What Works

What Works

Tara McMullin
Jul 07, 2020 58 min

EP 288: Rethinking Your Business Amidst Change With Second Breaks Founder Lou Blaser

In This Episode: Why I chose “embrace uncertainty” as one of my commitments for 2020 and how it’s served in this wild year How Charlie Gilkey recommends finding the most courageous next step What led Second Breaks founder Lou Blaser to rethink her business model—and return to a years-old vision for her work in the process What 2 questions she used to find new ways of creating value How she used existing assets in her business to start building toward her new vision The tweet that’s pinned to the top of my profile lists my 3 commitments for this year. Those commitments are my guiding principles, the things I’m actively trying to cultivate more of in my life, the ideas that guide the decisions I made. My three commitments for 2020 are: Question normal. Expect success. And embrace uncertainty. Now, most people I know have had to recalculate their goals for 2020. But these commitments? Well, they’re more relevant than ever. In fact, I’ve had a few people @ me on Twitter and ask if I’m psychic! While each of my commitments for 2020 have been a huge help for navigating this wild year, it’s that last one–Embrace Uncertainty–that’s really asked me to grow. Uncertainty seems to be the theme of 2020. With everything that’s happened so far this year and no real confidence in what might be coming, we’ve all had to recalculate. Some business owners I know have had to completely rework their business models. Others have taken huge in-person gathering online. Others are discovering they have skills that are incredibly useful in the pandemic economy. And still others still aren’t sure what they’ll do next to bring in some revenue. As I’ve worked with business owners on making decisions and reworking plans, there’s one thing I keep coming back to, though. While 2020 might have presented us with a unique batch of unpredictable circumstances, uncertainty is not a new condition of entrepreneurship. Uncertainty is baked into the operating system of how we function every day as business owners… …whether we like it or not… and whether we like to admit it or not. When I chose embracing uncertainty as one of my commitments for this year, I didn’t have a pandemic in mind.I wasn’t gearing up for a historic upheaval in the labor market. I didn’t predict the long overdue tectonic shift in public opinion about systemic racism and police brutality. I chose to commit to embracing uncertainty because I wanted to take more courageous action. I wanted to see what would happen for me and for my business if I stopped trying to predict the right thing to do and started leaning into my full potential and my full vision. And while you might think I’m a natural risk taker, I can assure you I am not. This idea wasn’t really mine at all. It was a very important lesson I learned from my friend Charlie Gilkey during an interview for this very podcast. Before we get into this week’s interview with Lou Blaser, I want to share a snippet from this interview to tee up all of the conversations we’re having this month around embracing uncer...
Jun 30, 2020 27 min

EP 287: The Things We Thought We Knew About Money

How we think about money impacts what we do with money. And for many of us, what we think about money is influenced by narratives, frameworks, and biases we picked up well before we started our businesses. The money framework I picked up as a kid was that I could either make a lot of money or I could do something I love. Now, no one sat me down and told me I was destined to barely scrapping by if I didn’t choose a lucrative career that I didn’t like very much. But my little kid brain chewed on everything that I was being told and interpreted that way. I could either make a lot of money or I could do something that I loved for work. My idealist teenage brain told me that I was NOT going to be one of those people who choose to make a lot of money–so I settled on a major I loved and a career path I thought would bring me fulfillment even if I’d be struggling for the rest of my life. When I started to have major doubts about that career path, I had to go back to the drawing board. And that’s what eventually led to me starting my own business. Even in that process, that either/or money framework was still doing its work and keeping me down. It took real work to start to replace either/or with both/and–and truthfully, that work continues to this day. Today, I know that I can do work that I love AND make a lot of money. But I struggle with similar either/or framework: either I can compromise my values so I can make a lot of money easily or I can hold fast to my values and turn making a lot of money into a struggle. Today I’m working to replace that framework with one that reminds me that I can hold fast and find abundance with ease. I know embracing that money narrative is the key to the next phase of my business–and my life. This week, we asked members of The What Works Network to share one thing they thought they knew about money but later discovered wasn’t true. Each shared a narrative or bias that held them back from fully embracing their business and their earning potential. As you listen, consider which of these narratives are ones you’re currently operating with and how you could start reevaluating them. What would you do differently if you reprogrammed those money thoughts? What decisions would you make if you claimed a new money narrative? You’ll hear from Charlene Lam, a curator and social media strategist, Maggie Patterson, the founder of Scoop Studios, Carol Hamilton, the founder of Grace Social Sector Consulting, and Anna Wolf, the founder of Superscript Marketing. What Works Is Brought To You By Mighty Networks powers brands and businesses – like yours! – that bring people together.With a Mighty Network, online business owners just like you can bring together in one place: Your website Your content Your courses Your community Your events online and in real life And charge for them…all while building YOUR brand. Visit mightynetworks.com to see more examples of brands bringing people together and taking their businesses to the next level.
Jun 23, 2020 36 min

EP 286: Pricing For The Future With Fire + Mineral Jewelry Founder Tiffany Whipps

In This Episode: Fire + Mineral founder Tiffany Whipps shares how she’s gone from willy nilly pricing to pricing for the future of her company What her “feather money” phase taught her about the value of her products The future expenses she’s factoring into her pricing today What product-based businesses need to consider when they’re thinking about their pricing & business model Pricing your products or services can feel like a game of pin the tail on the moving donkey. There are so many factors to take into account. The price you choose needs to consider the market, your cost of goods sold, the positioning of your brand, the value of what you’re offering, and the cost of doing business. Each of these pricing factors have their own challenges and potential pitfalls. And just because you figure out the equation once… …doesn’t mean you’ve solved it for all time. The factors that influence price change over time. Over time, the market changes, your cost of goods change, your brand positioning might change, the value of what you’re offering can change, and almost without a doubt the cost of doing business will change. And that all means that what you price your products or services at in the beginning will likely need to adapt to future circumstances. But what if you could start to anticipate those changes? Could you build future changes into your pricing strategy? Yes, I absolutely believe that you can. As you grow as a business owner, you can start to anticipate market changes and plan for the way your cost of goods increases. You can set a goal to position your brand in a certain way and you can become smarter about your target market so you understand the value of what you’re offering more fully. And perhaps most importantly… You can plan for the ways your cost of doing business will evolve. You can anticipate the team members you’ll hire. You can plan for the software upgrades you’ll need. You can build in margin to cover unforeseen circumstances or changes in the market that impact your bottom line. Very, very few business owners do this from the start. But over time, you can get better and better at your pricing strategy—and even your overall financial strategy—so that you’re planning for the future instead of reacting to it. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about with today’s guest, Tiffany Whipps. Tiffany is the founder and designer behind Fire + Mineral Jewelry. Tiffany has been designing jewelry full-time since 2012 and she’d be the first to admit that her pricing strategy has become a lot more sophisticated since she put together her first line sheet on a whim. I originally invited Tiffany onto the show to showcase how money flows through product-based businesses. And we absolutely talk about that. But we also talk about how Tiffany’s approach to money has grown more sophisticated over time, as well as how she’s now pricing for the business she wants to have instead of the business she has right now. Tiffany and I talk about how her pricing strategy has evolved over the years, why she’s focused on products that have more long-term value as opposed to what’s trendy right now, and how she’s using her goals to set prices for her new work.
Jun 16, 2020 41 min

EP 285: Going All In With Strategist Marie Poulin

In This Episode: The webinar that changed everything for strategist Marie Poulin Why she decided to go “all in” on creating content about Notion and how YouTube has impacted her bottom line How she developed and sold an in-progress online course about Notion The process she’s using to create additional leverage in her business even when clients coming asking about 1:1 services The path to building a business that works is not mysterious. Sure, there is always some luck involved. Timing, connections, and how you show up can play a big role in whether or not you feel traction early. But the nuts and bolts of it? It’s really not up for debate. You create a product or service that people want because it is going to solve a problem or improve their lives. And then you find enough people who want it and are willing to pay the right amount for it to offset the costs of doing business. Then, you make the methods and costs of doing business efficient, effective, and humane. Okay, sure, that’s pretty reductive—but it’s also true. That’s how you build a business that works. The problem is that we have a tendency to fight one or more of those steps. We resist the process. We resist building the right product or service for our people. We resist going out and finding customers or clients. We resist putting an appropriate price on the work. We resist making our business operations more efficient or humane. And so things get sticky—or worse. I’ve gone through the push & pull of resisting the process of building a business that works many times. I notice it every time I feel like it’s hard to make money. It’s in these times that I have to look at what part of the process I’m resisting and why I’m resisting it. And it almost always comes down to feeling like I don’t wan to go all in on what I’m working at. Maybe I don’t want to go all in on the product I’m working on. Maybe I don’t want to go all in on the way I’m building a customer base. Maybe I don’t want to go all in on how we’re operating or the systems we’re using to do business. The problem is that not wanting to go all in on any single part of the process creates friction and makes it harder to make money. This week, we’re taking a look at what happens when you’re able to go all in on every aspect of building your business—product, marketing, and operations—and how that impacts how money flows through your business. To do that, I talked with Marie Poulin. Now, Marie has been on the podcast several times now. Most recently, I spoke with her about her decision to not build a business that scales. Funnily enough, at just about the time that interview aired, things started to change for Marie. Marie found something she could go all in on. And suddenly her path to the right product, the right marketing, and the right operations became clear—as did the path to making money with ease. In this conversation, Marie and I talk about how she transformed her business when she stopped resisting and found the thing she could go all in on.
Jun 09, 2020 46 min

EP 284: Pricing On A Sliding Scale With Corpus Ritual Founder Jennifer Patterson

In This Episode: Why grief & trauma worker Jennifer Patterson prices a significant portion of her work using a sliding scale How a sliding scale system increases accessibility to valuable healing work for people from disadvantaged and marginalized communities Why Jennifer priorities clear & direct communication when it comes to how people find the right amount to pay What she thinks about “charging what you’re worth” (hint: she’s not a fan) People with power have used it violently against others throughout history. We are being reminded of this right here, right now. Before I get into today’s episode, I want to make sure that my position—and the position of my company—is clear. We condemn police brutality and state-sponsored violence. We believe Black lives matter. People took the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others unjustly. To our Black listeners, I want to acknowledge your cumulative pain and thank you for the superhuman ways that you continue to show up. To all of the indigenous people and people of color who listen, I want to acknowledge your cumulative pain as well. Thank you for continuing the work. This show is all about learning about what’s working to run and grow a small business. However, the question that feels most urgent right now is: What works to end this violence, to end our systems of oppression, to end the continual trauma perpetrated against Black people and people of color? The answer is… I don’t know. I’m listening to the people are working toward these ends though, so that I can do better work myself. But I do know that just as power can be used for harm and violence, it can be used to make new culture. It can be used to set new standards. It can be used to create new systems that take the sanctity of all lives and the dignity of all work into account. And I know that business owners have power. We have the power to do things differently. We have the power to question how business has always been done. We have the power to question the leaders who encourage us to exploit others and ourselves in the name of success. This month on What Works, we’re talking about money. Money is a tool for creating change—and it represents cog in the system that has been used to exclude, exploit, and dehumanize people for a very long time. When we start to question our assumptions about money and its role in our business, we start to undo that system little by little. Today, my guest is Jennifer Patterson. Jennifer is a grief and trauma worker and the founder of Corpus Ritual. Jennifer operates a significant portion of her business on a sliding scale pricing system. She does this for all the reasons I just outlined. She sees pricing as a way to work towards economic justice and make valuable services available to everyone—especially people from marginalized communities that need it most. We’ll get into exactly how this works in just a minute—but first, I wanted to share that money is not the only way we can create change through our businesses. White supremacy and systems of oppression are at work in the default ways we operate throughout our businesses—marketing, sales, management, hiring, communication, and more. One resource that I’ve been sharing a lot over the last f...
Jun 02, 2020 1 hr 6 min

EP 283: Taking Stock Of Our Evolving Relationships To Money with Tara & Sean McMullin

In This Episode The single most important lesson Tara McMullin learned about money in the last 5 years How that lesson rippled through her business and personal development as a leader Why this lesson also led with taking stock of how much her sense of credibility was tied to the money she makes How Sean McMullin is asking new questions about money and his relationship to it now that he’s a business owner, too What his experience with collectivism has inspired him to consider as the business (and bank account) grows Money is always about more than the dollars and cents. No matter how nice it might be to objectively measure the value of a thing or calculate the salary of a new hire or assess the return on a particular investment, there’s always something else going on. Something that defies the ability to measure it with pure math. There are the cultural norms we carry, the familial attitudes that are passed on to us, the limiting beliefs we’ve picked up along the way. There is always so much more to consider about money than the dollars and cents. This month, we have a series of episodes exploring money and our changing relationships to it. This is a series we’ve been planning since late last year but as the current global health crisis has blossomed into a global economic crisis, these questions about money and our relationship to it–especially as small business owners–feel more relevant every single day. Over the course of the month, you’ll hear from What Works regular Marie Poulin about how a surprise discovery led her to upending her business model while finding a whole new sense of ease when it came to making money. You’ll also hear from jewelry designer Tiffany Whipps who has seen first hand the wild swings in value that a fickle market can create. And you’ll hear from Jennifer Patterson, who runs a large portion of her herbalism and breathwork business on a sliding scale. Plus, you’ll hear What Works network members share how their relationship to money has evolved over time, too. All throughout this series, we’re asking you to examine the assumptions and beliefs that you hold about money. Some of them might be long held… perhaps stemming from how your parents handled money or a story you heard a long time ago. Others might be more cultural… maybe you’ve picked up some beliefs about money that come from how the news is reported or which business heroes are celebrated. Others might come from your very own market… I hear tall tales about money repeated as fact in my own industry all the time. Today, I wanted to start close to home. My own relationship to money has changed so much over the time I’ve been a business owner. So the first half of this episode is my own reflections on the most important money lesson I’ve learned in the last 5 years and the specific ways it’s played out in my business over that time. The second half of the episode is a conversation with my husband and business partner, Sean, about how his relationship to money is changing now that he’s a business owner, too. As I put this episode together, I realized that the whole of it is really a conversation about...
May 26, 2020 39 min

EP 282: Finding Support Through Coaching With Wholehearted Coaching Founder Shirin Eskandani

In This Episode: What happened with coach Shirin Eskandani got the call for her dream job–singing in Carmen at the Met How she discovered coaching and the process that would help her reexamine how she feels and what she wants The role coaching plays in her life now that she is a coach herself How she works to support her own clients in a coaching relationship today I was not a girl scout. But I love merit badges. As in, few things thrill me more than earning recognition for learning or doing something. I’ve been chasing merit badges all my life—so much so that the pursuit of merit badges has often led me away from what I really want out of life… and toward what will earn me the next badge. I’ve taken numerous jobs I didn’t want just to get the merit badge. I’ve agreed to plenty of collaborations I didn’t really want just to get the merit badge. And, I’ve chased a bunch of goals that didn’t really inspire me just to get the merit badge. Every merit badge I earn is just another attempt to prove to myself that I’m good enough, that I’m worthy. And each merit badge I earn only convinces me that the next merit badge will be the one that finally makes me happy. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I made this realization. And I did so with the support of my husband, my team, and coaching. Now that I know about my merit badge pattern, I’m always on the lookout for it. I’ve rearranged my goal-setting, planning, and decision-making so that I have a better opportunity to notice when I’m stretching toward something I really want… or gunning for another merit badge. I know I’m not the only person who always has her eye on the next merit badge. There’s a good chance that, as a listener of this show, you’re also keen on collecting accomplishments and achievements. Maybe that’s been helpful for you… and maybe it’s gotten you off track. Maybe it’s been a result of your own sense of self-worth… and maybe it’s been an attempt to prove it. My guest today found herself in a similar situation to me—always trying to prove she was good enough by climbing the rungs of her chosen career ladder: opera singing. But when she earned the merit badge she had most wanted her whole life, she realized that she still wasn’t happy. I’ll let her tell that story—but, listener, I can relate. And that’s why I so wanted to bring Shirin Eskandani onto the show. Shirin has done a lot of work on rewriting this pattern and she’s found support for that work through coaching. Today, Shirin is not a full-time opera singer. She’s a full-time coach herself. Shirin is a life coach, public speaker and writer who specializes in mindfulness and mindset work. She has been a featured wellness expert on the Today Show and Cosmopolitan Magazine. Shirin’s holistic approach to transformation is influenced by her background in meditation, spirituality and the arts. We talk about achieving her childhood dream and realizing she still wasn’t happy, as well as how she started to choose the thoughts that would help her feel the way she wants to feel, made the leap to coaching, and found her why. We also talk about coaching as a support structure and how coaching can ...
May 21, 2020 24 min

EP 281: Business Support Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

Leading a business can be lonely. I noticed just how disconnected business owners are when I started my very first website way back in 2009. That website was a blog about makers and artists in Pennsylvania. I wrote about their stories and shared products that caught my eye. The blog was relatively popular but the real magic of it wasn’t in what I was writing about. The magic was in how it connected people who didn’t know anyone else who was trying to make a go of turning their ideas into a business. They connected on my website, they connected in an early iteration of what Facebook groups have become, and they even connected in person. Even though I haven’t written for that blog in a decade, I know there are still people from that community who support each other as business owners. They are less lonely because of the connections they made through that simple website. After I handed that blog off to other people and started down the path of business coaching and education, I noticed that not only were small business owners a lonely bunch, I noticed that our isolation often led to missing information, confirmation bias, and unhelpful assumptions. And that’s what’s really led to how I’ve structured my business from there on out. I have been creating the structure to connect small business owners to each other for the last 10 years. I build containers, see what works, and then evolve. From Kick Start Labs to Quiet Power Strategy to What Works, I’ve endeavored to help entrepreneurs find the support they need–the support they crave. I’ve seen first hand how, yes, the emotional support of the right people can make all the difference in whether you press on or whether you quit. But even beyond the huge help of emotional support, I’ve seen how the right people can open your eyes to new ideas, how it can help you check your assumptions and self-limiting beliefs. I’ve seen how support can help you set new goals and find your focus. I believe we all need to find our support as small business owners… and I believe that support comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s the people we hire to work for us. Other times it’s our families. Sometimes it’s the professionals we engage with. Other times it’s the colleagues who call us on our own bullshit. All this month, we’ve looked at the challenges–and opportunities–that small business owners face in getting the support they need to feel confident and prepared. We’ve looked at mental health support, we’ve examined peer support, and we dug into coaching. This week, we asked 4 of our community members to share times when they’ve experienced a profound sense of support and I’m thrilled with how each of them shared a different form of support. Rebel Therapist founder Annie Schuessler shared how being honest & vulnerable with her peers has made a huge impact on her and her business. Business coach Justine Clay shared how a year-long program and accountability partner helped her get a new business off the ground. Voice coach and the SpeakEasy Cooperative founder Michelle Markwart Deveaux shared how her team supports her–and has helped her see herself and her role in a new way. And coach Leigh Johnson brings it all home by sharing how important different types o...
May 19, 2020 39 min

EP 280: Thriving With High Functioning Anxiety With The Happier Approach Host Nancy Smith

In This Episode: How licensed professional counselor & therapeutic coach Nancy Jane Smith learned to navigate high-functioning anxiety while building her business How high-functioning anxiety differs from our usual concept of what anxiety “looks like” The strategies Nancy uses to help herself (and her clients) deal with HFA Which of the 3 voices in her head Nancy uses to guide her action and keep moving forward Can we talk about anxiety? Even if you don’t think of yourself as having anxiety or dealing with anxiety, there’s a good chance you’ve felt pretty anxious over the last 2 months. I’ve been calling it ambient anxiety. It’s just in the air. Everything is in flux. Nothing is in our control. Everyone is on edge. It’s just really hard to get a solid handle on what’s going on a day to day or even hour by hour basis. Your response to all of this ambient anxiety might be to slow down—even shut down. You might feel numb or a bit panicked. You might have trouble concentrating or find yourself caught up in worry. That’s a very normal, very understandable response. But it’s not the only way that anxiety can manifest. The other way anxiety makes itself known doesn’t even look much like what we think of when we think anxiety. And that’s how I initially responded to the anxiety of our present moment. This month on the show, we’ve been talking about finding support as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely endeavor and the mental health challenges that many of us face don’t make it any easier to feel like you’re not alone. Which leads me back to how I found myself quote-unquote coping with my anxiety a few weeks ago… Instead of shutting down, I turned on. I worked long, hyper-productive days. I created new things. I hosted live events. I checked in with friends and supported our members and clients. My anxiety led me to over-functioning. My subconscious was trying to work my way through the stress and uncertainty. I was trying to control the uncontrollable. That burst of anxious over-functioning led to a complete collapse. I’m now trying to get back into a more manageable and gentle groove but I’m feeling pretty rotten. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have been living a similar story. Which really isn’t that surprising to me because in the before times, I was having a lot of conversations that started with: “Can I tell you about high-functioning anxiety?!” You see, I started learning about high-functioning anxiety from our guest today, Nancy Jane Smith. The way Nancy described anxiety was nothing like what I thought of anxiety to be… but was everything about my experience of the world. I’ve shared on the podcast before that only recently did I realize I was living with chronic anxiety. I had always identified as dealing with chronic depression and didn’t recognize my normal-for-me mental state was one of high anxiety. But the more I’ve learned from Nancy, the more I’ve learned about my own brand of anxiety. Nancy is an expert in High Functioning Anxiety. Nancy is trained as a licensed professional counselor and therapeutic coach.
May 12, 2020 1 hr 30 min

EP 279: Leveraging Masterminds For Support With Startup Pregnant Founder Sarah Peck

In This Episode: Why Startup Pregnant founder Sarah K. Peck started organizing mastermind groups & experiences before she was even a business owner How Sarah facilitates conversation among group members for maximum results Why mastermind groups are less about getting answers and more about getting in touch with your own inner knowing The role that mastermind experiences play in her business today and how her business model is structured (including pricing) Why structure is such an important part of creating highly effective mastermind groups What would we do without the internet? I mean, really. I have access to a global library of information and ideas in my pocket at all times. If I have a question, I can typically find an answer in less than 60 seconds. And how about online learning? If I want to learn a new skill, there’s probably a YouTube video or a CreativeLive class or an ebook that will teach me what I need to know. It’s probably impossible to quantify the amount of new skills I’ve picked up thanks to the internet. And how about the people that the internet brings together? You know I love online communities, social networks, and just finding random connections between humans you would have otherwise never met. The internet gives me access to people all over the world. Information, ideas, learning new skills, meeting new people and connecting with old friends… the internet, with all its faults and foibles, can be an incredible place for support. But at some point, learning new information, acquiring new skills, and even meeting new people starts to come up short. At some point, as my guest today says, you realize that their aren’t external answers to internal questions. You realize that beyond access to the world’s information and citizens… you need access to yourself: your own inner knowing. One way I’ve gotten access to myself—my own inner knowing and decision-making—is through mastermind groups. Last year, at an in-person gathering of one of the masterminds that we run at What Works, one participant told me that they didn’t really need anyone to tell them what to do with their business. They knew exactly what they should be doing. Instead, they said they needed people to ask why they weren’t doing it. That’s why they were in the mastermind group. To me, that’s the perfect illustration of how a mastermind group can support business owners who are committed to—not just learning a new marketing skill or figuring out how to launch a new product—but to becoming a more whole entrepreneur and building a business that works exceptionally well. I’ve been running mastermind groups of one sort or another for about 5 years and I have a lot to say on the subject. But I didn’t want you to just get my thoughts… So I invited someone equally as passionate about masterminding as I am, Sarah K. Peck, the founder of Startup Pregnant. Sarah was on the show before talking about how the Startup Pregnant podcast got started—but the whole business and community of Startup Pregnant has evolved and grown a ton since then. <a href="https://explorewhatworks.
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