Managing Entrepreneurship and Motherhood: A Chat with Sara Dean

How do you juggle the dueling demands of parenthood and running your own business or career? Are you managing it with aplomb or do you feel like a crazy person most of the time?

I admit to the latter.

See, I had this image of running my own business and doting on my sweet babe with grace and ease. Reality quickly set in and I have never, ever felt that kind of pressure before. An imaginary timer would start counting down from the moment I woke up to the minute I went to bed…and there was never enough time to do anything well.

I remember being a guest on a globally-recognized podcast while my newborn yelled in the background with the sitter I had to hire just for the call…and conducting another phone interview by headset while breastfeeding. Not to mention scrambling to finish client work in stolen moments of time because my son arrived earlier than expected.

The good news is that my little man has taught me more about prioritization, negotiation and setting boundaries than any self-help guru or leadership class ever could. 

Which is why I was thrilled to talk and laugh with shameless mom Sara Dean: Author, speaker, podcaster, and host of the top-ranked The Shameless Mom Academy podcast.

She coaches women on how to reclaim their identities and live bigger, bolder and braver #everydamnday.

We covered it all in the video interview below: Unrealistic expectations, owning your space, modern motherhood, the myth of balance, why men have less flexibility than women, prioritization, goal setting and how we ALL can support working moms (and dads) everywhere.

We also talked about how mothers make the best employees and how leaders who are moms get so good at negotiation, they could create world peace in days!

Sara’s golden nugget of wisdom:

Give yourself space and grace to figure out what you want BUT take radical responsibility to take one action every day to get you closer to your goals. (Tweet This!)

If you struggle to juggle your business, family and personal life–or simply want to be more productive and efficient–please click below to enjoy this video:

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Highlights include:

How the “magical motherhood” picture was a myth and how Sara turned things around to reclaim her work and life (5:45): “I got really clear on how I was going to divide my time.”

What modern motherhood looks like, why even men don’t have as much flexibility – and why moms make the best employees and leaders (10:30): “What I love about modern motherhood is that it looks like whatever the heck you want it to look like!” and “Our next President should be a mom with six kids!”

Why balance is not real and how to think about “seasons” instead. And why the hustle and grind philosophy doesn’t work for everyone (16:52)

Sara’s foolproof tips and tools for planning and goal-setting (20:55): “What are the three things that will lead to revenue today?”

What each of us–and society­–can do to support entrepreneurial (and working) moms and dads (24:21): “What would systemically go a long way to support women and men in growing their success is to really check ourselves on our own judgment. Be supportive.”

How we can support each other (27:19): “The more we can be supportive for each other, the more we can own our space, own our decisions and own what we’re doing.”

How to look at others’ successes without falling into a jealousy trap or downward spiral. And how to own what you are doing (30:12): “I want to model what I think women should be doing. If you have a major accomplishment, let people know! I’m not going to apologize for success building.”

Why your personal story is everything if you want more publicity and growth (34:16): “Connect your story to where you are now and the gifts you’re giving to the world.”

How to take radical responsibility for all your “Yes’s” and “No’s” – and how to get good at saying no in a graceful way. HINT: Stop talking so much! (47:290: “Give yourself space and grace to figure out what you want to do. But also, that doesn’t mean you have the excuse of space and grace to not do anything, or not take action for a really long time. With the space and grace, have the radical responsibility of taking action. Do one thing every day that gets you closer to a goal.” 

What did you think of this video? How do you currently manage motherhood and your business, work or career? Drop me a line over on over on Twitter or the Facebook page and let me know!


Sara Dean is the creator and host of the Shameless Mom Academy Podcast, which has been featured in 5 categories of iTunes New & Noteworthy for almost 2 years now, and is rapidly approaching one million downloads.  Sara’s biggest passion is helping women own their space.  After enduring her own identity crises following the birth of her son, Sara took her background in psychology/health/ wellness and rebuilt her identity, one step at a time.  Sara motivates and inspires women to stop shrinking and start growing.  She is on a mission to inspire women and moms, in particular, to live bigger, bolder, braver #everydamnday.

How to Make Good Habits Stick: A Chat with Sarah Von Bargen

Have you ever committed to a productive or healthy habit only to have it all fall apart and revert back to status quo within a month, a week….or an hour?

Yes, I’m talking about that daily afternoon scone I said I would give up forever, but by 2 pm had already scarfed down. Please don’t judge.

We all have. We’re human.

It’s so easy to talk about productivity habits, or “hacks” (I abhor that word when used for anything other than computer espionage) but it’s an entirely different thing to make them stick.

Which is why I was thrilled to talk with the charming and wise Sarah Von Bargen, lifestyle blogger at and creator of the Make It Stick Habit School.

Sarah graciously spent some time talking to us about the mental game of why we flake out on good habits, how we can ensure we don’t, and which habits have worked for her in running her business more efficiently and profitably. (Hint: Steal these!)

We talk about everything from procrastination to guilt to time management to, heck, healthy habits for content creation, analyzing your analytics and networking. And how to make them such easy habits, that your day will feel strange if you DON’T do them.

The best habits are things that are incredibly fast and very, very doable. (Tweet this!)

If you feel like your work or time is running YOU more than you are running it, please grab a notepad and click below to enjoy this video:

YouTube video

Highlights include:

How to be successful without getting overwhelmed:

  • People who were simultaneously successful and not overwhelmed are people who put good business habits on auto-pilot…Because they put these good business habits on autopilot, they removed the stress from it. 2:48

What causes us to abandon good habits so quickly:

  • If you are constantly looking outside of yourself for solutions, buying things you don’t use, procrastinating and over researching, you are going to have a hard time moving forward 7:52
  • If you can associate the physical feelings, stress headache or stomach aches, with these bad habits, you will develop a distaste for them. 11:20

Sarah’s success habits that can work for you, too (P.S. Llama farm is optional, but seriously, why would you want it to be?!):

  • In a perfect world, you will know your best work times. So if you know when you’re most strategic, you can block out your calendar for these habits. 15:45
  • I swear up and down by writing retreats. Once a month, I go to the same Airbnb, and I do 90% of my writing in 2 nights…I still write every day, but the bulk of my writing is done in two nights at this llama farm in Wisconsin. 17:49
  • Being a happy and successful business person is knowing your strengths, knowing your weaknesses, outsource properly and knowing what success looks like for you. 21:27

Powerful business success habits that you can start TODAY:

  • [Networking emails] You have to do it so often and so much that a) your day feels weirdly incomplete if you don’t do it and b) you send so many emails that you loose track of who does and doesn’t respond. 24:53
  • Once or twice a month, look at your website analytics to determine where your traffic is coming from and what things you are publishing are the most popular. 28:12
  • Updating old blog posts and re-promoting them. 29:40 

What good habits are you committing to? Drop me a line over on Twitter or the Facebook page and let me know!


Sarah is a writer, blogger, lover of cats and cheese… and creator of online courses that make your life and work happier and more productive. Read her incredible lifestyle blog, which attracts more than 14,000 visitors daily, and find out more about her courses, including the Make It Stick Habit School at Yes and Yes.

Invest in a Woman, Invest in a Nation

In case you were asleep, International Women’s Day was on March 8.  News outlets, celebrities and many brands trumpeted the news. It is officially women’s time to shine.

There is no denying that influential men and women are finally waking up to the fact that when women succeed, the entire economy benefits and society improves. Period. There’s plenty of data.

In fact, an article states that if women-owned businesses disappeared in the U.S. today,” the Center for Women’s Business Research (CWBR predicts a loss of $2.8 trillion and a major blow for 23 million job-seekers, roughly 16 percent of the U.S. labor force. They discovered if society could access all the untapped potential these female-led companies possess, those businesses would have the possibility to generate $10 trillion in revenue (roughly three to four times greater than current numbers).”

Net net: When women succeed and lead, it creates a better world. (TWEET THIS!)

So when I received this fabulous email from Holly Ruxin, the founder of Montcalm TCR, I had to share it with you. Montcalm TCR is a San Francisco-based wealth management firm that supports smart, performing investments that also place an emphasis on innovative products, services and environmental and social practices. Holly has an extensive background in finance, having begun her investment career at Goldman Sachs. She later managed assets and led private client teams at Morgan Stanley, Montgomery Securities, and Bank of America.

We met because Holly and I are both Activators in SheEO, an innovative funding and support model for women-led ventures that create a better world.

Holly’s email re-ignited my optimism about women entrepreneurship and its global impact so she allowed me to share an excerpt with you:

I had the honor of participating in some amazing events last week in New York City in celebration of International Women’s Day and The Decade of Women launch.

40 Plus Years; Time is Now
Last week, executives and world delegates held an inaugural gathering at the United Nations to elevate International Women’s Day into the official launch of the Decade of Women. Hard to believe the United Nations began its Decade of Women program in 1976 to promote equal rights and opportunities for women around the world. Last week’s resounding message was “time has come to complete this mission”. Celebrated across eight billboards in Times Square, the Decade of Women is now live at It is bringing forth the #WeUniteWe pledge to complete the global equity revolution, an action-focused campaign specifically aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #5 (Gender Equity) by 2030.

Abundance for All
Montcalm wholeheartedly supports Goal #5, along with all 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by focusing on quality investments that also address human dignity, education and advancement, social justice, circular economies, and planet preservation. SDGs main purpose is to create abundance for all; Montcalm is proud to be part of this collaborative effort.

When solving humanity’s problems becomes a necessity for everyone rather than a few, anything is possible. This was the bold energy and intention in everyone I met last week and everything we talked about over several days in various venues with a myriad of people across all aspects of financial investing, capital markets, not-for-profits, and social enterprises. Tenets of interdependence, long-term thinking, and profound collaboration are needed. When we base our thinking on these principals, we can create an infrastructure for more equality and higher standards of living for everyone.

“Invest in a Woman, You Invest in a Nation”
We are at a critical moment in history where we can continue down a familiar path OR create a better future for humanity. Our economic system needs improvement. It’s a two-dimensional model in which many pursue their own best interests whether intentional or unintentional, while leaving groups of people, women included, behind. We can embrace a system engineered to bring equality and sovereignty to all. Last week I saw private corporations, NGOs, the United Nations, financial service companies, and the investment community coming together to solve for this equation through collaboration. I am now more than ever convinced that we can effect great change!

Holly is right. We CAN affect great change.

As you know, my clients are passionate change-makers of both genders, but I’ve worked with an overwhelming majority of female entrepreneurs. It’s been my honor to support them and help their businesses thrive by providing clarity, focus and killer messaging that connects with just the right ideal customers. And my vendors and referral partners tend to be mostly women. Why? These are the people with whom I’ve networked. If you want to work with more women, you need to put yourself in places to meet more of the talented experts out there. Attend the right networking events. Participate in the right online forums and masterminds. Expand your circle.

Maybe serving a majority of women and referring business to even more of them is my little part to play in this movement.

You can be part of this renaissance, too. What are you doing with your business to support women entrepreneurs and change-makers?

How to Get Started with Video Marketing: A Chat with Amy Landino

Video is one of the best ways to promote your business, build trust and convey your unique brand personality.  So why is it so terrifying for so many?

If video marketing or vlogging is on your branding to-do list for the year, good for you! Video is a great way to build trust, establish your expertise and allow your audience to get to know you. And when it comes to driving traffic, YouTube is the second most popular search engine in use.

But how does one start? Do you need a lot of gear? What will you talk about?

My wonderful interview with globally-recognized YouTuber, author and business video marketing expert Amy Schmittauer Landino is here to help!

I kind of adore Amy #GirlCrush

Amy and I “met” years ago over social media and started promoting each other’s content and collaborating virtually. I even featured her expertise in the second edition of Branding Basics for Small Business. We got to meet in person when I went back to Columbus, Ohio for a holiday visit and it was like we’d known each other forever (the power of virtual business relationships done right). She’s sassy, straightforward and super smart – all the things we love here at Red Slice, am I right?!

Why do video? Well this quote from Amy in the interview says it all:

“At the end of the day, we’re doing this so someone will buy something. But truthfully we’re trying to get someone to trust us to make a buying decision.”

So, in my attempt to do more video myself, I hope you enjoy and get a ton of value out of this lively video interview:

YouTube video

Some highlights:

  • The benefits and ROI you can get from doing more video marketing (4:00)
  • How video works for both B2C and B2B businesses: “This works no matter who you’re talking to, but if you lose track of you’re talking to, it’s going to be hard to accomplish anything but that’s a B2B or a B2C problem.” (11:15)
  • How you can make your video content stand out in a crowded content landscape We talk about Search, Playlists, tagging and the YouTube algorithms (13:22)
  • The YouTube Gold Rush and why it’s much harder to make money simply from ad dollars (14:27)
  • How to manage your content and production schedule…True Confession time from me! (34:51)
  • How long should your videos be to keep attention and “win” on YouTube (50:32)
  • Tips for being on-camera, including lighting (53:11)
  • How often to post new videos to generate more traffic on YouTube (15:22)
  • And a really interesting conversation about how video impacts society. Are we becoming too concerned with surface appearances or a false reality? And does video play a role in reducing our desires for real-life interaction and experience? Spoiler alert: No, and Amy and I talk about why. (1:00:05)

If you’re still not convinced incorporating more video can help your business and build trust in your expertise and brand, I’ll leave you with this quote from Amy:

“I knew that the best way to get myself out there was not just meeting people , because obviously you can never replace that. But the second thing to that in my opinion is allowing someone to have an experience meeting me in a way that I could get out to more people  and I just don’t think there’s anything like that compared to video that is as effective.

Video is that really, really close second place to being able to shake someone’s hand.” (TWEET THIS!) 


Amy is a globally-recognized YouTuber, speaker, author, and business owner. She coaches people at her popular YouTube channel, AmyTV, on how to go after what they want in life and leveraging video storytelling to make it happen. Owner of two creative companies—Aftermarq and Vlog Boss Studios—Amy presents to and consults with a global clientele about leveraging online communication and content marketing to increase brand awareness. In her best-selling book Vlog Like a Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Bloggingshe shares her collection of strategies and tactics to help you create video that gets the attention you deserve and builds real relationships with your community. Amy’s an international speaker and has appeared in media outlets such as The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc and more.

Check out Amy’s wonderful video masterclass, Vlog Like A Boss. I can personally vouch that the content is solid (and her action steps manageable) if you want to create great videos…and content overall.

How to Bounce Back from Failure, Rejection and Soul-Crushing Criticism: A Chat with Alexandra Franzen

Ever experience soul-crushing, heart-breaking, confidence-shattering criticism, failure or rejection?

If you’re human, of course you have. If you say you never have, you’re a Cyborg and I’m terrified of you.

Life as an entrepreneur – no, as a human being – is full of ups and downs. So much of what we see out there in books and on the Internet is about extreme success: the overnight sensation, the instant millionaire or the glamorous thought leader.

But rarely do folks we look up to open up about their biggest failures or rejections – and more importantly, how they survived and came out the other side stronger, smarter and braver.

Many of you may already know my dear friend, writing teacher and author Alexandra Franzen. Her latest book is called You’re Going to Survive. The subtitle is killer: True stories about adversity, rejection, defeat, terrible bosses, online trolls, 1-star Yelp reviews, and other soul-crushing experiences—and how to get through it.

Feeling discouraged about your career? Maybe you’re dealing with… A frustrating client. A product launch that didn’t work out so great. A painful 1-star review. Maybe online trolls are mocking your latest project. Or maybe you applied for your dream job and you didn’t get chosen. Again.

For tough moments when you could really use a friend, this book is a MUST for your bookshelf.  Inside, you’ll find encouragement, humor, and inspiring true stories about turning defeat into big opportunities.

When Alex asked me if she could include one of my own stories, I was honored to share my lessons learned with others about how I bounced back from some hurtful (and kind of odd)  negative online reviews to my personal memoir, Rebooting My Brain.

It’s a delight to share with you this exclusive video conversation with Alex about all things creative living, rejection, pride, failure and strength. Settle in and enjoy this intimate and inspirational conversation.

YouTube video

There is so much juicy advice in this video, but you’ll especially enjoy these highlights:

On keeping creativity alive in your work:
“I need to not feel like I’m doing 100% client work; I need to have space for my own art projects” – 10:05

On why she wrote this book:
“My hope is that when someone’s having a hard day, they can pick it [the book] up and have some hope” – 13:22

On what makes you successful:
“The people who are able to succeed in their industry, they are the persistent people…they go back in, over and over” – 23:06

One her own setbacks and rejections:
“I had gotten about 20 rejections in total for this book alone” – 27:14

“I’ve had my work plagiarized, 1-star Amazon reviews and my website completely stolen and someone pretending to be me.” – 11:39

On what “persistence” really means:
“Persistence is not doing the same thing over and over, banging your head on a locked door and getting nowhere. It’s keeping the train moving forward, but finding creative ways to keep things moving along and keeping your vision.” – 29:18 

“Discipline and devotion is required, like a musician practicing in the janitors closet or garage in the middle of a winter snow storm” – 33:30

On how to recover from rejection, criticism or failure:
“We are often faced with a choice after rejection; Do we give up or go back in just one more time. Ellen’s story of rejection ended up being more uplifting” – 16:47

“Don’t isolate yourself. Set a timer for your meltdown, and then reach out.” – 39:14

On how to get more work – and how to keep it fresh:
“The more specific I am about what I’m doing, the more likely people will hire me” 4:39

“In order to describe your work, look outside of your industry for inspiration” -7:54

On how to turn rejection into success:

“I opened it [the book] up to my community after being rejected 20+ times, openly and vulnerably, and that was the door that opened for the book” – 28.08

Putting yourself and your work, voice or art out into the world is scary. You may fall, You may be criticized by a few. But you also may bring extreme joy, support, inspiration, hope and delight to many, many others. Never be afraid to share your work and your story. It’s worth it. And I promise: You’re going to survive. (TWEET THIS!)

P.S. Alex created a FREE “bonus extras” Audiobook of certain excerpts and advice told by those featured in the book (including my lovely message for you!) that is fabulous. Get your free “extra” audiobook here.

About the book:

Alexandra Franzen’s newest book is called You’re Going to Survive. It’s a book about how to deal with discouraging situations in your career, and how to build more resilience and keep marching towards your goals. The book has been called “uplifting and encouraging” and “your new best friend on a bad day.” Find the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and IndieBound.

You’re Going to SurviveKindle
You’re Going to SurvivePaperback
You’re Going to SurviveSpotify Music Playlist

About Alexandra Franzen

Alexandra Franzen is a writer, consultant, and entrepreneur based in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has been featured on websites like Time, Forbes, and Newsweek, and she’s been mentioned in places like The New York Times Small Business Blog, The Atlantic, and Inc.
Alexandra conducts writing classes and retreats, and works 1-on-1 with clients to help them complete all kinds of exciting projects—from books to podcasts to TEDx talks, and beyond. You can find all of Alexandra’s current projects at:


Fail Fast, Take Action, Set Intentions: How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur with Renee Metty

06.21.16ReneeMetty (blog)

In eight years, I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs. Some more successful than others. The ideas are always good, the passion is always high. But the clients who have made their businesses soar? They all share one common trait:

A bias toward action.

Look up “go getter” in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of Renee Metty, one of my most cherished clients. I consider her a serial entrepreneur. Renee started a successful preschool in Seattle called The Cove School that was already off and running when we first worked together on an event planning business she wanted to launch. While that business was successful, her heart was not really in it. But what she was passionate about? Mindfulness, presence and creating more balance in the world, like she was doing at her school. So more recently, I helped her launch WithPAUSE, which offers mindfulness coaching, workshops and training designed to help people live richer, deeper and more fulfilling lives, both at home and at work.

In this interview, Renee shares her (not so) secrets when it comes to building a successful business: Failing fast, scoring speaking engagements, setting goals vs. intentions (and which one is better for your business), facing fear and how to focus. Enjoy our chat!

Maria Ross: Welcome to Red Slice, Renee! You are a very successful entrepreneur with at least three businesses (that I know of) under your belt. What I love about you is that you proactively commit to moving your ideas forward. What do you think drives you from idea to action?

Renee Metty: I’m a huge believer of failing fast and I know that nothing happens without action.  Once I have an idea that I feel is viable, then I try it.  I want to see if it’s going to work.  I will say that there’s a huge difference between what I’m doing now and when we met when I was doing wedding planning.  Very different intentions with very different outcomes, and I think they’re directly correlated.

MR:           What do you mean by different intentions?

RM:           When I started the wedding planning business, my intention was basically, “How can I make the most amount of money and work the least amount of time?” (laughs)  It was fun and it was semi-glamorous and I liked the project management side of it, but it was very external.  What I’m doing now is completely driven from the inside.  There is pretty much zero focus on money and strategy. But it’s more about focusing on I can do and how I can contribute and that mindset is what keeps me in flow. (TWEET THIS!) I’m doing something I love and opportunities keep popping up.  I slowed down and listened. I’m paying attention and I’m following my heart to the point where I feel like I’m driving the opportunities in a lot of ways.

MR:           Wow.

RM:           It’s like “Oh, this is where I’m supposed to be right now. I’m going to go with it and see what happens.”

MR:           But obviously you’re taking proactive steps, too. Speaking engagements don’t just fall into your lap, for example.   What has been your approach?

RM:           It’s very general.  My approach is to ask myself how I can add value to a community or society. Then when opportunities pop up, I ask two questions: Is it something I want to do, and, is it something that adds value? Sometimes it’s both, and sometimes it’s one of them.  There are a few conferences I know that are good for networking or just getting my information out there, so I can spread my message. But honestly, the rest do fall in my lap. When I had my first few speaking engagements, I was reading a lot about how to get more. And over and over again, I found the advice, “If you want to speak, speak!”  You’ve got to keep speaking. From one speaking opportunity comes other opportunities. Maybe the underlying thing is that you focus on connecting with people.  I’m talking about less of the networking kind of connection and more about just being open to others, listening to people and staying really curious about where they are and what they want.

MR:           But you proactively pursued those initial speaking engagements, right?

RM:           The first one, I did not!  Someone from Seattle Interactive asked me if I thought about speaking. I had already set the intention three months prior that I wanted to speak and share my mindfulness message with others.

MR:           It’s kind of like the whole philosophy of “the things on which you put your attention and focus get done….”

RM:           Without a whole lot of effort.

MR:           Right.

RM:           Honestly, I’m not trying.  I’d say 10 to 20 percent is me trying, but it would be something like “I want to be international” and then someone tells me “Oh, there’s a Montessori conference that’s in Prague this year; you should apply to it.” And then I look into it.  There’s no such thing as luck; as Oprah says, luck is just opportunity meeting preparedness.

MR:           Exactly.

RM:           And so there’s the opportunity, I’m fully prepared to take action on it and when it presents itself, and I do something about it.  But also, I’m listening. I’m paying attention and I’m doing what I love so the right things are coming my way.

MR:           You are such a delight to work with because you hash out your brand and message first, but then take immediate action. When starting these businesses, what has been the benefit of creating your brand strategy first before you build your website or start your marketing?

RM:           I think it’s getting in front of the right people.  Something I learned in my recent coaching certification class, which I love, is, “When you’re saying ‘no’ to something, what are you saying ‘yes’ to?”  And the other way around: “When you’re saying ‘yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘no’ to?”  It helps you prioritize. Something I learned from you is that if you’re writing a proposal or going to a networking event, if you don’t have a brand strategy or an ideal client in mind first, you’re just kind of spinning your wheels. I’d rather put myself in front of 100 people that may actually want my services than 1,000 people where I’m shooting blindly at a target.

MR:           Exactly!

RM:           Then there’s the 80/20 rule. My dad was in business so I’ve heard it for a long time: 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers or efforts. When you understand that, it’s huge! When I went into mindfulness training and speaking, it really was to have a broader reach and know that if I can impact people more deeply, that, even if my reach was broad but I had just a few people listening and coming back for more, then that’s where I really wanted to focus. Which is where the brand strategy comes into play: helping you focus.

MR:           For entrepreneurs who are still in the same place with their business or idea that they were two years ago, what advice can you offer? People that don’t see the results they crave or are sort of flailing, doing a lot of work but not getting any traction?

RM:           I think the biggest thing is seeing if they can get to the core of what they love to do, in general. I’m a huge “list” person so having them make a list of things they want to be doing: where do they want to be focusing their time and energy – and a list of what they are actually doingStart from there to see if there’s any overlap. Then you can go back to the idea of “if you’re saying ‘yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘no’ to?” If you’re doing all these things but you really don’t like doing them, then you’re saying no to all these things you want to do.  I talk a lot about shifting perspective.  I think that is the biggest lesson: you have to shift your perspective and focus on contribution.  What value are you giving whomever, whether it’s your client or society or your industry, and start from there.  That can be really hard because that’s not tied to dollars.

MR:           That’s why many people don’t understand why mission and purpose are part of the brand strategy, but it’s got to start from there.   If you don’t believe it, if you don’t buy what you’re selling, why should anyone else care? They’re not going to be your customers for the sole purpose of making you money; that’s not what’s going to light them up inside.

RM:           And it’s your presence around it.  If you’re super excited about what you’re doing, that excitement comes out.   And it’s infectious.  

MR:           One last thing for you, Renee: Because you’re so action-oriented, it seems like you have no fear.  You follow the principle of failing fast: you’re willing to try it and just go out there.  If someone said ‘Apply to this conference’ and you didn’t have your – pardon my language – s**t together, you’d still apply.  That’s what I love about you. You’re like ‘I’ll figure out the rest later!”  What do you think gives you that confidence or ability to overcome your fear and how would you advise someone stuck in “paralysis analysis?”

RM:           Yeah.  First of all, I do have fear!

MR:           Right!  We all do.  It’s not about the absence of fear, it’s about overcoming it.

RM:           You know, part of my fear was fear of success, which I figured out recently, but I think what I always know that whatever happens is exactly where I’m supposed to be.  They’re not isolated incidents.  I have fear that one day I’m going to bomb some presentation or just go blank or something but I also know it’s pointless to even think about that. People get into that cycle so it’s best to dig deeper and figure out the rationale underlying that fear.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?  How I overcome it is by taking action, because the only way to overcome fear is by taking action and then knowing that any type of ‘failure’ is a learning opportunity.

MR:           Right.  There’s simply an outcome; it’s not positive or negative.

RM:           Exactly.

MR:           It’s an equal reaction, a cause and an effect.  Whatever that effect is, you’re going to learn something from it.

RM:           And more recently, I’ve realized that I’m not attached to any particular result or outcome. That’s huge.  With all this stuff happening for me, more opportunities coming up and saying yes to a lot of things, some people have said ‘You have so much on your plate but you seem so relaxed’. It’s because I don’t attach to any particular outcome and I think that’s where a lot of stress comes in. It’s like ‘Oh my gosh, I applied to this conference, I really want to speak at it!’ and they’re just focused on “Am I going to get it or not?” and then they get the opportunity to speak and then they’re focused on “Are they going to like it, is it going to go well?” and I just don’t think about that at all.

MR:           How do you marry that, or reconcile that, with having goals, though?

RM:           There’s a podcast that I love that I listened to before I had this perspective with Tim Ferris and Leo Babauta and it was their little fun, playful argument about goals versus intentions.  And at the time, I was thinking, “You’re crazy, Leo. I get it but you do need goals.”  I was siding with Tim Ferris but I got what Leo was saying.  Now it’s like ‘Oh my Gosh, I’m on Leo’s side. I have no goals!’

MR:           Totally.  Personal story: I started setting yearly “themes” rather than goals the last few years; I used to be the list person with the bullet points every year in my resolutions: my fitness resolutions, my work resolutions.  It’s probably not the soundest business strategy but I don’t have revenue goals anymore.

RM:           I do think that’s sound.

MR:           Yeah, I think it’s sound when you’re working with yourself; I don’t know if it’s sound if you’re running a 1,000-person corporation! It’s kind of the complete opposite of what I’ve taught about marketing metrics, but it’s this idea of loosely setting intentions: ‘These are the things I want to accomplish.” I now pick themes for the year instead of resolutions and then I back all my actions into supporting those themes!

RM:           Yeah.  The bottom line is, is your bottom line moving?  You know that when you run a business you have to have revenue and profit to stay afloat.  Having said that, if you get super-specific about goals, you may be missing out on other opportunities that could work out as well. You have to be open to the fact that your goal might not be the right goal. With intention, it’s much more open and spacious for almost anything to happen and it’ll put you in the right place at the right time. I don’t have goals.  I feel like anytime I think ‘I probably should have some goals’ and move towards them, it falls apart.  This has been working for me so far and I’m going with it.

MR:           I love it.  And that’s why, honestly, when I do brand strategy work with clients, it’s strategy, yes, but it’s really all about focus. It’s not necessarily, ‘We’re going to penetrate these three markets by the end of the year’ and blah, blah, blah…

RM:           Right. And the difference between intention and a goal, I think, is there is no attachment to outcome when you have an intention, whereas goals are very measurable and there is an attachment to outcomes.  What happens for a lot of people is, how are you responding to those outcomes?  You don’t hit your goals. And if that derails you….

MR:           You’re devastated.

RM:           And it doesn’t help anybody.

MR:           And often I find it’s one thing if you can tell yourself ‘I’m going to set this numeric l goal. I’m going to sell 1,000 books this month.’ However, it’s another thing for you to be able to tell your psyche ‘That’s my goal and that’s what I’m shooting for and anything that I do short of that is still okay because, bottom line, I’m still selling books!”  But I think a lot of people can’t do that for themselves.  They think, if they only sell 950, they’ve failed.

RM:           Right.  And really when I hear that and I look at ‘I’m going to sell 1,000 books’ and if I’m only at 500, that for me is an opportunity to say ‘Why did I only sell 500 and what do I need to do differently if I want to get that number to move?’

MR:           It guides ‘This is where I am’ but I think there’s an emotional aspect to this type of goal-setting where some people can do it and be okay – they know in their head that they’re not actually going to get that number but they’re driving the actions towards it – so whatever they get is gravy.

RM:           It comes to, what is your perspective going in?

MR:           Right. And I think it’s so hard to teach people that.  To tell them to set a goal but hold it loosely so you have something to aim for but if you don’t reach it, it’s okay.

RM:           And there’s an emotional intelligence piece to it because when you have some strong emotional intelligence you’re able separate the goal from your identity. So you’re able to look at it neutrally without equating “less books equals less me.”

MR:           Right.  The goal is actually just there to spur the movement. Like when I talk about the upward trajectory of your brand.  As long as things are moving in the right direction, that’s a good thing.

RM:           Which is why if you can focus on your intention, which is “What are you contributing? You’re contributing value to 500 people!” Not “I only sold 500 books.”  That shift for people to focus on contribution is huge if they can make it, which I know is a tough thing to do.

MR:           Great stuff, RM. Thanks for being here!

What did you think of this talk? What are your thoughts or questions about goals and intentions? How do you best plan for success? Please share below in the Comments!

4 Tips to Pricing Your Offerings – and Making Money

09.08.15 Pricing (Blog)

Whether you’re brand new to the professional services game or have been at it a while, I am willing to bet you constantly wrestle with this question:

How much should I charge?

And don’t forget this question’s rambunctious cousins: What is my hourly rate? How much should I mark up? Should I propose this project at a flat rate or on hourly basis?

This question is tricky when you sell “time” or intellectual property and not hard goods with manufacturing costs associated with them. When I first started out consulting, I was lucky enough to have hired people like me before and knew the ballpark going rate. Plus, I knew that I had to price in such a way as to emphasize that I was a consultant, not a contractor. Nuanced distinction but very important in my field: Consultants make recommendations and advise on strategy. Contractors complete tasks they are told to do.

It’s important to remember that pricing is a branding decision (Tweet this!)

Who is the ideal client you want to attract and how do you want to be perceived? Price too high and you may be out of reach of your target clientele. Price too low and people may think your work has no value.

We’ve all made pricing mistakes. I took a bath on a nightmare project early on in my business when I neglected to add in hours on for my time, assuming that my mark-up on my subcontractors would cover me. It did not. While I made all my subcontractors a hefty sum on that almost year-long engagement, it’s too embarrassing to admit to you what I netted out from all that work and heartache. After we finally walked away, I licked my wounds and learned a valuable lesson to always, always factor in my hours as a separate line item to subcontractor markups.

This was such a popular question from my audience that I sought out the advice of the woman who changed the way I look at pricing: Audrey Godwin.

Audrey Godwin is the CEO and Founder of The Godwin Group. She coaches women business owners and transforms them into financially savvy CEO’s. Audrey is passionate about helping women entrepreneurs fund a good salary, provide for their families and create a strong retirement plan.

Here are four powerful tips on how to price your products or services:

  1. First, Determine Your Costs: Regardless of your service or product, you must know what it costs you to make, deliver or generate your revenue. These can be hard costs, such as raw materials, or overhead costs, such as rent. But what if you don’t have a product? Then your cost is labor. What’s the cost of your labor? If your company is not set up as a corporation from which you draw a salary, you may have no idea how to determine the cost of your time,” says Audrey. One way she advises you to back into the number is to determine the salary you want each year. “There are 2080 working hours in a year, so let’s say your goal is $100,000 in take-home salary,” says Audrey. “This equates to roughly $50 in labor cost.” Your goal should be to charge clients at least this much for their hours (with a markup to cover taxes, overhead, and other business costs), but also to assess if a given activity is worth $50 of your time.
  2. Articulate Your Brand, Target Market and Value: As mentioned, pricing is a brand decision. Are you a commodity or a luxury? You need to price accordingly so it’s clear. Who is the audience? What is your differentiator, to allow for a premium price? Do you simply offer DIY information or do you work with people to actually get things done? For what is your target market willing to pay a premium? This is where fleshing out your brand strategy is vital to more than just your marketing efforts.
  3. Determine Your Markup and Final Price: How do you choose your markup percentage? Look at the industry and see what the percentage is for that industry. Talk to others who have been at this a while and find out what they charge. Check out competitors and see if they bill hourly or flat-rate by project. And consider the company culture you are building: are you building a full-time staff or going it alone? Audrey says, “If you are taking salary as part of your expenses, then 10% to the bottom line is not a bad thing. But as a solopreneur, remember you are paying market rates to your subcontractors rather than paying 1/3 of that cost in wages and benefits if they were employees.” How much money do you personally want to make? If you’re using subcontractors, they will eat into the gross profit so will you really net a good profit on the deal­–which is what I didn’t factor in for that nightmare client referenced above. Assess whether it would it be better for your pricing model and net profit to get an employee or temporary help.
  4. Be Careful about Discounting to Attract New Clients: Make sure you’re discounting to the right People that will only buy with a discount are not necessarily ideal clients. Better to use discounts on the backend, Audrey says. “Incent them for paying faster versus just to get new clients. When you discount to get them in the door, you end up doing work you hate for people you can’t stand.”

Want more good stuff from Audrey? Sign up for her FREE 50 minute Financially Savvy CEO Strategy Session. She’ll work wonders with you, promise.

Are you struggling with pricing or have you found a happy place? Tweet me or leave a post on the Red Slice Facebook page!

9 Hot Women Your Business + Brand Need Right Now

6.2.15HotList (Blog)

I’m going to be straight with you: stop trying to do everything yourself.

You know who you are: In an effort to “save money,” you sign up for every DIY course under the sun, thinking you’re going to have time to: perfect your writing, code your website, design your flyers, and everything else you need to do to run your business or promote your message. In addition to, you know, doing your actual work.

There’s definitely a time and a place to go it alone. Heck, I offer a self-study digital program that enables you to put together a clear, crisp brand strategy on your own – and folks love it. But savvy business people also know that no one can be an expert in everything. Why should you be, when there are fabulous resources out there? Not to mention that there are just certain things you may enjoy, like writing your blog or designing your materials, and some things that make you want to poke your eye out because it will take you three times as long to be half as good. Time better spent on the real, revenue-generating value you offer, whether that’s making your custom jewelry designs, working with paying clients or writing your next novel.

Folks often ask me for referrals, which I love to provide. This is not a zero-sum game. If someone helps me be successful, my responsibility is to mentor and share to help you, too.

If we can’t share our resources to lift everyone up, why are we even doing this “entrepreneurship” thing? (Tweet this!)

Enjoy my Hot List of 9 ridiculously talented people that will help your biz + brand shine bright. And yes, they are all women (#girlpower). You’re welcome.

Norma Maxwell of Connect Interactive. My website shaman. She has designed and built outrageously on-brand websites for me as well as many of my clients. She’s the genius behind my recent website facelift! Norma gets that your website is not just about good looks, but that it should speak to your target audience and represent your brand well – plus ensure a great user experience to achieve your goals.

Sarah Von Bargen: Sarah and I are long-time partners for many of my clients. She is the writing genius behind my SLICE Sessions. She loves to ghostwrite blog posts or eBooks – and she’s amazing at articulating your unique brand in a way that gets people excited and engaged. She has written a lot of great stuff for me over the years.

Tammy Martin of Martin Marketing: Tammy is a Facebook marketing expert for savvy soulful entrepreneurs. And not just about Facebook ads per se but how to use them to build a true sales funnel and lead your prospects down the path to purchase. She’ll help you build your following, your email list and generate crucial traffic back to your site – all while setting up both your ads and your unique landing pages, dealing with all the technology behind-the-scenes, installing all tracking pixels to make sure it’s working, and tweaking as needed. We had great results working together and I’m eager to work with her on more!

Alison Monday of Tiny Blue Orange: Alison is my website wizard and guardian. She is a designer and developer and ensures your site looks good and stays safe (she’s a techie at heart and is all about security, uptime, and performance). She helps me create pages, improve layout and has designed promotional JPG’s for me. She has also helped some of my clients build wonderful websites that required sophisticated back-end complexity and unique imagery.

Sandy Jones-Kaminski of Bella Domain Media: Sandy is a networking maven and LinkedIn ninja. She combines her expertise in how to network online or offline with her vast knowledge of how to use LinkedIn to generate leads, find connections, and get found by the folks who matter most. She has all kinds of social selling and networking tips and tricks that will change your business.

Anne Watson Barber of Almond Tree Social: Anne specializes in helping her clients boost the ROI of their websites via SEO, paid marketing campaigns, Infusionsoft eMarketing and other tools. As a Search Engine Marketing manager, she focuses on boosting conversions and traffic for large, complex websites. Fun fact: She was a News Editor for Wall Street Journal online before going freelance.

Social Media Gurus: These talented experts have been behind the scenes of some killer brands ranging from authors to consultants to restaurants and can help you develop a practical and powerful social media plan – and even ghostwrite and manage pages for you.

Karen Rosenzweig of One Smart Cookie Marketing

Tracey Warren of Ready, Set, Grow Marketing

Katie Kay of Virtually Savvy

And if you need a dynamic speaker to motivate your marketing team, liven up your next business event or inspire conference attendees into action, you can always enjoy my unique blend of branding and inspirational wit and wisdom but please check out these other fabulous folks as they are gifted presenters on their specific topics. Bookmark this post for when you need to find an amazing speaker for your next event.

Image Credit: Tomi Tapio K via Flickr

How to Use a Press Release

1.20.15 press release (blog)

Ah, the poor press release. It’s been abused, distorted, asked to work miracles and is one of the biggest marketing and brand awareness misconceptions I’ve ever encountered in my 20+ year career.

Most business owners (and frankly, large company CEO’s) just don’t understand what a press release can – and cannot – do for your business and how to use it most effectively. Some people think everything they do is newsworthy; others treat it like a sales page or pump one out every week. Still others think you can produce one press release and – BAM! You’re on the cover of Fast Company.

Never fear. Help is on the way….

Use a press release the RIGHT way if you actually want press! (Tweet this!)

Nicole Francois is a marketing communication expert and runs MarketWell, an agency focused on health-related business.   She and I collaborate often and I love her practical, tough-love approach to getting press exposure. She even served as publicist for my memoir, Rebooting My Brain. Nicole majored in Journalism, produced news for major television networks and cut her teeth on press releases.  While the bulk of Nicole’s career has been focused on marketing, Nicole pulls from her six years of journalistic experience almost everyday.

I asked Nicole to weigh in on the ever-popular press release and how it really works for your business.

RS: OK, give us the straight scoop: what is a press release and how is it actually used or seen by the media?

NF: A press release can be many different things.  That stated it should always be a fact-based, and fact-focused document that is written in terms the media understands.  That means typically not leading with a quote from your CEO (unless he just media bombed at a women in tech conference, but I digress) but instead, start with a compelling ‘lead’ with the important components like: Who? What? When? Why? Where? How?  At least three of these questions should be answered in your first two sentences — and those sentences should be concise and easy to read. And if you expect to be taken seriously you must use AP-Style guidelines.

The media uses press releases to gather information.  About 90% of the releases I received as a journalist were trashed (and PR people considered me a nice / warm contact). If there is interest, however, the media will consider how it might use the information.  If the media decides to pursue the information put forth in the release you or your media contact will likely hear from them — that’s when we ask follow up questions to vet the ‘news’ in the release and find out if the information fits our angles.  Then, the reporter/media host/editor usually has some options:

  • Follow up immediately and cover the story
  • Take the story idea to the editorial meeting where a bunch of journalists weight in on its value and a decision for coverage is rendered
  • Shrink the story into a quick write-up or reader (for broadcast)
  • Turn it down
  • Or – rarely – enlarge the story with the information offered because it’s so rich it deserves a lot of journalistic research and developed story-telling.  These coveted stories are held for big editions, or ratings period broadcast.

What journalists hate most of all is the advertising -release.  This, in our eyes, lowers your credibility and in journalism, credibility is everything.  So if you hammer a news department with faux-news, wannabe ad releases you, your business, and all of your clients are pretty much dirt.

While follow-up is important, we also hate publicist-types who keep trying once we’ve given a firm ‘no’.  We know if you’ve undermined us and you might even get away with it once or twice, but keep it up and you’ll be a target for vengeance.

RS: What won’t a press release do for you or your business?

NF: It won’t get you a free ad, it won’t get your domain or phone number automatically listed.  It will definitely not make you famous, unless it’s for all the wrong reasons.  It won’t get you a million new customers.  It won’t earn you media attention just because it’s a press release.  It might help your SEO standing — but be very careful with this side of press releases.  It will most likely make your mama proud.

RS: What should a business owner do before sending that next press release?

NF: Ask these 3 questions first and ensure the answer is “yes” before you hit SEND:

  • Is this information timely and relevant to the community-at-large?
  • Have I emphasized facts that are important to the targeted media’s audience?
  • Are their visual opportunities for coverage that I have pointed out in this release?

Image Credit: Surreal Name Given via Flickr

Brand messaging made simple: Can a six-year-old understand what you do?

Be Bold. Be Brief. Be Gone.

These words hung at the desk of a software salesperson at my last Corporate marketing director gig. Ironically, the guy was kind of a windbag but the wise words have stuck with me all these years.

Clarity and conciseness are not necessarily hallmarks of my writing. I often play with words to find just the right way of explaining a concept – and have the habit of over-explaining things to the point of confusion. A flaw of which I am very well aware and try to remedy.

In the 2nd edition of my bookBranding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget  Alexandra Franzen, communication specialist and author of 50 Ways to Say You’re Awesome, dropped some wisdom bombs about effective messaging. She and I have long collaborated on clients – and on my own brand messaging. A wizard with words, she knows just how to say something in a carefully curated yet oh-so-simple way. Where you and I may take 100 words to make our point, Alexandra can name that tune in 20 – and do it with spark and sizzle.

Here is an adapted excerpt from the book you’ll enjoy:

Many entrepreneurs, especially those with a purpose-driven business, get wrapped up in flowery language when describing their work. But Alexandra advises that the clearest way to express an idea is best.

“Think about the last time you read a blog post, heard a TED Talk or listened to a story at a dinner party that really impacted you, that made you want to do something,” she asks. “Was it long, convoluted, unnecessarily detailed? Or was it simple, clear, direct and conversational?” Alexandra adds, “Writing about the work that you do—your ‘reason for being’—is a form of storytelling. And if you want to inspire people to take action, a simple story is best.”

An exercise I play with clients is to ask them to tell me how they would describe their organization to their grandmother or their five-year-old daughter. Often, what they say is exactly what they need to communicate to adults.

Alexandra says. “If it takes you eighty-five paragraphs to explain something, you’re probably not clear on it. Particularly in the online space, people have a shorter attention span. Customers will be skimming your site, flipping around, spending just a few seconds here and there. You need to be exceptionally simple.”

Alexandra advises taking lessons from scientist, astronomer, and author Carl Sagan, or beloved children’s TV show host Mister Rogers, or English broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough. “These people were legendary educators who had mass appeal because of their incredible skill in distilling information so that anyone from any background could understand. This is what makes them so beloved and great. Distillation is not the same as dumbing down (Tweet!). It’s about expressing the purest essence of an idea—without any unnecessary clutter.”

When crafting your messages, ditch the jargon where you can. Of course, you need to speak the language of your industry but don’t overcomplicate things. The goal is to make your target audience feel competent, not to make them feel dumb. “When crafting copy for your business,” says Alexandra, “above all, your job is to make the person reading feel competent. If they think to themselves, ‘I don’t understand the words on the screen in front of me, and now I feel dumb,’ they’ll probably click away from your website and never come back. But if they think to themselves, ‘I get this, and it sounds like precisely what I need!’ they’ll be excited to take the next step.”

Follow the lead of one of the smartest people who ever lived:

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein (Tweet this!)