thank you, Victoria. You have a lovely name, by the way. Thank you for having me on the show. It is such a pleasure and privilege to get to speak to you and your audience, especially somebody who is genuinely curious about this topic. For me, I’ve been doing this for many years. I was at a convention with about 700 hypnotists. We all know this topic very deeply and intimately. Every time I talk about it, it always seems like that law of familiarity. It always seems like I’m telling something that I’ve told over and over again. It’s nice to talk to somebody that doesn’t know this stuff. I can feel like I’m imparting some wisdom and some value.
You told me that your audience are people who are in a position where they’re making a lot of money. They want to break free and become their own boss, their own entrepreneur and create their own business. I also feel like I’m pretty expertly positioned in that as an authority. As somebody who was in that role years ago, I had fallen into a little bit of anxiety, depression and feeling stuck as a six-figure earner and as a financial consultant. I’d been doing that and following along in my parents’ footsteps. It was something that I loved when I loved it. I was passionate about it when I was passionate about it.
I won all the awards. I got the corner office. I was married, had a nice car and nice income, everything that you could want at the early age of my mid to late-twenties but I wasn’t happy and satisfied. I thought that once I got to this point, I would have it all. I’d be happy. I was well on my way to creating a great retirement nest egg. I had a plan. I knew exactly what I was going to do but I realized that I wasn’t satisfied with that.
I went and took some personal development seminars and started getting in touch with, what do I want? What are my desires? Why am I feeling this way? I realized that if I could be doing anything that I wanted, it would be to help other people to empower them to have everything that they want. It required like, “How do I do that? How do I empower other people to live their dreams and go after the big things?” When I say the big things, I mean the things that you’re even afraid to write down and that you won’t tell anybody that you want because you have no idea how you’re going to make that a reality.
Hypnosis: Most people won’t write down what they really want, because they don’t understand how to make that happen. The reason they don’t understand how to make that happen is that it’s not really the conscious mind’s job to make that happen.
Most people won’t write down what they really want because they don’t understand how to make that happen. The reason they don’t understand how to make that happen is because it’s not the conscious mind’s job to make that happen. We’re going to be getting into the whole premise of hypnosis, that relationship between the conscious and the subconscious. Long story short, I stumbled upon hypnosis and made these hypnosis recordings as my way and contribution to helping people get on their path to make their dreams a reality.
I didn’t have the luxury of waiting to make my small business a success. As I was getting my business underway, opening an office, getting my business license, and going about doing all of these things, my branch manager where I was a financial consultant caught on to what I was doing. He called me into his office one day and said, “You can’t do both. You have to make a decision.” As I was saying, I’m just getting my business license and opening my office. It’s not like I’m making any money at my new business at all. Here I am making a six-figure income and I’ve got to make a decision.
I already took out a lease on my new office. I already took out ads in the Yellow Pages. That’s dating myself. I already took out ads in these little spiritual New Age Magazines, advertising myself. I already had all of these new expenses that were coming to me in short order. I said, “It’s time to put this to work and see if these manifesting powers can manifest a new business.” I quit. More than leaving a six-figure a year income, I also had two years of unvested stock that I had been putting 25% of my income into. I lost that as well. Years went by, I ended up facing that worst fear that I would run out of money and I would go broke, and I did.
Facing that and feeling like a complete failure, I was able to turn that around and turn my new business in pretty short order into a six-figure business, make back all my money, and move into higher heights and greater success doing what I love. It wasn’t like the White Picket Fence story of being able to be like, “We’re going to shut the door here and open the door here.” It was messy. It’s part of living the dream. I don’t know any other highly successful person who’s gone to the heights of success without going through some turmoil. That’s what a lot of people fear. The fact of the matter is you may go through that.
I don’t know how much my audience knows about hypnosis. I agree with you about everything you said which is fear is real. A lot of people fear losing the job, reputation, opportunity cost, failure. All these things are coming to your mind. It inhibits your ability to think clearly with clarity because you’re afraid. The higher the pay, the more you think you have to lose. I agree with you also about some failures. In fact, my whole motto is “No rain, no rainbow.” Embracing potential failures is part of your journey because, without failure, you won’t have success. It’s the way life works.
I do want to focus on, what is hypnosis? How does it work? How does it help you overcome those fears? How does that help you financially benefit from this when you come to those moments where you feel like, “This is it,” or you feel like you’re going bankrupt? A lot of times we get bad orders or make bad decisions. Sometimes we make a good decision and it doesn’t turn outright. Did you discover this or did you have to go to formal training on hypnosis?
No highly successful person has gone to the heights of success without going through some kind of turmoil.
Let’s take them one at a time. First of all, what is hypnosis? Hypnosis is a heightened state of suggestibility. When I say suggestible, it means that when I tell you that you’re on the way to success and open to receiving abundance, those are suggestions. When I give you those suggestions, being in a heightened state of receptivity means that your mind is open to receiving those. Ordinarily, our subconscious minds are not open. They’re not receiving the information that we want to give them.
You are not receiving information as openly. Is that because we’re conditioned to listen to other things or is it human physiology?
It’s conditioning. You have your conscious mind and subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is where all of your programming, beliefs and paradigms are. It’s your emotional mind. It’s where the part of you who’s watching a movie and you’re reacting to that or you’re reacting to traffic. It’s the emotional mind. It’s the part of you that is responsible for all of your bodily functions, keeping your heart beating, and all of that.
It has some very important functions, all of your long-term memory. The reason why it doesn’t receive that information very easily and why you can’t just tell yourself, “I enjoy eating celery every day for the rest of my life,” or some ridiculous suggestion like that, is it doesn’t match up with what’s already there. It does a wonderful job at continuing to keep everything the same in homeostasis. The reason why it wants to keep everything in homeostasis is if things change, theoretically, anything that change goes against what’s already in place. It feels like it could die. Its main job is to keep you secure, safe, out of trouble, and keep all of this functionality working.
It keeps a wall up for that information to get in. I’ll tell you a little bit about how you can get into the subconscious mind. When you go into the subconscious mind and you pass the gatekeeper that keeps everything closed, you can go into those old programs and conditions and rewire the conditioning that’s already there.
The reason that we get this conditioning in the first place is up until we’re about six years old, we have no conscious mind. Our conscious mind is the part of us that’s more rational, logical and intellectual critical thinking. This is the tool that we use that’s in touch with all of our five senses. When you’re seeing something and you’re making pictures, you see that through your conscious intellect, through the conscious mind. When you’re hearing something, you’re hearing that through your conscious mind. Any information you’re taking in comes in through those five senses into your conscious mind.
You’re making decisions about that information as it comes in. This is correct or incorrect and matching it with what you already know. When you’re 0 to 6 and your mom and dad are chatting away and talking about, “You have to work hard. We don’t have enough money. You can’t afford it. You’re not good and important enough. Don’t do that. Stay away from that. This is never going to work,” the 50,000 thoughts that are going through a person’s mind that they chat about on autopilot all day long in front of the children, all of that stuff gets absorbed. Children are like sponges. They’re absorbing that with no filters. They believe every single thing that’s taught to them because they have no ability to reason.
Hypnosis: When you go into the subconscious mind and you pass the gatekeeper that keeps everything closed, you can go into those old programs, those old conditions, and you can rewire the conditioning that’s already there.
By the time you’re six years old, your brain is mostly formed of negative input. Parents, teachers and kids are well-intentioned but they don’t always say things that are going to be in your best interest and work for you when you’re an adult. You’re wanting to get out in the world and make something of yourself. All of that information gets into the programming of the subconscious mind. We then watched the news. We listened to conversations with our friends. We have life experiences and we fail. All of that negative data gets in.
That gives you an idea of where all of that negative programming comes from. We have positive programming as well. The part of us that’s stuck and afraid, that isn’t making as much money as we want to make, that isn’t as successful as we want to be, that isn’t attracting the relationships, that is not being able to lose weight or take on that healthy behavior, we can change that part of us in the subconscious mind. The way that we change that is through hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a heightened state of suggestibility. You don’t have to formally go into hypnosis in order to change these things. You can change these things in other ways through other heightened emotional experiences, repetition, habits, and all of these other mechanisms. What hypnosis does is it takes you into a relaxed state. You do that by sweet-talking the critical factor of the mind. There’s this part of the mind that blocks that misinformation from getting through. Anything that’s not matched up with what you already believe, it’s going to dismiss that information.
This critical factor, if you get your mind into a very relaxed state, is going to soften that part of the mind. It’s going to relax and put it into a sleep-like state. When that happens, the subconscious mind is open. It will allow whatever suggestions to come in that you say can come in. It’s something to understand that you will only allow suggestions, which you want to come in.
Your conscious mind is still involved in the process. Even though it looks like a person that’s completely zoned out and asleep, they’re not actually in sleep. You’re still very aware of what the hypnotist is telling you. You’re simply in a state where you’re like, “I am ready to make more money and increase my bank account.” You can feel it and feel good about it. You’re visualizing and seeing it. It’s going into the subconscious mind.
You can only really get access to your subconscious when the mind is relaxed, calm, and open.
The reason why this works so well is because when these programs go into the subconscious mind, which is the opposite of the conscious mind, it has no ability to reason and reject the suggestions. It only knows how to accept and obey what is being commanded to do once you get access to it. You can only get access to it when the mind is relaxed, calmed and open. That’s essentially how hypnosis works.
How does hypnosis relate to a path to financial freedom that’s different from other methods of positive thinking? I have a lot of mindset coaches and people who teach you how to get rid of the negativity and come up with a path that you can work with. In terms of your Law of Attraction, and also I see that you touched on some of that already with visualization. I design jewelry for a living so I’m a very visual person. That works for me, but how do we use hypnosis and the power of the mind effectively? Is that something that most people can teach themselves how to do or do you need a hypnotist to help you get to that state?
There are a couple of questions there. How can it help you with finances different from normal positive thinking? With normal positive thinking, you’re doing a conscious level of mind. It’s hitting a wall. Those suggestions might make you feel good temporarily but they’re about the same as willpower and it seldom lasts. It’s not going to be effective for the long-term and permanently change the programming in the subconscious mind.
Hypnosis is going to go directly through that wall, get into the programming and change neural pathways that are causing you to take unfruitful actions. When it comes down to it, nothing’s going to happen unless you take an action. You’re either taking actions that are sabotaging or getting you closer to what you want.
Sometimes we don’t know what those actions are. Sometimes we are fooled by the actions that are given to us by our subconscious mind and it will continue to tell us to do things that are not even in our behavior. Unless we change the route programming to one of success, from one of being stuck or failure, we’re going to continue to do the same thing because that’s all the subconscious mind knows how to do. It’s programmed to keep you stuck and keep you in lack because it’s those things that are protecting you. Hypnosis will rewire that thought process and cause you to take different actions so that you’re going to be more fruitful.
Hypnosis: There are a lot of different rules on the way to speak to the subconscious mind that a lot of people aren’t in touch with because they don’t have that vocabulary.
Can anybody do this? Yes, anybody can do it. There are certification training and courses. I’m a trained hypnotist. I’ve been trained since 1999 when I got certified. It’s the same way that some people have a hard time coaching themselves and being objective with themselves, especially because of the fact that you need to be in a conscious state of mind to know what suggestions to give yourself and all of that.
That’s why the next level is from having an actual live in-person hypnotist. It would be maybe to listen to guided hypnosis because it is similar to guided meditation. It can guide you into that state to open your mind and allow the suggestions to come in and then wake you back up with the instructions for waking or letting you drift off to sleep after the programming is complete.
You can do it yourself but it’s much more effective if you have somebody that’s trained and know what to say as well. That could be tricky because there are lots of different rules of the way to speak to the subconscious mind that a lot of people aren’t in touch with because they don’t have that vocabulary day in and day out. Also knowing what to say and what not to say is another reason why it’s more effective with a trained hypnotist.
Tell me about the Law of Attraction. How does that work in hypnosis?
Law of Attraction is essentially like attracts like. Like energy attracts like energy. Another way of stating the Law of Attraction is whatever you focus your attention, energy and awareness on, it’s what you’re going to attract. It’s a special way of thinking and getting into alignment with what it is that you want to attract in your life.
In my book, I talk about the eight manifesting conditions that all need to be in alignment with creating your desire. It starts with having a very specific desire to focus on as a starting ground. A lot of people, especially creative entrepreneurial types, want to start a business, and one day want to write a book, and the next day want to start an arts and crafts store. We have multi-talents. It can be easy to get distracted and unfocused. Focusing on too many things is not focusing on anything at all.
Law of Attraction is about understanding that all of your thoughts, energy and attention is focused on this one outcome. You’re going to be drawn into that. You’re going to draw in people, circumstances, and more like-thinking. You’re going to feel like it. You’re going to create the results that are in alignment with all of that thinking and way of being.
Knowing what to say and what not to say is one reason why hypnosis is more effective with a trained hypnotist.
That’s interesting because a lot of the things that you are talking about are things that I’ve done. That’s something I try to get my people to do, but it’s hard for a lot of people to focus on one thing because about 70% of our audience are entrepreneurs that are doing six figures or more. They’re constantly coming out with 40 new ideas. We do product launches every week. They tend to overwork. These are control freaks. What happens is you only have so many hours a day. That means you have to learn how to use your time productively.
We have given up our 9:00 to 5:00, 40-hour a week job to work for ourselves and work 80 hours a week.
I do quite a bit of coaching and a lot of keynotes speaking on that one thing because, with my own business, I refuse to work those hours. A lot of people quit their jobs for emotional and financial freedom and they find out that they’re stressed out working twice as many hours as when they used to work the long hours for half the pay. That’s very stressful for a lot of people.
Thank you so much for sharing a lot about hypnosis but when I listened to you talking about how hypnosis works, I feel like it also will help you. I’m a huge believer in living a balanced life. Without health, you don’t have wealth and without quality personal relationships, all of the financial gains are meaningless.
I feel like when you get into that heightened subconscious state of suggestion, I have to think that that positively impacts all the other parts of your life. A lot of people come into the world of business with something or some set of circumstances. My parents were well-meaning. They worry about me all the time but they would say things like, “You should stick with the job because people don’t make any money.”
My parents used to always tell me, because I used to want to paint, that artists never ever made any money until they die. When I wanted to do my jewelry business, it’s the same thing. It’s like, “You’re going to fail. Stick with the job.” Even though they care for you and mean well, they’re not saying, “You’re not going to succeed because you’re stupid. The odds are against you.” If it’s coming from your parents who’ve sacrificed everything in their lives for you, you’re like, “They must be right.”
Your parents are some of the greatest hypnotists in the world because what makes a great hypnotist is somebody that has authority, you trust, you’re in good rapport with, and you believe. Those are a few of the things that make a great hypnotist. When a doctor gives your prognosis about how much time you will have left, people tend to live that out. They live that out not necessarily because that’s how much time they would have had, but the subconscious mind takes that in.
Hypnosis: Our family looks out for us, but it’s not always best for somebody who wants to be a successful entrepreneur.
There are those special times where your guard is down because you’re listening to somebody who you believe and trust know the truth. That is a very legitimate thing that our parents can hypnotize us with good intentions. They want what’s best for us. They’re looking out for us but it’s not always best for somebody who wants to be a successful entrepreneur.
My belief is that if you do the 80/20 rule, if you do what 80% of the people do, you’re going to end up like those 80% of people. If you want to be different or you want a unique opportunity, you do need to find your own uniqueness. A lot of times, without outside help, it’s hard for people to come up with their own courage and have that unshakable belief system that they can succeed.
In business, if you stick with something and you believe in something and grind that out, eventually, you will find a way. If you look at all the people that’s made an impact in our lives like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Michael Dell, all these people are dropouts. They found the extra factor and I don’t know if that’s with hypnosis. If you stick to believing it, you need a lot more things than just belief. I do think that what you are teaching and sharing your knowledge is improving your quality of life in many facets.
It goes back to what you were saying about balance. Hypnosis can help you to be balanced. That was one of the things that part of my story when I did go into those dark times. Here’s what happened that got me back. I know exactly what those entrepreneurs that work sixteen-hour days feel like because that’s exactly what I was doing. I didn’t take time to program my mind. I wasn’t taking my own medicine. Here I was totally committed to helping other people to change with the power of hypnosis, staying up until midnight making this hypnosis, recording, and working on my website. I’m staying up until midnight in my office eating crackers and cookies, zoning out and getting up at 6:00 in the morning to do it all again.
There was no time to go and do all the things. I ended up where I was and finally, it hit me. It’s like, “What am I doing? I should be listening to this stuff.” As soon as I did and decided to create that time for myself to exercise my mind, that’s when everything started to shift. It is true. You have to have that balance otherwise, you will burn yourself out. Something will happen and you’re not going to be happy because your family is not going to be happy. You’re not going to be happy with your health. Something’s going to fall apart. It’s not a recipe for long-term success, maybe short-term success.
It’s not sustainable if you don’t have that. How do people get ahold of you to learn more about this fascinating subject and if they want to take this further?
Like every other entrepreneur having multiple talents and desires, I too have that. I used to have 30 different websites that I would give you. They’re still out there but I put everything onto one website and it’s my name, VictoriaMGallagher.com. There you’re going to find a lot of free tools that you can download, free eBooks and my free app, HypnoCloud. You’ll get access to my books, my courses, where I might be speaking and things like that. If you want to reach out to me, I have contact information there so that’s the place.
Focusing on too many things is not focusing on anything at all.
Thank you so much for coming on the show and explaining a little about hypnosis. It’s a fascinating subject. One of my favorite shows in the whole wide world is Snapped on Oxygen. It’s a lot about crime shows. I see the power of hypnosis in solving crimes and all of that. That was my initial attraction. I was wondering, how does that translate into financial freedom? I can see how if you understand your true desires, unlock your potential, and are able to shut out the negativity that’s been in your system. Some people have had that since they were very young.
One of the girls that I coached says she ran away when she was fifteen years old or something. She’s been on her own all that time. Her mother told her, “You weren’t putting enough to go get anything. Just be a secretary. You’re never going to make any money or find a new man.” By the time I ran into her, she was making over seven-figure income and she was still saying every day, “I had a great year.” It was a fluke year. Instead of thinking like, “I can take it to eight figures.” This woman worked seven days a week nonstop. The power of that conditioning could be very powerful, even when you are successful. You’re always doubting yourself and that’s sad.
I applaud you for helping people live a healthier, cleaner and happier life because that’s what we all want. Entrepreneurs are crazy people but good-hearted. I do hear you on the 30 websites. It’s funny because I’ve been doing a lot of mentorships. I’m the Codirector of the Global Society for Female Entrepreneurs. The first thing I see with entrepreneurs is, “I have two websites. I have two businesses I decided to combine.” The business name would be halfway between that one and this one. You’re not catering to anybody because one could be a restaurant and the other could be beauty. You’re like, “They don’t go together. Why are you going to find a name that will hit both because it’s not going to be?”
I have one of my students who had ten websites. I asked her, “What are you doing?” She goes, “I don’t know. I wish I had thought about this because I have six million viewers on my YouTube but they are spread over ten channels instead of the one.” It makes a huge difference but when you said 30, I was laughing because it is so true.
They’re all under the umbrella of personal development someway somehow. They’re all about self-help. I was doing all these little miniature websites to attract good luck and various different meditation, magnetism, thoughts to money and all of these things. One day I realized that this isn’t serving anyone.
When you were talking about hypnosis, you were talking about your background story and everything. You’re very passionate about what you know, what you share and who you serve. When you’re that passionate about something, it’s very easy to think, “I want to help this person do this and do exactly that and not more.” You end up with a website that you think would be surgically targeted to that person. The next day, you’re like, “That person knows how to meditate. She’s going to need X too.” It’s very easy. I see that whole pattern all the time and it’s a great thing. Eventually, all of that it’s going to pay off.
I thank you so much for coming in. I hope no one’s offended by this because some of you know who I’m talking about. There are many people who are doing mid to high six-figures. They’ve been doing it for many years but they’re grinding it out, day in and day out. It’s not easy. Sometimes, you can only work so many days and so hard. At some point, you’re going to need to find a way to do it easier, faster and more. Hypnosis could get you there. Thank you so much for coming in. Until next time. Stay healthy and stay wealthy. Talk to you soon.
Victoria Gallagher is a worldwide leader in Hypnotherapy, a best-selling author, international speaker, life success coach, and renowned authority on the Law of Attraction.
She has dedicated her life to empowering people all over the world to successfully live a life of liberty, aligned with their dreams through her effective meditative recordings and online courses.
As a tireless personal growth enthusiast herself, Victoria hosts the popular Law of Attraction show The Power of Your Mind podcast featuring industry experts.
The Power of Your Mind is a self-help podcast helping listeners unleash the power of their mind.
Victoria Gallagher shares over 20 years of wisdom and techniques in hypnotherapy, Law of Attraction, visualization, NLP, meditation, personal growth, positive affirmations and other effective methods to help listeners tap into the great power which resides in their mind, and become the best version of themselves.
https://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/44MDHsquare.jpg600600victoriawieckhttps://victoriawieck.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Victoria-Wieck-2.pngvictoriawieck2021-11-03 03:00:512021-11-03 11:13:31Hypnosis: Towards A Better You With Victoria Gallagher