MDH 52 | Corporate Storytelling

MDH 52 | Corporate Storytelling

 

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.

MDH 52 | Corporate Storytelling

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.

MDH 52 | Corporate Storytelling

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.

MDH 52 | Corporate Storytelling

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.

Thank you.

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About Donna Griffit

MDH 52 | Corporate StorytellingDonna 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.

MDH 51 | Conflict-Free Diamonds

MDH 51 | Conflict-Free Diamonds

 

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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Conflict-Free Diamonds

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.

MDH 51 | Conflict-Free Diamonds

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.

MDH 51 | Conflict-Free Diamonds

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.

Important Links:

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

 

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:

Listen to the podcast here:

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.

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

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.

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

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.

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

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.

Important Links:

About Mike Kavanagh

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s PlanMike 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.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

 

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.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

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.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

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.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

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.”

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

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.

 

Important Links:

 

About John Meese

MDH 47 | EntrepreneurshipHi 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.

MDH 46 | Mindset And Emotional Mastery

MDH 46 | Mindset And Emotional Mastery

 

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!

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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.

MDH 46 | Mindset And Emotional Mastery

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.

MDH 46 | Mindset And Emotional Mastery

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.

Important Links:

About Kerry Tepedino

MDH 46 | Mindset And Emotional MasteryKerry 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.

MDH 45 | Renting Dresses Platform

MDH 45 | Renting Dresses Platform

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.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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.

MDH 45 | Renting Dresses Platform

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?

MDH 45 | Renting Dresses Platform

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.

MDH 45 | Renting Dresses Platform

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.

Important Links:

About Costa Koulis

MDH 45 | Renting Dresses PlatformCosta 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)
Winner 2019 Startcon Australasian Startup Awards (Best E-Commerce Startup)
Finalist 2019 Online Retail Industry Awards
Finalist 2018 Anthill Smart 100
Finalist 2017 Startcon Australasian Startup Awards
MDH 44 | Hypnosis

MDH 44 | Hypnosis

 

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.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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.

MDH 44 | Hypnosis

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.

MDH 44 | Hypnosis

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.

MDH 44 | Hypnosis

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.

MDH 44 | Hypnosis

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.

Important Links:

About Victoria Gallagher

MDH 44 | HypnosisVictoria 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.

MDH 43 | Small Business Intellectual Property

MDH 43 | Small Business Intellectual Property

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights serve to protect intellectual property for your small business. Intellectual property is the ownership of ideas in the legal world. In this episode, Victoria Wieck’s guests are Richard Gearhart, a respected patent attorney and provider of great intellectual property strategies, and Elizabeth Gearhart, the Chief Marketing Officer at Gearhart Law. Richard and Elizabeth talk with Victoria about how the first step to determining when to use patents, trademarks, and copyrights is to consult with an intellectual property professional. Make sure to get confidentiality agreements while you’re at it. Want to learn more? Tune in!

Listen to the podcast here:

Watch the episode here:

Patents, Trademarks And Copyrights: How To Protect Your Small Business’ Intellectual Property With Richard & Elizabeth Gearhart

I’m so delighted because some of the questions I’ve always had and struggled with in my entrepreneurship journey have to do with protecting my ideas, my business, and what we call intellectual property. I know that sounds like a scary term, but it’s not. I have the perfect guests who can unravel all of that and unlock the secrets to making sure that your hard work is protected.

I have Richard and Elizabeth. They’re a married couple. They have been married for many years and that already tells you something why these people are saints other than being super smart people. Richard is a very respected Patent Attorney. His wife Elizabeth is the Chief Marketing Officer. She does a lot of things behind the scenes to help Richard’s clients as well. Without further ado, I want to introduce Richard and Elizabeth. Welcome to the show.

Thank you.

Thank you, Victoria.

You founded your law firm several years ago. Did you work for other people or you get out of school and founded it? How did it happen?

MDH 43 | Small Business Intellectual Property

Small Business Intellectual Property: The goal now is to help others escape from jobs they don’t like and start their own businesses.

 

I worked in big corporations. I was the Head of Intellectual Property for Novartis. I didn’t like the corporate lifestyle. I got some great training. I worked with some good people, but I didn’t want to spend my entire career working for somebody else. A break in the action happened at Novartis. Elizabeth said, “Why don’t you go out and start your own law firm?” I thought she was nuts. It turned out that it was the best decision I ever made in my life. I’ve been having a blast ever since then. That’s my story. My goal is to help other people escape from jobs that they don’t like and start their businesses.

I stupidly said, “I’ll do whatever you need me to do to make your firm successful.”

First of all, I know all of you probably heard a lot of different things in that very short intro that Richard escaped. What I got out of it is that behind every successful man, there is a woman kicking his ass. You worked in corporate and you didn’t love the lifestyle. You felt that you could impact more people more directly by going on on your own. It took Elizabeth to convince you to do that.

I had never thought of being an entrepreneur. When I was growing up, the way somebody became successful was to claw their way to the top of a corporation, which I did. By the same token, that came with a lot of stress and a lot of personal ethical compromises that made my life less fulfilling. Elizabeth thought that if I started my law firm, I could be more my person. It would be easier to be around because, let’s face it, you carry that stress with you wherever you go.

If you work at a corporation by the time you’re in your mid-fifties, you’re at a huge risk of losing your job.

She didn’t want to move the kids again if I took another corporate job and I ended up in some other part of the country. We didn’t want to move the family. That’s what was behind it. She always said she knew I would never fail because she knew that I was driven and determined. Having a family to support is a lot of responsibility.

It felt like a huge risk. We were in our 40s. If you work at a corporation by the time you’re in your mid-50s, you are at a huge risk of losing your job. Starting your own thing in your 40s, so that you have something when you’re in your 50s, I think it was important for us. I feel like it was almost less of a risk to start his own thing than to try to stay in corporate.

Those of you who might wonder about this. I completely agree with you on everything you said so far about the risk. Sometimes we think it’s safer to stay in a corporation. In my experience, not ever taking a risk and taking the safe route could be the most dangerous thing. You did more than practice law. Since you opened your law firm, you have been helping people deal with intellectual property.

It’s important for people to understand all the different parts of intellectual property, which I don’t understand very well, so I have you here. Also, I deal with a lot of attorneys because I have a lot of intellectual property to protect. You’re one of the few law firms that helps your clients succeed. You have a radio show called Passage to Profit, which I’ve been on as a guest. You also have another show called Fireside, where your clients can come on the show, promote their products and you highlight what they do to help their clients, which makes the world a beautiful place.

You might want to check out Passage to Profit, which is on iHeartRadio and GearhartLaw.com. If you’re entrepreneurial, you definitely want to check them out because even if you don’t think you have anything worth protecting, there are so many things that they’re doing to help everybody that I think is worth checking out. Let’s dive into the intellectual property itself. This question is directed you, the attorney, Richard. How would you define intellectual property? It’s a very vague and scary term.

Intellectual property is the law of ideas. Just like you would have a deed to your house that defines the ownership of the land and the house, intellectual property is the ownership of ideas. In the legal world, they refer to ownership of property as real property. In the legal world, we refer to the ownership of ideas as intellectual property. There are four different basic types of intellectual property. There are patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

Patents protect ideas related to technology. They protect the inventions. If it’s a new mousetrap, car tire, or a tangible thing, that technology is protected with a patent. Trademarks protect business names. They call them source identifiers, which may sound a little confusing. The point is that they exist, so that when you go to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola, for example, you know that bottle of Cola was made by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Trademark serves to identify the source of the goods, so you know that it has a certain quality or characteristic.

The third category is copyrights. Copyrights protect original works of expression. Music, art, sculpture, architectural drawings, literature, all of those movies, all of those things are protected by copyrights. The fourth category is trade secrets. Trade secrets are secrets that a company has that give them a competitive advantage. It’s information that’s kept secret within the company. Lots of times, you may see things like documents marked confidential or whatever. You can protect the confidential information of the company through trade secrets. Those are the four types of intellectual property.

MDH 43 | Small Business Intellectual Property

Small Business Intellectual Property: If you’re looking for larger sales volumes, then investing in a patent makes more sense.

 

For a small business entrepreneur, this is a lot of information you unpacked. Thank you so much for doing that. We know now. A lot of times, I’ll go have lunch with somebody or I’ll give a speech, people would come up to me afterward and they’ll ask me things like, “I want to apply for a new patent on my new whatever. Do I need an attorney?”

With the limited knowledge I have about patent law, I knew right away there are a lot of the things that they’re talking about are more copyrights and not patents type things. It’s interesting that patents had to do with primarily new inventions or a new way of doing something or making something. When you said copyrights protect original works of art, such as sculptures and music, I copyrighted both of my books and a lot of my design work for jewelry designs.

Copyrights are not that expensive. It’s something that can be done easily. I would assume that trademarks and patents can go up to quite a bit of money. Do you have any idea? I also understand that it has to do with the complexity of the project and whether or not you get into some pushback by other competitors.

Intellectual property is the ownership of ideas in the legal world.

There’s a lot of considerations. For example, at Gearhart Law, we charge flat fees for everything and it’s a pay-as-you-go service. A utility patent is a patent that protects a concept. For example, if you were to want to patent a desk, you would patent the concept of a desk. You would have different sides, tabletop, you would have drawers, no drawers, different materials, plastic glass, wood, L-shape top, oval top. The idea is to protect as many variations on the concept as you can.

There’s another type of patent that’s called a design patent, where you only protect exactly what is shown in the drawing. It’s a very specific embodiment and specific view. It’s almost like taking a photograph and sending it into the patent office. Those two different types of patents have different levels of protection. They have different costs associated with them.

The utility patent, for example, might cost $15,000 to $20,000 from start to finish, spread out over 3 or 4 years. The design patent might cost between $2,000 and $3,000 from start to finish, including all costs. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. That’s why you need to contact the professional who can discuss it with you and recommend the best protection for your project.

If you’re starting out on an entrepreneurship journey and you had a new business idea, at what point do you think that they should be looking for intellectual property protection of any kind? I have a way you can decorate an Apple iWatch case. You find a lot of phone cases, but you don’t find a lot of iWatch cases because every time you put a metal around the piece where you can put jewelry pieces, it will negate your Bluetooth and all the functions. You have to get around the metal piece of it and all that. I designed it.

In that case, I have a design patent. I have a patent pending. I have trademarks for that particular brand and copyright for the design. I believe in the product. I went after all of that. I assume that in some things, you can get all of them, like copyrights design. For an entrepreneur, who doesn’t have a lot of money, they don’t know if it’s going to be marketable or not what would you suggest that they start with?

The first thing they should start with is a discussion with an intellectual property professional. After that, usually what we do as a search. We want to find out if there are other things out there that are similar to your invention. That’s very important both from a patent and a trademark perspective because somebody else might have a patent that could block you. You want to find that out as soon as possible, then your options are to change your design to avoid the other person’s patent or get a license from that person which may be attainable or it may not.

You need to do a search and you need to see what other intellectual property is owned by others. For us, about a third of the projects that we researched, we have to tell the client, “If there’s something out there that’s too close, we can’t move forward with this because you’re going to get in trouble from some other company.” Assuming that you get past the search phase, then you have to decide when the project is mature enough that it makes sense to invest in the intellectual property? That’s an art. It’s not necessarily a science.

Once you understand what your budget is, you understand what all your costs are for moving the project forward, then having at least a little sense of what the total sales potential is you can then make decisions about the intellectual property. For example, if you’re selling a niche product and you think that the value of the sales is going to only be $250,000 to $300,000 a year, then maybe spending the money on the patent is more questionable. If you’re looking for larger sales volumes, then investing in a patent may make more sense.

MDH 43 | Small Business Intellectual Property

Small Business Intellectual Property: It’s important for legal reasons to get confidentiality agreements with the people you talk with.

 

You have to remember that the value of the patent is not only running out and suing somebody. If they copy your idea, that’s what people think. The value of the patent also puts other people on notice. Other people who are having searches done find your patent and that discourages them from entering the market.

Even if it’s only for six months, if you have $100,000 a month in sales and you invest $20,000 a month in your patent, in those six months, that will keep you dominant in the market. You might earn $500,000 worth of sales based on a $20,000 investment. It’s not that you would necessarily even sue them, but you keep the competition at bay. That’s one of the values of intellectual property that people don’t often realize.

I have my startup called Fireside.Directory and I have a logo. The first thing I did was have one of our attorneys at Gearhart Law do a trademark search on Fireside.Directory. They didn’t look for the exact words. They looked at things that would be close to the category I’m using it in. It was clear. I started using it. With trademarks, you get some protection from when you start using them, but we have filed for trademark protection.

I’ve learned that a very famous person is going to use Fireside for something kind of similar, that’s going to be pretty interesting. I’ve been working on this and having Richard help me. The two of us have brainstormed a lot of ideas that are patentable. I haven’t told anybody what they are. I’m on a patent age, and I’m almost done drafting that patent. I’ll have one of our experts at Gearhart Law finish it for me because I haven’t done a patent for a long time. I think that if your service business, especially a trademark, can be important. We have a client that’s in litigation for millions of dollars over a trademark.

A utility patent is a patent that protects a concept.

I think that intellectual property is something that if we could afford it, in an ideal world, you want to all have that. As Richard explained, a lot of times, it’s an ROI. It’s a return on your investment in some cases. Beginning entrepreneurs don’t know in the beginning what’s possible and all that. That leads me to my next question, which is to be directed to you, Elizabeth.

I know that you are more of a driving force behind Passage to Profit. I find that to be fascinating because you’re not doing law. You’re helping your clients get more traction, get more clarity which might even help the intellectual property part of that too, because you’re using it more out there. It’s more of a deterrent. How did you conceive that show and what’s your goal there? What’s your home run situation with that show?

There was somebody we networked with in New York named Kenya Gipson with iHeart. She broached the show to me over champagne in New York. I brought the idea home to Richard. I’ve been on radio before, and he liked it. We got a lot of pushbacks from a lot of people we knew who said it was not the best way to spend money, not a good idea. We wanted to do it anyway. We felt like it was a real place for us to showcase our clients, and we have a whole social media effort around it.

We felt like it was a way to push positive and negative experiences because we do ask people their challenges about entrepreneurism out into the world. The normal person listening could understand what they might have to go through if they decided to start a business. Our goal is to help as many people succeed using whatever they can from Gearhart Law, but also using the promotion and the advice I get from people like you on our radio show.

I was a guest on the show and the first thing I noticed was how authentic you two are as people. You take all the attorney, the law firm, the chief marketing officer hat off. It’s a lot of fun, but you’re also providing some serious content around that. I also love what you said, which is not only success stories, but I’m a firm believer that we learn so much more from failures. Especially, the ones like you almost make it. My kids played competitive tennis, USTA National level tennis. In a lot of those close matches, you lose over like 5 or 6 points. It comes down to how those kids play those critical moments and points.

When you win over somebody 6-0, 6-0, you don’t learn much. You hardly get an exercise. When you have a deuce forever and then you finally lose it, those are the things that shape you. I feel like bringing guests on where they’re talking about there are challenges in the past and current because you will always have challenges when you’re in business, as you might know, I think that’s doing a lot of services. I commend you for doing that. Being married to a top-notch attorney, you could stay at home and keep on drinking champagne all day long.

I think that’s great. I want to be a part of that. I was glad that you invited me to your show. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs. In fact, I am the co-director of the Global Society of Female Entrepreneurs. That’s why I invited you to my show because the one thing I do get a lot is surrounding the patent and intellectual property law. I wish I had found you many years ago because almost every one of my designs is an original design. There are like 70,000 people out there in the world making money off of my designs. They’re knocking you off here and there.

As Richard said earlier, it’s not only about suing people, but it will deter some of the bigger companies from knocking you off. If you are a little mom-and-pop in China and you don’t understand the law yourself and you can knock my designs off, they’re not going to have that much of an impact. Whereas if a major company did that, they’ll do a search like we’re doing a search and it deters them.

Your practice and Elizabeth, you are a force behind marketing your services and also helping your entrepreneurial clients to market their services. That’s an exceptional above and beyond. I want to thank you for doing that. Anything that I didn’t cover about intellectual property? That’s a thing you can probably talk about for the next year. I don’t have the year.

I would say one other thing is that make sure you get confidentiality agreements with the people that you talk with. There are legal reasons for doing that. There are also other reasons, the business relationship reasons. Before you spill the beans about your project, you need to make sure that you have a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement, something in place to make sure that they don’t run off with it. It happens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients say to me that they went and they talked to somebody and I said, “Did you file a patent?” “No.” “Did you have a confidentiality agreement?” “No.” “There’s not much I can do to protect your interests if you don’t have that agreement.”

The other thing too is that you lose your rights in Europe if you tell somebody your whole idea without a confidentiality agreement.

I’m so glad you both mentioned this because the one thing I do is I get approached a lot because I’ve been on TV for many years and have done quite a bit of business myself. I have incredible contacts. Every single CEO that went through HSN since 1998, I’ve been personal friends with. Many people want to tell me their idea.

They’ll say, “I have a great idea. I haven’t told anyone.” I tell them, “Stop. Don’t tell me anything, because I don’t want to know. I don’t want to be at the receiving of a lawsuit if you tell me something and you tell six other people and somehow that product gets on the market.” That has happened to me many times where I would tell somebody, “Go get your intellectual property secured before you talk to me because I don’t want to know anything about it.”

Especially if they’re jewelers, I don’t want to know because I may be working on the same thing and we’re all on the same journey. Sometimes as a receiver of information, you also have to protect your rights. My children’s SAT coach, whenever it was like a holiday or something she would give us boxes of cookies. The woman didn’t know how to bake, but she knew how to decorate them. It’s really cool the way she does this. It’s sugar and water and she has a way of doing it. She wanted me to help her get on QVC or whatever.

I said, “I don’t want to know how you do it.” She told me it was sugar and water. That’s all that was. I told her, “I don’t want to know anything about it. Get your intellectual property secured. I don’t want to sign an NDA because I don’t know what I’m signing off. Until you get that signed, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to hear it.”

MDH 43 | Small Business Intellectual Property

Small Business Intellectual Property: We’re always open to helping any group that would like to receive information on intellectual law.

 

That product was on HSN three months later. I can tell you, by the time HSN gets something like that on, it’s usually a year. It takes you like six months to get a vendor number. Whoever was doing it at the other end probably had it already. Meaning that there are multiple people that are doing it. It’s a machine. These other people invented the machine. There was all this other stuff.

Non-disclosure agreements are the first step. Lastly, I want to ask you a question. I’m going to challenge you guys. I’ve never done this before to anybody, but you guys seem so down to earth, I’m going to do it anyway. Have you ever thought about giving like a free webinar or a seminar? This is what I do on my show. What I do is I take six different key factors that I felt like I needed that every entrepreneur needs to master before they can build a business empire.

I went from 0 to $500 million with no advertising. Basically, storytelling is one of them. There are six key pillars that you do have to master to be able to do this as an entrepreneur with no money. What I do is I pick one topic once a month, because we’re all busy. We don’t have time to do endless free webinars. I’ll do like a storytelling mastery. I’ll limit it to like 50 people, where I’ll do a free webinar for 45 minutes.

Next month, I might be doing how to build a proper website because a lot of people, their websites are there but a proper website will generate money for you no matter what you’re doing 24/7. I’m repeating storytelling like once every six months. Obviously, if you’re doing intellectual law, you’re not going to be able to help them with everything you do. There’s a lot of information there that they’re going to get for free. Have you thought about doing something like that or would you consider something like that?

No. A lot of our team members give many presentations to a wide variety of sources. We’re always open to helping any group that would like to receive that information. We’ve presented in Inventors Associations. We don’t necessarily set up the webinars, but we have, for example, meetup groups with probably close to 5,000 meetup people and members. We give seminars monthly. We get good attendance. I love speaking about intellectual property. I’m happy to do it anytime and I’ve never charged for my time to do it.

If people wanted to connect with you for those, they still go to GearhartLaw.com.

We have the links there. You’d have to join one of the meetups. We’re rebranding the meetups because it used to be a global intellectual property business meetup, but we’re gearing it more towards general innovation and having different topics. We’ll have the name of the new branded meetup on our website. That’s a great idea.

Thank you so much for coming and it’s been so delightful having the two of you there. You guys are trailblazers because I don’t normally interview two people at the same time. In fact, you are the first one, because it’s hard to interview more than one person at a time. Especially topics like yours, which is a very focused topic. You broke new ground there.

You get protection when you start doing trademarks.

Thank you, Victoria. We look forward to having you on Passage to Profit, again too.

Everybody, go to Gearhart Law. You’ll be literally absolutely amazed at the type of clients they’ve had so far. They are passionate about helping entrepreneurs and small entrepreneurs. A lot of them are the household brands that you will recognize. They’re very humble people here. You’ll find an incredible amazing diversity of the types of clients you’ve helped. You’ve got food, pharmaceuticals to small service businesses, you name it. Whatever your challenges are, connect with them.

You’ll get free information. Quite a bit of it will be free before you spend the money. That’s a great thing. Secondly, they are probably the most down to earth like real, approachable lawyers. When I think about lawyers and doctors, they’re very scary. I always think twice about whenever I have to go to a doctor.

I know so many people in my age group that don’t go for a routine checkup. They’ll go, “You have prostate cancer or whatever. Don’t worry, it’s the beginning stages,” or something like that. Whenever I get a call from one of my lawyers, it’s the same thing. It’s like, “Are we getting sued or something?” We haven’t been sued, by the way, ever. Go to GearhartLaw.com. You can always check out Passage to Profit podcast on iHeart radio. Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review the show. Thank you, Richard and Elizabeth, for making time. I’ll talk to you soon. Until next time.

Thank you.

Important Links:

About Richard Gearhart

MDH 43 | Small Business Intellectual Property

Richard is the founder of Gearhart Law and the host of a weekly radio show for entrepreneurs called “Passage to Profit”.  He has built a firm with an international presence that helps entrepreneurs from around the world with their patent, trademark and copyright needs.

Richard commands a breadth of experience that comes from nearly 30 years of practice in the writing and prosecution of hundreds of patents, and in all aspects of Intellectual Property law.

Gearhart Law emerged from Richard’s passion for entrepreneurship and startups and his belief that entrepreneurship grows the economy and creates jobs. When we started Gearhart Law, our goal was to help and support the new business ventures of 500 entrepreneurs and inventors. After 12 years, the firm has far surpassed this goal; today, we look forward to helping even more inventors and entrepreneurs get off to a great start and reach their own goals.

Richard formerly headed the U.S. Patent and Trademark group for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. While at Novartis, Richard oversaw over 40 patent and trademark attorneys and managed global litigation and patent prosecution. He managed numerous product development activities and participated in extensive transactional and opinion work globally.

Richard previously served as General Patent Counsel at CIBA Vision Corporation, where he oversaw the activities of 9 patent attorneys, and actively managed U.S. and global patent litigation, as well as patent prosecution and opinions. Richard successfully initiated and managed the case of Wesley Jessen Corp v. Bausch & Lomb, Inc. which led to an injunction against one of CIBA Vision’s major competitors, and the removal of an infringing product from the market.

Before taking the helm at CIBA Vision, Richard worked at Dow Corning Corporation as Senior Managing Counsel, and prior to that worked in private practice at the Geneva, Switzerland office of the international law firm of Jones, Day.

Richard graduated from Knox College with a BA in Chemistry. He received his J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, and subsequently obtained a DES in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, in Geneva, Switzerland. He is registered to practice at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and admitted to practice in the states of New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts.

About Elizabeth Gearhart

I’ve recently launched Fireside, a video directory of businesses. I’m inviting any business owners who would like to shoot a short Zoom interview video with me for inclusion on the site to message me. The video and listing are free for 2020 due to the current economic conditions. You can schedule an interview with me through calendly at: https://fireside.directory/contact-us/

I’m also a patent agent and Chief Marketing Officer at Gearhart Law, and co-host of Passage to Profit, a radio show that premiered on iHeart Radio at 8pm on Sunday July 29, 2018. It’s also a podcast which can be found on iHeart and the other major podcast platforms. The show is for entrepreneurs and each week we feature an interview with an accomplished business person followed by presentations by three entrepreneurs. We normally tape the show in the iHeart studios in Manhattan, but are on hiatus for now. As soon as we can get back into the studio we’ll be taping new shows every other Wednesday. You can message me if you’re interested in being on the show, it’s sponsored by Gearhart Law and so is free for the presenters.

MDH 42 | Video Marketing

MDH 42 | Video Marketing

 

Video marketing is the new way of business today. Back then, only a few had a television. Now, everyone has a screen in the palm of their hands. In this episode, Victoria Wieck brings in Suzanne Glover to talk about the importance of video as a medium for putting out your expertise into the world. Suzanne is an award-winning professional actress for over 35 years. Discover her journey into the entertainment industry and the many things she learned from it. Learn what makes a video influencer and how to properly market it. Plus, learn about her new book, Be A Video Influencer: Reinvent Your Life & Business As A Midlife Movie Star! Join in the conversation and be a video influencer today.

Listen to the podcast here:

Watch the episode here:

Embracing The New Way Of Business: Video Marketing And Being A Video Influencer With Suzanne Glover

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the whole world is changing. As I get older, the world is changing more and more rapidly. No matter what age you’re at now, and I’m talking to a lot of you who are my age group, and I’m not going to give up my age but somewhere between 45 and 65, you feel like sometimes you’re lost, because the whole world has gone to video. You go on a website, its video, click on a dress and some model is demonstrating how great she looks on video.

Video marketing has become very important if you’re a small business owner, and yet, it is something that we don’t really understand because we didn’t grow up in that environment. We grew up in a, “Hello, how are you?” Shaking hands. We barely had cell phones back then. If you are one of those people, don’t worry because I’ve got a video expert, and I’m telling you she’s not just the sales video expert in everything you do in the video.

She can unlock the code and make it super simple for you, everything from how to look great on TV, to what to say to not be nervous, all those things that happen to you when a camera is standing in front of you. Without further ado, I’m going to invite and because I’m going to have her tell you her story, and what she does and all that. Her name is Suzanne Glover, she’s not related to Danny Glover.

I’m going to put that out there because it’s the same last name but anyways, Suzanne Glover has been a professional actress for many years, and she didn’t stop there. She basically used the techniques and skills that you learned in-camera to professional sales. Nowadays, of course, she kept on evolving. She is an internet marketer for the last several years. Welcome, Suzanne, to the show.

Thank you, Victoria. It’s wonderful to be here and thank you for inviting me.

Every single small business owner should have a video brand message on their website.

The world is changing and it’s a good thing in many ways for people like you and me because we have been forced to be on camera, and for many years, that’s what we did for a living. For a lot of people, I even know podcasters who are not on video, and they freeze over a microphone. They don’t freeze over meeting a person like a real-life person but they freeze over this little piece of equipment, so it’s interesting.

Give me a quick background about how you grew up because I want to really deep dive into your background but I believe that everybody’s early years shaped what they do for the rest of their lives. Give our audience a few sentences about who you are, how you were raised, and then how you got into acting, and how did you end up doing what you’re doing now.

When I was about ten years old, I was tall. People said, “You look like Cheryl Tiegs.” Remember her? She was the top model. It then went into Paulina. I evolved but Cheryl Tiegs was the first one. They said, “You should be a model. You’re this gazelle.” I did, but it was a short-lived thing because modeling is tough. You got to be young and whatever. I had to pivot to being a TV actress, and it was the same thing that’s going on with video nowadays for business people. They have this business, that’s good. All of a sudden, the world goes virtual, “What happened?” That’s what happened to me.

I marketed myself, I got my first little commercial. It was a local cable TV commercial. I resisted it at first because I thought, “I don’t want to be a model. I’m too old. I don’t like it.” In the TV world, you get residuals when you get a good commercial. This was a small commercial. It wasn’t any residuals but it was my first commercial. The action was to lean down in the stream, scoop up water, turn to the camera, and say something, and what happened? Nothing.

Fast forward, I got through that, the commercial went on to be award-winning and I thought, “I can do this. No, I can’t.” Back and forth, it was very competitive. Remember back then, they would watch the tapes on VHS, and they would fast-forward them if you’re in an audition. You have to catch their attention, just like scrolling nowadays in the newsfeed. I was up against a lot of competition, so what I did was I got a mentor, learned it, and work together. Every time I was in an audition, ideas were dropped from the sky, and I would discover things.

Over 35 years, I ended up getting my first national commercial, got residuals for three years, taught for Screen Actors Guild, their conservatory. I ended up in the top percentage of the Screen Actors Guild, and I even was elected to their Executive Council. I got successful in the industry but then I had to pivot into my own business because I opened my own school. I had to start all over again because when you’re a talent, you show up, you do your thing, you learn. I’ve had to do the camera, the tech.

It’s a lot of work, and its many different disciplines too that has come together at the same time.

MDH 42 | Video Marketing

Video Marketing: You need to take the video medium seriously. Back in the day, not everyone could afford video. But today, you have to get your mind around it and accept it.

 

That’s what they’re facing now, so I help them with that. It’s because I’m a salesperson, I also bring my sales into the video realm, and I started winning my auditions when I started using my persuasive skills. I’ve been on the internet now for many years video marketing, and it should be very strategic but a lot of people do way too much video. I hone it into what they need to do.

I know that you teach the video marketing, you’ve written a book. In fact, that book is called how to Be A Video Influencer, which is we’re going to give you all information on that but it’s at SuzanneGlover.com. What I love about what you’ve done so far in your background is that, if you were learning how to be a video influencer and that you went to school to be a video influencer, you wouldn’t have the impact that you would actually have now. Having gone through those vulnerable moments in auditions are scary time is when people fast forward and act like you don’t even exist.

All those things, the emotions, the ups and downs that you’ve gone through when somebody comes to you looking for help and they say, “I’m scared of the microphone or how do I look?” Even the most confident people in the world, if they get in from a camera and they seem to completely lose a sense of who they are, you have a lot of empathy for them because you went through that for years.

I don’t know if you have the same feelings I do or not, and I have been on TV for many years every month. Usually, when I’m on with 3 or 4 different hosts for the day, the people that actually work in the station. I’ve asked the same question to each of those people as well. Some of them they’re like, “It’s like breathing, I go on TV. I don’t even see the microphone, a TV or the screen anymore.”

Others will say, “I still get butterflies every single time.” It’s a combination of both, because as experienced people on camera, there are still moments in times, a certain script or whatever it is that you do that actually does scare you. When you have clients, and you teach them how to overcome those fears, how to look good or how to say something when you feel uncomfortable, you have experienced all those moments, and not just once, twice or three times, you’ve done this for many years. That’s a long time.

What’s interesting Suzanne is that this whole area of video marketing is exploding, every company is looking for ambassadors. It’s my belief that every single small business owner should have a video brand message on their website, and yet so many people who teach this, they’ve never been on TV. They couldn’t pitch themselves to go on TV or do an audition. They’d be scared to death, so how are they teaching this stuff?

It’s so aggravating that people don’t have any experience and they’re all, “Makeup artists. I can teach you how to be on camera.”

A lot of people who think that their internet marketing is video marketing, it’s not. To be completely honest with you, I have not read Be A Video Influencer, partly because I feel like that’s not the book that I’m going to need now to get my life going. If you are somebody who understands you need the videos. Facebook, Google, Apple, even Amazon, everybody’s going video. They’ve all got some live streaming thing. The more video skills you understand, the better it is.

You can’t just post videos online. You need a strategy to have success.

The other thing I love about what Suzanne has been doing to her work is that she’s not telling you, there are a lot of people out there teaching you how to look great on camera, how to get great makeup on, how to work on lighting or how to talk to the mic, all the different technical skills. Let me tell you something. I was on a channel, HSN had 180 million homes reached, the people that go on it, 90% of them fail. They get great lighting, makeup, a lot of stuff, they look good.

I’ve seen that over and over again. They don’t have any essence.

They don’t have the authenticity. They don’t know what to do.

They don’t know what to say to sell.

When you combine all of this, that becomes very powerful. Let’s go back to what you do now. What really impressed me about your background more than anything, all the stuff that is on your bio. It is quite impressive that many years, getting a national commercial, and you’re teaching people on Screen Actors Guild. Even just the one thing, it’s a lot but everything you’ve done is very impressive.

The thing that impressed me the most about this whole thing is how you sold timeshares. Let me tell you something, whenever somebody comes in or they want to say like, “We’ll give you $200 gift or whatever,” I run the other way. I don’t even want to listen to it because it’s so boring and high pressure. I wouldn’t listen to it. The fact that you were able to sell it is impressive, so we’re going to get back to that.

I did it with integrity. I didn’t have cancels, and I didn’t push people into it. It was very authentic.

This show is a lot about actionable tips. If you had to give somebody three major steps, that could be baby steps, to become a video influencer, what are the steps 1, 2, and 3 that you would share?

I have a formula, that’s 7 steps but it’s got 3 sections in it, so that’s perfect. The first section, the way you begin is obviously mindset because even when I had to do this for my own business, I had to start directing myself. I had to become the camera person. I had to become all those things. The most important thing was this is a thing for my business, and that means the pressure is on, rather than show up and let everyone else do everything. I had to do it for myself. I talk about mind and body. That’s the most important thing to realize. I’m talking NLP, I’m a hypnotherapist.

It’s more important to realize that you need to take the video medium seriously and get your mind around it to accept that this is what’s happening nowadays. When you and I were way back when, it was a small group of people, it was this us and them thing, it was us on TV and their mouths there. That stigma is still around particularly for you. I’m in my 60s, so I remember us and them. People our age from about 40 to 60 are still feeling that, “I’m not good enough. I have to get my hair done. I have to do all this stuff.”

If they accept that it’s the new way of doing business and that they can embrace it and understand that it’s not their fault, they can’t do it. All of a sudden, the world is asking them to be a TV spokesperson. You and I got training. We were trained. They’re not getting the training these days, so that’s one. Number two, once you start becoming more authentic, and you start feeling better about being on camera, then you want to start learning what to say, and what to say means, “I want to use my people’s words.”

MDH 42 | Video Marketing

Video Marketing: You need to embrace the new way of doing business while having compassion for yourself.

 

I was doing radio and podcasts before. I had a positive thinking course. The word that I found was a personal development junkie. That was the phrase that people would reiterate back to me. I would never have used that word but as soon as I started using personal development junkie in my podcast and in my radio appearances, people would respond because they could relate to it.

You were saying that use the language that they understand or they relate to.

There’s a certain way to find it. Once you embrace video and you understand that it’s not your fault, that you’re not good at it, you have some compassion for yourself, and you start getting over that mindset. I’m not talking positive thinking but I’m talking about using your mind and body together. You then start going into knowing what to say to engage people.

Number three, delivery. I’m going to tell you a little story here where I was in a Mastermind before, and there was a girl in there that she was doing her little thing. It was a Mastermind where we were filming in a professional studio. She was a young girl and she didn’t know what she was doing, and she stood up, she did a commercial, and everyone was like, “You need to smile more. You need more energy.” I thought, “That is not advice. I’m sorry. That is superficial. Why don’t you give her some tools?”

They said, “Why don’t you go out in the hallway to practice?” I happened to go to the bathroom at that point, I came out and said, “You want some coaching?” Less than five minutes. I taught her how to smile on camera. There’s a whole acting technique, a whole method of acting that I gave her in two minutes. I had her do it, I drilled her for about two minutes. I had her eye contact, body language, and her essence. We came back in and they were startled. She did her thing and it was like, “What happened?” It’s about a delivery, so that you can connect with this thing.

Those are the three things. Of course, there’s looking good, technology, and you can’t go and do this stuff without knowing how to market it. That’s important because you can do all this stuff, but then you do all these videos online and nobody, either too many or too few, and you don’t have a strategy, so I would add another fourth thing in there that you need a strategy to have video success online.

If you are interested, many of you are reading, and I know this is a new thing for you if you want to experience what Suzanne described this young lady being frozen and stuck in the middle of Mastermind, to unlocking that code inside of two minutes, I checked her out and she does offer a free consultation. You can experience that and get a real diagnosis of what you need to do or what you can do. Many of you might be able to get it done right there and then, so I encourage you to do that. Check out our website. I love those steps, and what I love about what you said too, it’s probably very similar for you.

When we were starting out in video acting in that arena, we were chasing the dream at that time. We didn’t know 35 years would go by. I’ve been in my business since 1989, so I’m very close in that regard but we’ve accumulated all this knowledge over time. When we try to unpack this now, that 35 years of experience, those painful moments, the great joys, and the a-ha moments that we’ve all experienced, it’s difficult to teach unless you have a system and a framework that works so that a lot of people who have similar issues can plug in some of that.

You only get the system, we haven’t gone through it like 16,000 pieces of something, the same thing. I love that because I’ve been on TV for many years live. I don’t say that to be braggadocious. What I will say is this, I don’t care who you are, how pretty you are, how thin you are, who your father is or whoever your producer is. If you don’t tell the truth, you don’t last for many years. It’s simple. I always tell the truth, and I was floored, I’ve been so busy, I still do my shows on ShopHQ, and that keeps me very busy.

You cannot teach emotions.

In fact, even before I went on this live show, I was still editing and designing my pieces for the 2021 collection. It’s a lot of work. I didn’t realize how many people are out there making a fortune, coaching video, teaching video, going about camera video influencer, video marketing, online, marketing, all of those things.

I found three people that actually made a living doing what they’re coaching. They’re professors, they’ve never actually pitched to a real-life station. If you’re going to get this experience from anybody, you might even get somebody who had been through all that because people like us, when we see something, “I got that.” I know you feel that way.

I worked for the Academy of Art University, where they only have people who are in the business because you can’t teach something that you’ve never experienced. When I see makeup artists or other people teaching this, it’s like, “I’m sorry.” It’s very offensive to me actually.

When it comes to teaching, this particular thing that we call video marketing, it’s something that I feel like it can’t be taught by a textbook because when we talk about video influencer, we’re only talking about one thing. That one thing is moving people’s emotions. You cannot teach emotions.

You can, as an actor.

You can learn to pretend to be somebody but what I’m saying is if you’re on video influencer and you’re trying to move somebody to absorb what you’re saying in a six-second video or whatever that you’ve got. That’s a very tough art to do consistently, especially over product, if you’re going through a midlife crisis and you’re getting through a divorce in the middle of cancer or something, those emotions are different than you’re trying to sell products. This is a very difficult piece to package and unpack but as I said, there are tools that you can use.

The one thing that Million Dollar Hobbies is about other than giving actual tools to chase their dreams, is transformation stories. You have transformed and evolved many times over. That takes a lot of discipline, curiosity, persistence, and willingness to do what it takes to do that. All those types of traits that you’ve had to acquire over time, sometimes it’s an acquired trait, it doesn’t come naturally.

It’s very valuable when you’re taking any mentorship or courses from someone. I thank you for coming in and sharing your knowledge on this. I know you wrote the book, Be A Video Influencer: Reinvent Your Life & Business As A Midlife Movie Star. If you can tell me two things about the book that’s in it, why should people buy it?

It is geared to a midlife person who’s busy. A lot of people, when they’re talking about video, “I have a successful business. I am starting to take care of grandma. I’m starting to take care of my mother. I’ve got teens.” They’re busy, so what I focus on and have a heart for are the midlife people because part of my story was, in my 40s, I started dropping away. I had to take care of mom, and that can have a zap effect on your business.

The book is understanding where you are, and it helps you say, “I need to do this. I understand I need to embrace this. This is a new way of doing business but have compassion for yourself.” This is why you can do this, even though you’re busy. That’s one angle. The other angle is my seven-step formula where I walked them through the actual formula to go for a system that I have, A, B, C, D, so that it’s not just, you’re looking at an elephant and you might be looking at the trunk, leg or the tail. That’s how people approach video now, “I need to get good on camera.” No, you need a synergistic, comprehensive, holistic approach.

MDH 42 | Video Marketing

Video Marketing: Be A Video Influencer: Reinvent Your Life & Business As A Midlife Movie Star! By Suzanne Glover

I blurted out that you do one-on-one consultation for free. If you’re reading now, video is where the world is going. I’m sure even if you’re a very young person, you remember when all the taxi drivers in every city said, “Uber? Who cares?” In many cities I go through, they can’t even get a taxi anymore. Don’t be the taxi driver waiting for the Uber to show up. Basically, Millennials are going to be here. They’re already the largest consumer of consumer goods, and they only buy the video. They don’t want to be at anything. I have a house full of Millennials.

When Suzanne talked about the mid-life people, I am in that group. As I speak to you now, I have my phone on because my mother is 100 years old, she’s in a 24-hour nursing care. My mother was in her 80s, and you’re right. When they both ended up having some health problems, my daughter was literally expecting, she went into labor. Between those things, we talk about busy. We’re very busy. However busy you are, and it’s great if you own your own business, then you can take the time to tend to your mother, to everybody in times of their need. That’s really important.

What I love about video, if you get trained correctly, is that it will save your time. It will create legions. If you were to read a three-page story about a brand, for example, if I were to tell you three-page story about my brand, how I immigrated from Korea, what life was like over there, all the things that shaped me and I had to describe them in words, versus a two-minute video with me smiling and wearing my jewelry. Think about that. It’ll save you time, money, and eventually, you’re going to be able to build a very loyal following.

I have done that over many years, so I highly suggest that if it’s not Suzanne, it’s somebody else, go ahead and do it because video is not going away. Basically, they’re not going to go back all of a sudden to the old ways of face-to-face or VHS. It’s going to get faster and faster. Get real, let’s embrace the new world together. I want to thank you Suzanne for being gracious enough with your time. How do people reach you if they want to connect with you?

SuzanneGlover.com, that’s where you can get the book but also the free consultation where I diagnose where you are, where you’re going, what you need, and coach you a little bit, which is your name at SuzanneGlover.com/victoria.

Thank you so much for doing that. Even if you aren’t even sure if the video is for you, maybe you don’t even have a business, you just want to take selfies or do videos for your Instagram, call her. What do you get to lose?

I want to do that special for your audience.

Thank you so much. All of you, if you haven’t subscribed to the YouTube channel or this show, go ahead and hit the subscribe button as soon as you can. I would greatly appreciate that. The other thing too is I don’t ask anybody to give me a great review. I ask you to give me an honest review because those reviews helped me improve the show.

If you tell me, “Your shows are too long or whatever.” We take all that into consideration and keep on improving. If you can go ahead and do that too, we would appreciate that very much. Lastly, I always sign off with my favorite saying, until next time, stay healthy, stay well, and remember, happiness is a choice, and I hope you make great choices.

Important links:

About Suzanne Glover

MDH 42 | Video MarketingAs a professional actress for over 35 years, Suzanne has learned camera strategies that have gained her recognition in the field with award winning work. She has been in the top percentage of earners in the Screen Actors Guild, taught for the Guild, and successfully taught these strategies to entrepreneurs like you so they know how to connect through the camera and sell successfully in the new virtual world.
As a sales professional for over 20 years, Suzanne has been a top producer selling the tough stuff — the intangibles like “fame” [modeling and acting services]… “vacation” [timeshare]… and “love” [matchmaking services]. She’s gotten prospects to happily hand over thousands of dollars in the first, short meeting together… without high pressure tactics or cancellations.
And, as a internet marketer for over 20 years, Suzanne’s learned how complicated the online world can be and has found ways to simplify it for you.
Plus, she’s been through the midlife years where she had to keep her business going while she had elderly parent emergencies and menopause meltdowns. Now she’s on the other side and teaching others to not only embrace midlife, but excel and learn how to turn the clock back on aging too!
She has taken these areas of her life and condensed them into her current business where she helps you leverage her experience and cut your learning curve way down so you can make video a key part of your business quickly.
MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

 

Part of the life cycle of a business is the founder’s inevitable exit from the company. To make sure that you are able to make the most of your business, you need to have an exit strategy. In this episode, Victoria Wieck talks about selling a company with the president of Provenance Hill Consulting, Martha Sullivan. Martha and Victoria discuss building systems and adding value to a company and how these make your business more attractive to buyers. Hear the best practices for crafting the right exit strategy from Martha. Tune in and learn more of the ins and outs of selling your company in this conversation.

Listen to the podcast here:

Watch the episode here:

Always Have An Exit Strategy: Building A Salable Business With Martha Sullivan

We have an amazing guest and her name is Martha Sullivan. I want to ask you if you have started your business and things are clicking, you’re finally getting some traction on your business. It’s growing and you wish you could grow more but it’s growing. You hope that maybe your children, some family members or whoever is going to go ahead and take your business. That’s what I dreamed of when I started my business or at least envisioned that.

If you’re in that category where you have started a business and want to grow it and scale, you’ve probably done all that, you want to look at an exit strategy, you haven’t thought about it or maybe you’re beginning to think about it, I’ve got the perfect person for you. Martha, what she does is helps you do just that. Basically, she will work with family-owned businesses. If you have a family-owned business, that’s great because you can enjoy the fruits of all these together or maybe you have a business that’s even bigger than that.

Either way, it’s important to have your business structured in such a way that you have the option to exit any time. Life is strange. Things could happen to you, voluntarily or involuntarily. Having those options is everything these days. Martha is the Founder and the President of Provenance Hill Consulting where she helps you accomplish all those. She’s written articles for Forbes, Authority Magazine, Forbes Financial Advisor Magazine, Milwaukee Business Journal and so much more. Without further ado, welcome Martha to the show.

Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here. I’ve been looking forward to our conversation.

It’s important that we have an exit strategy. Many people think, “I have an exit strategy,” but do you really have an exit strategy? Your strategy might be, “I’m going to grow this for twenty years or I’m going to grow this to $20 million and I’m going to sell it.” If you even think about that, you can never start your exit strategy. Meaning that you need to have a strategy and have your structure in place before anything could happen. Is that not correct?

That is so correct. It’s 100% spot on. A story brought that home, where our two-door down neighbor, a 34-year veteran of owning his business, decided not to wake up on Monday and he had no plans in place. You go from that perspective all the way to you have a great business, the market is going well that it’s like, “Maybe this is the peak and we should get out now.” You want to have a business where it will be attractive for somebody else to want to buy it or if it is a family business, you want your next generation to be able to look at it and say, “I want to be a part of this.”

You want to have a business that is attractive for somebody else to want to buy it.

As opposed to, “Mom and dad handed me a rock and I feel pressured into taking it.” Getting a company ready to sell, for example, as a transition strategy is not “I wake up now and do it tomorrow.” It takes time and thoughtful preparation from day one. Having a vision of where you want it to go and making sure that it’s always ready for sale. Even though it’s not on the market, it’s always ready for sale.

Martha, maybe about 35% of our readers are on the verge of starting their businesses or have started a side hustle. I would say that even your day one if you have a mindset of starting a business that you could sell someday, you’re going to be thinking about things like brand names that other people might want, all the different things that go with a sale of a business. Number one, we have to differentiate between a business that’s a profit and loss business versus building a brand, for example. What does your business stand? That makes it easier to sell it someday.

Even if, let’s say hypothetically, a family has three children. The mother and the father started the business. They now have to transition it to their kids. I know somebody who went through this. They had four kids. Two of them didn’t have anything to do with the business. One was a dentist and one was a professor. The other two wanted to have the business but one didn’t want to do any sales, all that but the four of them inherited it. How do you then value the two that don’t want to have to do with that? They’re entitled to something. The company that I was telling you about is a $25 million company. That’s a good size company.

Eventually, they did sell out to 51% ownership to an investment firm twenty years down the road but it came after huge family fights and several divorces. It went through all that stuff. It was ugly. This uptick is very important. I know you’ve been doing this for most of your adult life. You were in a consulting business, worked for a consulting company and then went out on your own and did this. What are some of the tips from the very beginning stages? If you are now thinking about selling, it might be almost late. You need to hustle at this point. What are the tips?

In terms of the tips at the outset, when you’re starting your business, you need to think about it from the perspective of setting up good systems that are helping your teammates learn and carry on the business, as well as setting up a management team. The number one thing that kills deals when you go to market and sell your companies is if the company is overly dependent on the owner. Meaning all the relationships are with the owner, all the institutional knowledge, all of that stuff.

You want to ideally get it to the point where the company can operate without you. I like to simplify it. Can you go on vacation? As a new business owner or entrepreneur, you probably don’t feel comfortable going on vacation. Your goal should be to get to the point where you could comfortably and confidently go on vacation, not just for a week. Any of us can shoehorn that in. Would you be comfortable going on a vacation for a month and know that the company is going to be able to function without you?

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy: It takes time and thoughtful preparation, having a vision of where you want it to go, and making sure that it’s always ready for sale. Even though it’s not on the market, it’s always ready for sale.

 

My advice to people that are further down the development path in their business and thinking about potentially selling, maybe that’s in 2, 5 or 10 years down the road, it’s important to start putting on the lens of a buyer and looking at it from the perspective of, “How it’s somebody independent look at your company, how would they look at your baby?” They may not say your baby’s ugly but they may look at it and say, “That is one ugly baby,” because there are no systems because it is dependent on the owner. There’s too much concentration on all the businesses with 1 or 2 customers and they’ll walk away.

They’re putting on the lens and saying, “Would I buy my company now? What risks would I see if I were walking in fresh?” That’s challenging to do but it’s vitally important. Think about it in terms of if you were going to go buy a house or if somebody was coming into your house and saying, “Would I buy this house?” The paint’s peeling and the roof is leaking or does it have fantastic curb appeal? It’s in tip-top shape. It’s not all that different when people are looking to buy your business or your kids are considering, “Do I want to take this on?”

Honestly, everything you said is something that you should do for your business whether you’re going to sell it or not every single day. Number one, for example, having your business so heavily dependent on 1 or 2 customers basically, they pretty much own you at that point. I would say that in my own consulting world, I tell small business owners not to take on a huge customer until you can be sure that no single customer is more than 15% of your business.

At that point, that single customer dictates your product development, services, hours of operations, what employees you hire. It’s changing the character of the company. That’s a no-no in the first place. In terms of making sure that you can go on vacation, I would argue that in order for you to scale your business, you have to depend on other people. There are going to be limitations on how many hours you can work.

I’m sure that you find this to be true. When you consult with a lot of entrepreneurs who are very passionate about what they do, they want to do everything. I don’t know about you but I find that to be true. They’re passionate. They love their customers and employees. They look forward to going to work every day.

Many people don’t realize that when you first went about owning a business and starting a business whether it was your mother or you did it, most people will say that the ability to work fewer hours is at least at the top or the second to the top reason why you start your business. It’s emotional, financial and freedom of time, yet they spend more time working in their business and oftentimes for less money.

You want to ideally get your business to the point where the company can operate without you.

What you’re advising to do now is even if you don’t ever think you’re going to sell it, this is something that’s good for you every day for your own sanity. If you’re doing everything, how are you ever going to nurture any employees to do more than you do? You’re going to need many employees who can do more than you do, who you can trust?

It’s who you can trust, help you scale up and grow that vision that you have into something that has traction, value and whatnot. It’s interesting you bring up the whole concept of freedom and what drives us entrepreneurs to become entrepreneurs. It backfires on you because it was like, “I have all this stuff I have to do. There are so many plates spinning.” If you can accept the concepts that as you build your team and a company that is always ready for sale, it does give you that freedom and flexibility.

If I have the confidence to go on vacation for a month, I also have the confidence to lean on my team and say, “I started this business because I love doing this but now I have to do this and this.” Now, I have a team and I can get rid of that, this and this. “I’m going to focus on what I love. I do my best. You focus on what you love and do best. We’ll all be much better.” Having the right focus on building that transferable company helps you get back to achieving that daydream that every entrepreneur shares of that freedom and fun to build a business.

I’m sure that many readers will agree with you on the concept of working less, building a team, building trust in your employees and to some degree to some customers as well. You know as entrepreneurs we are a very stubborn group of people. We don’t know how to do it. That’s what drives entrepreneurs. I come from a family of five kids. I’m the oldest of the five. A couple of my siblings will never, ever be an entrepreneur. They don’t want to be one. If you tangle them $1 million an hour, they wouldn’t do it because it’s not their life. I’ve got a brother who’s a lawyer. He refuses to go start his own little practice.

He wants to work as a General Counsel for a very large company. We’ve got a couple of other kids who will never be able to clock in a day at work because she can’t handle being told what to do, the routine every day, the grunt work. How would you advise an entrepreneur who understands it conceptually but can’t do it? They don’t have the basic trust in their employee. I’m not saying that they’re going to steal from you or anything like that.

“What happens if they screw up and my customer gets mad while I’m on vacation? What do I do?” They have this anxiety. What advice do you have for that entrepreneur who wants to follow your advice? Other than, Martha has a workshop series. If you go to ProvenanceHill.com/millions, she’s got the little workshop series. You can get a little coupon or other free things. Give us a couple of hints.

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy: When you’re starting your business, you need to think about it from the perspective of setting up good systems that are helping your teammates learn and carry on the business, as well as setting up a management team.

 

To piggyback on the Finding True Value Workshop Series, what I teach entrepreneurs and business owners is to understand and appreciate that to grow a valuable company, you need to be balancing the rewards like the revenues and the cashflow that you get from the business with the risks in the business. Take that buyer’s mindset again. Where are the risks? What you’re talking about with that anxiety is a risk. “Do I risk empowering my employee to do this stuff for me?” Appetite for risk, entrepreneurs tend to be more risk accepting because you don’t go into business for yourself without taking some risks.

We also have the tendency to do what I call in terms of white-knuckling the golden goose. We hold on to our control so tight that we choke it off. You start small with your employees in terms of the risks that you take with them. Are you going to hand over the management of your best customer to your employee? It’s probably not right away. We all hate to lose a customer but there are some customers frankly if my employees step their toes on, I either have a good enough relationship with the customer to prepare them and say, “I want you to have continuity in our relationships. I can’t always be here. I’m bringing Junior along. Will you work with me on it?”

You take smaller risks where the stakes aren’t as high. It gives you practice taking those risks and helps you build trust that your employee isn’t going to drop the ball. At the same time, it helps to build confidence and competence on the part of your employees. They can step into that larger customer relationship, for example.

What you’re saying is that trust your employees. You are saying, “You’re minimizing risks by minimizing managing the risk.” I’ve had employees for a very long time. I want to say my first employee ever hired in 1989 is still with me and a couple of them retired. Employees are not mistake-free. You’re not mistake-free. Customers are not mistake-free. Things will happen. When they happen on a very small scale like that where stakes are not so high, which is not life-threatening, where a customer didn’t blow up at something. You didn’t get your package at 4:00. Maybe you got it the next morning at 8:00. It’s not a life-threatening thing.

Letting your employees make those small mistakes and learn from them. You should hire them well but my employees have made some pretty big mistakes. I’ve had one that made like $150,000 mistake. I didn’t fire him. What I did was I looked and figured out how the mistakes happen. We changed the system. This was a case where I got a huge order from a TV network and they wanted an Emerald suite. They were an Emerald necklace, earrings and pendant.

When we placed our order with our manufacturer, 2 of them were in yellow gold and 1 of them didn’t have a designation for metal so it came in white gold. This was a matching suite. I ended up having Emerald earrings in white gold, a matching pendant in yellow gold, the ring in yellow gold and then the bracelet in white gold. The whole order was $300,000.

We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.

I would imagine replace it out so it was all consistent.

This was bought for May, which was Mother’s Day and May’s gemstone was Emerald. She said she didn’t want to buy it because nobody wanted to have not matching suite, all that stuff. Basically, what we ended up doing was I contacted the buyer and I offered her to do this at Christmas time because by the time we had to redo the whole thing, it was several months. I gave her a discount. I also agreed to take back merchandise that she couldn’t sell because that was the best I could do.

What we ended up doing is that now our purchase order system, every single item has a WG for White Gold, YG for Yellow Gold or RG for Rose Gold. You cannot put anything into a system unless you put in that metal color. You learn these things. Since that incident, nobody has ever made that same mistake again because it’s impossible. What you and I are both saying is that employees can make mistakes. Unless it’s catastrophic and the decisions they’re making isn’t that the firm. It is things that aren’t going to make a huge difference other than maybe your ego, whatever. It is almost better to train those employees with those small mistakes.

We learn more from our failures sometimes than we do from our successes. What I like about the story that you shared there, Victoria, was that we’re developing your coworker through that mistake but you also built your system stronger. The hallmark of a great transferable company is that you have systems that allow you to grow faster, as well as they’re replicable. If there’s turnover, maybe there were other reasons and you had to let that individual go. You have systems where somebody else can helpfully come up to speed faster and do the work as well, if not better.

There are a lot of drivers in what makes a company valuable to a buyer, probably more than we have time to talk about now but we do talk about that in the workshops quite often. It changes or can change a business owner’s focus from the bottom line to understanding what it takes to have a healthy bottom line but also an asset that you’re growing over time so that it can pay dividends later. I like to say and it’s a quote from a dear friend of mine through the Exit Planning Institute, “If you’re focused only on income, you may not have value but if you’re focused on value, you can have both.”

Let’s get back to how do we now structure a business that’s saleable from day one. A lot of times in the jewelry business, it’s a very archaic business. I’m in the jewelry business and I’ll go to a trade show and there’s one coming up. We can go to these trade shows where millions of dollars are being traded and they’re still using those three-part carbon copy things. They’re not using any technology. They’re still writing scratch notes. I’m saying reporting systems, reporting your numbers, your sales, doing analysis, having great inventory if you’re selling physical inventory and recording your changes in inventory accounts receivable.

MDH 41 | Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy: It really is a matter of executing a good business strategy and having the systems in place to make that happen. Systems determine performance period.

 

These things are all things that need to be in place because that’s how they judge a business. This is the other thing. It’s like a chain reaction. If you don’t trust your employee’s ability to keep the house running, for example, and then you don’t have a system to record your sales or whatever. “How many did you sell?” “I can’t remember if I sold 15 or 16 of those pendants but let me check.” They’re going through the three-part thing. If you have a system of reporting that’s already computerized, your inventories are computerized, it keeps track of what you receive and what you take out.

Having these systems in place where any employee can come in and perform that day’s job, that’s absolutely critical. When you’re starting your business or maybe you just started your business, whenever you start your business, I know in my case I started my business in ‘89 and I’ve had to upgrade change systems over time because the whole world changes. When you do that, listen to someone like Martha who has gone through this.

I started my business as a small hobby. I wanted to only make $3,000 a month. I wanted to work twenty hours a week, $3,000 a month but $500 million later, I can tell you that each time I’ve upgraded my systems and I’ve done anything was because my systems crashed. It wouldn’t work anymore. I had computers crash on me. I had systems crash on me where we were down for a week at a time. Don’t wait for something like that to happen because as a company gets bigger, the stakes are higher.

What happens is when you hire somebody upfront, someone specialist like Martha, she’s not going to cost you millions of dollars. I’ve had times where it didn’t cost me several hundred thousand dollars to upgrade. Don’t wait until your systems crashed and you don’t have a choice. Not only do you not have a choice to buy companies but you also don’t have a choice on systems.

I’ve had times where I’ve had to take the one that I could hook up with as fast as we can. It’s important. A lot of the things that you’re preaching and advising are things that you really need in your own business anyway. Having employees that are competent and you have confidence in is one thing. It’s the same thing with having vendors that are competent and confident. All customers are not the same. Some customers are going to work and grow with you. They’re going to matter when you sell your company. Some other customers are a lot of trouble. I’ve had customers that I got because nobody else wanted them. You don’t want that either.

You don’t want the whole portfolio to be that. When we talked about companies that are salable, you want to look at all the pillars, your vendor system, your employee system, your customer system and then the marketplace overall. Everything that you’ve shared with me and our audience is very sound advice. I know that if you are smart and adventurous enough to start a business, grow it and scale it, you’re capable of doing anything,

If you’re focused only on income, you may not have value, but if you’re focused on value, you can have both.

Starting a company is akin to giving birth, you think about it, nurture it, you feed it, do everything 24/7. This is what entrepreneurs do. If you want to detox from the entrepreneurship, the pitfalls of entrepreneurship, find someone. If it’s not Martha, it’s somebody like her who will teach you. It’s a shame that we have to talk about this being an exit strategy because it’s also a growth strategy.

It is. An exit strategy ultimately comes down to its simply good business strategy. It’s doing the right thing for your business so that it is sustainable. The Exit Planning Institute shares a statistic that 1 in every 2 business owners will be forced from their ownership because of death, divorce, disability, disagreement and distress. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about having good systems in place.

Having your management team, financial statements that are current, accurate and a valuable management tool, all these different factors because from day one, we’re giving birth to that baby. We want it to be beautiful, attractive and go on to live a wonderful life. After they hit eighteen, checkout time has come and gone and it’s time for it to go someplace else for us to do something different. It’s not always retirement. It could be growing a business to flip it and then move on to your next adventure. All of these principles come into play. It is a matter of executing a good business strategy and having the systems in place to make that happen. Systems determine performance. I agree with you, Victoria.

An exit strategy ultimately comes down to good business strategy. It’s doing the right thing for your business so that it is sustainable.

Martha, how do people find you if they want to have a deeper conversation. This conversation is deep.

The easiest way to get in touch with me is to visit our website, www.ProvenanceHill.com. I also have a blog there and that will also link to In Business Magazine, IBMadison.com, where I have a blog, Exit Stage Right, is the name of it as well. Those would be ways to connect with me. If you’re interested in the Finding True Value workshops, check out www.provenancehill.com/millions. If you use the coupon, thank you code of VICTORIA, that will give you a 20% discount. It’s my way of saying thank you to you, Victoria and your audience. This has been a delightful conversation.

Remember, I always sign off by saying until next time, please stay healthy and happy. Happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices. Until the next episode, thank you so much.

Thank you.

Important links:

About Martha Sullivan

This one-time information systems analyst turned her most brilliant act of rebellion into a career as a CPA, CFO, COO, business owner, and profit & value growth strategist, consulting to hundreds of clients and colleagues over the past (gulp) three-plus decades.

Martha Sullivan, President of Provenance Hill Consulting, LLC. founded her firm with one purpose: Help companies build strong, profitable businesses that are attractive enough for someone to want to buy it when the owner decides to chase their next adventure.

She recognizes that exit planning is a topic, like death, that most business owners avoid. Yet life’s realities have a tendency to catch up to even the best of us, so building and maintaining a kick-tail business that someone would be thrilled to buy or take over is the best “business life insurance” possible.

Martha’s work supports owners, and their next-generation leaders, as they take the company to the next stage of its life – be it continuing growth or navigating all exit options available to the owner and his or her family.

Together, through roll-up-your-sleeves workshops, business analysis, a good sense of humor, and tough love, business transformations begin.