In today’s podcast I talk about the 8 key lessons I learned in 2014. Each year I do an annual recap and there are 8 that stand out to me. As a listener you have been following my running journey throughout 2014 so I use some running analogies to explain my 8 key lessons. I hope you enjoy it and wish you a very happy holiday season!
Links mentioned in today’s podcast!
- How do you recover from sticking your foot in your mouth?
- SO…Where are the lesbians?
- #46: What is coming in 2015 and answering listener questions [Podcast]
- #25: LGBT Year in Review & Key Lessons in 2013 [Podcast]
Listen to the episode by clicking the play button below!
Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the episode? No problem! Read the transcript below.
AUDIO TITLE: Episode #49 – Eight Lessons of 2014
You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy, Podcast Episode 49.
Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.
Hello and welcome to Episode Number 49!
Well hello and welcome to episode number 49 of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace. And here we are. It is the end of December, 2014. We are about to go into a new year with lots of new things to accomplish. And today if you are listening to this as it’s coming out live, it is actually coming out on Christmas Day for those of you who do celebrate Christmas. I know that I will be spending time with family. You know we celebrate Christmas but we are not an overly festive holiday-filled household, we just prefer the holiday season more generally and spending time with family and friends and collecting holiday cards from others and friends of ours. Our refrigerator right now is just completely from top to bottom filled with cards that people have sent us. So that’s the kind of stuff that we enjoy around the holidays, is just getting just nice notes from people and checking in with people that we may not have talked to as much as we would have hoped throughout the year and that kind of stuff. But we do celebrate Christmas and our kids have plenty of things to look forward to on Christmas Day. But my personal excitement is a homemade apple pie that awaits me at my inlaws’ house, that I’m very, very excited about. So you can see where my primary focus is, I’m focused on food and what greatness awaits.
So yeah, I don’t know what is in store for you today if you are maybe you’re listening to this while you’re travelling somewhere, or if you’re listening to this it could be June 2015 by the time you’re listening to this, and that’s totally cool too.
Today I have an unedited show for you..
So because I am recording this just a couple of days before the airing date, I do not have time to make this a very nicely edited show. So you are getting a very raw version of the show today, so if I mess up along the way there will be no editing this or cutting it out. So I’ve had a couple of episodes in the past where I did kind of a Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Unplugged version where I wasn’t doing a whole lot of editing, and to be honest I feel like you probably won’t even be able to tell the difference unless of course we’re two and a half minutes in now and I do something egregious in the next few minutes; which, there we go, is quite possible.
Anywho. So today’s topic is I want to just talk about some of the things, some of the key lessons that I’ve learned in 2014, and this is becoming a theme. So in 2012 I did this, in 2013 I did this, and now 2014 I’m doing it again. So I just want to cover some of those and elaborate a little bit on some of these key areas that I feel are worth mentioning because they don’t completely translate into LGBT marketing per say, but it is information that’s going to help you as a business owner or an entrepreneur or somebody that might be in a sales or a business development related role. And these are just my own personal, my top tips.
And I believe, let me just scroll down, I believe I have eight of them this year. That is correct. So I have eight. So in 2012 I had seven, 2013 I had six and now in 2014 I have eight. So I will get to those in just a couple of minutes. But I do want to draw your attention to the next webinar. And that is on January 13th and the webinar title is ‘How are You Reaching the LGBT Community in 2015?’ So the description is pretty brief, it says, “This webinar will be like no other I’ve ever done. This will be a live interactive workshop, where we will walk through a few simple steps to help you identify who you will reach, how you’re going to sell to the LGBT community, and basically the who, what, when, where, why and how.”
Register for the next free webinar!
So we’re just going to go through kind of a high level overview and it’s at 12:00 PM Eastern time on January 13th. So if you want to register for that you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/webinars, or you can click on a link that will be provided in today’s show notes which will be at www.JennTGrace.com/49 and that’s the number 49 for episode number 49.
So that is the one real thing that I would love for you to do, is go check out the webinar. I am amazed, seriously, by the amount of RSVPs I already have for it, because I haven’t really been promoting it a whole heck of a lot but I guess it’s only a couple of weeks away so there’s just a lot of people already excited about this. So I would encourage you, because it’s not going to be- like if you’ve attended a webinar in the last year, it’s not going to be any of the same repetitive content; it’s going to be completely different. I want to start off 2015 really strong. So that is how I plan on doing it.
First things first.. a couple of random things to mention
So let’s see. I just want to make just a couple of random things that I’ve received from people over the last couple of weeks because I’m finding that I want to do that more and more with you is just kind of share with you things that people have sent me, things they find interesting, you know just fun little fun facts and tidbits. And one of them is that I got a text message from a friend, a colleague, actually somebody who’s been on the podcast. And he sent me a text, and I’m going to include the image in the show notes for the episode because it says, “You are number four on Google, so totally impressive. Proud of you.” And this is just somebody that I respect as a colleague and somebody that’s pretty entrenched in the LGBT area. And he was looking for LGBT buying power, just trying to find some kind of stats around it. And I’m really, really frickin’ excited to be honest that my blog post came up number four in Google behind the HRC and Curve Magazine. So for those of you who are trying to- you have businesses where you have a very content heavy business, and it’s content focused, you might know that it’s hard in some cases, it’s pretty hard to get yourself ranking high in Google for search terms. But the fact that I was able to find my way into number four on Google for LGBT buying power, I’m really excited about that. So I thought I would share my excitement and joy and just share that little fun fact with you.
And the other thing, I have two emails that I received. And I’m just going to share with you the jist of them. And one of them is from a woman named Jennifer, because there’s a million Jen’s, especially in the United States. I’m sure it’s common in other areas as well, but there’s just a sea of us in the US and she shot me an email just a couple of days ago that basically- and this is what I love about you, my listeners, or the readers of my blog, or people that you’ve taken me up on the offer of having a conversation with you because I do say that on almost all of my podcasts that if you want to talk to me for just a couple of minutes I would love to know what your pain points are and how I can help you solve them. So it’s great because so many of you take advantage of this, and I get these emails and I’m like, “Wow that is just so awesome that you’re thinking about me in the most random times in some cases.” So she sent me an email just saying that she was with a group of her mother’s friends that are all southern women between ages 68 and 75. And she just happened to be with, so imagine yourself as an ally and you’re with a bunch of older southern women, and decide to ask the question if they knew what LGBT meant. And I think it’s hilarious that she thought to do this, and so she asked a group of southern women if they saw an article that included LGBT in it, if they would have any idea what that meant, and all of them said no. So then she said, “Well if you saw an article that said gay in it, would you know what that is?” And they all said yes. So I think that that further confirms, and this is really why she was reaching out to me, because her last note in it says, “I think you’re on the right track with your quote. If the point is to teach, encourage and enlighten the allies, then you have to speak to them from what they know first and then add to it by correcting and educating.”
So basically my tagline of I teach gay people how to market- I teach straight people how to market to gay people and gay people how to market themselves. I could easily put LGBT in there, but the majority of straight people, you’re not going to know what LGBT is. If you’re listening to this podcast you are probably well aware at this point of what it is, but the average person doesn’t. So to on she said, “I then asked my teenage daughters the same question. And they said a little over half of their friends would know what LGBT stood for but all of them would know gay.” So I find that was the more interesting thing to me, I’m not shocked in the least that the older women would have no idea what LGBT meant, but I am a little bit shocked that the teenage daughters wouldn’t necessarily know- or her teenage daughters did, but half of their friends, they didn’t think would know what LGBT stood for. I found that really fascinating because we’re talking about teenagers. I feel like we make assumptions as marketers that younger people will know what LGBT stands for, but it appears not the case, at least in this short little survey that somebody did on my behalf. So thank you so much Jennifer for doing that; I just, I found it so sweet and endearing that you would just be using your time to have these conversations with people in clearly different generations in which you were kind of in the middle of both. So I thought that that was totally awesome and I think it’s a good lesson for you the listener, to just have a general, basically a general understanding of how to use the right terminology; and Lord knows I’ve got plenty of stuff on my blog and website in regards to what terminology you should use and how. So I did want to bring that up because I thought that was really cute.
On Small Business Saturday…..
And then the other thing I wanted to mention is that on Small Business Saturday, I gave away the Kindle version of my book all day for 24 hours, and I ended up giving away- I should have looked up the number beforehand, but I want to say it was like 357 copies of my book. And I’m super excited about that. And somebody had reached out to me saying that she had gotten a copy of it, just wants to say, and then my typical response if anybody emails me and that goes for you who are listening right now and you’re like, “I don’t know if I should email her or not,” seriously email me because I will respond, I promise. And I wrote back to her my typical-ness of you know, “Is there anything that I can help answer for you, is there one particular thing on your mind? I’m more than happy to try to point you in the right direction.” And the reason I do this is because if she has this question, chances are there’s going to be others of you who have that same question and if I can help point her in the right direction, even if it requires a little bit of effort on my part to find the right resource for her, then I can go back and share that information with you, who might also have the same question. And that’s basically what happened here, is she was looking where to find lesbians- specifically lesbians who read fiction. And that is not something I am overly familiar with like in terms of I don’t have a resource specifically that has anything to do with fiction or even books in general as it relates to lesbians. But I was able to go through and just kind of think high level and make a few recommendations to talk to Shannon Wentworth who is the founder of www.lesbian.com, I thought if anybody’s going to know where lesbians might be, she might be the one. Or talking with Matt Skallerud of Pink Banana Media who does specific LGBT targeting online, with online marketing. He was a guest on this show for the 30 Days, 30 Voices, and I’ve probably said this a couple of times on the podcast, but I feel like he’s like the godfather of LGBT marketing. Like he’s just really one of the pioneers and he’s been doing it for a very long time, so he’s an amazing resource.
So I was basically kind of responded to her and said, “This is kind of a problematic area because there’s still so little research around LGBT that something that seems so simple can be actually very complex.” So I gave her a few of those resources and if you too are looking for, finding lesbians, you can be more than happy to check out those resources as well. But I just want to give Donna a shoutout for taking the time and reaching out to me and being very open and receptive to some advice; and of course I really hope that you follow up with me again and let me know exactly how everything went down. So what I thought was great is that in one of my books, and this sounds terrible but I don’t even remember which one. I think it may have been the first book, and I can certainly- you know what I’m actually going to pause and I’m going to check before I continue. Okay good thing I paused because that took much longer than it should have. Anyway, again this is what happens when you’re not editing because of time restrictions.
So what I was saying is she had mentioned that she found a way to distill the numbers, basically, of what her possible reach is by one of the resources that I provided in my first book. So the first book, ‘But You Don’t Look Gay,’ and that’s the Six Steps to Creating an LGBT Marketing Plan. So definitely check that out.
I also have an online course that includes an actual tutorial, a video tutorial, to show you exactly how step-by-step to figure out how to use census data and apply that to your specific target market. So it’s a little bit of a pain, I’m not going to lie, and I used actually a client of mine, I protected their name but basically a dentist that’s in the greater New York City area. And I use them as an example to show how to actually use census data and come up with what you think is a rough estimate of the opportunity you have for LGBT clients.
So Donna was awesome and very proactive, and found the resource in my book and then went ahead and started doing some calculations and was able to come to some sort of conclusion that was helpful for her. So if you are looking to identify your target market specifically and really drill down numbers and opportunity, I definitely encourage you to at least just head over to my website and type in ‘census data,’ as a search and tons of information will come up. And there’s some that you could pay for and there’s plenty and plenty that is free. So whatever strikes you, you can certainly go in and do it that way.
So let’s see. I think those were the three things that I wanted to mention before getting into the 2014 lessons of the year. So while this is a natural breaking point, I’m going to say hold on for just a second so you can listen to a quick message from the sponsors of this podcast, and then we will be right back to discuss the eight lessons that I’ve learned in 2014. Hang tight and I will be right back.
On to the lessons of 2014..
Alright we are back, and again there’s a cough in your ear and I apologize about that. No editing. So we are discussing the eight lessons that I learned in 2014. And I’ve made this a recurring theme to do for you because of actual feedback from you that all of you have really enjoyed it. So I would stop doing it if I knew you didn’t like it, but my analytics are showing that you do enjoy it, and I’ve heard from a handful of you as well. So I’m just going to recap super quick 2012 and 2013. I’m not going to go into details, I’m just going to highlight the bulletpoints of the lessons that I had mentioned.
So in 2012, that was my- it was really the beginning of my first year doing this business. So as I’ve talked about in the past I’ve had a couple of other businesses and in 2012, November 1st to be exact, I decided that this is the direction I was going to take my business in. So November 1st is now my anniversary, so I’m going into my third year.
So 2012 I only had two months really of this version of my business, to kind of provide lessons around. And the seven that I had then are to take good care of yourself – and these are in order of what I felt order of importance, so it could still be the case now, it could have changed a little, but there are still seven things that I find very valuable now. And so 2012 was take good care of yourself, failure is okay, when you lose your passion it’s time to move on, get a business coach, join a mastermind group, know your strengths, and celebrate differences. So those are my top seven in 2012 that were kind of things that I may have learned the hard way, some things that came a little bit more natural, but if you’re interested in checking those out I will include a link in the show notes so that way you can go and read more detail as to what I mean about those specifically.
And then 2013 I came up with six, and I don’t come up with any magic number, it’s just really the top things that are on my mind in a given year. So last year in 2013, the six that I had were when you feel stagnant, up the ante. Don’t let your ego get in your way. Align yourself with complimentary people. Always be true to your authentic self. Don’t beat yourself up so much. And go with the natural ebb and flow of your business. So those were my six in 2013, and the reason why I wanted to share these basically these others from past years, these thirteen, is because there’s a little bit of overlap in the eight that I have today for you.
So if you are a first time listener of this podcast, hell yeah I am excited to have you here. If you’ve been listening for a while or you are one of the diehards that I know are out there, because you have told me that you have not missed a single episode; I love it. And I would love for that to be continued to be the case. So for those of you who do know a little bit of my background, or at least have been listening to the last handful of episodes, then you know that I ran a half marathon this year. So part of me wants to share with you these eight lessons, a little bit in the framework of running not a whole lot. So if you don’t enjoy running then don’t let that deter you from listening to the rest of these things. There’s just a little bit of overlap in here.
So in 2014 I ran three 5Ks, a 10K and a half marathon. And I started off in September of 2013 I started running. So really I should say that the beginning of 2014 is like when I really started running and training. So I managed to do six races in total over the course of a year, which in the running world is not a crazy amount; there are some people who do like 100 races in a year, which I don’t know how they fit it in. But I’m very happy with the six that I have managed to accomplish. And I’ve also already picked my next half marathon, which is on May 2nd in 2015, and that will be in Connecticut so there will be no travel required. The half marathon that I did was in Orlando at a Run Disney event. And basically the reason why I talk about running at all, is that there’s just a lot of overlap in terms of the preparation and the training that goes into running and the same type of mindset that you need to be in to run your business. And I have talked about that specifically a couple of times in past episodes, but it’s just so incredibly important that I never would have thought that. I would have never in a million years have known that was the case before, because I was never a runner. I never ran unless I had to, so I grew up as an athlete but I played softball, I was a fast pitch pitcher, and then in slow pitch I was shortstop and second base. So that was my extent of running. So as the pitcher you don’t really run a whole lot, and even as shortstop and second base; those are not positions- like that is not a sport in which you are logging in significant miles. Unlike my wife who was a basketball and soccer player. Like she was logging some significant miles. So for me to just pick up the habit of running out of seemingly nowhere to be perfectly honest, it’s really eye opening because I have a lot of time to just kind of reflect because I am putting in- not even a lot of miles a week, I’m at the gym at least three days a week, sometimes four. I’m really waiting for the winter to kind of be gone and past so I can go back outside because I’m not really a big fan of running on the treadmill, but it is what it is, you have to use what you have.
So when I’m thinking of these eight lessons it’s kind of in this framework of training and preparation and what it all takes to kind of get things done. And right now my next race is in May, it’s the beginning of May, and I really need to give myself about like eight or twelve weeks of really die-hard training to be completely prepared for that race. And I think it’s only because I spent all of 2014 preparing for this first half marathon, that that was like the bulk; that was the big heavy lift. So if we’re thinking from a business perspective, that was like the start-up year, that was like my start-up year for racing. Was no idea what I’m doing, no idea how to eat properly to kind of fuel your body, no idea how far your legs will take you, how far your mind will take you, so it was very much a year of not knowing what the hell I was doing, to be perfectly honest. So I’ve subscribed to a few magazines, I follow a couple of blogs, I listen to some running podcasts. All too kind of just get myself caught up to speed.
My First Lesson…
So it’s kind of the same way with your business. So my first lesson is if you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you need to stop and reflect. So that’s really lesson number one, is just really understand- and I talk about this in relations to LGBT marketing, is understanding your ‘why.’ So why are you doing this? And this is- so this is really, this is going beyond asking yourself why you’re doing this as it relates to LGBT marketing, it’s more of why are you doing what you’re doing in your business. So let’s bring it up to the 30,000 foot view. So when you’re talking about your LGBT marketing, maybe it’s a 10,000 foot view, or even a 5,000 foot view. But let’s bring it up even higher; so why are you doing what you’re doing in your business? And this definitely has the crossover in running, and for me the reason why I’m running and continuing to run is that I really enjoy the alone time. I’m not a group runner, I don’t really have a desire to be a group runner, although I do think I wouldn’t mind the comradery of having others that are kind of training on a similar schedule. But I have my one running partner who lives in a different state and we get together when the weather is nice and we do long runs together, and that is enough for me. So I just know that my purpose for doing this is really mental clarity. Like I see on Facebook post, or the memes (I think they’re called memes), and some of they say like, ‘I run to burn off the crazy,’ and things like that. It’s like, there’s a lot of mental reflection and time to have to yourself when you can be alone and just kind of reflect. So if you don’t have that time to reflect for your own business, I would encourage you to do it. I know that there’s a lot of people that swear by meditation and how that’s a reason why their business is so successful because they have time to just kind of sit and meditate and think about things.
Stop and reflect…
So it’s one of those things that stop and reflect. If you don’t know, stop and reflect. And I find that that definitely keeps me on course with what I’m trying to accomplish; both in my running and my business. It’s just a matter of knowing what my end goal is and why I have that end goal.
And the second lesson of 2014…
So number two is guard your time like the precious commodity that it is. And I am a stickler for my time. And I feel like everybody needs to be. And it’s one of those things that you have to just kind of start your day off in the right place, you have to know before you start your day what your plan is for the day, what are you planning to accomplish. It could be something monumental, it could be something really small. But regardless of what it is, what is your plan for the day? And how are you going to guard your time? And I heard somebody say at some point this past year, that when you say yes to something you’re saying no to something else. So when you say yes to somebody or something that is of lesser importance, you are saying no to something that’s more important at the same time. And it was one of those things that it didn’t really occur to me as much as it did this past year; that when you say yes to that favor somebody asks you, or you say yes to that volunteer project, or that volunteer position, and you are not fully committed to it, you’re saying no- or it doesn’t fully align with your business. You’re basically saying no to something that’s more important to your business. And I think that there’s a fine line here in terms of the saying yes to something and no to something else, because you want to make sure that you are- like I’m all for volunteering, I have more volunteer roles than I should to be perfectly honest and in 2015 I’m going to try to figure out how to scale some of those back a bit so I can focus more on my business. But you want to make sure that you do have a piece of you that is fully active and engaged and volunteering in some capacity, because I find that that’s going- it has, to me drives back to point number one of like my sense of my ‘why,’ of like why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Helping the greater good..
So I’m enjoying building my platform and building my audience of people and getting to know you, because I know that by getting to know you, that is helping the greater- I don’t want to say the greater good because that sounds very, a little bit pie in the sky-ish, but it’s helping the greater good. It’s helping more people; by me helping you and you helping me, we are helping LGBT people far beyond the grasp in which we can reach. So that goes directly back to my ‘why.’ So I need to guard my time like a precious commodity because I need to make sure that when I am using my time, it is going to be something that helps you and helps the greater LGBT community. So that’s just something to consider. And I find that having a very routine schedule and trying to structure your day and know what you’re going to do when you wake up out of bed in the morning, that that helps guard that time.
So number three…
So number three, and this one is that you can accomplish you want with the proper training and proper planning. And now this one is very specific to, when I say training I’m talking again with my running analogy, that I- and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I, when I started trying to train (and I say trying to train because it was not a pleasant sight), I could not run for more than fifteen seconds without being winded and wanting to die. Like my chest, my lungs, everything in me was screaming at me to stop what I was doing and this is not the right path, like don’t run like you are- you are not meant to run, you’re not physically able to run, like all sorts of like- part of it was my body physically screaming at me and then the other part was me mentally screaming at myself saying like, ‘Oh no, you can’t do this, this isn’t for you.’ So thinking, when I’m in the state where I can’t run for more than fifteen seconds without having significant problems, how in the hell am I going to run for three hours if I cannot run for fifteen seconds? And this is where the fact that you can accomplish anything you’re trying to accomplish when you break things down into bite size manageable chunks. And that’s basically what I did with my training, and that’s what I have learned to do in my business. And interestingly enough, most of these things are lessons that I learned in my business that I can apply to running. But this one is very, very specific that I learned this first as a running principle, and I was able to really adapt it and figure out how to do it better for my life and my business. So I just now break everything down. And I know that this is total, total common knowledge; this is something everyone will tell you, if you want to get like the big scary task done to break it down into smaller parts. But until you have that revelation yourself of how to actually go about executing it, it does seem kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah yeah. Yeah, I know I need to do that.’ But are you really doing it is kind of more of the question. And for me I knew I should have been doing it, but I wasn’t thinking through to the degree that I am now. So I know that if I can just put aside thirty minutes a day, which is basically what I was doing for the running. It was thirty minutes a day to just at least if I can run fifteen seconds today, maybe I can run twenty seconds tomorrow. And then maybe I can run thirty seconds. And then maybe it’s 45. And it’s very, very small increments; like ridiculously small increments. But at the end of the day, within a year, let’s see fourteen months to be exact, I went from only being able to run for fifteen seconds to being able to run for three hours. So it’s those very small things that kind of really add up over time, and I don’t think it was until I actually was seeing this significant progress over the summer where I was able to run for like twelve miles, and not want to die, that it occurred to me like, ‘Wow, I can really, really get some major things accomplished in my business if I just chip away at them slow and steady.’ And I feel like in business and when you’re working on a monster project, like even a book, right? So that’s how I’ve been doing my book is just writing a little bit here, writing a little bit there, and have a very routine schedule of every morning from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM I’m writing on this book. And the end result ends up being a finished product, but it took a long time to get there, but it wasn’t that bad because it was broken down into small, manageable chunks. So that’s just my randomness for you is that if you have something, like maybe it’s writing a book. And you think that it’s just completely not going to happen, it’s out of your grasp, no way in hell you could possible do it; really think about doing it in very small chunks. Maybe it’s just writing for five minutes. Then you’re writing for ten minutes, and you gradually work your way up. As long as you’re working on something that’s going toward that bigger goal, then I feel like you are in pretty good shape.
Lesson number four…
So number four is anybody can start a race, but not everyone can finish it. And this is an interesting, and again the whole running theme here, is that this is more about persistence and pursuit of what your goal and your vision and your mission are for your company. Because if you look at the statistics, they are very, very- they’re not good. They are not a good scene when it comes to how many business start and how many fail in the first year, how many fail in the third year, fifth year, tenth year. Like businesses start and fail at an exceptionally high rate. So this is just proving that anyone can just jump into being a business owner, being an entrepreneur, but not everyone’s going to finish that race. So to what degree do you have that persistence of knowing in your heart of hearts that you can actually accomplish that. And I wanted to put this in here even though I don’t have a ton to say around it, just to give you motivation that if you’re in your third, fifth, seventh, twentieth year of business, then you are doing way better than a lot of other businesses who’ve started and failed, and you may not even know it. I feel like a lot of times we get bogged down in the day-to-day of our business that sometimes we don’t really see the amount that’s actually been accomplished in a given period of time. So I feel like definitely take some time, maybe going back up to lesson number one about just stopping and reflecting; maybe here’s a good point here to just kind of stop and reflect, and basically think about how far you’ve come in your business in this last twelve month period.
Number five.. helping others along the way…
Number five is help others along the way. And this one for me, I feel like is worth mentioning because no business can really succeed in a vacuum. Like you can’t really have a successful business without having others involved. And the others involved could be having customers; like you don’t have a business unless you have customers. Or having a mastermind group, as I mentioned in one of the previous years’ lessons, or having a business coach, or having mentors, or any number of things that can really help you along the way. And I feel that more often than not we’re thinking about how others can help us and not necessarily how we can help others. So I, this past year, have just learned that- and it’s something that’s already kind of been engrained in how I operate. But to really make a concentrated effort to help others without expecting anything in return. So when somebody does reach out to me via email and asks for something, I easily could respond and say, “Oh that’s covered in this book, go buy it, or that’s covered in this course, go buy it,” but that’s not my MO. I would rather give them the right guidance and direction, even if they’re not paying me for it. Because I know that just kind of putting that good karma out there is the better approach personally. And helping others along the way in terms of- even in terms of racing. So going for a run, there are plenty of times that people are in distress when they’re going for a run, and especially in big races. So in November when I did the Run Disney race, there were 14,000 other runners. Which for somebody who likes to run by myself and be solo, being around that many people and having to jump and dodge people and go around people and jump over cones and being like on the grass, out of the grass, in the road, on a curb; like some just craziness because there’s so many people around. There were a lot of times where people were kind of hobbling along and the person that they were running with was helping them hobble along. Or even I went with a running partner and at a couple of points during the race I was ahead of her, she was ahead of me. But we were helping each other along the way by not just leaving each other in the dust and saying like, “Peace out, you’re on your own.” So it’s a matter of helping others along the way, and toward the end of the race, I want to say (I don’t remember specifically) but it had to be like mile ten or mile eleven, a woman just took a massive, massive header. Like she went down and she ended up breaking her shoulder we found out after, and there were a lot of people who helped her when that happened. And it wasn’t just the volunteers who were there, but there was other runners who had stopped to help her. And it’s one of those things that by them stopping to help her, they were screwing up their own personal time. Because if they stopped for five minutes to help this woman who was in obviously a lot of pain and needed to be helped, then that’s five minutes on their personal record or their personal time, maybe they set out on that day of saying, “I’m going to get a personal best at this race.” And personal best when it comes to running, depending on how seasoned of a runner you are, could be by ten seconds. So by helping somebody else, that can really screw up your ten seconds. But at the end of the day I think running a race and having felt like you helped others along the way, even if it did have a hindrance to you personally, I still think it’s worth it. So it’s a way to just kind of think about it from a business standpoint. Is this going to help somebody else and could this possibly set me back by ten seconds? And if the answer is yes, weigh whether or not it’s worth it to you. Is it worth it to you to have that ten second delay on something? Most of time I’m going to say it’s probably going to be a yes. So just be mindful of how you can help others along your journey as your business is growing and scaling, and you’re reaching out successfully to the LGBT market. Think about how you could help others while that’s all happening. And of course others are going to help you in return naturally; but don’t go about it expecting a tit-for-tat.
Number six.. Read, read, read!
So number six is read a lot. And I say this because I really didn’t realize how much I read until just a couple weeks ago when I was just thinking about all of the books I’ve read this year and all the magazines I subscribe to, and all of the books I listen to and it’s a little bit crazy. I was watching an interview with Tony Robbins; he’s got a new book, I think it’s called ‘Money,’ I can’t see the rest of the title because there’s something blocking it from my view, but it’s ‘Money,’ and it just came out. And when you buy a copy of the book it ends up feeding like fifty people based on whatever his revenue model is with the publisher and all that stuff. And I bought it because it just talks about how to be more fiscally responsible and understand finances more and how- just a lot about the industry, and I just thought it would be interesting, and these are not books I typically read. I don’t typically go for something that’s just strictly about like investing and that kind of stuff, that’s definitely not my forte. But I saw the interview, I thought it was great, so I bought it; and it is 700 pages and it is a physical book. And I hardly ever buy physical books. So I was thinking about how many books I’ve bought, how many I’ve bought through audible, which I absolutely love audible. And it was a significant number. But I was having a conversation with somebody yesterday, and we were talking about something and I started referencing something that I had just read in another book called ‘All In Start-up,’ it’s by Diana Kander. And I was at a conference in October and she was also a speaker, so we were at a private speaker’s networking whatever you want to call it; and I got a chance to talk to her and then I got a copy of her book signed the following day. And it is a totally brilliant book, and it’s just basically about start-up mode and understanding your customers’ problems and whether they have a headache kind of problem or if it’s a migraine type of problem. And I was able to use a lot of that knowledge in a conversation that I had yesterday, trying to get to the bottom of someone’s issue with their business and why it’s not doing as well as they want it to. And it occurred to me that 90% of the stuff that comes spewing out of my mouth a lot, is me regurgitating something that I’ve recently read. So I think that’s it’s really important to find an opportunity in your day to read. And if you don’t like reading, which me personally I would have much rather bought her book, ‘The All In Startup,’ on audible and listened to it, but since I had a physical copy of it I figured that didn’t make sense. So I carved out the time to just do a little bit of reading, it’s usually on like Saturday or Sunday mornings when my family is still asleep and my cat has woken me up because he’s hungry, and I have to go upstairs anyway to feed him so I just kind of come up and have that alone time where I have my coffee and I read a book. And the other times is when I’m running and I’m listening to books. So on audible I listen to just a ton of books, but a couple of my favorites from this year have been ‘Getting to Yes,’ ‘The One Thing,’ ‘The Hundred Dollar Startup,’ and ‘Write, Publish and Repeat.’ So those are like a couple of them. I’ve listened to many others because I get the audible credits so you basically get a book a month. And it’s a good time to use your time wisely. So if you are exercising, why not learn while you’re exercising? And you could be listening to me right now while you’re exercising and I know a lot of you do. But when you don’t have a new episode from me or another one of your favorite podcasters, then pick up a book that’s going to help you grow your business. And also, if you have a long commute to work which I know a lot of you have; fortunately I walk from upstairs to my middle floor and that’s where I work. So I do not have any commute and I love it, but not having that commute kind of deprives me of that time to just kind of like sit in the car and think and listen to stuff, which is why I do it when I’m running. So it’s one of those things that I think the more you read, the more the broader your scope and horizons can be in terms of just understanding your niche. So maybe you have certain publications that you subscribe to or like I have subscriptions to Entrepreneur and Inc Magazine and I still get the actual physical magazines because there’s just something about a physical magazine that I still enjoy. And it just seems like a good opportunity for you to just continue learning, it’s always an education process. So that’s one thing that I really made a concentrated effort to just be mindful of what I’m reading and making sure that I’m reading things that are going to be applicable to my day-to-day.
Number seven… seeking guidance.
So number seven is find a plan or a mentor to help guide you; and I shouldn’t say find, it’s more of create a plan, and find a mentor that’s going to help you in your business. And this really aligns with my 2013 one which was aligning yourself with complementary people. Just find yourself- just surround yourself with people who are likeminded, that maybe it’s a client, maybe it is a business colleague, maybe it’s somebody you used to work with, maybe it’s somebody that you’re actually paying in a business coach type of capacity. Whatever it happens to be, find somebody that you can just kind of get the knowledge that’s in their head and try to learn from them. And I feel fortunate that I have just a lot of people that I’ve surrounded myself with in both formal and informal mastermind groups, and just people that I look up to that I do work with on a regular basis, that they may not know that I look up to them, but I do because they have more knowledge and more wisdom that I want to know what they know. So by surrounding yourself with these types of people and getting yourself a mentor to help move your business forward, I feel like it’s a complete win-win, and just be mindful because you have mentors that are kind of lurking everywhere that you don’t even realize that they’re kind of lurking. And in this case I don’t really have any- I guess maybe I could bring the running piece to this as well, but it’s actually a little bit reversed. When I started this running journey, and again going from my fifteen seconds and wanting to die to my three hours; I was not- I did not do this for anybody else but me. I did not- unlike my business. My business is here to serve everyone else and I am just kind of the catalyst and the vessel in which to serve others. But when it comes to running, it’s a completely different scenario because I started to do this for me and me alone. I was not doing it to look healthier, I wasn’t doing it to lose weight, I wasn’t doing it to somehow make my body appear more sexy to my spouse, it was nothing of that. It was just me and just trying to find some mental clarity; that’s all I was focused about. However, as a by-product of me just being vocal about talking about my struggles with trying to figure out how to run and do it without getting hurt and the small little wins that I feel like I’ve had throughout doing this; it’s actually inspired a lot of other people to get healthier. And that was not my plan in any way. I was not doing it to try to inspire others, but it’s kind of cool that it’s just happened that way. So I’ve heard from- when I go to a couple of different conferences a year, I almost always have people coming up saying, “Oh my God you look so different.” And I definitely- I’ve lost fifty pounds in the last two years, and I do look drastically different and I enjoy the fact that I do, but it’s not for appearances, it’s more for my internal- like my inside just feels better. I just feel more clear, I feel like I know what I’m trying to accomplish, I feel like all the stars are aligning and everything is going the way it should. And it just started from within. So I say, when you’re finding somebody to help you and guide you and to be a mentor, I’ve found that in this case when it comes to not business-wise but exercise and health and better wellness, that I’ve found myself in that seat of being the mentor to others, while I am being mentored by other business people. So it’s really interesting to kind of see how that all happens; that you really have no idea who you’re affecting or inspiring, unless they actually reach out and tell you. So it’s just- it’s a really, really interesting dynamic. So the people that I find to be mentors to me, I have not told them, and I’m sure some of them might be able to guess that they are, but it’s not something that I directly say, “Oh you’re a mentor to me.” It’s just something more subtle that you just kind of absorb what you can, and take the richness that they know and understand and kind of figure out how to apply that to your life and business.
And Number eight.. Assigning meaning.
And then number eight is assigning meaning to pain and failure. And this one I feel like does kind of fall into a 2012 lesson that I had which was failure is okay. And I still fully, fully in my heart of hearts believe failure is okay because it is. Without failing we would not know how to figure out how to apply what we’ve learned from that failure to make a better product or deliver a better service, or create a better outcome. So I think that in your business if you reflect back on 2014 and think, ‘What worked? What didn’t work? Why? Why did what didn’t work, why didn’t it work? Like what was the reason for it?’ And if you can assign some sort of meaning around that, I think it makes that feeling of pain and that feeling of failure a little more tolerable. So that’s kind of- that’s really in a nutshell. Like I think of when running, to finally finish this whole eight lessons off. There’s a lot of meaning for me personally, so I did like I said, three 5Ks, a 10K and a half marathon this year. And one of the 5Ks gave out this- it’s sitting next to me actually, I’m going to rotate my body to look at it. It’s a very- it’s a plastic, like a lanyard type of medal. I don’t know, it’s nothing overly exciting. But one of the races gave out that. Most of the races I raced in did not give out any type of bling as the running world would call it. But the half marathon medal is ridiculous. I don’t know if you can hear that; like that is it banging against the wall. It is heavy. It probably weighs like five pounds. Like it is a massive, monster of a medal. And I can assign so much meaning around pain, around failure, around training, around most of the last seven lessons in this one item. Because to me, it’s very symbolic. So it’s not the item itself, but it’s what the item represents. It represents an entire year of training and an entire year of trial and error in my business and in running and all of that stuff. So it’s a matter of being able to assign a significant meaning, a meaning bigger than you around what you’re doing. So to me, my end goal was to be able to run a half marathon; a by-product of that is that I’ve got this handy, very heavy, very nice looking medal. But the physical piece is not really where your mind is at; it’s a matter of what that actually means to you, and how that affects your business and your long-term outlook on what you can accomplish in the future years, right?
So this is a big list, this eight. So we had if you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, stop and reflect. Guard your time like the precious commodity that it is. You can accomplish anything with the proper training and proper planning. Anyone can start a race but not everyone can finish it. Help others along the way. Read a lot. Find a mentor to help guide you. And assign meaning to pain and failure.
And those are my eight key lessons!
So those are the eight lessons that I personally learned in 2014. Some the hard way, some less difficult but overall I’m really happy with how 2014 has ended, and I really hope that you feel the same way about your business. And I would really love to hear from you on what some of your lessons are. And if by reading some of my lessons they’ve sparked something in you, that’s helped you or you can relate to, or others that you’re like, “Wow, I never would have thought of that,” you know I always want to have a good, strong dialogue with you because you’re spending your time and we’re at like just under an hour now so you’ve spent an hour of your day with me and I want to know if any of this has resonated with you, because I record this for you, and even though my primary focus is to help you with your LGBT marketing and understand how to communicate better and just market your product or service better, at the end of the day I just have such a strong passion around business that I also want to just help you be a better business owner, a more productive entrepreneur, even if you’re in a professional setting and you’re a salesperson, you don’t have to worry about all the business pieces but you’re focused on relationship development; I want to help you with all of that.
So I hope that this episode has been a good one for you, this is the last episode of 2014, which is super exciting and I cannot wait to dive into 2015 and in the first episode of 2015 I think I will share with you some things that I am working on for 2015 and how I might need your help with some of those things. So that is all I have for today’s episode; again I really appreciate you, I appreciate you listening to this now, I appreciate you listening to past episodes of this, and of course if you want to reach me at any point in time you can head over to www.JennTGrace.com and all of my social media connections are there, there’s a contact form you could reach out to me.
But I really, truly wish you a very wonderful holiday season and I cannot wait to dive into 2015 with you so we can all kick some serious ass in the New Year. Thank you so much and I will talk to you in 2015. Thanks so much and have a great day. Bye bye.