#67: Marketing Tips & Storytelling with Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems [Podcast] - Jenn T. Grace—Book Publisher, Speaker, and Author Skip to the content

#67: Marketing Tips & Storytelling with Diane Conklin of Complete Marketing Systems [Podcast]

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AUDIO TITLE: Episode #67 – Diane Conklin

Jenn T Grace:

Alright so why don’t you tell the listeners just a little bit about your story, your history, some of your path that basically took you from where you were early in your career to where you are now as the owner of your business?

Diane Conklin:

That’s a loaded question when you’re my age, you know?

Jenn T Grace:

No one knows your age, we’ll keep that a secret.

Diane Conklin:

I don’t care if they do or not. So it’s interesting. I think for me having grown up in rural small town Ohio on a 75 acre farm in very conservative, very prejudice kind of what I would call small-minded I guess. Or really it’s not about being small-minded, it’s people there knew what they knew. And to be where I am today, there was no thought certainly of that back then. But you know I think the big thing for me that really changed and sort of catapulted my career was you know I have a Master’s degree in Exercise Science, and I was sort of working in health clubs and wellness facilities, and I’ve worked in hospitals, and done a lot of really cool things in that part of my career. Yet there was always a part of me that said- while I was fulfilled and I loved it, and was making a difference in people’s lives, there was always this part of me that sort of tug that said there was something more kind of thing. And I think the real catapult for me in the marketing industry and where I am now was I actually worked for a guy in Florida for a year for no pay. And as crazy as that sounds, I was in my thirties, I took what would fit in the back of the pickup truck and drove eight hours to a little place called Merritt Island, Florida from Atlanta. Left the house- the relationship, the dogs, the- all of it, the friends, the everything to do that. And you know that really in a lot of ways was the beginning for me of a whole new view of sort of not only life, but really work, and the industry, and my business, and all of that. So I think that was sort of the catapult for me, and the great thing is after I finished my year and left and branched out on my own, I’ve never made less than six figures a year. So call it luck, call it hard work, call it preparation, whatever you want to call it. There was a lot of all of that I think. I think that’s really for me the thing that sort of made the biggest change.

Jenn T Grace:

Interesting. So that’s a good I suppose piece of advice. Work for free for a year, and then the karma will pay itself back.

Diane Conklin:

Well you know, I don’t know so much about that as it’s just I have that sort of- and I think this comes from growing up on a farm. You know, whatever it takes kind of attitude. And you know there are a lot of people who said, “Wow that’s really cool. Wow, I wish I could do that.” And then the guy who I worked for, his name was Ted, when Ted would offer people the opportunity there was always a reason, aka excuse, right? They couldn’t do it. “Well I have kids,” or “I have a house,” or “I have a family,” or “I have a this or a that.” And interestingly, you know all of those things applied to me. And my partner at the time stayed in Atlanta and continued running the business, and took care of the house and the animals and all of that stuff. It was just the commitment that we made because I knew that by doing it- although it was a tough year, I mean jeez I was on dial-up for crying out loud. You know I knew that it was going to get me to a large degree where I wanted to be. And so it was about the end result, and I think that’s the real lesson for people, is what’s the result that you want? And then how do you get there?

Jenn T Grace:

That’s a really, really, really good lesson I think for sure. So I feel like this is great, because now we have a little bit of your personal and professional past. I would like to ask you if you would be willing to share some sort of coming out story. So whether it’s in business, it’s with family, friends, whatever it happens to be. But the reason I ask is that for the allies who are listening to this, I want them to get a better sense of what coming out actually feels like, because it seems like such a foreign thing to many of them. And I feel like there’s always something to be learned in hearing the coming out stories of others.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, you know so I was 22 before I really came out or had my first relationship. And it was having grown up in the way that I grew up, it was relatively difficult one, to accept and to sort of come to grips with, and then of course to talk about with the family was really difficult. To say that they didn’t have the most positive reaction to it would be an understatement. And you know, I think the thing for me is it’s not so much the coming out story from a personal perspective. I’ll give you one in business, but as to me it’s a process. And you know Jenn, you and I have talked about this. You know there’s an age difference for us and I think I’ll be 52 in August, and my experience and my story I think is so much different than what people go through today because I feel like- and I talk about this when I speak. I think in a lot of ways I’m still in the coming out process. And you know for younger people, they’re like- they don’t get it. But there’s still- you know when I speak sometimes, if I’m going to put a picture up of my partner and the kids or whatever, there’s still this little like thing in my stomach, this little knot in my throat that says, “Ooh, what kind of reaction is this going to get?” And you know, and I’ve been out for thirty years. So I will tell you that having said that, that the real business coming out story for me was I was nominated for an award a few years ago, a very prestigious marketing award with an organization that’s very conservative, very male-oriented. And although a lot of people knew, it wasn’t something that we ever talked about, that was. And when- I actually won the award. But when I was up on stage in front of 750 of my peers, presenting my- what I had done that year and how I had marketed my business, at the end I just told them that 10% of everything that we did in the business went back into the foundation; which at the time was called the Gay Youth and Young Adult Foundation, is now the Diane Conklin Foundation. But literally it was the first time that I had ever really said that word from the platform, let alone from 750 people. And what I’m about to say is going to sound dramatic, and maybe over-the-top, but it’s not. It was my reality. As I stood there literally with sweaty palms, not because I was speaking on a platform in front of 750 people, that’s no big deal, I do that- not in front of 750 people, but the platform speaking I do all the time. But sweaty palms with sweat rolling down my- literally my forehead, and my back, and everywhere else I could imagine. I’m thinking when I say this, literally and I’m not exaggerating, that the roof is going to like fall in on top of me, and like everyone’s going to run screaming from the room because I’ve said the word ‘gay’ from the platform. And again bit knot in my throat, and I wasn’t sure until the moment the words came out of my mouth that I was actually going to say it. But when I said it, nothing happened. Like the roof didn’t fall in, nobody ran screaming from the room, and in fact as I walked down the aisle when I finished my presentation, I had people coming up to me and hugging me, and shaking my hand, and telling me they thought they were the only one, and it was a really, really positive experience. And I ended up winning the Marketer of the Year award with this organization. But it was so different than what I thought was going to happen, so you know what I often tell people is don’t assume that it’s going to be not a positive response. I think you always prepare for that, but it’s getting easier and easier I think to just be who we are, and to read situations. But I was pleasantly surprised, and I could probably have slept for a week after that. I was so wound up beforehand.

Jenn T Grace:

I can imagine, that’s like coming out in a very grand way for sure. And not knowing what the reaction of the audience is going to be which is very risky.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah especially in a business setting. You know I mean- and I talk about this when I speak. Is you have to make a decision on your own, because as business owners and entrepreneurs, we are our own bosses but we’re also the sole provider of our income. So when you do that, sometimes you do have to think about is this going to cost me business? And I just was at a point in my life and in my career where I said, “You know what? If it does cost me business, then those people weren’t the people I wanted to be doing business with anyway.”

Jenn T Grace:

Amen to that, that is absolutely- that’s how I see things.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah. So going I guess down the path of talking about the type of marketing that you do. Because I know you were just saying that getting an award like the Marketer of the Year, that’s pretty amazing and awesome. But I would love for you to kind of I guess share with the listeners the kinds of marketing that you do. Because you and I kind of bump into each other at different conferences, and preparing similar or complimentary workshops together and that kind of stuff. But I feel like I find it very interesting that the kind of marketing you do. So why don’t you just I guess show off some of your skills, and share some of your wisdom with those listening. Because people who are listening are genuinely interested in marketing, but even moreso specifically to the LGBT community.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, you know I started off- it’s interesting because many years ago I said, “Ah, there’s no difference. Marketing is marketing,” and it’s all the same. And as I’ve- I don’t know if I’ve progressed or digressed, but as I’ve gotten older and been around longer, there are definitely things that we have to think about as LGBT business owners that are certainly different thought process, and different ways of doing things than our straight counterparts. And certainly looking at different things when we market, right? So if we have a mixed bag of people do we set him in our list and talk differently to the people who are our straight counterparts? Do we talk differently to the LGBT community? Do we even segment further and talk a little differently to the lesbian group, the gay men, the bisexuals, and the transgenders if you have that information? And the answer is yeah, if you’re a smart marketer you do exactly that. And the reason is- doesn’t have to be a completely different message, but the 20% different wording that you use, it can really be as simple as that, or a different photograph or graphic image can make all the difference in the world. So I’ll give you a quick example. I was talking to somebody yesterday who has a matchmaking- very high end matchmaking business, and what happened was she has a portion of her business that is a gay matchmaking. And I wasn’t sure if it really was geared specifically to men or if it was also women. And- because it had pictures of just men. And so she and I talked about that piece, and then at the bottom of her website she had a photo of- the same photo she was using for the straight matchmaking which was men and women together. And I said to her, changing that to all men because it was just the male matchmaking piece will make all the difference in the world. Because our population will look at that and say, “Oh somebody took the time to understand,” right? So it’s very interesting. But- so the kind of marketing that I do is a little different than what you’ll see based on the fact that I think the thing that sets me apart is everything we do is measurable. So you know, you see a lot of image advertising in the world where people put billboards up, or they slap radio ads up, and they have a number to call or whatever. And most of that isn’t measurable. You don’t know where your people are coming from. Why is the phone ringing? Why are people going to your website? So if you want to stop what I call wasting your marketing dollars, you need to do what’s called Direct Response Marketing which adds two things. One is it’s actionable, and two is that it’s measurable. And the measuring part is really important, right? So many people put a Facebook ad up, or they put a campaign together, and they don’t measure it. They don’t know what their return on investment was, they don’t know what the cost was, they don’t know the basics- what I would consider the basic numbers of business. And if you don’t know those numbers, then you really can’t make what I call good business and marketing decisions. How do you know if you should run a campaign a second and third time if you don’t know what your return on investment was?

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, you’re just throwing your money out your window and hoping for the best at that point.

Diane Conklin:

Right, yeah throwing mud on the wall, that’s what I call it. Exactly. And so I often say to people, “If you want to do that, I’ll give you my name and address, you can just mail me the check.” Because at least I’ll put it to some kind of fun good use, right? So that’s really what I talked about from a marketing perspective. And you know, I think the big thing as far as either marketing to the LGBT community, you’ve got to think about the images and the wording- words are very, very, very important. Interestingly enough I saw a headline yesterday that talked about an amphibious baseball player.

Jenn T Grace:

I saw that, too.

Diane Conklin:

It was ambidextrous but they used the wrong word in the headline; so words are very, very important. And you know, from both perspectives, right? If you’re marketing to the LGBT community and as an LGBT business owner, looking at what kind of marketing are you doing, who’s your audience, and then the list segmentation can be such a huge thing from a- the message that you want people to have when they hear or see your stuff is you want them to have the thought of, “Wow she’s talking to me.” Or, “This is for me.” And the more specific and the more focused your marketing can be, the higher the chances of somebody having that reaction. And when we think things are for us, we’re much more likely to invest or to at least look at what you’re selling and what your product or service is.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s makes sense. I was just listening to somebody the other day, and they were saying- and I know this kind of like common marketing knowledge, but it was the way they kind of had phrased it where if you can describe the problem better than they recognize their problem, they’re going to assume that you have the answers whether you do or don’t.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, and you know I think that’s the big thing. Is what solution do you provide? What challenge do you enable people to overcome? And when you know what that is, and have a- what I call have a distinguisher, right? What sets you apart from the 9,000,323 other people who do what you do? I’m exaggerating, but you know and that’s the thing that people forget, right? “Oh well you should do business with me.” It’s not because you’re smarter, you’re better looking, you provide it cheaper, you do it better, right? Everybody says that. What’s the real distinguisher? I’ll tell you one of the things for me that I didn’t realize was what I just said to you, was the measurement piece. I had a friend who when we’d go to networking things, if I don’t talk about the measurement part of this, she always says, “Oh that’s my distinguisher.” I think the other distinguisher for me is I have the ability to do two things. One is to look at the big picture. So you know if we start talking about a business or marketing challenge, I can look at it from a big picture and go, “Wow, this is where we could take this, and here is the twelve things that you could do with this, and this is how you turn this into a million dollar business.” Right? But then I also have the ability to say, “Here’s how we can get there. Here’s the next three steps. Here’s the first six things that need to happen. Here’s the map for getting there.” And I think most people can do one or the other, but not necessarily bot.

Jenn T Grace:

I would definitely agree with that. Yeah, they’re different skillsets when you think about it.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

So I would venture a guess, and perhaps this is not the case, but along the journey that you’ve been on to kind of honing in on your craft, right? So you’ve been doing marketing for a while, and I’m sure each year, each certain period of time you just get better and better at what you do. But along the lines, have you had any type of like ‘ah-ha’ moment where maybe it was a while back earlier in your career, or maybe it was two days ago, where it just kind of like re-affirmed that what you’re doing right now is what you’re supposed to be doing? Have you had any type of feeling or a kind of moment like that?

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, you know at my age there’s been a lot of them. You know, so I’ll give you one that’s recent. You know I’ve been doing under the complete marketing systems umbrella if you will for seventeen years almost. And it’s like you know as much as you grow and you continue to get cool things happen and all that, you know sometimes it’s like the thing that you should be doing, or the direction you should be going has been there all along, you just didn’t look there kind of thing. So sort of one of the things that I’m getting ready to do and should be launching hopefully in the next thirty to sixty days is I’ve looked at as an LGBT business owner, I’ve really looked at this space, and there’s nobody who’s really teaching an LGBT business owner in a space that’s what I call safe, where you don’t have to worry about somebody cracking a gay joke, where we can really network from a business perspective of serious like help me grow my business, I’m not so interested in when the next drink is coming, but show me how to really grow my business. Show me how to double my income in the next ninety days kind of thing. And so I’m launching something called the LGBT Success Academy, which I hope to be that, right? I want to be sort of the go-to place for LGBT business owners. And you know certainly allies are welcome, but I really want it to be a place that people think of for the one stop shop kind of thing. And it’s been there for a long time for me. My former business and life partner didn’t really want to be that or go there, and so I’m in the process now of launching that. But it’s interesting, there are people doing sort of pieces, parts of it. But there’s no sort of one stop shop which is sort of like the place that I won the marketing award. So I think that’s a big one, and I think it’s just amazing to me on more of a personal side how far we’ve come. And I think to be sitting here, waiting hopefully in the next two to three weeks on the marriage thing. And somebody’s going to listen to this recording ten years from now and say, “What was the big deal?” Right? “I mean why were they even excited or wondering if this was ever going to happen?” But I never thought it would happen in my lifetime, and to look at where we’ve come with that, I think is a big ‘ah-ha’ for me. And yet, you know this morning I put a post up in the LGBT Success Academy Facebook page that, you know one of the things that continues to sort of be there for me is there’s so few times when we get together as a community, right? With the men and women, things tend to be separate and the separateness is always something that has bothered me. Like you know, I love women but I love gay men. Actually whether they’re gay or not doesn’t matter to me. But like why don’t we do more things in conjunction? Why is there so much of this like separation thing?

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, absolutely.

Diane Conklin:

And I just- my new thing is unity, integration and acceptance. I think those are the three words that we have to get to. And as far as we’ve come in our lives, and certainly in my life in our community, there’s things like that that I think would be so easy to change. Hopefully I answered your question on both sides of that. But you know, I think ‘ah-ha’ moments can come if we just open our eyes sometimes, right? Sometimes if you just turn to your left instead of always turning to your right, they’re there in front of us all the time. And to have that sort of childlike wonder of looking at what’s the next really cool thing that’s going to happen, or that can happen, or that I can help somebody make happen.

Jenn T Grace:

Which is the fun part to me. Like being able to kind of inspire and kind of move others to their own realizations.

Diane Conklin:

And you know, that’s my thing, that’s always been my thing. Matter of fact my coach said to me, “You know Diane, it’s not about the money for you, it really is about making an impact and helping other people.” I get just as much joy out of helping somebody else grow their business to six or seven figures, as I do my own.

Jenn T Grace:

You and me both.

Diane Conklin:

I have a little note on the hutch of my desk that says, ‘Make a living while making a difference.’

Jenn T Grace:

That’s a good one. It’s so true though, right? Like I feel like especially in this type of work where there’s always- there’s more negative that’s kind of going around than there is positive, although I feel like these days the tides are certainly shifting. But you hear about murders, and beatings, and all sorts of stuff in terms of the LGBT community. Not just in the US but clearly it’s a global issue, right? So there are days where you’re bombarded with all kinds of negativity. So if you can kind of cut through that, and make some kind of an impact in the process, like to me that’s what- it’s all worthwhile when it comes to that stuff. And helping- like you said, other people grow their businesses, which I think is a really exciting thing about what I get to do as well.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, and you know it’s interesting. I have all sorts of stuff on my walls, and they’re all reminders of exactly what you just said. I have a note from a client about what an inspiration I am, and how grateful she is to have me in her life. I have a guy that I helped go to six figures in ninety days, and then he and I made a course on it, and he sent me this really sweet note about how honored he was to have done a product with me and how I was his hero, and that means so much to me. I actually took a picture of it and I carry it with me on my phone, because you know there is so much in the world that just seems like it’s chaotic. But you know, when you have those moments, when you get that note from somebody, that says, ‘Hey thanks for telling everybody that you wanted to create a safe environment and that there was no judgment or whatever before your event.’ It just means so much, and to have- and you know, I don’t know about you but I need those reminders. So I’ve got all kinds of stuff stuffed up on my walls and in front of me, just to maintain that. Because it’s easy to get sort of I think inundated with the negative, and there are so many good things happening in the world, and certainly in our community that I just think we need to keep that in the forefront.

Jenn T Grace:

I 100% agree, and I was doing a book signing a couple of months back, and I ran into a person- and the book signing didn’t have that many people in it- actually before we hit record on this we were talking about events with low turnouts, and this happened to be one of those. So there wasn’t a lot of people there but the organizer of the book signing was saying, “Listen, even if there’s only ten people there, it’s still ten people that you can make an impact on.” And I completely agree with that, and since it’s a local thing it’s easy enough for me to kind of go and just do my standard LGBT- it’s not LGBT 101, but kind of. And I ended up running into a girl who works for a corporation, and she had seen the article that was written in the local paper about me back in like the fall sometime. And had said that she cut it out and put it on her cubicle in her work- like at work, because she wants to somehow impact some kind of change for LGBT people in her workplace, and it was my story that kind of gave her some piece of hope that she can totally accomplish that. And it’s like, that is so- like to me that makes that article so much worthwhile. How much business did I get out of that article? Not a whole lot, but I inspired somebody else to make a change in their environment, which is then going to make a change for all of the other people in that same environment, too. So it’s kind of like- it kind of cascades out when you impact one person in the LGBT community, I feel like it all just kind of falls out from there because everyone is so closely connected to one another.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, you know I call it the ripple effect, and so I’m known for my acronyms. So ripple to me stands for ‘Repetition In Place Produces Little Effects Somewhere.’

Jenn T Grace:

Huh, look at you and your acronyms.

Diane Conklin:

And so to me it’s the what’s the pebble that you dropped into the lake or the ocean- right because we don’t play in ponds, we have to play in bigger arenas. So you drop your pebble, and for a long time- and I think a lot of us do this, right? We poo-poo and we downplay our impact and our influence if you will. And so for a long time I would sit in events and I would see these people and I would think, ‘Wow, she’s a plastic surgeon, that’s really cool. Imagine the life-changing things that she can do.’ Or I would look at whatever the thing was. And I said, ‘Gosh, I can’t do that.’ And then I thought to myself, ‘You know what? I absolutely can do that because when I touch one person, look at how many people they touch.’ If I help one business owner, whether it’s about their business or their personal life, right? Because I do a lot of mindset, and other things. But you know, the impact of that could be literally- not hundreds, but thousands and tens of thousands. And so I have a friend, he has something called the Impact Factory and he says, “We have an impact on other people in the world whether we want to or not.” And I think that’s the thing to remember, is people are watching you whether you remember that they are or not. So you know I had been in a relationship for almost twenty years, and when that ended I just- I continued to run my business, and my business thrived, and I moved from Florida back to Atlanta, and made a lot of changes, and lost some weight, and did a bunch of different things. And it was amazing how to me I was just being me, right? I was just continuing my life, and it was amazing the notes and comments and phone calls that I got from people saying how inspiring it was. And I was like, “What are you talking about?” They said, “You know, you didn’t curl up on the sofa and go away. You continued to be out there, you’re growing your business, you’re thriving in your life.” And it was amazing to me to look at that and- because I wasn’t talking about the breakup on social media or in the business or anywhere, I was just doing my thing. But to know that people were watching that, and that had an impact on people, and inspired people was amazing. And I think we all have that, we just forget.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, yeah and I think that when it comes to personal things like that too, the ways that you handle situations, and when you handle like going through a breakup for example. There’s a lot of eyes on like you’re saying, whether you want them or not, they’re still going to be kind of watching at how you kind of handle that situation, because I feel like that speaks a lot to the character of your being how you kind of handle those personal situations, who may be kind of coming to light in a public forum. But just not that long ago I was talking to this lesbian business owner, and she is working on some project and wanted to kind of get my buy-in. And I didn’t know her prior and I said, “Yeah sure, I’m happy to have a conversation with you. Your audience, or the audience that you’re trying to attract seems directly in line with my audience. Like it seems like a perfect matching.” And when I talked to her on the phone I was on the phone for maybe twenty minutes, and she had bad mouthed her wife about fifteen different times within a twenty minute period of time. And I was thinking, there is no way on Earth I’m aligning myself with this person regardless of how close our target markets align with each other. Because if she’s willing to really be degrading and just really like not just a simple like, ‘Oh my wife did this, how foolish,’ or anything like that. She was like really degrading her wife. And I’m thinking if she’s willing to do that, what kind of character- like what kind of person is that that will bad mouth their spouse to a complete stranger? Is that really somebody that you want to be doing business with? And to me abso-frickin-lutely not. Like not a chance in hell. So I just completely declined everything after that, after she was like, “Oh why don’t we do this? Why don’t we do this?” And it’s like no, I’m not because that’s not the character of a person that I want to do business with. So I might be to an extreme because I have a very low tolerance generally speaking, and I actually had somebody say to me yesterday that I’m too young to have as low of a tolerance as I have. But you know, it kind of is what it is. But like I just- I can’t wrap my head around why like that would be your approach to business, and even though like it’s still part of business, but it’s very personal, and it’s kind of like how she’s handling some kind of internal conflict that’s happening in her relationship right now. You can’t let that seep over into your business, and if you do, you better be cautious of how that’s kind of going to impact and affect business relationships that you’re working on.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, absolutely.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s just crazy to me, but anywho. This is actually kind of keeps kind of moving in the direction we were going in around just the ‘ah-ha’ moments, and realizations, and all that kind of stuff. But do you have some source of inspiration that just really keeps you motivated to keep on going along when you do have all those negative messages that we were talking about before kind of hitting you on a somewhat frequent basis?

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, you know I think for me I would say yeah it’s a lot of things. And it depends I think sometimes on what it is, but you know I do a couple things that I find really, really, really helpful for me. One is, is that I’m an avid reader. Now people make fun of me because it’s not- you know I’m not a fiction reader, I’m a business reader. But reading for me is a way sort of- not necessarily to escape, but it’s a sort of go to a different place. And so you know, it’s the end of the night, I try to go and read for 30 to 45 minutes, and then I journal for ten or fifteen minutes before I go to bed at night. And for me the journaling piece is really therapeutic, the kinesthetic movement, and I write. It’s not an electronic thing. The physical act of writing- and then I always finish with at least three to five things that I’m grateful for. And I think that practice for me puts me in sort of a different place. And sometimes it’s for the nice pen I’m writing with. It’s not always- and sometimes I get eight or ten things. But then you know every morning before I get up, and every night before I fall asleep, I try to do the same thing. What are the things I’m grateful for? And then I have a- I sort of call it my circle of life, there are seven things on my circle that are important to me. And before I get up every morning I try to go through those. From the perspective of keeping- you know it’s so easy, I don’t typically watch the news. I’m not the CNN girl, I’m not the news girl, I figure if there’s something in the world that I need to know about, I’m either going to get it on Facebook or somebody’s going to tell me about it. But focusing on the seven things that are most important in my life, and that mean the most to me in the morning is important. You know, exercise keeps me at a whole different place. Walking, lifting weights, those are kind of the two big things that I do. I’ve always been an athlete, I’ve always been physical. And so that for me is really, really therapeutic. You know there are physiological reasons which we don’t need to get into, but that for me- and I often say to people, when you find yourself in a place of where you’re not feeling love or gratitude or positive, you know go move. Change your setting, get up, you don’t have to go exercise for an hour but walk outside. You know for some people it’s go take a shower, for me it’s go change the physical place that you are, and do something that’s physical. It will put you in a whole different place. So you know the other thing that I do, I have little inspirational books with quotes, like a one page quote, and I have them in different places in the house. You know I have one actually here on my desk, I have one- don’t we all have our little bathroom readings, right? I have one in there, I have one beside the bed, I have- so they’re strategically placed so that sometimes they’re dated, and so I’ll open them to the particular date, and sometimes I’ll just open one. And interestingly enough whenever I open one, it always opens to the spot that I need. So-

Jenn T Grace:

That’s pretty cool.

Diane Conklin:

So then of course I have certain emails that come that are inspirational things every morning that I start my morning with. But I think, you know there’s a lot of things that we could all do. I think the key is find what works for you. I tend to need a lot of it during the day, just from the perspective of there is- it’s so easy to get caught up in the negative and in the what’s not going right? And I think- I think as LGBT people we’ve had to overcome so much in our lives that sometimes it’s easy for us to focus on what’s not so positive, and the struggle instead of looking at where we are, and the positive piece of overcoming the things that- and I think sometimes we just- we have this place in us that are demons, you know? The things that we’ve had to go through, even in the coming out process, I think sometimes adds to that piece for us. So I try to keep a lot of positive stuff, like I said I carry photos and pictures of stuff on the phone, I’ve got the very first year that the kids were here- the middle child gave me a Christmas ornament with an ‘I love you’ on it, I have that hanging in my office.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s cute.

Diane Conklin

I’ve got the Mother’s Day card up that the sixteen year old gave me this year. So a lot of just positive imaging and that sort of thing that I try to keep in the forefront all the time.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s- I feel like that’s really awesome. There’s just so many different things that are kind of a combination of your inspiration, and a lot of them are actually overlapping with things that I do, so that’s pretty cool too. So let me ask you- switching gears a little bit, and then kind of getting to our closing. Those who are listening to this podcast are oftentimes- they’re either part of the community, or they’re allies to the community. But generally they’re looking to understand how to market or position themselves to sell their products or services better within the LGBT community. So especially from your standpoint, from a marketing standpoint, from somebody who does work with LGBT business owners; do you have any piece of advice, whether it’s one thing, a couple of things, whatever it happens to be, that you think by your sharing it could kind of help them be a little bit more successful in what they’re doing?

Diane Conklin:

Gosh we could spend hours on this.

Jenn T Grace:

I know. Especially us.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, so I’ll give you a couple things. One is- and I call this the big revealing business question. And it’s going to hurt. But if you’ll honestly look at and answer this question, it will change your life and your business. So the question is this, ‘Do I currently own a business, or do I own a job?’ Let me put it in a different way. ‘Do I currently own a business, or does it own me?’ And I ask this question a lot, and I talk about this a lot because there’s the thing that I know. None of us started our businesses to be stuck at our desk, or in the shop, or the studio, or the whatever, all the time. So we started a business because we wanted one of two things, and sometimes both, right? Time or money freedom. Make more money, and we wanted to have more time. What happens is we become as Michael Gerber would talk about in the E-Myth, we become the technician part of us who loves doing the thing never leaves. And so instead of being a business owner, we buy ourselves jobs.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Diane Conklin:

There are a lot of ways around that, right? One is- the biggest way is to leverage yourself. But here’s my distinguisher. If you’re struggling with the question, and most people don’t, but if you are here’s my distinguisher. If you can walk away from your business for a week, preferably two, not have to be attached to your cell phone via text, emails, or phone calls back to your business, and when you come back there’s at least as much money in the bank if not more than when you left a business, you own a business. Congratulations.

Jenn T Grace:

Woo hoo!

Diane Conklin:

Right? If you don’t- and I know some people say, “Well I’m a solopreneur.” That to me is the worst position you can be in, because you’re never going to have freedom, you’re always going to be stuck at your desk or in your business.

Jenn T Grace:

You don’t have a team to help you.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be all full-time, start off small, maybe ten hours a month of somebody helping you do some things, because here’s what I know. After a lot of years in business, and a lot of years resisting this, there are really only four or five things that I’m uniquely good at in my business that I should be doing.

Jenn T Grace:

Yup.

Diane Conklin:

Everything else, someone else should be doing because here’s the great piece of this. They love doing that.

Jenn T Grace:

Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, right? There are genuinely people who love to clean your house. As much as you hate it, they love it.

Jenn T Grace:

Yup, someone does.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, and that was a foreign concept for me for a long time. I thought why would I ask someone to do something I don’t like to do? Because they love doing it, right? So that’s the first thing. The other thing that I would say is you know, stop throwing mud on the wall, be strategic about what it is that you’re doing. And what I mean by that is so many people do- they copy what somebody else is doing, or they model what somebody else is doing. But they don’t look at it from the perspective of ‘Does this person have the same clientele? Does this person have the same target market? Does this person have- offer the same services? Am I comparing apples to apples, or am I comparing apples to oranges? I’m not saying don’t model, it’s a great way to do things, but really look at, be strategic about what it is. I think one of the other things that I bring to the table when I work with people is that so many people have one experience, and they try to coach and consult based on their experience. In seventeen years you name an industry I’ve worked in it.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, absolutely.

Diane Conklin:

And I love that because I can say to a client, “Look let’s take this, and let’s take this, and let’s take this. Let’s mold it and put it together to make one.” And so stop looking for the cookie cutter. And I think the last thing that I would say, be strategic is also have leverage. If you can leverage with team, with automation, with technology, there’s lots of ways to leverage. The last thing that I would say is you know, get a coach, get a mentor, work with somebody. But when you do that, make sure it’s the right somebody. Make sure that somebody hasn’t had one success at doing something, and you now go to them because they’ve had this one success. I just recently had somebody who’s been working with me for a while who’s also working with somebody else on a particular piece of her business, and the gal had one success. And now the gal that I’m working with is really, really, really disappointed because you know it didn’t turn out the way.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s like a one trick pony?

Diane Conklin:

And when you analyzed, you didn’t make a good decision about who you were talking to. So I think that makes a huge, huge difference. You know? Don’t just do what the last person said. Really look at, be strategic, have some thought process about what you’re doing. And who you’re listening to. And frankly just to be 100% up front and honest, if you’re not paying for a coach or a mentor, you’re making a mistake.

Jenn T Grace:

I completely agree. I’ve been working with a coach since 2011 maybe? Might have been 2010. And it’s a complete game changer, total game changer for your business.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah and you know we all- it’s interesting to me, one of the things that as business owners- for most of us, not everybody. But I went from having a job to owning my own business. And I often say to people, they’ll say ‘Well I’m struggling,’ or ‘This isn’t quite right,’ or whatever it is. You know everybody needs to be accountable. I don’t care how successful you are. And here’s the interesting thing to me always is we went to school for twelve years at least for most of us, right? Some of us went for a lot longer than that. Fifteen, eighteen years; and we were accountable to somebody. Our parents, our teachers, our coaches, our whatever. And then we got jobs and were accountable to a boss. So we jump out and do our own business and all of a sudden we can’t figure out why we’re not getting stuff done. Well if you don’t have anybody to be accountable to, to get stuff done, many times stuff doesn’t happen because we’re just used to having that. So you know, unless you’re disciplined, and I know that’s a bad word in today’s world, but unless you have some discipline, it is difficult. And so just having that check-in makes it a huge, huge difference.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah somebody who’s going to ride your ass when you say you’re going to do something and then you don’t do it. As your own business owner, if I felt like taking a nap right now, I could go take a nap. It’s like some people don’t have the self-control to be able to actually stay focused and not go take the nap. So you need to have somebody kind of riding herd and making sure that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do, and kind of get thigs done. Because that is I think one of the key differences with whether you’re showing up at a job somewhere, or if you’re running your own thing. Because you are boss, you can do what you want, but that doesn’t always mean you’re making the most- the best decisions for your business. So you do nee d someone else to kind of help guide you along.

Diane Conklin:

Yeah interestingly I had a gal who was sitting at one of my events a few years ago and sometimes we say things and you don’t know how big of an impact it has. And I just said, “Look stop screwing around you guys, in your businesses. Glue your butt to the chair. Whatever hours you’re going to work, put your butt in the chair and sit there and work. Stop being distracted by, “Oh I need to dust this, of there’s water here,” or whatever. A few weeks later she sent me a note and said, “I’m so thankful that you said that because for the first time in two and half years I’m taking a vacation because I keep hearing you say that, and that’s what I’m doing. You know interestingly I’m a big reader, so the book that has made the biggest difference for me this year, and I’ve actually taught about this now, it’s the One Thing.

Jenn T Grace:

I love that book.

Diane Conklin:

Right, and inside of it he asks this question, he calls it the focusing question and he says, “If you ask yourself this at the beginning of every day, your life will change. What’s the one thing I could do that by doing it, everything else is either easier or unnecessary.” It’s all about focus.

Jenn T Grace:

I think that’s beautiful. It totally is and that book I feel like is so brilliant because A) it’s a short easy read. But B) it really comes down to that one question. And it’s something that you can easily think about, wrap your head around, and then implement within your business. Versus some of the other business books that are out there, because I too am an avid reader and I never, ever read fiction. I’m always reading some kind of business book, something about communications, you name it and it’s always business focused. But it’s sometimes daunting when you’re getting sixteen different tips of like you should do this strategy, and that strategy, and delete this from your business, and add this. Like at least with the one thing it really is just one thing. And I know for myself, I read it probably maybe two years ago, it’s certainly been a game changer in terms of focusing, like you were saying.

Diane Conklin:

One thing. Easy to do one thing.

Jenn T Grace:

And I will put a link to that book in the show notes for this podcast episode. So for anyone listening, and they are going to forget because they’re out driving or they’re on a treadmill, or doing whatever they’re doing, they can just come back to my website and get that link because I think it will be really important for their business as well. And that actually was one of my ending types of questions was, what’s one book or program or tool of some kind that’s kind of helped you. In addition to that book is there another type of program, tool, method, something that’s just kind of helped you really in business ownership?

Diane Conklin:

You know I’ll give you another book. So there’s two book that I talk a lot about. One is this one which is the One Thing. And the other one is Simon Sinek’s Start with Why.

Jenn T Grace:

Another good one.

Diane Conklin:

I love that one so much, it’s the only book that I know of that I have both on my Kindle and a hard- I’m still a feel the book in my hands girl, but have that long hard back and on my Kindle. And if you’re not a reader, go to YouTube and get his- it’s 18 minutes and 56 seconds. You think I’ve watched this one a lot?

Jenn T Grace:

No, no not at all.

Diane Conklin:

His Ted Talk called Start with Why. Pretty amazing stuff. So I would say those two books. From a tool perspective, for me in my business I use something called Infusionsoft, and it’s probably been the biggest game changer. There’s some new things that are about to come out that may give it a run for its money. But that’s sort of the big thing for me, is from the perspective of being able to run sort of everything in one central place; from the email campaigns, to direct mail, to the database management, to the payments and merchant accounts, and that sort of thing. That’s probably one of the big things. That’s not going to be applicable for everybody, but I think the other tool that I would say that is applicable for everybody is the thing that I just said which is really getting a coach and a mentor and somebody to work with. Wherever you are in your business, right? I love the Mastermind. That’s just to me is the ultimate environment not only to learn in, but for me to be in because ideas just fly in that environment for me, and I think that’s a great thing when you get to that point, if you’re ready for that. So you know, like I said I’ve gotten- I don’t know, eight bookshelves in my house that are all double stacked with books that I’ve read 85% of them.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, that’s awesome.

Diane Conklin:

But those are the two books that I think that have made sort of the biggest difference.

Jenn T Grace:

And two books I have read and love both of them as well. But yeah, I think Simon’s Ted Talk is certainly- at least the Reader’s Digest version of his larger book. So I would like to ask you, and before I should preface with this that this episode will probably be coming out in the end of August, early September. I have quite a back log of episodes right now. Actually it looks like early to mid-September. So either the 3rd or the 17th. So with that preface, is there anything that you’re working on that’s really exciting right now that when this does air in September that it would be some kind of timely tie-in to what you’re doing that you might want to share with the audience?

Diane Conklin:

Yeah, hopefully by then the LGBT Success Academy will be out, that’s www.LGBTSuccessAcademy.com. The other thing that I’ll tell you though would be even more timely for that, is in October I’ll be hosting my annual event which is- I’ve changed what I’m doing, and you know most events that you go to are 75% what I call lecture, and 25% is implementation. I’ve flipped that around. We do 75% implementation and 25% me lecturing and talking.

Jenn T Grace:

That sounds awesome.

Diane Conklin:

I’ve called it in the past Implementation Coaching Event. I think this time I’m going to call it Double Your Income Event. And that’s really- it’s interesting, you know you asked a little bit ago and I almost talked about this. But my coach said to me the other day, “You know Diane, you’re not out there enough telling people how you can help them double their income,” which I’ve done hundreds of times in my career. So I think in October that event is going to be Double Your Income. But it will be right now tentatively the 8th, 9th, 10th of October. Or you can contact me in any other way at the main website which would be www.CompleteMarketingSystems.com.

Jenn T Grace:

Awesome, well very exciting. Thank you seriously so much for chatting with us today. I know I’ve wanted to have you on for a while, so it’s good that we’re finally able to connect. Is there anything else that you- any other resource of yours that you want to share with anyone? Any other contact information? Ways people can get in touch with you, et cetera?

Diane Conklin:

The websites usually are the easiest way. You can also always shoot off an email which is always easy as well. The best one for that is just going to be info@completemarketingsystems.com or you can always contact us via the 866 number which is (866) 293-0589. And then just you know, www.CompleteMarketingSystems.com or if you go to www.LGBTSuccessAcademy.com; either of those will get you pretty much as much information about what I’m doing and how to get in touch with me in other ways.

Jenn T Grace:

Awesome, this is great. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it and I’m sure we will be in touch very soon.

Diane Conklin:

Absolutely, thank you. I appreciate your time and your exposure to your folks, and hopefully everybody got a little something that they could take and use.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s the plan always, we shall see.

About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published 100+ books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

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