Thu, 17 March 2016
Episode 80 - Fast Track to Business Growth with Michael Mapes
Jenn T Grace: So we are talking today with Michael Mapes, and I'm just going to go straight into having you kind of talk about what you do and what your background is, and then that will be clear as to why you are a guest on today's show.
Michael Mapes: Thank you so much for having me, I'm really thrilled to be here. And I was so excited when I came across your show in the podcast app, and I wanted to write you right away to say, "Oh you have to have me on," but I didn't. I actually listened, and absorbed, and I was so impressed by what you have so I'm thrilled to be here. I've actually been in business for myself since I was 19, so about twelve years now, which seems like a really long time. And I'm in a much different business now that I was in the beginning. I was very drawn to entrepreneurship for personal reasons. I experienced something of a personal tragedy in my life, and that really shifted my direction. In the beginning when I started, I was very focused on the intuitive and the spiritual side of things, really working with people one to one, helping them with their intuition, working with them on becoming more spiritual, becoming more connected. And I was kind of part time in my business, finishing up college, and really deciding which direction I wanted to go. After I finished college I found myself in a really depressing situation. I found myself graduating at the height of the economic recession, and I didn't really have a plan. I just sort of thought my business would take off, I was good at what I did, I cared a lot, I wasn't lazy, I was ambitious, I worked hard. And I actually found myself living in my mom's basement, for a month I had no job, and then when I got a job it was actually $8.00 an hour telemarketing job selling postage meters to Canadians. I was actually so bad at the job I almost got fired, and the only reason I didn't is because they moved me to some customer service sort of department, and it was just really a low point for me. I didn't own a car, I didn't answer my phone because the only people who called me were creditors, and while I did amazing work with the clients that I did have, it was nothing approaching paying my bills, let alone something that I could thrive on. And as sad it was, as depressed as it was, as hard as it was to not make any money, as hard as it was to feel disconnected from all of my friends and to feel angry about the direction I was going, that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was feeling like I had these gifts, I had this potential, and I wasn't actualizing that potential. And hard work and being smart weren't enough to get me to where I wanted to be. And one day I woke up and I thought the riskiest thing, the scariest thing I could do is continue to live this life. And I packed a bag, I had a few hundred dollars to my name, I walked upstairs to where my mom was and I said, "I am leaving, and quitting my job, and I'm going to figure out something. I'm going to figure out a different direction." You can imagine she was a little bit shocked and not pleased by this decision, but I called a taxi, and I got in that taxi, I took it to a friend's house and I said, "Please let me sleep on your couch, and if you do I will figure things out." My next step was the homeless shelter, I was not going home. And even though I was really scared in that moment, really afraid, I knew- I knew I had to figure this out. And I heard this voice inside of me that said, "Just take the next step. Just take the next step. Just take the next step." And that's what I started to do. And over that time grew my business, started an online program teaching intuition and spiritual development to different people. That business grew, what happened is people started asking me, "How do you get clients? How do you grow this business? How did you market?" And at first I just started telling them what I had done. And I sort of figured out, oh maybe I could charge for this. And from the time that I really started charging people for that advice, I shifted the direction of my business because I saw these amazing people; entrepreneurs, helpers, healers, therapists, coaches, consultants, people developing products. They were literally changing lives, they were literally saving the world, but they were broke, or they weren't charging enough. I tried to be a multiple six figure business. I had written an Amazon best-selling book, I had built a team, I had travelled all over talking about this. I mean my life really just changed so rapidly. And it's really cool that we're talking because I'm actually on the verge of my next evolution. So over the last three and a half years I've been running a coaching and consulting business, working with people, helping them build their business, helping them both make a lot of money, but also fulfill their social mission. And I'm actually on the verge of another evolution which is what we're probably going to talk about a little bit today, and my next evolution is I'm actually leaving my coaching business behind to start a company called Graveyard Innovation. What I see is that innovation, the rapid nature of change both online and offline has really changed what it means to be a marketer, what it means to sell, what it means to build rapport with your clients, what it means to brand your business. And there's a whole lot of people talking about little pieces of all of these different trends, but this company is really going to help entrepreneurs innovate every single aspect of their business so they can win. So that no matter what changes you can recession proof your business, you can disruption proof your business because we're all feeling these changes, but many, many of us, myself included, I think have relied on some outdated marketing tactics for too long, and we have to update the framework, some of the core premises that were relied on from the market. So it's really cool to be here today because I'm transitioning from a coaching business to Graveyard Innovation where we'll help people innovate at every level, and where we'll actually handle a lot of the execution and implementation, because I really see that in today's world entrepreneurs have so much to manage, and yet they're not always able nor should they from a cross perspective hire a full department, or even a full employee. One of the things that I've been doing recently is just going to companies that are thinking about hiring full time marketing people, social media people, and really looking at do you need that? Or is there a model that we can implement within your current team that is updated, and would still allow you to get the results that you want, or to do it through contract work so that you don't have to take on the expense of a full employee. Sometimes it's the right decision, sometimes it's not. So we're in a new world, I think it is super exciting, but I also believe if people don't innovate, if people don't watch these trends, if people wait too long, there's a lot of people who are leaving themselves very, very vulnerable to disruption, and very, very vulnerable to having their business either be taken over, or just not be relevant.
Jenn T Grace: I think there's a book called 'Innovate or Die.' Is that accurate?
Michael Mapes: Yeah absolutely, and you know we used to have the Seth Godin thing, if you're not online you don't exist. And I would update that a little bit and say if you're not innovating you're irrelevant.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely.
Michael Mapes: You might exist, but not in a way that's relevant, and clearly not in a way that's profitable.
Jenn T Grace: So you have certainly said a mouthful, and I feel like I have a hundred questions, and we have about 40 minutes to get through most of them. So I want to try to figure out where we can hit the most meaningful conversation for those listening. So since you've been listening to the podcast, you know that there's kind of a mix of LGBT business owners listening, and then allies who are looking to market themselves within the LGBT community. I think everything that you just said is relevant to anyone listening. One of the things I want to ask you about though is- and I know you briefly mentioned it, but taking the leap from an established coaching business, which you've done at a young age, and now going into something completely different, but bringing the skillsets that you had to that new endeavor. What made you say that you weren't going to continue coaching while you build up the second thing, but rather just say, "I know that this is the right decision for me, I am done with this business the way it stood, and now I'm going to move on to this next thing." Because I know there's two kinds of trains of thought around this. One of doing it kind of baby step and gradually, and the other of just being done with one thing and just jumping into the next thing. How did you make that decision?
Michael Mapes: You have to know yourself and know your personality. And I can't say that one way is right or one way is wrong. I have seen people do this from starting their first business to their fifth business both ways. And for me I tend to work better without a net, just having that urgency of let's get this going. And certainly not an easy decision. I actually cancelled one of my biggest events of the year, and I of course lost a little bit of money because we planned this months and months and months in advance, and that certainly was not an easy decision for me, it wasn't an easy decision for my team. My personality is such that when I'm ready to do something, I'm ready to do it yesterday. In this case I certainly was initially leaning towards doing it more gradually because it seemed to make more sense. And I didn't fire all my clients, I'm transitioning them either into the new business, or into coaching with someone else. But what I felt with this, is I really started to step back, and I really started to see what's going on online. And when I really started to see just the way in which people were doubling down and pushing themselves so hard, I honestly felt Jenn just couldn't stay quiet about it. I couldn't be gradual about it. I felt such an urgency in myself, and I felt this feeling that was if you never make another dollar but you talk about this, okay. If you have to go work at Walmart, or Starbucks, or whatever, that would be worth it to get this message out because I'm so passionate about what I'm seeing, and the fact that people don't have to get left behind. Of course as we talk in the context a little bit more here about LGBT hue marketing, there's a way in which it's called old and new. There's a way in which innovation is everything. So for me it was really the personal decision of knowing my gifts, of knowing that right now is really the time, and feeling like if I were to wait over the next year, if I were to wait two, three years to get this going, I would be leaving people behind. I also think that I have now being sort of on the third evolution of my business, and really what I hope to be the second very successful evolution of my business, I'm much more confident in the steps that you have to go through to initially build a business. And what I think is important to remember is there are phases of business. That doesn't mean everyone is going to look exactly the same, but in this first phase you have to go raise money, whether that's getting clients, whether that's getting investors, whether that is getting a loan, whether that's getting commitment. You have to get money in the beginning of your business. And so I've really honed in on what are those first few steps? And it's much easier to do that now in thirty to sixty days, whereas the first time it took me years, the second time it took me many, many months, and this time it will take weeks. And so I think you get better at it as you go. My passion, what I've also realized, and I would just encourage people be honest with yourself about where your genius lies, and where your genius doesn't lie. I would put my coaching programs up against anyone, I truly think they stand among some of the best when it comes to consciousness and spirituality and marketing; so marketing in a way that is really ethical. But my gift, my highest kind of way to work is not teaching and training. My highest way to work is building. I like to see the idea come into the world. And what I realized is there are so many people that are such much better suited to be the coaches, to be the teachers. And while I love what I've done, I realized that my actual genius- not just my competence, not just what I'm good at lies somewhere else. And I think if you keep answering that, and you allow other people on your team to come in and fill in where you're not a genius, you can accelerate your growth so quickly. So get yourself esteem from what you are truly exceptional at, not just what you are competent at.
Jenn T Grace: I agree on every single front, because I was just doing one of my group coaching programs last night. So we're recording this on a Wednesday, it will be released on a Thursday but we're recording on a Wednesday. It was Tuesday night and I was just having this exact conversation with them of focus on where you are naturally gifted, and just really hone in on that. Don't worry about all the other ancillary stuff that is not your strength, just focus solely on your strengths. And I know that when you do that and you outsource other things, then your business can grow exponentially.
Michael Mapes: I want to say one thing about that quickly, Jenn.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, please.
Michael Mapes: Because I think especially for those listeners who are gay, or who are lesbian, or who are trans, or who are bisexual; I think that one of the things that we often experience in childhood is a gift and a challenge. We have something inside of us that often says a lot of what I see around me is not true because I'm seeing these models, or I'm being told this thing about what love is, and what relationships are that doesn't really match up with what's on the inside of us. And that can be very challenging obviously for all of the reasons that we know about, all the trauma and tragedy, or just the inner angst that we feel. One of the gifts of that I think is that for many, many gay people, it gives us a sense of- like we have an inner BS meter. Because we sort of can look around and go, 'Well everything I'm being told is not really true.' And so it gives us an incredible core, and I think with what you're saying- but it can also cause us to become a little bit fragmented in how we approach things, or we can get very good at code switching. Very good at playing different roles based on the audience who's before us because we need often to do that to fit in, or for survival. But what you're saying about strength, I think is so important. If you focus on that alone, building that muscle, I truly believe- it's not that everything will be easy, but you will move through things with such a higher level of ease. Because have you ever watched a child? A child will naturally gravitate toward what he or she is good at. A child will naturally do more of the things that it likes to do, that it is good at, and less of things that it is bad at. The problem is- and that's evolution. That's why oak trees aren't zebras, they come here to be oak trees. And we come here to fulfill our potential, to do what we are naturally good at. We have this diverse ecosystem, but what happens is that impulse gets overridden so quickly into childhood. So it's like, "Oh Timmy don't play with dolls, that's what girls play with." Or, "Jenn why can't you be more like your sister and do your homework, and sit down, and be still, and stop bouncing around the room." Or, "Why can't you Michael, stop reading and go outside and play like the other kids." So what we are naturally designed to do is just to produce this diverse ecosystem of strengths and gifts, we override, and we want to be good little boys, and we want to be good little girls, and so we lose touch with what our strengths are, and we try to become the kind of- not great at anything, but sort of good at everything. And we really get stuck in confidence instead of genius. This is one of the main reasons we have so many issues in our education system right now, because we focus on getting everybody to a base level of competence, and we don't have a system that helps anybody really go deeper and wider with their gifts. So what I would say is especially for those small entrepreneurs, but even for grants and bigger organizations, drill down on what are you- not only what are you unique at, but what are you good at? What is the genius level thing that you do? And that will move you forward. But it takes some work because we have so overridden this, and often our strengths have become weaknesses to us. I was told, "You're lazy, you're flighty," because I had like fifteen majors in college, and I was always starting things and quitting things. But starting things and quitting things is essential to being a good entrepreneur. You need to know when to let something go. You also need to know when to follow something through. The thing is nobody in my life knew to say, "Oh you're an entrepreneur, you're not an employee. You are a builder, you're not someone who sits back and absorbs, or sits in a cubicle." Nobody told that to me, so my strength had become a liability. And so sometimes what you think you're bad at, or what comes so natural to you is actually your strength, and is so needed.
Jenn T Grace: I completely, completely, completely agree. I think the other piece to this is it's all well and good- so for those listening who maybe they're a solopreneur right now, maybe they have one other person working for them, I think what happens is you recognize that your gift- like for me, I'm just the get shit done type of person. A client asks me for something, they know what's needed, I will get that shit done. No one knows how it happens, but it happens. And it's because I have- I can delegate to a team, and I can do it really effectively. I know that's something that I'm good at. There are plenty of people who don't manage teams well, and it's a matter of finding that balance within your own team. But the question is when you recognize what your gift is. So if I'm looking at it from a marketing standpoint, I am the strategist. I can lay out the strategy and build the team to get it done, whether it's my team or the client's team. The problem then is if I'm good at strategy, and I'm a generalist with everything else, then how does a business figure out who that next hire is? I think that next hire, whether it's the second in command, so some kind of admin person, or VA, that's usually one of the next things that people hire for. But how do people look for the offsets of their own- where their gaps are? Do you have any recommendations for people listening on how they would actually get to that place of recognizing, 'Okay I'm good at strategy, or I'm good at execution, but I can't see the vision.' Like how do people find their counterparts to really exponentially grow their businesses?
Michael Mapes: Absolutely, and I think that for anyone listening, Jenn and I had quite a long conversation before, and I'm sure we'll have many, many more. But I can say when you said you're good at strategy, I just want everybody to get that she really is. And you can tell by the way that she spoke about that question, by talking about building things at multiple levels, by speaking you must have a team to execute and deploy this. What most people are good at- and we need both, and yet we have some blurriness here, and I'm really passionate about this. What most people are good at is much more tactical than strategic. And they use the word strategy for it, but it's not. Helping someone figure out how to do Facebook ads is a tactical thing in your business. I would say they're actually helping you do ads that you then put on Facebook rather than Facebook ads. And many, many people are more tactically focused. A business absolutely needs that, however one of the big things that I think is missing, and one of the things where I believe there needs to be a lot of innovation is in shifting from only tactical approaches to strategy; because you can't wake up with a goal of just, 'I'm going to win this day.' Because you can win a lot of days, and yet still lose the war. And you can see many, many examples of this even if you think of political campaigns where people will have many great days where they may win the press cycle of the day, but they don't ultimately emerge victorious. And you can see examples of this in sports where- I'm going to do the best I can to talk about sports here as a gay man. But where people may win many different moments of the game, or do things that are incredibly impressive and not emerge as the person who wins that game. So I just want to point out that what Jenn is saying is absolutely incredible, and I'm more and more convinced that if you- because again there is so much shifting, and none of it is a total difference, but it is a very rapid evolution. I'm more and more convinced that if you don't have someone that is stepping back that can kind of look at all of the interlocking pieces before they rush in and start saying, "Do this, do this, do this," I just think that kind of advice is going to be less valuable for a lot of people moving forward. So I just really like what you said there. But to answer your question around your next hire, this is something that I have screwed up so enormously. And the reason that I have screwed up at many different points in my business is because I got in the mindset of following what other people did. Because I didn't- like you said, I am not a good manager of teams, and so it took me a while to figure out that I am the creative force, I am the energy. I can bring the business in, I can create something out of virtually nothing, but when it comes to managing people and holding people accountable and making sure they're super invested, it's not my gift. So one of the things that I had to figure out was I didn't just need it to be the straight edge support, although I started there in the beginning. What I needed was someone who could actually manage people, who had that gift to call them out when they needed to be called out, to motivate them because it just was not my skillset. So I think that it really goes back to again, just be willing to be honest with yourself. And that doesn't mean I didn't have to become better; I still had to grow, I was still the leader, and there are still things where the buck stops with me, so you have to grow. But I would say certainly learn from other people in terms of what's next, but also really think about your business, and think about your business model. Because about a year and a half into my business, when I hit the six figure mark, we were rapidly growing, rapidly accelerating, I had hired an administrative person that I promoted to my business manager, we then brought on two quarter time administrative people, and a sales person. And my thinking about this was sort of what I had seen other people do in their coaching businesses, and their model. And what happened was we quickly became overleveraged both financially and I became overleveraged because it was essentially still me that drove all of the lead generation. There was a way in which I did that, that nobody else could really do as effectively. And so I became very exhausted, and I really had to change things. What I sort of figured out was how am I going to leverage this business? Now as I move forward with Graveyard Innovation, I'm actually taking a very different approach where I'm less focused on getting a salesperson, or getting an administrative person. I do have assisted help, I should just say. But I'm much more focused on let's get account managers, where they're all invested in this business. And one of the things that I have learned for me, working for more of that solo entrepreneur with contract worker model, is it works better for me and I think for my personality, if you can have people that are truly committed to your vision, and then are incentivized based on sales. Or incentivized based on delivering some other kind of result. If you're going to work with people that aren't in an office, you need to build in a lot of ways to motivate them, to be disciplined, to motivate them to want to show up. So I would say know yourself, think about your business and your goals, and really think about your model. I hired people because I thought, 'This will pay off,' and it really didn't. So I would say hire people that can really produce revenue, or allow you to produce revenue very, very quickly. And just kind of think about what is that business model? How am I going to make money? How am I going to scale this? One of the things that coaches I think really have to reconcile with- even coaches that are at the seven multiple seven figure mark, is that many of them created businesses that are so personality driven, it's hard for me to see the business really sustaining if they step away. And to leverage and scale in that model, you have so much money to hire these other coaches, and so much money to hire these other salespeople because the emotional impact of what a salesperson can do when you've built your brand around you, versus what you can do, is always less. So I think that it doesn't mean that it's wrong, I just think there's some ways that business model may need to be evolved or shifted a little bit. So I would say be willing to entertain something outside of conventional wisdom, even if you ultimately go with conventional wisdom. Because what I would have done looking back is I would have shifted my business model much earlier, instead of looking around and doing what other coaches were doing because it just- it's not that it didn't work for me, it worked, just not in the way that I wanted to live or run my business.
Jenn T Grace: So now on all of that. So talking about changing I guess the way that you're running your business. I know that you had mentioned when we started that you had written an Amazon bestselling book, which I would love for you to talk about for a couple of minutes, but also talked about programs and courses. Did that evolve? I guess when in the evolution of this business did that maybe 'ah-ha' moment of like, 'Oh wow if I just created this program, I can scale faster.' Or 'I can scale me,' which is always the challenge of any founder of any business, is scaling an individual person. So where- first if you can just share for a couple of minutes about your book, based on I work with a lot of authors. I'm just curious if you have any kind of piece of information that might be helpful for someone who's listening who's about to write a book. But then also that scaling via working with online programs.
Michael Mapes: One of the things I'm super passionate about is the idea that I have for anything that I want to do. Whether it's the idea for a new business, the idea for a book, or the idea for a program. One of the things right now, because you are such a plug in world, is there's this temptation to avoid the idea part of things, and to rush right in. What's ironic about this is we rush right in, but then we spend all this time preparing, getting ready to make money, or getting ready to do the next thing. But preparing to do the next thing, and really getting a solid idea aren't the same. And I think one of the things that is so benefitted me is that I spent time in ideation; what is this business, where does it fit, why is it needed? What is this book, what is the gap that it is filling, why is it needed, how can I position it? I think the same thing is true of my programs, and my courses. So that as Einstein said there are no new ideas, there are many, many re-inventions, and many, many re-imaginings. And I think that if we would all just unplug a little bit; and when you do this it doesn't have to take months, and months, and months, and months, and months. But if we would all just spend a little bit more time making sure the idea was a bit stronger, I think people would have a lot more success. When I started this business, my goal was not just to have a business coaching business. My goal was to help those people who wanted to make great money and make a difference in the world be able to do that in a way that was really genuine and aligned to their value system. That was my goal because I saw some companies like Toms Shoes or Trader Joe's that were doing some really ethical and cool things; it wasn't the norm, it wasn't the scale that I thought it should be. So that was really my idea. And that idea helped me so much because I wasn't able to go to people and just say, "I can help you market, I can help you with money." I was able to go to people and say, "Here is this mission that I am on. And you are a piece of this, let's work together." So they were invested in both my idea as well as their self-interest. And this is the key innovation that I think business and so many of us who are entrepreneurs need to grapple with. It is not solely a self-interested proposition anymore when people buy. And so most marketing, you hear this, 'Focus on the results, focus on the transformation.' Yes that is very true, however you also have to focus on what's the bigger mission? What is the bigger thing that you're a pat of when you do this? It's also that recession proofs your business. And so spend some time on your ideas. My book is called, 'The Conscious Entrepreneur's Guide to Creating Wealth,' and it's based on a series of what I call Wealth Alignment Principles which are I would say timeless wisdom put in the context of creating wealth, put in the context of growing a business. Whether you think of these as mindset shifts, or spiritual principles, or as I said timeless wisdom, that's what the book is all about. Because here's what I figured out. There is no outer playbook for success. Oprah did not follow the same path as Bill Gates, did not follow the same path a Hillary Clinton, did not follow the same path as RuPaul, did not follow the same path as Barack Obama. You know there are many, many ways from an external point of view to become successful. Now that doesn't mean you don't have to learn a new system or a structure, but there's many different ways to do it. But there is a rule book when it comes to the inner game of success. If you read books of highly successful people, you will find that the shift that they have at the inside, the way in which they approach things, how they handle adversity, how they respond to challenge. All of these people have been knocked down. It took Edison 10,000 tries to create the light bulb. It's like what would have happened if he gave up at 9,999. Walt Disney declared bankruptcy many, many times. You will find that there absolutely is an inner play book for success. And when you focus on certain principles, that's really what needs to shift. And so that's really what my book is about. Why I decided to write the book, is because I felt that this real leap, this real merging between what do you do practically? And what do you start to work on, on the inside? Because anyone who's a business owner or entrepreneur knows on any given day you could be riding high, and then a challenge comes out of nowhere. And how do you handle that such that you stay in equilibrium? So for me, writing the book was really a way to bring this idea to more people in a less expensive and more accessible way, and that idea fit in with everything else that I had. I didn't start with the book, I had a full practice of private clients, I had a successful group coaching program, I had launched self-study courses in different partnerships with people, and then this was a way after having that revenue of money to say, 'Okay now how can I democratize this wisdom?' And I just want to say for people that I know that we can get so into, 'Am I going to do one-on-one work? Am I going to do group coaching? Am I going to do a product? Am I going to do a book?' And I write about this in the book, but the medium is not powerful. Too many people are actually diminishing themselves by the platforms they choose to use, and they're going, "I'm getting clients," I'm like, "Well how many clients are you not getting by doing this?" But the medium that you choose, the way that you choose to market is not powerful. The message that you choose, and then your gifts, and then based on that message and those gifts, choosing the medium is what makes it powerful. So when you're thinking about how do I set up your business, begin with the idea and then go, 'Well how would I love to deliver this?' I knew that I had- I liked teaching groups, I liked working with people, there was an energy there. Other people it seems would ask a question that other people on the calls needed to hear, and there would be this synchronicity that kind of happened with no planning at all. And so for me that was something I wanted to do, it seemed like a party I would want to attend. And so I just began, I just started it. But every individual thing came from an idea, and a reason for existing. And I think if you don't have that, it's hard to really- you could sort of create a marketing plan, but it's hard to really I think get maximum results from it.
Jenn T Grace: So what would you say along the lines of what you were just talking about with your book. So in terms of maximizing a marketing plan. A book obviously is one very small piece of a much larger plan. So if a business is listening right now, and they don't necessarily have an actual concrete plan that they're following, what would you say might be a couple of things that they should be thinking about as they maybe- not build a plan, because I know especially for clients that I work with, building a marketing plan stresses them out. So I try not to do that. But there are low-hanging fruit opportunities for them to take advantage of that maybe something that they're already doing, they're just not really looking at it as like a marketing thing. Do you have any like maybe one or two things that you would say, "Focus on this," to at least get them started in the right direction?
Michael Mapes: Absolutely. And there does come a point- and I know that you know this, Jenn because you work with some amazing clients, and some incredibly large and potent companies. There does come a point where scary or not, we've got to sit down and do it. There just becomes a point where to get to that next level without a full plan, without a full strategy, it is not going to work. And I sort of think about this- I'll use a political example, but I think about this as the difference if you're running for like state-wide election versus if you're running for President. If you're running for state-wide election, you just kind of want to go out there, and do it, and meet voters, and you can win doing that. But when you're running for President and you have to split your resources among so many states, without a strategy there is no way to do it. And you can sort of see this where you'll have certain candidates in the Presidential race, they'll win some tactical victories, they'll win some states. But they run out of time if they don't have that strategy to be able to overtake someone who does have a strategy. In most cases, there are always exceptions of course where something just works. But what I would say to anybody who is starting out, and just needs to get going, at that point having some big overall comprehensive strategy or plan, you don't need that. What you need to do is get into action, and you need to- I would say this is where coaching can be so powerful. It certainly was for me because people do the wrong thing, and I just have to be kind of blunt about that. If you are getting clients, building up that initial revenue base, the most important thing is not your website. The most important thing is not what's on social media. In fact until you get several clients, you don't even know what to put on those things really. So I would say you need someone, or you need to be able to quickly identify the highest value action. Now if you're in a service based thing like you're selling programs, products, eCourses, services; then the highest value action is getting people to pay you money. Whether that is $100, $1,000 or $10,000, you need to have conversations with people one-on-one and get them to say yes to your idea. Because until then, you don't know if you are selling something that people want. I don't doubt that any of you are selling something that could change lives, or that's a value, but you also have to have something that people are responding to, and that people want. So the place that you want to begin is going out there and selling it. You don't need a business card to do that, you don't need a website, you really just need to be willing to talk to your idea about someone. Now if you're selling an app, or a product idea, or you're just a startup, that maybe investors that you're doing that with, or partners that you're doing that with. But the process is the same; you need to go pitch the idea to people. So I would say every single day get up into your highest value action. Because this gets hard when there's no clients and there's no revenue because you don't just get clients and then everything is okay. You have to build up by looking at your growth sales numbers over a number of weeks and months, a certain baseline because there's a delay between when money starts coming in, and when you really feel profitable. So I'll give you an example. How did I go to on track to hit six figures in six months, when so many other people struggled and haven't even hit six figures to this day? Well I set a standard for myself, which is every single week at a minimum I will ask five ideal prospects to work with me. And at that time- at the beginning I started selling a $300 coaching package, but pretty quickly it became a $3,000 program for six months. And it was a weekly private coaching with me, so there was a ton of value in it. And people get the value of one-on-one work without you having to say much about it. So every week no matter what, I did not end on Friday until I had asked five people. And if I didn't do it Monday through Friday, I worked Saturday and Sunday. And there were no excuses. If a newsletter got delayed, if a blog post didn't go out, if something didn't get posted, if the infrastructure that I was building- I would let anything else get pushed back except for that, because I knew- I had a roller coaster right in my business, I knew if income wasn't steady, I would never be able to build a team because I couldn't promise that I could pay them, and I wouldn't feel right about that. I would never be able to get the money I needed to make the investments that were essential to growing quickly. And I would not feel within myself that I could create a group program. And there are people that are doing this, and I would challenge it a step back. How could I create a group coaching program telling people to do things that I didn't know if they worked, or if I hadn't done myself. That didn't seem right to me to create great marketing or great copy that was inauthentic, or that was essentially lying to people. And so that was my commitment; no matter what, I will do this. And I thought if I fail, if I succeed, either way it will be okay. But for one year, every single week I'm going to do this. So I think that people get so distracted. If you're in the beginning of your business and you don't have clients, you can't just work on a landing page for a week. You can't just work on getting a webinar scheduled. Those are your second priorities. Your first priority is get the receivables up, get the client base up, it's going to give you confidence, and then you can not only get referrals from that, but you can ask people and hear from people what they like. Because how you have things arranged in your mind, and how people actually need them arranged, are I would say almost always very, very different. So get focused on that high value action. And here's why people don't do this; it's scary. I had such an intense fear of rejection from being gay, from being bullied, from an emotionally abusive father, and all of these things that I had lived through. So picking up the phone to me and asking someone to pay me, I mean I would almost rather die than do that. But when I got coaching, high level coaching, I said I will listen to this woman no matter what, because she has done something, I have not done- my best thinking didn't work, my plan didn't work, it didn't get me there. So I had to come to terms with that, I had to go in the bathroom and look in the mirror to go, 'Your way didn't work. Are you willing to try something else?' And when she told me get on the phone, ask people to pay you, set up these meetings. And again, I wasn't calling through the phone book, these people requested conversation with me, or I asked them if they would want to have a conversation with me. I did that, and so I would literally almost be in tears, and then I would center myself, and pick up the phone and make the call. And it was really hard in the beginning, but then I would do it again, and again, and again, and again, and again. If you haven't exercised in ten years, and you go to a yoga class, it's going to be hard. You're going to be panting and your muscles are going to hurt, you may want to throw up, but that's not a sign it's not working, that's a sign it is. If you want to receive more, you have to be able to hold more, you have to become more. And so you have to transform all of the inner stuff that's actually stopping you. And I just want to say that you have to identify the difference between a stretch- and remember, just think of exercise. A stretch can hurt sometimes as you're growing, and in actual pain. You don't want to overextend yourself. Like if something's just truly not you, that's a different story. But most people, it's we don't know what's authentic to us because we're not coming from a high enough level of awareness to know. And as I did that, I was this person who thought success doesn't happen for people like me, it doesn't happen for people that grew up poor, it doesn't happen for people that have this kind of a background, it doesn't happen for gay people, it just doesn't happen for people like me. What I found by doing this, the things that I thought I could never do, ask people to pay me and raise my rates again, and again, and again, and again, and again. And speak on stages, and all of this stuff that I thought I could never do, I learned something about myself. What I had been told had been a lie. I wasn't a victim, I was so powerful, I was so creative, I was so resourceful, I could handle anything. I wasn't going to fall apart and die if somebody said something mean to me. I'd already lived through that. I wasn't going to break if somebody said, "No, I'm not going to buy this." And what happened was people were grateful. They loved hearing from me. Even if they didn't become a client, they sent me referrals, or they became a client three months- because I followed up, and I followed up again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and I let them know, "You may not think you need this right now. You may not care about me right now, but I care about you. And I'm not going to stop working for you." And so I kept following up and connecting, and I just had a conversation with myself and a conversation with these people. So usually whatever you are the most afraid of, whatever is freaking you out the most, is what you need to run toward. And instead we run to our comfort zone. And as one of my mentors, Derek Rydall said to me, "Michael most of us would jump in front of a moving train to save a loved one. But we wouldn't get out of our comfort zone to save ourselves." And what I had to do was get very uncomfortable; that was hard in the beginning, but I had a good cry, and then I centered myself for the call, and then I had a good cry. It's like you freak out, and then do what you need to do, and then freak out, and you will start to build these muscles. Because remember, if you're not willing to go get the clients, I am. If you're not willing to go get the clients, somebody else is willing to go get them. So look at- we have this whole thing, the 99% and the 1%. But what is the 1% doing that you haven't been willing to do? And that's what I had to look at. So we know it's like, what is it less than 2% or 3% of businesses make over $250,000 a year?
Jenn T Grace: It's less than 3%? Wow, jeez.
Michael Mapes: I think so, yeah. So what does that tell you? Well that tells you that you have to do things differently than 97% of people. But what are people doing? They're looking around at the Internet going, "Other people are doing this." So you're probably actually modelling people that aren't successful, which is a problem. Or you're modelling successful people, but you don't understand the reason, the sequencing which is so important in business, the timing of why they're doing certain things. So a lot of times what are happening is people are in phase one of business, but they're implementing phase two, three or four strategies. And that's disastrous and it really diminishes your ability to elevate yourself and cultivate a sense of influence over the long term.
Jenn T Grace: Wow, I feel like you have said more in this interview than we could have probably done in twenty interviews. So I appreciate just how robust, and how tactical in some instances your information is, but then also such high level information as well for people listening. I know that we are already pretty much at our time, but I want to make sure that those listening know exactly how to find you. So can you please just share how they would go about doing that?
Michael Mapes: Yeah, absolutely. So just thank you for having me, Jenn. And as I said to you privately, and I just want to repeat here, I spend a lot of time cultivating, curating, aggregating, reading, absorbing information every week. And so for something to stand out to me, for me to want to go back to something, it really has to stand out. And I just think for all of your listeners, what Jenn is doing is needed. To me it really stands above, and it really stands out. So I mean share it, like it, review it. She didn't pay me to say this, I'm not a sponsor, we don't have some kind of influence or marketing campaign. I just really believe it because it really stands out to me as something that's so useful. As far as connecting with me, there's just a couple quick things that you could do. If you want to get on my list, which is all about resources right now, there's not a lot of pitching or selling, especially given my new direction of who I'm going to be working with. But if you want to get on there, and kind of get information about what's changing, what are these trends, how can you evolve? Whether you're a marketer yourself, or whether you're an entrepreneur, I think that this information is so cutting edge, and while some of it's out there, I haven't seen anyone bringing it together. So you can go to www.Shift.MichaelMaves.org. And that will give you access to my list which is blogs, and articles, and resources, and videos, and podcasts that are all about innovating, and building on what we know, but then also bringing in the new. So that's one place that you can start if you want me to be in your inbox, and if you give me that opportunity, I will work very, very hard to earn my place there, to earn my right to be in your inbox because I know how crowded that gets. However, if you don't want to get on my list you can go to our blog, which The Marketing is Broken Blog, to get a lot of resources and articles, read more about me, and see if there's something there that might be of value. And that's just www.MarketingIsBroken.com.
Jenn T Grace: Excellent. Well thank you so much for all of your wisdom today. I know my audience is going to appreciate it, and I have no doubt the two of us will continue our conversations.
Michael Mapes: Thank you so much, Jenn.
Direct download: Epi80-Fast-Track-to-Business-Growth-with-Michael-Mapes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am EST
Thu, 3 March 2016
Women & LGBT Entrepreneurship Dissected with Guest Jennifer Brown
Jenn T. Grace:
I am thrilled to be talking today with Jennifer Brown, Founder and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting (JBC), a New York City-based consulting firm that is a womenowned and LGBT-certified business. Jennifer is a vocal advocate for workplace diversity and a passionate social entrepreneur who has created a thriving business by doing the work she loves. Welcome, Jennifer.
Jennifer Brown (Consulting):
Thanks for that introduction, Jenn. I’m excited to be here speaking with you as well.
Jenn T. Grace:
Great, then let’s get started. You actually began your career as an opera singer and eventually realized that you were meant to be using your voice in a different way. Can you share a bit about your professional journey and how you came to founding JBC in 2004?
My story has been an interesting one with lots of twists and turns. I originally came to New York to be a singer. I got a master’s degree in opera and voice, had an agent and was auditioning on the opera circuit. I really believed that was going to be my life. Unfortunately, the arduous training caused me to injure my voice and I ended up having to get several surgeries. Although I recovered fully from those surgeries, my stamina for performing multiple times a week and for touring became difficult to maintain.
While licking my wounds a bit, thinking about what I wanted to do next, I realized that my stage background was actually great preparation for a career in training and organizational development. People who have performance skills do very well in this career because it requires creativity and the ability to improvise. In addition, as is true in many fields, you have to love selling and business development, which I did. I started out in internal HR roles, gaining my chops for the organizational development and consulting world. When I was laid off due to a restructuring at the company I was working for, I realized I was better suited to being an external consultant than working inside. So I made the decision to hang out my shingle. Initially, rather than incorporating myself or establishing an LLC, I took an interim step. I became a subcontractor for other training companies. They would send me into corporations and I would deliver training programs. Sometimes I designed those programs myself but most of the time somebody else designed and I delivered. Through that experience, listening to group after group of managers who attended these trainings, I started to form my own opinions about what was broken in the workplace and how it could be fixed. One thing led to another, and eventually I stopped subcontracting and started getting my own clients. I was finally privileged to start selling directly to my first client, then my second, then my third, then, before I knew it, it turned into 10! I started hiring people, and I began morphing my role from one that focused on delivery to one that prioritized running the business. I essentially went from working in the business to working on the business. That meant a combination of marketing, sales, brand building and thought leadership. Today, I continue to explore the journey around building my personal brand. There is my brand and then there is the company, JBC. The whole concept of being a founder who builds a company while at the same time thinking about your personal brand is something that I’m thinking a lot about these days. Personally, I don’t just want to be managing my business. I want to be out there changing the world in a broader way. This next phase of my professional journey will be about the intersection between my company and my personal brand, figuring out how to make both successful.
Jenn T. Grace:
Wow, that is quite a journey so far, and as you've alluded to, you are still on that journey. What inspires and drives you to continue moving forward?
I’m driven by the fact that there is still so much left to be done related to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Especially when you step outside of urban areas or the Fortune 100 companies that we tend to work with, many organizations haven’t made building an inclusive workplace a mantra and a commitment. They have not put in the investment, and their employees’ experiences reflect that. This is a very personal mission for me because when I was working in corporate roles, I was in the closet. I felt like there wasn’t a place for me in those environments, and now I realize what a loss that was for my employers. Companies lose when they fail to create corporate environments where employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. There is a clear, bottom-line advantage to encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I believe that Find the Gay Business & Marketing Made Easy Podcast in the work we do at JBC is helping to spread that very important message. iTunes Find the Gay Business & Marketing Made Easy Podcast in iTunes Jenn T. Grace | www.jenntgrace.comThis is an especially important message to be heard among executives. They are the people who have the power and resources to stand up and say, “I believe in this, and here’s why we’re going to put our money where our mouth is as a company.” We help companies understand why they need to care about inclusion and how they can go about making progress within their cultures. Creating inclusive workplaces is a tool for growing a business and it’s critical for achieving innovation. Within corporate entities, we need to keep pushing at all levels—certainly at the executive level, but also among employees and entrepreneurs because change happens from the bottom up as well.
Jenn T. Grace:
Let’s talk about supplier diversity and supplier certification. Those two terms are still a mystery to many people. As an out lesbian, how have you been able to leverage your status as an LGBT business owner and as a women business owner?
At the end of the day, we are all marketers. Whether you have a sales role or not, especially if you are a business owner, you spend a lot of time selling. Supplier certification is very exciting from a marketing standpoint. For example, as a women-owned and LGBT-owned business, I get access to business opportunities that I might not otherwise have. I get access to a network of entrepreneurs, which is useful to me in terms of strategic partnerships, vendor relationships and also suppliers for our company. Also, the corporate network of sponsors that are involved with and support organizations like WBENC, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and NGLCC, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, is highly valuable. The corporate sponsors are all over these organizations’ conferences and other events. The introductions that I have made and benefited from in this ecosystem have been incredible. The relationships we’ve established through NGLCC and WBENC have led to bidding opportunities that weren’t always publicly known. We have bid on some of these RFPs and won! Bidding on an RFP is a time-consuming and expensive task for a small business, but these types of gigs can be game changers. If you win one huge contract, it can really change your trajectory in a positive way. One of our success stories was with a Fortune 50 financial services company. We bid on and won the opportunity to lead a three-day LGBT leadership-training event that this company now holds three times a year. We are now in our third year of delivering the program and the client is extremely satisfied with it. That is just one example of an opportunity that has come to me because of my status as a diverse supplier. People are often intimidated by these certifications because the paperwork can be intense. They want tax returns and letters of recommendation. For LGBT certification, there are even status qualifiers, which essentially require you to “prove” your LGBT status. It is certainly a robust process, but it’s also a very clarifying exercise that can help businesses get things in order. The certification bodies do not require high revenues. In fact, you can be a pre-revenue company and still get certified. So as an exercise alone, I believe certification is worth it. In addition, it is a great networking opportunity, and a feather in your cap that you can use to market yourself. Remember, certainly in the corporate sales space, the leading companies out there are trying to find you.
Jenn T. Grace:
What is the most rewarding part of working with corporate clients?
The number-one most rewarding part is feeling like I am making a difference and leaving a legacy. I am planting seeds. It is so rewarding when I’m facilitating a training with a senior management team and someone finally makes a connection. They have a light-bulb moment. Maybe it’s a woman who realizes why she’s been facing certain challenges. Suddenly it clicks, and she understands how she can modify her behavior. Or I’ll be working with a white male executive, and suddenly he has a breakthrough—intellectually but also in his heart—about what inclusion really means, and why it’s so important. It usually involves locating something in that executive’s story that he can then use to communicate as a leader in a way that resonates with the workplace. I love helping executives understand, and truly believe, that workplace inclusion is an important part of their job, and that it’s important to them personally and to the business. When I can be a part of that change in mindset, especially at the executive level, it is really exciting. Sometimes just a little tweak at the top of the house can have a big ripple effect throughout an organization. The transformation of someone with influence and positional power can be huge. In that way, JBC is at the genesis of organizational change.
Jenn T. Grace
As a successful business owner, I’m sure you have picked up a lot of valuable insights and tricks of the trade along the way. If you had to narrow it down, what one piece of advice would you give to business owners and entrepreneurs?
The most important thing is to realize very quickly your unique gifts. That is a journey. You have to pay attention: When do you get energized? When are you in the sweet spot? When you run a business, you have to do a lot of things that you don’t like. For me, those things have been operational duties, setting up processes, and anything to do with finance and accounting. Immediately when I started my company, one of the first things I did was outsource my book keeping. I knew that I would be much more useful to my company if I was out there selling instead of entering taxicab receipts in Quickbooks. Many entrepreneurs try to take it all on themselves. They think they can learn how to do everything. Maybe you can, but that’s not the point. Running a successful business is a game of time management. You need to figure out what you can do very quickly and intuitively versus what things are going to unnecessarily eat up your time. As a born business development person and marketer at heart, I had to invest in a complementary senior person in a COO/CFO type of role. Without that, I knew I would run out of bandwidth and expertise very quickly. I wanted to safeguard our revenue and ensure that I was running a solid company. If you are at all successful, scalability will become a challenge. I recommend reading entrepreneur books that focus on scaling, such as The E Myth because it’s a very important topic. You can’t be everything to everyone, even if your company has your name on the door. So, ask yourself, what is your towering gift? Then put all of your energy there.
Jenn T. Grace:
You mentioned that you are a marketer at heart. Can you share one piece of marketingspecific advice?
I love marketing. It is what I would do all day long, if I could. JBC’s business is all referral based. We have succeeded to a large extent through our pipeline of interest, which exists because of the branding and marketing work we have done. I am always out there circulating at conferences and events where my existing and potential clients gather. This is great for networking, as well as learning about best practices and thought leadership in your industry. I have built relationships with conference companies so that they now expect me to come to certain events. It has been an incredibly successful strategy for me. I can name 15 clients that have come from audience members when I was presenting at an event, or moderating or participating in a panel. I don’t charge for that kind of work. It’s a “give before you get” mentality. Make yourself useful before you even talk about money. Sales will come if you add value and put yourself in front of the right people. When you present yourself in a vulnerable and authentic way, people respond. When I participate on panels, I make it all about other people’s expertise and do whatever I can to help them get out their insights to the larger community. This has been a great way to build our brand and it has resulted in real business. Put yourself in the business of creating value and sales will follow.
Jenn T. Grace
You are clearly very passionate about the work you are doing. Is there something specific that you are particularly excited about at this moment?
There is an opportunity for me to really invest in my personal brand over the next year or two. I want to become more visible as a person and a founder. There are CEOs, CEO and founders, and just founders. As a business owner, this is something else to ask yourself: Are you a founder? Are you a CEO? Are you both? I am much more of a founder than a CEO. What’s exciting for me is the opportunity to invest in the company in a way that allows me to pursue building my personal brand. This involves professionalizing my management team. The benefits of this will accrue to the company but I also want to monetize and create a good revenue model around the personal brand. I want the success of my company in combination with a refined personal brand to continue creating a rising tide that lifts the workplace as a whole. I am not sure yet how this structure will look, but I have the pieces of the puzzle. My challenge now is to find the best way of putting them together.
Jennifer T. Grace:
Jennifer, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview, and for your enthusiasm and professionalism. It has been fantastic. Where can people find you if they want to learn more about you and your business?
We have various online platforms where people can reach out: Our website is www.jenniferbrownconsulting.com If you need to get in touch with our company, email email@example.com Our Twitter is www.twitter.com/jenniferbrown We’re on Facebook and LinkedIn under the company name. We also have a group called Diversity & Inclusion Leadership on LinkedIn. The group is made up of are hundreds of people from our network, including entrepreneurs and corporate diversity and inclusion advocates. Members share articles and have lots of interesting conversations there, so if the topic is up your alley, I suggest joining that group. (You can find the group here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4517615&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr) People can find additional information about JBC through researching ERGs, or Employee Resource Groups. A lot of our work focuses on ERGs, and we are one of the foremost resources for consulting in that area. If people Google ERGs, they will find our website as well as several thought leadership papers that we’ve published on the topic.
Direct download: epi-79_Women__LGBT_Entrepreneurship_Dissected_with_Guest_Jennifer_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am EST
Thu, 18 February 2016
The 6 Steps to using Content Marketing to create your Personal Brand
Intro: Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, where you'll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We're talking about an $884 billion lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We'll help you grow your business, gain market share, and impact your bottom line. And now your host; she teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn- with two N's, T. Grace.
Well hello and welcome to episode number 78 of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today we are going to talk about personal branding, content marketing, and being an author all in six simple steps. So content marketing, personal branding, authorship are completely intertwined in what I want to talk about today. You don't have to have one to do the other, there's no kind of contingency on any of them. But what I want to provide to you today are basically six steps into providing a framework for all of this to make sense. So I want to talk about taking an inventory of what you've already done, strategically coming up with some kind of content plan, mind mapping your ideas, putting those ideas into an outline, planning and scheduling your time, and then getting it done. So that is what we're going to talk about in today's episode, I hope you enjoy it.
The last couple of episodes that I've been sharing with you have been around planning to become an author in 2016, and talking about confidence, and the most recent episode we talked about the five fears that new LGBT authors have and how to conquer them basically. So I'm kind of going along the theme of authorship in this episode, however it's much bigger than that, and what I mean by that is that the topic of today's podcast is around content marketing, and it stemmed from my second week's class with the authors that I'm working with right now. So as I mentioned in the last podcast, they are working with me from February 1st through April 30th, and each week we're going through a lot of information almost to probably an overwhelming degree for a lot of them. But we're trying to cover a lot so they can ultimately have a book at the end of the ninety days that we have together. And one of the things that I was talking with them about in the last week is about taking an inventory of the content that they have, and how they can basically apply that to potentially their book and telling their story. So as I was thinking about that, I was thinking how can I share this information, and not really what I talked about in the author program itself, but kind of how can I share information around content marketing bigger and more broadly? So basically what I want to cover is content marketing kind of from a big picture level, and how you can use that in your business. So in building your personal brand really. So one of the things that I have been doing for a really long time is working with businesses around content marketing specifically. And content marketing is a little bit of a buzzword and kind of has been a buzzword for a couple of years now I would say. But really when we're talking about content marketing, it's around blogging, and podcasting, and writing for other people's blogs, guest posting, putting out newsletters, and being on other people's podcasts as being interviewed there, and doing videos, and all these types of things that basically are content that you're putting out to the universe. So if you're building your personal brand, you have to find what you stand for. So if we're looking at- and this all kind of ties together in terms of authorship. So as part of your personal brand, you could absolutely be an author. You don't have to be, but being an author is certainly going to help you catapult your personal brand.
So if we're talking about content marketing as it relates to personal branding, and really building your personal brand, it's really a matter of identifying what it is that you want to talk about. What is your niche? And of course starting with the obvious of what's your business? So what is it that you do? I know that there's a lot of business owners listening to this, so it could vary. You could be an accountant, you could be a financial advisor, you could be a consultant, you could be a motivational speaker; there's just a bunch of things that you could be doing. And I know for myself that when I started off my business, I've been in business since 2004, but it's absolutely morphed and changed shape a variety of times over the years. And this most recent iteration of my business being a professional lesbian began in November of 2012. So I'm going into the fourth year here, and in doing so everything I've done to this point has really been around content marketing. And I don't necessarily- I wish I could say that this was really intentional in the beginning, but it really wasn't intentional until probably about a year, maybe a year and a half in, where I realized that your personal brand stands for so much more. So if you are beginning your kind of personal brand journey now, you can be looking to get a domain name that has your name as the domain name. So for me I have www.JennTGrace.com. And a side note, a funny little fun fact is that I could not get www.JennGrace.com. So I had to throw the 'T' in there to make sure that I could get something as close to my name as I could. And it is my name obviously, but I really would have preferred Jenn Grace, and not sounding so formal with the 'T,' but alas I wanted to make sure my brand all matched, therefore I had to go with the Jenn T Grace on everything. So that's kind of how that happened. But I would encourage you to make sure you have your domain name. I know that most of the people that I work with right now already have it. There are times- I'm actually working with a client right now who cannot get her name no matter how hard we tried. We even tried to negotiate with the person who owns it via GoDaddy and they're not willing to give it up even though they're not using it. So there's a lot of variables with that kind of stuff. But you can do- depending on what you're doing, like if you're trying to build a platform for speaking you could do- put 'Speaks' at the end of it. So I could do www.JennGraceSpeaks.com for example. Or you can do JennGraceAuthor. There's a lot of different variables, but you really want to try to get as close to your name as possible and make it simple for people to find.
So that's just kind of a small simple tip in terms of having a home base if you will to drive people to. So if you have your website and it's not your name, that's fine too. If it's your business name, and you want to start putting out content, then as long as you have a place to bring people back to, that's the end goal. You don't want to be posting all of your blog posts just on LinkedIn but not on your own website. You want to make sure that you're driving people from social media, from the interwebs to your website so you can work on getting people to subscribe to what you're doing and all that kind of stuff.
As I had said I was not completely intentional about it when I began. I really began wanting to do this podcast, so I was having a couple of conversations in one day with some really amazing people and thought, 'Wow they have such brilliance to share. I need people to be a fly on the wall to listen to this conversation and hear their great wisdom.' And it was shortly thereafter that day I was like, 'That's what I need to do. I need to do a podcast so I can interview people, and I can talk about these really interesting things, and really just allow people to kind of see the inside look at all of what makes these LGBT leaders and allies amazing people. So it did start off with just a podcast and then I realized, 'Alright so if I'm going to do a podcast, I'm definitely going to have to do some blogging here,' and then the blogging turned into writing a book, and the book turned into creating videos, and it all kind of transpired from there. But one of the things- and this was what I wanted to talk to you about today is really just trying to take an inventory of all of the things that you've done in the past that could tie into your personal brand. So if you're looking at your career path. So you may have had three businesses by now. Just because business number one doesn't have anything to do with business number three, the common denominator there is still you, and you being the brand. So if you may have worked for an insurance company, and happen to be a rock star, and you got a whole bunch of awards for what you were doing, but now you are running a fitness empire. Yes, the two of those things have nothing to do with one another in any way, shape, or form, but the common piece there is you. So how can you leverage the fact that you were an award winning insurance agent maybe, and now you're an award winning fitness guru. So it's a matter of trying to find ways to marry the two of those, and the first place to start is by creating a list of all of the awards that you've ever received based on what jobs you held, what roles you were in, what business you happened to own at the time, and all of that kind of stuff.
From there what I would recommend is gathering articles. So I guess we can say that was number one. Number one is what are the awards that you've won, and gathering all that stuff. So number two would be looking at any articles that you've been featured in. So thinking about articles in the newspaper, or a magazine whether it's industry specific, or whether it's a national magazine, or a local newspaper versus national paper; going in and trying to find all of those places that have either focused on you specifically, or they have mentioned you, and start that list. So now you have two lists going.
So the third one would be is blog posts. So where- if you have guest posted on other people's blogs, where has that been? Do you have a concrete list of all the places that you've contributed? Make a list of that. Same thing with podcasts. So if you've been interviewed on other people's podcasts, write it down, get it in a list. So at this point- so we're basically looking at a variety ways, a half dozen ways of gathering places that you've- taking an inventory of all these different places that you've been published, or you've been talked about, or the awards you won, the articles, the blog posts, the podcasts, all these different places. This is all kind of the foundation for what could be a content marketing strategy. So a strategy- it has to have a strategy behind it. You can just start saying how great you are on social media, or how great you are on your website, and only doing that. So it's just one piece of the puzzle is getting the inventory of this stuff.
The other thing I would say in terms of taking inventory is reviewing your website copy; so any of the writing that's on your website whether it's the 'About' page, or maybe it's a 'Services' page, or your 'Home' page. Grabbing all of that information too, and just reviewing it and seeing what type of content you have there, is there opportunity for you to weave in some of the other things that we talked about? Is there a way for you to weave in articles, or blog posts, or podcasts and make them very natural in part of that conversation? So reviewing your website, reviewing your blog content. So are you getting the most mileage out of your blog content? That is a huge, huge question for so many people. Or are you getting the most mileage out of past newsletters? Are your past newsletters currently blog posts? Or are blog posts into newsletters? So if you're going to create a piece of content, find a way to use that piece of content in 1,000 different ways. There are so many different ways that you can use it, may as well leverage all of it. So to me, if I'm going to work with a client and I'm going to convince them that they need to spend their precious resources on sitting down and spending two hours on writing a piece of content, and they're a very busy CEO that needs to be focused on sales calls and all kinds of stuff, and that two hours of time is really valuable to them. I'm not going to just say, "Hey thank you for writing this 600-800 word piece of blog content," posting it on the blog, and then just leaving it at that. It's far more than that. It's looking at that blog content and saying, okay how can we re-purpose this? Can we pitch this to a publication as some kind of guest post? Could we talk to other people in our space and say, 'Hey I have this interesting information, is this something you want to put on your post?' Or oh the newsletter is going to come up in a couple of weeks, can we put this information in the newsletter? Of course all of these different scenarios you have to modify the language a little bit, but the substance and the meat of that information remains the same. So if you're talking about a specific topic, maybe the intro and the outro of that topic change a little bit based on the audience, and where it's going, and if it's an article versus a newsletter versus a blog post. In looking at it that way, yeah we're going to have to change the content a little bit to make sure that it resonates with the audience. So yeah we'll have to change the content a little bit to make sure it resonates with the audience, but ultimately it's re-purposing that one blog post that you may have spent two hours on, and putting it in six, seven, eight different places to really start to gather and create more traffic to your website, and ultimately the hope would be to convert leads once people get to your website. So convincing them that they should pick up the phone and call you, or to download something, or reach out to you.
So another piece of this is thinking about the strategy for your content. So I just said it's kind of like step one. So step one is basically taking an inventory. So step two is more of what- how can I strategically use this information? So we just talked about how you can use your website content, your blog content, newsletters, podcasts, all that kind of stuff is intertwined, and really kind of in harmony to drive your end goal. But in terms of a strategy, one of the things that I did- and I know a lot of authors who are doing this now, is when I started writing on my blog in November of 2012, it was really starting off with the podcast, but when I started writing I knew I was going to use the information at some point somewhere else. And again I didn't really- I wasn't coming from a personal branding side of things. I wasn't trying to figure out how to build my personal brand. All my goal at the time was to help educate people, and it's still a huge, huge part of my goal is to educate people on LGBT stuff. But I knew as I was writing these blog posts that I would do something with them eventually, and it wasn't fully thought out, but in hindsight, and something you could learn, is that if you say, "My end goal is to have a book by the end of 2016. And I write to my blog twice a week," maybe it's once a week, maybe it's once every two weeks, maybe it's once a month. Whatever the frequency is, so you can put that content together each week as you go throughout the year so by the time you get to the end of the year, you have all of the content available, you basically just have to marry it all together into something that creates a book. So if you're talking about one topic that goes in with the second topic, you're going to have to create- going in and adding paragraphs and making sure that the flow is right, and making sure that the chapters flow well. But the beauty is that you would have all of that information to work with rather than sitting there in November saying, "Crap I said in 2016 I'm going to write a book, and now I have to write 30,000 words. So it's a matter of really thinking strategically; instead of having to write 30,000 words at once, how can I write thirty blog posts that are 1,000 words each and marry them together into a book by the end of the year? So it's really thinking from a big strategic level of how to do that. So as I mentioned in my first book which is, 'But You Don't Look Gay,' and it's The Six Steps to Creating a Successful LGBT Marketing Strategy. What I did is when I first started, the first half of that book really is a lot of information about who the community is, the buying power of the community, some of the bigger marketing tips of understanding why people use the rainbow in their marketing, giving some data, and that kind of stuff. All of that information was taken from past blog posts. And again, I didn't have the strategy at first for how I was doing this, so it was completely disjointed when I started working with it, but the content was all there. So I probably had I would say 15,000 words to work with probably at the very least, and I was able to move things around, and really just bridge these thoughts together, but it was a little more cumbersome because when I was writing it to begin with, I wasn't writing it with an end goal of, 'I'm going to put this in a book.' However probably midway through 2013, I guess maybe it was even in early 2013, I had the thought of creating a series of blog posts that all tied together in one topic, which happens to be the six steps. So I think when I was doing it I had created five steps. So it was what are the five steps to creating a really good strategy? And I would write it saying, "Okay so this week we're going to talk about step one of five," and I would write a blog post about it, sometimes it's 600 words, sometimes it's 1,000 words, and then I would say, "Come back next week and we'll get into number two. And then we'll get into number three." So it was a series that lasted over the course of five weeks, and that one- that information is the second half of that first book. So it was so easy because I had already written it with a natural flow from chapter to chapter essentially. So because I had that in mind of, 'I'm going to make a book, like this is definitely going to be the foundation of my book,' it was really, really easy to take those blog posts that really already flowed well together, and putting them in the second half of that book.
So going a little bit further along, I created my second book in 2014, and that one is, 'No Wait, You Do Look Gay,' and it's The Seven Mistakes that Prevent People from Being Able to Sell to the Community. And that one was very artfully crafted over the course of probably ten months, maybe a little bit longer, of here's all the things that I want to include in this book, and oh by the way I have six months of blog content that I have to come up with. Let me make sure it's both. So in essence, somebody could go to my website and go through every blog post I've ever written, which is over 400 at this point, it's probably closer to 450, which would be a total pain in the ass of having to go in, and try to find things, and sometimes it's logically setting up for the next thing to read, but most of the time not, and not intentionally, just how the website's structured. Or you could just buy the book for $10 and make it easy on yourself, and have it laid out beautifully for you.
So I guess the thing that the book has that the blog posts don't have is there's additional content and context for building the business case, and building the business case for this book itself. So from that standpoint, this is something that anybody can do. So I know that I've been talking about authorship, and really becoming an author in 2016, but you can totally be tag-teaming this approach. You could be working on a content marketing strategy, and working on a book at the exact same time, and using that same information in both places. And of course for- I don't know if it's an ethical reason, I don't even know what to call it. You don't want it to be completely identical. So I made sure that when I was writing both of the books that I'm adding a little more information in the book because I want people to feel like they're getting a value from it. In the grand scheme of things, you can probably figure out 85% of it on the website itself without ever having to get the book, but again it's the convenience and the ease of having the book to look at, and to guide you through the process.
So if you already have content, and going back to that inventory of taking an inventory of where you've been seen, but then also things that you've produced, there's probably a good chance that you have the foundation- a big foundation of being able to put a book together in a relatively short period of time, because you already have a lot of it, you just have to start putting it together like a puzzle. So in terms of the content marketing strategy- So there's taking the inventory, and then there's having a strategy for what you're going to do with that information. And the content marketing might flow into a book, maybe you don't want to write a book, and that's fine too. I think that a lot of people have it in mind that they can sit and just spend an hour and write 600 words for a blog post, and that doesn't have to do anything else, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So if you do want to go down the road of creating a book, and again this is probably applicable if you're just trying to figure out a content marketing strategy. The third step would be figuring out basically what your outline would look like. So if we think, 'Hey we started at the top, we took an inventory of everything we have, and now we have these stacks of stuff that we can use and they're all over here on this side of the desk, and now we are strategically looking at what we want to do with this information whether it's just producing on the blog- I guess podcast too, on the blog or podcast, or producing a book with this information eventually. The next piece would be coming up with an outline. So even if you don't want to write a book, it still would be in your best interest to have some kind of road map, or some kind of outline to follow, which could be part of the overall strategy. But having some tactical road map that basically says, 'Okay on Tuesdays I'm going to write communication tips, and on Fridays I'm going to write marketing tips. And every other week I'm going to do an interview.' So that way you at least have an outline for what you're trying to accomplish. And I use those examples because when I started my blog I was writing twice a week, and I'm not going to lie, it was a lot of work. But now four years later I have 450 blog posts that are just kind of out there in the universe, and when someone goes to Google and they're looking for something around LGBT and marketing, a lot of times I'm the one that shows up because I have so much information out there for it. But you can save yourself a lot of time and headache if you come up with an outline. So I was doing my Communications Tuesdays, and every Tuesday I would write something about a faux pas that people say or do, or a term that you might not want to use, or one you would prefer to use. And then on Fridays it was very tactical and marketing driven. So what's a step to launching a successful strategy? What's step one? What's step two? And those were always on Fridays.
So if we're looking at it from that standpoint, you can take route one, or route A, whatever we want to call it, and say, 'Alright I'm just going to focus on getting content out there. I'm not trying to do a book.' So pick a day of the week that you want to release your blog, podcast, whatever it happens to be, and pick a theme, and then go from there. And they don't have to tie together, but if you want to figure out how to use this for a book down the road, actually put together an outline of a book. So you don't have to have any of it written, don't get stressed out about, 'Oh I don't even know what I would write.' Just start putting together an outline of your thoughts, and from there you can totally create this outline that turns into your roadmap of, okay chapter one has to be on general high level who the LGBT community is. Chapter two can go into the more nitty gritty details of the LGBT community. Maybe it talks about the 'L' of the community. Chapter three talks about the 'G' of the community. Chapter four, the 'B.' Chapter five, the 'T.' Chapter six, okay now you know all this information, why is it important? I guess really think through what people ask you the most about, what are those common questions? What is your process and your methodology for how you walk a client through whatever product or service it is that you sell? Because that's really going to be the framework of what could be your outline to your book, and also an outline as part of your content marketing strategy.
You may be listening to this and thinking, 'I have never written an outline for anything, let alone a book.' So what I could recommend doing is mind mapping your ideas. Mind mapping is really just grabbing a piece of paper, writing down your central idea in the center of it, and then just branching off, drawing lines that come out from that center that are different pieces of information or topics around your business that you would want to talk about. And if you just go to Google and type in 'mind maps,' there are tons and tons and tons of information, and pictures, and how to's of actually creating a mind map. But it's really simple. Grab a piece of paper, write in the middle 'LGBT marketing,' and from there what are all the pieces that people would need to know about LGBT marketing? It could be the same thing for financial advisors. So if you're an advisor and you're listening to this, circle financial advisor, that's who you are, you're in the center of it. Who are the clients you work with? What are the questions they ask? Where are you doing business? All of the things that could be beneficial to your end customer to hear. Or maybe your end customer- maybe you're not trying to get customers, maybe you have a different goal of your book. But regardless, starting with the mind map, and then from the mind map you can create an outline because then you can start grouping things together. So even though it might look like a big, crazy, chaotic mess of information on a page, you might look at it kind of high level and say, 'Alright for some reason there's a lot of chatter about marketing tactics. Let me just grab all of those and put them aside in one place.' Or 'There's a lot of chatter about words that you shouldn't say. Let me put all those on this side of the page.' And then eventually it becomes really clear, 'Oh wow, there's actually a story arc here, there's a structure here. I couldn't see the forest through the trees before to see that there's a structure, but there's totally a structure.' So really from that mind map stage it's a matter of creating- it's going back to the outline. So you either create the outline first, or you use a mind map to help you create the outline. So those are kind of like steps three and four kind of combined.
And then from there you just plan and schedule your time of essentially how you're going to get it done. So if you decide that, 'Hey my outline has enough for fourteen chapters, I'm going to try to write 1,000 words each for each of these fourteen chapters. So now we have 14,000 words.' That's great but how are you going to do that? Are you going to block out time on your calendar? Are you going to reserve certain days of the week to focus on your writing? Are you going to write say every morning from 8:00 to 8:30, and when 8:30 hits, the buzzer goes off, you're done? Are you going to do it for four hours on a Friday? Are you going to focus one day a month? There's a million different ways you can do this, you just have to do it with what works best for you. For me it used to be focusing on writing for a little bit every day. I used to do usually between 8:00 and 9:00 AM, I would do my writing. And then once that was up, I was done, and I moved on. And now I really morphed into- by the time I get to the place where I want to write something, I have it in my mind pretty concretely, and it's just a matter of getting it out of my head and on paper. So I wrote a blog post- one of the January blog posts, I ended up writing it in like 21 minutes, and I do time myself just to see, whereas when I first started this about four years ago, that easily could have been something that took me three hours to do. So of course you basically- you get better as you go through. And it takes a while, there's a lot of process involved, but it's a matter of scheduling it and make time for it.
And then of course the last step would be if you're going to schedule it and make time for it, then you have to actually do the work, that's the big piece. So you actually have to get it done. So that could be just using a Word document, that could be getting a product like Scrivener, which is a product specifically for writing whether it's blog posts, books, whatever it happens to be. It's a really helpful tool, I happen to love it. I'll make sure I include a link in the show notes for that, and just as a side note the link for today's show would be www.JennTGrace.com/78 for episode number 78.
So yeah, so I know I just kind of spewed out a lot of information all at once, and maybe it didn't come out- I'm thinking as I'm talking it became more clear as I went along, but it's really what we're talking about, is the six steps to creating a content marketing plan that could eventually evolve into a book. Or the six steps to creating a book that could evolve into a content marketing plan. So it's really just those six steps of taking an inventory, creating a strategy, outlining and then mind mapping, or mind mapping and then outlining depending on what your process is. Planning and scheduling, and then getting it done.
So yeah, that I'm sure I have raised far more questions than I have answered, but I hope that today's episode gives you at least a little bit of a framework of how you can use content marketing in your business, how you can use it as part of your personal brand, how you can have that evolve into being an author by the end of 2016 if that's what you're trying to do, or if you're listening to this podcast and it's 2017, it's all still applicable. Everything I'm talking about is totally an evergreen topic, meaning this is something that you can do regardless of when in a period of time this happens to be that you're listening to it. So for anyone listening to this, I would strongly encourage you to reach out, whether you leave a comment in the blog post that this podcast is on, whether you comment on it in LinkedIn, send me a tweet, send me a note on Facebook; wherever you happen to be, I probably am too, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this because I really am thinking I would like to go into more detail on content marketing from a really big picture level, and just helping give you kind of that step by step advice. I am currently working with a fair amount of really large companies who I'm helping with their content marketing strategy, and it's something that I really love doing. And to be perfectly honest, I've never really marketed it. Like it's not something- like to me I'm teaching straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. That is my tagline, I'm still sticking entirely true to that, but because my business is built on content marketing, I do have a lot of companies that reach out to me to say, "Hey, how did you do that? How did you build it? Can you build it for us?" And of course I would love to build it for them, because as long as it has some tie into what we're talking about in terms of the LGBT market, then it's a win-win for everybody, and that's kind of how I prefer to do things.
So anyway, if you want to reach out to me on social media, by all means please do. If you want to contact me, you can do so on my website. And if I threw out things that are not clear to you, please email me and ask for clarification, and I can certainly do a follow-up episode about this. And yeah, we can kind of go from there.
So I hope you enjoyed today's episode, and we will talk in episode number 79. Talk to you soon.
Thank you for listening to today's podcast. If there are any links from today's show that you are interested in finding, save yourself a step and head on over to www.JennTGrace.com/thepodcast. And there you will find a backlog of all of the past podcast episodes including transcripts, links to articles, reviews, books, you name it. It is all there on the website for your convenience. Additionally if you would like to get in touch with me for any reason, you can head on over to the website and click the contact form, send me a message, you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all at Jenn T Grace. And as always, I really appreciate you as a listener, and I highly encourage you to reach out to me whenever you can. Have a great one, and I will talk to you in the next episode.
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Direct download: epi_78_6-content-marketing-tips-to-develop-your-personal-brand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am EST
Thu, 4 February 2016
In this episode we talk about the top 5 fears new LGBT authors have and how to conquer them!
Thu, 21 January 2016
Standing Out and Reinventing Yourself with Dorie Clark
Jenn T Grace: The first question that I want to ask you, is really to just tell my audience a little bit about yourself. So who is Dorie Clark, and what your story is, and basically what led you to where you are today in your career? Dorie Clark: Yeah, thank you. So today I spend my time doing a mix of different things. I am a marketing strategy consultant; I've worked with clients like Google and Yale University and the National Parks Service. I also write business books including 'Reinventing You' and 'Stand Out.' And I teach for the Fuqua School of Business at Duke, and spend a lot of time giving talks at conferences and for associations. But the way that I got to that is a little bit circuitous; and this is something that I actually talk about in my first book, 'Reinventing You.' I started my career as a political journalist and unfortunately got laid off very rapidly into my career. I switched over into working in politics, and so I was the spokesperson on a gubernatorial campaign, and then on a presidential campaign, ran a nonprofit for a couple of years, and then finally as a result of all of those things, I realized that running the nonprofit was essentially the same thing as running a business. And so I decided in 2006 to launch my own, and that is how I sort of sprung into the entrepreneurial ventures that I'm doing now. Jenn T Grace: Nice. So you're coming up on your ten year anniversary, how exciting! Dorie Clark: Yeah, exactly it is pretty great. And finally I found a career that stuck. I love being an entrepreneur and working for myself, I find it really satisfying in that it suits my personality. Jenn T Grace: I'm sure, and I would imagine that over the last ten years- especially since your book is called 'Reinventing You,' I'm sure you've kind of reinvented the way your business has looked over those last ten years. Do you want to share anything about that? Dorie Clark: Yeah I really- you'd think that starting your own business would be a fairly consistent thing, you just decide what you're going to offer and go do it. But I actually have reinvented my business many times within the umbrella of doing strategic communications. I actually started out essentially doing public relations; that was what I knew, I had been a journalist, I had essentially done PR for political candidates. But around the time that I was launching in 2006, I realized that- that was when social media was just beginning to take off, and people didn't understand it, but they were sort of confused by it. That created a lot of opportunities, but what was happening at the same time is that the newspaper industry was continuing to collapse. And so clients were expecting the same things out of PR as they always had, which is they are having a press conference, you need to have the Regional Daily there, and they need to get really good placement in the paper. And it became this incredibly painful and arduous task to explain to them, 'No the reason the reporter isn't there to cover your press conference isn't because your PR consultant has done a crappy job, it's because reporters don't exist anymore because they've all been fired, and the newspaper's size has been cut in half, so you're not going to get in the paper for a conference announcing that you've given $500 to the local charity.' So it became just such a terrible, thankless task. I realized alright, I've got to get out of PR. And so I shifted into marketing strategy, that was the first innovation. I also originally thought I'd be doing a lot of work in politics, but began pretty quickly shifting into doing corporate and nonprofit work. And so again and again there were these reinventions. And then finally in about 2009 or 2010 I shifted in a big way and decided that I needed to try to play a bigger game, and instead of being a local or a regional consultant in New England, which is what I had been doing, I decided that I needed to make a real investment in terms of building my so-called platform, and getting better known. And so I committed myself to doing a lot of writing, and blogging, and speaking, and getting myself out there so that I could hopefully raise my profile to be a national or international consultant instead. Jenn T Grace: That is awesome. So in terms of your blogging, and just the content creation you've done. I'm on your mailing list, so I get your information, but who would you say is the ideal target market for you? Like who's your ideal reader of your newsletters, or who's reading the blogging content that you're putting out there, or someone who's reading your book? Because I've looked into both of your books, I actually have not bought them yet, I have about four on my audio account that I have not gotten through yet, so I want to make sure I had time to digest them. But I would love to know just a little bit more about your books, and who the ideal listener or reader is for those. Dorie Clark: Well for my first book, 'Reinventing You,' it's really a book intended for people who want to make a change in their lives. And it could be that they want to change jobs, it could be that they want to change careers, it could be that they want to change how others perceive them. But it is a book about how to manage that change, and take control of it so that people are seeing you the way that you would wish to be seen; that's the general premise there. For 'Stand Out,' my most recent book, that's a book that's aimed at folks who are happy in the place that they're in, they love their job, they love their career or their field, but they want to try to break through to the next level. And it's a book to really help them become a recognized expert inside their company, or inside their field. If you're an entrepreneur, if you know that your career could benefit by raising your profile and getting your ideas out there more, that is a book that really tried to provide a roadmap for that. Jenn T Grace: Nice. And when you were creating both of these books, did you have any type of 'ah-ha' moment around them, or I guess around what you were doing? I know that you gave a little bit of a background how you got to the point of starting your business, but was there any real kind of kick in the pants that was the thing that made you say, "I have to write this book"? Dorie Clark: Well you know in many ways for my first book, 'Reinventing You,' I had been- I think the biggest 'ah-ha' moment is that sometimes you can be trying something forever, and just be hitting walls, but when you have the right idea, all of a sudden you discover that the walls have a door, and that the door just swings open. And it's such a marked difference, it was really dramatic for me. So in 2009 I decided that that was going to be my year, that was going to be the year that I sold a book. And so I spent the first half of the year writing three different book proposals, because I was convinced that I just need to come up with the right idea, and then some publisher would take it. But it turned out that was not at all how it worked. All of them got turned down because I kept hearing essentially that I was not famous enough, and so they did not want to take a chance on working with me. And that was enormously frustrating, and it meant that I kind of had to go back to square one. So I started blogging, that was what prompted me to do it, and finally about eighteen months later, toward the end of 2010, that was when I started blogging for the Harvard Business Review. And the second post that I ever did for it was called, 'How to Reinvent Your Personal Brand.' And when that post came out, it was successful, and they asked me if I would be willing to take it and turn it into an expanded version for the Harvard Business Review Magazine. And so I did that, and within a week of it hitting newsstands of February of 2011, I had three different literary agents approach me and ask if I was represented, and if I was interested in possibly creating a book proposal. And so I said, "Oh wow, is this what it's like to be wanted? Because all of my previous efforts had kind of come to not." And all of a sudden, folks were coming to me. And so I quickly put together a book proposal, was able to sell it to Harvard Business Review Press, and it resulted two years later in 'Reinventing You.' So I think the biggest 'ah-ha' was just that when the idea is right, and when you do in fact have a platform established, then things are just enormously easier than what you might have experienced previously where a lot of the doors are shut. Jenn T Grace: Yeah and you know one of the things that I think that you touched on that's so incredibly important for people listening to understand, is that it took you eighteen months of just blogging. And I'm sure that- did you have some sort of consistency or routine where you did it once a week, twice a week, once a month, that you did over the course of those eighteen months to kind of build your base of content? Dorie Clark: Later I developed a routine, and began blogging incredibly regularly. But during the eighteen months- actually most of them were spent attempting to break in various places. I knew that what was going to be important for me was so-called social proof; IE getting some more powerful or established brands associated with me. And so I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to connect and break in at certain publications, and hitting a lot of walls, a lot of rejection from editors. Frankly it was very insulting because I had been a professional journalist, I had been paid to write just a few years previous, and now I was basically raising my hand saying, "Hey I'll write for you for free," and they don't even bother to get back to you. But that's the reality for a lot of these things, and you just have to keep persisting with it. But so it was mostly slogging through that in order to get the connections and relationships teed up. So first I was able to break in at the Huffington Post, and then finally at the Harvard Business Review. But later on starting in early 2012 I decided that I wanted to find a venue where I could write much more frequently. And so I wrote for Forbes for three and a half years, and I did it a minimum of five times a month, but oftentimes as much as ten times a month, so I was really creating a very steady flow of content for them. Jenn T Grace: Wow, that is intense. That's amazing though because it just goes to show that hard work and persistence really are those keys to success. Because I'm sure when you kind of came out on the scene and all of a sudden you have this book, people might just think that it's an overnight thing, and everybody thinks that success happens overnight. But really you had been putting in a significant amount of work for a really long time prior to that to really be able to leverage that type of success. Dorie Clark: Yes, absolutely. Jenn T Grace: Wow, that's awesome. So what keeps you motivated on a day-to-day basis? I know that we're connecting right now between two kind of big stints of travel for you. Is there something that just is your guiding principle that keeps you on track and motivated to keep on doing what you're doing? Dorie Clark: Well one thing that I try to do is each year- actually I guess technically it's maybe every six months, I try to set three top priorities for myself that are going to be the kind of north star for that period of time. I think that if you have more than that it becomes really difficult. So for the first half of the year for instance, my big goals were launching my book successfully, 'Stand Out,' which came out in April. Doubling the size of my email list which I figured would be something that took the whole year. Fortunately I was actually able to do it much sooner than that, so that was encouraging. And then finding a girlfriend. So those were my priorities for the first half of the year, and now moving into the latter half of the year I'm sort of shifting over. So the book is launched, so then what kind of replaced that slot was that I wanted to sell the proposal for my next book. And so I actually have just agreed to a contract for my third book, which I guess will probably be coming out in 2017 or 2018. But I think it's important to make sure that you're always having something to look forward to, and always moving the ball forward. Jenn T Grace: Yeah, absolutely. Goal setting is so incredibly important. I'm glad that that's part of your routine as well, and it makes sense that since you've seen such enormous success so far. So in terms of I guess just saying your book would be 2017 or 2018, I'm always so- not shocked because this is so kind of the norm, that it takes such a long period of time to go from concept to actual execution when you're going through a traditional publishing route. Is that frustrating to you at any period of time? Like do you ever think like, 'Oh I wish I could have this in six months rather than two and a half or three years'? Dorie Clark: Oh for sure with my first two books it was really frustrating because I wanted to get it out there. I knew that a book would be a key driver in terms of building my brand, and that it would accelerate my success. And so it really couldn't happen fast enough for me. I was enormously frustrated that it took just about two years from signing the contract to the book coming out for 'Reinventing You,' and then it took about eighteen months between signing the contract and 'Stand Out' coming out. That felt so interminably slow to me. But actually for this third book I actually feel okay about it because I've been on a little bit of a treadmill for the past four years writing books, promoting books, et cetera. And so I'm actually looking forward to having a little bit more time hopefully to work on this, and to write it so that I can focus on other elements of my business beyond literally just either writing or promoting books. Jenn T Grace: Interesting. And I know that you had talked about marketing strategy in the beginning and that's something that you focus on. How much of your I guess time maybe now versus how you want it to be are you focusing on helping other companies be better, versus promoting or writing your books? Dorie Clark: So before I started writing my books, which really was the driver for expanding other facets of my business, probably 95% of my income was based on consulting; I just had a traditional consulting practice. I deliberately over the past few years have tried to shift it so that now it's actually much more equal, it's much more I would say in maybe fifths, and I wanted to do that deliberately as kind of a market hedge. So I probably get about 20% a piece of my income from consulting, speaking, coaching, writing the books, and then doing executive coaching. Jenn T Grace: Nice, that's awesome. And it's always good, they always say it's good to diversify your income in your investments, but it's also true for your business. It just makes you more sustainable. Dorie Clark: Exactly, yes. Jenn T Grace: Very cool. So in terms of- I want to switch over into LGBT stuff momentarily, but I do want to ask you what is the best piece of advice that you've been given, whether it's from a mentor, from a book, from pretty much anywhere that's just one of those things that has either helped you personally or in your business? Dorie Clark: Well you know I think that- I'll go way back, something that was really impactful to me not even when I was starting my business, but just when I was a kid, was when I was thirteen I got handed a copy of Tony Robbins' book 'Unlimited Power' by a friend's mom. And I had seen it out on their living room table or something and I asked her about it and she said, "Oh my God, you need to read this." She said, "If you read this now, this will totally change your life." And so I read it when I was thirteen, and it was great, I thought it was really fantastic because it was the first book that I had ever read- essentially the first self-help book I had ever read, but it was the first book that I had ever read that really made the point- which I wish more people would kind of clue their kids into, that you can choose your reactions to things. That you really have a lot more power and control over your life, and over how you react to things, and the decisions that you make than you might have been led to believe. And I found it really helpful, and really empowering, and I think that it's been useful to me as I've gone through and done everything entrepreneurial or otherwise. Jenn T Grace: That's interesting. I've been looking up and reading more things on emotional intelligence lately, it seems to be kind of a hot topic going around. And I think that that book probably falls in line with that train of thought pretty well. Dorie Clark: Yeah, for sure. Jenn T Grace: Interesting. Okay so I appreciate your time thus far, this has been awesome and I know that you're just a well-known business figure which is fantastic, and I wanted to make sure that everybody had a good sense of who you are and where you're coming from as far as the business side goes. I do want to talk to you a little bit more around marketing, and specifically around the LGBT community. And you've already alluded to the guests listening that one of your goals was to find a girlfriend, which I love. So in terms of just talking about LGBT, first I want to ask you if you would be willing to share a coming out story with the listeners. Whether it's from something that had to do with family, friends, in the workplace; is there any particular one that just kind of sticks in your mind when somebody asks you about a coming out story? Dorie Clark: Sure, yeah absolutely. I would say that one thing that when I think back on coming out, I did it pretty early. I was about thirteen when I realized that I was gay, and then I started telling everybody when I was fourteen. But part of what made that possible, because I was growing up in a really small town in North Carolina where this was not really talked about a lot at the time, and in fact I didn't know any other gay people, had not met any other gay people for about a year after I came out. So I was the only gay person I knew for like a year. So that took a while. But one of the things that I did, which I am really glad that I did, and I'm really glad that my parents let me, was I had this feeling that I would be a lot better off leaving my town, and so I went to college early. There's a program at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, and so I entered there when I was fourteen, and that was actually really great because even though Mary Baldwin was a relatively conservative campus, even a conservative college is usually better than a small high school in North Carolina, at least at the time. And so I was able to find a community of likeminded people, and so along with my first girlfriend, and our friends and whatever, we actually founded the first LGBT- there was not 'T' then. But the first LGB organization at Mary Baldwin. And so that was fall semester of my freshman year. And we went through the whole process, it was kind of controversial on campus. 'What is this gay propaganda group?' But we passed it through and we got it organized, so I was really proud to be able to be a part of getting that dialogue started on campus. Jenn T Grace: That is so amazing and so impressive that as a young fourteen year old, you certainly went in with a bang. Dorie Clark: Thank you. Well I think part of it was probably because I was fourteen. Because I was hugely opinionated and hugely convinced of the righteousness of all of my beliefs. Jenn T Grace: Well that's awesome. But you know what? It's that type of mindset that affects change, and that's what you did which is totally awesome. Have you gone back to that college since you graduated? Or maybe just in colleges generally because I know that you're out there speaking. But do you ever speak on the topic of LGBT or is it really just specifically business focused? Dorie Clark: You know I've never been asked specifically to speak on LGBT issues. Although I do try to bring it into my talks where it's relevant. For instance there was a conference that I spoke at about a year ago in Providence called BIF: The Business Innovation Factory. And it's a pretty cool annual conference. And their shtick is that they ask speakers to give a talk that they've never given before, and a really personal talk; that's what they were after. So they don't just want your standard thing, your standard business talk, they want something really personal about you. And so I gave a talk to them, and really shared my own experiences. And the hook of it was I talked about research that Deloitte and NYU teamed up on about the phenomenon of covering. And so I spoke about that and my own experiences. And it was great, it was really well received. I think some people said it was like the first kind of gay themed talk that they had had at that conference which had been going on for a number of years. And so that was pretty cool. And in fact if folks are interested in checking it out, on my website which is www.DorieClark.com, I have a videos page, and it's up there. It's been my talk for BIF. But also I'll just mention that I have a free resource, it's a free 42 page standout self-assessment guide, and people can download it for free from www.DorieClark.com and when they sign up for it, if they wish to get such a thing, they will get a series of weekly emails with just like all my best articles, and videos, and things like that. And one of the things that they get sent really early on is a link to the BIF video if people are interested in checking that out. Jenn T Grace: That's awesome. So while you were talking I was thinking how- my question in my mind was going to be, "I wonder how up front you put this particular video?" Because it's so personal, and it's so not part of your normal business presentations. But I think it's amazing that you actually included right early on. And imagining that's so people get to know the real Dorie Clark versus maybe what their perceptions are. Would that be accurate? Dorie Clark: Sure, yeah absolutely. I mean- and also I feel like- I look pretty gay. And so I think it would be silly and disingenuous for me to not talk about it, or address it, or whatever. It would just be like this sad meta example of covering, and I feel like one of the things that I talk about a lot is the importance- I mean like now everybody's talking about it to the point where the phrase has become nauseating, but talk about authenticity. But I really do think that it is genuinely important to be yourself. And of course that means that some people are not going to be into it, that some people are not going to enjoy your message, but you know they're not going to enjoy my message anyway because I'm a girl in men's suits. So too bad. So for the people who do enjoy my message, I think that it is important to just be up front, and if there's good interesting material that I think can be helpful to people, I want to put that out there. So yeah, I make it fairly prominent. Jenn T Grace: I think that's great, and so for people who are listening and may not know the term 'covering,' I'm very familiar with the Deloitte study, so I'm familiar with it. Could you A) just give a quick synopsis of what covering is, and then the additional question on that would be is there an example that you can think of where you yourself have been put in the position of having to cover? And how has that felt? Dorie Clark: Yeah so when it comes to covering, I- so the basic idea, this is a term originally created by Erving Goffman who was a famous sociologist mid-century, and it was later taken up and expanded by Kenji Yoshino who's a professor at NYU. And he teamed up with Deloitte, in particular my friend and colleague Christie Smith, to expand it and to do a pretty detailed study about covering in the workplace. And the idea is that covering is- you could call it maybe a more subtle form of discrimination or oppression. The sort of discrimination 2.0 as it were. Because for instance if you're talking about LGBT issues, obviously if someone feels that they have to be closeted, that's an extreme example of people feeling really uncomfortable at work. But if we dial it down just a notch, there are circumstances where people might be out technically, but because they are nervous that it might not fit in, or it might make people feel uncomfortable, or it's just not the kind of place where they feel really okay being themselves. Even though technically people might know they're gay, they're behaving in ways that minimizes that identity. And so it could be that everybody else has pictures of their families on their desk, but you don't have a picture of your partner up. Or it could be that you are just a little bit careful about talking about what you're doing that weekend because you don't want to constantly be bringing up your girlfriend, or whatever. And so that's the LGBT example, but there's also examples for ethnic minorities that maybe they feel uncomfortable hanging out with other members of their cultural background because it might look like, "Oh well why are all the black people hanging out?" Or there's examples even of straight white men; people might think, 'Oh well they don't need to cover.' But it turns out that 45% of straight white men actually report covering in some fashion. Maybe because they have a mental health issue that they're dealing with. I had a guy after my BIF speech come up to me and say, "What you talked about with covering, that was me." He said, "I'm a straight white guy, and I got divorced, and for a while I was a single dad, and I didn't want to tell people that because I was worried that they thought I wouldn't be committed at work. And so we all have these examples, and it turns out unfortunately it's fairly pervasive in the workforce, and it also turns out that it hinders people's performance at work because they are having to manage their identity more than just being able to relax and concentrate on work. So eliminating the need to cover, creating an environment where people feel safe and comfortable being themselves, is one of the best things that companies can do for workplace productivity. Jenn T Grace: Absolutely. So now that you're not in a corporate setting, or I guess it doesn't even have to be a corporate setting, but you're on your own, you decide what you do and when you do it. So have you yourself have experienced covering I guess even in your entrepreneurial adventures? Dorie Clark: Yeah, so it's a really interesting question. I mean in general, I would say no, but that's because I've made very deliberate choices to structure my life so that I don't have to do that. I think that unfortunately a lot of people do, upwards of 80% of LGBT people in fact according to the Deloitte study have experienced covering in some facet of their professional lives. And so for me I do have a lot more control as an entrepreneur; I can choose who I want to work with, there's not some factor where I have to be really worried about it. I mean it's possible that some corporate climate if I was consulting or whatnot might feel less conducive to it, but dating from my activist days in college, I'm somebody who's typically just taken the tack of, "You don't like me? Well F you, I don't like you." Jenn T Grace: I love it. Dorie Clark: So I try to just be myself, put it out there in a nice way, and if people are not interested in doing business with me, then I just move onto something else. Jenn T Grace: I am on the exact same wavelength as far as that goes, I think that's perfect. So in terms of somebody who might be listening to this- so say for example, because my audience is a good healthy mix of LGBT people, and then also allies who are just learning to know more about the LGBT community. For somebody who might be listening to this who maybe hasn't made that step yet to be an entrepreneur, and maybe they're in a workplace where it's not necessarily conducive, do you have maybe some just any piece of hope, or some kind of piece of wisdom that you would say to that person if they are finding themselves in situations like this? Dorie Clark: Yeah, so I think that ultimately if you are in a situation where you are being implicitly or explicitly asked to sort of sand down your differences, to modify your behaviors to make other people feel more comfortable, it's something that can be really damaging over time, and I think that ultimately of course it's best to get out of that situation. But in the interim you may not have that option. These things take time. In my first book, 'Reinventing You,' I interviewed a woman who was able to reinvent her career, and ultimately it was this fantastic story. She went from being a hairdresser to a professional speaker on leadership topics. So it was so interesting. But she said that it was over a ten year period that she did this, because she had a ten year lease on her hair salon, and she just decided that over that ten years she was going to use that time to build up her reputation and her client base for her speaking business, so that when the lease was up she could make a safe and easy transition. And she said it's like if you're getting divorced, you don't just yell, "Alright we're through," and then walk out the door. You want to try to plan it, you want to try to be strategic about how exactly you're going to do it. And for any transition, whether it's a professional reinvention, or finding a workplace situation that is going to be more amenable for you, sometimes it really does take time because you may need the money, you may have a family that depends on you. But it's just kind of making strategic decisions now, and knowing that even if in the moment you are having to make sacrifices that are a little bit uncomfortable, A) it's good always to try to not make assumptions, because sometimes we may guess incorrectly about what the climate is. Now I mean you may not, but it's also possible that sometimes we might suspect that a certain person, or a certain thing would be frowned on, and actually it's just us that's paranoid. And it might actually not be received poorly. So getting a reality check from a trusted colleague is one important thing to do. But if it turns out you are in a situation where you temporarily have to be putting up with it, I think it's really important to just separate ourselves and to realize this isn't forever, and that over time you can begin to reposition yourself so that you're working with people and with organizations that will be better and more accepting. Jenn T Grace: I like that answer, that's really good. It's reassuring but it also is realistic that it takes time to make any type of transition a successful one. Dorie Clark: Absolutely, and I think something- the drum that I try to beat in 'Reinventing You' and 'Stand Out' as well, is that one of the best investments you can make in your career is investing in developing a strong personal brand. Getting recognized both inside and outside of your company. Writing blogs, giving speeches, being involved in professional associations; all those sorts of stuff. Because if you do that, that is the best form of career insurance, and the more you make yourself invaluable to your company, the more you're a rainmaker, the more you're publicly recognized. Frankly, the more leverage you have, and they will feel like they can't afford to lose you, and even if they're not the coolest in the world about LGBT issues, well if you're valuable enough, they will deal because they have to deal. Jenn T Grace: And they'll at the very least have to deal, but then that also kind of opens the door for potential opportunities like your young fourteen year old self to be able to make some kind of significant change within that organization around LGBT, which is really amazing too. Dorie Clark: Yes, absolutely. Jenn T Grace: This has been fantastic so far. I want to ask you about marketing specifically. Not to suggest that you are an LGBT marketing expert, but rather partially from your background in marketing, but also just from a consumer standpoint. Have you- and I guess so those listening are looking for marketing tips or advice of how they can better position themselves to market to the LGBT community. So in that vein do you have any particular kind of thought, or a piece of advice, or just kind of anything that you think that you could share that might help make them slightly more successful in doing so? Dorie Clark: Well I think that one of the best forms of marketing of course is- it's actually where marketing and HR ties together. Because if a company is viewed as having positive internal policies with regard to LGBT issues, that's something that I think both for me personally and for consumers in general, tips the scales in their favor in terms of who you want to be doing business with. And it has the additional benefit of making your company more competitive from a talent perspective. So really investing in creating the kind of internal climate and policies, and then publicizing that, that we want the most talented LGBT employees. That is really valuable, and then those people can actually serve to be the best on the ground ambassadors to the world at large. Jenn T Grace: Absolutely, that is so beautifully put. Can you think of somebody kind of in the opposite direction, where a company has blatantly not supported LGBT, but yet- or internally, from an internal standpoint, but then also is trying to market externally? Have you- can you think of anybody? I'm actually trying to think of an example myself, where companies tend to have mixed messaging. So they don't really support an internal climate, but then they want the 'LGBT dollar' so to speak. Dorie Clark: Yeah, yeah absolutely. You know I have not dived into this in depth in recent times, so I mean I think back years ago, I know Coors I guess has now become a 'friend' if I understand correctly, of the LGBT community. But I know twenty years ago for instance, there was a lot of turmoil and tumult about initiatives that they supported, and it's my understanding at the time that internally they were actually I think not bad. But there was initiatives in the nineties that they were supporting anti-gay initiatives. All of this now has evolved over the past couple of decades, but I think there can be disjuncts at times between internal and external policies. Jenn T Grace: Yeah, I like to advise that it makes sense to be focusing on both at the same time, and make sure that your people on the inside are happy before you try to do any type of external support, even if you just want to have a Pride parade float, something that's seemingly so- it's a way to make a splash into the community, say 'Hey we support the community,' but even doing something that's so benign in so many ways, if your internal policies don't actually support the fact that you should be at that parade, with the way social media is, and the way that word of mouth spreads, it would come up very quickly that there was some kind of disconnect between the two. Dorie Clark: Yes, absolutely. Jenn T Grace: So in terms of your brand personally and your career, one of the questions I like to ask is- and I feel like you've kind of hit on this a little bit even just prior to your being in the workforce, but going to college, but are there additional ways that you kind of leverage the fact that you are someone with an LGBT community in some kind of beneficial or positive way for either your business, for yourself personally, or I guess for the community at large? Dorie Clark: Yeah so I think certainly from a networking perspective, it's always been a personal pleasure for me to connect with other LGBT professionals, and certainly it's one additionally nexus of networking; so I think there's a piece of that. I actually think that one way that I have benefitted, which is a rather unexpected way, is that in the work that I do around branding both from a corporate perspective, and personal branding, I think that in some ways my message carries more weight as I talk about it because I am- from the feedback that I've received, perceived as being authentic in delivering the message because I look different than most of the speakers that are out there. I'm not compromising in terms of the things that I wear or whatever. I will wear men's suits, things like that, I'll have short hair, and I think people realize that there may be a penalty associated with that, or at least a perceived penalty, and so the fact that I am willing to do that, because that is what I feel comfortable doing, is I think read as a testament to my walking the talk on authenticity. And so I didn't think about that, it didn’t occur to me that that would be a factor, but that is some of the feedback that I've received over time. Jenn T Grace: That's awesome. I feel like absolutely; if you're going to be talking about authenticity on some level by sharing up as yourself and not compromising who you are regardless of the audience, that really just kind of hits the message home even further of what you're already kind of talking about, so that's a perfect kind of lineup. Dorie Clark: Thank you. Jenn T Grace: So I want to ask you just I guess a couple more questions, and then we will part ways. In terms of just something for career advice, or business advice, is there some kind of book, or some kind of program or tool that you're using in your business right now that's really kind of helping you out that would be beneficial for others to know about? Dorie Clark: One thing I've become a real evangelist about is online calendar tools, and in fact we used one to book our session today. Scheduling things can take so many emails back and forth, it's just a nightmare. And so it's kind of wonderful to have this online scheduler, where you can just send people the link, they can book something directly, you don't have to go back and forth, it's just done. That to me is saving hours and hours every month, so I love it. There's a variety of them, I use one called Schedule Once, but there's many competitors in the marketplace that one can look at. Jenn T Grace: I swear by Schedule Once as well, it's just so handy. And then when you have to reschedule you just hit the button 'Reschedule' and it kind of takes care of all of the back and forth hassle. So I am 100% on that train. Dorie Clark: Totally. Jenn T Grace: So what is- I guess the ending question here, and then I'll have you kind of give a plug for all the things that you're working on. But what is one thing in your business right now that's working well for you, or that's just kind of really exciting and has you all fired up about? Dorie Clark: Well I think one thing that I am really fired up about, actually just looking forward perspectively into 2016 and beyond, is that I have really made a commitment moving forward that I am going to be saying 'no' more often. Jenn T Grace: I like it. Dorie Clark: You know, in a nice way of course, but I realize that I kind of had this revelation that the success that I've had here has often been because I've said yes to almost everything, and just tried to fit everything in. But I've now reached a point where just structurally it's no longer possible. It's just you cannot say yes to everything. And I think that sometimes there's a little bit of a lagging realization that I'm now at a different phase in my career, I'm fortunate I'm now in a different phase where a lot more people are reaching out to me, I have a lot more opportunities, and that's a wonderful problem to have. But I now need to start shifting so that I can prioritize things so I can triage, and so that I can carve out untrammelled time to focus on the most important things. And so that's the decision that I'm most excited about. Jenn T Grace: I would be too, that's awesome. Dorie Clark: Thank you. Jenn T Grace: Alright, so I know that you are super busy, and I really, really appreciate your time today. I think this has been a fantastic conversation for so many reasons, and I want to make sure that it's very and clear for folks listening to this to find out more information about you. So what would your recommendation be for them either getting in touch with you directly, checking out your books, getting on your mailing list, anything that you want to share? Dorie Clark: Thank you so much. So if folks are interested in staying in touch, and especially getting the free 42 page stand out self-assessment guide, which actually walks you step-by-step through how to develop your own breakthrough ideas and building a following around them, you can get that all for free at my website, www.DorieClark.com. I also have more than 400 free articles available on the website, so hopefully there will be a treasure trove of material for people who are wanting to dive in. Jenn T Grace: Awesome. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. Dorie Clark: Thank you, Jenn.
Direct download: epi_76_StandingOut-and-ReinventingYourself-with-DorieClark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am EST
Tue, 5 January 2016
Welcome to the New Year - I'm looking forward to a great 2016, I hope you are as well. Now that we are in the New Year you are probably thinking of all of the New Year resolutions you could be focused on or should be focused on. I have a whole list of resolutions I am working on but none of them are too far of a stretch from what I am already doing so I'm feeling good I will have a fairly high success rate in these. Unfortunately, a lot of people create these monster resolutions and that are just wildly unattainable for a number of reasons - 1) they aren't in the right frame of mind to achieve them 2) they don't have the right skill sets to pull it off and 3) they aren't really committed to getting the results they want.
Direct download: epi_75_Planning-for-2016-will-you-become-an-author-this-year.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41am EST
Thu, 24 December 2015
So let's just hop right in, dive right in, and so today on the podcast we're recording this at the end of December, 2015, and I want to share with the listeners, and with you Sam, just some of the bigger more influential things that have happened over the year of 2015 as it relates to LGBT equality. And the lens in which our discussion will naturally have is really through economic impact, business advancement, just all of the really kind of awesome things that are happening from an equality standpoint that affect LGBT, small business owners, and subsequently those who support those small business owners. So I know it would the elephant in the room if we did not start this discussion on the topic of marriage equality, because even if you're living under a rock, you still are very well aware that marriage equality has arrived, at least in the United States. So I would just love to kind of hear your perspective, Sam, on how you feel this has impacted not just the fact that we can get married, but also from a business standpoint. And I know that you had mentioned that you were actually on the steps that day that it was announced. So I'm sure that was like a really kind of surreal experience. Could you just talk to us a little bit more about that?
Sam McClure: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah it was quite a day really. You know, we're so lucky here in Washington that we're physically close, we're in proximity with powerful decisions that really alter the landscape of possibility for all kinds of people, and particularly as you said 2015 has just been a remarkable year for people who identify as LGBT. You know the day that the Supreme Court decision came, there'd been some waiting, right? You get these frames of time; well it could happen during this time, and then it doesn't happen and everyone was just reading the SCOTUSblog every day. And we had already decided as a team that when the announcement came we wanted to be there, and we were there when the case was started, when arguments were made, and we went back when the decision came down. And it was really very powerful to see all the people there. And I sort of don't want to sugar-coat it because really on both instances, not only were there many, many advocates there who worked for this change for decades, but there were also hate groups, there were religious extremists who were really vocally abusive to people that were in the audience. This is Washington D.C, this is a free country where we have the great spirit of democracy which allows for every point of view to be heard. But I must say despite the fact that I hold those values close and I believe in them, it was really hard to watch the sort of hateful rederick that was being launched around that space during a time of celebration. Particularly for some of our friends who had brought their whole families. We had one set of people with us, I know the parents, they're both women, and they've got three young children who- I keep saying they're young children, I actually think they just graduated high school, but I've known them most of their lives. They were all there together to celebrate it, and I think it was really hard for their children to see that there were people who were organized to push back this kind of opportunity for their family, and it really means the world to kids to know that their parents have access to marriage, and they have all the legal protections that they need as a couple and as a family. So yeah, it was a- surreal is a good word, you said surreal earlier, it was definitely a very surreal day, it was one of sort of emotional extremes feeling that the weight of the celebration, maybe a little bit of fatigue that this heavy lift that so many advocacy organizations had been working on for so many, many years, really was just tipped over. And so it was exciting, and it was also just sort of an emotional roller coaster that day. Of course all of us who are professionally gay, we went into a bit of a media blitz, so the next few days were quite difficult with interviews and talking to the media. But also really just talking to our different stakeholders about, 'Hey what does this mean in the immediate term? And what should we do?' And there was a little bit of waiting for lawyers to sort things out, and for rulings to come down. But yeah, it was amazing. Very amazing.
Jenn T Grace: So I was not on the steps, although I feel like it was just as an emotionally kind of toying day; and of course June 26th is my birthday so I feel like I'm somehow a lucky charm in this situation. But I know that we were headed to- it was a Friday, we were headed to a friend of ours wedding actually that evening, and it was actually really interesting to be at someone's wedding- a straight wedding mind you, but at their wedding and for there to be so much chatter about the fact that equality was here, and it was a very positive chatter at least, so that was really good. I wonder if you could shed a little bit of light on kind of what I saw anyway, as the discussions that started unravelling after. Like the post-marriage equality world. I know that there was a lot of people talking about it, a lot of people writing about it, and I did see a fair amount of opinions that were saying like, 'Marriage equality is here, now we don't have any work to do.' You and I both know that is far from the case. But what did you see, and what did you experience kind of from that angle of people saying like, 'We have marriage equality, so our work here is done.' Did you hear that personally from anybody? Or were you having kind of a different conversation because you are in the nation's capital?
Sam McClure: Yeah, that's a great question. It was a little bit of both, really. I mean there were some people- and frankly there was at least one organization that's sole mission was marriage equality, and they did close up shop right after the ruling. And I have to say I really respect that decision; they had a singular focused mission, they achieved that mission, and they concluded what they came to do. And I think for an advocacy organization, it's really important to sort of work towards the time when there's no need for your work, but I appreciate that they did that. However if you look at the broad landscape of what is the experience of an LGBT person, even just limited to here in the United States, where frankly we have a pretty high level of privilege. Marriage was really important, and I think it was something that became a high priority in the movement, maybe the highest priority some time ago, and one could question whether that was the right decision or not, or whether non-discrimination protection should have come first. It's sort of moot at this point because marriage did capture the imagination of the nation, and it really unified a lot of people to- just sort of understanding what's the day-to-day experience of a couple who don't have access to the protections offered by marriage, and what a really unjust dynamic that is. And it was a- we talk about it as a long journey, but I mean if you were looking at social movements, it actually came quite quickly in the overall scheme of things if you compared it to other struggles. And yet, it came in such a visible way, and such a large campaign movement for lack of a better word, and then resolved by the Supreme Court. I think there was so much drama to that, that it was actually easy for people to perceive the size of the win could easily be translated to, 'Well this is the win,' and we did have to remind people that there's a lot of work that's not done, and there's work that one would almost assume had already been done if you didn't know any better, but non-discrimination protections is a big one. There are still a lot of places here in the US, and again this is probably- we do have a very high level of privilege compared to many other countries where LGBT people are far more oppressed. But you wouldn't think that in the United States of America one could still be fired from their job just because of their sexual orientation. And it's even worse than that, it's like the perception of someone's sexual orientation. So I think many people remain quite vulnerable in terms of employment protections, and frankly not only LGBT people, but people who are different in any way on the gender spectrum. There are a lot of people who don't identify as LGBT, but may express themselves in a way that is not necessarily sort of in the center of the spectrum of their gender, and they may be treated completely differently because of that, and that creates a lot of vulnerabilities in the workplace. So we have a long way to go to help change hearts and minds so that people understand that LGBT people remain vulnerable in many ways, and to have the will to pass laws, make policy changes that would offer protections to those folks.
Jenn T Grace: I remember in 2013 when we had DOMA and we were tackling that issue, also having a decision on June 26th, I remember that there was an onslaught of people changing their profile pictures to the HRC equal sign that was the red and pink. And I remember specifically that it was about three or three and a half million people who changed their profile to that. However in just two short years from 2013 to 2015, I read an article that Facebook had put out that 26 million people changed their profile picture to have the rainbow filter to celebrate marriage equality. So I feel like just from that kind of standpoint in a matter of two years, to go- and mind you the HRC is obviously an organization that not everybody is aware of, versus Facebook saying, 'Hey change your profile to a rainbow.' But that is still a very, very big difference I think in terms of just kind of the impact and the fact that so many people were willing to express their support for marriage equality, even something as simple as changing a profile picture on Facebook. It seems like such a small thing, but at the same time I feel like there's a lot of significance to the massive amount of people who were willing to change that, even if they may have somebody in their lives that may or may not have actually agreed with that decision.
Sam McClure: Yeah, I agree and I think that's such an astute observation really, and such an important thing to talk about. Because if you were going to sort of analyze that a little bit, I think what you're looking at in the difference of those statistics is the journey of changing hearts and minds one at a time. One family, one relationship, one friend, one colleague, one neighbor, one public official; whatever it is. This kind of change really happens at the places where we experience emotion, and in just a short amount of time, the imagination and the compassion of a nation was really captured, and pushed in a direction that created a much higher level of equality for LGBT people in this country. And frankly I think we need the same kind of journey on employment non-discrimination. We need to keep talking to people and help them understand what vulnerabilities exist, and to put those in really tangible stories- human stories that people can understand. I mean I actually have an example sort of in my mind, if you don't mind me taking a little bit of a pivot.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, please.
Sam McClure: I was at a gathering yesterday where I had an opportunity to talk to some of my most respected colleagues here in Washington about issues that they were working on, and actually ran into my friend and colleague Mara Keisling from the National Center for Transgender Equality. You should totally interview her sometime, by the way.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah I would love to.
Sam McClure: She's a giant in this work. And she was talking about how we're waiting for some particular rules and guidance to come down from the Department of Education on sort of the experience of transgender students in public schools. And it was just a brief conversation, and I was sort of overhearing her have a very direct dialogue on the policies with some officials who could affect that change. And you know, she was just trying to explain what vulnerabilities are created for these children during this time when people are kind of going back and forth on different issues, how do we accommodate all students in a way that's acceptable for everyone? And she pointed out that where they are in the current policy journey, young students- we're talking about adolescent children, have been put in a position where they have to go and be interviewed by the Board of Education to talk about how they're experiencing their gender. It was very heartbreaking to hear this story because I just know how dehumanizing a process like that can be for people.
Jenn T Grace: Especially a child.
Sam McClure: Exactly. A lot of times we think about transgender issues, and we immediately start thinking about adults because of different popular culture icons that get more attention or whatever. But at the end of the day when we're talking about protections for people, we have to remember that this often affects children, and these are probably the most vulnerable children in America right now, and I think it's just a perfect example of what you were talking about before. We can't really allow there to be this thought that we've somehow completed the work that we're here to do, because there still are many, many people including children who are very, very vulnerable right now. So I just want to put that out there, because I think it's something people need to be thinking about, and remembering that we talk about policy issues sometimes in very obtuse terms, but at the end of the day they all relate to some specific human experience that's being had by a person, and we all need to take pause and remember what that's like, what that person's experiencing, and what impact that experience is going to have on their lives.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely. I find that until someone knows someone that is directly impacted by some type of policy, there's just no human component to it. So I feel like to really- and again with the marriage equality, I think it was a lot easier to humanize marriage equality, because marriage is marriage, and it's so common. So to add the LGBT component to something that's so mainstream and so common as marriage, I feel like that's a lot easier to humanize versus trying to humanize the struggle that a transgender child might be facing. That's I feel like a much more difficult task, but certainly something that has to be tackled, because we need to put faces with names to make sure that we're really pushing these policies forward, and getting people who may or may not otherwise have known that such a policy were on the table, or maybe there is one that needs to be revised, or whatever it happens to be, I feel like it needs to be kind of a very grassroots movement. And going back to Facebook and kind of the power that Facebook has in so many ways of getting 26 million people to support marriage equality with a simple rainbow, and everybody knew what that meant, and if you didn't know, you knew somebody to ask because it was so- I remember looking through my friends list on there, and out of like 600 people, like 450 of them had changed to the rainbow within a matter of like an hour. So until we can find I think some kind of recognizable icon or figure or something to really kind of align with these other movements that are all kind of going concurrently, that you and I know about because we're professionally in this sphere, but the average person, or even the average person who would consider themselves to be an ally, may or may not actually know enough about the issue to really kind of be a pivotal, or an influential role in making that more of a reality for people. Would you agree with that, or any other thoughts?
Sam McClure: I mean yeah, I definitely agree. I think we talk about grassroots work, and it really is- the work really is changing hearts and minds one at a time. And I think it means being present to conversations, being willing to answer questions when asked, and always try to help people understand that these aren't abstract issues. We're talking about someone's day-to-day experience. And you know, it's interesting that while so much progress is happening, we are going to see a lot of backlash behavior in the movement in terms of policy, and I don't want to get too wonky on this because I do work in policy and advocacy, and I know the language of bills, and laws is not interesting to everybody. But I would just throw something out there, that in 2016 I fully expect to see close to 100 bills, interviews in the US in different states that try to assert a religious freedom end goal, and they'll all be framed up differently, but every single one is aimed at one particular community to be divisive and polarizing, and to disrupt any potential additional progress that would be made for LGBT people. And one could also argue that they will be equally aimed at women's access to healthcare. And you know, it's really important that we keep having conversations with people, and that they understand what this kind of political activity really is. Because it will come masked, and not be obvious sometimes. I mean today's political discourse has got a level of rancor that is really despicable. And we have to be mindful and make sure that people are ready to translate, because people will hear many messages, contextualized many different ways, and we always need to aggressively point out when something is dehumanizing or demonizing of any particular community. And this will be used against not only LGBT people but difference in general. I mean we see a lot of really polarizing conversations in the electoral space right, and it's something I don't pay as much attention to, some of my colleagues do. But I will say just hearing news posts, and hearing chatter, conversations, it's very clear that some candidates and some legislators, they will appeal to people's most base emotions, and really to their dark secret sides, and their fears, and use those things to really amplify divisiveness and hatred in a country that's really based on the opposite of that.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely.
Sam McClure: It's a nation that's based on welcoming all people, and this nation is a rich, diverse tapestry of every ethnicity, every community of faith, LGBT people, non-LGBT people, people with disabilities, all of the many, many complex and beautiful identities that make up the fabric of this nation. So I think we just have to be prepared that there's going to continue to be a lot of rancor out there, and we need to be prepared to speak to it, and not be afraid to tell the truth, and remind people what the specific pieces of legislation do to individual people, and families, and children. Important.
Jenn T Grace: How do you see America's reaction to the bills that you fully anticipate are going to start coming down the pipeline? Because I just refer back to earlier in the year with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and all of the- I don't even know a delicate way of putting it, but the shitstorm basically, that swept through Indiana and the governor there for his decision around this. So I know that there are so many corporations in the Final Four, and Silicon Valley CEO's, people standing up saying like, 'This is ridiculous.' So do you foresee I guess that type of reaction? Or do you think Indiana for some reason was more of the anomaly to this larger issue at play?
Sam McClure: Well so tricky question, good question. First I just want to talk about something ironic about all the shitstorm that you're talking about happening in Indiana. I that should officially be the technical name now.
Jenn T Grace: Good.
Sam McClure: Thank you for that, Jenn. So there's something really ironic about all that, right? So all of that public backlash that happened, much of it coming from Corporate America; I know we were very vocal in the early days around that, as well as were many of our corporate partners, local chambers, business owners. But all of that noise and pushback came after it was already done. Like there was actually very little done in a timely manner that could have pushed back those outcomes. And from sitting at my desk here in Washington D.C. where I get a lot of calls from a lot of different places on these types of issues, while we were answering hundreds of media calls, wanting to talk about what had already happened, we were also getting calls from other states like Georgia and Nevada, where these bills were still in motion, and if there was work that could be done to slow, stall, stop or even kill these bills. And in my office I had to make a conscious decision to have just one person taking all those media calls, and having the rest of the team connecting to local advocacy efforts in these other areas to say, 'Hey what can we do right now to bring this very same conversation, which is these bills are incredibly bad particularly for the economy because they're so polarizing. What action can we take to push back on those types of efforts?' So I guess- maybe I'm not answering your question exactly, but I guess I would just want your listeners to know that it's really important that we're proactive, and that we do react to this kind of bills- these introductions, but that we do it in a right timeline. It's really easy for everybody to jump on the bandwagon and demonize something that's already happened, and then hundreds of thousands more to sort of coattail on that. And everybody could be loud and aggressively saying, 'This thing happened and it was disgusting, and now we're going to punish you for it.' And that's good, I'm not saying we shouldn't do that, but I think we should also think about, 'Well what can I do when a bill is first introduced? What action can I take to go and talk to a legislator and help them understand why this is bad for my community, my state, our country?' And I think that's what we have to stay focused on, is to not let these things get so far that they gain the kind of momentum where they're not stoppable. I mean the way this nation is run from a policy perspective, it's very complicated. States have a lot of authority to make their own decisions on issues, and a federal policy may or may not influence or change those things, and at the end of the day this is a democracy where every voice can have huge impact, and people can't sit quietly while the government is being taken over by any particular type of extremist. The very principles under which this nation was founded, had a lot to do with religious freedom, but that freedom was about not oppressing anyone, and not forcing anyone to acquiesce to the will of the state. And now this religious freedom concept is being delivered in a very, very twisted manner that is literally the opposite of that. So it's something to be mindful of, and I think it's also just as important to really listen to communities of faith, welcome communities of faith, and really respect people's- the freedoms and the independence that they do have around their faith. But we can't let faith communities dictate one dominant point of view that oppresses others. So it's very complicated, but it's also very simple because these bills are laser focused on polarizing and dividing, and effectively prohibiting people from getting what they need.
Jenn T Grace: You know, I wonder if- going back to our conversation about humanizing things, I wonder if the backlash came post-decision, because now it was easier to demonize the governor of Indiana specifically. So now there's a very clear villain for everybody to hate, versus while the bill is in some sort of state of progress, there's no one person that everybody's like, 'I hate that person. That person's the one who's causing this problem.' Versus when you have somebody who physically signs the bill and puts it into motion, now you have a person to actually hate. So I wonder if that might have something to do with- and not just specifically for this, but just in general in terms of I think just lack of awareness from a public education side of things is that the general public just does not understand, because these things are built so divisively, and because they're so filled with language that the average person just cannot wrap their head around, versus now the dirty work's been done, you have people who have analyzed it, and now the media is spreading the message of, 'We now have to go after this person or this particular issue or party because they've done this.' Now there's a clear villain in the situation. I don't know, it just makes me wonder.
Sam McClure: Well yeah, I think that's fair. There's no question really. I've even heard people talking to other governors, and using this particular governor as an example. It's like, really? 'Do you want this to happen to you?' There's something to that. I guess I would just say from a 'what can we do' lens, that it's really important to remember that the legislators work for the people at the end of the day, and at the beginning of the day. Sometimes we have to remind them of that. But for a bill to go through the process that it takes to become a law, and then to get to a governor's desk, and then to get a signature, I can tell you there were a lot more people working on that than those legislators. There was an organized political push, and one has to be just as organized, and just as vigilant when we're on the side of stopping this type of legislation. And we can blame that governor all we want, but at the end of the day, every citizen in this nation has to take responsibility for their own role in the process.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely.
Sam McClure: If one side's going to show up, the other side has to show up too. And it's not just about having public demonstrations, although I would argue that does have value. But it's also about asserting one's influence. I think sometimes our expectations for elected officials are just too high. We really want them to be leaders, and-
Jenn T Grace: They aren't always.
Sam McClure: They aren't always, and frankly by design, we're supposed to be the leaders. We're really supposed to bring the voice of the people to our representatives, and they are to represent the will of the people in the way they govern. And very often a legislator needs a reminder of who the people are. There's all these- so there are so many examples where legislators- I've even heard this. It's been a while, but I remember hearing a legislator say, "I don't have any LGBT people in my district."
Jenn T Grace: Yeah.
Sam McClure: And I would be like, well this is sort of awkward since I live in your district.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah.
Sam McClure: And I have an entire group of people here to lobby you today, and they all live in your district. Well the reality is that you just don't know everyone in your district, and how could you? But here we are today to talk to you and help you understand who we are, and why this particular policy is important to us. And I think the same could be true for any type of diverse community, that sometimes the legislator doesn't know- they haven't had personal contact with a particular point of view, or a particular identity. And we all have to make those connections happen, and it does help to again, humanize issues and remind people that at the heart of every public policy issue is an individual person, and their journey as a citizen, and the experiences that they're having, or the things they don't have access to.
Jenn T Grace: And it's our responsibility to- as just American citizens to be part of this discussion. And if we aren't part of the discussion I feel like we don't really have any right to be complaining about what's happening then. That's my personal opinion anyway.
Sam McClure: I think it's true, and it can be exhausting, and sometimes we all have to tune out the politics because it could hurt your soul a little bit. But I also think we have to tune in at other times when our voices are important. At the federal level we have the introduction of the Equality Bill, which I don't know if you've had a chance to review it, or if others have, but it's really the largest bill we've ever seen that pushes for real equality in this nation for LGBT people. It's a complicated and dense piece of legislation, but it would cover employment protections, it would eliminate discrimination in housing and public services, and many, many areas where LGBT people are still experiencing really extreme vulnerabilities. And I think the bill is going to have a really long journey, but it's a really important step, and I was honored to be in the room the day the bill was announced in the press release- or the press conference I should say. And it was amazing to hear all the speeches from progressive legislators who have fought for the civil rights of multiple different communities who are now being aggressive leaders to ensure that the road to equality- full equality doesn't stop just because of marriage equality. So that's really important.
Jenn T Grace: So I feel like this is kind of a really good segue, because I have not talked about the Equality Bill here. I have at one point or another talked about the Employment Non-discrimination Act. But I know that we've been a little bit ho-hum in terms of talking about like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and kind of some of the negative that's happened. But I know NGLCC, and you personally have a huge, huge victory, which I have not yet actually talked about on the podcast. So I'm really excited, because we can kind of change the direction of the conversation from talking about what Indiana did or did not do properly, to talking about Massachusetts, and the Executive Order in Massachusetts. I would love for you to kind of maybe give a high level overview of what the Executive Order was, and what NGLCC's part in that was, and yours personally, and then how that actually impacts so many LGBT businesses.
Sam McClure: Yeah, absolutely and thanks for bringing that up. I'm super proud to talk about this, it was a little bit of a labor of love for me, and- I don't know why I say that because I think most of my work is indeed a labor of love.
Jenn T Grace: I think it all is.
Sam McClure: Yeah, as I often say to people, I have the best job ever and I'm one of those lucky people that gets to do work I'm really passionate about. So the Executive Order in Massachusetts, this is very historic, first of its kind anywhere. As you know very well, and I think I've talked to your audience about this before. The NGLCC, we're the certification body, we certify LGBT-owned businesses, and we created the LGBT inclusion in supplier diversity. And I think we're very well known as the industry standard for this type of trend shaping in supplier diversity. If you look at our certification, and the kind of success we've had in just- it was created in 2004, so a fairly short amount of time, and you fast forward to now when we're accepted by over a third of the Fortune 500, they recognize our certification, and they actively seek out certified LGBT business enterprises to add to their supplier diversity programs. So basically creating contracting and procurement opportunities intentionally for this community just as they do for women and ethnic minorities. And that's a great success, we're very proud of that, and I think it's these Corporate America opportunities are really largely what we're known for. A few years ago we recognized and started talking about the fact that yeah, the marketplace, the private sector, they were doing great with increasing inclusion for business development opportunities. And I think Corporate America just really understands why this is important for building sustainable economic strength in diverse communities. People have to be given opportunities for more than just jobs. Jobs are great, and I would continue to fight for job creation everywhere in America, but if we want true equality and equity for all people, then we have to make sure that people who are in diverse communities and have less access to opportunities are intentionally included, and that efforts are made to make sure that they have access to business development and contracting opportunities which will help them scale and take some real equity in the economic experience here in this country. Now what I realized is that the private sector was doing a really good job of this. The public sector, government, lagging far behind. So we've always worked to increase opportunities for contracting in the federal government space, and we continue to chip away at that. And at the same time we've been working in states and municipalities all around the country to do what we can to sort of move that needle on inclusion in a meaningful way. And you know, we were contacted by the governor's team in Massachusetts back in May, and they were exploring ways to improve their supplier diversity programs in the state. This is all coming from the Department of Access and Opportunities and the Commonwealth. And it became apparent that they were aware of some of the work that we had done in California and other places, and they were really looking for a partner or an organization, just work closely with them to help them work through the policy internally, an administrative policy change. And I agreed to do that, and I really became a trusted member of the team there working for this change. To make a long story short, the governor did recently announce in November an executive order that not only added LGBT business enterprises to their supplier diversity programs state-wide, government procurement, but it also added businesses owned by people with disabilities, and businesses owned by our veterans. And these are three layers of very progressive inclusion, very, very important, and at the same time that they were doing this, they not only added more diverse businesses to the pool of people who would bid to bring innovative solutions to those procurement opportunities for the commonwealth, but they also increased the spending goals for all of the businesses that were already included. So sometimes we hear people say, "Well if we add another diverse segment there will be less opportunities for the people who are already in it." And they really prove that wrong in such a demonstrable way because they added three more numerating classes, and also increased all the spending goals for the women and minority-owned businesses that were already in the program. Is was really a very bold and innovative move, and at the same time they also increased the acceptance of third parties certifications. So organizations like the NGLCC can certify a business, and our certification will be recognized by the state. Versus the state requiring a duplicate certification. This has been a big problem in supplier diversity. Sometimes there's duplicate requirements that really create barriers for business owners instead of creating opportunities for them, which is not what it's intended. To get a change there was really just monumental.
Jenn T Grace: Now I was living in Massachusetts back in 2004 when marriage equality became the first state to be legalized in Massachusetts. So does it surprise you in any way that Massachusetts would be the first one to stick the flag in the sand to say, 'Listen, we are now including- we are now doing this, and now rest of the country, get on board too.' Do you think that it was some kind of concentrated effort by just the governor and his team to say, 'Listen, we were on the forefront of this before, we want to be on the forefront again.' Or I don't know, is there any I guess information that you could share around why Massachusetts I guess versus another state?
Sam McClure: Yeah I won't speak for the governor or the governor's team, I have to be really careful about that.
Jenn T Grace: Of course.
Sam McClure: But I think that the narrative you just described would be hard to resist. Massachusetts has been a leader in really creating the roadmap to equality in many respects. It's not a perfect state, they have other work that needs to be done yet. They also don't have adequate public accommodation protections as of yet, that's something that's in progress. But I do think- and it's also just from a respect to policy, it's very different to do something legislatively than to do it administratively. I think this was something that the governor's team could do with an administrative policy change that would not only make a policy shift that improves their supplier diversity program and includes more people, but it's something that they could do proactively in a precedent setting way without having to go through a legislative battle, or even a controversial public discourse. This was literally just negotiating through an administrative policy change, and making a conscious decision to say, 'I want to be a leader in this space, and I'm going to use my executive authority to do that.' And it's a very elegant piece of policy, the executive order, and I just can't give enough credit to this team who really wanted to do something big, and they found a way to do something big. And I think it's worth pointing out if maybe- hopefully not all of our listeners are a partisan in their politics, but I know many people are. It's very important to note that this was signed by a Republican governor, and I think sometimes people just don't think that- they just sort of think the only people that care about equality for LGBT people are in one party or the other, and it's just not always the case. When we're talking about the work we do, economic empowerment for people, advancing the economic strength of the LGBT community, we're literally talking about improving the economy by having an economy that includes more people. And that's where the power of the type of economy we have. The more engagement of more people, the stronger the growth of the economy, the more jobs, the more sustainable economic strength in a given community; whether that's a city, or a state, or even the nation. So I think it became less about sort of LGBT politics, and more about what's for the good of the commonwealth? Are more business opportunities for more people, and fewer barriers, and the way people looking for those opportunities in the best interest of all? Yeah of course they are, and I think that's why it got done, and it's worth remembering that when we look at all the economic development work that we do; it does not have to get mired down in partisan politics. When we're talking about economic advancement, this is something that's good for everyone.
Jenn T Grace: So let's talk tactical for a second. So the listeners who are listening to our conversation right now, it's mostly business owners. I don't have that many people who are not a business owner. So it could be LGBT business owners, or it could be allied business owners. So my question on tactics is for those who live in the state of Massachusetts- so it's a two part question. For those who live in Massachusetts, what is that tangible benefit that a business owner who could be certified, whether it's LGBT, as a veteran-owned business, or a person with a disability. So what is that I guess tangible benefit as somebody who's in Massachusetts? But then what is the larger impact I guess for businesses who may not have- maybe they're not residing in Massachusetts; is there something that they too can access as a benefit as a result of this legislation?
Sam McClure: Yeah, great question. So I'm going to come at this in a reverse order of the way you asked the question.
Jenn T Grace: Okay good.
Sam McClure: So number one, this win in Massachusetts is not limited to businesses residing in Massachusetts. The contracting opportunities are opened in the commonwealth. However any business owner who meets the requirements of the program can gain access to opportunities, and can get into the bidding process, and bid and win business with the government procurement systems, and the commonwealth of Massachusetts. So we're really talking about opportunities that are valuable from the tip of Maine, probably to the bottom of Virginia. I mean this is really we're talking about opportunities opening up on the Atlantic seaboard. And from a tactical perspective, the benefit is more access to more opportunities to bid and win business. And in terms of what's next, what do you do, how do you engage with this? Step one is contact the NGLCC, get your business certified as an LGBT business enterprise. If you're a person with a disability looking to take advantage of this opportunity, you contact the USBLN (the United States Business Leadership Network), and it's just www.USBLN.org. And you get your business certified as a disability-owned business enterprise. The veterans, I'm not sure exactly which certification program it is, I'll have to look that up. There's several different opportunities, and some of them come through state programs as well. But that's always going to be step one. Get the certification, and then get yourself registered in these portals to take advantage of these programs. Now I don't think we mentioned the exact date, but this just happened in early November, I believe it was the 3rd, but I'd have to check that to make sure. Should we pause?
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, sure.
Sam McClure: I'm getting an echo.
Jenn T Grace: Oh you have an echo?
Sam McClure: Yeah.
Jenn T Grace: Is it on your end, or is it when I'm speaking?
Sam McClure: I think it's on my end. Okay so I'll keep going.
Jenn T Grace: Okay.
Sam McClure: So I don't know if we mentioned the date but this was just announced in early November. And it's important to remember that now we're in an implementation phase and we're working to figure out how to align the different data systems and communication systems so that we could get the information out to all of our business owners. But step one remains the same always. Get your business certified, as a step one, and then work with the staff at the NGLCC, or the USBLN, or any other certification body to understand what your next steps are to take advantage of these opportunities. And I would just add one more thing to the tactical for business owners. And it's very important, every business owner should have a plan for how they're going to scale and grow their business. And when people are looking at these scale opportunities, and contracting opportunities, I think it's really important to have a diverse portfolio of different types of customers. Now if you're looking at contracting and procurement opportunities for your business, you might want to have a handful of corporate clients, you might want to have two hands full of small business clients, and you might want to have another handful of government contracts and opportunities; or any mix of those things. But it's rare that sort of one of those spaces is all a business owner needs, and it's good to look at that broad landscape of opportunities. I would also say when looking at government contracting opportunities, small businesses should remember that you don't have to be the prime contractor, and you might not be big enough to be the prime contractor, but every prime contractor has two, three, ten, a hundred, or a thousand vendors.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely.
Sam McClure: Those are all contracting opportunities as well. So it's really important to look at that.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah I was actually going to ask you to bring that up, so I'm happy that you just did. So I guess even there's a possibility that someone listening to this doesn't really understand the concept of being a prime contractor. Could you just kind of give maybe a quick layman's version of I guess the business opportunities that exist from working with a prime?
Sam McClure: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm sorry about that, I slipped into lingo for a minute, so let me break it down here. In a contracting supply chain, we refer to prime contractor as the contractor that is supplying a service at the top of the chain. So if let's say the commonwealth of Massachusetts is the customer, and the business that holds the big contract at the top of the chain is the prime contractor, that prime contractor might utilize many, many other businesses as subcontractors in order to fulfill the contract that they have with the government. The same is true in the private sector's supply chains as well. So that's basically what it is; the prime contractors, they're usually the biggest contracts, they're also the biggest businesses, and little known secret or something that people forget is that they're also the most vulnerable should there be a disruption in the company that they provide service to. And that's one of the reasons that prime contractors are usually so big.
Jenn T Grace: Absolutely.
Sam McClure: Because they've got to be able to serve several different entities in order to mitigate the risk of being a prime contractor. And it's just- I just remind people about this a lot of times because people will say to me, "Well my business is too small to do contracting." I'm like, "Well your business is too small to do big contracting."
Jenn T Grace: Yeah.
Sam McClure: "Why don't you look at some little contracting that's appropriate for your scale?" Because there really is no too big or too small, there just is what your scale is, and you have to find the opportunity that fits your scale, and gives you the opportunity to expand your scale over a period of time.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah I would be willing to guess not knowing obviously everyone in my audience listening, but I would be willing to guess that most of them would be tier two, tier three contractors, even like myself. I have one prime contract out of everything that I'm doing, or me direct to the Fortune company. And then everybody else, I'm just part of a team who'd fulfilling a very large corporate contract. I think it's just a matter of businesses understanding where they kind of fit in the food chain, and not trying to be something that they're not, and really just understanding what their sweet spot is. And I know this is something that kind of comes up pretty often on this podcast, is the whole idea of working with other certified businesses. Because I know that for me personally, that just seems to be the right avenue, versus trying to go for corporate directly. So I'm appreciative that you've kind of explained it in a very simple way for everyone to understand. And I am amazed at how quickly time is flying talking to you. I know that we've had a really dense and exciting interview for everyone to listen to today, but in terms of- instead of looking back at maybe what we haven't touched upon in 2015, could you just give us what your thoughts are on what you see as the future, and kind of what's next as we enter 2016?
Sam McClure: Yeah absolutely, and again it's such an exciting time for LGBT people, and I think so much has been accomplished. For me, my highest priority is the economic advancement of the LGBT business community. And there's a lot to be done yet in that lane. We talked about our historic win with the commonwealth of Massachusetts, and I think it's a perfect model. We've added this state-wide procurement inclusion to a long list of advocacy wins that are opening up business opportunities in the public sector for these business owners. And I will tell you that for me what's next, is how many more doors can we open as quickly as possible?
Jenn T Grace: Finish your thought, then I'll ask.
Sam McClure: Here at the NGLCC we've had such a string of successes, and we're not going to rest until every door is open for these LGBT business owners, and every barrier to access opportunity is removed. And you know, way back in the early days of the NGLCC, we started working with the Obama Administration here to open up federal contracting opportunities and removed any barrier that was there for the LGBT-owned business. We made a lot of progress, we've signed multiple memorandums of understandings with multiple federal agencies, including I think we just got a lot of attention for having secretary Julian Castro sign the MOU for HUD, which is the Housing and Urban Development federal agency on stage at our dinner. And I'm so proud of all the successes we've had in this lane, however I also recognize that the doors aren't going to be fully open until we get an executive order from President Obama codifying all the progress we've already made at the federal level, and saying clearly and at no uncertain terms that the federal government is open to business with all people. Any business owner that's qualified to bid and win business opportunities and contracts at the federal level should have that opportunity. And every program that exists at the government level to ensure that diverse communities have equal access to opportunities should be open to LGBT people. And we're going right to them with this request, and it may be one of the last things that gets done by the Obama Administration. It can be done with administrative policy, and I think it would be a beautiful bookend to the administration which has without a doubt done more for LGBT people than anyone I've ever imagined. I think it's no coincidence that President Obama found himself on the cover of Out Magazine as maybe the most visible and strongest ally that this community has ever had. And I was lucky enough to be at the White House yesterday for one of the holiday receptions, and I was talking with another entrepreneur that I know, and she's not from the LGBT community, she's actually a Hispanic business leader, and someone with a lot of influence in this country. And she had brought her mom and her sister to the White House, and we were just talking about what was that experience for them to be there, and they remarked on the fact that it was such an interesting group of people there. It was so diverse, people from all walks of life, all segments, all communities. And I just kind of smiled and I said, "Well you know, during this administration this has really been the people's house." And it felt like that yesterday, it feels like that every day, and I'm confident that the Obama Administration will sign the executive order to open up the really massive marketplace that is federal government contracting for our LGBT business enterprises.
Jenn T Grace: That would be amazing for everyone listening to this podcast right now, in addition to anyone who's not; the opportunities are endless if that- and I shouldn't say 'if.' When that opportunity comes. Wow.
Sam McClure: Exciting. And you know, it's not an easy lift. We're gathering a lot of support from all of our different constituencies, and it's sort of what- I do believe it's what's next, and I think it's one of the most important things that happens, that will happen to just make for a strong, sustainable community over a long period of time. And I also think we're going to see multiple other states doing what Massachusetts does. I think one of them will be a very close neighbor of Massachusetts, and I think it's going to happen soon. I've no doubt that New York will make a move as well. So there's just a lot that's going to be happening, and I will continue my laser focus on the economic advancement of this particular business community, and the NGLCC is a strong growing organization, and we will not rest until there's no more need for us. And I think we have a lot of years ahead of us, and a lot of big wins coming on the radar.
Jenn T Grace: Yeah, I look forward to 2016 being a really- a year filled with impact as well. And I guess my last question to you would be, so for people who are listening to this, so if they go to www.JennTGrace.com/74 because this is episode number 74, the final one 2015, I want them to be able to access information about the NGLCC, and is there any particular call to action that you would like those listening- is there any one particular thing that you think would be valuable for them to do next as a result of listening to this conversation? Maybe they now are kind of fired up about the economic advancement that they might be able to play some large or small part in. Is there anything in particular that makes sense for you to say, 'Go do this.' Or, 'It would be great if you did this.'
Sam McClure: Yeah, absolutely. If you're a business owner, and you're out there listening, and you're LGBT, or you're a woman, or you're a person of color, or you're a veteran, or you're a person with a disability; get your business certified. Do it right away, and engage in your local chambers and organizations, and their national umbrellas like the NGLCC and the USBLN. And just stay connected to the opportunities that are coming out there. Look closely and strategically at what opportunities there are for you to scale your company, and continue to focus on growth. Upwards of 90% of the jobs in America are and will be created by small business owners. So you might not feel like you're the most powerful force out there for economic development, but in fact you are. You're the engine of this economy, and you're the backbone of this nation. So just keep doing what you're doing, keep building your companies, and take advantage of every one of these opportunities.
Jenn T Grace: I love it. How can people get in touch with the NGLCC or you directly? What is your preference? And please share how they would do that.
Sam McClure: Well our website is www.NGLCC.org and on the staff page you can access all of our staff members. You're welcome to contact me via email or the phone, frankly. I do pick up the phone, I'm kind of old school. Really all the information is there on the site, and if you want to start getting certified right now, you can click on 'Grow My Business,' and you'll have full access to all of our certification process right there online. And I look forward to hearing from any and all of you, and helping you continue to grow your businesses.
Jenn T Grace: I love it. This has been fantastic, thank you so much for being a second time guest on the show. I have no doubt that you will be joining us again in 2016.
Sam McClure: Well I really look forward to that, and I always enjoy my time with you, and I really appreciate your work and your great interview, and I will come back anytime I'm invited.
Jenn T Grace: Awesome, thank you so much for joining the show today, and I look forward to speaking with everybody in 2016. I can't believe it's already here. Thanks so much and I'll talk to you then.
[End of Audio 01:06:39]
Direct download: episode-74-The-LGBT-Events-in-2015-that-have-Changed-History-with-Sam-McClure.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05am EST
Thu, 10 December 2015
Hey all - this episode is a re-airing of episode 53, so if you already heard episode 53, come back for a new episode in episode 74!
In today's episode I cover a few topics. The first is I answer a listener question about what to do when you don't feel comfortable networking in an LGBT environment. The second is I do a deep dive into what the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Corporate Equality Index is. I also review an article shared with me by a Facebook fan, who wanted to hear my personal opinion on the HRC. With the HRC it is usually a love em' or hate em' scenario. I share why I see such a significant importance in the Corporate Equality Index specifically and of course, share how I really feel about the HRC. This is an episode you've been waiting for. And now that I'm back from jury duty I have time to the deep dive you've been asking for! Speaking of jury duty, next week's blog post is going to share the 4 lessons I learned by being a juror on a murder trial - you won't want to miss that post - so come back next week!
Direct download: epi-73-gay-business-marketing-hrc-corporate-equality-index-replay-of-episode-53.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EST
Thu, 26 November 2015
Today we are talking about how confidence impact your LGBT marketing approach. I’m bringing this question to you because I’ve had two conversations with prospective clients in the last couple of weeks, and both of them – with two very different businesses were both asking similar questions around this topic. Here are my thoughts on how confidence does impact your LGBT marketing approach and what you can do to boost your confidence!
Direct download: episode_72_How-Does-Confidence-Impact-Your-LGBT-Marketing-Approach.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29am EST
Tue, 30 June 2015
Selisse Berry Interview for “30 Days – 30 Voices – Stories from America’s LGBT Business Leaders” [Podcast]
Expert Interview with Selisse Berry of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
To listen to this audio podcast please click the play button on the left above. Or subscribe to the free podcast in iTunes today!
Want to see who else is being interviewed for this Pride month project? Check it out here – 30 days – 30 voices – Stories from America’s LGBT Business Leaders
Links mentioned -
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Out & Equal Workplace Summit 2013
Books mentioned -
Out & Equal at Work: From Closet to Corner Office
You can get in touch with Selisse here -