Interviews, Show Notes
I think a good interview is like a game of pool. You not only want to have a good question and a great answer, but know where that answer might end up, so that you can prepare where to shoot next, so to speak.
— Debbie Millman
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Tara: Welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. I’m your host, Tara Gentile, and together with my friends at CreativeLive, we talk to powerhouse small business owners about the nitty gritty details of running their businesses, making money, and pursuing what’s most important to them. Each week, I deep dive with a thriving entrepreneur on topics like time management, team building, marketing, business models, and mindset. Our goal each week is to expose you to something new that you can immediately apply to growing your own business.
My guest this week is Debbie Millman, host of the first and longest running podcast about design, Design Matters. Debbie is also an author, educator, and brand strategist. She’s the chair of the School of Visual Arts Masters of Branding program, the Chief Marketing Officer at Sterling Brands, and President Emeritus at AIGA. She’s interviewed superstars, and some of my personal heroes, like Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, and Seth Godin. Last year, iTunes named Design Matters one of the top 15 podcasts. I wanted to find out how hosting Design Matters has impacted Debbie’s life and career. We talk about the 10 to 12 hours she puts into interview prep, how she started with just a phone line back in 2005, and the opportunities that have come her way thanks to the podcast.
Debbie Millman, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Debbie: My pleasure, Tara, thank you for having me.
Tara: Absolutely. So you’ve been running the internet radio show and podcast Design Matters for over 10 years, which is a long time in any internet pursuit at all. Can you tell me how the show got started and why you decided to incorporate this, you know, at the time, fairly new media into your design and branding career?
Debbie: Absolutely. Well, I should clarify in some ways that the show didn’t start out as a podcast, because there were no podcasts back then. The show actually started out on an internet radio network called Voice America, and it was a little operation that ran out of Arizona, and I believe they’re still in business, but at the time, it was a really fledgling enterprise, and working with them was a little bit like working with Garth and Wayne on Wayne’s World, but they were really wonderful people. I actually got cold called from them about doing a show on design and branding, and at the time, I was really honored and thought that they were offering me a job, and what I later came to find out was that actually, they were cold calling me to be a host, which would require my paying them to pay for the production and the air time, but at the time, this was 2004, I had just begun to start doing personal work again after essentially abandoning all my personal work in an effort to build my branding career for the previous 10 years.
And the call came at a time when I really felt like my creative soul was perishing and had just begun to start writing again. I hadn’t begun to start doing any of my personal illustration yet, and I felt like I needed something to buoy my creative spirit, something that didn’t have anything to do with marketing and positioning and market share and research, and something that required … I didn’t want to have to be selling anybody anything in doing this, and here was an opportunity that I had never, ever gotten before, and thought why not invest a little bit of money in myself and my desire to try something new, and Design Matters was born, and I often say now that it was born with a wish and a telephone line, because that’s how I did the show. I would use a telephone handset to do my show, and my guest would be on the phone with me. Often, my guest was in front of me, and so we were both on handsets, and so I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up a landline while somebody else was on the same landline in your vicinity, but you often get an echo, and so that’s how I did the show. There was always an echo going on. My listeners didn’t hear the echo part, but it was really distracting.
I had really, really goofy ads that ran at different times during the show, but it gave me an opportunity to approach the people that I admired most in the design business and interview them, and essentially, I was given carte blanche via the use of an interview, or the excuse of an interview, to ask all of the questions that I was curious about, and I had a million questions, and so I did the first 100 episodes on Voice America, and then in 2009, the late, great Bill Drenttel, the founder of Design Observer, invited me to bring the show over to Design Observer, with the proviso that I improve the sound quality. And he introduced me to Curtis Fox, who is a producer, and at the time, he was working at the New Yorker and the Poetry Foundation doing their podcasts, and so we started working together. The School of Visual Arts was very supportive. That’s where I have my branding program, and we were first building the studio, and so they incorporated a podcast studio into my space, and so since 2009, I have been recording the show live at my studio at the School of Visual Arts in front of my students, live student audience, sort of like Inside the Actors’ Studio, and then my guests, when they’re finished with the interview, they come out, and they’re asked questions by my students, which is really, really fun for them, and for the guests, and I’ve done I think about 260 or 70 episodes at this point. So the show won the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2011, which Bill was really, really involved in helping me win, and then last year, iTunes named it one of the top 15 podcasts on iTunes, which was a dream and a miracle.
Tara: That is so awesome, and I totally missed that you recorded live in front of your students in my research, and I find that fascinating. Can you talk just a little bit about how that works, and like what your students get out of it, why you decided to do that?
Debbie: Absolutely. One of the gifts that I could provide to the students was access to these incredible minds, and what better way for somebody to learn through listening to somebody talk about their life, and to be inspired by their trajectory. And the show has changed a little bit over the years. The show really began, initially, as a show very much about design and branding. The show now is really, it’s still … it’s still very much about design and branding, but the centerpiece of the show is really for me to talk to my guests about how they design a life filled with creativity and purpose. And so for students, and these are my graduate students, although my undergrads can also sit in if they like, they are given access to the journey that the artist, the writer, the designer, the creative soul has created their path. What decisions did they make? What obstacles did they face? How did they design the arc of their life to date? And I think that it’s become a really meaningful component to the program that I have at SVA, the Master’s program in branding, because it teaches people how essentially my guests have branded themselves, and how they have created a life that stands for something, and that’s really, in my mind, what branding is. Deliberate differentiation, and how do you stand for something that you believe in.
And so I think the students get a tremendous amount out of it. They’ve gotten jobs from some of my guests and have learned an incredible amount and have read incredible books in preparation for their own questioning, and so I think it’s a really signature part of the program now.
Tara: That is so cool. I will be filling out my application after this interview. No. Seriously, though, Michael and I, my producer and I were just talking about this yesterday, how hosting a podcast is very much like having sort of a private but public mastermind where you just get to pick other people’s brains and find out how things work, and I just … I love that you’re involving your grad students in that as well, and I think that’s such a powerful tool for them, and I just can’t even imagine how powerful that experience might be.
I do want to rewind a little bit as well back to your first answer, and ask you a little bit more about, you know, you said you were just … when the podcast started, you were just starting to write again and you hadn’t yet starting doing illustration again, and you know, you needed to flex your own creative muscles some outside of the business world. Can you talk about how your personal creative pursuits have informed the way you’ve, you know, molded the podcast, or even just molded your career in general?
Debbie: Sure. When I graduated college, I had a degree in English Literature and a minor in Russian Literature. And I went to SUNY-Albany, which was an extraordinary experience for me. My on-the-job training really was as editor of the arts and features section of the school newspaper, and so when I graduated, and I often joke I have a degree in reading, I … my only marketable skill, in order to get a job that had some aspect of creativity to it was doing very traditional old school layout and paste-up, and so … and that’s how I got a job. I was absolutely determined to live in Manhattan. I wanted to live in Manhattan. That was the only thing I can look back on the journey of my life and say that’s the one thing I knew for sure. Everything else was very much how could I do this? Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Am I capable enough?
But moving to New York required just the deep, deep desire to do it, and I had to figure out how to pay my rent, and so I really … I felt really bad about myself, and I didn’t have any confidence to pursue what I really felt in my heart I wanted to do, which was a combination of art and writing and music and a really creative life. More fine art than commercial art. But I only had my commercial art skills, and for the first 10 years of my life, I really floundered. I had very little confidence. I had very little experience, and just kept sort of going from rejection to rejection, and sort of failure to failure. I quite by accident ended up in the field of branding, and because my background growing up included working in my father’s pharmacy, I had had a relationship with brands almost as early as I could talk and walk, and had spent a tremendous amount of time in his pharmacy, spent a lot of time at the cash register helping him out, and really had this innate understanding of brands and how people shop and why they buy the things that they do.
His pharmacy was more of a general store than just a pharmacy. It was a general store with a pharmacy in the back, and so I found quite by accident … and probably serendipitously, that I was very good at branding. Almost as if it were a natural talent. So the second ten years of my career were building this career. Building this ability, and finding that I was really successful at it, and that began to help me build some confidence, and I talk quite a lot about how I’ve come to believe that confidence is really overrated. Dani Shapiro said this once to my students after her podcast when somebody asked her about being confident in life, and she felt that confidence was overrated and felt that most really confident, overly confident people, or very visibly confident people can often be kind of obnoxious, and felt that what was way more important was courage. The courage to take that step before you have any success. And I think all confidence really is, is repeated success at doing something over and over. You’ve done it before. You know it’s come out well. You expect that when you’re going to do it again, you’re going to do it well again. So what is really more important is courage. To take that first step before you know if you are going to be successful at doing something, and then confidence is built from there. But I think that because I started to feel somewhat more successful, and definitely more secure financially for the first time in my life. I then had a little bit more freedom to begin to do all the things that I had given up in pursuit of my branding career, which included writing and painting and drawing and creating things with my hands.
Tara: I love that. I love the transformation, and I love the reframe around confidence and courage. I know that’s going to be a big takeaway for people.
So shifting gears a little bit. I listened to the Creative Mornings presentation that you did on their podcast, and you said that if you’re not making enough mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks. So what are some of the risks and mistakes that you’ve made with the Design Matters podcast?
Debbie: Well, I think the biggest mistake that I made was underestimating how long I would do it, and I mean, I hope to be able to do Design Matters for the rest of my life. It’s one of the things that I feel most important to me, and really helps … has helped give me a sense of purpose for being alive. But when I started the show, I started it with this little fledgling phone line, and the sound quality was really terrible, so I had done these 100 episodes, and the sound is sometimes so bad, you can’t even listen to the show. So those, so I wish that I had taken it more seriously from the start, but it’s very, very … it’s … this is something that I tend to do in my life.
I don’t take things as seriously as maybe I could or should, just because I’m the one doing it, and so I wish that I had taken it a little bit more seriously or taken the effort more seriously, because those hundred episodes don’t really sound as good as I would like them to sound. That’s the biggest regret. Other than that, I didn’t have a logo for the show for the first … which is kind of ironic. I finally asked Armin Vitt to help me do that. I’ve never … I don’t think I’ve given the show my own sort of personal respect in the way that I probably should. It took me a really long time to get my own website. It took me a really long time to get my own logo. Armin Vitt has been really helpful in helping me do that. I … Maria Popova has helped me, my partner, Maria, has helped me really understand how to better talk about the show online and take the social media aspect of it a lot more seriously, because it’s a labor of love, and not something that I ever did to, for business purposes or to raise money or to make money. I probably have not been as diligent about building the brand, so to speak, as I have in my other work.
Tara: That’s fascinating, and very relatable.
Tara: So, you know, you just said that you haven’t ever done this for business purposes, but at the same time, I’m sure the podcast has had a big influence on your career, maybe on opportunities that have come your way. Can you talk about how the podcast itself has really influenced your branding and design career?
Debbie: Well, I don’t have any empirical today to say that because I did this, this occurred, but I think that it was my entree into the design discourse of our culture, and that has, because this show tends to travel far and wide via iTunes and Soundcloud and Stitcher and so forth. There are people that listen to the show that I never would have imagined would receive and be interested in it, and so I think that most of the invitations that I get to speak in different countries, most of the invitations I get to judge competitions come via people being exposed to me through the podcast, and so I think either that or my books, and both of those sort of happened consecutively, and so, or concurrently, rather, and so I think that … that it has helped introduce my thinking to the broader design community globally.
Tara: I might be a professional educator and expert, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning. When I’m ready to learn a new skill, the first place I go is CreativeLive. Check out this great class.
Alex: Anyone can benefit from learning to tell better audio stories. Whether you’re a reporter on the radio, or you’re an entrepreneur trying to tell an effective story about your business. In this workshop, what I’m doing is sort of unpacking what exactly is a story, how can you be effective in telling stories, and how can you lay them out in a way that they get maximum impact with your audience. You’re also going to learn a lot about the art of the interview. If you’re interviewing somebody, how do you make sure that the interview is engaging, is informative, has moments of emotional resonance? I also have a formula that is actually, you know, it’s actually a mathematical formula that tells you how am I on the right track when I’m thinking about telling a story. I’m Alex Bloomberg, and this is Power Your Podcast with Storytelling.
Tara: So we really like to get into the nitty gritty here. So I want to know how you personally prepare for interviews, because I know how I prepare for interviews, but I’d love to hear, you know, what’s your process? When you’ve got a great guest, and you have had some amazing guests, what is your process for thinking about how you’re going to approach that interview, what you … what kind of background you want to know, what maybe you don’t want to know before you sit down with that person?
Debbie: I believe that my podcast, a podcast, any podcast that I do is successful when the guest looks at me and says, “How do you know that? How did you find that out? Did you talk to my mother?” I do a tremendous amount of research. I probably spend upwards of 10-12 hours preparing for the one hour interview. I … if they’re somebody that has published books, I like to read everything that they’ve written. If they have created work, I try to see everything I can possibly see. I am vigilant, and I love researching. I mean, how many times do we go internet surfing and feel guilty that we might be, so to speak, wasting time going into these little wormholes of research just for the fun of it? Well, I get to do it as part of my job. So I’ll start with a link, and that’ll take me to something else, and that’ll take me to something else, and before you know it, I’m, you know, at their birth certificate. So I just do a tremendous amount of investigation, essentially, trying to understand the entire arc of a person’s life. Where were they born? What were they like when they were kids? Where did they go to school? What did they major in? Did they get a graduate degree? Where did they work? Where did they … where is every place they’ve ever worked? What is everything they’ve ever made? And go from there.
Tara: Ah, okay. Do you think design thinking has influenced your, you know, the approach that you use to that research or to that preparation for your podcast?
Debbie: Probably. I use a lot of post-its.
Debbie: Yeah, I do think so. I mean, part of what I do for every show is essentially create a script, and I have probably somewheres between 40 and 50 questions prepared. And I think a good interview is like a game of pool. You not only want to have a good question and a great answer, but know where that answer might end up so that you can prepare where to shoot next, so to speak. And that’s what you want to do in a game of pool. You want to not only shoot a ball into a hole, but you want to be able to shoot the next ball into the next hole, so it’s very strategic, and so for me, I feel most secure when I am doing an interview that any answer that my guest would provide, in many ways, I already know the answer and know where I want to take the conversation next, or if they surprise me, I want to be able to at least know enough about the topic to be able to ask an interesting question. I never want to ask questions that my listeners would already know the answers to. I want to be able to constantly surprise my listeners with information about my guests that they might not be able to get otherwise all in one place.
Tara: Wow. That is a game-changing answer for me. I will be incorporating that for sure in my own process from now on. Do you have a team helping you out with the podcast?
Debbie: No. I do everything myself, except for the production. And the production is done by Curtis Fox. He’s been my producer since 2009, and he has really helped me evolve the show to where it is now. So he … his voice at the beginning and end of each episode, and he essentially takes what usually is about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes worth of tape and edits it into usually about half of what I’ve taped for. So if it’s an hour and fifteen, it’s half that. If it’s an hour, then he ends up with about 30-35 minutes, and essentially, he edits based on what he thinks is interesting. Am I getting bored while I’m listening to this? Or do I feel like it’s keeping my attention throughout? So he keeps it really snappy, really breezy, takes out all of my mistakes. I often make mistakes, and takes out the ums and the uhs and the likes and the kind of sorta things like that.
Tara: Fascinating. And do you guys collaborate on that at all? Or is that just, that’s his role?
Debbie: That’s his role.
Debbie: I do not … I do not listen to the edited podcast. I trust him entirely.
Tara: Wow. That’s amazing and awesome. Thanks for sharing that. All right, so one more question about the podcast, and then I want to ask you about the class that you have coming up for CreativeLive. How do you balance the needs of the podcast, and I know there are many, I mean, you said you prepare 10 to 12 hours for each guest, against the demands of the rest of your career, because you’ve got a lot going on as well with that, and you know, our listeners are always interested in, you know, how people balance things, how they manage their time, how they fit it all in. So can you talk about that a little bit?
Debbie: Absolutely. I don’t really believe in work/life balance. I feel that my, almost all of my work is a labor of love, and I love doing it, and I feel privileged to be able to do it, so I don’t feel resentful of the time that I dedicate to doing, I would say, most if not all of my work. I love doing it, and because it’s such a privilege, I … what I … I often say that I don’t find the time to do things, I make the time to do things. And one of my favorite slogans is that busy is a decision. You prioritize what you want to do in the order you want to do them, and if you don’t make the time to do something and say that you’re too busy to do it, what it really means is you don’t want to do it, and so I often urge my students to be really clear about what they say they can and can’t do because of busyness, because if they can’t do something because they’re too busy, maybe they should reconsider how much Game of Thrones they want to watch, or what they do while they’re watching Game of Thrones. And so I spend a lot of time doing the things that I love and have been really trying hard over the last three years or so to only do things that I love. I’m approaching my 55th birthday, and want to be really clear the older I get to only be doing the things that I truly, truly love, and then it’s just about joy and doing things with my whole heart.
Tara: Nice. Nice. And yes, busy is a choice. I love that. So you’re teaching a class here on CreativeLive. Can you tell us what we can look forward to with that?
Debbie: Yes. Part of what I discovered having that first 10 years of what I call experiment and rejection and failure, and then the next ten years really trying to make a career is how much how you feel about yourself influences your success, and so much of what we can and can’t do in our lives comes from how we edit, how we censor, and how we tell ourselves what we can and can’t do because of how we feel about what we can and can’t do. So this is a class called A Brand Called You, and it’s very much how to position yourself to create a career that you love, to create a life that you love, based on what it is that you love as opposed to what it is that you fear, and so it’s very much about how to create a point of view, how to develop a resume and a portfolio, and your own personal marketing campaign to go after what you want and get it.
Tara: Beautiful. So important. Absolutely love it. Well, Debbie Millman, thank you so much for talking with me today. This has been really great.
Debbie: My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Tara: Find out more about Debbie Millman at DebbieMillman.com, or find her podcast, Design Matters, on iTunes.
Next week, I talk with Cory Whitaker and Parker Stevenson from Evolved Finance. I turn the tables on them, and find out how they use financial reports and tracking in their own business to project cash flow, make hiring decisions, and set goals.
CreativeLive is highly-curated classes from the world’s top experts. Watch free, live video classes every day from acclaimed instructors in photography, design, audio, craft, business, and personal development. Stream it now at CreativeLive.com.
This has been Tara Gentile. Discover how to accelerate your earning as a small business owner with my free class, Revenue Catalyst, at QuietPowerStrategy.com/PPP.
That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., a CreativeLive podcast. Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes. If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend. It means the world to us.
Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode. Our audio engineer was Kellen Shimizu. This episode was produced by Michael Karsh. We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode.
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Tara: Hey everyone, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. I’m Tara Gentile, your host, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passions, and pursue what’s truly important to them.
My guest this week is Monaica Ledell, a sought after copywriter and digital strategist.copywriter and digital strategist. In the last decade, she’s helped her clients create nearly $10 million in revenue, and worked with personal and entrepreneurial giants like Lisa Nichols, Jaime Tardy, Jonathon Fields, and Author Benjamin. She’s the president of Truth Hacking, and unconventional branding and sales positioning company that builds profitable, results-based brands, and the creator of Mommy Breadwinner, a blog for working moms who want more play and dough.
Monaica and I talk about her process for creating stories and brands that sell, how she connects with clients who don’t have time for your content marketing, and how she divides her time between client services and business development. Monaica Ledell, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. Thank you so much for joining me.
Monaica: Of course. What an honor and a privilege.
Tara: Absolutely. Thank you. So let’s start off by talking about how you got into copywriting and branding. What kind of drew you into this work?
Monaica: Well, it was by accident, because plans in my life just don’t work out when I make them. You know, like life plans? I can make lots of business plans, Tara, but … but doing life plan stuff, like it just always takes its own kind of angle and twists and turns, so I was in another business, it really wasn’t working out. I was down in Mexico at an event. This is ten, eleven, twelve years ago, and actually, eleven, and I meet this guy who I thought had all the answers, and he really did at the time, and he became my mentor. I just wanted to know how to be successful, and so this guy ended up becoming my mentor, which is a story in and of itself, and I didn’t fall into copywriting or anything like that, although my high school AP English teacher told my parents as a senior I could write romance novels at the time, but anyway. So he … this guy called me one day, Tara, and he said, “Monaica, I’m mentoring you, but I want to do something different.” And I said okay. And I, you know, I’m in my early twenties, and he said, “I want to teach you sales.”
And I said, “Well, I don’t have any interest in learning sales, David,” and I didn’t say it like that, but that was basically the gist.
And he was like, “No, I’m going to teach you this, and it’s the way it’s going to be, because if you don’t know how to do this, then you’re not going to be successful in business, but if you do know how to sell, you can go anywhere. It doesn’t matter what happens in your life or your business.”
And I said okay. Because it was contingent. Like this guy was not going to mentor me if I didn’t do it his way. So as I grew in that mentorship, things just started to happen. So I started doing email copywriting when it really became a thing. So in some ways, I guess I’m kind of like a little bit of a veteran, which is strange, but anyway, it’s the truth. And we just started using other tools and I was adopting them as I was learning sales, and that’s really how it all came about.
Branding was a different story, if you want me to tell you that.
Tara: Yeah, please.
Monaica: Yeah, so what I realized over the years, after doing a ton of launches, you know, because you kind of get into this thing, and you’re like, I mean, we were using Constant Contact at the time, right?
Monaica: I mean, that’s all there was, really, and besides like just sending things through, like, your computer, you know, on a mass email list, which we would never do anymore, right? But what I realized through the years after doing all of these launches and producing so many people and products and services and pitching them out into the world is that you could have a great performing ad, you could have all of the strategic thingies on your website, like I got the opt-in here, and I got this here, and it looks good, and it’s on the right hand, and the blah, blah, blah, right, and then you could have like a highly-targeted ad with Google ads or even Facebook now, and everything could still underperform, right? Or it could perform at subpar levels, so it was like what’s the deal on that? If they’re following the quote/unquote marketing, internet marketing rules, why is this happening? Right? Well, the brand is off, and when you talk to high-level brand, I mean, sorry, funnel experts, they will tell you if you don’t have your story right, like the whole thing is going to underperform. So that’s when I started to be able to really step into my creative juice and my psychology background and go, ah, I know what makes people tick, I can get them to move, right? But then the … the brand piece goes further, because it’s layered, Tara, and so you know, over time, what I developed was a really incredible skillset, which is how do you create market disruption? Right? How do you actually take this amazing, genius individual who has all of these talents, and how do you help the world make sense of who they are.
Tara: Mmm, okay. We need to dive into that a little bit further.
Monaica: That’s okay.
Tara: Really good. So what is your thought process when you’re trying to figure out how do I make the world make sense of this person or this brand or this company or this idea?
Monaica: Well, sometimes, I tell people, I really, what I really have is human investigative company, right?
Monaica: I do a lot of upfront work, and to this day … now, I don’t know if I’ll always be able to say this, but I can now, so I do, but I always preface it with this, to this day, I’ve never been wrong about a brand, ever, not once, yet. And I just dig and I dig and I dig, and I get to know somebody. I mean, like when I kick off, and I start with a client, Tara, I start with, “So where were you born? What was your dad like? What was your mom like? What kind of house did you grow up in? Were they married?” You know? And we get all the way up to kindergarten, and we’ve probably been talking for a half hour before we get up to kindergarten. So I have to know the whole story, and many, many times, I’m the first person who’s ever got the whole story. And then there will be this … there’s this piece that like how do you quantify it? Right? Like, I see people like my clients in their creative genius, and they get into that zone, right? Where they’re just so connected. You know, like when you’re just writing or you’re doing something or you’re singing. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you’re like … like time literally stops, okay? You know that feeling, right? And so you know that that’s the zone. I learned from this woman who is a, I don’t know, some sort of specialist in this kind of zone area. She says, and I believe her, that most people in the world only get to experience that a couple of times in their life, and when I was sitting in this really private, ten-person kind of mastermind two years ago, I thought to myself, “Man, I’m freaking lucky as hell, because I get to feel that like several times a week,” and then, of course, that high, ambitious entrepreneur was like, “Hey, how can I feel that every day?” Right? But when you get into that place, there’s this intuition that happens, and you’re like, eh, they’re holding back, or they’re not clear, and so my job is to help them get really, really clear.
Like, the whole crux of this one individual’s brand, who is a huge success story for us, right? And as so many of our clients are. I get down to about … we get up to about five, you know, and she’s making coffee and she’s waiting for her daddy, because her daddy is a … she’s using the terms daddy, her daddy is a grass farmer in Texas, and she’s living with her grandma, and anyway, and I just kept pressing and pressing and pressing, and I’m like, “So what did you do when you would wait for him to get to work,” because they had this house on this property and he would come into work in this house, and she said, “Well, I would make coffee.” And now I’ve got the footage rolling in my head of this little, tiny girl, who’s so ultra-responsible, making coffee for her dad at five years old. And I said, “So, did you drink it?” You know, like I’m looking for every detail, and she goes, “Well, as a matter of fact, I would.” Would you put cream and sugar in it? She goes, “No, I took it black.” And so it’s all of those little details that start to come together where you really start to get fully immersed in a human being, right? Who they really are? In addition to that, I do tons of interviews. So I don’t want to just take their word for it. Like, I’m interviewing people on their behalf. Like, I want to know how the world sees them.
And so there are these other, you know, brand experts who kind of DIY it, and they’re like … and there’s nothing wrong with this, by the way, because it can get you started, but it’s like so, go ask people what they think of you. All right. Well, the problem with that, and if you have a background in psychology or you’ve experienced this, you would know, is that when two people get into a conversation like that, it’s pretty vulnerable. So Tara, tell me what’s awesome about me. Right? And like … like what are my gifts and blah, blah, blah. Like, those are uncomfortable questions to ask, for starters. Secondly, you’re going to be put on the spot, so it’s not like, you know, human nature doesn’t want to come back and be like, well, you know, you, you know, I think that these are your gifts, but you’re going to kind of shade it and tell me what you think I want to hear, even if you’re up front, because it’s just … it’s just too vulnerable, and then whatever you’re telling me, even if it’s like amazing, 100% truth, I’m probably only going to hear about of that and be able to interpret it, because it’s vulnerable for me to accept that truth and reality about myself.
So when I say we run a human investigative company, I’m doing a whole lot of up front work to talk to these people and figure out where their true genius is, and then it’s about putting the magnifying glass in the right spot. Because I could be like, “Oh, you’re the most amazing author in the world,” and a lot of our clients are, but like is that how we really want to step out there in the world? Or is it the fact that they do this, instead, and then secondary to that, they’re an amazing author? Right? We have to find that white space in the marketplace and put them right there, so that now they have their own segment of the market that they’ve just swooped up and taken, nobody else owns it. Does that make sense?
Tara: Yeah, it does. Okay, so you’ve … you’ve talked about your interview process with a client. You’ve talked about sort of the interview process that happens with their clients. And then you mentioned, you know, where … where do you put the magnifying lens, how do you find that white space in the market, and that makes me think that you’re also doing a good bit of market analysis, sort of as a three-prong approach. Is that true?
Monaica: Yes, we do do that piece, too.
Tara: So what does that look like?
Monaica: Well, I’m doing … I do a couple of things. First, I research within the marketplace, and then I research just outside of the marketplace, because sometimes, a client comes in, and they’re like, “I want to be here,” but where they really need to be is over here, right?
Monaica: Which is a totally different spot. And so if I were to just go into their competitive market and look at it, we’re leaving out a humongous opportunity here. You have to really look at … you have to be able to dive deep, not only within a client, but within a marketplace, and also look at something globally. And then you have to be able to theorize, this takes me back to like psychology research college days, what would be the domino effect if we theoretically put somebody right here instead?
So I had a client, this is a really good example, it just was very plain as day. She’s at the top of a network marketing company. At the very top. She’s a veteran. She’s been there for a long time. She makes a hell of a lot of money. She travels the world. Everybody knows who she is. And so she’s at the very top of this network marketing company, and we get into some of the competitive research, and we’re looking at who her competitors are, like you know, other competitors within the network marketing industry and some of the other personal development. Something just wasn’t sitting right, you know. And so as we talked and talked and talked, I finally … we got down to the truth, and she was like, “I think I figured it out, where my resistance is.” And I was like, “What is it?” Because I’m just trying to get her feedback about the market. Like where are her creative boundaries, right? I’ve got to push her to this edge and this edge to figure out where her creative boundaries are. And she’s like, “I don’t really resonate with anybody in my market.” And I was like bingo. Okay.
So then we went in a totally different direction, right? And she was so excited and enthusiastic about that, because she doesn’t really feel like she fits in over there, and the truth is, she really doesn’t, but it was this whole discovery process. So then we go to have fun and say, okay, so if you got to pick, where do you want to be? And I think people forget that, too. Like, it’s not just about talking to an expert or a coach or a friend and saying hey, you know, this is what I want, help me create that, what do you think, right? I’m sorry, what do you think? Tara, what do you think I should do? What do you, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, right? What’s your advice? The truth is you get to pick.
Tara: Absolutely. And daunting. But awesome.
Monaica: It is, yeah.
Tara: All right. Let’s pull back a little bit, because I could go way down the rabbit hole with you with this … with this particular topic. We could talk about this all day. So I want to … I want to come back to as you’re starting your business again. What kind of misconceptions did you have about starting your business and maybe what kind of misconceptions have you had in growing your business?
Monaica: Okay, well, I think probably the biggest misconception is like I have this public mentor. I mean, he was known in some spaces, authors, coaches, you know, all these other things. He was a protégé of Bob Proctor, and so I make a lot of money for him. I make a lot of money. He teaches me sales. It was the scariest thing that I ever went through in my life to learn how to sell and influence people, right? And … but I learned I actually was pretty gifted at it. I didn’t know it. He just kind of helped me uncover that. I think that’s true of probably a lot of people?
At any rate, so I decide it’s time for me to go out on my own, and that was perfectly fine decision. I mean, it was scary in its own right, I weighed the pros and cons, and anyway, I left, and I started to do my own thing, which was consulting at the time, and I just kind of thought, well, because I was in these inner circles meeting with all of these high profile people, the clients will just come, and the clients they did not come, Tara. They just … they just like didn’t show up. I’m like why aren’t people knocking at my door, I don’t understand. What’s going on here? Don’t you guys remember who I worked with? You know, you make a couple calls, and it just doesn’t happen like that. Like there’s a whole new hustle that happens when you shift gears in a business, and it actually took me a while to accept. That, and then once I did, I was like oh my God. Like, let me tell you what I actually did, Tara, I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, and I don’t know if this is that big of a deal, I just don’t think I’ve ever shared it. I didn’t really work for like a year. I was just like yeah, I’m just gonna let it like morph into its own thing, and like … like let the universe direct me, or what … I don’t know what I was thinking, but like at the very least, I should have kept my feet busy, like, doing something. Like go get a job at Starbucks. Just stay in it. Do something. I didn’t do anything. Partially because I didn’t have to, right, for that year. The pain wasn’t there. So the pain’s not there, you just kind of like yeah, do what I want, right? Or the motivation’s not there. I really thought it would just manifest all by itself, and it just didn’t. And so I get down to a year, and I’m like okay, I really … I haven’t done that, and then I had to learn marketing, and there’s a difference between sales and marketing, and I didn’t understand what the true difference was.
Tara: Can you talk about that difference? Because most people don’t.
Monaica: Yeah, I mean, so I thought I could write some emails and I can convert. And to this day, if you give me an email list or a leads, I don’t have problems converting leads. I have like an insanely high close rate. It’s like 86%. It’s like ridiculous, right? People think that I’m lying. Or I’ve had men, and not knocking on men at all, it’s just the only people who have accused me of lying have been men up until this point. But … but like who do you have to email to? Where’s your list? How did you build that list? That’s all marketing, right? Like, it’s getting out there. It’s running ads. It’s figuring out how to do it. It’s figuring out what your niche is. It’s … I mean, it’s like oh my gosh, marketing is this whole ‘nother Universe, right? And for awhile, it was like I’m just going to go gangbusters, and I’m just going to do everything, and you know when you do that, and you make those kind of decisions … when you’re trying to grow a business, which is the second part of the question you asked, you really do nothing well. Or not … even if you’re able to like kind of like C level it, like I’m getting a C in marketing, nothing really takes shape that quickly. Like if you were to just really narrow your focus, and go I’m just going to do this one thing, and I’m just going to dominate it.
Since … since that time, what I’ve learned is that I always have five things in the hopper. If I have three, it’s still a little dangerous to me, because I used to ride out the waters of the ocean on my silver bullet, right? So when I say focus on the one, focus on one, get it up, but then get two and three up pretty quickly, and four and five, right? And so I always take this five-pronged approach. When I’m working with a client or when I’m working on my own business, because I can’t totally know if something’s going to over perform or underperform. Like, I could think I have the best darn opt-in and like this video’s going to be amazing, right, and like nobody wants it. So what do you do then? How do you handle that? Well, I don’t want the silver bullet. That’s too dangerous for me.
Tara: Yeah, absolutely. So let me ask you … so you’ve essentially got like plan A, B, C, D, E, right, if you’ve got five things in the hopper.
Tara: When do you, or do you ever pull back on one of those things? You see it’s underperforming, or you see something, one of the other things is way over performing. When do you choose to narrow your focus, or do you choose to narrow your focus?
Monaica: Well, again, I credit … you know, you get into college, and you’re like, oh, this is all, like, worthless. I mean … you know what I mean? Like, I’m not going to use this stuff. Western Civ? How am I going to use this out in the world, right? Well, who knew that I would be studying Seneca some day on my own as a little hobby? I don’t know. Anyway. Anyway. So I … what I … what I learned, and again, it was in these upper level psych classes and some of the statistics and things is that, you know, you can’t just pull back after like a week. Like, you’ve got to give some things some time here, or it’s not going to work. I’m not talking about, okay, obviously, you just spent $500 on Facebook and it’s not performing, like let’s give it six months and let’s just keep wasting money. That’s not what I’m talking about. If it’s just glaring, that’s so in your face, well, you need to pivot right away, right? But … but do you actually pull back and just stop Facebook? No. You just pivot, right? You just start tweaking. Can I get … I always tell clients, and they … then they sound hopeful, because they’re like, oh, I want a 50% conversion rate. I want a 67% conversion rate, because you’ve written landing pages that have converted that high. Well, yeah, but look, I’m looking for the 1%. If I have a 1% conversion rate, I have something to work with, Tara.
Monaica: If I have 0, I have nothing to work with, right? And so sometimes, you have to accept that that’s part of the journey. Pulling back entirely is just when it’s obviously glaring, right? Like it’s just not working. But otherwise, I like to let things germinate for 90 days to 6 months. I mean, you can’t go heavy at PR and get turned down twice, and this has happened to many of my clients, and they’re like, well, I’m just going to, you know, not invest in PR anymore. Why? Like it’s … there’s nothing hotter that’s going to give you more oomph in your business than PR. It’s like the most undervalued marketing strategy ever, right? Like, it’s going to take awhile, so you’re going to get turned down, but like, you know, it only takes once to get into Marie Claire or CNN Money, and I’ve been featured in both of those, right?
Tara: Awesome. All right. Let’s … let’s talk specifically about how you’re generating revenue right now, because I want to make sure that people understand, you know, how your business is actually set up. So what are all the ways that you are currently bringing in money into your company?
Monaica: Well, lately, I’ve been inventing new ways, and it’s been working, so I encourage anybody who’s wanting to invent new ways of earning money in their business to do so. I … most of what I do is this brand sales positioning. Okay? So again, those words for me are synonymous in the marketplace. They should be. People should be teaching it that way, although they’re not. I learned how to merge creative with strategic, right, and layer in all that revenue. So the main way that I make money is by building these incredible sales platforms for people, or launching these incredible brands out to the world. There are other ways, then, that I realized … I got burned out on consulting, Tara, and I was like, uh, I’m just going to do this process, because if they would go through this process with my entire team, me being at the helm, right, but then they get to touch some of the other team members, they are going to come out so much further on top, which is the truth, but then I wanted them to be done, and I realized that the clients are always going to come knocking again, and really, like, that’s where your true revenue is.
I mean, again, we have high-end programs, but the money is in the repeat customer, and so it’s been an unraveling for me, because I consulted for so long that my company in August will turn 3. It’s not even that old, right, and we’ve done well in less than 3 years, but these clients are going to come back, and you need to be able to service them, right, with something that gives you joy, or in … is … and provides value for them. So while I just wanted to be a brand identification company, and you know, do some copy writing and launching stuff, what I realized is that I really needed to move into brand-building, because we are very skilled at that. I’ve run national campaigns many times, and so we do copy writing, we do copy editing. Like, if you just need sales conversion editing, right? And that was something I kind of fought, but then I realized how beautiful, like, if they want to write their own copy and become skilled at sales copy, they should, but maybe they just need somebody to come in to edit it for higher conversions. Okay, cook, we can handle that, too, right? We can do that high-end brand platform. I also, lately, started pitching these strategic sales and marketing plans where I just come in for 90 minutes and I leave and I develop a plan for you. You know, we talk for 90 minutes, I leave, I develop this incredible plan for you that you can ride on for the next 6 to 12 months. People are loving it. It was a total test. I didn’t know if I could sell it and they would buy it, but they totally do. And it’s easy, easy, easy work for me. It’s like drinking water, and it really gets them going. Those are really the core things.
And then my husband has a design company where he does a lot of like sales page, landing page, web development and design, right? And little Facebook design stuff, just all of that, and so because we’re married, I get to refer him a lot of business, and he gets to help me out with a lot of cool clients, and we get to work together, and so then we’ve got that income coming in, right?
That’s mainly the core ways that we generate money.
Tara: Okay, that’s … that is perfect. That’s exactly what I needed. Now, you mentioned your team. Can you tell us what your team looks like right now?
Monaica: People are usually surprised when I tell them this that our bench is now about 19 people deep.
Monaica: They’re like, “What?” I’m like yes. They’re like, “But you have a brand new company.” I’m like I know. But there’s a genius behind it, and it was because of another mentor who taught me this, and he … he’s a really credible guy. He sold his last company for half a billion dollars, Tara, and he told me two things that changed my life, and one of those things was don’t ever have people step out of their genius. Ever. He has like twelve companies now that he owns, and he’s like in his mid-70s, okay, and I’m like don’t ever let people step out of their genius. He’s like, “Yeah, like the Toyota way.” Like just pile people down, like a VA, with a bunch of skills that they don’t actually have and get them to develop it. No, no, no, no, no. You keep people in their genius all the time, 100% of the day. So like video guys does only video. Audio guy does only audio. It’s not that video and audio … I could probably find one guy to do both, it’s just that we found two guys, and they’re amazing at each one, and so we just keep them there. Copy, storytelling, Kyle, he does just that. I could give him other things so he could earn more money within our company, but I don’t. So I think it’s really important, and this way of doing business has never failed me. Like, in fact, people are so happy, Tara. You know why? Because they’re in their passion, they’re in their gifting, and it doesn’t mean that they can’t pursue other things. Like, I’m totally pro them doing that. I have the most incredible project manager in the entire world. Like, I love this woman. I would be drowning if it were not for her. She has an ROTC background, she has a Master’s in Leadership Development, like, she’s incredible. Like, I’m so lucky to have her, right, and she … that’s her gifting, but she wants to try lead gen, because she has an interest. Well, then I let her play, because I don’t know if something else is going to spark, but her core … we have other lead gen things that we’re doing, so it’s not like I’ve let her like step out of her genius, but the distinction is she’s playing, and that’s okay. You know, I think it’s okay to let people experiment, because our company has been built, the way I wanted it designed, was that if you put … it’s an us company, not a Monaica company, and if you put value into this company, it should output dollars to you, right?
Monaica: So the more value you add, the greater amount of, you know, money you’ll make here.
Tara: I love it. It sounds like you guys have a real value for flexibility, too. Personal flexibility, team flexibility, structural, flexibility. Would you say that’s true?
Monaica: Yeah, totally. I just … I don’t want people to feel handcuffed. I don’t want them to get up … you know, we don’t become entrepreneurs to like hate our jobs or our businesses, you know?
Tara: Yeah. Absolutely. So the clients that you work with are high-performing clients, and they’re not the kinds of people who get wooed by content marketing or email marketing necessarily. You know, they’re busy people, right? And they don’t … they’re not going around reading your blog, maybe. So how do you … how do you, and how does your team connect with the right people for your business?
Monaica: Our business is 99% referral. I tell people … is it okay to get a little cheeky here?
Monaica: Okay. I tell people, you know, I should be in this to make money, right? Of course, I’m in it to impact the world and change the world, because our clients, 100% of them are doing incredible things in the world and impacting the world in a good way. That goes without saying, but what I really, what like really gets me going, Tara, is like I’m a total whore for testimonials, okay?
Tara: I love it.
Monaica: Like … like, I let clients know I am here to help you have an extraordinary experience. I am so good at that courtship piece, and being able to carry it through the entire time. I took the Five Love Languages, and I broke it down, and I know this is an unconventional way of talking about how do you get clients, right? But I … but this is the truth. I broke it down, and I was like how can I incorporate each one of these five love languages into our business, right? For our clients. Because I want them to experience me being all in, because I want my client to be all in, right? And so they start having such this incredible experience that they’re like holy cow, then the referrals come, and the start talking about you. You know, let’s give them something to talk about. That’s exactly what we do, and I’m just really good at doing that, and … but I’m always trying to like up level that in a bigger and bolder way. I would say almost all of our clients end up becoming good friends. They’ve invited me into their homes. I get packages on my doorstep. I don’t … these are unsolicited packages, and then I get this text like, “Did you get your gift?” And I’m like what? And like I got a soda machine in the mail, and it’s like epic. It’s like amazing, and my kids are like oh my God, I got a soda machine, you know, and I’m like, I know, this is awesome. You know, they’ll send me flowers. I’ve had them send me organic, like, grass-fed full frozen meals that were like a couple hundred dollars, you know. Like just ridiculous stuff for them to reciprocate. It’s just a beautiful experience when you can do that, and they just … they naturally want to send clients to you, because the people that these influencers hang out with, well, and everybody, right? But their circle, like they want to share that, and they want those people to have another incredible experience, right? So if you can create the extraordinary for somebody, you’re going to get referrals.
Now, that will only take you so far, and it’s pretty … it’s passive. Like not a lot of control in that. Like you can’t … kind of hard to anticipate. I mean, you can look at trends. Like, oh, I might get 10 referrals this month. That’s not likely for us at this point. I mean, that would be a whole lot, because we don’t really serve that many people over the course of a year. You could look at trends, but there’s no real control in that, so at the same time, I’m being a smart business woman by saying how can I actually go replicate some sort of funnel experience that would be extraordinary. Not like totally douchey. You know, like, and I’m a funnel girl, right? I’ve created a million of them, but like I don’t want to just take people through the tripwire and to this and to that and blah, blah, blah, blah. Like how can I just blow it out of the water so that I can maybe draw in these clients? And it’s just barely starting to happen. They’re not coming into our higher level package, but I can … I’m quick on my feet, and so I have designed a lower level package that’s still really incredible, and this is literally within the last 90 days, and that’s selling really well, almost every time. So it’s happening, but I would say that it always goes back to creating extraordinary experience for somebody.
Tara: I love that. I love that. I love the idea, too, just to kind of back up for a second of translating the Five Love Languages into a way, like giving … having that as your structure for creating your client experience or your funnel experience. I think that’s absolutely brilliant. So can you talk a little bit about how you divide your time between being the executive of your business and actually providing client services? How much, you know, on an average day, you know, how much time are you spending on executive functions, how much time are you spending on client services, that kind of thing.
Monaica: Well, I have another mentor helping me out with that one. Seriously. And he’s incredible. Okay. So I would say that at this point in the business and my career, I am head lead of creative. Nothing goes out the door without me seeing it, looking at it. I am, you know, my creative team is amazing, but like to give you some perspective, a client never knows this. Maybe I should tell them. We’ll go through 80 to 90 concepts before I finally pull the trigger on the one, and we never tell the client the other 89. I only give them the one concept that I said this is your brand and this is what we’re running with, right? And so I can kind of like make my team mad, because they’re like why don’t you like that, and I’m like, it’s not the one. I mean, you know, there’s a little bit of, like, kind of a romantic Mad Men thing going on, right? Like it makes you feel really cool when you think about it if you’re not letting things be sleazy. So there’s that piece. So I would say 60-70% of my time is actually being spent in creative with clients every single week. Maybe it’s closer to 60, because I’m also lead sales person, right? I mean, I am the strongest sales person on our entire team. No question about that. So I need to pick up all of that. And my mentor defines the creative and then the salesperson and then the CEO all differently, and that’s just the way he’s defined it. A lot of people will kind of merge CEO and sales in one, and that’s fine, too, but for me, he separated the three of them, and then I would say maybe 10%, I’m 5-10% spending on business development. I’m trying to change that, but what I have to find, and I have to be really particular, is a person that is like a me on the creative, right? Like we can really get into it. So I’m kind of like trying to bring my best friend, one of my best friends over. She’s a documentary filmmaker, and she does … she’s done some filming for some of our clients and she and I could do this together. She’s just like really busy, always on set, like traveling the world, so there’s that problem. But I think that if … what I’m learning to do is delegate up, right? So my tendency is Monaica can just take on the world and do everything. Well, I can’t. I mean, that’s ridiculous and it’s not effective and I’m six months pregnant, so that’s not really going to work out. But if I can really empower the team, and people talk about it, you know, like what the hell does that mean? But like really, really, really, really put people in their genius, and then have that expectation of leadership, like I … not in a rude way, not in a mean, bitchy way, but like in an I expect you to figure this out, because I trust you and I believe in you, and you know what, I bet you can do a better job than me. And every time I let the reigns go and I have that conversation, like I bet you can do a better job than me, they always do a better job than I could have done.
Monaica: So some of that executive stuff, like, actually gets taken care of, which is nice. Like giving the reigns to my husband when we were doing this whole transition into Scrum, which I don’t know if your audience knows about, yet, but you can have a whole show about that.
Monaica: Right? Like I gave him the reigns as Scrummaster, which is like not a glorified project manager, but like a … he has a really important job. Well, like, I kind of wanted the job, and I’m probably going to be pretty good at the job, but you know what, Andrew can, he’s actually going to be better at the job when I really step back from it, and he’s been great, and it’s given him a leadership opportunity. So that executive stuff he can handle.
Tara: Yeah. So it sounds like, you know, and I suffer from this, I guess it’s a problem, it’s not really a problem, it’s a quality problem to have, right, where you’re just good at a lot of things. Like, it sounds like you’re good at a lot of things, right? But you have this, you have this value for genius, for being in the zone at the same time, and so it sounds like what you’ve started to recognize is well, yeah, you could be the Scrummaster, somebody’s going to be better at being the Scrummaster than you are. Just because you could be good at it doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone else out there that’s best for it, right?
Monaica: Yeah, there’s a lot of that. I mean, and that comes with some humility, you know, too. Like, hey, let’s not get your ego involved, Monaica. Not like you really have to. And like you really have to trust people, and … and I think that when you have, as so many creative do, I’ve found … okay, you may think this is, or maybe you agree, I don’t know. We naturally value excellence, and when you want to show up in the world, like you know you can dominate something, even if you’ve never done it, and you usually can, because the underlying value is excellence. But like give that to somebody else. Like you don’t have to like try so hard all the time, Monaica. Like … like, yes, I’m trying to reconcile that whole genius thing within myself, and it’s been an unraveling trying to figure out where am I actually best suited, and the truth is, I may find out it’s actually sales, and it’s not in the creative development, although I’m very gifted at it.
Monaica: I don’t know. I’m … I’m willing to look at it over the next year.
Tara: Yeah. It’s a really interesting process, I think. You know, wherever you’re falling, whatever decisions you’re wrestling with in terms of, you know, where you’re putting your attention or where you’re finding out what your genius is, I think the process for it is really interesting.
All right, so as we start to wrap up, I wanted to ask you about your side projects, because as we were doing research on what I wanted to talk to you about, I … my assistant just kept kind of uncovering all of these domain names that had your name attached to them, and so I’d love to find out more about that. You know, how are … you know, what part of you are you spending on side projects, or you know, other businesses? How does that affect your day-to-day, your week-to week? What does that look like for you?
Monaica: Okay, so full disclosure, I’m not really supposed to be quote/unquote working on my side projects, and I know that we’re in like the same group with, you know, same group of people in this two group mastermind. However, I can’t get it out of my system, and you know what, Jaime knows I’m going to do exactly whatever I want to do.
Monaica: So here’s what happened, okay? Quickly. Five years ago, six years ago, I’m with this client, we’re at the Oprah show thing trying out in Georgia. She just wanted me to be in Atlanta with her. I wasn’t doing it. Hell no. I’m not going to go try out for Oprah’s show, like OWN. I don’t know what I’m doing. What would I do? I’m just there to support her, and like, anyway. So what happens is I get this idea, and it was Mommy Breadwinner, and it was something that was so reflective of me. I’ve always been the breadwinner. I thought I was going to marry a brain surgeon. I did not marry a brain surgeon. It still shocked me years later when I realized I did not marry a brain surgeon. I don’t know why that was so hard for me. I was not intuitively one of those women, although I wanted to be, that was like, oh, I want to just let my husband stay at home, and like, I don’t really want to take care of the kids, and I wanted a career. I wanted that stuff, but like I really wanted to be a mom, so that caused a lot of issues with us. Full disclosure, right? And so it took us a long time. We’ve been together for 15 years. We’ll be married 13 in July, and so it took us a long time to really get past that, and for me to realize that there are different seasons. I may not always be the breadwinner, but I’ve got to start taking control of my life. I’m not … I’m also not victimized by this, right? Like well, if he would make more money, I could stay home, or if … because you know, I’m not really a stay-at-home kind of girl. Like I get bored, right?
Monaica: Like I spent four hours on Sunday making a freaking alphabet box for my three-year-old that’s epic, mind you, right? It’s like total Montessori and epic, but like, you know, I get really bored, and so what was I going to do? And I know that there are other women who are conflicted, and I know that there are women that are not, they’re just like owning it, and that just wasn’t me, and I’ve also had to accept that. So where’s that balance? And how can, you know, and then I had to kind of decide what was I going to do, and so I tried to do a little bit of Mommy Breadwinner stuff, and then I just let it go, but I just couldn’t let it go. And then the only publicity I’ve picked up is not because I’m like an awesome brander. Like, apparently, the marketplace and publicity, they don’t care about that, but they care about me being Mommy Breadwinner. And so I thought, you know what, there’s something to this, and I just can’t let it go. I’m getting some market confirmation out of some of this. Like I recently, like, just got this plan together. I bet we spend, I bet I spend 10 hours on that a week. That’s not a lot for a side hustle. I’d like to spend more. But I just want to be … I want to teach women how to create more sales, and of course, we’ll drop in some sticky lifestyle content. It’s my experiment, and I never gave it my full. I never gave it my all. Now, 10 hours might feel like the all, but I’m investing a whole lot of money in this, as well, and a lot of time. Time that I’ve never invested before, right? So 10 hours is actually quite a bit for me to invest in a side gig. That’s not maybe all in, because I’m all in in the other business, because it’s the only thing that’s making money for us, right?
Monaica: Like Mommy Breadwinner is not making money, yet, but we just relaunched it. Like, I don’t know, less than 6 months ago. Money fixes a lot of things. Sales can fix an awful lot of things in your life and your business. And it’s okay, and how can I help women get okay with that comfortable … and get into that comfortable spot? And also not make them feel like they are doing something wrong. I think most women have been taught by … most successful women salespeople have been taught by men who have been taught by men. And again, this is not a male/female top thing. Like I’m not bashing them. I love men, okay, but those tactics don’t work for women, and they have this other, like, overwhelming intuitive thing that’s happening, and they have to listen to that if they want to be successful and make money.
Tara: Love it. Love it. Well, Monaica, what’s next for you?
Monaica: Well, a baby.
Monaica: That’s really my focus. I mean, I’m trying to hustle and do all these crazy things before the baby gets here to see how much time I can take off, right? So that’s what I’m working on right now. And then I want to blow this out of the water. I mean, of course I do. Have you heard me talk this whole time?
Monaica: I’m super motivated. Actually, I’m finally ready to kind of step outside, behind the people, and I think I’m ready to come out publicly, just to say, yeah, you know, I’ve done some really cool shit, and you should maybe know about it.
Tara: Love it. Monaica Ledell, thank you so much for joining me.
Monaica: Thank you.
Tara: Find out more about Monaica and her team at TruthHacking.com. My guests next week are husband and wife duo, Jason and Jody Womack. I speak with Jason and Jody about the importance of offline relationship building in an online world, the unique challenges of wooing corporate clients, and what they do to create momentum when even they get stuck.
That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., a CreativeLive podcast. Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes. If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend. It means the world to us. Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode. Our audio engineer was Kellen Shimizu. This episode was produced by Michael Karsh. We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts, so you never miss an episode.