Career

Follow your passion. What’s the worst that could happen? With Genevieve Strickland

Genevieve Strickland is a full time licensed marriage and family therapist. A full time artist. A Mom!  She reminds us of the importance of doing what you are passionate about.

Show Notes

Do you have something you are truly passionate about?  Do you have something you do for the sheer joy of it?  Have you considered turning it into a second career?  If your answer is yes to any of the questions above you’re in the right place.

Genevieve Strickland grew up on the South Carolina coast in Myrtle Beach.  She says she knew she loved drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil.

At a college fair in high school she discovered Converse College, a women’s college that offered a degree in art therapy.  She decided to try the all women’s atmosphere because, in her own words, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  She not only flourished there, but gained a whole sisterhood.

After earning her degree she got a second degree  to become a licensed marriage and family therapist and moved into private practice.

Always creating when she had the opportunity, but as more people began to ask for her work she was inspired to try being a full time therapist and a full time artist.  So she took two business classes on using Instagram.  After that, it was on!

As both a full time therapist and full time artist, art is still Genevieve’s passion.  It is what centers her.  It is how she cares for herself.

As a full time therapist she recognizes that there is sometimes still a stigma around mental self care.  Although, she says it is no different than going to a general practitioner or OBGYN for a check up.  Brain health is just as important as body health.

In this episode, Genevieve  offers inspiring insights and her professional expertise on both art and therapy.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things
  • It’s important to mess up and fail – so you know you can start over
  • Therapy and taking care of your brain is just like physical therapy for your body

 

Genevieve’s commitment to her own self care and the self care of her clients reminds us of our own at How She Got Here. This past October, we committed to 30 Days of Self Care.  If you missed it, it is not too late.  The resources are still available on our  website, Facebook, and Instagram pages. Join our Facebook community and visit our site to download the free printable for self care reminders that are intended to pull you out of the hustle of life (even for just 15 minutes) and provide you time to focus on caring for yourself.

Just like Genevieve emphasizes, we’ve got to take care of ourselves, sister, so that we can go after those dreams of ours! And once we do that, we can start empowering other women and girls to do exactly the same thing.

Show Links:

Art by Genevieve Strickland (Facebook)

GenStrickland (Instagram)

Magnolia Counseling Associates (Facebook)

Magnolia Counseling Website

passioncolorjoy.com    (Instagram Classes)

 

 

Transcript

Intro: Welcome to “How She Got Here – Conversations With Everyday Extraordinary Women.” It is my belief that every woman has something inside her only she can do. The more we share the stories of other women, who have already discovered their thing, the more it inspires, encourages, and empowers other women to do the same.

Susan: Hey pod-sisters, my guest today is full-time artist as well as full-time licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Genevieve Strickland. Genevieve and I went to Converse together, and our conversation encompasses everything from choosing an all-women’s college to graduating and figuring out your career as well as turning a hobby into a second career: A great conversation that I cannot wait to share with you. So, without further ado, here’s Genevieve.

Hey Genevieve, thanks so much for joining me today.

Genevieve:  Thank you for having me Susan, I’m so glad to be here.

Susan:  I’m just really, really excited to talk to you and catch up with you and find out what you’ve been up to but for the audience who’s listening today, I’d love if you would give a little bit about who you are and your background.

Genevieve:  Okay, so my name Genevieve Strickland Y’all know that and I am originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina—I  don’t know if your listeners are familiar with that area but it’s just a pretty popular coastal city but I live in upstate South Carolina now. I’ve lived here for about 20 years and I am a full-time marriage and family therapist and I’m a full-time artist so that is a little bit about me.

Susan:  So did you grow up in a family of creators? Like how did you find the passion for both things you do because I know you’re very passionate about both. Tell me a little bit about how you got to these places.

Genevieve:  Sure, you know, we do have a couple entrepreneurs in my family. My dad actually opened his 1st business when I was in middle school and we definitely thought we’re going to be homeless when he opened that because he left a regular job to do that. Thankfully it was fairly successful so we were not homeless thankfully and as far as like creative people, we don’t really have any other artists in the family. His dad actually was an architect but I did not know him as a kid: He died before I was born and—I’m trying to think—Nope: Yeah that’s it so we really don’t have anybody else in health care either so I’m sort of a unique person I think in my family as far as that goes and I got started with art really like as soon as I could hold like a pencil—I know a lot of artists tell that kind of story but I really did. I just always really liked creating things and especially drawing that was really my thing. I didn’t actually love painting until a couple of years ago funnily enough. I was going to go to college to be a Disney artist— that was my dream: To go draw like you know back when they drew movies still. I was going to go to school for that.

In high school, my teacher said, “Hey great dream, definitely do that but just in case, like let’s lay a couple other careers that maybe you could do.” which is a fair question right? It’s hard to be a full-time artist. And so I found art therapy actually in  like back when we had to look at things that were in books like and probably we did not have Google back then so we had to actually look up things in books and I looked it up and I’m like, “Wow, that sounds really cool. I can help people, I can do art it’s a win for everybody.”  and I found Converse—Susan and I went to Converse together: College— and they are the only school in South Carolina that had art therapy as an undergrad and I said, “Well gosh I guess I’m going to go there.” knowing nothing about it— It’s about 4 hours away from my hometown— and I went there like site unseen.

Susan:  Oh my gosh I didn’t know that!

Genevieve:  Yeah, I was like, “Well what’s the worst that can happen right?” and Converse was a great fit for me and I really loved it and the art program there was great and I got to take a lot of counseling classes and I figured out that I liked it a lot and I was about to graduate—and you’re going to like this story Susan—that I was about to graduate meeting with my advisor and he was like, “Hey by the way you really can’t use art therapy like for real as a job until you have a counseling degree your master’s degree.” and I’m like “What!!?”

Susan:  Oh, my gosh.

Genevieve:  I totally thought I could get out and just do that. So very quickly had to switch plans and say, you know, “Okay so the only art therapy program back then we’re all like several states away.” and so I was like, “Okay well what am I going to do?” and then I was walking it down the hall like after a class and there was a Flyer for the counseling program there Converse: The Marriage and Family Therapy Program which is an excellent program—love it to death and I said, “Well I’ll just apply to that.” and I got in and that’s what I did.

Susan:  Oh, my gosh. Wow, that would have freaked me out if I was getting ready to graduate and they were like. “Oh, by the way, this isn’t real. You can’t really do this yet.”

Genevieve:  Yeah, I was a little panicked there for a minute but I just said, “Well what’s the worst that can happen?” you know, “Let me just apply and if I don’t get in then I’ll just, you know, get a job but maybe not as doing that and make another plan.”

Susan:  That was really good and quick thinking.

Genevieve:  Well, I’m just lucky somebody put that flyer up Susan—honestly.

Susan:  That’s awesome though! That’s awesome because I don’t know, I am thinking back to undergrad and I really might have had a breakdown but it’s funny that you say that. You know my— I’ll just go off on a little tangent here for a second—I ended up majoring in business and marketing and so thank goodness the business administration piece was there because we graduated in 2004. So the things I was learning about marketing, I mean you’re right, Google didn’t exist, Facebook was really just launching like we didn’t have Facebook when we graduated. And so the marketing world was literally changing as I was graduating and that degree was not so great. So it’s like thank goodness I had the other aspects of that and I could use the finance pieces of that because the marketing thing was just never really going to happen. I would have had to have immediately gone back to school. It sounds like we both kind of graduated.

Susan:  Right and I couldn’t do it at that point like I really had to I didn’t have many student loans but I knew they were coming due and my parents were very much like, “You got to get out and get a job.” like that’s what—you graduate and you get a job. That’s what you have to do—and that’s just really funny, that’s really funny. Okay so let’s step back just a second because this gives me an opportunity.

Genevieve:  Sure.

Susan:  You came to Converse site unseen. Did you, in fact, know that it was a women’s college?

Genevieve:  I did actually know that. I found out about them and when I saw them at my high school college fair and they did say that and I remember telling my friends like, “I got into this college. Like I’m excited about the program and, you know, by the way, it’s an all-women.” and they were all like, “What!!? Why do you want to go to an all-women school? Like that sounds terrible. You’re not going to meet anybody.” you know all the things that people say about single-gender schools.

I really wasn’t worried about it. I mean I mostly had friends that were girls anyway so I wasn’t panicked about that. I was kind of like you know, “It’ll be in a town. I’m sure there’ll be people.” or “I’ll meet somebody in a coffee shop if I want to date somebody—whatever.” so that didn’t really bother me too much but my friends and even my parents were like, “Are you sure you want to go to a women’s school? Like what?”

Susan:  Yeah, yeah. Do you feel like— I mean obviously, you didn’t have the coed experience so it’s not like you changed and went from one to another— but do you feel like it changed your perception? What impact if any did a single gender piece of that have on your life?

Genevieve:  Well definitely one that gave me the room to, you know, be a little bit more outspoken in class. I don’t know I know you probably can’t tell, I use to be a very shy person in high school, didn’t really talk that much you know it’s sort of the classic quiet kind of, you know, unique kid. I came here and I was like, you know, again “Like what do I have to lose?” like trying to be maybe a little bit more outgoing and Converse was a great place.

Everybody was super welcoming and excited and, you know, a lot of y’all were already like outspoken and exciting people so that was a good atmosphere for me. I really like flourished in that, and two: I really got some good like you know I got some good hair stuff. I hate to say it like that but like I did not come from a family with good har stuff.  You got a cool hairstyle or that fun— and I got like a such a small piece but it did make a really big impact on me like, “Okay, I came out of this and I can look professional, I can feel good about you know presenting myself.” and not that Converse at all expects you to look like that in class because I know you probably just like I did went to class in pajamas a lot of the time.

Susan:  Yes.

Genevieve:  But it was almost like—because I’m an only child— I got a definitely a good like sister experience being at Converse and that was great for me.

Susan:  I love that because that’s exactly how I describe it. It really is a giant sisterhood. I mean I can meet somebody.  in Dallas, Texas and find out that they went to Converse and it’s happened and I was like, “Oh my gosh!” and it’s at an immediate like, “Yeah, we’re sisters.” it’s the weirdest thing that I don’t know that you get that— I know you don’t get that at a bigger university. I don’t know if it happens at smaller liberal arts colleges or not.

But anyway thank you for sharing your thoughts on that I really appreciate it. You said that you were creating, drawing as soon as you could pick up a pencil. You came out of college, you had the marriage and family therapy thing— that’s what you were going to do, that’s what you started doing—when did you realize that art could be more than a hobby artist, you could be like what I like to call a capital ‘A’ artist?

Genevieve:  So trying to think of when exactly that shift happened. I mean definitely after I had my second kid. He’s two and a half now and my youngest son and I had been you know painting and like every 3 months, I would sort of make something. When you’re in school and you’re doing art, you have a lot of deadlines, you have projects to turn in but once you get out without that structure unless you’re just motivated it’s hard to like, make time if you’re doing regular jobs or you’re doing regular responsibilities so. I was probably making something every couple months you know painting something fresh for this friend, painting something for a house that we could sell it— that kind of thing— and I started thinking like, “Gosh you know I’m getting more like requests from people like wanting me to paint something. Maybe I should sort of think on that. Like why can’t I do both? You know, why can’t I, be a full-time therapist and a full-time artist. I don’t see why I can’t.”

So I just I took two business classes and they’re both like Instagram business classes because that’s sort of the thing if you talk to any artist right now that’s a professional, that’s what they’re sort  of doing. That’s your own gallery for the whole world and there is a whole system to sort of know how to get like market your stuff to that audience and I said, “Well that seems like a good place to start.” you know, it doesn’t take me anything but time to learn that system right? I don’t have to create a whole website; I don’t have to do anything like that so. Right when I was doing that, a dad of a kid that my oldest son was in class with said, “Hey can I commission like this piece for a local restaurant that’s opening? It’s a big deal; we just want some local artist. You don’t have anything and anywhere else in town. Will you paint something for our restaurant?” I said, “Sure.” but that was really like it. That moment and then like two months later, I had been asked to be in an art show with a bunch of cool artist in town and then it was it with, it was on after that. So I guess that would be about, you know, two-ish years ago I became a professional— capital ‘A’ I would say.

Susan:  That’s so cool. It just kind of morphed into this thing. It wasn’t like it was a planned thing. That’s such a neat, that’s so cool how things have fallen into place. Tell me a little bit about your creative process and your method. I love that you do a lot of time-lapse pictures or time-lapse videos of pieces that you’re working on and so anybody who watches your stuff knows that you paint your canvas is red first. Tell me a little bit about your process why red?

Genevieve:  So I took one painting class at Converse—you know, when you’re an art therapy major, you do have to take studio art classes. I took one painting class and I did not like it but I did learn a couple of things. Even though I don’t paint in oil, I paint in acrylic, one of the things that you do no matter what you paint is have an under painting so that red is an under painting and basically that just gives you another like layer on your canvas—one because when you buy a canvas, sometimes it can take a couple layers of paint for the paint to look not like you can see through if that’s a good way to describe that. So one is for that and two, also the red I feel like pops my colors a little bit more so it’s a warm base instead of that white base and so I feel like that just makes my— and I’m a big color fan. I’m sure if ya’ll look at my work you’ll see that I really do love color so very much and so those kinds of things matter to me and I could, I guess paint on a white canvas but I just I like the way my color looks on that red that’s why I do it.

Susan:  That’s really cool. I know a lot of your stuff. I’ve had you commission a piece but I also know that you just paint it you just create it. Where does your inspiration come from and even in stuff that’s commissioned I mean you still have to have that picture in your head— how does that work?

Genevieve:  So I mean definitely a lot of the inspiration I have because I do a lot of like landscape pieces, are from the places around here. Upstate South Carolina is a great location because you’re near the coast, you’re near the mountains, you’re near farms, you’re near all kinds of just cool beautiful places and you can get them you know in an hour or a couple hours versus like a whole day. So, it’s just useful around here and that is truly where a lot of—I go gosh you know driving, I stop and take a picture because I’ll use that for later and you know as far as like my commission stuff, I just think that I’ve been drawing and you know creating stuff so long that I’ve never really had to like too much trouble just picturing—I’m just a visual person so somebody says, “Oh I want you to draw an alligator riding on a horse in the mountains.” I would be able to come up with something. It may not be a good picture always, I definitely do make mistakes. My work doesn’t always turn out well. I post the stuff that turns out well but that’s not always what actually happens. I think if you’re an artist you have to be not afraid of just paint over stuff—just starting over. I mean that’s just part of the process.

Susan:  Well that segways into a question I always like to ask and that’s, you know, even the strongest of us have moments where we lack self-confidence. How do you deal with that—is it the starting over?

Genevieve:  Yeah I think definitely I mean if you do you any kind of skill and I feel like art is definitely people will say “You’re just born with this talent.” whatever but I really felt like you know it’s just like any skill that you have in the world— you spend a lot of time getting better at it and you have to be able to do that to be a professional. You can’t be stuck in one place doing the same thing the same way— it just doesn’t work that way I don’t think to be professional. So, you know, you just spend a lot of time making mistakes. I think that’s important to experience. Not everybody have to or not everybody is afraid to mess up and fail, and I think that it is important to do that so that you know you can always start over. Like even I had a big commission earlier this year and I had gotten about you know a third of the way through and I was sending her a progress picture and she said, “You know I wanted that actually vertical and not horizontal.” so a third of the way through I don’t know why I didn’t check that— it was a terrible idea but I had for a panic moment for a minute like, “Oh gosh you know I just spent all this time doing this—poor me and then I said, “Gosh you know it’s fine.” I just turn it around and paint it again and it’ll be okay and it really is and maybe that’s just practice failing. I’ve practiced a lot being bad at stuff. I’m not good at math, you said you’re good at financial stuff but a long time being bad at math and so if I just based my whole life on how good I was at that, I would just be sort of stuck. When I have all this other stuff I’m okay.

Susan:  I would like to clarify: I said I did math, I did not say I was good at math. No one called me for math questions. I am very good in Excel— no one call me with your math questions I can’t answer them. Now I thought that was great Genevieve.

Genevieve:  Oh my gosh, Excel is hard.

Susan:  Again, you talk about a skill you can learn Excel. It is a skill, it is not a natural born talent but there is some natural talents you have. I mean it is a skill I think that there are things that you can learn but you really do have I think there are some things that a vision and I think you have a vision and I think it’s a beautiful vision and I really admire that because that’s not something that I have. I mess up stick people so yeah.

Genevieve:  Well thank you.

Susan:  Tell us a little bit about how because you are a full-time counselor which is so cool, you are a full-time artist which is also cool, you also have two children, tell me how do you recharge your batteries and is that art is for you at this moment— is that recharging your batteries or is there something else that does it for you?

Genevieve:  It definitely started out, like I said, I really started painting a lot right after I had my second child like kind of a sickly kid and he just was, you know, a lot of intense he didn’t sleep well that kind of stuff and we’re moving and the thought of change and so I didn’t really feel like I had much time to like go out and do stuff and I’m kind of a homebody anyway so I just started doing it like, “Gosh this is what I loved as a kid. This will be good for me to do my time.” it’s easy to fit in my life right now and so definitely it started out as that and then to kind of morphed into—it’s still that for me I still look forward to my time to do that so I start painting almost every night and I have my stuff just sort of set up in our little it looks like a studio but it’s really just the corner of our dining room, so I can be near my family if they’re awake or be near my husband— if he’s in the living room, I’m right next to him. So it’s my time to do it but it’s still there in my home and now I do more things out. Now I’ll go ride my bike or I’ll go you know out to eat breakfast with friends and I have more space to do that now but art is sort of what I’ always coming back to. I’m not a dancer but I sort of think about I’m not a yoga person but I feel like I think of it as my center I’ve had it so long in my life, that’s just my center.

Susan: That’s really cool. That’s really cool I like the centering aspect of that. That’s really, really neat. That’s really cool and that you’ve turned it into a profession so it can be both. That is such a—I don’t know, it gives me a sense of like peace about things I don’t know and I’m not an artist—that’s really neat. One of the questions I always like to ask is:  With this podcast, my whole goal is to inspire, empower, and encourage women to go out and find their thing. You have found two things that I think you must be really, really good at. One of them I know you’re really good at, the other one I’ve never used you as a counselor. I have been in therapy myself— full disclosure—but not living close by, I have not had the opportunity to use you. So tell me there are women out there who are thinking about finding their thing or how they find their thing and I envision them like, you know doing what I did: getting quiet, getting still like sitting down and really figuring out who you are. If you could leave our audience with like an action step of figuring things out for themselves, do you have anything that you would recommend anyone try or do or seek out?

Genevieve:  So I mean it would be hard for me not to say, “Hey, find a good therapist.” I mean that’s what we’re here for—is to help you walk through figuring out who you are and also we’re very different people than we were at 18 and at 10 and at 25 depending on how old you are. And so you know a good therapist can definitely help you walk through figuring that out like what you like and what you don’t like and how to set boundaries, you know, in your life or with your relationship. I mean I’ve done my own therapy before and I would be kind of a hypocrite if I didn’t. So I feel like that’s really helpful in one place and don’t feel like it’s unacceptable, I mean many counselors take insurance and payments of all kinds. So it’s not just for like people that can afford it. Therapists are in everybody’s grasp for sure.

But if it’s not that, if that’s not what you want to do, you know, again I kind of come back to like don’t be afraid to try stuff. When we’re kids we just go, “Hey I’m going to learn how to ride a bike.” and you just go out and like fall a bunch until you figure out how to ride a bike. One year for Christmas my parents got me a unicycle and I’m like, “Why?” I’m not a very athletic person so I don’t know why they gave that to me but you know I was pretty bad at it for a long time until I got kind of the hang of it. It was never my thing but I did figure out how to ride it where I didn’t fall immediately.

Not everybody in their childhood gets the space to like try stuff out so if you’re an adult and you don’t know what you like or you don’t have your thing or you’re trying to fit it in your life like try it. Take an online class, go get a unicycle and go, you know, find some new friends, go to be part of a group, you know, now we’ve got the Internet. There’s such a wealth of finding people or finding things—it doesn’t have to be costly things and my thought would be like go try stuff out. Don’t be afraid of it. I mean I’m 36 years old this year and you know, like I learned how to ride a bike again this year and that was exciting but it’s okay to be older and try stuff for you. You don’t have to have it figured out and you know just because you have kids so that would be my action step I think for everybody. Hopefully, I was clear with that.

Susan:  Oh, no, you absolutely were and now that you’re talking about this, I would love to just talk a little bit about your business and therapy and what that looks like because I feel like at the first real therapy I ever did it was when you know we did marriage counseling therapy type stuff and that was fine and that was good and I really enjoyed it but then I found myself dealing with some stuff that I just never dealt with and it just kind of all of a sudden popped up and I was like, “Oh what is this?” and I kind of had a little bit of panic attack and the target, it came out of nowhere, it was random and I told Stephen about it and he was like, “Maybe you should go talk to somebody about it.” and I was like, “I can’t do that! Therapy? Who does therapy? Only people who are crazy do therapy.”

So I don’t know if there’s really a taboo around it anymore, I feel like maybe there is so if you’d be comfortable talking about some of that, I would love to hear your thoughts on that and about how— I don’t even know. I don’t know where to start with this. This is something like totally off the top of my head— I have nothing prepared.

Genevieve:  Yeah I can definitely talk on that if you’d like.

Susan:  I would love to hear your thoughts on it from the therapist perspective.

Genevieve:  Yeah I think we’re still battling some stigma of people going to counseling. I think it’s much better than when I started 10 years ago but there is still you know especially— I don’t know about in Texas but definitely here in South Carolina, there’s still a lot of like, “Why aren’t you going to your pastor with that?” or, “Why aren’t you praying more about it?” and so you know not that those things aren’t helpful and not that pastors aren’t— I mean I don’t knock that at all but there is a reason why we have you know science behind why these things work for people and how there are things that you can do that have better-coping skills like when you feel panic and target and that kind of thing so, you know, we take care of our body, we could go to the dentist, most of us go at least once a year but you know that maybe the two that we’re supposed to. We go to the doctor, we’ve got a sinus infection, we take care of our body parts you know when things are wrong. We’ve got an achy knee whatever but we’re less willing for some reason to go when our brain won’t like, be quiet or it’s thinking about stuff all the time or it’s saying I’m fine thanks to ourselves we’re having trouble communicating with our partner or we have things that have happened to us like trauma as a child or a teenager or as a young person so.

I think about it that way like this is just maintenance of your body just like it is if you had to get the physical therapy and it’s a little bit less scary if you think about it. People always bring up like, “Oh you’re going to like lay on the couch and you’re going to cry the whole time.” and wow, people do cry a lot on my couch. Nobody is laying on it though. Nobody has ever done it. Therapy is much different than it used to be and so we’re really here not to judge what you bring into us because people will tell us all kinds of things that we may not agree with but that doesn’t mean that we’re judging them. We’re there to help you figure it out and walk with you.

Susan:  So you are specifically marriage and family is that correct?

Genevieve:  That is correct. That’s my degree but what that means if I can clarify that is I don’t just Marriage and Family Counseling. Some people do but I can see basically anybody that wants to come in for counseling as long as I can feel confident doing it. And honestly, mostly I do see individuals, I don’t see that many couples and families but what that means for you all is that a Marriage and Family Therapist is a system thinker so we think of people and systems:  So what their family system looks like, what their relationship system looks like, what their work system look like and you know, how are those things connected to potentially not helping or helping the person that’s in our office.

Susan:  What is something—I mean my audience is women—so what is something if a woman is thinking about seeing a therapist or maybe her kids need to see a therapist or maybe it is their marriage, maybe she is married and maybe she and her husband or wife need to see somebody and they’ve never seen somebody. What should they expect walking into the door?

Genevieve:  Well you know now that we’ve got the internet, I definitely recommend not actually googling people but you know The magazine Psychology Today, that’s a great place to start because they have not only good great articles about you know different subjects as far as counseling goes, mental health goes, but they have a therapist like search engine and you can search.

Susan:  I did not know that.

Genevieve:  Yeah it’s great so that’s a great place to start. A lot of people get referrals from their doctor, their primary care, their gynecologist—really it’s the gynecologist that refers us to most people but those are good people to ask. If you feel comfortable asking the people in your system, you can ask them like, “Hey, have you seen a counselor? Do you know anybody in town that you’re like?” But truly I like that therapist search because then you can see not only their face, which I feel like is important, and they feel like they’re going to be a good match. I’m not going to probably go see a man counselor cause I just don’t think that’s a good fit for me but that doesn’t mean that’s not a good fit for you. You can also search that by like topics. So if you want somebody that does you know, kids under 10, you can narrow the search down that way but when they come in though, you can expect a kind of experience at least initially, of like you got to start your paper work like you do when you see your regular doctor and then you have to run your insurance and all that stuff if you’re using insurance and then you’re going to come into the room and not tell your whole story but just giving a good like overall picture: What’s bringing you in today? What’s happening in your relationship today that’s causing you distress? Because usually, especially with marriage counseling, things have been bad probably for a while and something has happened like you know, something has gotten to bad and now is the time that we come in and I would say as a marriage— truly go in before you think it is late because when you come in when it’s really, really bad, it’s a lot harder to fix than it is when it’s like, “Oh you know we’re not getting along very well right now.” or somebody is not doing their chores or something like that—it’s easier to fix early.

You know what I help with all the time is—us as therapists, we’re like human beings too so you may come in and go, “you know, Gen’s really just not the right fit for me.” and my feelings will never be hurt. So go in like with the feeling of like, “I’m just going to try this person on. If they’re not a good fit for me it’s totally fine. Generally there’s at least one other therapist in town but usually, a lot more that I can choose from. I’m not committed to this person.” you’re not going to hurt anybody’s feelings if you’re like, “Yeah I probably need to see somebody else.” and usually we’ll help you find somebody else in town. We know everybody that’s in town generally that’s a therapist so that’s sort of what it looks like. Figuring out if this relationship and therapy will work and if we can help you.

Susan:  That’s really cool. I like that. Just backing up just a second: I think it’s interesting that you get a lot of your referrals from gynecologist because I think about that and I think about the doctors that I have and that makes perfect sense to me because 1: she is somebody I do see regularly. That is the one checkup that I’m like, “Okay that one has to happen.” she has seen every part of my body you know the parts that you know most people other than my husband have not seen, she has delivered my child like there’s like an intimate relationship there that you have with a gynecologist that—I mean I don’t have that same relationship with Stephen. I mean he was in the room when Will was delivered but he didn’t deliver my child. So it is such an intimate relationship, I never thought of it like that. That’s really cool. Well thank you for sharing that.

Genevieve: I was going to say you just need to have that trust with somebody. So even if you don’t go to a counselor but you have a good relationship with your gynecologist like you know you just need somebody you can trust and that gynecologist, you know generally if there’s delivering your child you probably trust them okay.

Susan: Yeah, yeah and I like that you said trying a therapist on and that your feelings really aren’t hurt when somebody says, “This really isn’t working for me.” because at the end of the day your goal is really to help people.

Genevieve:  Right totally and we’re not going to help somebody coming in to make us not hurt our feeling like that’s not a genuine relationship.

Susan:  Yeah. I really appreciate you talking about that because I think the more we talk about it out in the open and people are like, “Yeah I’ve been to therapy. Of course I’ve been in therapy. Haven’t you been?” because you’re right, it really is a checkup and I feel so much better after I’ve seen my therapist and after I’m like, “Oh okay, I got that off my chest.” and I can say it however and she’s not going to be offended. You have to be careful when you’re talking to a parent or a child or a spouse because you have to kind of— ‘eggshells’ is not the right word—that’s not what I mean. I feel like its helpful to word things in a way that doesn’t hurt people’s feelings or like cause I’m crazy blow up and my therapist, I mean I’m an open book. I can talk to my therapist however, you know, use whatever words and I don’t have to be careful about, “Oh I don’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings.”

Genevieve: That’s great, that’s what you want. You’re not there to take care of their feelings, you’re there to take yours and again, we probably have heard this about anything or anybody and even if we haven’t, we’re definitely not going to go like, “What!!?” you know we have a whole, you know, couple classes of doing that, not doing that. Usually we’re pretty hard to surprise and I think that’s true, you know, we do have to kind of be more careful with like our actual relationship than we are with a therapist and that’s okay, that’s totally fine. You don’t necessarily want to say, “Oh my gosh, my spouse again did this thing that’s driving me nuts.” and it doesn’t necessarily need to be said all the time but maybe you do need to complain about it enough and go, “Well maybe that is something I can address or maybe it’s just like my own.” like my husband knows I’m never going to be on time. If he was going to therapy, he could complain all he wants about that because you know that isn’t worth the fight to bring that up.

Sometimes you just have to love your partner you know the way you bought them. He bought me not on time. I’m not saying I’m not working on it but you know.

Susan: That is such a good point that rarely does people change who they are. In fact, you really figure out who they are afterwards.

Genevieve: Definitely and that’s hard because like we’re definitely full of the idea of like “Well if you love each other enough, you would you what I’m asking you to do.” or  “You would make this better.” and the reality is like we can love each other to death and still be human beings and sort of be imperfect. The things that we do aren’t always because we don’t care but sometimes they can feel like that. I think, you know, going back to the business there for a second, I think having opened up a therapy practice first, like opening that business first definitely made me less afraid to start being a professional artist because I’m like I’ve already done this. Not that it’s the same in a lot of ways but it is the same in a lot of ways of, you know, it’s like the moving pieces part, the marketing part that kind of stuff is very similar with any kind of business.

Susan:  Yeah that’s a good point and that’s a good place to ask you— well first tell you thank you so much for joining us today this has meant a lot to me. I was really excited to talk to you, I really appreciate you taking the extra time to talk a little bit about the counseling side of your life and that business that you do. Tell us and I’ll make sure all this is in the show notes—but tell us where we can find you on social media, the Internet, wherever you’re marketing your businesses?

Genevieve: Sure so I don’t have a Website I’m just purely on Instagram and Facebook right now. So my Instagram is @genstrickland— just my name, not super hard and then my Facebook page is Art by Genevieve Strickland and they’re pretty easily searched and if you got them in the notes, you’ll be able to find—and then my counseling office is Magnolia Counseling Associates. You guys that aren’t in the area probably aren’t going to come see us but we do post often. I’m actually in charge of that marketing too so I do all of our postings of our, you know, visuals or our articles that we share for everybody— they’re just helpful articles about psychology things, mental health things so those are where we’re at or that’s where I’m at and all of those social media platforms and you can find me there and I’m happy to include my email address even to you if you want that?

Susan: Sure that’s great! Yeah absolutely we can put that in the show notes, very good. Awesome! Well thank you so much I really appreciate it and I know you have an appointment to get to so we’ll let you do that. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really, really, really appreciate it.

Genevieve: Thank you for having me again it was really fun I enjoyed it.

Susan: Hey sisters I hope you’ve enjoyed my conversation with Genevieve as much as I did. If you want to learn more about Genevieve and where to find her art as well as her counseling services, that will be linked over on our website: howshegothere.com. Thanks so much for listening today. If you are enjoying this podcast, head on over to iTunes and hit ‘subscribe’ and while you’re there I’d really appreciate it if you would rate and review it in order to make it easier for others to find. I also make sure to read every review and e-mail and Facebook post you leave and I am always, always, always excited to hear your feedback.

We also have a private Facebook group, the How She Got Here community page and would love to have you join us there to continue the conversation on today’s episode as well as any other fun how she got here content. So, with all that said, thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening. I’ll see you soon.

How to Follow Your Passion and Raise a Family, with Nichole Nguyen

In this episode Nichole Nguyen, Founder of Mommy’s Home Office, shares how she has married her love of online business strategy and her enthusiasm for supporting moms who have a passion for working while raising a family.

 

Show Notes

Do you ever get so caught up in your day-to-day hustle that you lose sight of your vision, your dreams, your goals… even yourself? If so, you’re not alone and you’re in the right place.

Today, we’re inspired by Nichole Nguyen , who created Mommy’s Home Office after realizing the first business she created, although profitable, wasn’t something she was passionate about.

Nichole is on our podcast talking about how her love of online business strategy coupled with her enthusiasm for teaching other moms how to have an online business, drove her to create Mommy’s Home Office.

She’s empowering other moms, like herself, who don’t feel whole as a stay-at-home-mom.  She is lighting a path for moms to follow their passion in work and raise a family.

In this episode, Nichole offers inspiring insights and her strategies for staying motivated and recharging her batteries. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Importance of outsourcing and not trying to do it all yourself
  • Moving from negative self talk to positive self talk
  • Filling herself with inspiration through audio books and listening to podcasts

Now that last one is something we can get on board with!

Nichole’s commitment to self care reminds us of our own at How She Got Here. This October, we are committing to 30 Days of Self Care with resources on our website, Facebook, and Instagram pages. Join our Facebook community and visit our site to download the free printable for daily self care reminders that are intended to pull you out of the hustle of life (even for just 15 minutes) and provide you time to focus on caring for yourself.

Just like Nichole emphasizes, we’ve got to recharge, sister, so that we can go after those dreams of ours! And once we do that, we can start empowering other women and girls to do exactly the same thing.

https://mommyshomeoffice.com

https://www.facebook.com/MommysHomeOffice/

https://www.instagram.com/mommyshomeoffice/

 

Transcript

 Intro: Welcome to “How She Got Here – Conversations with Everyday Extraordinary Women.” It is my belief that every woman has something inside her only she can do. The more we share the stories of other women, who have already discovered their thing, the more it inspires, encourages, and empowers other women to do the same.

Hey, Pod Sisters, my guest today is the founder of Mommy’s Home Office, Nichole Nguyen. Nichole started Mommy’s Home Office after realizing the first business she created, although profitable, wasn’t something she was passionate about. Her love of online business strategy, coupled with her enthusiasm for teaching other moms how to have an online business, drove her to create Mommy’s Home Office. Her goal is to help moms who don’t feel whole as a stay-at-home mom. She wants women to know that you can have a passion in work and have a family. So without further ado, here’s Nichole.

Susan: Hey, Nichole, I’m so excited for you to join me today.

Nichole Nguyen: Yeah, me too. Thank you for having me. I was excited when I got the invite.

Susan: Yeah, yeah. So, friends, Nichole owns an online business called Mommy’s Home Office, and I kind of found her through a friend – actually your sister. And I’m just going to let you take it from here. Tell us a little bit about yourself and Mommy’s Home Office and how all this started.

Nichole Nguyen: Okay, yeah, great! I own Mommy’s Home Office. I’m an online business strategist, and I help moms build their businesses online while raising their families. And it just kind of started by accident or evolved into what it is today. I had a local service-based business in the Dallas area that I started about six and a half years ago, and it wasn’t doing as well as I wanted it to do initially so I decided to take it online. And when I did that—oh my God, it opened up this whole new world of online business to me that I fell in love with. And totally then listened to every podcast I could, every webinar I could get on, and I totally found the thing in life that I love, which is online business strategy. So, I decided that it would be so much fun to teach other moms how to create a business online that works for them. And that’s how it kind of started with Mommy’s Home Office.

Susan: That is so cool. And you have your own podcast as well that’s all part of all of this. You are producing a lot of content.

Nichole Nguyen: I have the Mommy’s Home Office podcast pretty much everywhere online. I’m @mommyshomeoffice. And the podcast was—because I’m a podcast junkie and listen to it all the time, I thought that could be a good medium for me. When I went to decide on the different types of content that I could produce, I tried a Facebook live show, I tried the YouTube videos, I tried all of those things. But let’s be honest—oh my God, that’s a lot of work and prep and editing. So, putting on makeup every day to your video and then reshooting 50 times because I didn’t like the way my eyebrows lifted and that kind of thing, wasn’t my thing. It was really annoying, and it got to the point where I just didn’t want to produce content anymore so I decided that I could do a podcast because I could record any time of the day or night when the kids weren’t around or not bothering me, maybe they’re sleeping already, and it wasn’t something that I had to get dressed for or put makeup on; I could just sit in my closet in my little hole and talk away, which I like to talk so that is another positive, too. So, that’s how it all started; it was the content format for me that just worked best.

Susan: Now…Why moms?

Nichole Nguyen: So, why moms? Well, because I’m a mom of three boys; they’re eight, five, and four. And it literally has changed the person that I am. I know everybody says that you change when you become a mom but your identity literally changes, and you are no longer doing anything for yourself; you’re doing it in betterment for your family, for your kids, for everybody else. And I feel like along that path somehow a lot of moms, especially myself, kind of lose themselves and forget that they have all these amazing talents and things that they can bring to the world in their own unique way, and they kind of get stuck in their mom loop where either they are working at a job and they’re just doing it so they can get by and go home to see their kids and be with their families or they quit working altogether, which is a lot of the moms that I know, and they have these wonderful professional degrees, maybe they’re an attorney or to do something like that or they were in online marketing for a big, huge department store, like my sister, and then they have kids and they quit and they don’t feel whole…I mean kids, yes, kids definitely make you feel alive and they are huge part of my life, but my personality is not the kind that can be a stay-at-home mom. And I wanted to share with other mom that it’s okay to have a passion and work and do things that light you up because that’s going to make you a better mom. So, I felt I needed to get that message out there and that’s why I chose moms.

Susan: I love it, and I love how on your website—and I think even in a lot of the content you produce you call yourself and you call other moms “work-at-home moms.” Did you come up with that concept yourself because I just love how you presented that?

Nichole Nguyen: Oh yeah, well, I didn’t come up with that phrase; there’s a whole subset of moms that work at home and it’s all over the web. But, yeah, I write all my own content, I produce it all, I do it all because I’m kind of a control freak and I can’t really let that part of it go yet.

Susan: Yup, yup.

Nichole Nguyen: And I feel like it’s my voice. This is my words that I want people to hear. I don’t want it to be necessarily somebody else. And maybe down the road that’ll change when I find a copywriter or I find somebody who can really sound like me and I can add my own stuff to it, that could change but right now it’s all me.

Susan: I love it. You are speaking my language, and it is a lot of work.

Nichole Nguyen: Oh my God, I did not realize how hard it would be to do a podcast. I thought; “Oh how hard could it be? I’m going to be super real and raw and not edit it very much.”

Susan: Right.

Nichole Nguyen: And it doesn’t work that way because you actually want people to listen and enjoy their listening experience, So, yeah, each podcast episode probably takes me anywhere between four and six hours to get it all written produced and edited, and then up on the site or scheduled.

Susan: Yeah, because your podcast is much different than mine; and mine is a lot of interview so I’m sitting here researching the individual that I’m talking to and writing questions, which in itself takes a lot of time, but you are actually writing a script, per se, correct?

Nichole Nguyen: Yeah, so I have this…I’m an ENTJ in the Myers Briggs personality, and I saw this hit the graph and showed exactly kind of how we think. And it basically showed my brain like a ping pong ball where I skipped a lot of steps, and I have this whole story that people can’t really follow it because I’m jumping ahead and I’m thinking too fast in my brain, so I decided that didn’t work best for a podcast because I wanted to actually have a good story for my listeners and I wanted them to be able to take actionable steps with every episode. So what works best for me is I actually go through and write the whole blog post or show notes first in a way that I think sounds like how I would speak it, and then I record it. And I change it sometimes when I’m talking just because it doesn’t flow as well as I thought it would or whatever, but I have to say that has sped up my podcast editing like crazy, crazy fast now compared to what it used to be.

Susan: That is awesome .Well, I am a podcast nut as well, and I really particularly love–I am all over your podcast right now. Starting my own kind of thing, it’s been really helpful for me. And I want to talk a little bit more about getting into Mommy’s Home Office itself. What is the goal of Mommy’s Home Office, and how your services help take moms to the next level? Because I know myself, I was really great at working for a company and then going out and doing something on my own is a whole other animal.

Nichole Nguyen: Oh, I 100% agree. I never actually wanted to be an entrepreneur, I actually at one time in my life I worked for this woman in a home health agency and said, “I can’t believe you want to own your own business, it’s so much work. I just want to work and go home and not think about.” But fast forward ten years later – or not even—fast forward five years later when I had my business. And Mommy’s Home Office was set up specifically to help take some of that guesswork and trial and error out of moms starting businesses because it’s extremely overwhelming when you first start, and you don’t know what you don’t know. So, you have all of these tiny, little components that go in and that are really crucial to the building blocks of a good foundation for your business, and a lot of times they get skipped over or miss and then you don’t have the result that you want, and you see a lot of businesses fail that way because they didn’t start with a big, strong foundation. And those foundational pieces are like the whys and the customer avatars and your online platform and all of those big things, and they can be so daunting and feel so cumbersome, and you don’t know what to do because this person says one thing and that person says it’s not important and the other person says you need to do it this way.

Well, I wanted to be a clear voice on what has worked for me, what I have liked, and what I have tried out because I love to try a million different things. And I’ve tried a lot of stuff so I know what has worked and what hasn’t at least for my business and what I can put out there to help other people. And so that’s how Mommy’s Home Office can help the business owner. I also work with local service-based businesses too, and I help that really meld the two worlds together for your online marketing and getting your online presence known, and then also to do your in-person gorilla marketing tactics to get your clients on the ground and in person. So I kind of have two ways, but most of it is about bringing your business online and how you can really make an impact in your family’s life and your business life by having the online business. And I do that with strategy sessions.

So a strategy session is basically like a 90-minute call where we get down and dirty with your business and we come up with a plan. Now, this could be somebody who is just starting and needs help coming up with an idea or maybe they have a little bit of an idea but they need to really like flush it out and see where it can go and figure out what they want what their next steps are. Or it could be somebody who are already have a business but they didn’t set up some of those crucial steps in the beginning and now they need to scale it a little bit and be able to set up a system that works for them and really can take it to the next level of productivity and getting more revenue and more clients in. And that can happen in the strategy session with me. And then after that, if they are someone who is like me who have to have the accountability piece, I offer accountability plans which are 90 day accountability plans that we set your goals in the strategy session and then after that we have weekly check-ins and weekly meet ups so we know that we are moving forward and that we are accomplishing the goals and we can make changes as needed but it’s really there to set up as a cheerleader, as somebody to motivate you and somebody to hold you accountable because you are your own boss and that is really, really hard to be. Because when you want to sit home and watch Netflix all day, there’s nobody stopping you, there’s no clock to punch, there’s nothing to do that’s going to keep you from doing that. Or if you want to spend your whole three days doing something, going down some random rabbit hole, which, oh my god, it is so easy to do, you need somebody sometimes to keep you on track and that’s what I do for moms.

Susan: Yes, the rabbit hole and getting stuck in the weeds is something I’m very familiar with.

Nichole Nguyen: I’m really good at it, too.

Susan: It’s just when you’re on your own it’s like; “Oh, I can do this or I could do this…”and sometimes it is hard to rein it in so that’s really cool that you offer that. And for my listeners, I just want you all to know I will have all of this linked in the show notes to the Mommy’s Home Office website, Facebook page, everywhere else you are. I will make sure it is all linked and we’ll talk about that before the end of the show for sure. So don’t worry about trying to write all this down now you can obviously go to the Mommy’s Home Office website and find all of this wonderful information. Back a little bit to you as an individual. You are putting this entire thing together yourself: your content, your web page, all of that fun stuff. So tell us what you’re not doing on your own because I think we all know that we can’t do it all all of the time, so who is the team behind you? What do you as an individual…What has been good for you to outsource—maybe it’s personal stuff, maybe it’s other business stuff. Tell us a little bit about that.

Nichole Nguyen: Okay, yeah, perfect. So, honestly, the very first thing I outsourced is house work because when you work at home and you have mountains of laundry and mountains of housework and all of that sitting around—I am a huge productive procrastinator where I will procrastinate hard things or business things that I have to do because my surroundings aren’t clean or my laundry needs to be done and instead of writing that email or putting out a podcast episode or making a call to speak somewhere or do something like that, I will fold 18 loads of laundry and find a pantry to clean out. So, I, first and foremost, outsource all of my house keeping. I have a weekly housekeeper that comes, and really, really my goal is to get someone to come Monday through Friday for about an hour every day just to do the chores and the straightening and the clean up. Like I said, I’ve got three boys so the bathrooms are always disgusting, there’s always something wet on the floor, there’s always a ton of laundry so it’s not my favorite thing to do and it’s something that I outsource. So, most of what I outsource is through my house because I…Even though I like some of it, it’s not the best use of my time and it’s not what I feel I need to be spending my time on.

So the next thing that I outsource is grocery shopping, actually. I use Instacart and Shipt and Amazon for every thing. So, Instacart is an online ordering groceries thing where I get online, tap a couple of buttons, have it delivered and I pay a yearly fee and then I tip on top of the total when they come and deliver it. Oh my goodness, you guys, this have saved me so much time. And I actually love grocery shopping, but when I look at the time that I save not going to the grocery store, and not to mention the money I save when I don’t go in the Costco and I just have my list and the shopper buys what’s on the list—oh my gosh, it was so worth it. It pays for itself in gold every single time I use it. So, I outsource all my stopping, I don’t do it anymore, just by clicking the button to buy it.

And then next one was childcare. This one was hard for me because when I first started my first business I had a nanny – I only had one kid at the time, and I had a nanny who came to the house every day. Well then he got to the point where he needed more socialization so we went to a daycare, and that worked out great. He was about a year old and he was out of the house and I was able to work. Even though I have only started my company six or so years ago, I always worked remotely so I was always either at home or in my car. And I got to tell you, working from home with little kids—little, littles that know that you’re there—is almost impossible.

Susan: Agreed.

Nichole Nguyen: It’s hard. When you need to be on a phone call…Because I was working with senior living so I was helping people find senior living, so they would call me crying because their mother needed to move or something like that and my two-year-old was banging on the door screaming bloody murder at me. And the nanny can only do so much, guys; it wasn’t an ideal. I even thought about going and getting an office down the street somewhere because I just needed some time and quiet to work, and it’s really hard to do that with a little kid. And when you have something like that business that I set up that I didn’t fall in love with the model I set up, but it was dependent on when they called me and it wasn’t something I could do after hours, it wasn’t something I could do on my own time. I was tied to my phone and dependent on them, and that’s why I kind of had to outsource the childcare part of it but I also had to change my business model, and when I started Mommy’s Home Office I knew it had to be something that I could fall in love with and actually do and not be tied to my phone constantly and just waiting for someone to call me; it had to be on my terms. So, that’s how I decided on that model. But childcare was a big one that I outsourced.

Susan: I was just going to say it sounds like you have really found your passion.

Nichole Nguyen: Yeah. Oh yeah. I have. It took me a while and it made me realize that I had to stop the successful business because I created a business that I hated. I didn’t love it anymore. I did, I had to stop, and it was profitable. It was actually more profitable than Mommy’s Home Office is at the current moment, but not for long. And I had to stop it because I could not…First of all, I was emotionally drained because listening to those story constantly—and then a lot of time not being able to help was just exhausting. Being tied to my phone the time was exhausting, and not knowing where the next paycheck was going to come from, you know, what was I going to have a big month with five, six, seven placements or was I going to have no placements that month? And senior living is kind of seasonal, which is weird, but it is kind of seasonal and I would go through drought and famines and you know….And what’s it called? I would go through famines and I would have then all of them have tons of clients and be so busy that I couldn’t figure out how to make it all work, and it just wasn’t something I loved any more. I got burned out on it, and that’s part of how I decided to switch. But switching was so hard because taking a business that was making enough money to cover my salary working and then going to zero….was so hard.

Susan: Yeah.

Nichole Nguyen: Really hard. But it’s all worth it in the end because I have so much more fun with this path that I’ve chosen, and feel like I’m making a difference and it’s all on my terms, so I’m loving all about. So, back to the outsourcing, that’s really all I outsource: the childcare, the housekeeping and then the shopping. And then in my business I do have a VA – she’s on a break right now, but I do have a VA that did all my Pinterest and tagging all the Pinterest stuff, and then I have a sound engineer which happened to be my cousin’s husband and he would just…He wouldn’t edit my podcast, I would to do all of that but I would send him the audio and he would clean it and make it sound really good. And before I moved into this little hole in my closet, my podcasting studio, I had a lot of background noise from the windows around me and different things so he would take all of that out for me, which I didn’t know how to do at the time but I do now. But, just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean it makes sense for you to actually do it.

Susan: No, I totally agree. In fact, one thing that I have found really helpful, and I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, it’s called Fiverr.

Nichole Nguyen: Oh, I love Fiverr.

Susan: Okay. I wanted to make sure you know about Fiverr because that has been a game changer for me.

Nichole Nguyen: It has been. Some time you have to get multiple people to work on the same project. But yeah, it can be really, really helpful when it comes to creating graphics or editing graphics or doing any of that stuff. For me, I found that’s where it works out the best.

Susan: Yeah, and also…This may sound really silly but I have a vision board, and one of the things that I put in it was I wanted to be a job creator. And obviously, this podcast isn’t that big yet so it was like I can’t hire someone full time, but oh my gosh, I can find fabulous women on Fiverr who can help me produce this amazing podcast. Oh, and by the way, I can you know contribute to their income, which has been a really neat thing to be able to do. So, I don’t know, I really enjoy finding people on Fiverr, I guess.

Nichole Nguyen: That sounds really fun, and I feel the same way when I pay my cousin’s husband, the sound engineer, and when I pay my VA. Sometimes it can feel very hard to pay them because I’m like; “Oh my goodness, I haven’t made that this month,” or something like that, and you have to step back and look at it like you’re contributing to their monthly income, they are able to put their kids in ballet or do something like that because you’re paying them so yeah, it does help with that mindset shift.

Susan: Yeah, it’s really cool. So, tell us real quick – I want to respectful of your time, but I have three questions I always like to ask all my guests, and one of them is, you know, even the strongest of us have moments where we lack self confidence, I presume you have that as well. How have you dealt with that?

Nichole Nguyen: Yes, I have that a lot in the struggle because I do have a lot of negative self-talk that goes on in my head. I did an episode all about this, and it was really hard for me to start overcoming that but I heard a quote from somebody that said “How would you feel if you heard someone talking to their child like that or to someone that they were coaching like that the way you talk to yourself ? How would you feel if you heard that? Would you feel like it was a good thing or a bad thing?” And I had to start thinking to myself, like, how would I feel if I heard someone saying this to somebody? The way I talk to my self is horrible so I had to start changing the story and the narrative a little bit and really start looking at the positive aspects of what I have accomplished and what I have done because I set lofty goals and I’m a high achiever kind of person, when I don’t hit those, oh my goodness, I can spiral into to a depression almost and really get down on myself. So I’ve had to turn those conversations around and really be cognitive of the way I talk to myself because I’m a really big believer that your words are powerful and your words create your reality, so when I’m talking really negative myself and saying really ugly things, whether it’s for work or for diet goals or whatever, it’s not helpful it’s actually creating more of that instead of creating the positive energy that I want to come out of it. So that’s what I’ve been doing. My self confidence has gone up some because I do talk nicely to myself, I speak nicely to myself, I try to say nicer things. And when I catch myself being ugly or negative, I try to take a deep breath and reframe to a positive situation.

Susan: Yes, I totally understand that, I totally understand. I don’t know if you’ve ever done the Enneagram, but it’s the same idea as a personality type thing; it’s been around for a long, long time and I’ve read a couple of books on it now and I have no shock to myself. I’m a one on the Enneagram which is a perfectionist so it’s really weird, it’s weird where I’m a perfectionist, like, there are certain aspects of the house that I don’t care about but if the dishwasher is stacked not what I deem correctly then I’m freaking out; it’s stupid stuff sometimes. And then especially when it comes to the podcast, I’ve had to really talk to myself differently about what success looks like and how I motivate myself. So I like how you have tamed your self-confidence. It sounds like you have found a way to motivate yourself through a different way of talking to yourself.

Nichole Nguyen: Yeah, that does help. And when I do get into those funk, because we all do, I feel like the biggest way to motivate and get back on the horse is just by taking action. So, if I feel like I’m having one of those funky days, the first thing is to realize that you’re not having the best confidence or your motivation is waning, recognize that it’s happening and then drink a big cup of water, get some fresh air, go want to walk, listen to some Abraham Hicks or James Webmore or whoever you listen to that gets you pumped up, and then take action. Make it some small actions. So I’ll make plans or I’ll make a goal and be like; “If I can just get these three little thing done today then I’m going to consider today a win because I really, really just want to lay on the bed and watch The Handmaid’s Tale or something like that, but if I can get these three things in, I’m going to call it a win.” And once I get those three little things in, I mean I’ve given myself permission already to quit and be done for the day and call it good. But, 99% of the time I get on a roll and I want to keep doing a little bit more and a little bit more, and I feel like the biggest way to get out of the funk is just to take action and action builds on itself.

Susan: Oh, for sure. I totally agree that. So since you’re a go-go-go person, and I love that about you and your personality, tell us how do you put it all down at the end of the day? How do you let it go? How do you recharge your batteries?

Nichole Nguyen: So, this have always been a struggle for me, and then a few years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune condition, and it also means that my thyroid is basically attacking itself and attacking my body. And then I also have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS, which can cause a lot of issues for me, but self care has to be number one priority on my own with because of those diseases because when I don’t take care of myself or I push myself too hard or I don’t eat right for a longer period of time, oh my gosh, I will crash and burn for a long time. So, I’ve had to make it a priority and it’s been super, super hard. But, I find sleep has to be my number one goal, that’s how I recharge if I focus on getting at least seven and a half hour’s sleep, getting about 60 ounces of water a day, and then trying to eat fairly balance with a really colorful, vegetable full diet—oh my God, my life is a million times better than if I don’t. But, you know, it’s taken a long time for me to get there and really know that this is what works. And I’m not always perfect, but that really does help me, and then just listening to podcasts or audiobooks; that’s my jam.

Susan: Yes, also helps with motivation, I think.

Nichole Nguyen: It does, it really does. So, I will listen to some good podcasts, I have my list of like 15 podcasts that I love and I can’t get enough of, and that’s part of that. You’ll see me washing dishes with my ear buds on, cleaning up or doing something like that, folding laundry, if I have laundry to fold with ear buds on, so…

Susan: Yes, I am right there with you. Okay, one last thing; I always like to leave with an action step. I feel like in sharing other women’s stories in sharing what other women are up to I love the empowerment of that, I love the inspiration of that but until as individuals we decide to take that next step it’s all just talk, so if you could leave our listeners with one action step at the end of our conversation today, what would that be?

Nichole Nguyen: Well, that’s a good question, I guess the biggest thing I want the listeners to get out of this is that you guys are enough, you truly are exceptional. And the action that I want you to take out of this is I want you to give yourself a pat on the back and know that you are doing everything you can to be the best person, the best mom, the best wife, whatever, the best partner you can be—and really give yourself some grace, cut yourself some slack and know that balance is a dirty word it does not exist, it’s a fairy tale so banish that idea from your mind and give yourself some grace.

Susan: “Balance is a dirty word,” I love that. Love it. it’s so true. Okay, Miss Nichole, tell us where we can find you because everyone should be calling you.

Nichole Nguyen: Thank you. Okay, so you can hear me every week on the Mommy’s Home Office podcast on any podcast player that you like, and then also everywhere online at Mommy’s Home Office, so Instagram, Facebook and the website, mommyshomeoffice.com. You can find me there. I’m always, always producing content weekly and then daily on Instagram. And if you guys love you know what I have for lunch or where I’m going today, then check me out on my Instagram stories because I’m kind of addicted. Thank you guys so much for having me. It’s been a blast.

Susan: Awesome. Thank you so much, Nichole, have a great, great afternoon. And I look for talking to you soon.

Nichole Nguyen: Of course, thank you so much.

Susan: Thanks. Bye-bye.

Outro: Hey, sisters, I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Nichole as much as I did. If you want to learn more about Nichole and where to find Mommy’s Home Office, that will be linked over on our website, howshegothere.com. Thanks so much for listening today. If you are enjoying this podcast, head on over to iTunes and hit subscribe. And while you’re there I’d really appreciate it if you would rate and review it in order to make it easier for others to find. I also make sure to read every review and email and Facebook post you leave, and I’m always excited to hear your feedback. If you are listening to this podcast and it is still October, I’d also like to invite you to join us for our 30 Days of Self Care. You can get more information on that from our website howshegothere.com, as well as our Facebook page and Instagram page. And finally, one last announcement, we have finally created a private Facebook group, the How She Got Here Community Page, and would love to have you join us there to continue the conversation on today’s episode, as well as any other fun “How She Got Here” content. So, with all of that said, thank you so much for listening. I’ll see you soon.

Women finding power in financial self care, with Diana Bacon

Diana Bacon is one of the co-founders of Financial Strategies Group, a boutique financial planning firm located in Dallas, Texas.  Shortly after having her first baby, she determined that “big firm life” just wasn’t the right fit.  She wanted to have more control over what she could offer her clients.  So with a new baby and an awesome “can do” attitude, she founded her own boutique financial planning firm.  We talk about everything from starting your own firm to the importance of financial self care and what that means for women of today (and their families)!  It was a great conversation and I learned a ton!

 

Transcript

Intro: Welcome to “How She Got Here – Conversations With Everyday Extraordinary Women.” It is my belief that every woman has something inside her only she can do. The more we share the stories of other women, who have already discovered their thing, the more it inspires, encourages, and empowers other women to do the same.

 

Susan: Hi Friends, my guest today is Diana Bacon. Diana is one of the co-founders of Financial Strategies Group, (Financial Strategies Group on Facebook ) a boutique financial planning firm located in Dallas, Texas. I am so excited to share our conversation today because we discussed two very important topics; one, leaving a large service firm to go out on your own; and two, the importance of financial self-care. Even if you aren’t thinking about owning your own business, make sure to stick around for the financial self-care piece; I’m positive you’ll learn something.

 

Hey, Diana, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

 

Diana Bacon: I’m great. I’m really excited to be on this call today.

 

Susan: I am very excited that we are finally doing this. I know when I first started talking about even launching this podcast you were one of the first people I called and talked to, not even to come on the show but just to, you know, tell “Hey, I’ve got this idea, what do you think?” You’ve always been an inspiring woman to me that, you know, you’re one of the women that I look to who I think have already accomplished the world. So for you to come on and talk with us this morning, it means so much to me. I know when we first started talking about you coming on the show all I was thinking about was how fantastic you are and in your business and how you do all of that but you quickly brought up the fact that women really don’t talk a lot about financial self-care so that’s something that we’re definitely going to get into today while you are talking with us. But first, I just want to start off—and tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do you and how you got started and how you got to where you are now.

 

Diana Bacon: Okay, well, that’s a big one.

 

Susan: Yeah.

 

Diana Bacon: Well, I started in the financial planning field a little over 20 years ago now. So, I was in my mid 20’s trying to figure out what to do with a math degree, I decided I didn’t want to go into academia and be a professor so what to do with my life. So, I got in to fee only financial planning at the recommendation of a friend. I loved the idea that I didn’t have to sell anything—that I got to work with people. And I started working for a company that had a great training program. The company was not a good fit for me but they put me on definitely the right foot. They also moved me to Dallas, Texas, which I’ve been living in upstate New York and I’m from Southern California so that was quite a change for me.

 

So I’ve been in Dallas doing financial planning since the beginning of 1999. And I met my husband here. I went through several firms kind of looking for the right fit, you know, I was at one of the big four accounting firms and they didn’t really know what to do with financial planners. And then in 2004 and 2005 I left the big firms, tried a smaller firm; that wasn’t a good fit either just because of the differences in client bases. And so in 2006 I actually founded my own firm in my living room with a newborn baby next to me—well, she was at daycare so not technically next to me, but I just knew that I wanted to do things the way I wanted to do them, I didn’t want someone else telling me what’s best for my client. I wanted to work with nice people who were living their lives and doing the things they wanted to do and help them and not try to create this boxed product that I just ran everyone through.

 

Three years ago now I merged with another small firm—so two teeny tiny firms became a slightly larger small firm. And my partner, he’s in his late 70’s. He’s been doing this for 45 years, he loves it but he’s obviously at the end of his career, and merging with me gives him the chance to work with clients he loves but really let go of smaller clients or people who don’t need as much help, and you know he gets all the resources of my firm.

 

Susan: Wow! That’s really cool. Let’s step back just a second. So, in 2006 you’re telling me you had a brand new baby that you had just birthed and you were birthing a new company in your living room?

 

Diana Bacon: You know, I really wouldn’t recommend it, but during my maternity leave it became really apparent that the firm I was at was just a mismatch. We had, you know, I was working with a woman that I really respect and admired and she’s brilliant but it wasn’t a great fit and you know, it’s really important in life that we embrace those things that you’re like, “Wow, I tried this! This is a terrible idea and it’s not working, I need to cut my losses.” So I did that. Now, quite honestly, trying to go on job interviews while you’re carrying around a breast pump, it’s a little different—and not so surprisingly I had fewer job offers. I could have went into commission financial planning where you’re selling products.

 

Susan: Sure.

 

Diana Bacon: I have no issue with commission planners; it’s just not what I do and what I wanted to do. So instead I took that very naive approach which was, “How hard can this be? I just delivered this baby.” So I mean, simple things like getting registered with the Texas State Board of Security, I just called them up and got this great man who sat on the phone with me for, like, an hour, I took four pages of notes and that’s how I started doing my own compliance. I just did it and didn’t think too much about it because I wanted to keep working, I love what I do and to me it made sense so now I look back on it and just, “I can’t believe I did that,” but I made it work.

 

Susan: It’s amazing and I don’t know what it is about that period in life where—and I don’t know if it’s age, I don’t know if it’s because, you know, by the time you get your career going or where you think it should go, you know, you’re having children, or how that happens, I don’t understand it but it seems like so many women I talk to—be it friends or people on the podcast, whoever, there’s something about that time in life when you are six, eight months pregnant or you’ve just had a baby and all of a sudden here is this opportunity that’s in front of you and you’re doing them both at the same time and you are literally in the weeds, and it’s like you just have to go and there’s not a perfect answer and there’s not a perfect solution, you just do it, and it sounds like that’s what you did and I admire that, I really admire that.

 

Diana Bacon: I think it’s something about that period of time because your life, your sleep schedule, everything has been totally upended…

 

Susan: Your hormones.

 

Diana Bacon: Yeah, I think there is this thing or you’re like, “Everything is so different now anyway, I’m in a new body, I’m in a new life, like, what could possibly go wrong? And if it does, I already know that I can make it up because I am adapting,” that’s all I’ve been doing.

 

Susan: That’s a good point; you’re right, you have been adapting so you just keep adapting and just going with the flow. That’s a really good point. Tell me what success looked like at that time. Tell me how you were able to prioritize stuff. I know you said—you mentioned you had childcare at the time which is huge. That is of the utmost importance. I could do a whole podcast on how women need to have that available no matter what line of work they’re in, no matter what they’re doing. That’s a whole other issue. But tell me about how you did that time, how you prioritize that, how you how you had time for yourself, time for your family, built your business. I know it’s a lot of questions at once but kind of just give us an overview of how that worked.

 

Diana Bacon: I mean first—and I do want to touch on that point you just made about childcare.

 

Susan: Yeah.

 

Diana Bacon: I mean I want to make this very transparent. I was only able to do this because I had a spouse—well, I still have that spouse—but I had a spouse at the time that could support us and we could pay for child care. We had some financial help from his parents. Without any of that—if it was just me, if we were just struggling through I do not think that my firm would be where it is today, I think I would be in a very different spot. I had great childcare that I could trust my baby with, and that made all the difference. And then in terms of what that looked like in terms of taking care of me and everyone else, there were periods of time where I wasn’t great at self care, there were periods of time where I probably wasn’t the best spouse, there were periods of time where probably even my parenting…. My business maybe I wasn’t on top of things as I could have been but everything ebbs and flows and kind of just keeping in step with life and allowing things to happen and not beating myself up too much let me keep going.

 

You also asked about success at that point in time, and I believe in attainable goals and continually measuring against them. My undergrad is in math.  I’m in personal finance, I mean I love measuring things, looking at numbers, to me it’s just how my brain works, but the first thing I wanted to do was get in the black. That was my number one goal because I did have to pay for like filing fees with the state and setting up my business and buying a lot of software and all of those things. So the first thing was I wanted to be in the black, I wanted to be making money and making a profit. And then it was the next, you know, I wanted to be covering child-care with my income. And then I was able to look at, “Okay, I am getting clients, I’m not spending a ton of time marketing my business because I can’t take in a ton of new clients,” I mean it was just me for the first three years so I couldn’t do everything so I was slowly adding clients I started thinking about, “Okay, what sort of revenue do I need for each client? How do I want these clients to grow so that my business is growing with them?” And just I kept setting these smaller goals, and as I got closer to each goal then I would look at, “Okay, what else should I be looking towards so that I can quantify that and set in my measurable targets.

 

Susan: I love how methodical you are, and I know that’s your math background, and I love how you clearly had a method and I just find that so…I am a creative so I’m way on the other end of the spectrum and I need somebody in my brain like that to, say, pull it back and say. “Okay, this is how you need to proceed.” I like the planning aspect of that. So let’s switch gears just a little bit. We’ve talked a little bit about self-care. One of the things we really want to get to that you want to get to that you want to talk about, and this is what you do on a daily basis, is helping people with self care, with the financial aspect of self care. Tell me as a woman now you know me, I’m married, I have one kid, but what do women maybe…Is there a general thing women need to be thinking about? And I know one of the things that I’ve heard you talk about before and I want to get to is women finding themselves on their own. Whether they found it, whether they started out that way or they ended up that way, and I definitely want to touch on that and I don’t know how you want to frame this conversation of this piece but let’s think about that, let’s talk a little bit about that.

 

Diana Bacon: Okay, so I do work with a lot of women. My industry has very few women. It’s about one in five women and, you know, it’s what you’d expect, it’s white men, older white men. And it’s tough for women. A lot of my clients will say, “I really want to work with you because I know you’re not going to speak down to me. I can ask you any question.” And if you don’t understand your finances you’re just going to keep living your life like your money isn’t yours. And that’s the first thing I do with a woman is make sure that she really gets her head around that her finances, her money is hers. It seems so simple and it’s something that I just see women struggling with time and time again but we do this with our time as well you know we give all of our time and attention to our children, our spouses, our friends, we just give and give, and I see the same thing with people’s money.

 

So, you know, the typical client I feel like I’m seeing right now is a woman, you know, married or single but definitely in that she’s in her 50’s and she’s like, “Wow, I don’t want to work for ever,” and it’s just dawning on her that she’s been caring for everyone else and can she retire? Is she going to be able to stop working? And I’m seeing so many people, not just women, who are in their 50’s and have raised kids and poured everything into these kids: time, energy, and money. So it’s not uncommon that I’ll sit down with someone and they’re telling me about the college possibilities for their kid and the great private school they’re and how their kid is excelling, and all of these extra curricular activities and then when we look at, “Okay, what assets do you have that you could retire with? What does your savings plan look like? How do you go about investing?” And there’s just this blank stare because no, no, no, all the resources are going to the kid. Well, a lot of times the kid’s in high school, they still have to put the kids through school, they’re like, “No, I don’t want them to deal with the stress of student loans.” I mean the student loan issue in the country is really horrendous…

 

Susan: No kidding.

 

Diana Bacon: …And holding us back, our country, but you know they don’t want to saddle their kids with that so they’re looking at even more expenditures which means they’re going to hit their late 50’s and really not have much. So I really talk to women, men and everyone about, “You know what? This is really like we’re on that plane together and you got to put your oxygen mask on first and then put it on your kid. If you’re not taking care of yourself…And it’s just that thing, I mean you’ve mentioned a multiple times, like, you and I have a conversation but if you’re not going financial self care, how are you going to help your family? You know if you’re putting some accountability on your kid, whether it’s the student loan, whether it’s them working during a gap year or you know them pursuing scholarships, whatever that is but if you’re putting some of this on your kids and taking off your plate you can do so much more for yourself. So maybe your kid is going to spend a while in college and getting a grad degree and you can support for a longer period of time in different ways, that’s generally what I recommend to clients. Now, obviously, they’re living their life, I’m not living it so if they’re adamant in saying, “No, that’s not what we want,” I help them in advice but I just see so much giving and giving and giving. Even, you know, new parent in their 30’s and I’m saying, “Well, we’re not saving for retirement we have all this money in a 529 plan.” “Okay, well, look at that toddler…You’re going to have braces come up first but gosh, at least you already have money saved for college which they may or may not go to,” like, there’s just this disconnect. And then you know what? I’m broadening this to men and women but I do want to hold this back a little bit women and typically, you know, we’re not that involved you’re seeing a lot of times that if someone is staying home with the kids or scaling back their career it is the woman. And what that means is—especially if she’s going to wind up alone, whether widowed, divorce because she has taken that time out of the work force because she’s focused on her family, her earning potential is so diminished.

 

So, you know, men after a divorce, they get back to their previous standard of living pretty quickly because they haven’t had the hit to their earning potential. But women, because we’re either out of the workforce or we slowed down our career, worked part time for a while, we take something with maybe less responsibility, or as I also see, sometimes those opportunities just kind of go away when you have an infant or a toddler and elementary school kid so because we don’t have the earnings potential that means that post-divorce, women take a substantial hit to standard of living and most of the time will not get back to the previous standard of living, they just won’t. Women are more likely in their retirement years, A, not to be retired, and even if they are there, they’re living in poverty. Women are much more likely than men to be living in poverty in our elderly years, and it’s really because we have given our whole life and we didn’t take care of ourselves, we didn’t stop, look at what’s going on, look at our income and start saving because you have to start saving before you start investing. And investing really is this magical thing because it allows your money to make money for you so it’s not just what you’re earning through your effort, your blood sweat and tears, but your money works for you so all of your efforts are exponential but that’s really if you don’t start with the savings you can’t invest and then you don’t have a good plan.

 

Susan: Well, you can just drop the mic and walk away. And I say that because…

 

Diana Bacon: [Laughs]

 

Susan: I’m not kidding because I have been very involved within the past couple of years in the Dallas Women’s Foundation, and the research that has been done that I have seen talking about women growing older. And one of the other things is women often—even if you stay married your whole life—women tend to outlive their husbands, statistically. And so when he passes for one reason or another—and I don’t know if this is a generational thing because so many things are still in their husband’s names or whatever but you know, there’s a lack of like basic things like they didn’t have credit in their name. I mean it’s small stuff like that. And I mean obviously there are things like you know your house you can go back and through probate you can fix and things like that, but if you don’t have a lot of the savings and stuff on the front end, or if he had a pension and for some reason you know I don’t know how that works if that goes away or VA benefits or whatever… I mean you know my grandmother is a great example. My grandfather passed a few years ago and I think a huge…Now, obviously, she doesn’t have a house payment anymore and things like that but one of the things that her—a large chunk of her income is social security. And our generation is not going to be able to—that’s not even going to be…You should even be thinking about that so it’s you’re absolutely right, it’s one of those things women find themselves in this spot and it’s something we need to think about. Tell me if you—this is something we haven’t discussed but tell me if you see this; I have seen women, Diana, my age who’s husbands handle the entire financial everything and they have no idea how much money they have, no idea what investments they have if they have any, they have no understanding of their financial situation. Do you see that?

 

Diana Bacon: I do see it, and I have seen it as I worked with baby boomers, I don’t see it as much with Gen X, and then I’m seeing it again with millennials where they don’t pay the bills or if they do you it’s out of a household account that’s really separate from savings, from the investment. I’m really seeing that shift back to, “Well, he makes the money so he takes care of it,” and then something comes up where, you know, they’re splitting up, they’re divorced, or tragedy and the women are really unprepared, and not only does that set them up for financial missteps, you know, if you don’t know who holds your mortgage, how are you going to make sure that the mortgage payment is still being paid.

 

Susan: Right.

 

Diana Bacon: But it also opens up women to what I call a “financial predator.” So for an elderly woman, this could be that salesperson at the bank who now sells her an annuity, which I’ve seen too many times and it shouldn’t be allowed, or for younger women I’m seeing them take loans that they don’t need—just making decisions that if they had more comfort and confidence in managing their own financial affairs, they’d take a step back and not go that direction. So by the time I see these women a lot of time their personal balance sheet is a mess because they weren’t working with a degree of confidence.

 

Susan: It just breaks my heart. It’s just something we don’t think about and we need to.

 

Diana Bacon: You know I get that when you’re part of a couple you’re a team and one spouse takes this and one spouse take thats but I have a very difficult time with new clients when they say, “Oh no, he’ll be at the meeting, if there’s anything I need to know he’ll tell me.” No, especially when sitting down with your tax preparer, your financial planner, any additional investment advisers, your family attorney both spouses should always be there, always.

 

Susan: Yeah, if for nothing else that basic understanding.You don’t have to understand all the ins and outs; people can walk you through that but you just need to have the basic understanding for sure. Let’s switch gears just a little bit and go back and talk a little bit more about your business and how you have developed your client base and where you’re finding your ideal clients and how you’ve managed to grow that because I know that’s something that you’re really passionate about.

 

Diana Bacon: My client base has really changed over the years. When I first started I was working entirely with corporate executives. As they started in the early 2000, as those huge reduction enforced programs were going through with huge layoff, I start working with some small business owners because honestly, if you were laid off and you were 56 you’re not finding a job, you’re just not, no one’s going to hire you. So I started working with small business owners and really seeing some of them have an entrepreneurial spirit, which is really fun. I hesitate with entrepreneurs because the people who just start one thing after another never really become financially secure. I mean it’s very rare that it does, and that that’s one thing I want to see for my client right for them to reach financial independence you know I typically say I don’t really do retirement planning, I don’t care when you retire, I care when you’re financially independent because your decision process is going to change greatly once I tell you, “Hey, you know what? Your assets can now sustain your standard of living for the rest of your life so go to work tomorrow… don’t… I don’t care this is what you can spend, and so go live your life and make any changes you want,” and people do, they will start a business or start a foundation, or it’s probably one of the best things about my job.

 

But as I started my own firm, I really thought about who I wanted to work with and who I wanted to help.You know one of the things I do tell people and they’re like, “What do you do?” If I have just one sentence, I’m like, “I help people,” because I do, that’s all I do. I don’t make anything, I don’t build anything, I don’t sell anything; I just help people. Now, it is much more specific than that; I help people with their personal finances, I give them investment advice, you know all of that. But initially, when I started my practice I, you know, because I told you, I wanted to be in the black and so if someone wanted to sit down and talk to me and they wanted to sign my engagement letter and contract with me and as long as they weren’t doing anything illegal or unethical I was happy to take them. Now over the years as I’ve had clients leave because it wasn’t a good fit, either they decided that or I decided that, I’ve had more time to really cultivate good clients. So to me, a good client is A, someone that I can help and B, someone who sees the value in my help.

 

You know, when I do talk to people new to feeling financial planning, the first thing I tell them is don’t ever work with a client who doesn’t see the value in what you do because when you send them an invoice they’re not going to want to pay it. I don’t have clients push back on fees because they see the value I’m providing them and quite honestly, I don’t have a problem with reminding them of the value I’m providing them, but I really like working with people. And I don’t have a typical “I work with a woman who is this far in her career and she makes this…” my client base is a little diverse. And looking at the current division in America, I mean my clients are all over the board. I work with some very conservative families, I work with very liberal single women, I do work with every everyone, but the one thing that I keep coming back to is, you know, are they doing good in their little corner of the world? Am I providing value? Am I helping them, and do they do they see that value?

 

Susan: That’s awesome. That is just a cool way to think about building a business is really—you really seem to put your clients first, and I love that. I think that that’s not always an easy thing to do because in the day you’re trying to provide for your family as well. I find that very admirable; you don’t hear that a lot in big business, and maybe that’s why big firms weren’t the best fit. I really…I just love that. That just kind of warms the heart a little bit.

 

Diana Bacon: Yeah, I do think that that is a big part of the reason why I’m currently running the small boutique firm; I just don’t know that I would ever be back at a big firm because I just want to keep living my life, including what I do professionally but the way I want to do it which, you know, probably wouldn’t be in line with most of the bigger firms.

 

Susan: Yeah, one or two more questions because I want to be respectful of your time today. Tell us…You work a lot. I know you probably have a lot of hours you put in on the regular and I’m sure you have times of the year that are more busy than others. I think when we first started talking about this you were coming out of a busy time, so tell us how you, when you have the ability to, how do you recharge your batteries.

 

Diana Bacon: I really focus on the things that I know you know reinvigorate me, get me excited about life again. For me, I do need some quiet moments, but what really recharges me is people, being part of a community, feeling like I’m changing the world in some small way. I really love working out, being physical, you know, keeping a strong body but I actually also do that in a way that I’m part of a community. And being part of a community just speaks to my soul. I’m very involved in my church and that—yes, the church part of it you know I find very comforting and I do think it helped me be a better person, all of those things, but it’s that community, it’s having the people, it’s walking through the church playground on a Sunday and talking to several friends and the hugs and all the things that go along with it.

 

And then also I do, you know, I’m pretty busy, I work out, I have two kids, I have a husband who I adore, I have a business but I also make sure that I do give of my time. The best conversation I had with my mom was right when I was finishing my MBA and I had been working 50 to 70 hours a week and doing my MBA at the same time, I was exhausted. So mom’s like, “So, what are you going to do now?” And I was like, “I want to buy a television.” And she laughed a bit but then she said, “You need to figure out pretty quickly where you’re going to go volunteer.” She’s like, “You have this extra time…” she’s like, “You need to keep investing in yourself but invest in the world that you’re in,” and I constantly replay that conversation in my mind is investing in my community, investing in people around me. And especially now that I have kids, like, if I’m not investing in the world, I’m kind of dropping the ball because I’m not investing in them.

 

Susan:  And I’ve seen you doing some of your some of the stuff that you volunteer with and one,  it’s amazing, it is just amazing things that you that you found to get involved in; but two, you are investing in your kids but your kids are also seeing you do this, and I didn’t grow up—I  don’t know, it sounds like you did—I didn’t grow up in a family that was very philanthropic, they were with church but that was pretty much the extent of it, and so somehow that became a really important thing to me after graduating college is getting involved in giving back time, talent, finances. And I think one of the other things you’re doing is you’re instilling that into your own children so that they will have that to go forward with as well, and I think that’s really important, and I think that’s really cool.

 

Diana Bacon: Thanks.

 

Susan: Yes, one more question before we go, and that is the feedback that I’m getting on this podcast and the types of listeners who are finding us, they’re inspired, they’re empowered but sometimes they don’t know which next steps to take so I always like to ask the guest that I have on for an action step, what is it that if a woman is, for today, if a woman is seriously thinking about her financial situation and taking that next step towards financial independence, where should she start? What is one action step she can take today to move that ball forward?

 

Diana Bacon:  I mean, honestly, the most important part of this is don’t be afraid by your finances. Get to know your finances, get to know your spending, make sure you understand everything that’s on your paycheck, really take a look, make sure you understand at least most of what’s on your tax return but don’t be afraid of that. And then, you know, what I would hope every person listening to this would really focus on starting to save so that they can invest and have a bigger plan because that’s what really going to take someone so that ten years from now hopefully they are in a much more solid financial place.

 

Susan: Awesome, that is great advice. Thank you so much for joining me today, I really appreciate it. I appreciate you taking the time and I appreciate you sharing with us, your thoughts.

 

Diana Bacon: Oh, I appreciate the opportunity. This was really fun.

 

Susan: Thank you so much.

 

Outro: Hey, y’all, thanks so much for joining today; that was such a fun conversation Diana. If you head on over to howshegothere.com, you’ll be able to find the full transcript of this episode. The transcript page is a great resource because it is not only the interview written out in its entirety, it has links to some of the things we discussed. Y’all, this podcast is truly one of my favorite things to do and bring to so thank you for listening and for sharing it with your friends. And, if you haven’t yet, you can go on over to Apple Podcasts and subscribe. I’d also really appreciate it if you would rate and review it. You can also follow “How She Got Here” on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Thanks again, friends. I’ll see you soon.

 

 

Building a career out of a love of writing, with Marisa Klein

Marisa Beahm Klein started writing at a young age.  It began with a journal her parents gave her and she has been writing in one form or another ever since.  She expresses her talent for writing through poetry, prose, and journalism.  Currently, she is the creative content manager at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., where she helps share the stories of Holocaust survivors.  

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Intro: Welcome to “How She Got Here – Conversations With Everyday Extraordinary Women.” It is my belief that every woman has something inside her only she can do. The more we share the stories of other women, who have already discovered their thing, the more it inspires, encourages, and empowers other women to do the same.

Susan: My guest today is Marisa Klein. She has had a love of words her entire life. She loved reading at a very early age and started journaling in the third or fourth grade and just never really looked back. We talk about everything from her college slam poetry team to how she parlayed a love of journalism and storytelling into her current role at the United States Holocaust Museum. So without further ado, here’s Marisa.

Well good morning Marisa. Thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Marisa: I’m great, Susan. Thanks for having me on your podcast. I’m thrilled to be talking to you.

Susan: Well, I am so excited to be talking to you. I know one of the reasons – and I haven’t really talked to you about this beforehand – but one of the reasons that I originally thought you would be perfect for this podcast, I think it was back in January you posted, or maybe it was… I don’t remember where you posted it, but you posted a poem that you wrote on Facebook, and I think you even talked about just how vulnerable that made you feel as a person to be putting yourself out there and putting your work out there. So I don’t even know if I ever told you that but that was one of the reasons that I was like, “Wow, that’s so open and honest and a really cool thing to just say out loud,” and I appreciated that as a human being and as a person and as somebody who is trying to do it podcast. So that was one of the reasons that I asked you and I don’t even know if I ever told you that.

Marisa: Thank you.

Susan: Yeah, I love your poetry and I love your work and you’re just such a good writer so I’m just so excited to talk to you today. A quick glance at your resume indicates a clear thread in all roles that you’ve ever had. You have a passion for writing, and I would love it if you would share a little bit about that passion with us and where it comes from.

Marisa: I’d be happy to. So to kind of think back to where my writing passion came from, I think it really blossomed first with just an absolute love of reading. I can’t recall a time in my life where I didn’t just have a book in hand and always been a voracious reader and my parent’s rule for me going up was no reading at the dinner table because I would try to bring a book with me everywhere and my parents really had to reign that in — they encouraged it of course, but within reason. And I’d say, of course, I always loved to read. And then one of the best things my parents ever did for me is when I was really young, probably third or fourth grade, my parents gave me a journal and really encouraged me to try to write every day in it. That just became a routine for me so I learn to just communicate and process what my life was like through words. So from the time I was in elementary school to today I still journal regularly, nothing as routine as I used to unfortunately, but it just became so natural to me to communicate through words, and as I got older I just tried to pursue as many writing opportunities as I could. I was on my school’s literary magazine, I was a editor of my high school paper, and then I studied journalism in college. And I love journalism and I love interviewing people and storytelling and I also love poetry so I always try to carve out space to write poetry and started going to open mics when I was about 15 or 16 here in Colorado where I grew up and performed for my college slam poetry team and so it just became such a big part of who I am. And it’s been a little harder, I think, as I got older to find open mics, to find the community that I had when I was in college or high-school to be with other writers but it’s something I’ve always sought out.

Susan: Wow! No reading at the dinner table and you’ve been journaling since third or fourth grade? That just blows my mind, just blows my mind.

Marisa: I also had a…Well I have an older sister who’s a really good athlete and she was on the traveling competitive soccer team so every weekend as a kid, too, I was thrown in the car and taken all over Colorado. So wherever my sister’s tournament would have been was that week. So thankfully, I don’t get carsick so I could just read all weekend long too, at her game. So she still teases me to this day that I never watched her play, I would just read my book on the sidelines. Actually, that paid off.

Susan: Yeah, obviously, no kidding. And the journaling from such a young age, I’ve never been a great at journaling, I think I think a lot, but I’m bad about writing stuff down. And I tried to get better at it over the years because I found it to be a calming thing for me. It’s a good outlet, even though I’m not always great at articulating myself. But that is fascinating that you were doing that from the third or fourth grade. That is just too funny. One thing it was funny when you were talking about reading all weekend, it made me think about something that I haven’t thought about in years. Did you ever read those Sweet Valley High books? Do you even know what I’m talking about?

Marisa: I didn’t but I knew of them.

Susan: Oh my gosh, this is so embarrassing, but I remember being in the fifth or sixth grade – I can’t remember – and we had gone to the library as a class that morning or something and I checked out one of these books, and I got so involved in it. And somehow between reading during class, which I wasn’t suppose to be doing or, you know, whatever, but at the end of the day, I had finished that book. And I’ll never forget that as long as I live, and the teacher was like, “I really appreciate that you like reading so much but you cannot be doing this.” That’s just something I hadn’t thought about in years. But tell us for our friends who are listening who don’t know what slam poetry is, would you tell us a little bit about what that is?

Marisa: Oh sure, so slam poetry evolved from an open mic in Chicago. There is one man attributed to kind of starting it, and so he was kind of sick of going to your boring coffee shop poetry reading so he decided to turn it into a competition. So slams are fairly formulaic wherever you go for them, but usually, everybody who performs has a three-minute time slot… roughly. I mean the time to perform a poetry piece typically it’s preferred to be memorized, and I think slam poetry kind of have more of a rhythmic musical element to it, maybe a little bit more, especially in some circle, hip-hop influence to it. It’s a lot…At least when I write it, I write it more for not thinking so much about metaphor or try to be a little less high brow, a little more accessible and engaging. So you really you want your audience to respond because after you perform then your audience rates you. There is judges randomly selected from the audience so they give you a score from 1 to 10. So there’s usually two or three rounds, so whoever performs best in the first round gets go onto perform more and more poetry. So at the end, somebody is actually a winner. And I’d say overall my style is not geared exactly toward poetry slams, but it’s certainly fun to try to write in a different style and really think about not just the language you use, but how you perform it. And it was just a great opportunity for me to get some experience on stage and conquer my fears of going before crowds in that manner. It was just a lot of fun. And I haven’t done slams in a long time, but doing it with a group in college too was great because writing can be very solitary so to have groups that you practice with and perform with was just a lot of fun.

Susan: That is such a neat idea. I have seen it performed but I’ve never actually written poetry or performed poetry. And I didn’t realize so much kind of went into it behind the scenes, I guess. I think I guess I saw it more – when I have attended something like that it’s been more of a spectator, so that’s fascinating. I didn’t even know that, so thank you for sharing that. I may have to try to find one to go listen to.

Marisa: And I think the great thing about… I’ll bet you can find some great ones where you are. And what’s fun about it is that it wants to engage that audience and I think it’s a little bit more accessible than most people think of standard poetry reading. So you get some purists in the poetry scene that don’t love it but I personally love it because it brings people who wouldn’t normally go to poetry events out to see that, and I am a huge advocate of any accessibility in art so I loved it.

Susan: Yes. And I want to talk about your views on art in a minute, but I think we can work it into maybe something, because I remember you said you specifically want to talk about everybody having the ability to be an artist. But I think maybe going into the next questions you kind of talked about that a little bit, you have had the opportunity to be a journalist on the international stage. So could you tell us a little bit about that experience and maybe how it’s different from journalism in the United States?

Marisa: When I was fresh out of college with my journalism degree, I bought a one-way ticket to visit the man who is now my husband who was living Budapest. And I kind of had the intention that I would go for a month or two and then come back and pursue a full-time job at a newspaper in The States, but I got really fortunate when I arrived in Hungary and I was able to connect with a few English-speaking journalists there, and I was able to find freelance work very quickly. And so I was working for two different English language magazines during my time there. And it’s not a straight timeline but in total I was over there for multiple years.

One of the types of writings I did a lot of business reporting so I was writing for the American Chamber of Commerce publication. And this was a really interesting experience because I wasn’t fluent in Hungarian so the events that I went to were typically done in English or things would be translated to me. And I was very young so I was 21 when I arrive to there. And a lot of the events I would go to, especially for those business communities, were very male-dominated. So I was very limited in that I wasn’t fluent in the language, I was very young and one of the only women. So I think I did hit some walls in which I didn’t feel like I was being taken as seriously as I wanted to be. I remember being very cautious about my clothing; trying to dress very businesslike, trying to kind of play up your age in that way. So that was hard. And certainly, that was something I would have faced whether I was in the United States or in Hungary, but kind of using the ability to articulate yourself easily is very challenging when you’re working with multilingual audiences.

And also a big difference of journalism in Hungary versus the United States is the press freedom in Hungary deteriorated while I was there so I did a little — just to put it in context, there is an organization called Freedom House that ranks freedom of the press internationally, and in Hungary when I arrived, the data for press freedom are currently — Hungary only gets a rating of 44 out of 100. So 100 means you have no press freedom so 44 is fairly high, and by contrast, the US is at a 23 level. So when I left there was still free press in Hungary but it was really under attack. And in terms of government I could go — that’s an entirely different discussion but I saw newspapers getting pressure and journalist being very divided, and even the business magazine that I worked for, received more and more political pressure and they doubt, myself included, I really started to transition to more tourism travel writing just because of that environment. So I would say Hungary is a struggling country in terms of press freedom. So to see that firsthand experience was very interesting, and unfortunately, it has only gotten worse since I left.

Susan: Really? That makes me sad.

Marisa: Yeah, makes a lot of us sad.

Susan: That’s just… I mean I think as Americans there are just so much that we take for granted, and when we see just a little bit of it touched we freaked out. I mean there’s no other way to say it; we just freak out. And to think that there are some countries that are fighting for it every day more so than hopefully than we ever will. I can’t imagine, and I can’t imagine being a journalist in that situation. No wonder you kind of shifted things around a little bit.

Marisa: Actually, it’s just hard to see places backslide; you just kind of hope that things progress and then the press gets stronger and more freedom and more ability to report on any story. And it’s very challenging and it’s disheartening to really see that backslide. Unfortunately, it’s not a case just unique in Hungary. It’s nothing you’d ever want to see or experience.

Susan: Yeah, wow. So kind of turning a little bit towards what you’re currently doing, you are currently the creative content manager at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. You also have – I would argue some serious expertise in not just online content but social media content and campaigns. I’ve seen some of the stuff that you put out, it’s pretty phenomenal and fun, and if you haven’t checked out their – even their Facebook page is pretty amazing, which I think you are in charge of, is that correct?

Marisa: I am not in charge of it. I do contribute or help our social media team, and you’ll see some of my videos and content on there occasionally. We’re a huge staff so our marketing staff works very collaboratively. So I do not run very social channel but I do work and share content. I’m a little bit more focused on the email side. We’re a very collaborative team there, too.

Susan: I guess what I saw, I’ve seen some of the videos at that you guys did. I think I remember seeing your first Facebook live video and I think you were in it.

Marisa: Yes. So I did launch our Facebook live pilot series. So we did a 10-week series that was aligned with another campaign we were doing. I was given a great opportunity to be kind of guinea pig that’s launched the weekly Facebook live series, which, of course, doing anything live is very nerve-racking and I had wonderful staff around the museum and we got to give behind the scenes access to people who may never get to come to DC so it’s a great project. So that on Facebook, yeah, I was very active, and I did kick off the whole series in the museum. It was the videographer I work hand-in-hand with; we were trying to get a perfect shoot and book the talent and I was like, “You know what? This one I’ll just to throw myself in and be on camera for the first episode and for the first teasing of it,” like, I’m asking people around the institution to take on this project and get in front of the camera and, like, I guess I can do it myself first too. So that was like good opportunity.

Susan: Yeah, it was so cool just from, again, the spectator side of things. It was fascinating because I have never been to the museum myself and just being able to see it from afar was so, so inspiring, just everything that is there. And what you guys can, I guess, bring to the public and what you guys do on a daily basis is really inspiring. But, tell us a little bit about how you were able to parlay a love of writing into your role, because it is content so you’re doing a lot of writing, I presume at this point, but tell us how this works for you on a daily basis.

Marisa: To back up a minute from how I kind of got to where I am from the journalism world is after I left Hungary I decided to pursue my master’s degree. So I had a great mentor in Hungary who was a professor of Arts Management, and it was a field that I’ve never even heard of prior, and he encouraged me to learn more about it and get some graduate school. So I got my masters in arts management at American University in DC. And this is a natural marriage to me because I was always covering business and I was covering the arts so that really fused those two together and gave me the knowledge I needed to transition from covering the arts to working with intercultural institutions. So I loved my grad school program and it allowed me to pivot my career into something more marketing-focused. And I worked for a couple years at a performing arts center called Wolf Trap Foundation of the Performing Arts, and that was a great opportunity and very fun. I got to see a lot of concerts and write about music for a living so you can’t argue with that.

Susan: Right.

Marisa: Yeah, so that was great, but I was ready for something new and I saw the job come up at the Holocaust Museum, and it really peaked my interest because it was I believe the mission of the museum and it was really a dream for me to get to work on the National Mall that I come everyday and get off at the Smithsonian metro. I’m four years in there, and that still is a great opportunity every day to do that and be around some of the best museums of the nation. And  so I came on as a writer/editor. And I would say even for people who love writing and especially people who are interested in journalism, think there’s a lot of doom and gloom around the industry, but I would say even if you struggle to find a job at a traditional newspaper or radio station or TV station, the skills you glean through journalism training are highly valued in a lot of fields.

So I studied print and broadcast, so the fact that now in my job today I get to do such a wide variety of writing that my journalism degree set me up for, which is just fantastic. So I mean on any given day I’ll edit a social media post, I’ll write radio copy for an ad for NPR, I’ll write for magazine articles, and then I’ll do video interviews with Holocaust survivors. I think it is hard for me to find a job in which I’ve been challenged in so many different ways of writing, and also get to do things to a cause that I care a lot about. So I like that I can — I still feel like I’m a journalist in a lot of way for the institution and I still get to use those skills, but I also just appreciate the ability of my job and the mission-based focus of it.

Susan: Well, share with us a little bit about that, if you would like. I would love to hear more about it.

Marisa: Yeah, so when I was in Budapest, I lived in the Jewish quarter there so that got me more interested in Holocaust history and covering the Jewish Community there. And so when I saw this job come open in DC, I was really kind of shocked that I would actually get to use any of what I learned while living in Hungary, especially historical content, and apply to a job in the United States. And of course, that really made me kick myself for not getting better at the Hungarian language because I interact with Hungarian speakers on a regular basis. But, I’ll say that I believe so strongly in the museum because really at it’s core it’s trying to preserve the memory of Holocaust Survivors, and I think that’s hugely important. And I’m entrusted to tell the story of survivors and victims of the Holocaust, and that’s a huge honor, and especially getting to work with Holocaust Survivors who volunteer at our museum.

We have about 80 survivors who are at the museum regularly meeting with visitors, doing translations for us, they travel around the country for speakers bureau, but I get to meet with them, I edit the essays that they write, I do video interviews, do some ghost writing for them, and the fact that I’m trusted to tell their story and just ride that really delicate balance of getting to reflect on this history and not sensationalize it but also really turn it into a teaching tool, because we teach the history not to just know the facts of it but to help people to act differently in the face of hate but to just learn about the dangers of hatred and where that can lead and where prejudice can lead so we’re of course showing the most shocking example of that, but it’s rewarding. I think a lot of us — it’s a challenging time right now and we’re seeing issues of xenophobia and other reoccurring  refugee issues in our nation. And this is me very much me speaking on behalf of myself and not the museum, but I think for me it’s important that I feel that my day to day work is doing some good and seeing the museum full every single day of visitors, and I just hope that they come and learn something at the museum that they can take to their own lives; that’s hugely important to me.

Susan: Yeah, that’s really powerful what you just said because I am in like-mind with you that we are struggling right now as a nation with some of these issues. And certainly, there are debatable things that can be talked about, which I’m not even getting into. But really thank you, thank you for sharing that and thank you for doing that work. I didn’t realize — wow, you guys have 80 Holocaust Survivors there on a regular basis.

Marisa: Yeah, it’s remarkable; just the willingness  of these individuals to share some of the most difficult periods in their life in the hope that it will carry on the memory of loved ones that they have lost and hopefully improve the future for other generations. I’m just in awe of their resilience and their openness. It’s been such a good example of me to get to work like this with them.

Susan: Well it sounds like it has become their life-work as well. For so many reasons that makes sense, but for so many reasons I’m impressed and just wowed that somebody could do that after going through something that is so unimaginable to me that I can only think of through images in a history book. I cannot even begin to come close to putting myself in that situation. And for them to share their stories and to do that on almost daily basis, I would guess, it just…I can’t imagine that. And I never really thought about it, but I really appreciate them doing that. And I appreciate the work you’re doing, it’s so important. I don’t know, that just really touched me in a weird way. Anyway, sorry about that, I might have gotten a little emotional..

Marisa: Part of my job.

Susan: So in that vein, even the strongest of us have moments when we lack self-confidence in what we’re doing, and you don’t ever appear to do that. I presume you do, I presume you hide it well, maybe I could be way off base maybe you don’t have these moments, but if you do, how have you dealt with that?

Marisa: Well that is a very kind assessment of me, but of course, I have moments where I lack self-confidence, really, like, everybody does. And I guess I do have a really outwardly view of…One of my high school teachers used to always just call me very self possessed and I think I of course try to exude confidence in what I do, but certainly, I have moments of self-doubt, and I have a really wonderful team of editors who work with me who always help each other out and putting our best work forward. I’d say one thing that’s always helpful – well, there’s a couple of things that has helped me and one is I really have the joy of surrounding myself with people who have far more faith in my skills and abilities than I do. I really could not speak more highly of my family and core circle of friends. I have a lot of cheerleaders and I cannot emphasize how important that is to have someone to… I just texted a friend right before this, I was like, “Oh, I am about to be interviewed for a podcast’ I’ve never done this before,” and she’s like, “Oh, you’re going to be great.” And just to have people who don’t ever mean it insincerely but just really kind of telling you that self-confidence or the affirmations that you want for yourself.

On this podcast you talk about seeing professional coaches, and I’ve been seeing one as well who I just adore and she really good at showcasing, making you see things through a new lens. And things that I struggle with is I worry a lot about how my decisions affect other people and the way that they make those people feel, sometimes then the way they make me feel or how my actions help or hurt me. And having other people just kind of to refocus how I see myself and my actions is so helpful. So I love that aspect. And then also I think something that helps me in self-confidence which is very funny is I am a total dabbler. I am very curious, I love learning new things but I like to take on new hobbies and projects — and I wouldn’t say I don’t see them through, it’s not like I’m building a house but I kind of like start doing one thing and then switch to another so. So for example, for the last couple of years I’ve been taking guitar lessons but I also have not picked up my guitar for many months. So I like to jump in these projects and try new things but never attained or frankly really try to an expert level. So in my life like a willingness to be a novice or very mediocre at activities is really healthy. And I don’t think enough people are willing, especially if you’re older, to just take up a new hobby, like, knowing that you’re not going to be any good at it, and it might just be fun for a little while.

Susan: Yeah.

Marisa: I try to do that and I think it’s just nice to just be humbled by something that, like, I’m not a good guitar player but this is really fun and it gives me a creative outlet that’s not writing and gets me to think about things or just try something new, and I think that actually really help people build up their confidence to intentionally fail at new hobbies and it’s fine to see that there aren’t always consequences and nobody in my life expects me to be a superstar at anything I take on. And the same with exercise, I love to work out but I’m not a world-class runner or swimmer or anything that I do but I still do it because it’s healthy and I like it. So a very long answer to your question but that’s something I’ve found and I encourage other people to do around me as well.

Susan: And within your answer I think you answered one of my other questions which I always love to ask is how do you recharge your batteries, but it sounds like that’s one way you do it. And those are several little ways you do it which sound awesome and fun. What’s your favorite? What is the one thing that you’re doing right now that you’re just loving?

Marisa: Right now?

Susan: If you had to pick a favorite.

Marisa: I’ll pick one that I’m not doing immediately but in the last year one of my good friend Amy and I and my husband all took beginner ukulele classes at a community art place in Washington and that was a blast. We have a very quirky teacher who is a brilliant musician and gives no pressure at all in the class; you just kind of show up and have some fun and play some music, you go home. And it’s doing that with friends and just having a good time and laughing a lot. It’s just wonderful so we’re going to try to pick that up again in the fall.

Susan: Well, that sounds fun and awesome at the same time. And I want to mention something because you said something a minute ago, you said you had called one of your friends to say you’ve never done a podcast before, and I just want you to know you’re a natural, and I think it’s because you are a good storyteller but you could do this all day long so, you know, in your spare time if you feel like starting one up, you go for it, just do that.

Marisa: Well this is very fun, and I hear it and not only my interview but the ones you’ve done previously that you really put guests at ease so you are also a natural.

Susan: Well thank you. I  just think it’s fun. I think it’s fun and inspiring and it inspires me to tell other people stories and in a day and age where I just feel like we need to give women a platform who otherwise may not have one. I mean you are certainly somebody who works at a world-renowned museum, you know, some of my guests are just next door neighbor’s who are doing some really cool stuff as well and I just want to make sure that there is a platform available to share our stories because I truly believe that it inspires, empowers and encourages others to figure out what their passion is because I feel like we were all born with one, I really honestly do. I feel like we were all born with some sort of something that we were put here to do, and if we all can somehow figure that out then we just made this world a better place. And so that’s what I’m hoping to encourage and inspire and empower other women to do. So, that’s my goal. But anyway, I want to go back to something that I kind of started to talk a little bit about earlier and then I dropped it but I said we’d come back to it, and I’m going to mess this up because I can’t remember your wording exactly and you worded it so well and it was so beautiful. You talked to me before this interview about how you want to make sure everybody understands the artists within themselves, or something to that effect. Can you share a little bit about what you were trying to convey to me in that conversation.

Marisa: Sure. I can’t certainly remember exactly what I told you but throughout my career, and I just talked a little bit about that was just trying my own artistic pursuit, but I believe so strongly in the power of creativity and expression and the finding a way, and I really just like our culture that people are dissuaded doing activities that they aren’t really good at. So I think we have a tendency to pigeonhole people of, “Oh, you’re a great drawer, that’s fantastic, do that.” And I myself is a terrible drawer, like, nobody want’s me on their team in family Pictionary, like, terrible at it, but it doesn’t mean I can’t try a bunch of other activities or still draw. And I am such an advocate for the amateur artist that I want people to go to community festivals, to go try their hands at creating something. It’s really healthy.

When I was in grad school I worked at a organization called the National Center for Creative Aging, and the project I got to work on was pairing graduate students in social work and healthcare and art with older visual artist. So they would help the visual artists set up their studio and help teach them to document their work and build on their legacy. I loved that project, and within it there was a major research project going on as well from Joan Jeffri who ran the project called Art Cart, and this is a long way of telling you this, but the study that she’s doing, anecdotally, I could easily tell you that doing arts or creativity can extend your life, but there’s actual science behind it and rigorous studying too to show how healthy it is to have something to express yourself through. And I just want more and more people to be willing to do that and there’s a Moto that I’m completely stealing from an organization called Creative Mornings that post lectures on creativity all over the world for free, usually once a month in every city. I’m certain that Dallas has them as well. And their whole motto is “Everyone is welcome; everyone is creative.” And I just think that is so brilliant and so succinctly put, that everyone should be welcome to create, not just top world-class performers and everyone should be welcomed.

So that’s one thing I just love that you’re doing on this podcast is not just focusing on people who are already recognizable but who are doing wonderful work. And certainly doesn’t have to be in the arts, that’s just what I’m passionate about, but just thinking how important each of our work is and we can create. It don’t have to be hanging up in a museum or some amazing published work, but I just want my work to encourage other people to be creative and tell stories and share things about other people’s lives.

Susan: Well, I think that it is, and I just appreciate you sharing it. I appreciate you sharing your creative talent through your poetry that you’re willing to put up online. I appreciate you writing amazing content for the museum or doing the Facebook live which I know is nerve-racking, or at least it was for me because you don’t know how many people are going to see this and you’re like, “Ahhh!”

Marisa: It is hard.

Susan: There’s no editing, there’s no edit in here. But yeah, thank you for sharing that because I think you’re right, I think people are often so many times either told no, don’t do that, or that’s not your outlet or whatever. And it’s important, it’s important to share anything if not for someone else then just for yourself to just to see what you’re made of sometimes, I think. So, I always like to leave with an action step, but it seems like you kind of already gave us one to find our creative outlet. And I don’t know, do you have anything else to add? Am I missing anything?

Marisa: I’d say I really of course encourage people to journal. I think that’s really healthy, and yeah, I think action steps of trying to find a creative outlet for everybody or to try something new is what I would like to encourage people to do. And it certainly doesn’t have to be in the arts, like maybe try running or walking or something, but I just love getting people out into the community and just taking part. So those are my simple action.

Susan: Well, I don’t think those are simple at all; I think those are things that we all need to think about and do, maybe, especially the journaling thing, that has been really, really helpful for me trying to do more of that. When I do it, I feel better. But tell us — one more thing before I go because I always forget this — tell us where we can find your work, either through the museum or if you have like a…I don’t even know if you have like a public creative outlet or anything at the moment, but if you want to share some of your museum content with us or anything like that, tell us where we can find you or where we can find your work.

Marisa: Sure. I don’t have a website at the moment. I’ve been kind of dabbling in and out of that. That’s a great action step for me to get back to that so I can say, “To read my work, go to…” And, you know, as someone who works in marketing you’d think I’d be better at that but I’d say that, I do have a book of poetry that you can get on Amazon called Opened Aperture, so that you can read; that’s some of my older poetry that I wrote mainly based on my time living in Budapest. And then for the museum, if you subscribe to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum email and I’m usually leading the content on a lot of our storytelling emails so if you read those you can see my work. And I also was the copywriter for a book at the museum published last year called The Last Witnesses. And that book is, every page is a picture of an item that’s in our collection, so personal artifacts and our designer, Mary, did a beautiful job laying it out, and then with the visuals I then tell the story of who the object belonged to, what the story behind it is. So that was one of the biggest projects that I worked on at the museum that I’m very proud of. Also, you can buy it at the museum or you can buy it online as well.

Susan: That is awesome, and I will make sure on our website to go and link all of those things so that people can easily find them. So you guys can just head on over to the website and check those out. Marisa, thank you so much for joining us today and taking time out of your work week and out of your vacation/work week. I really appreciate you taking the time to join us today and to just share what you’re doing, and just your thoughts on life. I really appreciate your time today.

Marisa: Thank you so much. I love doing this. It was very fun, and thank you for making this podcast.

Susan: All right, friend, I’ll talk to you soon.

Marisa: Bye.

Outro: Thanks so much for listening today. I hope you found just as many good nuggets in our conversation as I did. Y’all, I will make sure and have all the links to the things Marisa and I discussed over on this episode’s transcript page on the website. So if you didn’t have a chance to write something down, you can be sure to find the link at www.howshegothere.com. Y’all, seriously, thanks again so much for listening and for sharing this podcast with your friends. This show is truly a great love of mine and I really appreciate the opportunity to bring it to you. Y’all, your feedback has been overwhelming and I really cannot believe how many subscribers we have. It’s so exciting. I’m just so thankful that so many people have been able to find it and that it has resonated with so many women. One way that it makes it easier for other women to find is if you rate and review the podcast on whatever platform you listen to the podcast on. So I would really appreciate it if you would rate and review it so that it makes it easier for other women to find it. Y’all are my people and y’all are just the best, and I love, love, love sharing this work with you. Thanks again, friends, I’ll see you soon.

From Dawson’s Creek to Real Housewives, this camera operator has seen everything, with Carrie Dufresne

Carrie Dufresne started her career as a lowly intern on Dawsons Creek.  Today, she is still in the television industry, but now she is known for her work behind the camera.  You can see her most recent work on The Real Housewives of Dallas which will air in August 2018.  We talk about everything from women breaking into the world of cinematography to seeing reality television not just as a guilty pleasure, but an opportunity to learn about people and places you might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet and see.

 

 

Transcript:

Susan: Welcome to How She Got Here, Conversations with Everyday Extraordinary Women. It is my belief that every woman has something inside her only she can do. The more we share the stories of other women who have already discovered their thing the more it inspires encourages and powers other women to do the same.
Susan: Hey y’all. I am so excited about today’s guest. My guest today is my friend Carrie. Carrie is an artist. It’s an art you most likely consume weekly, but you probably don’t think of it as art. You probably refer to it as a guilty pleasure. Carrie is a camera operator in the world of reality television. She has worked all the way from being a lowly intern on a show you might remember called Dawson’s Creek. Obviously not a reality show. All the way up to camera operator on the latest season of Real Housewives of Dallas. Over the past 13 years she has been behind the scenes of many of the reality shows we have all come to know and love including but not limited to America’s Next Top Model, Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of Orange County, Trading Spaces, Bachelor Pad, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Fast and Loud, Street Outlaws, and Little Women Dallas. I am so excited about today’s conversation. It was such a fun interview so sit back relax or put on your walking shoes. Without further ado heres Carrie.
Susan: Hey Carrie thank you so much for joining me today. How’s it going?
Carrie: It’s going really well. I’m glad I could be here to talk. I’m not really good at all this talking stuff. By the way. Just so ya know. Surprise!
Susan: Yes you are. You absolutely are. I’m just really glad you could be here. I’ve wanted to do this interview for a while just because I kind of wanted to hear some of the stuff that I don’t think I’ve ever asked you before. Friends, I think I already told you but Carrie is a camera operator. Is that your official title?
Carrie: Yes.
Susan: OK.
Carrie: Every once in a while I was director of photography, but mostly camera operator.
Susan: Very cool. We all see what happens in front of the camera. But I want you to take us behind the scenes and, but first tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into this role?
Carrie: I kinda fell into it. I went to college. I studied film. I did, I did study film. I learned all about it. I worked with film and cameras. I worked on the last season of Dawson’s Creek as an intern. I wrote a couple of screenplays and I moved to Hollywood. I was like I’m going to be a big time producer, director, screenwriter, whatever. And then you get there and you can’t find a job. And you’re still calling your dad to pay your rent and you’re living five people to a three bedroom apartment. And back ten years ago it was safer to meet people off Craigs List and become roommates with them randomly than today I think. And I just started working in independent movies and I was like this is it. This is going to be my big break. But little did I know it would actually be my big break into reality T.V. because that pays the bills whereas independent movies don’t normally and they don’t pay as much and then they run out of money. So then you’ve worked for like two weeks and their like sorry we can’t pay you.
Susan: Oh wow!
Carrie: Yeah. On one of those independent movies I met somebody from America’s Next Top Model.
Susan: A Ha!
Carrie: Yeah. She was like hey, you’re good at production assistant work. But I hadn’t done camera yet. Cause I still probably wanted be a producer/director. And then I started working in reality and made friends with all the camera people and someone was like you know hey you take really good picture. You’re pretty good at it. Have you ever thought about that. And I was like no I don’t think I’m good enough. I didn’t have a lot of confidence and you didn’t see a lot of women doing it. Like, there were a couple, but there weren’t enough at that point for me to be like this is definitely what I want to do but then I met more camera people more camera women and then a year and a half after working and starting in Top Model you know I was camera assisting on Beauty and Geek.
Susan: I remember that show.
Carrie: Yeah yeah I know a lot of people are like what?! And so I did two season of that and then from there I landed my first long term house reality gig for a little gem you might remember called Bad Girls Club Season 2 where the still infamous Tanisha pots and pans waking people up.
Susan: Yeah.
Carrie: That was my camera operator and I was the camera assistant and I was running around throwing mics on all the girls that morning.
Susan: Oh wow. That’s some pretty fun behind the scenes stuff right there.
Carrie: Yeah. You know half the people are asleep you know you have an audio person with a boom, but then like I’m hiding in a bathroom trying to put a microphone on a girl so ya know they don’t have to boom everybody.
Susan: Yeah.
Carrie: I was ducking behind beds, ya know ducking around corners to avoid all that chaos.
Susan: So you mentioned something that I want to go back to a little bit. And you mentioned that not a lot of women were in the business at the time. So you’ve been in this business for about 13 years. Talk a little bit about that and how that has how it has or it changed for women in your line of work.
Carrie: Ok. This is interesting because there used to be like there were a couple like maybe I wanna say 30. 30 women that were just amazing and kicked butt. And then after I started there was a lot. There are just so many. I’m actually working with a female right now who I’ve known. I actually met her on Bad Girls Club. She was a producer on Bad Girls Club and she was finally able to make her way into camera. Sometimes it does take us a little bit longer to move up in this business. I feel like I might have had it a little easier because I am taller. I’m a little bigger like I’m built a little bigger and I don’t wanna say people/ guys take me a little more seriously. But you know I have the body stature, is that what I’m looking for?
Susan: Yeah. The build, yeah.
Carrie: Yeah so their like you can hold the camera. And one of my friends is like five foot. I used to camera assist for this amazing camera operator who is also five foot. She was phenomenal. She could run circles around all the guys. So this, my friend now she is having a problem making the break from camera assistant to camera operator and I think a lot of it has to do with: one she is amazing at her job and if you get if you are too good at your job in this industry is people hate to move you up. Like the only reason, half the reason, I moved up is cause like I’m not taking any more work. And ya know, that’s where a lot of us get. Where we have to say no to work and if we’re not working we’re not making money. So it’s sort of a double edged sword. But oh, so we were talking the other day. She’s like, you know there’s not as many females or we’re not getting hired as much and we think it’s you know guys are afraid. Which, You know if you aren’t doing anything questionable then you shouldn’t be afraid.
Susan: Oh! That’s just an interesting that’s an interesting concept to think about that in the world that we’re in now that there would be a fear there. That men had not had before. I find that fascinating.
Carrie: But it’s like yeah we work in an industry where there’s a lot of joking around. We’re working with people twelve hours a day you do get close with people and you feel like you can make certain jokes. Which somebody looking on the outside completely looks like sexual harassment. And I think you know I say things and other people say things but like we know each other enough to know that we can say that and it’s not crossing a line. Like I wouldn’t walk up to somebody I just met and make the exact same joke as I would working with my buddy I’ve been working with ya know for eight weeks now.
Susan: Sure.
Carrie: Whereas we spend 12 hours a day in a van together, on set together and then we’re on locations we eat together. We become family. I can say ya know, hey lookin good today you know. It’s so weird. So I feel like, and I’ve talked to guys I work with they know that they can make a joke like that with me and I’m not going to take it the wrong way. But their not gunna like if we had another female for the day, their not going to do that with her. Like I think we’re all smart enough to know what we can and can’t do. And I think people, guys that are afraid now they clearly like they know they’re crossing a line.
Susan: Oh that’s an interesting point.
Carrie: Yeah, and I feel like if you feel like you aren’t doing anything wrong like, I don’t know. I don’t have phrases this. Like if you feel guilty about it then you’re guilty. Right? Does that make sense?
Susan: It makes sense. Like if you have like a gut reaction or a gut feeling about it it’s like it’s in your gut you know or you know you know it’s cool or you know it’s not.
Carrie: Yeah exactly. And then, ya know for a period of a couple of years there people were like we definitely want females. And then, ya know, I read on some message board, well you can’t specifically say you’re looking for this type of person to hire because that’s discrimination. We’re in such a weird era right now where.
Susan: It can be misconstrued.
Carrie: Yeah. And now all the guys are butt hurt. Oh you’re only hiring females. That’s discrimination. Well, I have lost a handful of jobs. Hey, I know we wanted to hire you on this, but this guys bro. Literal words: “Yeah, his bro’s available so we’re going to bring him on instead.” I was hired on. They praised my work. I got a call the next week. Hey you’re b roll’s not very good. So we’re going to replace you. But his buddy. A man it was a man. He’s not available for another week so we’re going to bring you out for another week. And then after that, he’s going to replace you. And in my head if I’m not doing the job you hired me to do, your standard… why are you going to bring me back for one more week?
Susan: That’s nuts.
Carrie: Yeah. And then the same week they brought me out. I’d had more experience than my director of photography who still shoots the show and he’s a great guy, but I’d had more experience than him at that point in reality. But we had like a, not a crazy scene, but my coverage, they said oh my God your coverage saved us. They went from saying ya know your b rolls not that good to oh my God you saved us. To all right you’re being replaced by by our buddy. You know.
Susan: That’s, wow that’s hard. That’s hard.
Carrie: Yeah I never really, like for a while I was kinda down. I was like, oh my God my b rolls not that good. But then I talked to my friend who was on the show and she was the producer and she was like, Carrie, this never should have happened. And I was like ya know what? I’m not going to let it affect me and my work because when it came down to it. It was about hiring a man over a woman at that point. Like they wanted their bro on there. You know their drinking buddy on there and that just wasn’t me. So they had to come up with some lame excuse to fire me. Besides the show with the EP that I argued with and that was like a mutual I don’t want to work with you. You’re fired kinda thing. That’s only happened on two shows. So I feel like in my 11 13 13 years of working in the business for that to only happen. To only be fired twice I feel like that’s fine.
Susan: Well one of the things that prompted me to ask you to come on the show was the Academy Award nomination of Rachel Morrison this past year. And you and I kind of discussed that a little bit but for those that don’t know Rachel Morrison was the first woman ever nominated for cinematography in 2018. The first time in 2018.
Carrie: Right. It’s mind blowing.
Susan: It Is. And I also read in a Guardian article that I’ll link in the show notes afterwards that the American Society of Cinematography which was founded in 1919 didn’t even invite a woman to join until 1980. And the argument was was that well this woman was the first woman to work as a cinematographer on a major Hollywood film. But that was only 38 years ago. So in my mind you know so many people think oh well women have been doing you know have been able to do whatever for a long time and we haven’t been discriminated against and we we’ve had these opportunities and clearly what you’re saying and clearly with this article and with what’s happening it’s quite obvious that we’re still new in the game.
Carrie: We are still so new in the game. The Fact that I was born in ’81. The fact that in my lifetime is when the first woman was able to join the cinematographers.
Susan: The American Society of Cinematographers?
Carrie: Yeah, the fact that it happened in my lifetime. That shouldn’t be the case. You know, that should have happened before I was born. So we still have a long way to go. We’re in a couple of …. now, but I think we’ll overcome it. Like you know I was specifically requested…oh we need another female operator. And I’m working wiht a bunch of amazing guys. The DP I worked with on Bad Girls Club 2 that’s when I first met him. And one of the last times I saw him and since then he has won an Emmy. He did a show about the Born to This Way the people with Down syndrome.
Susan: Yes yes yes.
Carrie: Yeah. And then the other guy on that crew. You know were doing a show about Mexican nationals. Women, a lot of Latino women. Affluent Latino women.
Susan: Oh Cool.
Carrie: Yeah. It’s not gunna be a Housewives. But, it’s through Bravo so it could become the Housewives and no one will be shocked. But we are trying very hard not to make it a Housewives. But so you know obviously we’re doing a show about women. You need a woman. You also need…so another guy he’s Hispanic and then my camera operator he’s a little older. He’s a black man and then ya know, a woman. So we have a pretty diverse crew but it’s still like the only females on the crew are me and the other camera assistant. And then our producers are female and our show runner is female. Actually both of our executive producers are female and then all of our segment producers are Latina women. So we do have a nice diverse cast I mean crew on the show with a cast of diverse women.
Susan: So since women like yourself are really starting to find themselves in positions to hire or have hiring influence how has that affected the industry. Or maybe specifically in this case. How has it affected the final product that you’re going to be delivering or do you feel like it does?
Carrie: If we had men running this show about you know rich Mexican ladies I don’t know if we’d have the same show. I think it’s really great that we have you know a female show runner and a female Latina executive producer. I feel like this helps. And then you know all the guys I’m working with are a little older than me. And then there’s, I’m probably the same age as the women we’re shooting right now.
Susan: Wow.
Carrie: Yeah. I feel like that helps. I did a show called Little Women Dallas and our show runner on that was a male and Little Women Atlanta had a male show runner and I feel like when your dealing with an all women cast like that you really need. Well I’m sorry. I’ll back track. On Little Women Dallas we had a female and a male that helped. But I feel like you really need more women on the show about women because what do men know about women? Nothing. What’s a tall guy know about short women and what their going through? Nothing. I feel like I can relate a little bit because I’m a woman and I mean, I’m tall. So I don’t relate that much, but I’ve done that show and now I’m a little more empathetic to what little people go through.
Susan: You Are. I never actually watched that show confession.
Carrie: All good. Nobody did. We got cancelled.
Susan: Sorry friend.
Carrie: It’s all good.
Susan: But yeah that’s that’s a good point that you bring up that there is an empathy there. That happens but you also already kind of have you had an understanding from the perspective of being a woman but being tall. I mean it’s one little thing, ha ha it’s one little thing, but being tall it’s a huge difference. Gosh I never thought of it like that.
Carrie: It is. And people are like how do you shoot the show when you’re so much taller and it’s like well it helps because ya know I’m tall and like can make them look shorter than they are but then I can also I can show the world how they are in the world. But then I can also sit down and show the world from their perspective. I’m able to adjust for that. They unfortunately can’t see the world from my perspective, but I can at least show people how they live from my perspective and their perspective.
Susan: So you are a professional storyteller kind of.
Carrie: Yes. And that’s, that is what I love to do. I love to tell people’s stories. Whether it be a housewife or a little person or a drag racer or you know guy. I did a pilot for this company out of Knoxville. We were in Alabama and this guy 100 year old houses or building and just takes the amazing woodwork and saves it and restores it and sells it and puts it in other houses. And I just love to tell that story. I think he recently just ran for like office in Alabama and he is in the primary now.
Susan: Wow.
Carrie: Yeah. He’s like a nice moderate voice that we all need in the world today.
Susan: We can definitely use more of that.
Carrie: Yes exactly. Yeah, I’m definitely a professional story teller and I just love telling peoples stories. I love learning about people cause everyone, and this is why I can’t get into Facebook arguments with people because no one, when I realized people don’t understand and I will say if it wasn’t for reality T.V. I’d probably would still be in my little bubble of…well if you really wanted a better life you could have a better life for yourself kind of thing. When I realized cause I was born in a very conservative upbringing. I guess you could say.
Susan: Yeah.
Carrie: And now I’m kinda the black sheep of the family. I know my parents love me and their fine with my lifestyle. But, we do butt heads on ya know, certain present day issues but I feel like reality T.V. I’ve definitely learned a lot about other people and that life isn’t black and white and there’s a lot of gray area. And we need to have a lot of empathy and sometimes and ya know, I don’t even know how to say this, but you know there is a lot of white privilege and male privilege and male toxic masculinity and male fragile ego. I know it sounds like I’m male bashing, but I love guys. They’re some of my favorite people to hang out with, but I see that and I see that in these people that I tell the stories of and it’s sad because you know some of these people haven’t had an opportunity and there’s a lot of abused people and they’re just trying to make their lives better and you know they’re trying the best they have with what they have. And I don’t think there is a lot of empathy for that.
Susan: Well, and I think you’ve made me think about reality TV different. You know I think a lot of us will sit down and watch housewives or insert whatever reality show here and it’s more like we see it as a guilty pleasure like an Oh we’re going to watch these crazy women fight about something on television and it’s going to be funny to laugh at. And you do have the individuals I would presume who are on there to totally just make a name for themselves and they will do whatever to be on television. And I think of like Bachelor Pad in this situation.
Carrie: Oh yeah. That’s definitely one of those.
Susan: But I didn’t, I never really thought of it from the perspective of really sitting down and trying to learn about people. And I really do appreciate learning about people and learning about different cultures and visiting different places. And that’s something that you guys in the reality TV world provide is giving us the opportunity to visit these places in pretty close to real time and seeing how people live in different parts of the country and in the world. And I just never truly thought about it from that perspective I don’t think.
Carrie: I don’t think I did either. It took me a while and like in the last five years I’ve started describing it as like I’m kind of a sociologist.
Susan: Yeah.
Carrie: And its so funny because I just saw the Mr. Rogers documentary and everyone is special in their own way. Like he is not wrong because I remember the end of the documentary. There were people like Mr. Rogers was wrong. No one’s special. But, like that was just a bunch of fragile white guys that got rejected a couple of times and like the issue they don’t want to talk about, right. So they are just deflecting on Mr. Rogers and I’m like calm down. But everyone is special, but we’re not because we’re going through the same problems. Everyone’s trying to live their life. And you know we all live it differently, but we’re all the same. We’re all the just trying to live and make a good life for our selves and our kids and our families and our friends. The world is amazing and I think if you can travel it you know, it’s eye opening. I’m also really bummed about the whole Anthony Bourdain thing. Cause I did I worked with him a long time ago on Top Chef.
Susan: Oh yeah.
Carrie: Yeah, one of my dream gigs was just to work on his show. And I really feel like we lost a genuine human being. He just wanted to tell people’s stories and eat good food.
Susan: And what a job.
Carrie: I really hope like some people have changed their views. That’s kinda what I want to do. I want to help put other people’s stories out there and somebody can watch it and be like oh I relate to that they are different than me, but if they can make it through it, I can too.
Susan: So on that note you’ve alluded to it I think in other conversations. But I’ll put you on spot a little bit. You want to keep telling people’s stories and you want to keep what’s you’re next where are you going with this. Are we sticking with camera operator or are we moving on to bigger ideas.
Carrie: Definitely bigger. I’ve talked to a few people in Dallas. I definitely want to make a documentary. I’ve just, I’ve never tackled anything that large before so I’m still working out everything.
Susan: I think that’s supercool.
Carrie: So like working a. It could take 10 years and I’m okay with that because I just have to figure out exactly what I want this documentary to be about, but I just want to tell people’s stories. I wanna get it there. So like, it’s gunna take a lot of planning and a lot of work, but that’s one thing. The other thing is I’m getting a little older. I want to keep telling people’s stories, but I think I have to move into more of a producer role. Because I feel like in the next 10 years I won’t really be able to run around. I don’t know, maybe. I’m working with a 50 year old right now and he runs around. As long as I keep taking care of my body and doing all this muscle stem stuff and cryotherapy and the chiropractor and massages I should be okay.
Susan: Well that leads into my next question. I can imagine as we were just talking about your job can be pretty stressful at times and physically exhausting. One of the things that I like to mention in every show is that you can’t run on empty all the time. So I know what your secret is or some of your secrets, but tell us how you take care of yourself and how you recharge the batteries.
Carrie: Well, I agree it’s super important because I do work with a lot of people who don’t take care of themselves. I’m friends with this one, used to be an executive producer and I’m not sure she’s completely out of the business now but she was sick a lot and overworked and now she’s like a mindfulness teacher and she practices Reiki and I think she teaches people how to be more mindful of themselves and their bodies. But I definitely like I stretch every night, almost every night. At least four times a week I stretch before bed. I’ve recently gotten into cryotherapy. Thank you, Dallas Housewives. We did a scene there and the lady let me try it for free. Now I go almost every day.
Susan: Is that the freezing thing?
Carrie: Yes. It’s amazing.
Susan: I’ve always wanted to try that.
Carrie: There is a place in Uptown that I’m going to try when I get back and there’s a place in Deep Ellum that I’ve been to a couple of times and it’s just there’s a world of difference on my body. I’m actually going at 3:30 today.
Susan: That’s cool.
Carrie:Yes. And then I get, I try to get, monthly massages. I know I should go more than. I go to Kinetik Chain in Dallas and I get the dry needling and the cupping and the scraping and I do that once or twice a month. And then CrossFit. I CrossFit at least three times a week. Depending on my schedule, like I didn’t go Monday or Tuesday cause we were on a cast trip at a resort and I worked a couple of 16 hour days and I just didn’t, there was no time.
Susan: Sure.
Carrie: So then I soaked in a bath last night when I got home. I worked out this morning. I gunna do cryotherapy. I’m probably going to hit a yoga class tonight and this is all on my day off.
Susan: Gosh.
Carrie: Yeah. I try to eat right. It gets hard on the road. I probably put five pounds on, but ya know. It’s late at night. Ya haven’t eaten in six hours. They have pizza and your like, I’m starving. And I can’t not eat because then I don’t have energy for the next day. I did the low carb thing for a while and I was cranky and grouchy. And then I went gluten free for a while, but I don’t have celiac. You know it does help you lose weight and I think I’ve noticed a little bit of a difference in my joints for inflammation, but you know when you’re in the middle of nowhere and all they have are like hamburgers I’m not going to be super picky so I just have to eat as healthy as I can. And when I get done with this show I’m probably going to take a week off. Because I definitely need to recharge completely.
Susan: That sounds good to me.
Carrie: Yeah. And then, I wanna take a vacation. I need to get out of the country. I need to go to a beach and drink margaritas for like, a week.
Susan: That sounds like a pretty good vacation. Pretty good vacation.
Carrie: Yeah. Because even though I do tell people stories like, and even though half their problems aren’t my problems I’m still around it and it is very mentally draining sometimes too. So I meditate every night as well.
Susan: I never thought about that aspect of your job. I never did. I never thought about taking on everything and taking on the weight of those as someone else’s issues. Because it’s not like you’re their therapist but maybe sometimes you are because I presume there’s like some confiding there that’s happening. You’re getting to know these individuals as individual people so you actually know these people these individuals which is kind of cool but that’s a lot to take on. Never thought about that aspect of your job.
Carrie: It’s a lot. That’s another thing. We are in their lives. And you know whenever ends up on T.V. ends up on TV but whatever I shoot is true to their life. So I don’t want to say whatever happens in editing you know you know I shoot 12 hours a day. Well I work 12 hours a day and I have a camera on somebody for an hour. An hour on somebody with two cameras so that’s two hours and they’re going to cut it down to like a two minute scene. So we’re with people and we need them to trust. You know we need to have a relationship where they trust us so that when they are in their most vulnerable state they don’t ya know they can’t let it out you know?
Susan: Yeah.
Carrie: If they’re going to cry and have a breakdown, I want them to know that they’re safe with me and that it’s okay to do that. That way I get the best story and they feel like they’ve been taken advantage of. Like, I’ve been in, ya know I had a cast member we tried to do in vitro fertilization. I was in there when she was getting probed and you know trying not to see anything. At the same time but also you know trying to show the procedure as true as it can be. I’ve been there when people have been sick when people find out, ya know, someone has just died. You know, they want to cry like, I’m in their lives and then I worked on this one show last year. And one of the women on it super reminded me of an ex like, and this was like a very psychotic ex.
Susan: Wow.
Carrie: It brought me to like a PTSD place and I drank a little bit more on that show cause I was like I don’t know if I can be around this. Like, this really brings back some memories. She was always yelling at people, yelling at us. It’s a lot. It’s a whole lot. Yeah. We get yelled at by a lot of people and I’ve just learned to tune it out a little bit.
Susan: These are aspects behind the camera that I never ever thought about. I guarantee you this audience has never thought about this either.
Carrie: Yeah. Oh yeah. No, like everyone’s like you have the coolest job. Like, you’re such a rockstar. And like, I mean it’s true I have a really awesome job and I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I get to meet so many people and have so many experiences and a lot of them. I mean I’ve been on a private jet recently, like I don’t have the money for that. You know, but yeah. I’ve been on a private jet. I go to all the nicest restaurants. I mean, I don’t eat there, but I meet the people and I could probably go back and splurge on a meal every once in a while. Yeah, it’s a rockstar thing, but like when people are in fights and all this other stuff, I’m going through it too. And I know that people aren’t yelling at me. But I’m listening to people yelling all day and so I get home. And every once in a while when I am dating somebody I’m like I need 10 minutes to myself. I’ve just had you know walkie talkie chatter in one ear and then listening to microphones in another ear and you know I just I need like 10 minutes to myself with just my voice in my head. So, it’s a lot and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but and it is glamorous, but, you know sometimes I’m standing in the middle of a swamp trying to not get eaten by an alligator like yeah I’ve got a rockstar job.
Susan: So I have one more question for you before I let you go and do your therapy and all that fun stuff that you get to do on your day off.
Carrie: Oh, but real quick. I forgot to mention about Rachel Morrison.
Susan: Yeah.
Carrie: She got her start in reality T.V. so.
Susan: I didn’t know that.
Carrie: Oh Yeah yeah. The Hills. And she worked on, a lot of my friends have worked with her. The Office. The last two seasons of The Office had a female DP who I was a camera assistant for on Beauty and the Geek. So she got her start in reality TV and there’s another DP camera guy that i worked with on Beauty and the Geek, who now. He had been the camera operator for that Girls Trip movie.
Susan: Yeah.
Carrie: And a couple Marvel things. Oh! Rachel Morrison was also the DP of Black Panther by the way. I don’t know if you knew that.
Susan: NO! I Didn’t know that. Holy cow.
Carrie: Yeah. She DP’d Black Panther. And my friend, Sarah Levy who I haven’t seen in a long time, but she was a b camera operator on that. So there’s hope. Like you know eventually through who I know I could somehow maybe hopefully wind up on a Marvel movie one day. Yeah.
Susan: That’s good because that kind of segues into my last question. I kind of like to end every show with some sort of an action step. And so we talked a little bit about positions of power and the opportunity when it comes to hiring people and you’re seeing a lot of this I think in your field right now. And I know that I have a listener. Probably multiple listeners who are in that same position today. She has the opportunity to advocate for women in her own field. We all know a rising tide lifts all boats. So as she rises or as you rise what is action step she can take to lift other women alongside with her.
Carrie: That’s a good question. Well I know that I, um. I guess I’ll just say what I would do. The friend that I’m working with. The camera assistant. You know we’ve had talks lately and I was like. I told her I didn’t know that you’ve been trying to transition from camera assistant to camera operator for the last year or so and I was like from now on I will only recommend you as camera operator. I make sure there are women on set who are like production assistants. So you know whatever. Like what are you interested in? Do you want to learn camera? If they do then I say I will teach you my ways because I know when I was coming up there was a lot of people who were like I’m not going to teach you that because I don’t want to take my job. Oh! I’m about to drop some really great wisdom. I just realized. I’m not like that. I will teach you everything I know because I’m not scared your going take my job because I know how good I am. But I want you to be as good as me so we can work side by side so that we can all together. All of us women like be amazing and when guys are like oh women can’t do that. I’ll be like look at us over here doing everything so back off. I’ve never understood that “I’m not going to teach you what I know so you can’t take my job” Like no. I’m going to share everything I know this because I know amazing things. People should want to know and I know.
Susan: Carrie, you can just now drop the mic and walk away. That was the most thing I’ve ever heard.
Carrie: Nice! Yay! Well, mic dropped.
Susan: Awesome. Well listen dude. I appreciate this. Thank you so much for coming on today and talking with me. This has been awesome and I love catching up with you and using it as a work excuse.
Carrie: Well you know I remember. It’s nice to talk about what I do and shine a light on it cause a lot of people just think we’re making guilty pleasure TV. And well, for some people we are, but for me it’s so much more than that. So it’s nice to be able to share that and get the word out and give people more of an understanding.
Susan: Well very cool my friend. I appreciate it.
Carrie: Well thank you very much. And hey, I’ll be back in town in a few weeks if you wanna grab a drink.
Susan: Always my friend. Always. I don’t get to travel as much as you do.
Carrie: Well, you can live vicariously through my photos.
Susan: Oh yes! Fo Sho!
Susan: Hey Y’all! Thanks so much for joining me today. That was such a fun conversation with Carrie. If you head on over to howshegothere.com you will be able to find the full transcript of this episode. The transcript page is a great resource because it is not only the interview written out in its entirety. It has links to some of the things we discussed as well as fun pictures of my guests. Y’all this podcast is truly one of my favorite things to do and bring to you. So thank you for listening and for sharing it with your friends. You can also follow How She Got Here on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And if you haven’t yet you can go on over to Apple Podcasts and subscribe. I’d also really appreciate it if you would rate and review it. Thanks again friends. I’ll see ya soon!

Giving every girl access to “marvelous,” with Shanterra McBride

Susan interviews the founder of Marvelous University, Shanterra McBride. Shanterra and Susan talk about everything from the importance of believing in yourself and having purpose partners to trash can choices at Home Depot.  They talk about what makes young women and girls marvelous, and what that means when it comes to being the kind of friend you want to be, loving your body or having sex for the first time.

 

Transcript:

Susan: I’m so excited to share today’s episode with you. I had the great fortune to sit down and chat with my friend Shanterra McBride who is truly a force in this world. Her laugh and her light are infectious and just good for the soul. Her company and vision Marvelous University is exactly what girls of all ages need. There are so many takeaways and so many nuggets in here. She is truly among the best of the best. So sit down with your cup of coffee or laced up your walking shoes and get ready to be inspired.

Susan: Good morning Shanterra.

Shanterra: Good morning, Susan.

Susan: This is so fun and I’m so excited. Friends Shanterra is here with me in person. We are meeting before meeting and I’m just so excited to have her here and share her story. Shanterra and I have not known each other very long but when you meet Shanterra she’s a person who just has a light about her. And she started something amazing. And when I heard it it was before this podcast ever started. And I said I’m going to be your friend. I need to know everything about you. And whatever you are doing is fantastic. And it turns out it was marvelous and it’s Marvelous University. So here’s Shanterra. I want to hear your story. Tell us about yourself.

Shanterra: Here’s a story version. Born and raised in Dallas left Dallas. Born and raised in Dallas went to SMU graduated from SMU and then lived here a year and then left and moved to D.C. worked at work. I was a volunteer in service to America. So I was with AmeriCorps worked at a high school in D.C. had no idea what I was doing. And I was there to get the community involved in the school and the school involved with the community did it for a year. It changed my life and then decided to stay in D.C. and what I thought would be one year ended up being 13.

Susan: Wow.

Shanterra: And was all in the nonprofit world. Met different people did different things and then got a call I was speaking around the country got a call to be an assistant principal at a school in northern California. So you know why not, I’d never done that. So I packed up my stuff and moved to California. Did that for about four years and then felt this calling to move back to Dallas. So I left California and came back home and I’ve been back for three years.

Susan: What did you do when you got back? Did you take a teaching job here?

Shanterra: I did not. I did not. I felt I didn’t feel like I was supposed to go back into a school. In one school in the traditional way. So I hired a business coach and I was really wanting to understand what this thing inside of me what it was I knew it was with young people I had always been attracted to being an advocate for young people I’ve never looked at young people as our future. And people used to, always you know like Whitney Houston, had her song, I believe, and I was like nah. Something about that didn’t sit well with me. And I always viewed young people as the now. And I felt like even when I got back to Dallas. I was like, not one school but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. So I hired a business coach. And from that Marvelous University was born. Isn’t that crazy?

Susan: Yes. That is wild. So what did your business coach. What was his or her role in that process? Was it a discovery like what made you go I think I need a business coach?

Shanterra: Well first of all I knew, I knew I loved working with young people. I knew I especially loved working with girls and young women from middle school and high school to college age women. I knew that I knew I also didn’t want to be in a traditional set up like I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher in one school one. I didn’t feel like I had mastered any subject well enough that I could teach. But I also didn’t want the box. Right? So I just kept thinking I need somebody to help work this stuff out that’s in my head. Because also when it comes to working with young people people tell you oh go start a nonprofit. And I didn’t want to do that either. I worked in nonprofit for years and I didn’t feel… and I’m big on feeling. Like, if it doesn’t feel right. I pay attention to my intuition.

Susan: Yeah. Women have that.

Shanterra: Listen. And and I pay attention. And so I didn’t feel like. One I didn’t feel that the world needed another nonprofit. No shade to any nonprofits. I just knew, for me, that wasn’t the lane. So a friend of mine in D.C. a roommate called and said hey I saw tis speaker you need to go to her seminar. I was like what? Okay, fine. Because my friends know me. So her name is Marshawn Evans Daniels. And I went to see her in Atlanta and I thought I’m just gonna hear her speak and then leave. Listen. After the seminar I was like I need a coach. I need her to help me work this thing out within me. And I signed up for her coaching from there. Like I truly went to Atlanta just for this seminar. I had no intentions of then having her be a part of the next year of my life. She helped me one. Be confident in the calling that was. She also listened to me which is where Marvelous University came from because I really always said young people were born to be marvelous. That was my. I kept saying it every time I had a conversation with people. I was like, well you know they’re marvelous they’re developing and they’re marvelous. And people used always say, Marvelous? And I would say, absolutely. Because I saw a scripture once that said thank you for making me so wonderfully complex your workmanship is marvelous.

Susan: I love that.

Shanterra: That sold me. One I believed for myself.

Susan: Well, yeah. Buy into that immediately.

Shanterra: Listen. And then I was like, huh. If young people, if girls and young women could believe that they were born to be marvelous that affects everything. When I said this to Marshawn she’s like your business is Marvelous University. I said, no it is not. I did. I said, I’m not starting a school. I’m not trying to start a college and I didn’t want that. You know there are a lot of businesses quote unquote that have this for profit school thing, right? I didn’t want that. And she said to me she said. So is it just going to be you for the rest of your life are you going to be the only person who will ever only do the work you do. And I said, I hope not. She said, are you building an empire or not? Are you building something that other people would want to come alongside you and work this thing with you or not? Are you building something that could be in different parts of the world or not? And I was like, huh.

Susan: My eyes are like, wide open.

Shanterra: Changed everything for me.

Susan: Yeah. What a different perspective.

Shanterra: So that that is what she helped me to see and helped me do.

Susan: So that is the start of Marvelous University. Tell me how you birthed this baby. Because it is like I am learning it is this is like birthing a child starting something from scratch.

Shanterra: You know that from experience, I don’t.

Susan: You are a great aunt.

Shanterra: I’m a godmother, right? I tell people all the time. I honestly it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And the hard part is, well it wasn’t hard you know getting the paperwork done right. Right. It wasn’t hard once I believed in the name. Not hard. Wasn’t hard to even get the web domain right. Easy right. The hard part is the every day believing in it. The hardest. Every single day I have to decide whether or not I’m going to be committed to the vision that is inside me. And that is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Susan: What is vision?

Shanterra: The vision is to make sure that every girl and young woman knows that she was born to be marvelous. That is the vision. It is not every young girl or woman in Dallas. It’s not even every girl or young woman in Texas. Like it is not even in the United States. I see this in different parts of the world like when I close my eyes and I think about it. I want girls in Morocco, which is where I’m going this summer and I can’t believe it. You know in Morocco, in Kenya, in Syria, In Libya. Like every girl in Beijing. I truly believe that when every girl knows this and believes it. Cause belief changes your action. Right?

Susan: Yes ma’am.

Shanterra: So my vision is that every girl should be. They need to be told. But to do that every day. To wake up and decide like OK you still believe in this because it is hard. It’s hard, when you are trying to get to every girl. It is hard when you are a speaker and an author and you want to partner with parents to help them raise their girls. It is difficult for people to invest in young people. That’s hard. So battling those bricks. Battling those walls every day. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Hands down. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I have worked for people. So that’s what’s crazy. Like, you go to work everyday and you help other people build their dreams. Every single day. Right. Every single day. But for your own dream, your own vision. That is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m still doing it.

Susan: Yes you are.

Shanterra: But, it’s tough. It’s tough. You um, it’s tough because you have to be self-motivated. There isn’t a boss telling you what needs to be done. There isn’t someone patting you on your back because you turn something in.

Susan: I will pat you on your back. You just call me. I will do that.

Shanterra: The dances that I do.

Susan: Because we need those. We have to celebrate. I used to be so bad about that and that is one thing my coach has told me is Susan we have to celebrate. Like you have to.

Shanterra: Yeah yeah.

Susan: Otherwise you just get stuck in the…

Shanterra: Cycle. Yeah yeah yeah. And you you wonder is this making a difference? You know so it is hard I feel like I should be more encouraging, but it’s hard.

Susan: That’s reality.

Shanterra: Oh my gosh.

Susan: But you’re doing it and that’s the thing.

Shanterra: Yeah I mean I’m doing it.

Susan: You’re doing it because you feel like you’re supposed to.

Shanterra: I have to. When I really think about because I mean I think the the beautiful part about working for someone else is all the other stuff is taken care.

Susan: Oh yeah. At this point you’re the janitor and CEO.

Shanterra: I’m the everything. I’m the the the H.R. person, I’m the healthcare person, the vacation time off person. I’m all of that and you don’t really think about it until you no longer have it.

Susan: Trust me when I was writing website copy. I had to outsource some of that stuff.

Shanterra: That’s what I’m saying. Yes. So when you’re doing it and and all the pieces that it takes to stay motivated. It is really hard. And I feel bad. I feel bad. I feel guilty sometimes because I want I want somebody to just just hire me.

Susan: The overnight successes?

Shanterra: That or just a job. Can I just get a regular job?

Susan: No you can’t. Because you have to do this.

Shanterra: But that’s the guilt. That’s where, because every time I look for just a regular just something I feel so convicted. I feel so bad because either I’m not believing in the vision anymore or I’m taking the easy way out. And I always think about girls around the world. So tell us about it. Keep at it.

Susan: So tell us about, it. Tell us about Marvelous University and what are you doing. Who are these girls? I mean obviously girls around the world, but who are these fabulous women you have found?

Shanterra: This is the beautiful part. So Marvelous University. It is truly a business. A company designed to inspire young people to be more than what’s expected, more than what’s required, and more than what’s modeled. We offer life coaching and success planning for young people. But we specialize in leadership development for girls and young women. So all of that means when I say more than what’s expected more than what’s required more than what’s modeled. We put so much we have so many unspoken expectations on girls and they’re unspoken until they don’t meet those expectations that we’re thinking about them and when they don’t meet them we are quick to criticize we are quick to judge. We’re quick to correct. But not with love. When I say more than was required we often put limits. It’s weird we have expectations but then we put limits on what girls can do. We don’t expect.

Susan: Yes. I mean I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Shanterra: But we put limits on that. So it’s like wait. So either you have expectations of the thing you don’t require them to either follow through or we come up with these excuses. More than what’s modeled. I often think about we lack. I don’t want to say role models in our communities but we. I think we, say for example what’s happening in our in our country right now with the with young people truly spearheading a movement. Gun rights. Just advocating for themselves right. If y’all adults won’t do it. We’ll do it. I often think about how young people leave everything. They are the ones who will take those risks that adults. Oh I don’t want to do that because there are sacrifices, right? Adults are like I don’t want to lose my job. I don’t want to lose where I live. Things like that. Young people really feel like they have nothing to lose.

Susan: They’re naive.

Shanterra: Right? Or, they just feel like so?!

Susan: Right. They have their whole lives so it doesn’t matter.

Shanterra: And so when I say you know I’m watching them and I’m like more than what’s modeled I don’t want them to feel limited. So when I think about girls and I heard years ago that especially in underserved communities underserved countries when you educate a girl you educate the entire village.

Susan: Oh absolutely.

Shanterra: Right? Because we’re going to share. We’re going to share the information that we receive. We’re also the child bearer. So everything that happens to a girl to a young woman that affects everyone and so the marvelous girl is every girl. It is she is not. It is not about race. It is not about socioeconomics. It is not about region. It’s the every girl. But I also believe that every girl isn’t getting the same information. So when I say girls were born to be marvelous this is not you are marvelous if you live in a certain community or if your parents have certain income or if you drive a certain car. This is you are marvelous because of who you are, period! And I believe every single girl needs to hear it. Now some people will put it in well because you’re a black woman. You need to be telling this to black girls and you know. And I’m like yeah I do. And I need to tell girls who don’t because we don’t we don’t hear that we hear go to school get an education and yeah our communities. Yeah certain girls get better education all that kind of stuff but I’m talking about basic you were born to be marvelous so that to me that is every single that’s every single girl. No limits. And that’s why that’s why when I close my eyes and I see the world I see every single girl.

Susan: That is, that just makes me want to cry. I love every word of your vision. I love every word of your organization. And friends, Shanterra hasn’t just started this university this Marvelous University this organization. She also wrote a book. And I picked it up cause Shanterra is my friend. I knew it was written for young girls. And I thought it was great. It wasn’t long it was an easy read and I thought well this will be great I’ll tell my friend I read her book I bought her book and I’m supporting my friend and Shanterra, I read your book and it’s not just for girls it’s for women. And I need to know why you didn’t write this book, ya know, 20 years ago. Because I needed this then.

Shanterra: Oh me too.

Susan: And hearing this now. I mean I feel like as women there’s a lot of history behind you know feminism and that movement and all of that. I’m hoping I pray that we are getting to a point where we’re coming together as women.

Shanterra: I mean, Yes. You said you are hoping and praying. So I’m joining you with that hope and prayer.

Susan: Because what your book says just… I heard growing up… I grew up in South Carolina and I didn’t hear a lot of these messages. In fact I heard the opposite messages until I found myself at a women’s college where women are in the top leadership roles there is no 50/50 there’s no 80 20 it’s 100 percent women. All day long.

Shanterra: So women have to lead. Yes.

Susan: Women have to lead. So you’re you’re in the top. So when I read your book I was I needed this 20 years ago. I can use this now and it just it astounds me. So tell us about your book and how that came to be.

Shanterra: So I wrote a book called Love Your Jiggle: The Girl’s Guide to Being Marvelous. And I wrote it to truly inspire girls. It’s basically five rules to help every girl be marvelous. So and let me just say this so jiggle is how I talk about self how I talk about body. It’s not just the thing that moves.

Susan: Although it does that too.

Shanterra: Yes there are things on my body just. No control of my own just moves. But it was really and I thought it was a fun word that girls could like giggle when they hear it but but also disarm girls and so when I say the girls guide to being marvelous. It’s describe what you want in a friendship and be that kind of friend. And so when I think about girls in middle school and high school and first year of college and then when they graduate college and then first year at work like friendship. So big deal you know it is a fabric, a foundation it is women in friendships is so important. So when we talk about what do you want in a friendship. And then how do you also how do you show up in friendship. So describe what you want in a friendship and be that kind of friend. Love your jiggle. So loving your body. Being kind to your body. Not criticizing your body not allowing other people to criticize your body. I talk about my family in the book a lot because I come from a large family a large family that is very opinionated and we are the ones that you know there is no lack of conversations around our bodies. I just remember being a, being young going shopping and going in the dressing with my mom and her ability to pull and tug and comment and you know and there’s a certain age especially middle school where your body is changing without your consent. Right? So how do we speak to that and what, based on the images and the messages that society gives us. What are we saying to our bodies? You know. So really wanting girls to love their bodies. Another rule is to decide when you want to have sex and stick to it. Yeah and that scares parents because parents first of all never want their daughters to have sex. Ever. Even at 35.

Susan: You didn’t have. It was a miracle.

Shanterra: Yes!

Susan: There was a stork involved.

Shanterra: Jesus Jr. Listen there is no, so but asking girls to decide when. For the majority of girls if you ask them when they want to have sex. It is not like tomorrow they won’t say next week. If you give them permission to first of all think about it, cause we don’t allow girls to think about it. Boys get to think about it and it’s expected that boys are thinking about sex. We do not expect girls to think about sex. We don’t give them permission to think about sex. So in this book I’m asking girls to decide when they want to have sex. Stick to it. Where do you want to be. What do you want to be changing out of. Do you have to love them. Do you have to like the person. If the answer is yes how would you know especially with love how would you know that your in love. So basically asking girls to think. Write it down and then stick to it because the majority of their answers. I would like to be married. That’s the majority. If you give girls the chance to think about it first to think about where they want to be. Most of them will say somewhere nice somewhere beautiful. I always give it the thought of you know being in the penthouse suite in the Ritz Carlton overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Susan: That sounds pretty amazing.

Shanterra: You can’t get there if you’re 16 though. But when you think. Where do you want to be. Do you want to be in a car? Do you want to be in the gym at school? Do you want to be in your school uniform? But asking girls to think. Giving them permission to think so they can decide for themselves. So if they are in a situation like wait I don’t want to be here. They get permission to speak for themselves. I didn’t want to be here. Now, for parents I try to get them to understand. That may not mean that she will wait till she is 32 to have this experience. But it does mean that she gets to think for herself. And isn’t that what we want is women and girls to think for are ourselves.

Susan: And the women’s health aspect that plays into that. I mean hello.

Shanterra: Seriously!

Susan: That’s one of the biggest things is just women’s health and it goes back to that body thing. Taking care of your body. It all plays into that.

Shanterra: But women’s health its mind, body and soul. It’s being able to make my own decision. And being confident in that and not asking someone else like will you still talk to me if I say no and don’t want to be here in this car having sex. And if the joker is like no I won’t talk to you. Then he’s not worthy of you anyway. But giving girls the permission to think is really important. It’s really really important. So decide when you want to have sex and stick to it. Learning how to save serve and give and not just when it comes to finances but when it comes to serving our community. Giving my full attention to the people I’m sitting with at the table learning how to be present. And then finally risk saying I don’t know because I find so many times girls and young women will give an answer and not even really be sure about it but they’re afraid to say I don’t know or I need to find more information about that, or you know that’s interesting that’s something new I’ve never heard before. I would love to learn more. So that’s what, Love Your Jiggle: The Girls Guide to Being Marvelous is about.

Susan: That is phenomenal. And I’m telling you we will have a link up on the website to this book. You need to order it. And you need to order more than one copy because there is a friend you need to give it to. Every woman out there needs to read this book.

Shanterra: I loved writing it. It was one of those things where I felt like, and thank you for saying that. I mean it’s one of those, it was, that was my baby and it was something that I thought about years ago and wanting girls to have just a little guide. Just something that they could put in their bag or put in, you know, just something, a crossover they could put it in and take it with them ask questions to themselves ask their friends questions. I saw girls having a discussion about it and just like what do you think. OK so where do you want to be or when you say you know love your jiggle like what are the things you’re saying to your body? Things like that where girls would have conversations. So it’s encouraging to hear that you know that you see it more than just middle school or high school girls. That was, that was part of my vision.

Susan: Yes. So a few minutes ago we were talking about times where you lack self-confidence and you just wanted to throw your hands up. How do you get back to that place where. How do you motivate yourself and get yourself back to the place where this is who I am and this is what I am supposed to be doing. What does that self-confidence look like? What does that motivation look like?

Shanterra: I have amazing purpose partners. I have purpose partners. I have two people who I mean whether it’s a text or a phone call that I am so extremely vulnerable and transparent with. And you need that. And when I say vulnerable I am like butt naked just like this is what I’m feeling and not afraid to share. I don’t feel qualified to do this. I don’t feel like I should still be doing it. I’m very very very transparent with them and so when I’m lacking self-confidence which is probably every other day I reach out and I share and I don’t and I even share you know whether I need a cheer like rah rah rah or a ask me the hard questions but they really help me to keep going. And you know and truly remember that this is a brick by brick process. Like it is an every day decision. You know it’s just like a marriage it’s like every day you decided to be in this marriage. It is not based on circumstances. It is not based on the weather. It is not based on whether or not you got flowers or you know someone put the seat down or what. It’s not based on that stuff. It is an every day decision that you’re going to be in it. And that is what I have to realize. That’s just the same way in having this. It is an everyday decision. And when I’m struggling with that decision I reach out to my purpose partners and that vulnerability to reach out is very hard but I trust them to see the vulnerability. I trust them to see the lack of self-confidence. And then when they build me up I’m not embarrassed when we get off the phone. I am not ashamed. Right?! Because I think sometimes when you when you have to be vulnerable. This world has a way of making you feel ashamed and guilty for your needing support. And I trust them completely that when I get off (the phone). That was good. I’m glad they were there. And I get to go back to building. But I need that and I really rely on them and then I mean I’m a I’m a post it person. So there are post its around my office space and there are post its in my bathroom. There are post its on mirrors in my space that remind me to keep going. Whether it’s, I have a post it that says 20k by 2020. I plan on reaching 20,000 girls by the year 2020.

Susan: Love it.

Shanterra: There’s a post it in my bathroom that says I am marvelous and I say it out loud. There is a post it in my office that also says keep going brick by brick. You got this. Don’t stop. And I think some people would say gosh does it really take all that? Do you really need that much encouragement? And I’m like, uh-huh. I do.

Susan: We all do. If we’re realistic.

Shanterra: Right. But we get embarrassed. I think we feel like if we need it then something is wrong. And for me, I’m like, we were made to be relationship with people and we need to encourage other people. I know I’m an encourager. At least I hope I am. I need it. And that that’s truly what I mean, the self-confidence is hard. But I reach out to them. I’m like remind me why did this again. What did I say about the vision? Tell me again. What did I say? Cause I got another no today or I didn’t get a callback today or I sent out all this information and not one school called me back. I did this or I did that. And their like yep. Keep going or let’s go another route or, you know. So that that’s how I get through. My purpose partners. I’m so thankful. So thankful.

Susan: And I think your purpose partners are a fantastic idea. I never thought about that language and I love that language because when you see people especially today we have the world of social media and we have these overnight success stories. Because you know they started this yesterday and they woke up today and were billionaires. Cause that’s how it really happens.

Shanterra: They don’t tell you the steps.

Susan: You don’t see the steps behind the scenes and that’s one that’s one thing I want to highlight with this podcast is I know there are women out there who have things or have dreams or have a vision and if it didn’t happen yesterday or if it’s not happening fast enough. There is a lack of confidence there or a lack of drive or I can’t do this on my own. And I want you to know you don’t have to. You don’t have to do this on your. No one is doing this on their own. For heaven’s sakes Oprah has a team of a lot of people behind her at this point.

Shanterra: Absolutely

Susan: It is not her doing this. I am not running this by myself.

Shanterra: And when she didn’t have a team she had Stedman and Gayle.

Susan: Yes. I mean, hello. From the beginning.

Shanterra: I think the hard part I think for women is that we if you look at…cause “comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

Susan: Yes it is. That has come up on other podcasts of mine.

Shanterra: Because it is we look at other women and we think oh my goodness they have it all. She was able to do that in a quick you know a quick overnight turnaround thing. And we don’t share all the hurdles we don’t share it all. So when I say my purpose partners these are people that I went to and they both laughed at me because like well don’t I do that already? And I’m like, yes but I’m making it official.

Susan: This is your role.

Shanterra: This is your role and I’m telling you this because you are the person who knows it all. And I’m trusting you to walk with me with this vision. So it was intentional. Right. And I think that as women as we’re building, as we’re sharing we need people that we say this is this is the thing that I’m going to go after are you willing to join me as a purpose partner. Joining me and going after it. I’ll do the work but I need you to join with me whether it’s praying for me whether it’s giving me a cheerleader you know rah rah rah whether that’s bringing me some coffee whether that’s spotting me a dollar like what. But being that person to remind me that I’m not by myself. We need to we have there’s no way out there’s no way. There’s no way I could do it. There’s no way.

Susan: You have to have somebody.

Shanterra: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Susan: Well I want to pivot just a little bit and I want to talk about putting it down. It is hard to do. We all at some point have to put it down at least for half second and take care of our own bodies and our own selves.

Shanterra: Yes. Yes.

Susan: So how and when ever do you make time to do that?

Shanterra: You know as you say that I’m thinking. But but but one thing I do is I I go OK. So I love there’s a trail at the Katy Trail here in Dallas and where I currently live I basically walk out my door. Take a few steps. And I’m I’m at the Katy Trail. And I love the Katy Trail. One, I love moving and so I get out there. I listen to a podcast right and so I get out there and I move. And I started this thing because I was sitting a lot when you when you are starting a business there’s a lot of sitting. And I realized I was sitting and eating and drinking. And that was not good. It was not a good combination. So in loving my jiggle, I decided I needed to move my jiggle and so I just started walking and then I realized just how that changed my mindset. And I was listening to people who had either started businesses or I would listen to Oprah’s podcast and listen to these folks who were just like in such a space where I was like huh, I can do this. Now some people say well that’s that’s not self care because your brain is still going, but for me it was moving my body. It was listening to other people. So being encouraged. So then when I went back I could have a just a different mindset. So for me that’s self care. Getting out. Absolutely. And walking. And then I’m a night owl I tend to work pretty late because my brain seems to like you know night. And so I’m pretty great at getting up when I’m rested. Then if I go to bed really late I don’t then try to get up and be you know functioning at 8 o’clock in the morning because no one wants that person. Trust me when I say no one wants that person. So I sleep well, I rest well, I’m very very intentional about my space. And so there isn’t. I don’t have a television in my room. I don’t do. There are certain things that make sure that I that I take care of me. So I move, cause marvelous girls move. I move my body. I listen to encouraging podcasts. I go to sleep when I’m sleepy and I wake up when I’m rested. And I believe in naps. I just I feel like that, that is how I care for me and I drink a lot of water.

Susan: That’s a good one. Everybody should drink more water.

Shanterra: I drink a lot of water. I have to realize it’s it’s an energizer in itself. And I guess that’s what I do. I move, I drink water, I sleep.

Susan: Well, I’m going to ask one more question as we close. And that is I said a little bit about earlier but I know there’s a woman out there who is has something on her brain that’s in her heart it’s in her soul. I remember when I started this podcast I could feel it. But I didn’t know I didn’t have that next action step. If you could leave the woman on the other end of this podcast with an action step because I love that conversation. It was fantastic. It was motivating it was inspiring. But until you take that step. It’s just talk. So what’s an action step. You would leave with a woman looking to do something new.

Shanterra: My action step would be, well there are several. First of all believe in yourself and you don’t need a crowd of people cheering you on saying you go do that. Believe in yourself. Get you one or two purpose partners who will believe with you and do it. It is that simple. And please please don’t compare yourself to other people who you think are already doing it. A friend of mine said the other day. You know you try to think well is this something I’m supposed to do? Cause isn’t someone already. And I’m always thinking well if you weren’t supposed to do then the vision wouldn’t have been given to you if you weren’t supposed to do it then you could let it go because there are women out there you have something that you’ve been thinking about doing for a very long time. And you can’t shake it. And matter of fact you’ve done other stuff because you think oh somebody else is going to do that or they’re doing that already and you can’t sleep you can’t it won’t get off of you. So just do it. When I am when I go into Home Depot. Seriously, when I go into Home Depot and there are trash cans, right? Because everybody always need a new trashcan. You go into Home Depot and there are about 15 different types of trash cans that you can buy. And I think wow what if the person who created the first trash can. If that was the only trash can. Then I look at all the other trash cans and I think my gosh if all those people thought who needs another trash can. We wouldn’t have 15 different trash can options and people labor in the aisles of trash cans at Home Depot. Cause you wonder well do I need that one, or do I want a step 1, or do I want one where I just wave my hand. My point is this. We have no shortage. No shortage of trash cans that you can buy. But if that person who decided to make the second kind of trash can, if that person decided well we already have a trash can I’m not going to do anything cause someone already did it then you wouldn’t have options. Do the thing. Just do the thing. Give the world options. Give the world options. Believe in yourself, get you a couple of purpose partners and then go out there and do it. Get you a website. Just buy the even the name. Just buy the name. You don’t even have to put anything up there just by the name and have it. So when you’re ready to put stuff up there you’re thinking about it because you’ve already seen a lack. You know what I mean? You already seen a lack. So go ahead and give the world option. Those are my steps. Believe, get you some purpose partners, buy the website name and get to doing it. And that’s that’s really it. Give the world options.

Susan: I have nothing to add. Now ladies, go do your own trash can.

Shanterra: I’m telling you I was standing in the isle and I looked around. Oh my goodness. This is trash cans. No shade to the trash can. But there are options for trash cans. And people are struggling to figure out which trash can do I need. And if that first person who created the trash can. If no one else thought of it it wouldn’t have been done. So for me it was about going and looking at all those different options and saying how dare I think that I do not deserve to give the world options on how we talk to girls and young women. How dare I?

Susan: Alright! That’s all I got. Bye!

Susan: I mean it doesn’t get much better than that does it. Thanks so much for joining me today. I really hope you left with as much from our chat as I did. You can find out more about Marvelous University and Shanterra over on her website, marvelousuniversity.com where you can also purchase her book. Love Your Jiggle: A Girls Guide to Being Marvelous. On Facebook, you can find her at Marvelous University by Shanterra McBride and on Twitter @shanterramcbride. If you liked this episode, I know you’ll be excited about our future guests. So go on over to iTunes or our website and hit subscribe. I would love it if you would also leave a review as I’m excited to hear what you think. Thanks again friends, I’ll see ya soon.

Balance doesn’t exist, but you can still be a business owner and a mom, with photographer Rae Barnes

Susan talks with Rae Barnes, owner of Rae Barnes Photography.  Rae is not only a professional photographer, but she is also a mother of four.  Rae shares that she wanted to be both a mom and a business owner and they discuss how she does her best to balance both.  

Transcript:

Susan Long:        Friends, today I’m talking with Rae Barnes, owner of Rae Barnes, photography. Rae and I met in college and for as long as I’ve known her, she’s been an incredibly talented artist. We talk about everything from owning your own business, being a mom, balance and boundaries. I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to talk with her and I hope our conversation gives you the same boost that it gave me. Here’s Rae.

Susan Long:        Good morning, Rae. How are you?

Rae Barnes:        I’m doing well. How are you, Susan?

Susan Long:        I am great and I am so excited to have you here with us today.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, I’m excited to be here too.

Susan Long:        Friends Rae and I met in college. I was very thankful and very lucky that she transferred schools and she transferred to my school. She is a photographer and I think in a little bit of an unusual way. She has been a photographer since the beginning of her career, meaning unlike a lot of us who have transferred our skills around and found other things. Rae started out here, so friends, I’m just going to let Rae kind of take it from here and I’m going to let you run with it Rae. Tell us how you got started, how you knew that’s what you wanted to do. If you knew that’s what you wanted to do. Just let’s start at the beginning.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah. So my journey is rather interesting. So when I was at Converse College with you, um, I really thought that I was going to either go into advertising or teach photography on the college level because both of those things were practical and I like to think of myself as a practical person. So I graduated and started pursuing advertising. Interning with the firm. And not long into it I got a call from the dean of the art department, at Converse College saying someone was looking for a student to photograph their wedding. And of course I always loved photography and I had studied it and pursued it, but wedding photography was always seen as the bottom of the barrel for artists at least at that time. But you know, being a recent graduate, I thought, what the heck, I’ll make a little extra money. So I photographed my first wedding straight out of college and I loved it. It took me about a year and a half to go full time. So I did have a couple different jobs in there. I also got engaged and married and moved to two different states in that year and a half before I went full time. But um, yeah, it was kind of wild road that has taken a lot of turns, but I can say that I have been a professional photographer since I graduated college.

Susan Long:        I did not realize that wedding photography was seen as the bottom of the barrel and we don’t have to go down that rabbit trail, but I find that fascinating considering how much wedding photographers charge.

Rae Barnes:        Well, so it’s not seen that way anymore. At all. In fact, I was talking with someone yesterday and they assume that if you are making your living as a photographer then you must be doing weddings and I do not do weddings anymore. Uh, I did that for eight years and I’ve been done for five. So.

Susan Long:        So talk a little bit about that. How did that transition happen and what took you down this same career? Kind of, but a little bit of a twist.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah.  So several things happened. So I was very passionate about wedding photography. I loved it when I first started my career when my husband and I had just gotten married. We were in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and it was a destination wedding market. The locals couldn’t necessarily afford photography, but all of the people coming in that were having their weddings there were spending a lot of money and they could afford photography. So that was my market and it was great. It was really great for that stage in my life, um, for being a newlywed. I was very passionate about it. And then in 2009 I had a baby.

Rae Barnes:        My last year before I became a mother was a crazy year. I probably worked 50 hours most weeks, sometimes closer to 60, I had someone on staff, I had a studio space, it was a six figure business it was crazy. It was really intense.

Susan Long:        You were living the dream

Rae Barnes:        Sort of. Accept I was exhausted. So then I had a baby and I was not prepared for how much that changed me and my life and my outlook on how I spent my time and working even 40 hours was no longer an option. So I cut back dramatically, and then my husband got a job in Philadelphia, so we moved in 2010 from that tiny little market where I was big fish in a little pond. Had the corner of the market was booking out a year and a half in advance to this huge city where there were tons of photographers. So, so, you know, to make a long story short, it took me about two years and two more pregnancies to decide that I could no longer do weddings  and part of it was just because of the market. It was very different client in the city than it was in the mountains, obviously and part of it was just our life.  I didn’t want to be on my feet for 10 to 12 hours so it was just a natural progression to move towards family photography and so that is a hundred percent of my income comes from family portraits. So you know, it was quite a rollercoaster making that adjustment. 2013 was a really slow year as I transitioned away from weddings into families but that was when our third child was born and I needed to be slow. So it worked out kind of a roller coaster and it worked out. I back up to a six figure business, but I only work 24 hours a week. So that’s amazing.

Susan Long:        Yes, it is. Holy Cow. And you’re not exhausted. Well, maybe you are now because you have four children.

Rae Barnes:        Now I have 4 children. No, but it’s a much healthier balance for me. It’s much healthier being balanced, having family time and it was time.

Susan Long:        and I love that you have found a way to do that and also have not only a successful business but I would imagine have something for yourself that’s outside, ya know, the “Momming”  thing.  Which I love “Momming” too, but I love having something outside myself outside of all of that just kind of for me. And it helps when you can make a little money doing it.

Rae Barnes:        Absolutely. Yeah, so even the years when I was pregnant and nursing and doing all of those Mom things, I never let my business go and part of that I think just is rooted from me being stubborn, but part of it is also because I have some very loyal clients and I just could not imagine letting them go and I also couldn’t imagine not having that outlet, not having that creative outlet. There are some amazing photographers out there that when they become moms seem to start focusing on photographing their own children and I just don’t find the same contentment there that I do in running a business. I want to run a business and I’ve always enjoyed that, so it’s always been a good thing for me even it was very part time.

Susan Long:        Well talk a little bit about that. Talk to us. Obviously you’re very passionate about your business and being a mother. How do you, I guess, how do you make that work?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, so I think it’s taken me a long time to figure it out. My oldest daughter is 9 now and I feel like I’m finally getting to the point where I have a really great balance, so it’s taken me quite a bit of time, but honestly it just comes down to boundaries. I have an office in my home and I close the door when I’m in here, and even if I have a nanny here that’s watching the kids in the summer, that door’s closed sometimes its locked if I’m on the phone. I have very clear boundaries of this is work time and then this is family time. Um, I don’t check my emails. I don’t usually make phone calls. I, I very rarely make exceptions for certain appointments outside of those hours. Now I do all of my sessions on the weekend typically, but I’m never away from my family for more than three hours. Um, and so I think that that has really been the key to keeping us all kind of happy is having those boundaries.

Susan Long:        Absolutely. And something, I’ll interject something here just a little bit because I know there’s a woman out there saying, well I have nowhere in my house. I don’t have a spare room for an office. Friends in launching this podcast. My family is also building a house, so we’ve got a lot going on and we’re currently in a rental home that has no extra bedrooms. We are using them all and so I have taken a very small closet. It’s actually a closet in our house and I have a very, very small desk and a little like wall shelf and a few things set up on those. So if you really want to find an office, you can make one in your home.

Rae Barnes:        So for 5 years I worked off of a laptop. I did not have an office because where my current office is used to be the nursery.  So I had a laptop and I would either hide in the basement, which is very dark and cold. Um, or I would go to Starbucks or the library or anywhere where I can find quiet. I, yeah, you just do what you have to do you. And I worked, you know, slower years. I worked during nap times, I worked after the kids went to bed. I didn’t have as clear cut bundaries as I do now because I was first and foremost mom during the daylight hours.

Susan Long:        Sure.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah. That was challenging. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world, but I also wouldn’t go back to that time for the world. It was hard.  Yeah. You just kind of, just make due with what you have, that’s for sure.

Susan Long:        So clearly you have set yourself up for success. You’ve done it over the years, but how do you define that for yourself?

Rae Barnes:        So, um, success for me is a really interesting thing to think about, because I don’t view success as a destination rather a journey. I really, I personally feel my success is a balance of contentment and discomfort. So the contentment is contentment with all the accomplishments I’ve had, all the wins that I’ve had, seeing how far I’ve come, but no comfort in staying there. I don’t find comfort in staying there. Um, success is something I hope that I never just sit here and think, OK, I’ve made it. I’m successful now. I can just coast because I think that’s really dangerous place to be. I think complacency is a very dangerous spot to be, especially as a business owner, a small business owner, entrepreneur, anything you’re in, especially creative fields. Things are constantly changing. So there’s no time to coast.

Susan Long:        Sure.

Rae Barnes:        So its just a delicate balance to me of being content with what I’ve done, but not content enough to stay there.

Susan Long:        Well, in that same vein then, how do you motivate yourself and how are you, I guess your best cheerleader? Like how do you, what is it that keeps you going?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, so I think it just comes down to my why, Why? If I’m ever feeling like I’m lacking motivation, I have to look at why that either the two levels of why, why am I lacking motivation? Um, is it because I’m doing a task that needs to be eliminated or delegated or renovated. Is it some task that would be better outsourced?

Susan Long:        Yeah.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, I’m really big on outsourcing. I couldn’t do it in 24 hours a week. Um, I couldn’t do it all, but I have a team of people that I outsource certain things to. But there are certain tasks that just don’t need to be done. And then there are certain tasks that you kind of have to power through it, you know, you do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do and you just kind of push through those things and you know, then the other level is the why is why am I doing this, you know, thinking about I only want to work a 24 hour week right now because my youngest is two and my next youngest is about to go to kindergarten and I want time with them.

Susan Long:        Absolutely.

Rae Barnes:        You know, even if it’s just two days a week I take off and I want to be there to take my kids to school and pick them up. Um, so, you know, it’s job that I love, I really love what I do. I love working with families. I love helping them create wonderful pieces for their home, but at the end of the day it is a job. It’s very fulfilling, but my family is the most important thing to me and so my time away from them needs to be spent wisely and I need to be efficient and you know, pursuing the things that are going to advance my business and make money so that I can provide for my family really, you know, those are the two things that keep me motivated,  keep me stepping forward.

Susan Long:        So you have these, do you have any fun tips or tricks or books you’ve read or blogs you’ve read or podcasts you’ve listened to that have helped develop that side of yourself to know?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, so I think, that for me, there’s no one thing that I pursue a lot of things. So I read or listened to books. I listen to a lot of podcasts. I am part of a photographer’s mastermind group that is full of education. I’m full of different business organizations and so I pursue education constantly and I think that that helps keep me going. All of those pieces of never stop, never stop learning, never stop listening because even if I’m listening to a podcast with somebody who, you know, it’s in a completely different industry from me, I still can learn so much about how to better my business through other people. So I can’t say that there’s one thing. You know, one of my favorite books I’ve read recently was by, Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Susan Long:        Oh yeah.

Rae Barnes:        That was really, really a great read, especially as a creative entrepreneur because so often, you know, we have this concept of the starving artists. And he says, you need money to make art.  Which is very true. My latest camera cost me over $5,000. So if I weren’t charging appropriately for my work I wouldn’t be able to afford my equipment or my computer or I wouldn’t be able to run a business if I didn’t charge appropriately. So that was really a great great book for me. But like I said, there’s so many different sources that I just every day am being fed by somebody different usually

Susan Long:        That’s, that’s really fascinating. I love that and think, I mean, you’re not charging your clients, you know, $5,000 for one photo. So they saved a lot of money right there.

Rae Barnes:        Although I do often have clients that spend that much, but it’s not on one photo.

Susan Long:        Exactly. But they didn’t have to go out and buy the camera. Oh yes. We’ve done a few. We’ve done a few family photo sessions at this point. I am well aware of what they cost, but I’m also very excited when I get the results. So it’s worth it every time. And I know you’ve talked about doing traveling stuff in the past. I don’t know, you still, we still have not been able to get our families together for any kind of photography or just anything because I’m never on the east coast. Um, or if I am, I’m never out of the state of South Carolina, but one day, one day Rae you will photograph my family. I am bound and determined to make this happen. I love your work. I love your work. We’ve talked a lot about family, we’ve talked a lot about your work, but let’s pull back a little bit and talk about yourself because I hear you giving, giving, giving a lot to your clients, a lot to your business, a lot to your family. How do you take care of yourself? How do you put it down?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah. So, um, I can’t say that I’ve mastered this.

Susan Long:        No one has.

Rae Barnes:        But as Moms, it is something that all of us struggle with. It’s so interesting because I’m an introvert and I work alone most of the time. Every once in a while I have my assistant in the office with me that most of the time.  And often that recharges me being alone, you know, but I do have a job that can be intense and stressful. You know, running a business is not easy. And so I think for me it’s really making sure that I do get alone time. That is not stressful. Taking time to be unplugged, I really try to leave my phone at home, we go to church on Sundays, and it kinda annoys my husband, but I leave my phone at home so can’t text me an tell me where he is in the church somewhere in the church.

Rae Barnes:        But I just love to leave that behind and stop looking at whatever I was looking at,  you know, exercising, going to yoga is, is always really great for me. I love being outside, you know, every season it’s just a little bit different what I do to recharge.  It’s really easy as an introvert to live in a vaccum, but we can’t do that. Even just going out with my girlfriends or one girlfriend meeting up, going out with my husband. We try to do regular date night. Thats just so critical for us because our dinner table is so loud.

Susan Long:        I can imagine

Rae Barnes:        I mean date nights are sometimes the only time we get to talk to each other. Like, oh, what are you doing, what are you doing at work these days? But it really is so important to seek out ways to be recharged. Because you get burnt out easily, otherwise.

Susan Long:        Absolutely and I love that you brought up making time for your spouse because especially working and working late hours, getting this thing off the ground like I have been doing. We have seriously had to make an effort and having a toddler, a three and a half year old. We’ve had to make time for each other that we haven’t had to do in a long time and I don’t know that we ever had to do it like this and finding that, making that happen has been very, very, very important. So I’m glad you brought that up.

Rae Barnes:        It’s so important to be intentional with your time. I think that balancing a business with the mom life has really forced me to be intentional and efficient with my time and I don’t mean efficient when I’m with my children.  Sometimes you just need to sit there and be there.  Or playing Chutes and Ladders. Candyland. Monopoly.

Susan Long:        Yeah. We haven’t gotten to that Monopoly stage yet. I’m not looking forward to that part.

Rae Barnes:        Monopoly Junior is a good start.

Susan Long:        Oh, that’s right. There’s a junior that that would be easier. I know many of our listeners have heard you talk today. They’ve heard our conversation and they realize that they can do this. They’ve had this dream in the back of their head. Whatever that dream is, whatever that goal is and whatever about our conversation today made them think maybe. Maybe I can do that. So what action step, because we can talk all day long and talking is great, but until you take that leap, there’s no action. So what is that action step that maybe you would advise a friend to? What would be that next step that they would want, that you would suggest they take if they are looking to do something on their own outside the box? Just starting maybe from scratch?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah.  So there’s, um, I haven’t read this book yet, but I’ve heard people say this, the title of this book over and over again, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.

Susan Long:        I know exactly what you’re talking about. I haven’t read it either.

Rae Barnes:        I need to read that.  It should be my next Audible. Sometimes I just have to listen,  but um, I love that thing.  Feel the fear and do it anyway because just about every step that I take in my business that makes my business better is scary. It’s scary,  but there’s always that fear that nobody’s going to come back to mewhen I make this change. Nobody’s gunna like this. You just have to kind of push through that and do it anyway. But like I was saying before, you can’t live in a vacuum, so I firmly believe in seeking out mentors, a mentor or an accountability group, or any  kind of source you can find that’s really going to help feed you the courage to do this, but do it thoughtfully and intentionally doing research and then just take that first step, you know, you will find that community that you need to help encourage you to do it. But then just do it. Feel that fear and let it fuel you and just take that first step and you know, it’s not, it’s not a cakewalk doing something that is challenging obviously, but it’s absolutely worth it to do that, to pursue these challenging things because when you do succeed, it’s just, there’s, the payoff is so great, you know, and I wouldn’t trade where I, am right now for the world, I am just so thankful for all challenges I’ve been through. The hards times that I’be been through. There have definitely been some really hard times. Running a business. Being a mom. You know, there’s always challenges, life isn’t easy, but anything worth pursuing isn’t going to be easy. Right?

Susan Long:        No, not at all right. Well Rae, do you have anything else you want to share with us before we close today? Is there anything that I missed?

Rae Barnes:        I was thinking about one thing. If I’m speaking to anyone who is in those beginning stages of building a business or you know, becoming something new sometimes we all struggle with that confidence to take that step. And I was thinking about this and I know we mentioned, we’ve talked about this before Susan, this quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I  think culture right now. We really struggle with comparison that it is just like this virus this disease and it’s just come over all of us because we have social media that is constantly showing us how great everybody else’s life is.

Susan Long:        Yes.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah.  It’s easy to get sucked into that. And uh, I would challenge anyone to just step away from it.  Social media is, is it necessary evil. But you are looking at everybody’s highlight reel and nobody has it put together. Nobody has it perfect. Nobody’s living the dream 100% of the time. Life is messy. I just wanted to throw that out there to just, to not be in a comparison game of comparing yourself to where other people are, you know, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. There’s no such thing as someone going from zero to 100 overnight. That’s my closing thought.

Susan Long:        That is a fantastic closing thought and I really appreciate you being here today.

Rae Barnes:        Thank you.

Susan Long:        That was fantastic. Yes, absolutely. We will have to have you back at some point, but thank you again and we will talk soon.

Susan Long:        Wasn’t that fun? I have so many takeaways from this conversation. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” What a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt. I’m tucking that one away. Friends, thanks again for joining us. If you liked this episode, I know you will be excited about our future guests, so go on over to itunes or our website and hit subscribe. I would love it if you would also leave a review as I’m excited to hear what you think. Also on our website, you’ll be able to find the links to the things we mentioned in the show as well as Rae’s website, raebarnes.com and social media info on Instagram at Rae Barnes photo and on Facebook at Rae Barnes Photography. Thanks again friends, I’ll see ya soon.

 

An adoptive mother with questions became a nonprofit founder with answers, with Anna Caudill

Susan interviews the founder and executive director of Post Adoption Learning Services (PALS), Anna Caudill.  Anna shares that forming PALS was not something she wanted to do, but felt had to be done in order to help other families dealing with international adoption.  Anna and Susan discuss the importance of surrounding yourself with a talented circle and team of support and that you don’t have to do it alone.  You are not going to want to miss this episode.  

Transcript:

Susan Long:                        Friends, I’m so excited to share the conversation I had with today’s guest.  Y’all are just going to love her, not only his aunt and my cousin, she is the founder and executive director of Post Adoption Learning Services or PALS. She is a true warrior for families with internationally adopted children and specifically for those with disabilities. We talk about everything from adoption to motherhood, to starting a non-profit. She has an incredibly amazing and empowering story. So without further ado, here’s.

Susan Long:                        Hey Anna. Good morning. How are you?

Anna Caudill:                      I’m good. How are you?

Susan Long:                        I’m doing well. I am so excited to have you on our podcast this morning. Friends, this is my cousin, Anna and she is the founder of Post Adoption Learning Services and I’m just going to let you take it from here and I want to know all about it. Um, tell us a little bit about the organization and how it came, how its mission came about.

Anna Caudill:                      OK, thanks. And thank you so much, Susan, for, for asking me to be a part of this. I’m really excited about this and I think what you’re doing is incredible.

Susan Long:                        Aw thanks!

Anna Caudill:                      Post Adoption Learning Services or PALS, I put it together to support the unique learning, and behavioral needs, um, that children who have been adopted internationally have. And so we do that by providing resources and training, and sometimes even direct advocacy services for families of children who have been adopted internationally and then for the professional community that supports them, whether that’s um, special education advocates and attorneys, social workers, adoption professionals, um, church-based ministry groups that support adoption and other peripheral adoption related groups. Um, PALS kind of grew out of my family’s experience, um, with my children and public education. And I know that as hard as it was when I was going through that and as lonely as that felt, I knew I couldn’t be the only parent who was facing the challenge of helping my child learn at school. And I figured if I was going to have to fight for education for him, um, as uncomfortable as that made me. And as much as that interfered with my ability to have a career or doing anything else, that I was going to help as many people as I could along the way.

Susan Long:                        I absolutely love that. That is a hard thing to do, to give up everything. I mean obviously you were going to do any mother would give up anything in the world for their child, but to take everybody else under your wing, Anna, that’s. That’s a lot.

Anna Caudill:                      Well, it kind of like when you get up from the table and you look around and you think, gosh, does anybody else needs something else to drink? Right, and maybe there’s an overdeveloped sense of motherhood there, but it was so much work and it was such an uphill battle to decide to take the next step at each step along the way from finding an advocate when my child needed one, to finding a special education attorney to any of those steps that I thought, Gosh, how many people don’t do this just because the mountain’s too hard to climb? If I’m going to have to climb up the mountain by cracky, we’re going to go to whoever’s office and bug whoever we can.  In addition. So that nobody else has to do this.

Susan Long:                        That is just phenomenal to have the foresight to do that. I just would not have even known where to start. How did you do that? Like you knew there was an issue, you saw a problem. How did you, how did you, how did you know what next steps to take? How did you, I mean, at the end of this you had a whole non-profit created, so take us back a little bit. Like what did that, what did that look like in the formulating of all of this? Had you ever done anything like this before?

Anna Caudill:                      The funny thing is I didn’t want to start a non-profit at all. To me that felt really presumptuous. It did. I thought, Gosh, who do I think I am?  I’m not starting a non-profit. And the funny thing was I, in working from home as, as we switched our plans, realizing that we were going to need to homeschool my older son, Fu for at least a season. I was trying to look at writing for magazines or writing for a publication and everything that you see or all the advice that you hear is write about what you know, your niche area and so as an artist I was working on identifying my niche areas in teaching. And then, um, then when this happened and I had to focus on this, I realized, you know, there’s, there’s this area and I have this expertise because I’ve had to learn about special education and I’ve had to really dig into law, which I didn’t anything about in order to learn how that whole conversation works when you’re trying to, um, defend your position and defend why you’re trying to ask for basic services that the paperwork that the school gives you says your child was supposed to have. So, um, you know, I started talking on social media. I post every now and then on Facebook without naming teachers without naming the school on what we were facing. And then my sister in law was reading it and she works for a human rights organization in Russia and she and my brother started saying you really need to start a non-profit and I would laugh at them every single time.  Yeah. And it got to where Craig was telling me every day just about if I got anything from him on Facebook, it was, hey, you need to start a non-profit. How’s that coming along? I have some people you could talk to. And so I just kinda shut him down, but then I started getting all of these messages by email and through social media from parents who were in the same boat. And it wasn’t just people in Tennessee, it wasn’t just people who go to church with me or who I see at um, my younger son, YoYo’s school it was people in Oklahoma and Minnesota and Massachusetts, California, South Carolina, Missouri. People that I had never met who found me because of a friend of a friend. And they would say, oh my gosh, this is exactly what we’re going through. What are you doing and what’s working. We thought we were the only ones.

Susan Long:                        So once you started sharing your story, you realized you weren’t alone.

Anna Caudill:                      I did. And um, it was really profound in that I drew actually a lot of energy from that in a way. In terms of moving forward and the point at which I thought, oh my gosh, I really am going to have to start an NGO was when I found a piece of obscure writing that was attached to the 2004 congressional reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. The IDEA. And that’s the structure that organizes special education in public schools and that’s what creates the IEP, the Individualized Education Plan that, um, lots of parents know about, um, and how meetings and things are set up. But this piece of writing talked about special considerations for kids adopted internationally and it was the kind of thing that showed legislative intent, like when Congress crafted these special education supports here’s, some of what was in their head while they were thinking about students adopted internationally and some of the things that people had brought before them. Um, they had that in mind in some of the changes. But that population didn’t make it into it, into the statutes. Right? So none of that actually became law. It was just, hey, here’s why we wrote the law this way.  And when you saw their explanation it kinda changed everything. And so I, you know, I thought, oh my gosh, this is a really important piece of information and this makes all the difference in the world. And, and by that time I was spending about twelve hours a week answering questions from parents, cause I couldn’t not answer an email from somebody who, you know, who might say, my kid is in 10th grade, and now he is reading on a 2nd grade level, and now he started to act out aggressively because he can’t communicate, his needs aren’t being met and we don’t know what to do.

Susan Long:                        And so at that point, no, no, go ahead, sorry.

Anna Caudill:                      Yeah. Oh No, you’re good. Or I have six children and I have no idea where to start. There’s no way I can homeschool all of them.

Susan Long:                        Yeah. So at that point, was it just your personal email that you were still replying from or had the, had you kind of started the non-profit wave yet?

Anna Caudill:                      At that point I was replying from my personal email and from my personal Facebook account, and this is where my husband gets all the credit because he’s such an incredible partner. He kept saying, you know, let me know what I can do, what I’m going to, what I can do. And I couldn’t identify what he could do cause I had no idea where to start.

Susan Long:                        Sure.

Anna Caudill:                      So he said you keep working on the thing that you’re doing well and I’ll find out what I can about this. And so, um, he started making calls and he learned how to start a nonprofit in Tennessee and the steps that needed to be taken for that. And so he’d come home from work and I would be buried on the computer or I would be at a class. And so he got dinner together for the kids so I could study and once they got into bed, we’d sort of wrangle the organizational pieces of putting a non-profit together and starting PALS. And we brainstormed a list of board members and he did the asking and the reaching out to them and just spent so much time on the administrative start up needs, so that I could focus on sort of the professional development that I needed to formalize what I was already doing, what I was already spending so much time doing and what I already knew about. And um, and that allowed me to to complete special education advocacy training  at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, and with the Council for Parent Attorneys and Advocates and the specialized seminars on the behavioral needs of children from trauma backgrounds, children who are adopted domestically or internationally or who had been in foster care. Um, and because it was that sort of partnership we were able to, a year ago, get our 501C3 approval from the IRS. And back in 2015 when I first thought, oh my gosh, this is what I’m going to have to do. I can’t fight this anymore. That idea of getting non-profit status seemed like such an impossible hill to climb. It seemed like this impossible mountain. And now that it’s been a year since we got that, I feel like, oh my gosh, we really are just starting. Sometimes its good when you can’t see around the bend in the road because you’d go there is just no way! I think I had to learn to be a little bit forgiving with myself and not have everything laid out in a five year plan when I first started. I mean, I know that, you know, banks or funders or grant makers, they’ll ask you to do those things. Where do you see yourself in five years and you know, you go ahead and you give your best stab at it, but really you don’t really know.  It’s all performance theater.

Susan Long:                        Sure.  Because you don’t know what you don’t know

Anna Caudill:                      You don’t. And because of that, I didn’t anticipate really. I didn’t know how to anticipate our momentum or how that would build or, or what success might look like. And we haven’t been an overnight success because the irony is, and I think this happens, you know, as I’ve seen this, I think this happens with other non-profits too or with other projects that people launch.  The irony is that once I decided to go for it, once I decided to do the thing that I thought needed to be done and to go forward with this vision, um, that was slowly taking place. The ironic thing was that the people that I had been responding to who had been asking me for help they stop emailing me and I was, it was because I kind of disappeared from social media there for a bit communication and from those communication places because I’m so immersed in training and so immersed in research and learning everything I could and even in some policy advocacy and learning how to do that. Learning how to approach legislators and having conversations, um, you know, on the political end of things to learn about policy and where barriers to policy can affect people. Um, and I didn’t expect that and there was a season where I thought that I had killed the thing that I had dreamed of doing, you know, by actually taking the steps to do it. But part of our momentum since then has come that didn’t expect has come from what my friend and writer David Dark calls messy coalitions. And I learned that I’m learning that pitching into a project that maybe seems peripheral to the larger goal of PALS ends up building alliances and relationships that you wouldn’t expect that can really inform your work later down the road or support your work. Because when you’re talking to say somebody in the legislature about paddling in public schools and you hear their position on it and they happen to tell you, oh yeah, we have, you know, my sister was adopted from Ghana, or you know, my, my wife has a disability, or you go into the legislator’s office and you realize oh my goodness, he’s a paraplegic. Then you have a different set of conversations and you know who you can go to, you know, to ask about issues and you can say, hey, how, how, how do you imagine we could more effectively support this community? And um, and along the way, the peer organization, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) I’ve learned so much because they do training sessions and breakout sessions. But then you have people who are attorneys who have argued before the supreme court saying, here’s why special education law is written this way and here’s how we explained this and here’s what worked. And so it helps you develop a cohesive structure to be able to support the families you want to support. And so now I’m finally coming back into the place where I’m actually getting three or four calls a week from folks and I have other organizations referring people to me because now at this point on this side of it, when you’re on, um, apparently the reputation of PALS is starting to spread to other organizations and I have to add that we wouldn’t have made it if it hadn’t been for board members being invested in adoption and civil rights and finding those people was really critical. And having my husband as a partner go, hey, I’m going to carry this part that is not your strong suit. And it really, yeah, people already knew because there were a lot of women in my community and you know, when you’re a teacher, you know, students who had gone through your school before, students who are going to your school now,  you know, their families. We all have wider circles of friends than we realize. And I looked to women who had done some things that I admired. And um, people who I just felt like I learned a lot from. And so I kind of looked at those folks with fresh eyes and thought, well, you know, Gosh, this woman did this and I wonder if she’d be interested in this. I wonder if that would feel like a good place for her to step into, to form and add her voice to, to this work. And one board member was adopted from Korea and originally when I approached her I was thinking about her experience in the non-profit world and with adoption related an adoption related agency that she had worked with and her incredible media skills because that I just a weak area for me and I thought if she could just explain some things to me that would be good. And then, um, as I thought about her, as I got ready to ask her, you know, cause she was a person that I asked everyone else Shane asked, as I got ready to ask her, I thought, gosh, that would be so helpful to have the voice of an adult who had been adopted as a child internationally inform this and bring me back from my mama mission perspective because it’s not wrong to have an agenda. It’s not wrong to have this thing that you need to do, but you’ve got to have some other people from perspectives along the way that might be adversely impacted if you just come barreling through without trying to understand multiple perspectives as you go. And um, another member had helped organize a symposium on AIDS in Africa back in 2003. Um, she worked for a publishing group in Nashville and uh, she and a friend had collected some assays and then that led to this symposium on AIDS in Africa. And then that became part of the back story of Bono’s ONE Campaign back then and AIDS in Africa and the Gates getting involved and international adoption is a part of her family’s path. Another board member  works for an adoption support organization now and another works in housing equity. So there’s, there’s all those people with all that experience who were in, in my circle and they’re not folks that I was necessarily talking to every day and they’re not folks that I am talking to every day now or even running into every day. But they are those people who I knew who had those skills and those visions, that really meant a lot to me personally.

Susan Long:                        Well yeah, and I mean you had, you knew the people to reach out to and you surrounded yourself with this amazing team and one of the things that I love about it is that you were one of those people too and you didn’t know it yet. So how did you. I mean even the strongest of us have moments where we lack self confidence, but you were going into something so new, so I’ve never done this before. So how did you deal with that? How did you deal with the balance of sometimes I’m sure it was fake it til you make it, but on the inside, how did you really set yourself up with self confidence?

Anna Caudill:                      One of the things that I’ve always bristled against, I guess to some extent when I read any kind of how to do this or how to do that explanations sort of thing or or guide is this idea that it’s all about your goals and it’s all about your vision and it’s all about your mission and then you battle down through that. And I know my limits. I’ve probably made some of those clear already, but by looking to what other people were doing that, I saw, that, that I found helpful to any larger community and by looking to the people that I admired, then there was more of a sense of I knowing that I couldn’t do this by myself and knowing that there needed to be a team that could approach this together. And that I had this idea and I saw this piece of it, and who can I find that fit the other pieces of this and help me get my head around this? And, and so there was much more of a sense of an us approach and I think taking myself out of the equation as much as possible has helped because then, there are the day that I still need the self confidence boost, but it doesn’t all depend on me and if I have some dark days it’s not going to drag the whole organization down. But, by in large, I try not to take myself too seriously I try to laugh at myself a lot. And um, and you know how it is in our family, you’ve seen it since growing up. If we can laugh at something we do, so I’ve tried to make use of that. But um, my husband has always my biggest cheerleader and my voice.  I carry two things with me that are very important because they ground me and remind me, you know, that I’m not alone. That I don’t need to be afraid and that others have walked this road, and will walk this road.  And one of the things, and this is going to sound really odd, but one of the things is my grandmothers obituary and the other thing is a UVO card that belonged to my oldest son, Fuxia when he lived in China and my dad’s mother was such a strong woman. And on some level I know, I feel like I carry her story with me internally, everywhere. And I feel like sometimes there’s internal conversation that goes on between me and her and I go you just wouldn’t believe but, I guess the obituary is just an outward token of that, because it’s not like I open up my wallet and look at it. I guess it’s part of that I have that little token in my wallet. I reminded. She is with me wherever I go because she’s spoken into my life so meaningfully that she’s part of that. And it’s part of who I am.  And the UVO card, of all things, that was a gift from Fu. And he and YoYo were living in this, um, a medical foster home in Beijing and we went in 2008 to adopt YoYo and YoYo was 3 at the time and Fuxia was 7. And we didn’t know Fuxia at the time, hadn’t met him, didn’t know him before we went to China. And then when we went there we went to this foster home to sort of learn how to care for YoYo from a, from a medical perspective, because he had some pretty severe needs and this little guy kept following us around everywhere and he wanted attention all the time and he was so sweet and he was so adorable and that was Fuxia, and he was so bright.  And as we got ready to go, um, on the last day we were there, at this medical foster home, we prepared to go and we’re packing some of our things and we’re packing YoYo’s things. And he pulls us aside and he wanted us to go up to his room. And at the time he used a wheelchair for mobility, but his bedroom was on the second floor. So he pulled himself up the stairs by his elbows and took us to his room, and he pulled a little plastic bag out of his pillowcase and inside this bag were these five UVO cards and he handed us one. At first he handed us each one, and we said, how about we share one? So he wanted to give us that. And those were five things that are so precious to him that he hid them in his pillowcase, so that none of his other friends or none of the other children in the foster home could get those.  Those were his treasures.  That is all that he had that belonged to him as a human being.  And he shared that with us and how remarkable is that? That this little boy, would have that largeness of spirit. And so as we took that and we looked at that, he said, I love you but you do not come from me.  and we were crushed? So crushed? Because we did not. I mean we assumed we would never see him again. Because it’s not often that you can find a path back to a child in another country and so we were heartbroken as we went away with YoYo and for the next two years, I just carried that in my wallet and I looked at it every chance I got and I wondered what, what is he doing today? And at the end of two years when, at the end of the year, we started the adoption process and at the end of two years when we finally returned to China and when went to get him so much had happened in his little life and he was nine and he didn’t recognize that card anymore and he found it in my purse. We were at this hotel, um, on the day that we went to the consulate to find our, finalize our adoption. And, um, he said, what is this? and I explained the story to him and I told him about how I thought about him every day and he said, and then you picked me. And his face was like sunshine and those two lives are a part of mine. And I can’t lack self confidence when I remember and carry with me those reminders that I’m part of the journey that started long before my grandmother and it’s going to continue long after my son and so this is not all about me and this little moment.

Susan Long:                        Oh, Anna. Tears are in my eyes. Like that is just the most precious story. And who knew that it would take you down this road? I mean, there’s no way you knew back then. This is where this would lead you. And I just, Oh, the whole story is just fascinating and I love every bit of it. Um, I want to, um I want to switch gears just a little bit as I dry my eyes and every listener who finds this dries their eyes.

Anna Caudill:                      Everybody take a moment. Take a sip of your tea.

Susan Long:                        Right? So tell us, um, as we come to the end of our time together and I, we are going to have to have you back because this is just, I want to know, you know, I want to know how this is going. I want to keep up with this, but tell us, tell us how you recharge your batteries, because I know you’re going, going, going with this all the time. How do you, especially when it’s your children, how do you put it down?

Anna Caudill:                      Well, you know, it’s really hard to draw some boundaries and Shane has been really supportive in that too. Going hey, make sure you get some sleep tonight. But you know, there’s so many moms, right? Who, who do the business of “momming”  whatever that looks like for them.

Susan Long:                        Well this is “momming” on steroids.

Anna Caudill:                      Right. And then, at night, there’s the chance to learn when things have quieted when you have space there’s that chance to learn. For my mom, night was when she said sewed. And so to bring extra income into the house was sewing projects at night. But um, you know, so because of that I, I’m, I sleep late when I can and I allow myself that indulgence that I think a lot of folks probably don’t because they think there’s always going to be more stuff to do. So if I find a day when I can sleep a couple hours late I do it. I putter with gardening, I like keeping chickens, like raising chickens, that sounded weird for a second.

Susan Long:                        No, all us Paw Patrol moms just presumed you had a purse chicken and you probably don’t get that joke.

Anna Caudill:                      That’s a hilarious concept actually. But we also have some friends in Charleston that we met through adoption and they’ve got kiddos the same age as our kiddos and we get together with them every June for a week or sometimes more. That is so grounding and so refreshing and it kind of reminds us of being human. Cause, sometimes you have to have those reminders like that, right? And I’ve also found a surprising source of restoration going with my mom on quilting retreats.

Susan Long:                        I love that.

Anna Caudill:                      I know that sounds so weird. And I would’ve thought, I would’ve laughed 10 years ago cause I would have thought oh my gosh that’s the fudydudiest thing. But, I go with her on these quilting retreats and we sew for like three or four days straight. All we do is sew and gossip and eat chocolate.

Susan Long:                        That sounds like heaven.

Anna Caudill:                      Fabulous. It’s great. And there’s all these women there, and sometimes, the more I listen, the more outrageous stuff I hear. And it’s great.

Susan Long:                        I love that. I love every little bit about that. OK. One last question before we end. And that’s, you know, I know there are women who are listening to this who have something in the back of their mind, either they’ve always wanted to do and they haven’t jumped out there and done it or they’re finally like whatever about this podcast or something else that happened to them today. They’re, and after listening to you, they’re like, OK, this is my time and I need to do this, whatever this is. Um, I like action, you know, we have all these great ideas, but we don’t, nothing happens unless we take that action step. So if you could nudge somebody, if you could give that woman out there today who heard you an action step, what would that be?

Anna Caudill:                      The biggest thing that I can tell you, and I know that I’m spoiled to have a husband who is so supportive and empowering, but I really believe, that if you get quiet and you look around and you, at least for a season, get quiet that so many of us have what we need around us and in us and we just haven’t woken up to it yet. And so if I, you know, when I got overwhelmed at the beginning, that seemed so presumptuous to start a non-profit, I would sometimes climb into the van in the driveway cause it was the only quiet space.  I would sit there with my hot tea, you know, sheltered from the world and I would go. OK, all right. We can do this? So if you know that getting quiet and that, looking within that space to find what was already there in my life, other things that I already knew that I might otherwise overlook, that was so invaluable because that’s how we found board members. That’s how we became open to the idea of, you know, stepping into some other projects that otherwise wouldn’t have fit with a three year plan. Look to the people in your life that you want to learn from or those who have done something you admire and purpose to sit down with them for lunch or for coffee and seek their wisdom. And if you can’t go back to school full time, because I couldn’t. I had to choose between financing motherhood and financing Grad School. And I financed motherhood. And so now I have neither the time or money to go back to grad school. But, I can find ways to finance a one day seminar or I can apply for a scholarship to this professional organizations conference. So those little places and those creative ways of tackling those give you the tools that you need in smaller bites. And there’s times when you’ve got to break it down like that. In fact, when, when I went to the one-day seminar, um, that seemed like the biggest, it seemed like a baby step. It seemed insignificant. It was this one day seminar. It was six hours. It was with a special education attorney named Pete Wright, who had defended or successfully represented a student with special needs before the Supreme Court about 10, 15 years ago. Um, I hung around afterwards, you know, the way that um, people hang around after concerts. I hung around afterwards like a  geek at this attorney thing. And I asked him about that little piece of obscure writing that I mentioned earlier from, The IDEA, that referred to international adoptees. And he said, where did you find this? And I said, Oh, it was in this document. And it was actually in a larger document that he used in his court case. And um, he said that’s a great piece of research and I’ve held onto that like it was Easter candy cause it was so affirming.. That’s really helped me through some hard things. So find your Easter candy look around, look within, and find your Easter candy. You know, look at your own life and find the things that in retrospect, even if it was just one thing that prepared you for this moment, what was, who was there and what was that moment and for me it was when we didn’t expect that somebody had spoken to somebody else about us, and we got this call from Washington saying that we had been honored as Angels in Adoption and would we come up to this week long celebration. And at first I thought it was a prank because I was in the hospital with YoYo he was recovering from surgery and I thought, oh my gosh, who is teasing me and trying to get me to laugh while I’m in the hospital. And it turned out no, it was a very legitimate thing and an incredible organization that has a tremendous impact on adoption. And so we went up and we took part in this in, in Washington DC and when it was all over later, as I took that piece of, you know, congressional writing and I decided, which, you know, I took a risk and I thought, I’m traveling to DC and I’m going to ask some policy makers about this little piece of obscure writing. I’m going to find out from the source what’s behind this. Then, I was able to call some, I thought, well, why don’t I call some friends that I made during that week, of Angels in Adoption and maybe they can help me get my head around this and they taught me so much and they hosted me in their homes and they were women who had walked this road before and when I at the risk of asking that question and saying, Hey, I think this needs to happen is that if I think this is important and they had been helped by other women and they were so ready to share their, their gifts and their knowledge and any support that they could, you know, to help me take the next step. And that helped me be a lot bolder than I would otherwise because otherwise I’m the kid who would rather stay home and spin wool and read books and hold up in my own little shell.

Susan Long:                        Yes, and times are a changing sister friend and I don’t think we can. We can do that to recharge, but we can’t do that anymore. Can we?

Anna Caudill:                      Right. Yeah. I think living that way, I don’t know that it’s. I think at one point in my life I would’ve bought that as a luxury, I don’t know that I think of it as a luxury anymore because we don’t realize how much we minimize ourselves and allow ourselves to sort of fade into the wallpaper when we do that. And there might be seasons when you’re need to do that. And there might be. It might not be that you are the person who needs to start a nonprofit, but you might be really, really helpful on a board. I’ve had one former student call up and say, you know, I’m really great at organizational stuff. Could I help you start up a filing system to manage your stuff?

Susan Long:                        Shut the front door.

Anna Caudill:                      And I hadn’t even expressed that as a need. Not Anywhere

Susan Long:                        They can come to my house. Any day.

Anna Caudill:                      Right?! OK. So I have this organizational filing need in my coat closet. But no, I mean that there, there’s opportunities that are there and there’s people who want to be involved and it’s important to find yourself, you know, where can you be involved and where can you help?.

Susan Long:                        Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure there is so much more we could cover and I’m not kidding. You’re going to have to come back. Um, but tell us where we can find you on social media, how can we get involved in PALS if that is something we feel led to do?

Anna Caudill:                      Right now, we are online at www.postadoptionlearning.org We’re on Facebook at Post Adoption Learning Services and on Twitter we’re at, @postadoptlearn and um, right now I have more work that shows up on Facebook because that’s really accessible for me. We’re building the website and trying to built content. You know, thats one of those things that always takes time to formally write down the research that I’m doing but um, those are the three places.

Susan Long:                        Excellent, and we’ll link all of that on our website, um, once we publish this puppy so that, so that we can link back to you. So friends if you’re listening to this and you didn’t have a chance to write that down. Don’t feel bad, don’t feel like you have to go back and relisten. It will be on our website. Anna, thank you so much. So, so much for all you are doing for our kids. Um, we didn’t even get into it, but this just doesn’t, this what you’re doing does not just affect, um, international adoption or children with disabilities or international adoption, children with disabilities. On some level, this affects all our children and at the end of the day as a mom, I think that’s what a lot of us out there going to be fighting for is our kids. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I really appreciate it. Um, yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. All right, well thanks so much and we will talk to you next time.

Susan Long:                        All right. Thank you.

Susan Long:                        I wasn’t kidding, was I? Isn’t she just great? I find her story so inspiring and empowering. She continuously spurs me to action and I hope our conversation did just that for you. If you liked this episode, I know you will be excited about our future guests, so go on over to itunes or our website and hit subscribe. I would love it if you would also leave a review as I’m excited to hear what you think. Also on our website, you’ll be able to find the links to the things we mentioned in the show as well as PALS website and social media info. Thanks again friends. I’ll see ya soon.

 

Confidently leaving something safe and finding something even better, with Caytie Langford

In her first interview, Susan talks with executive coach, Caytie Langford.  Caytie shares her story of walking away from the executive role she always thought she wanted after realizing it wasn’t what she wanted at all.  They talk about defining yourself through your work and what that looks like when you do a complete 180.  They discuss everything from starting your own business and how scary that can be to the importance of self motivation, self care, and techniques to bolster self confidence.

https://www.shawnachor.com

https://www.ted.com/talks/luvvie_ajayi_get_comfortable_with_being_uncomfortable

https://luvvie.org/im-judging-you-book/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1tTZSuHJKM (Sara Blakely)

Transcript:

Susan Long:                        Hey everybody. Welcome to our second episode of how she got here. I am so excited about today’s show.  Today, I’m speaking with Caytie Langford. Caytie is an executive coach, although that is not where her career started and we will talk a little bit about that. We will touch on topics such as the importance of setting boundaries and self care. We will also talk about self confidence as well as inspiring and empowering other women and how in turn that inspires and empowers us. Welcome to the show.  I’m excited you’re here.

Susan Long:                        Good Morning Caytie. How are you?

Caytie Langford:               Good Morning Susan. I’m great. How are you?

Susan Long:                        I am doing well and I am so excited to have you here today and I cannot believe this is finally happening.

Caytie Langford:               I know. I’m so excited.

Susan Long:                        OK, so let’s just jump right in. Um, and tell us exactly what you do.

Caytie Langford:               Yes. I am an executive coach and I specialize in helping ambitious, savvy women who just aren’t satisfied in their career.

Susan Long:                        And full disclosure, I know you’re an executive coach because you’re, my executive coach.

Caytie Langford:               That is right.  Yeah. What I do is I help women figure out exactly what they want to get clarity on that and we’ve worked to move them from where they are to exactly where they want to go and so it has been such fun working with you on this big project that you are launching.

Susan Long:                        Yes, and I really, I could not do it without you, but I want to go back. I want to go back to maybe the beginning to where. How did you get here? What, what did that look like? Because this is not where you started. This isn’t even how we met.

Caytie Langford:               It’s not, it’s not. We met actually when I was in fundraising. I spent the first 13 years of my career out of college in major gifts fundraising in north Texas and I like so many women had a plan of where I wanted to go. I was on the ladder climbing it constantly and I knew that I wanted to be in an executive role and so I worked really hard to get there. Was chief development officer at an organization sitting in my corner office one day looking out the window and realized that what I had was absolutely not what I wanted, and so I took a huge leap of faith after coaching on my own, tears, thoughts, speaking with my husband, and so I actually walked away from that career entirely, and that was about three years ago will be three years in May, so I had a total journey change to be able to get where I am today.

Susan Long:                        And that was an easy change to make. Right?

Caytie Langford:               Oh Gosh. I would love for people to think that was an easy change to make, but it was absolutely the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I was completely wrapped up in my job, my career, my title. It was how I defined myself. It was how others define me in our community and it was everything to me. I, you know, I have I’m married but don’t have any kids, and my career was it.  It was the thing, but I realized that I couldn’t be miserable at what I was doing. I really wanted to love my work. I wanted to love my job and in the beginning I did love fundraising. It was phenomenal. It put me in places and I had the opportunity to meet with people and work with people that I never would have come across, but in the end I was just totally burnt out and I just knew it wasn’t the right thing for me anymore.

Susan Long:                        How did you find what that next right thing was? Did you just wake up one morning and go, I think I’m going to be an executive coach?

Caytie Langford:               No, I actually, my husband owns his own business.  I thought that we were going to work together. I actually convinced him to give me a title and I started working on some projects with him, but in the meantime I really wanted to figure out what I wanted to do and I will say when I left fundraising, I was very intentional about not going back to fundraising and the weird thing is is that my phone rang from recruiters and people that I knew for a year. People wanted to know if I was going to get back in fundraising and I knew that that was something I didn’t want to do. I knew that whatever it was I was going to work on my own and so I thought working with my husband on our own would be a good fit. It ended up not being a great fit just. yeah, we just, we. We work really well in life together, but perhaps not so great at every day working partners. So I spent six months. I was very fortunate enough to be able to take six months off and do a lot of soul searching and a lot of digging and I did this a lot through conversations with people, prayer, meditation. I napped a lot. I spent a lot of time with my girlfriends and actually it was one of my girlfriends who took me to dinner one evening and she said to me, she said, ever since I met you, we met a couple of years earlier on a girls trip. She said, ever since I met you, I felt that I was supposed to tell you this, but I never realized when was the good time, and she whips out these papers out of her purse and she says, I think you need to become a coach.  She herself was a weight loss coach and she said, I think that you’d be fantastic at this and I want you to look into this. And it’s funny because I had worked with multiple executive coaches up until that point and in fact my executive coach that I was working with at the time really ushered me through leaving my job and figuring out what to do next and so I’m sitting there with my friend Cynthia and I just went and bought the book that she suggested (Self Help Coaching 101 – Brooke Castillo). I started looking into things. I started being really intentional, thinking about it, meditating on it, praying about it, and it took a couple of months before I really figured out this is exactly what I wanted to do, but it didn’t happen overnight. It definitely wasn’t that quick, but it did happen and it happened with a lot of intentionality.

Susan Long:                        Tell me, and this is not something I asked you before, but tell me a little bit about getting that first client, the work that it took to get to that point.

Caytie Langford:               Sure. So when I first started, I actually did group coaching and it was pure faith on my part. It really was the opportunity for me to step out, be super scared try something and what I did is I put together a list of about eighty women that I knew and told them that I was going to be putting together this group coaching program.

Susan Long:                        And they all called you and wanted your business.

Caytie Langford:               Yes. Every single one of them called me.  No, I had about fourteen women who said yes and signed up and went through an eight week program with me and I learned a whole lot about myself, a whole lot about other people and I did it scared to death every single week. I kept showing up and thinking, these women are going to figure out that I have no idea what I’m doing. But what was awesome about it was there are people that went through that program with me two years ago who still talk about the impact that was made back then and how they look at life differently. So it gives me such excitement and I’m just, I’m just awe inspired by those folks. But I will tell you so that while also super scary getting a big group of people, really what I do as individual coaching. So getting my first individual client was even scarier. Um, luckily I have a really large network and I had proven myself in the past.  And so I say, Luckily Susan, you and I have talked about this so much. So many of us women, we don’t own our successes. We, we chalk it up to luck or someone else or some something outside of ourselves. And so I’ve really actually shouldn’t have used that word luck. What I had done was I had proven myself in the past, with this woman, she was going through a change. She was really wanting to ramp up her business. She, she owns her own book of business and so worked with her. But the only reason that she said yes, the only reason that she wanted to talk to me about it was because I had proven myself in the past and um, and she took a leap of faith with me and we had an amazing, um, eight month run together and helped her accomplish her goals. So that first one was super scary, but it’s always the first one that we do. The next one and the next one and the next one.

Susan Long:                        I’m sure you had total confidence in yourself that entire time. So tell me, tell me how did you, how did you, how are you your best cheerleader? Because I’m sure you even have these moments now, right? How do you motivate yourself?

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, absolutely. So the one thing that I have learned about owning my own business and stepping out, doing something for myself, I’m not working for someone else, is that it’s a roller coaster. And the best way to get ahold of it is to not ride the highs and lows of the roller coaster. But obviously we do. We, we totally do. We get sucked into. I can’t, it’s not possible for me. I’m not enough, I couldn’t possibly be the right person and so I have some techniques that I use with myself and I actually teach my clients the same thing because really no matter what kind of change you’re going through, it’s that competence piece that holds us back. And so I always liken it to driving a car. You know, think about this when you were 16, 15, 16. The first time you got in a car to drive it.  I know for me it was with my grandmother in the parking lot at a mall before the mall opened one morning and I was terrified. Ya know, here I am in charge of moving this 2000 pound vehicle. And when I think about that, I had to think, I really had to think about every single thing I did when I first started driving. Put Your seatbelt on, put it into gear drive. Actually, you know, and now you think about it, you get in your car every single day, you don’t think about it, right? There’s times when you get out of the car and you’re like, I don’t even remember where. What was I thinking about? Cause I sure wasn’t thinking about driving and so I think the same thing comes to self confidence is that we have to act even when we are scared, even when we are nervous. So one of the things that I do, I use my journal every single day.  I’m big on gratitude journaling. I think there’s a reason why Oprah suggested it to all of us because it works. I think there’s a reason why, you know, Shawn Achor is selling books about how to increase your happiness and why gratitude works because it works. And so I do that daily. I encourage my clients to do that, but then I take it a step further and I have in my office, you know, the giant sticky pad, sticky notes and I have a list of what I call badass stuff that I’ve done and I’ve written out thing that I’ve done that at one point in my life. I thought it was scary and it’s everything from, you know, buying my first house, getting married. The first time I fired someone, I remember that was terrifying for me.

Susan Long:                        wow.

Caytie Langford:               Yeah. I even have going snow skiing the first time I went snow skiing, I was almost 30 years old,  I’m not really a daredevil, but for me that list is something that I can look at every single day so that when I am having that self-doubt, when I am having that loss of confidence, I can look at that and it’s almost a litmus test to be able to say, OK, what is this in front of you that you’re scared of and how does it compare to all these other things that you’ve done? And nine times out of ten it’s not even as scary as any of the things that I’ve done in the past. And so I think a big part of confidence, a big part of self confidence is you have to take the first step. You actually have to move into action and when you move into action that’s, when you get more confidence, more competence, and it grows from there.

Susan Long:                        I’m beginning to understand this action part. You have been a huge, huge help with that even with myself and that is the number one jumping off, taking the leap. That is so the hardest part.

Caytie Langford:               It is. It is. My favorite quote is Martin Luther King Jr. When he says, “faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” And I think about it in terms of What you just said right this leap we think of, you know, the pictures that we see on Instagram or Facebook with, you know, the girl jumping off the cliff and it seems so big and so daunting. And yet I think when we look at what Martin Luther King Jr said it, when you say it’s just the first step, when you can’t see the whole staircase, it’s not as scary sometimes when you think, oh, ok, it’s just the baby step.  Action. Absolutely.

Susan Long:                        I’ve listened to a Ted Talk recently by an author who wrote a book and I, for the life of me, I can see the cover and I cannot see the title of the book right now, (I’m Judging You The Do Better Manual) but her name is Luvvie and her Ted Talk. She talks about the same thing. She calls it like she talks about the domino effect and I think Mother Teresa even relates it to a ripple effect, you know, and it’s like you throw the first stone or somebody has to be the first domino to fall and then everybody else starts coming with you. And I think we’re seeing that now. I think we’re seeing that now with women.

Caytie Langford:               Absolutely. I think it’s an interesting time to be a woman for sure. I think that, what our grandmothers and great grandmothers lived through, you know, a hundred years ago or even less, you know, 50, 60 years ago. We definitely are in different time and yet we still have challenges. We absolutely do. And what I love about women is that we can create these communities, these tribes, if you will, of women who support each other, who can lift each other up. And I know that that’s one of the things that you want to accomplish and you want to make sure happens through this podcast, is that I think that when we are our best is when we are all helping each other get to where we want to go. I find it also super fascinating that by me taking a step in faith by me taking this leap to leave my career, how the ripple effect has. I’ve seen it, I see it every single day. There are people who work with me because I took that step and they think, ok, maybe it’ll rub off on them. Maybe I can teach them something and the reality is maybe I can teach them something and maybe it will rub off on them, but I think we also get confidence by seeing other people succeed, by seeing other people be brave. It teaches us that we can dig deep and be brave amongst ourselves as well and within ourself.

Susan Long:                        And I just love that this is your thing.  That this is your career, this is what you are helping women do every day is you are helping them take whatever that next step is and I love that.

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, I do too, Susan. I mean I. I got off the phone about 45 minutes ago with a client and almost every single time I get off the phone with a client I say, oh my gosh, I love what I do and I love helping them figure out what’s next and how to uncover what the next action item is.  I also really like helping them face their fears head because we all have them.  You were talking about self confidence. I am in the middle of a huge project that I don’t feel qualified for that I don’t  think I’m the right person for, but it’s something that I feel called to do and so I’m doing it, but earlier this week, I mean I was just wallowing in self doubt and self confidence. I just, I just thought, oh goodness, why me? I can’t do this. And being with my clients and helping them actually helps me because I see how brave they are and I can sometimes I steal some of their braveness. Absolutely.

Susan Long:                        Yeah, for sure. I think the more we can feed off each other the better, but I know you’re not the only person on your solo person team. Tell me a little bit about who’s behind the scenes. Are you doing this all on your own?

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, I definitely don’t do it on my own. Well, I think first and foremost, I’m really blessed to have a partner who completely just is my biggest cheerleader. My husband has owned his own business for 16 years, so he’s seen some of the things that I’m going through. Um, and so he definitely helps me out and is always there. He’s always encouraging me and I actually have my own executive coach that I speak to two to three times a month and there’s no way I could do it without her because just like my clients, I face some of those challenges and so she helps me. And then I definitely have a small group of girlfriends who are sounding boards who give me ideas and I talk through. And then I have a ton of just strategy partners and these are people I mean everything from my marketing people who did my website and my copywriting. If somebody said, oh, I love your website, did you do it on your own? And I almost burst out laughing.  I said, no way, right. Because I know what I’m good at. I know where I know where I have strengths and talents. And so I partnered with a lot of people who have other strengths and talents that really do make me look good and helped me get where it is that I want to go so I can focus on what it is I do well. But yeah, it definitely takes a village to do this work. And I think for any of us there’s some kind of village that we need to be able to get where it is that we’re going.

Susan Long:                        I want to switch gears just a little bit and I want to talk about you as an individual outside all of this and how you kind of let this go at the end of the day or recharge your batteries and how you take care of yourself. How do you, how do you put it away? how do you put it down for the day? Because that’s hard to do.

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, it absolutely is. And what’s what I want to start with is just sharing a little bit about success. So one of the things that I have learned is that I had to define success for myself. So what I realized in my former career was that success was always about somebody else’s external definition and not about my internal definition. And so when I got what it is I thought I wanted I realized I didn’t want it because it wasn’t actually what I wanted. So for me success is really simple and clear. it is my desire is to inspire, motivate, and impact the lives of women, period. End of sentence. And that’s something that I look to do every single day in my life. But I also think that you’re absolutely right is that even though I know that’s my life’s purpose and it bleeds over into lots of different things, including my volunteering, me just spending time with my friends, that kind of thing. I have to turn it off of work, right? Because at the end of the day, my coaching and my speaking is still work. And so I set boundaries. I’m very clear on when I take calls, when I don’t take calls, when I answer email, when I don’t answer email and it’s something that my clients know and I think they appreciate as well. But I do believe that we have to take time for self care and you and I have had these conversations. Everyone is talking about it and yet it almost seems counter intuitive to so many of us, right? Because early on we’re taught, put your head down, work hard and you’ll get exactly what you want. So the idea that we would pause, take a step back, do something for ourself. Like that seems selfish, right? it just seems off. And so what I have realized and what, what mentors have taught me is this balance between being and doing. We’re such a doing society, right? It’s the checklist, it’s the, I’m busy, it’s the, you know, I’ve got 97 meetings on my calendar today and a hundred and four things on my to do lists versus the being part, which is slowing down. Who are you, who do you know yourself or are you taking time to really be your best friend? Um, that kind of thing. And so for me, I have some specific things that I do for self care. One is I love to walk around my neighborhood. It’s just nice to get outside to breathe fresh air. I always feel connected to that. And the other thing that I really love doing is cooking. For me, cooking is a creative outlet. It’s a way that I can relax and I just love it. So there are days where I’ll bake bread in the middle of the day. I work from home so I can do that in between calls. But you know, some people that seem so stressful and for me it’s relaxing. The other thing about cooking for me personally is that it actually builds my confidence because I take a lot of risks and challenges and so, you know, one of the things I did in 2016 was I wanted to learn how to make pasta. Well now I can make pasta, homemade pasta, you know, not even think about it. So I’d move on to bigger and bigger things, trying new things and I realized if it doesn’t work then that’s ok. Right? There’s, that’s where the learning comes in, but cooking, being outside. for me also spending time with my girlfriends really is about self care. It’s about recharging my batteries and so I do those things. Um, and a good journal is always fun.

Susan Long:                        That definitely helps me clear my head as well for sure. So I know that there’s somebody out there who heard our conversation today. I’d like to say they overheard our conversation at the coffee shop and said in their head they’re going, it’s time, it’s time for me to take the next step to take that leap. I overheard this conversation for a reason. So what advice would you give that woman? What would be an action step that she could take to help her move forward?

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, absolutely. I think that the key there is action. You actually have to do something. I Also think that if you can have some kind of accountability, whether It be a small group of people, a coach, a pastor. somebody outside of yourself. I will also say, and this is something I talk with clients a lot about, is that there’s a difference in making this broad announcement to everyone in your world and keeping things a little bit closer to the vest and I think you have to figure out what that looks like for you. Every case is a little different, but you know, one of my sheroes, one of my, you know, women that I look up to so much is Sara Blakely who founded Spanx love her, love her story and if you read her story, if you’ve heard her speak about it. She didn’t have a Lot of people that knew what she was doing and she kept it there, kept it small to small group of people because she didn’t want too much noise. She knew that if she had a lot of noise, she might not be able to take those actions. I think that when you’re thinKing about what it is that you’re going to do, taking the action, it might be that you need to tell everybody in the world so that you have/feel accountable, but it might be that you keep it to a close set of advisors and when you’re ready to let more people in, you let them in. You know a couple of people at a time, but it is key for you to do something.  The other thing that I tell my clients all the time and I tell myself this is we have to suspend the belief that we’re gonna know how it’s all going to work because we don’t. We don’t know how it’s all going to work. I had no idea two years ago that my business would look like what it is. I had no idea three years ago when I was sitting in my office miserable that my life would look like today had no idea. And so what I do know is that when the resources are needed, when we need to meet the people we need to meet, when we need to learn the next step, it’s almost as if those things appear by magic and I don’t think it’s coincidence. I don’t think it’s magic, but when the time is right, if you take that step and action, the next step will reveal itself the thing that you need most, the resources that you need most will come to you. But it’s not gonna come to you if you don’t first take the step. So many people Just wait, they wait for the sign, they wait for, you know, the gift that’s going to pay for something or, or that kind of thing. And that’s just, that’s not how it works. You have to move first and then what you’ll need next will come to you.

Susan Long:                        Oh my gosh, it is so true. That is uncanny the way you just said that. Cause I’ve heard, I’ve heard other people say that, but just saying that today to me and just some of the stuff that has happened over the last couple of weeks. I just cannot. Yes, it’s absolutely true. I just, I can’t, I’m, I’m over here. You can’t see me, but I’m over here like my head is just nodding. Yes, yes. So in closing, I just want to say thank you so much for doing this. I am one. I’ve been a big fan of you for a long time. You were always one of those people who seem to have it all together. I love to know in this conversation that you don’t, but you do at the same time. Um, and I just want, I think everybody in the world should just call you and, or listen to you speak or hire you as a coach. I mean, you’re just a phenomenal, phenomenal person and you’ve done it and you’re doing it every day and I just, I absolutely love that.

Caytie Langford:               Well, thank you.

Susan Long:                        Can you tell everybody where they can find you, where you’re speaking next maybe?

Caytie Langford:               Well my next speaking engagement is next month, and I’m going to be speaking at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, that’s a long name.  Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. I’m speaking at their Next Gen Conference for women under 40 who are entrepreneurs and own their own businesses. And I’m their keynote speaker for that and so I’m super excited about that.  That’s in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole and I know tickets are still available so I would love to have people join us there for anybody who owns their own business and is a woman. You can find me on, on Facebook at Coach Caytie. I’m also on Instagram at Caytie Langford and my website is caytielangford.com.  And so the only thing you’d need to know is that Caytie is not spelled the normal way thanks to my awesome mom who was super creative. Um, my name is spelled Caytie, so Caytie Langford.

Susan Long:                        Awesome. And we will have links to all of this up on our website. And so all you have to do is go and click and follow or friend or whatever. And then the name of her, the spelling of her name will be ingrained in your head because it just doesn’t go away after that. It’s the best spelling ever. It’s so unique and it’s so fun. And I absolutely love it. Well, Caytie, thank you so much for joining us today. I absolutely love that you were here and friends. Just have a great week and Caytie we’ll have to have you back soon.

Caytie Langford:               Sounds great. Susan, thanks so much and ladies that are listening, I just want you to know that whatever dream is in your heart, whatever it is you’ve been noodling on, that you’ve been thinking about that wakes you up in the middle of the night, whatever that looks like, you can absolutely have it. You can absolutely make it your reality, so thank you Susan for having me.

Susan Long:                        Thank you.

Susan Long:                        Wasn’t that the most fun? I just love Caytie and find her so inspiring. She’s taken such a leap with her career change and not only has it paid off for her, but it has paid off for her clients as well because of her change, she is truly empowering others. thanks so much for listening today. If you liked this episode, I know you’ll be excited about our future guests, so go on over to itunes or our website and hit subscribe. I Would love it if you would also leave a review as I’m excited to hear what you think. Also on our website, you will be able to find the links to the things we mentioned in this show as well as Caytie’s website and her social media accounts.

Susan Long:                        thanks again, friends. I’ll see ya soon.

 

Premier Episode

In the premier episode of How She Got Here, Conversations with Everyday Extraordinary Women, Susan, the creator and host of the podcast, shares the tipping point in her life that drove her to action.  She was tired of being made to feel inadequate by messages she had heard and internalized since she was a young girl.  She also discusses how sharing her story with other women lead to her hearing similar stories from others.  The result of all of this has lead to the creation of this podcast. The goal of which is to share the stories of Everyday Extraordinary Women! 

Transcript:

Susan:                  Hey friends, welcome to the first episode of How She Got Here, Conversations With Everyday Extraordinary Women. I’m Susan. Your host and creator of this podcast and I’m grateful to have you join me. Ladies, we are on the cusp. We are living in a time of great opportunity and possibility. Women are rising together all over our country, all over the world. This space highlights everyday women doing extraordinary things. Why? Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” These everyday women’s stories we hear are the stones, stones, to inspire us, to create the ripples, calling us to be ourselves, to push our dreams, to reach a little higher than we thought we could. My goal each week is to bring you a guest with her own awesome and inspiring story. So consider this my invitation to you to accompany me on this journey. Come with me and let’s explore the fascinating and inspiring stories of the women around us. I hope we will laugh together. I hope we will cry together. I hope together we will learn more about ourselves. I confess, I don’t know where this journey will take us, but as Tina fey once said, “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the water slide over thinking it. You have to go down the shoot.”

So to me, one of the greatest part of going on a long trip with someone is that you get to learn so much about them and your relationship with them is never the same. So today I’m going to share a little about me.

A few years ago there were some huge changes in my life. My husband and I overcame a struggle with infertility and we finally had the baby of our dreams. That will be a whole separate episode that I’ll save for later date because that’s a hard subject. One evening after a particularly hard day, I put the baby to bed and finally had a moment to myself. I was watching television and what I saw on the screen sent the message loud and clear that as a woman I wasn’t enough.

And whether it was the straw that broke the camel’s back that night or the huge lack of sleep, I burst into tears and yet no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake that feeling in the pit of my stomach and it’s that feeling we all have sometimes. It’s that voice in the back of the head, my head and your head, and the anxiety that no matter what I did, I was never gonna be enough. This feeling consumed me and the fear of failure paralyzed me. These are messages I had heard either directly or indirectly all my life. Most recently it was a message I heard when I was talking with someone who was very close to me, and this is not a political podcast. This is just my truth and this is just a part of the story. It was the night that the Access Hollywood tape was released and I was on the phone with this person and I said, what if this man had been talking about me? And all this person could say to me at that moment was “he represents my values” and I was shocked.

But you know, like I said, I’ve heard this directly or indirectly all my life. I heard them in the church I grew up in where to this day in 2018, women are still not allowed to preach. I heard them in school when I was told I couldn’t wear shorts to school because they weren’t fingertip length. And like many of you, I’m sure I heard them from strange men, adults who cat called me when I was around, you know, 14, 15, 16. And the adults that I trusted said, oh, just ignore them and take it as a compliment that you look cute.

That’s the message we want to send to our young girls. That’s the message that I was supposed to get from that. That not only that I’m cute, but I’m supposed to take a cat call as a compliment. No!  No more. But I realized that these are messages that have been internalized and ingrained in myself, and I’m guessing some of them are probably in you too. And what’s worse is I kind of believed them. We’ve all gotten these messages on some level, haven’t we? And it seemed this night, this night that this breakdown happened with me, it seemed like it was a night that was years in the making, but I wasn’t just devastated anymore. I was angry and I was mad and I was tired of the BS. I cried myself to sleep that night.

I woke up the following morning and I was exhausted. I knew I hadn’t slept well, but I also woke up determined with a new sense of purpose. I reached out to a few friends who I consider to be sisters and I was reminded that I was at my best when I was surrounded by these women. They’re friends from college and I was fortunate to have graduated from a small single gender liberal arts college. It was an amazing bubble. It was safe and it was empowering for me and it was like no other place on earth. And I have not had that same experience since. I also reached out to my former professor for women’s history, Dr Melissa Walker for a list of books on our foremothers. I felt like a refresher would help on our history, so I read about Ida B. Wells, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B, Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, the early days, how it was started, why it started. I read about the Seneca Falls Convention, who was and wasn’t included and the privilege associated with that. I re-read the story of how long it took us to get the vote and in case you didn’t know, it took us 70 years to get the vote. Susan B, Anthony did not live to see the nineteenth amendment ratified. She died in 1906 and the nineteenth didn’t happen until 1920.

Y’all change takes a long time and sometimes it won’t come in our lifetime. I read about Catherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, and they had a really cool movie come out about those women, but the book was 100 times better. I read about Grace Hopper, Coretta Scott King, Sally Ride, Sandra Day O’Connor, and these are just a few, a few of my favorites.  Y’all, there are so many incredible women. Women we didn’t learn about in standard history classes and these are women that changed history that for sure will be a future podcast episode

During this time I also found it helpful to talk things through with a therapist and I know therapy is still sometimes a taboo subject, but just being able to talk this stuff out is really helpful and if you’re going through something, I would seriously encouraged you to do that. I also journal during this time and I started some serious spiritual meditation. I tried being still and I tried centering myself and eventually started to pay off. I started to notice things that I had not noticed before and hear things that I would have otherwise missed. I began to truly value these authentic moments, not just with myself but with those around me. I found that it was these moments that renewed my spirit. As I worked through all of this and started sharing my story. Other women confirmed similar situations and similar feelings. Apparently a ton of us are walking around looking pretty darn amazing on the outside, but on the inside we constantly feel like we aren’t enough, and I have had enough of that.

Have you? Y’all I want this space to be a place of peace. I want to create a place where we can celebrate. I want this to be a place of inspiration. I want us to be able to share our hopes and our dreams, but more importantly, maybe most importantly, I want us to be able to speak our truths and I want us to grow together. So that’s just in a nutshell my story and we’ll learn more about each other as this goes along. The next time we meet, I want to begin our journey together in earnest. In the meantime, I would love for you to reach out and say hello. Tell me about yourself. What are your hopes and your dreams? What do you think of our first couple of episodes? I would appreciate your feedback after all. This journey and this space is not just mine, but I want it to be ours. And I’m ready and I’m so excited for it to begin.

I’ll see you soon.