Collaboration, Fierce Loyalty, and Being Boss With Kathleen Shannon

Kathleen Shannon of Being Boss on Profit. Power. Pursuit.

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”Kathleen Shannon on Building a Brand with Fierce Loyalty” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_pinterest=”true” ]

Tara: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. I’m Tara Gentile, your host and together with Creative Live 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. Today on the podcast I’ll be talking to Kathleen Shannon, co-founder of Braid Creative and co-host of the popular Being Boss Podcast. Kathleen transitioned her career from graphic design and art direction and an advertising agency to entrepreneurship and branding for creative entrepreneurs.
She created the Braid Method to help entrepreneurs blend who they are with what they do. Now, Kathleen is focusing her attention on Being Boss and growing her agency to run without her at the helm every day. I spoke with Kathleen about balancing both Braid Creative and Being Boss, how an episode of Being Boss gets creative from start to finish and how she and co-host Emily Thompson planned to grow what was just a podcast into a full-fledged business venture. Kathleen Shannon, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Kathleen: Thank you so much for having me.

Tara: Absolutely. I want to start off by talking about the pursuit side of things. You’ve said you believed that creatives can best find success, happiness and a nice paycheck by blending who we are with what we do. Can you just talk a little bit about how that’s played out in your own life and business?

Kathleen: Absolutely. This is the part that it’s really probably philosophical foundation that drives all the very specific actions and behaviors that I take in my business. Really, blending who I am with what I do is really what I call personal branding and I think that we’ve all heard the term personal brand. What that means for me is just being who I am a 100% of the time. To get really specific, I found my personal brand while working a day job but I started a blog where I started talking about things like remodeling my home and learning how to cook. I was really becoming known for being a story teller and talking about also things like work and so I quit my day job and I started blogging about what it was like to become a freelancer. I do not come from a family of creative entrepreneurs.
Everyone in my family has a pension. They have 401K, they have a steady day job, they have health insurance. I was a trailblazer whenever it comes to doing what I was doing in the context of where I’ve come from. I started blogging about the adventure of working for myself and through that, I accidentally positioned myself as an expert in working for myself even though I had no idea what I was doing. With that, I started attracting my tribe of other creatives who are trying to figure it out along with me and I feel like everything in my business has really stemmed from that very first adventure of quitting my day job and really sharing the story along the way. I guess that’s what I mean whenever I talk about blending who we are with what we do is sharing the story along the way. Having your values, be your values in work and life and maybe not creating so much of a separation between what you do and who you are.

Tara: It also sounds like really finding your voice too.

Kathleen Shannon of Being Boss on Profit. Power. Pursuit.Kathleen: A 100% and I’ve been getting asked a lot lately about how to find your voice and my easiest answer is to use it. You find your voice by using your voice and you just got to mock through it and it might take years but try different voices on for size and try speaking loudly, try speaking quietly, try listening. There are lots of ways to use your voice but you have to use it to find it.

Tara: Yeah, I love that. I love what you shared about your definition of personal branding too because I think that a lot of people think having a, “personal brand,” means saying basically, “Look at me, look at me, look at me.” I don’t see it that way and it sounds like you don’t see it that way and that instead it’s about really finding out what your voice is, what your message is, what your values are and using that to transfer from yourself as a person into a brand that you have as a business.

Kathleen: Absolutely. I think that we see a lot of extroverts with personal brands and I myself am an extrovert which often I feel really out of place amongst my tribe and probably even a lot of your listeners are introverts, I know that with Quiet Power Strategy. You’re really speaking to a crowd of people who feel like they haven’t been able to stand out amongst the noise but I don’t think that you have to be a loud extrovert even though that’s what I am, to have a personal brand. I think that it really is about just knowing what you stand for and standing for that a 100% of the time.

Tara: Yeah, I mean for me as an introvert, a very pretty hard core introvert, having a personal brand has allowed me to amplify my voice instead of having to say, “Look at me, look at me, look me.” I really, really appreciate that. All right, let’s talk a little bit about Braid Creative, you started Braid Creative with your sister Tara Street. How did that happen?

Kathleen: My sister and I actually worked together in advertising. She was the boss of me. She was my creative director for five years like a traditional day job. It was something that we kept a secret while we were working in the real world in advertising. Not on purpose but there is a stigma against working with family and I decided to quit my job in advertising. I felt like the landscape of advertising was changing and as a young creative I really didn’t know the difference between advertising and marketing and branding. As I started to learn the difference between those things, I realized that my heart was with branding and that my heart was with creative entrepreneurs. In advertising I was working with credit unions and small banks.
I decided to follow my heart which I know sounds really lofty but just to get very real about it, I wanted to use my talents to help people like photographers, designers, developers, coaches, really find our voice and make sure that their insides match their outsides. Making sure that the inside of who they are matches their outside brand and identity and even logo that they are putting out there. About a year after quitting my day job, my sister was becoming increasingly unhappy as a creative director and she had a really high powered job. On paper, everything looked amazing so she was working with an executive coach named Jay Pryor who is the best at what he does. He was like, “If you could be doing anything what would it be?”
Without hesitation she said, “I would be working with my sister.” About a week later we had a business plan developed, we had our identity developed, we had our process hammered out. We worked really fast on that and out the gates started working with creative entrepreneurs to help them with their own brand and business visioning and really bringing a lot of our agency strategy and experience to not smaller industry but to the solopreneur. I mean, it has been such a ride and we’ve been doing this now for five years and I love every day of it.

Tara: That is so awesome. What it’s like to work with your sister on a daily basis?Kathleen:

Kathleen: I get asked that a lot. It’s funny. My sister is seven years older than me and she’s pretty much always been the boss of me. Even since we were really little I would crawl into bed with her as a little kid. I hated being alone in my own bed so I’d crawl into bed with her and even on business trips at our advertising agency we would have separate hotel rooms and I’d sneak into her hotel room and watch TV and eat snacks with her all night. We’ve always really been best friends. There was a bit of a struggle and a shift that had to occur whenever it went from her being my boss to as being co-bosses together.
Many times I was paving the way into trying to do new things like creating ecourses or developing other digital products or trying a new way of doing things. We really are two sides of the same coin. We have a really fantastic short hand. I’m the extrovert to her introvert. I’m the right brain to her left brain. I’m the person who’s usually out there willing to take risks and to talk to a lot of people. She’s the person who is methodically and logistically hammering out the details. I mean, it’s been really good. It comes with its challenges but it’s totally worth it.

Tara: I love that. Who else is on your team then?

Kathleen: We’re all about blurring lines and my best friend Liz is our creative director and really just our right hand person. We couldn’t run Braid without her. She worked with us in the advertising agency as well so we raised her up into her creative career training her to pretty much be exactly like us, not in a bad way. She can do everything that we can do and then some which is amazing. She’s on our team full time. Then we have an assistant who is so much more than an assistant and really one of the best hires I’ve ever made. Her name is Caitlin Brehm. She contracts for us and just launched her own business doing SEO and content management. It’s been really great having her on our team. We also have a junior designer named Jessica who helps us with some of our daily design needs. For a while we had another designer on staff full time but she moved to New York and went on to work at another amazing place. That’s who is on the Braid team for now.

Tara: Okay, great. We’ll get to the other side of things, a little of that. How do you manage your team? Are there particular tools? Like meetings that you guys use. What’s your system for managing your team?

Kathleen: We’ve tried a lot of things over the years and what we have found works best for us is some good old Google Mail, Google Drive. We live and die by a to do list that is simply in our Google Drive. I tried switching my Braid team over to Asana recently and they were like, “Nope. I can’t do it.” They like their list in Google. What else do we use? My Google Calendar. I could not do anything without my Google calendar. Those are really the tools that we utilize in Braid Creative. Then really our own creative process so that isn’t really an application that was developed by someone else. It was our own process for working, from having to reinvent the wheel every time we work with someone new. It was a method that we knew that we could use and rely on to get the information that we needed in order to brand someone in a way that is authentic and true and meaningful to who they are.

Tara: Nice. I’m so glad that you brought up your own methodology or your own process as an important part of how you work with your team because I think a lot of people don’t elevate it in that way, they don’t recognize it in that way. I think that’s a real disservice to your business if you don’t see your own methodology as that valuable to the way you do business.

Kathleen: Absolutely. The way that I recommend to recognize your method I mean, for just a typical designer it is not anything that is particularly earth-shattering, it’s just being able to articulate it. One thing I recommend to people that I work with in finding their own method is to literally write down everything that happens with a customer from the time they land on your website to the time that you’re sending them their final invoice and what happens in between. How can you begin to efficiently collect information? Are there gaps in your process? Where are the pain points that you’re always struggling with?
I grew up in advertising as a graphic designer and that’s really what my original craft and trade was and maybe some other graphic designers listening to this may resonate but every time I start a new project I thought, “I’m not going to be able to do it this time. I’m not going to have a new idea. It’s going to suck. The client is going to hate it,” and really being able to rely on my own methodology, being able to explain to a client exactly what is going to happen from start to finish, really reassures them. It really keeps them from getting freaked out. They see my portfolio and they are inspired because they see beautiful work but they want reassurance that I will create that beautiful work for them too. That’s why I rely on my method almost as a sales tool to say, “Here’s how we’re going to get there.”

Tara: Yup, I do that exact same thing. That is perfect. How does Braid Creative generate revenue? What are all the different things you guys do that are bringing in money on that side of your business?

Kathleen: The bread and butter of how we make our money is with the Braid method. What that is is a two part deliverable that includes your business visioning. Really who you are, why you’re doing what you do, a dream customer profile and then we’re looking at your brand identity, what offerings you’re selling. Often times, that’s the part of your brand that will change the most especially as a creative entrepreneur, especially as you’re evolving and launching new things. We’re really trying to figure out a way to package that up in a way that feels cohesive. The word authentic gets used a lot but for the lack of a better word authentic and meaningful to who you are. We really specialize in personal branding so creative entrepreneurs who maybe are in business with themselves or one other partner who are relying on or seeing that who they are is an asset to what they are doing.
That’s really our bread and butter and our main source of revenue. Then, we work with about 12 to 15 clients per quarter doing the Braid method and then for a while I was doing one on one creative coaching. That’s really working with people who maybe are transitioning from working a day job, [inaudible 00:14:51] at their own job. Really people who just need clarity on what their business vision is and really just helping them get specific about what it is they actually want to be doing all day. I tend to see this in the coaching industry people saying, “I just want to empower women.” I’m like, “But what does that actually mean?” What kinds of conversations are you having? What are people hiring you to do?
Really, just coaching as really digging down and asking those questions since starting a podcast I don’t do as much of that and then we have a couple of other ways of making money which is the more digital product side. We have an ecourse which is probably the textbook philosophy behind our Braid method. It’s called the Braid method branding ecourse. It’s pretty much a DIY Braid method except that you’re not getting a logo and the visual aspect of what we do at the end of it but you are getting really the framework of how we gather information and you can do it yourself. That product is one that we poured our heart and soul into and really I’ve made it my primary job to push and promote that product and really get it out into the world because I feel like it deserves to shine out in the world.
Then I have a DIY coaching for creatives email subscription series which is four emails a week for four weeks and it’s really the kind of coaching process I take my clients through, the kinds of questions I’m asking them but again instead of one on one it’s a DIY product that you can do yourself. I think yeah, that’s it. We don’t have a whole lot of products. We really just wanted to focus on the one thing. We’ll sometimes try a couple of different things like for a while we’re dabbling in method making and really specifically helping people one on one make their methods. The Braid method itself where we’re branding other people tends to be the thing over and over again that gets us work.

Tara: Nice. Do you offer that at a flat fee? Do you make proposals? Is there value pricing? What does that look like?

Kathleen: It is a flat fee. Right now, it’s $6,000 for the full Braid method and sometimes for some people that seems like a lot of money. For other people it doesn’t seem like very much at all but we’re charging a photographer who is just launching their business $6,000 for the Braid method and we’re also charging Brené Brown who’s had over a 100 million hits on her TED Talk $6,000 for Braid method. It’s a flat fee and we’ve played around with changing the price on that but in order to just do our most efficient work, having that flat fee has been really useful for us. We found that staying in that range helps us really attract our dreamiest of dream clients.

Tara: Nice. Yeah, there certainly benefits to putting together proposals or doing value pricing or anything like that but there are a lot of benefits to flat fee pricing as well. I appreciate you pointing that out.

Kathleen: You know what I found is that with proposals, that’s where I started to get into dangerous territory of trying to reinvent the wheel or promising to do things that I don’t really want to be known for. What I want to be known for is branding and business visioning and coaching. I don’t want to be known for social media strategy and that’s like saying that I might start promising if I was doing an individual proposal.

Tara: Brilliant. Awesome. You also host the Being Boss podcast with Emily Thompson which is an awesome show. I know a lot of women, my clients, some team members that are absolutely obsessed with your podcast. What is it do you think about your podcast that engenders that kind of loyalty?

Kathleen: Wow, that means so much for you to say that and it’s so funny because whenever we first started recording the podcast I made a list called the Hot Shit 200 and it was 200 people that I would love to have on the podcast and you Tara were on that list. You were one of our earliest guest and I felt like it was such a huge accomplishment to have you on the show and then to hear you complimenting it and hear that your colleagues and peers are listening to it, I’m almost I’m speechless. I don’t know if you get this at all in your business because I feel like you just keep blowing up and I see you everywhere on Instagram and Facebook. It’s hard to perceive the loyalty that you’re sparking or the fan base that you’re creating but I think what really has attracted listeners to Being Boss is that it came from a really real place.
Going back to personal branding and going back to the pursuit it really is coming back to my roots of sharing the journey along the way. What happened is, Emily and I were getting together once a month anyway to talk business. I had a really hard time finding anyone who understood online business who is making the same amount of money that I was who knew how to scale in a way that I had a vision for and Emily soon became my business bestie, the person that I could confide in and ask for advice and be in it with. We were meeting once a month just casually having conversations and one day she was like, “You know what? I think we need to start a podcast. I think that basically we just need to record the conversations that we’ve been having about business.”
Those conversations often include chatter about our kids or talk about vacation and adventure and the things that we’re craving in life outside of work. We really just started recording the conversations that we were already having and I think that that kind of authenticity and truth behind what we were talking and vulnerability, really, really shines through in a way that people can connect with. At least I hope that they can connect with it.

Tara: Yeah, I mean sometimes the best strategy I think is almost to, this is going to sound terrible from someone who prides themselves on strategy but I think sometimes the best strategy is almost having no strategy. It’s not that you didn’t have a strategy because making the choice to say, “We’re just going to record what we’re already doing and we’re just going to be ourselves,” is absolutely a strategy but I think people when they are trying to come up with a strategy they think they have to invent something, to create something artificial. You guys created something that was totally real and you did so intentionally and by choice.

Kathleen: Yeah, I would be so curious to hear your thoughts on this, Tara, if you don’t mind me picking your brain for a second.

Tara: Sure.

Kathleen: What’s fun is we really did start it from a genuine passionate place, right? That’s real fluffy and good. I never expected for it to turn into a full on business. We’ve been doing operating agreements now. We have bank accounts. We have LLCs. We pulled in more money than I ever expected too so it’s become a full-fledged business and now we are getting very strategic and very intentional about it. In fact, tomorrow we’re launching our new website that will come with a blog, we have events. The website is now We’re launching a clubhouse. I mean, we’re ready for this to be the thing. It’s funny though because starting it from a really organic let’s just record our conversations and see where it goes to something very strategic, I’m so almost fearful of it losing the original flare to it. I’m afraid that what’s worked for us so far has been flying off the cuff and just being organic about it. If we get strategic about it, is that bad luck? It’s almost like superstitious how I’m feeling right now.

Tara: Yeah, I totally understand where you’re coming from on that. I’ve had a lot of clients that have dealt with that as well is that early success often feels like almost like a fluke because you’re not expecting it, you’re not planning for it. Then, how do you go on building on success that feels like a fluke. I think first of all you have to recognize it wasn’t a fluke like I just said I think you guys made really intentional choices about what you were doing even if on the surface level they didn’t feel strategic. Then, the next step of things is I think that you have to have a real strategic framework and that just simply means making a simple set of choices that define what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do.
I don’t think that being organic and creating things off the cuff is a bad thing. I think you just need to create a framework for it, a container for it. The four questions that I use to get people started on a strategic framework are, what do you want to create? How do you want to connect with people? Who do you want to create for and how do you want them to respond? What’s that value that you want to put out into the world with the change that you want to see? How do you want to help people become? Then, what are the ways that you guys connect best with people?
What are your natural strengths and advantages? Who are the people that you actually want to connect with and create for? That’s an easy one. You guys have that one down. Then the last one is more about, what action do you want them to take? I think if you answer those four questions really specifically, you create a space where you can be spontaneous and innovative and creative and off the cuff without it interfering with the strategic play that you’re making because it is the strategic play that you’re making. Does that make sense?

Kathleen: Totally. That reassures me. I feel like we’re on the right track because we have gotten very serious about doing this but then keeping those values in place that really come from those questions that you ask. A very specific example of this is part of Being Boss we created a Facebook group for our listeners and it quickly grew right now it’s at about 9,000 people in this Facebook group. It has exploded into something that I can’t keep control of. It’s gotten really spam-my but the original vibe of it and the reason why it’s grown so much is because it had that same kind of vibe that listening to our podcast does where this is a place where we’re in it together.
We can ask each other for help, very mastermind-y, very transparent, very open but at 9,000 people it’s almost impossible to manage that same vibe. Being willing to let go of the number is something that we’ve done and so that’s part of opening this more exclusive clubhouse that people often pay to join. I think that that’s us reconnecting to what is it that we want people to do and how do we want them to feel.

Tara: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. The Facebook group is definitely something that I know people are also obsessed with in addition to the podcast. I mean, seriously people tell me about the conversations that they have had in there. Like you said, these things can grow out of control very, very quickly and creating a space and putting a price tag on it where you can set expectations and you can say these are the rules and this is what you can expect from this group is something insanely valuable. I think you guys are going to be a smashing success with that.

Kathleen: Thank you. We’re really excited about it and really getting those good conversations about what are you reading, what are you learning about email marketing or content marketing. All the different things that we love and heard about. We’re excited to be having those conversations in a place that feels a little more not safe but just I mean, maybe a little bit more private.

Tara: For sure. I want to get a little bit more into the nitty-gritty of Being Boss in just a minute. You mentioned meeting with Emily on a monthly basis before you guys even started the podcast. You mentioned the Facebook group feeling sometimes a little bit like a mastermind. Is masterminding either in the traditional sense or in a more creative sense? Is that a part of the way you work, that way you think about your business?

Kathleen: No, actually it’s not. I’ve been invited to join a few masterminds and none of them felt quite right especially locally in person where I live because I run an online business and the needs of an online business are so different than the needs from a local retail store. I’ve always had a hard time finding a mastermind and in fact, Tara, I’ve stalked a lot of your different products that you’ve had and I’m like, “Okay, maybe this is going to be the year that I really invest in this higher learning and higher connection.” I’m still super interested in joining a mastermind. If anyone has any recommendations let me know.
For me, it just feels really risky. A lot of them are really expensive. Probably more so than creating a mastermind I want to create a community. Maybe if I join a mastermind or couple of masterminds and really see how it works, it’s something that Emily and I could create down the road but for now it’s really just traveling to hang out with people at conferences, traveling to hang out with people just as friends. For example, last week I was in Mexico with Sara VonBargen and a few other online buddies and we’re just talking strategy, we’re talking business but we were really enjoying it. The kind of impromptu masterminds and impromptu business buddy relationships have really worked well for me.

Tara: Yeah, that had worked really well for me originally as well and then the end of last year I realized how my network had stagnated. Part of that was my fault. A big part of that was my fault. I’ve named 2016 the year of the mastermind for me. We’ll chat after the show then because I can give you some recommendations.

Kathleen: Yes, thank you.

Tara: Yeah, awesome. Sweet, maybe we’ll tell people what happens later afterwards.

Kathleen: Perfect.

Tara: All right. How are you and Emily generated revenue with Being Boss right now?

Kathleen: Right now we’re generating revenue from sponsorships. FreshBooks, Cloud Accounting and Acuity Scheduling are our premier sponsors and they have been very generous with us. It’s so funny because I had never had sponsors before. I’ve been blogging for a long time and I always felt like that was selling out or that it was deluding my own brand but really engaging in those sponsorships have done nothing but give our own brand credibility and really the funds to make it happen the way that it has. I’m so grateful for them. What’s really cool about our sponsorships with them is that it actually converts. Our listeners are really using FreshBooks and they are really using Acuity Scheduling to be better bosses.
Earlier as part of your four questions, one of the frameworks we’ve given ourselves for taking on sponsors is will it help someone be a better boss. We’ve had a lot of people approach us and the answer was no. We said no to them. That’s the way that we generate revenue it’s with sponsors. Another way that we generate revenue is we bundled up my DIY coaching product with one of Emily’s email products called, “Get Your Shit Together.” We sell that on our website. We’re going to be launching our clubhouse which is a year long membership to basically a slack group. That also comes with things like secret episodes and custom worksheets just for our clubhouse members. Then other than that we’re working on a product with Paul Jarvis and Jason Zook right now.
We’re interested in building products but I recently talked to a friend of mine, Meg Keene who runs A Practical Wedding which is one of the biggest wedding websites in the world. She told me the sun is shining on you as sponsorships. She goes, “You need to really just focus on building that a little bit more and really building your brand and then you guys can make products in your sleep, right?” She said, “Maybe wait a year to make more products,” I thought that was just such genius advice because for me it was really scary relying on sponsor money whenever I could create something myself. It’s allowed us to create now a new website and launch that.
Launch the clubhouse. The main way is with our sponsorships. We also do yearly events so we’ve been to New Orleans and invited 75 bosses to come with us. That was last October. In April we’re going to Miami and another 75 bosses are coming. We decided to rent a yacht and ask FreshBooks if they’ll pay for it. They generously said yes. Basecamp is also supporting us there as well as Acuity Scheduling. Again, a lot of that is sponsorship driven but our guest do pay a little bit of money to help just pay for the logistics of all of it.

Tara: That is awesome. That is so cool. I love that you said about focusing on what’s really working right now. You’ve got it in your mind what the potential downfalls are of what is happening to be working right now but so many people worry for no good reason or let that worry make them unfocused or scattered. I love that while you’re keeping that in mind you’re also charging ahead with what’s really working and making the most out of it. I think that’s hugely important.

Kathleen: Exactly. I should also mention that Being Boss still goes hand in hand with Braid Creative and Emily’s company, Indieshopography. Honestly, it’s funny because now Braid Creative almost feels like my day job and Being Boss has felt like a side hustle a little bit. Braid Creative is now very much funding me personally like I still get paid a salary from Braid Creative even though all my intention and focus is going to Being Boss. On the back end of things it’s a little confusing and it’s included a lot of conversations with lawyers and accountants and business partners but my sister and I still split everything. I still split all my Being Boss income with her and she’s still splits everything in Braid with me for now. That’s another benefit of being sisters in business is that at no point am I like, “Is this unfair?” Because we’re sisters.

Tara: We talked about moving from a freelancer role to an entrepreneur role or a business owner role but included in that business owner role most of the time that we’re talking about that, we’re really saying in a CEO role but it sounds like you’re moving from a CEO or COO or CCO role into an owner role where you’re a little bit more hands off on the Braid side. Am I hearing that correctly?

Kathleen: That’s correct. My role in Braid Creative was the high end creative direction and coaching aspect of things. I do really great job of facilitating our conversations and getting information out of people. Then I do a really great job designing their brands and that’s something I don’t want to … It’s sad leaving your craft behind, leaving your roots behind but there are still tools in my tool box that will help me grow Being Boss in a huge way but yeah, I’ve definitely shifted from being one of the doers in Braid Creative to being an owner and now I’m doing more over in Being Boss now. Really learning how to delegate to a team so you’re asking about my team with Braid Creative, I definitely have a team of people at Being Boss too that help us get everything done.

Tara: Awesome. Let’s ask about that now. Really the question that I had about this is if you could walk us through, how an episode gets created? Not necessarily obviously not the how to but the step by step. How do you go from idea to reaching out to a guest, to editing, to final release? Maybe you can tell us who the different team members are you have that touch each episode as you go.

Kathleen: Yeah, sure. It might be easiest to start this chronologically when Emily and I first started Being Boss. Then talking about how we hired on to get help in some of the areas that we need help in. It started with Emily and I sitting down and it still works this way. Brainstorming a list of topics that we want to talk about and we maybe do quarterly planning like his. We’re about to move it to weekly but quarterly planning where we talk about basically our editorial content. We have a bucket list of things that we want to talk about. Then, about a week maybe three to five days before we record an episode I’ll shoot her a slack note and I’ll say, “Hey, what are you feeling this week? I’m thinking about either talking about partnerships or money.” I’ll give her a couple of options of things that we could talk about and we really see what we’re feeling.
I think that’s an important note is that we’re still talking about things that we want to be talking about. We’re not forcing ourselves to talk about things that we’re not interested in. Then we sit down. I put together an agenda so I outline the day that we’re recording. I outline when the launch date is. I outline what sponsors we need to have ads for and then really just a bucket list of topics and questions. If there are a few things I really want to make sure to hit on like maybe starting tweetables or ideas. I’ll type those out in full sentences just so that I can stay articulate. Otherwise, it’s just us having a conversation.
We started getting a lot of the guess that we got by we’re just naturally mentioning people that we admire and look up to. What we started doing is we had Emily’s assistant start emailing the people that we mentioned and just telling them, “Hey, we mentioned you in an episode of Being Boss. Would you like to come on the show?” We’ve gotten so many amazing guest including yourself, Tara, by doing that method. What’s cool about that too is that it eliminates the fear of rejection because someone else is making the ask for us which is pretty cool. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly asked some people myself to come on the show based on personal relationships or whatever. We’ve gotten amazing guests in that way then after we record this show we hand off our audio to our sound engineer who is also our web development and his name is Cory and he’s on Emily’s team over at Indie Shopography.
He edits everything together. Then my assistant Caitlin who is an SEO specialist and overall just genius. She writes out the show notes. She pulls out some of the tweetables. From there I design Instagram graphics and Facebook graphics really social media sharing graphics. I’ve recently started handing that off to our designer Jessica. Now she’s handing all the graphic components of that. The day that we launch we have to upload the files to iTunes, Sound Cloud, and Stitcher. We make sure to do all of that. One of our assistants does that for us now. The episode goes live.
We send out an email to our newsletter list and I recently took that over so it was one of our assistants writing it but I really want to cultivate and grow our newsletter list. I’ve started writing the emails myself and really talking about the key take aways I got from the episode and really why people should listen to it. Then we plug everything into our Edgar accounts which is like a social media library for Twitter so that those episodes never really die. That they are always being recycled out into the universe so that people can listen to them.

Tara: Nice. I just want to say we had Laura Roeder on I don’t remember what episode number but it was one of the first ones.

Kathleen: She is so great. I had her on Being Boss and right after we hung up with her, I said, “I need Edgar in my life.”

Tara: Yeah, Edgar totally changed my social media habits, my life, my traffic, everything. Elizabeth has just told me it was episode 14. If anyone wants to find out more about Edgar and Laura Roeder and how Edgar works and all of that good stuff you can listen to episode 14 of Profit. Power. Pursuit. I will link up to whatever episode of Being Boss it was.

Kathleen: Awesome.

Tara: Perfect. Sweet. Let me figure out where I was again. That was perfect. It sounds like there’s a lot of overlap then between Emily’s team and Braid’s team and the Being Boss team.

Kathleen: There is so much overlap and in fact we had to recently hire the same accountant and the same lawyer just so that they can have a full picture of all of our businesses and how it all works together. Really we think of Emily and I own Being Boss but we think of it as Indie Shopography and Braid doing all the work. Being Boss cuts Braid a check and Being Boss cuts Indie Shopography a check. That’s how it works so we had to explain to our accountant like yes this has its own LLC but it’s like a big Brain and Indie Shopography project. It’s really interesting but recently Emily and I had a big conversation with our team about our roles because we’re starting to find that we’re feeling a little chaotic and we didn’t really know who should be doing what.
Using systems like Edgar, Asana, we live and die by our Asana account in Being Boss. Using things like convert kit and Acuity Scheduling and really automating a lot of stuff and one thing I was really worried about is losing the human touch and losing the power of doing it all myself or the control of doing it all myself. I think that’s part of going from freelancer to business owner to CEO mindset is just really being willing to rely on the system that you put in place and being able to rely on your team.

Tara: Yeah, amen. I’m hearing you say a lot about systems and a lot about communication. The way that you manage all of these different ventures and the way you manage your time is largely influenced, motivated, driven by systems and communication.

Kathleen: A 100%.

Tara: Perfect. Awesome. All right I’ve got a couple more questions for you before we wrap up. One, was there any one decision that you’ve made that’s had a disproportionate influence on your success?

Kathleen: Yeah, starting the podcast. I had no idea what kind of influence that would have in the world so that’s been huge. Another really small thing that happened it’s like Sliding Doors right whenever that movie …

Tara: I love that movie.

Kathleen: Whenever you think about how that one small thing. You start to even rewind it all the way back to the very starting point so one of the thing they did that felt very risky in my life at the time was I was invited to go out to Mighty Summit out in California with a few other women. It’s so funny because I was just concern about, the thing is totally paid for by Mighty Summit and I was concern about how much the plane ticket cost. Now, I wouldn’t even bat an eye at the plane ticket to have that kind of opportunity, right? It felt very risky at the time to last minute spend $700 on a plane ticket to get out to California but I went and in my swag bag was a book called Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.
I read it. It changed my life. I did a book review on it. I tweeted up Brené Brown saying, “I did a book review, your book changed my life like many others.” She ended up hiring me to do all of her branding. I still work with her all the time on all of her stuff that she does. Making that book review, putting myself out there having a blog has been huge for my success. Particularly that relationship with her has changed my life just even from a mentor relationship because she’s very knowledgeable and wise and had supported my business in amazing tremendous ways.

Tara: That’s incredible. I love your Sliding Doors reference because seriously it’s one of my favorite movies which I don’t know what that says about me but whatever. Because not only was there that moment that you decided to go to Mighty Summit but even smaller than that, a smaller choice that you made was not just writing the book review but actually choosing to tag her and to say, “Hey, I did this. Hey I want to share this with you.” I know so many people who they do write the book reviews or they quote their favorite people or they write responses to their favorite people’s work and they fail to make that tag, they fail to make that mention because they are nervous that the other person is actually going to see them. They don’t think it will matter. I’m so glad that you shared that that small decision has been a huge part of your success as well because that really can make all the difference in the end.

Kathleen: Really I mean just relationships in general and I feel like if 2016 is the year of the mastermind, as a year of really recognizing and acknowledging the impact that your relationships have on your business, personally and professionally. All the relationships that I’ve had it’s just so funny thinking about how I met these creatives seven or eight years ago and how the tide has really reasoned together and watching all of us do these crazy amazing successful things is so, so cool. Even getting the invitation to Mighty Summit had spurred from choosing to go to another conference where I made a friend. You know, even having read your books, Tara and becoming such a fan of them and writing about those on my blog and even just hitting reply to some of your tweets, I mean I wouldn’t be here now if we hadn’t started a little bit of an online relationship, right?

Tara: Absolutely.

Kathleen: Relationship is everything.

Tara: Yes, don’t you miss the days of Twitter when an @ reply make those things happen? I missed it so much but you can do it on Instagram now so I guess it’s okay.

Kathleen: Exactly.

Tara: Last question. This is a question that I’ve asked so many guests and that I get so many different answers. I can’t wait to hear your response. How do you Kathleen Shannon balance the roles of creative and entrepreneur or creative and executive?

Kathleen: Good question. I don’t really think of them as separate things at all. I guess that for me you know what’s interesting, in the business partnerships that I’ve developed, I’ve really been able to shine on the creative side whereas my business partners are really good at handing the management and executive side. I’ve never had to fire anyone. I don’t really determine when someone’s getting a raise. My business partners are really great at handling the more administrative and executive side of things. Not to say that I couldn’t, I can definitely get in on that stuff but I would say where my executive skills come in is implementing a lot of the creative ideas that I come up with.
For example I want an ecourse. All right, we need to execute that. Here’s the plan that we need to get in place but I definitely rely on my business partners for a lot of that execution. I almost feel bad saying that because I don’t think that business partnerships are always the answer and I feel like a lot of people are looking for a silver bullet of a business partner to figure it out for them which is dangerous. That silver bullet does not exist. Yeah, I guess I balance it by relying on other people to balance it for me.

Tara: No, I think it’s fantastic because frankly we’ve talked to some other people like Sue Bryce who’s an amazing photographer and she said, “I don’t” I think that’s a really either answer is a really powerful answer. You’ve built infrastructure and you’ve built relationships that allow you to shine your light on your strengths and your creative advantages so that you don’t have to balance those two roles. It does sound though like you have amazing executive skills at the same time.

Kathleen: Thank you. I’d like to think so but as I’ve grown in my business I’ve been able to rely more and more on other people for those things.

Tara: That’s fantastic. What’s coming up next for you?

Kathleen: I mean, the big launch. It’s launching tomorrow so by the time this goes live it will be available so Being Boss, the website is now We’ve got Miami coming up so we still have a few spots open for people to attend Miami which should be a blast. Other than that just keeping my head down and grinding away. I’m also looking into really amplifying the Braid method ecourse and really figuring out a way to push that into the world. Just really thinking and focusing on reaching and impacting as many people as possible.

Tara: That is awesome, Kathleen Shannon, thank you so much for joining me on Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Kathleen: Thank you for having me. It’s been so much fun. Such an honor.

Tara: You can learn more about Kathleen Shannon and Being Boss at or on iTunes. Next week we’ll talk with the founder of Plum Deluxe, Andy Hayes about the windy road he took and finally find the business idea that would work. What he’s learned about growing a business with a physical product and the unusual way he’s finding new subscribers.

What can boost your credibility, woo new clients and bring in more cash for your business? Publishing a book. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for a big name publisher to tap you on the shoulder. In my brand new Creative Live class, I’ll guide you through writing and publishing your book faster than you thought possible. Find it at
That’s it for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. You can download other episodes of this podcast and subscribe in the iTunes store. If you enjoy what you heard, we appreciate your reviews and recommendations because they help us reach as many emerging entrepreneurs as possible. Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson who also edited this episode. Our audio engineer was Jamie Blake. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Madariaga. You can catch up on older episodes in the iTunes store where new episodes are added every week. You can learn more by going to

Finding Confidence To Make the Big Promise with Sue Bryce

When I talked to Sue Bryce for the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, I wanted to find out how someone so open, vulnerable, and approachable could also be so confident and self-assured. Sue doesn’t just have presence and poise—she has a conviction about the value of her work that borders on bravado in the best possible way.

Sue has no qualms telling women, “I will take the best photograph of you that you’ve ever seen.

Can you say that about your work? Do you?

Tara Gentile interview Sue Bryce

There are so many creative and idea-driven business owners who love their work, delight in their ideas, but don’t have that conviction. It shows in the way they talk about what they do, market what they offer, approach sales conversations, and price their wares.

Sue says, “People who devalue money devalue themselves.”

And, I think the reverse can be said as well. People who devalue themselves devalue money. If you find yourself constantly cursing the need to sell, if you find yourself regularly decrying the almighty dollar, you might want to reconsider what you think about yourself.

When you find deep-rooted confidence in your work and in yourself, you can come into a much easier relationship with money. Sue does a lot of hard work on herself and her personal growth to facilitate that relationship. And that, I found, seems to be the connection between her openness and vulnerability and her unwavering confidence. It’s a beautiful combination.

Listen to Sue Bryce’s interview on the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast and subscribe to receive new episodes automatically.


[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”Episode 1: Sue Bryce” artist=”Tara Gentile” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_gplus=”true” ]

Leverage Your Weaknesses

I have often been teased for being brainy and intellectualizing personal problems. I tend to think more than feel. I rationalize more than empathize. I am INTP.

I have never gone so far as to try to hide my smarts but I certainly have often seen it as a weakness instead of a strength. Like it’s something to be managed instead of something to be exploited.

This week in Quiet Power Strategy™: The Program, our clients completed Quiet Power Inventories. These begin with understanding your Onlyness. Onlyness is a concept from Nilofer Merchant’s book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, and she uses it to talk about the unique angle that each of us bring to the work that we do.

Leverage Your Weaknesses

From my perspective, Onlyness also applies to brands–it’s a big part of where they draw their Quiet Power from. The most memorable brands get really good at using what makes them unique to deliver additional value to their customers. And this often means focusing on what has become a perceived weakness and turning it into a genuine asset.

Instead of hiding what could be the butt of jokes, great brands put it out in the open. They exploit it.

Merchant writes in a recent post:

Your brand is the exhaust created by the engine of your life. It is a by-product of what happens as you share what you are creating, and with whom you are creating.

So if your engine is running on something–no matter how quirky it might be–and that’s not a key piece of what you’re putting out into the world, what’s representing you, what’s acting as a channel for the value you’re creating, you’re missing a big opportunity.

Don’t try to engineer a brand. Reverse-engineer a brand (click to tweet!) that supports your unique way of creating value.

My brand leverages my habit of intellectualizing and rationalizing. It sets my brand apart from brands that leverage fun & glamor or spirituality & poeticism. But its these unique strengths that allow each of these brands to deliver more value than they would if they were traveling down the middle of the road. And they are each things that could be perceived as weaknesses if not blatantly built into the very core of each business.

There’s a perception that there are certain “right” ways to create a brand or build the persona of your business. Whether you’ve bought into an image that ultra-professional, glam, corporate, spiritual, new age, or quirky, if the image of your business doesn’t spring from what you’re bringing to the table through your business’s unique skills, strengths, and passions, the resulting disconnect can drain you dry. Financially and energetically.

Your Onlyness helps you build a business model that really works. It informs your sales copy, your company culture, and your sales process. But, bottom line, it helps you & your business do what it does best.

As I mentioned earlier, often that thing that businesses are trying to hide, manage, or battle is the key to infusing Onlyness into their brand, business model, and sales process. It’s the thing they assume is keeping them from doing more, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Stop fighting it, start leveraging it.

If you’ve be struggling with how to manage a certain aspect of your personality or something that your business doesn’t do as well as you think it should, what would happen if you decided to highlight it? Harness it?

If you have a particular weakness that’s been nagging you for awhile, my friend & client Bridget Pilloud does this for a living. She helped me recast my social anxiety as a strength–which I’ve sense incorporated into my work in a big way.

New Opportunities Spring from Expansive Brand Vision: You Economy Case Study

Today’s You Economy case studies from 10ThousandFeet alumnna focus on the opportunities and clarity that comes from having an expansive brand vision. When you understand the whole world your business is creating, you have both clear path forward and endless opportunities. Meet Megan, who is moving forward with marketing that paints the whole picture for her customer while providing specific, actionable solutions. And meet Ana, who is seeing herself as an artist-in-demand and creating a path–through multiple ventures–to meet her goals.

Megan Cain, founder of The Creative Vegetable Gardener

megancainAt the end of 10ThousandFeet, I feel excited about my business and the future instead of being overwhelmed and stressed out.

The biggest shift for me came in realizing that I was spending a lot of time focusing on the technical information around gardening and not enough time painting the bigger picture of what it means to have a beautiful garden in your life. For me and most of my customers gardening is so much more than just growing food.

I have begun to shift some of my writing to focus on exploring some of the deeper benefits and meaning of gardening. My first post definitely resonated with my readers because I received several enthusiastic emails asking me to write more about the topic.

I am also changing my website to add more language and photos that reflect the new tagline Tara helped me come up with, “your garden should feed you, body and soul.” I am excited about this new direction! I am clearer about where I want to go and what I need to do to get there after taking 10ThousandFeet.

Megan also has the goal of becoming the go-to gardening expert in Madison. This requires her to leverage stories about the bigger picture of gardening as well as the nitty gritty how-to details. She’s carving out individual solutions that serve that big picture and will be reaping the rewards of less dirty work, more revenue, and more time off soon.

Find out more about Megan and the gardens she designs at

Ana Ramos, founder of air illustration & design

Ana RamosOne of the most important shifts for me was to start to understand the power of team building. Before that, I was very untrained in asking for help and seeing the possibilities when it came to broadening my offers through partnerships with other experts.

With a fresh understanding of team building and strategic partnerships, I saw how I could accept a larger project from an old client, a project that will be a huge contribution towards reaching my chief initiative for the year.

But I learned many more things, like how to streamline my efforts and manage clients’ expectations: I used to react to clients’ requests and work overtime and now I am able to plan and schedule in advance, reducing stress.

And today I felt I reached a huge milestone when I rewrote my Embroidery Club sales page. Now I understand why you say it’s fun.

Ana has really focused on expanding her brand with her own artistic vision at the core. Instead of creating disparate ventures or trying to confirm to clients’ demands, she’s leveraging her unique perspective. That means she can pursue a wider range of opportunities but remain grounded in what she does best.

As she builds her team and expands her vision, she’s be able to do so from a place of strength and purpose, bringing on those who complement her artistic vision instead of competing with or diluting it.

Find out more about Ana Ramos and air illustration & design.

What it takes to earn a 5-figure month dying yarn: Interview with Stephanie Alford

I was pleasantly surprised to find an email from Stephanie Alford waiting in my inbox a few months back. When I opened it, I found about 1000 words detailing the enormous success she had achieved in her business over the previous 6 months: quadrupling her mailing list, launching 2 successful continuity programs, and earning her first 5-figure month.

Now, what you need to know is that Stephanie isn’t trained in marketing, she’s not selling business advice, and she doesn’t have a $1k coaching program. Nope, Stephanie dyes yarn.

She’s the chief fiber advocate behind Space Cadet Creations.

Stephanie’s success epitomizes the possibilities that come from loving your product, believing in your purpose, knowing your people, and getting creative with a brand that suits you. In our interview you’ll find out how she:

  • Created an ebook that become a viral marketing device, product education tool, and sales generator.
  • Prioritized taking a risk as an investment in the growth of her business.
  • Identified a trend & need in the market that she could capitalize on.
  • Stood out in a sea of competitors who offer the same thing she does.
  • Used a clever marketing idea to shift her relationship with customers & give them something with which to connect with each other.

Tomorrow, I’ll break down these points even further. Find my analysis here. But, for today, enjoy Stephanie’s story!

Visit Stephanie at Space Cadet Creations and follow her on Twitter.