Why I’m Changing My Name After 10 Years Of Building A Personal Brand

When I got married 11 years ago, I was depressed, ashamed, and feeling like I had no opportunities left — in the way only a 25-year-old can feel.

I had always planned to keep my maiden name, which was Seefeldt, but I also planned to be a successful academic with a published work or two under my belt by the time I got married. Instead, I was a grad school drop out working as a retail manager earning less than $30,000 per year.

When I met my husband, I was so depressed that I hadn’t been able to eat solid food in about a week. My weight had plummeted and, instead of a solid size 8 and 145 pounds as I’d been most of my life, I was struggling to keep my size 0 pants on my boney frame. I was a complete mess.

Marrying my husband — in my tortured mind — seemed like the only solid opportunity I had left.

Of course, when you’re that depressed and unwell, making the decision to get married is never a good one. You could be marrying the best person on earth, even the best possible match for you, and you’d be in trouble.

But marry I did.

I was pregnant — by choice and plan but, again, after a life-to-that-point of not wanting children — within 3 months.

While pregnant with my daughter, I was put on Zoloft in an attempt to quell the early symptoms of prenatal depression. It worked beautifully. The medication took the edge off and helped me to see new possibilities. I started to feel more in control, more confident, and more capable again.

This state of mind helped me make room for starting a small business — the business that has grown into What Works. I started doing things that made me feel like me again — writing, reading, and thinking.

At the same time, it became clear that my marriage was just not going to work. It was a rough time and I didn’t handle it very maturely — but eventually, we made the mutual decision to split up.

This was a really positive step in the right direction, even if it caused some logistical difficulties initially.

One such difficulty was realizing that I had started to build a brand and a reputation with a name that didn’t feel like my own — Gentile. I considered changing it as we finalized our divorce but going back to Seefeldt seemed like a domain name nightmare and I wasn’t creative enough come up with something on my own!

That was then. This is now.

When I created my 2018 goal list, I put changing my last name on it — along with climbing a V5-graded boulder problem (done), doing 10 unassisted pull-ups (I’m at 6), running a sub-30-minute 5k (I did 28:18 last month), and hiking the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park (on the schedule).

Even if my long-time partner and I weren’t going to get married, I was going to change my name to something else.

Well, we are getting married in 2 weeks and, luckily, marriage makes the paperwork a little easier.

We toyed with the idea of both of use changing our names but, in the end, I decided on simplicity and doing — for the second — the decidedly un-modern thing of taking his last name.

Starting June 28, I’ll begin the transition to calling myself Tara McMullin.

Personally, this was an easy decision. Professionally, it causes me anxiety.

I’ve spent the last decade building name recognition, credibility, and a reputation as Tara Gentile. I’ve done podcast interviews, spoken at events, been a featured expert, written books, and been a bestselling business instructor on CreativeLive.

As the time for the change looms large on my schedule, it’s finally starting to sink in how big of an undertaking this is.

Some of the changes will be (or have been) easy. I’ve changed email addresses already. I’ll redirect my personal website to one with my new name. I’ll take on new social media handles.

But there will doubtlessly be difficult changes, too. The difference now is that I am fit — mentally, physically, and business-wise — and ready to tackle the challenge.

Yesterday, I asked a group that we run to consider the stories they have around themselves and their businesses. I realized today, reading through their reflections on our discussion, that this is my opportunity to write a new story for myself and this is just the prologue.

Who will Tara McMullin be as a leader, an executive, and a movement maker?

What story will she live? How will she create the change she wants to see in the world?

I think I’ll spend the next couple of weeks figuring that out.

Are You A Reluctant Manager?

Are You A Reluctant Manager?

10-12 minutes of planning every day can cut 2 hours of wasted time and effort, according to Brian Tracy.

Well, I’ve never been much of a planner. 


I’ve had my to-do list, my calendar, and my business plan in my head.

As you might imagine, this has caused some problems.

I’ve missed important appointments. I’ve missed crucial deadlines. I’ve forgotten about key initiatives.

But most importantly: this attitude limited my ability to actually make my vision reality.

And here’s the thing…

It really is all an attitude.

My reluctance to use a planner, document systems, or keep an eye on my calendar isn’t a hard-wired personality trait. It’s an attitude that I’ve chosen to take.

In January, I finally recognized this and decided to make some big changes…

…and I’ve had an absolutely incredible year. 

I do spend 10-12 minutes planning out my day, reviewing our progress toward our goals, and checking in on where others are at.

I’m better organized personally, my team is more independent, my company is growing faster than ever, we’re accomplishing more together, and our customers are happier.

I don’t get it right all the time but I’m training myself to become a better manager of my world.

Now, I know my situation is not unique.

The Entrepreneur, The Manager, and The Technician

Most small business owners in the New Economy are a combination of, as Michael Gerber describes it in The E-Myth, The Technician–the “do the work” person–and The Entrepreneur–the visionary. 

What most lack is the skillset and identity as The Manager–the person who ensures ideas get turned into a plans or systems and that those plans or systems actually get implemented.

Gerber writes:

The fact of the matter is that we all have an Entrepreneur, Manager, and Technician inside us. And if they were equally balanced, we’d be describing an incredibly competent individual. The Entrepreneur would be free to forge ahead into new areas of interest; The Manager would be solidifying the base of operations; and The Technician would be doing the technical work.

Small businesses get started primarily because people who lean towards The Technician side sense they could get a better deal working for themselves. Some have taken a skill they learned in the corporate world or by formal education and translated into self-employment.

Others have gone off to learn a new skill they’re passionate about and recognize the opportunity contained in independent work over traditional employment.

Some small businesses do get started because of the singular vision and focus of The Entrepreneur at its helm… but, in watching the trajectory of hundreds of small businesses over the last 9 years, I think these businesses are the minority. Most often, once The Technician gets bit by the entrepreneurial bug, vision is unlocked and amplified–not the other way around.

The Management Gap

This leaves a gap–and a severe imbalance–between the desire to “do the work” and the vision to create something bigger and more impactful.

There is a constant, often overwhelming, push-pull between delivering your work (performing your service, making your product, supporting customers) and working on the business.

From both my personal experience and talking to so many business owners over the years, the reluctance to close the gap, create plans, and develop systems is often perceived as a personal failing and a product of their natural-born personality.

“I’m just not a manager.”

“I’m a creative, I like to go with the flow. I’m not the kind of person who plans.”

“I’m more of a doer than a planner.”

“I’m an INTP.” (Oh wait, maybe that’s just me…)

If you’ve attempted some of the managerial tasks, like creating standard operating procedures, using project management software, or hiring people, it was likely reluctantly or even begrudgingly. Maybe you quit shortly after you started, maybe you half-heartedly continue to keep up with it.

You likely give yourself an excuse by employing one of the lines above instead of truly examining the kind of real changes you could make in how you approach the operations of your business and the organization of your life.

In other words, you’re a reluctant manager.

You’re not alone.

No one starts a small business to become a manager.

But whether you’ve been in business 1 month, 1 year, or 1 decade, no doubt you’ve felt that small business crunch. You might have started your business to do the work you love, but you realize there is so much more to it than that.

You’re constantly pulled away from what you want or need to work on by things out of your control. You worry you’re not taking good enough care of your customers because of all the balls you’re trying to keep in the air. You always feel a few steps behind.

In essence, you’re struggling with how to manage it all: yourself, your time, and your systems.

You’re ready to be in control of your business and your priorities.

You’re ready to have your business provide for you instead of always providing for your business.

You’re ready to feel fully confident in the sustainability of your business and your lifestyle.

More than anything: you’re ready to shift your work environment from overwhelming & anxiety-inducing to calm, focused, and fun.

You’re in luck!

You’re invited to join me and 600 of my friends for The Reluctant Manager, a virtual conference about managing yourself, your systems, and your team—even if you really don’t want too.

My team at CoCommercial has pulled together an incredible line up of speakers who will share both their expertise and their hard-won experience to help you become a 5-star manager, without becoming a rigid planner or the boss you hated at your old job.

And, of course, I have a lot to say on this topic, as well!

Here’s what we’ll cover during The Reluctant Manager:

  • Welcome Session with CoCommercial founder Tara Gentile – 11am-11:20am Eastern/8am-8:20am Pacific
  • Building Strong Relationship So You Can Get The Most From Your Team with Lucus Lyons – 11:25am-12:15pm Eastern/8:25am-9:15am Pacific
  • How to Stop Suffering For Success with Lena West  – 12:25pm-1:15pm Eastern/9:25am-10:15am Pacific
  • Creating the Systems You Need to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work for You with Natasha Vorompiova  – 1:40pm-2:30pm Eastern/10:40am-11:30am Pacific
  • Integration Session with Tara Gentile – 3:15pm-4pm Eastern/12:15pm-1pm Pacific
  • Knowing What Hat To Wear & When with Breanne Dyck  – 4:10pm-5pm Eastern/1:10pm-2pm Pacific
  • Structuring Your Day For Maximum Joy & Efficiency with Marie Poulin  – 5:10pm-6pm Eastern/2:10pm-3pm Pacific
  • Closing Session with Tara Gentile – 6:10pm-6:30pm Eastern/3:10pm-3:30pm Pacific

Plus, you’ll be able to chat along with other attendees, ask speakers your nagging questions, and take the time to integrate what you’re learning so you can apply it right away.

Join this virtual conference absolutely free when you become a member of CoCommercial. Start your 30-day trial today and then mark your calendar for September 13 when we’ll meet in our virtual conference space and get to work.

To learn more about The Reluctant Manager virtual conference and CoCommercial—your small business brain trust–click here.

4 Mistakes You Make While Marketing, Launching, and Selling Your New Product

This is a time of year when many business owners are thinking about what’s next in their businesses. And for you, that might be your “Next Big Thing.” It’s a product, program, or service that you’re incredibly excited about. Something you think might represent your business for years to come. Something that might finally put you over the top of your revenue goal or revolutionize your business model.

A Next Big Thing could be exactly what your business needs to do all those things. Unfortunately, if you’re an idea person like me—and I reckon you probably are, it’s likely that you’ll get carried away with the idea itself and forget to engage some of the strategies that can help you realize the true potential of your idea.

After all, you’d like people to be hungry to buy your new idea, right?

Here are 4 mistakes you’re likely to make in the process of marketing, launching, and selling your new product—and how to avoid them:

1) You take it to market too slowly.

Yes, too slowly. The faster you can bring a product to market the better. My highest grossing, most respected and well-known products have gone from idea to sales in the shortest periods of time. And that’s no fluke.

When you take a product to market as quickly as possible, you get “proof of concept.” The proof, of course, is whether people are willing to buy it or not.

To get that proof, you need to ask yourself, “What’s the least amount of work I can do on this for people to be willing to buy it?Perfectionists, please stay with me. I’m a Virgo, I get it.

Challenge yourself to think small.

The answer to that question is the design of your Minimum Viable Product. Often for service or information businesses, the answer is nothing more than an offer, a sales page, or even just a conversation. For product businesses, it might be a photoshop mockup or a sketch.

If you don’t have at least some people willing to buy this kind of product, your Next Big Thing isn’t going to be that big the way you’ve conceived it. The great part of going to market fast is that you can make changes, adjust your idea—possibly several times—so that when it comes time to really investing your time, money, or energy into your idea, you know it’s going to work.

2) You don’t take into account who’s ready to buy.

Now, not everyone buys a Minimum Viable Product. Who does? Early Adopters. They’re often your business’s biggest fans and most loyal customers. They love trying out new stuff and are just tickled when they get to try out something before everyone else.

But what about when you move past of the MVP stage? Every stage of product iteration and marketing development should take into consideration the segment of the market you’re ready to reach—and who’s ready to be sold to.

For example, you might develop an internal launch of your new product that is designed specifically for customers who wouldn’t have been comfortable buying a prototype but are nonetheless excited about a new idea. They’re focused on what they’re trying to achieve, how they want to feel, and how they could be doing things better.

Later in the game, you might turn an active product into a more passive product or evergreen offering and put it on autopilot. The kind of customer who is going to buy that product wants to have everything figured out for them. They’re likely more focused on fixing a problem or alleviating some pain.

Each of these stages deserves a fresh marketing message that appeals to that customer segment’s specific needs.

3) You focus on feel-good ideas instead of urgent needs.

Speaking of needs, let’s talk about that. I know you, you hate to be “salesy.” And you just love this idea that business “starts with why” because it feels good, feels safe, feels altruistic.

Here’s the thing, business starts with why but transactions don’t end with it.

Instead, the real reason people Buy Now is because they’re actually looking for something to buy. People love to buy! And when you tap into the natural reasons they’re already in the market with their wallets out, you’re much more likely to get the sale.

And the really beautiful part of that is that you still don’t have to be salesy. You just have to match your sales copy to the reasons people are looking to buy, whether that’s because they’re looking for a great necklace for date night, they’re frustrated by their website, or they’re finally ready to stop visiting the refrigerator every night at 8pm.

Don’t just get people excited, give them a reason to buy.

4) You don’t start marketing and selling soon enough.

Finally, the number one mistake I see with marketing, launching, and selling a new product is that business owners don’t start the marketing and sales process soon enough. Clients ask me all the time, “How early is too early to start marketing my new product?” The answer is never.

It is never too early.

It doesn’t have to be polished, it doesn’t have to be strategic. It does’t need to use the latest trend in online marketing.

First, marketing starts the minute you start product development. Because marketing is so much more than promotion, as soon as you start thinking about who your product is for, why they need it now, and how you’re going to best fill those needs with your product, you’ve started marketing.

Second, promotion can begin with a whisper. A small wave of a mention that you’re working on something for your people that does x, y, or z can lead to a tsunami at launch time.

Finally, I don’t let any of my clients start building a product if they haven’t figured out their sales message. If you don’t have confidence your product is going to sell, you’re not ready to realize your idea yet. Start there.

If you can avoid these 4 mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to creating and selling your next blockbuster product.

Want more on marketing, launching, and selling your next big thing? Check out my bestselling class on CreativeLive: Create a Marketing Plan & Grow Your Standout Business.

Being Independent Shouldn’t Mean Being Alone

If I had to choose the key factor that all successful microbusiness owners have in common, it would be that they chose not to be alone in their businesses.

When I started my business, I desperately wanted to be alone. Even while attempting to create a community, build an audience, and exercise my voice, I wanted to keep to myself.

Invitations to coffee left me nauseous. Phone calls went unanswered.

Luckily, on top of wanting desperately to be left alone, I was also just plain desperate. I had no choice. Even then, I could sense that succeeding would mean meeting with, learning from, and collaborating with other people. And so early on, I learned that even as I was still “solo” in my business solo entrepreneurship was a myth.

Too often I see the struggle for independence turn into suffering through loneliness.

Your friends outside the entrepreneurial world don’t understand what you do. Your partner gets tired of hearing about Twitter. Your parents just wish you’d get a real job.

Couple that with fear of failure, the impostor complex, and not knowing where to find your compatriots online, let alone in your local community, and you’ve got the formula for going-it-alone syndrome.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Being independent shouldn’t mean being alone. Click to tweet!

This is one of the messages I’ve been focusing on over the last few years. Whether it’s been my own personal investment in travel & industry events or my desire to put together groups of like-minded entrepreneurs in coaching experiences like 10ThousandFeet, I have sought to bring people together–with each other and with me–to dramatically increase their chances of success.

As a connector & a futurist, I put an extremely high value in creating communities of value so that we can learn from our disparate experiences and put them to good use building the world we want to live in.

I believe we should be actively cultivating relationships that bring us closer to the success we crave. And I believe we could all put more time & intention behind that action.

The next week will see me take two big steps even farther in that direction. I’m rebooting Kick Start Labs, the entrepreneurial community & resource library I founded over a year ago. By the end of the month, I’ll have opened a coworking & workshop space in Astoria, Oregon for the purpose of bringing together the independent workers & thinkers of Northwest Oregon.

I look forward to telling you more about CoCommercial soon. But in the meantime, I hope you’ll consider joining me and over 100 charter Kick Start Labs members to do just that. Not only will you get access to me and this community of just-like-you business owners, but you’ll have access to all the resources I’ve created over the last 3 years plus access to new ones as they are created.

And it’s just $39/month.

Now accepting new members: join today.

How to Sell What You Make: 3 Days With Me–FREE

Join me for The Art of Selling What You Make – FREE on creativeLIVE from tara gentile on Vimeo.

On October 18-20, I’m teaching a workshop for creativeLIVE on the Art of Selling What You Make. I’m offering my Customer Perspective Process, plus teaching the psychology of value, pricing, value(s)-driven marketing, and sales all in high-def, all FREE when you watch live.

You’ll learn how to connect more with customers, how to make a bigger impact in their lives, and how to charge more for what you create. Click to spread the word!

This workshop is geared toward makers, artists, and designers but service-providers will get a ton of practical value from what I’m sharing, too.

Click here to enroll–FREE–or order the recordings in advance to grab a discount.

And, I’m looking for 6 audience members to join me in studio. Click here to apply.

What will growth look like for your business in 2013?

As one year ends and another begins, you’ve no doubt been inundated with opportunities to explore successes & failures, doors open & doors closed, goals, plans, and strategies. It’s true; this is the perfect time to evaluate where your business has been and where it’s going.

Most likely, one of your goals for your business in 2013 is growth. But what does business growth look like for you?

It’s your choice, you know. The picture of growth may be IPOs, 7-figure revenues, big teams, fame, or fortune. But that’s not all there is to growth. Growth is what you make it.

To kick off 2013, I’m proud to release my new book, The Art of Growth. Think of it as the big sister follow-up to my popular book, The Art of Earning (still name-your-own-price). This book is about both redefining business growth to reflect the opportunities we have in the You Economy and providing strategies for growth that you can adapt to fit your own values as a business owner.

The book lands January 8. It will be available as a multimedia pack here on my website and as a Kindle-only version on Amazon.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction. More importantly, I’d like to know: What will growth look like for your business in 2013? Click the link and let me know.

From The Art of Growth:

Growing your business is about maturity. Just like a child grows from a baby who needs your care to fill every need then, as he ages, requires less of your hands-on care, so does your business. Or, it will if you practice the art of growth. If you continue to baby your business with frenetic action and reactive effort, your business will remain a baby. The national news media wonders if helicopter parenting will create a generation of adults unable to to care for themselves; I wonder if helicopter entrepreneurship will result in a lost opportunity for millions of people to experience a new level of prosperity.

The art of growth is crafting a business that fulfills desires, changes lives, and rewards you without having to tend to its every need. The art of growth is about being proactive, not reactive. It’s about integrated systems and strategies.

The art of growth is not necessarily about the fastest track to a million users. It’s not necessarily about reaching the masses. It’s not about turning the people you serve into nameless, faceless numbers.

Scale doesn’t have to mean impersonal. Leverage doesn’t have to mean hands off. Impact doesn’t have to mean hustle.

As Danielle LaPorte, author of The Fire Starter Sessions, put it, “Love scales.”

That is the art of growth. It’s imagining the give-and-receive nature of business on a whole new level.


Look for additional thoughts on business growth in the age of connectedness over the next few weeks. And, in the meantime, tell me: What will growth look like for your business in 2013? Click here to let me know.