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Thank you for tuning in to episode 78 of the podcast. In this episode I’m discussing the 6 steps to using content marketing to create your personal brand. There’s been a lot of buzz around content marketing lately so today I’m providing some framework around how you can use it as part of your personal brand. This can include a number of things; your blog, website, podcast, etc. Once you’ve taken inventory and crafted a strategy, these 6 steps could even lead you to writing a book. Have a listen and please leave a comment below with any questions or thoughts!
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Jenn T Grace: You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, episode 78.
Intro: 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 an $884 billion lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share, and impact your bottom line. And now your host; she teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn- with two N’s, T. Grace.
Well hello and welcome to episode number 78 of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today we are going to talk about personal branding, content marketing, and being an author all in six simple steps. So content marketing, personal branding, authorship are completely intertwined in what I want to talk about today. You don’t have to have one to do the other, there’s no kind of contingency on any of them. But what I want to provide to you today are basically six steps into providing a framework for all of this to make sense. So I want to talk about taking an inventory of what you’ve already done, strategically coming up with some kind of content plan, mind mapping your ideas, putting those ideas into an outline, planning and scheduling your time, and then getting it done. So that is what we’re going to talk about in today’s episode, I hope you enjoy it.
The last couple of episodes that I’ve been sharing with you have been around planning to become an author in 2016, and talking about confidence, and the most recent episode we talked about the five fears that new LGBT authors have and how to conquer them basically. So I’m kind of going along the theme of authorship in this episode, however it’s much bigger than that, and what I mean by that is that the topic of today’s podcast is around content marketing, and it stemmed from my second week’s class with the authors that I’m working with right now. So as I mentioned in the last podcast, they are working with me from February 1st through April 30th, and each week we’re going through a lot of information almost to probably an overwhelming degree for a lot of them. But we’re trying to cover a lot so they can ultimately have a book at the end of the ninety days that we have together. And one of the things that I was talking with them about in the last week is about taking an inventory of the content that they have, and how they can basically apply that to potentially their book and telling their story. So as I was thinking about that, I was thinking how can I share this information, and not really what I talked about in the author program itself, but kind of how can I share information around content marketing bigger and more broadly? So basically what I want to cover is content marketing kind of from a big picture level, and how you can use that in your business. So in building your personal brand really. So one of the things that I have been doing for a really long time is working with businesses around content marketing specifically. And content marketing is a little bit of a buzzword and kind of has been a buzzword for a couple of years now I would say. But really when we’re talking about content marketing, it’s around blogging, and podcasting, and writing for other people’s blogs, guest posting, putting out newsletters, and being on other people’s podcasts as being interviewed there, and doing videos, and all these types of things that basically are content that you’re putting out to the universe. So if you’re building your personal brand, you have to find what you stand for. So if we’re looking at- and this all kind of ties together in terms of authorship. So as part of your personal brand, you could absolutely be an author. You don’t have to be, but being an author is certainly going to help you catapult your personal brand.
So if we’re talking about content marketing as it relates to personal branding, and really building your personal brand, it’s really a matter of identifying what it is that you want to talk about. What is your niche? And of course starting with the obvious of what’s your business? So what is it that you do? I know that there’s a lot of business owners listening to this, so it could vary. You could be an accountant, you could be a financial advisor, you could be a consultant, you could be a motivational speaker; there’s just a bunch of things that you could be doing. And I know for myself that when I started off my business, I’ve been in business since 2004, but it’s absolutely morphed and changed shape a variety of times over the years. And this most recent iteration of my business being a professional lesbian began in November of 2012. So I’m going into the fourth year here, and in doing so everything I’ve done to this point has really been around content marketing. And I don’t necessarily- I wish I could say that this was really intentional in the beginning, but it really wasn’t intentional until probably about a year, maybe a year and a half in, where I realized that your personal brand stands for so much more. So if you are beginning your kind of personal brand journey now, you can be looking to get a domain name that has your name as the domain name. So for me I have www.JennTGrace.com. And a side note, a funny little fun fact is that I could not get www.JennGrace.com. So I had to throw the ‘T’ in there to make sure that I could get something as close to my name as I could. And it is my name obviously, but I really would have preferred Jenn Grace, and not sounding so formal with the ‘T,’ but alas I wanted to make sure my brand all matched, therefore I had to go with the Jenn T Grace on everything. So that’s kind of how that happened. But I would encourage you to make sure you have your domain name. I know that most of the people that I work with right now already have it. There are times- I’m actually working with a client right now who cannot get her name no matter how hard we tried. We even tried to negotiate with the person who owns it via GoDaddy and they’re not willing to give it up even though they’re not using it. So there’s a lot of variables with that kind of stuff. But you can do- depending on what you’re doing, like if you’re trying to build a platform for speaking you could do- put ‘Speaks’ at the end of it. So I could do www.JennGraceSpeaks.com for example. Or you can do JennGraceAuthor. There’s a lot of different variables, but you really want to try to get as close to your name as possible and make it simple for people to find.
So that’s just kind of a small simple tip in terms of having a home base if you will to drive people to. So if you have your website and it’s not your name, that’s fine too. If it’s your business name, and you want to start putting out content, then as long as you have a place to bring people back to, that’s the end goal. You don’t want to be posting all of your blog posts just on LinkedIn but not on your own website. You want to make sure that you’re driving people from social media, from the interwebs to your website so you can work on getting people to subscribe to what you’re doing and all that kind of stuff.
As I had said I was not completely intentional about it when I began. I really began wanting to do this podcast, so I was having a couple of conversations in one day with some really amazing people and thought, ‘Wow they have such brilliance to share. I need people to be a fly on the wall to listen to this conversation and hear their great wisdom.’ And it was shortly thereafter that day I was like, ‘That’s what I need to do. I need to do a podcast so I can interview people, and I can talk about these really interesting things, and really just allow people to kind of see the inside look at all of what makes these LGBT leaders and allies amazing people. So it did start off with just a podcast and then I realized, ‘Alright so if I’m going to do a podcast, I’m definitely going to have to do some blogging here,’ and then the blogging turned into writing a book, and the book turned into creating videos, and it all kind of transpired from there. But one of the things- and this was what I wanted to talk to you about today is really just trying to take an inventory of all of the things that you’ve done in the past that could tie into your personal brand. So if you’re looking at your career path. So you may have had three businesses by now. Just because business number one doesn’t have anything to do with business number three, the common denominator there is still you, and you being the brand. So if you may have worked for an insurance company, and happen to be a rock star, and you got a whole bunch of awards for what you were doing, but now you are running a fitness empire. Yes, the two of those things have nothing to do with one another in any way, shape, or form, but the common piece there is you. So how can you leverage the fact that you were an award winning insurance agent maybe, and now you’re an award winning fitness guru. So it’s a matter of trying to find ways to marry the two of those, and the first place to start is by creating a list of all of the awards that you’ve ever received based on what jobs you held, what roles you were in, what business you happened to own at the time, and all of that kind of stuff.
From there what I would recommend is gathering articles. So I guess we can say that was number one. Number one is what are the awards that you’ve won, and gathering all that stuff. So number two would be looking at any articles that you’ve been featured in. So thinking about articles in the newspaper, or a magazine whether it’s industry specific, or whether it’s a national magazine, or a local newspaper versus national paper; going in and trying to find all of those places that have either focused on you specifically, or they have mentioned you, and start that list. So now you have two lists going.
So the third one would be is blog posts. So where- if you have guest posted on other people’s blogs, where has that been? Do you have a concrete list of all the places that you’ve contributed? Make a list of that. Same thing with podcasts. So if you’ve been interviewed on other people’s podcasts, write it down, get it in a list. So at this point- so we’re basically looking at a variety ways, a half dozen ways of gathering places that you’ve- taking an inventory of all these different places that you’ve been published, or you’ve been talked about, or the awards you won, the articles, the blog posts, the podcasts, all these different places. This is all kind of the foundation for what could be a content marketing strategy. So a strategy- it has to have a strategy behind it. You can just start saying how great you are on social media, or how great you are on your website, and only doing that. So it’s just one piece of the puzzle is getting the inventory of this stuff.
The other thing I would say in terms of taking inventory is reviewing your website copy; so any of the writing that’s on your website whether it’s the ‘About’ page, or maybe it’s a ‘Services’ page, or your ‘Home’ page. Grabbing all of that information too, and just reviewing it and seeing what type of content you have there, is there opportunity for you to weave in some of the other things that we talked about? Is there a way for you to weave in articles, or blog posts, or podcasts and make them very natural in part of that conversation? So reviewing your website, reviewing your blog content. So are you getting the most mileage out of your blog content? That is a huge, huge question for so many people. Or are you getting the most mileage out of past newsletters? Are your past newsletters currently blog posts? Or are blog posts into newsletters? So if you’re going to create a piece of content, find a way to use that piece of content in 1,000 different ways. There are so many different ways that you can use it, may as well leverage all of it. So to me, if I’m going to work with a client and I’m going to convince them that they need to spend their precious resources on sitting down and spending two hours on writing a piece of content, and they’re a very busy CEO that needs to be focused on sales calls and all kinds of stuff, and that two hours of time is really valuable to them. I’m not going to just say, “Hey thank you for writing this 600-800 word piece of blog content,” posting it on the blog, and then just leaving it at that. It’s far more than that. It’s looking at that blog content and saying, okay how can we re-purpose this? Can we pitch this to a publication as some kind of guest post? Could we talk to other people in our space and say, ‘Hey I have this interesting information, is this something you want to put on your post?’ Or oh the newsletter is going to come up in a couple of weeks, can we put this information in the newsletter? Of course all of these different scenarios you have to modify the language a little bit, but the substance and the meat of that information remains the same. So if you’re talking about a specific topic, maybe the intro and the outro of that topic change a little bit based on the audience, and where it’s going, and if it’s an article versus a newsletter versus a blog post. In looking at it that way, yeah we’re going to have to change the content a little bit to make sure that it resonates with the audience. So yeah we’ll have to change the content a little bit to make sure it resonates with the audience, but ultimately it’s re-purposing that one blog post that you may have spent two hours on, and putting it in six, seven, eight different places to really start to gather and create more traffic to your website, and ultimately the hope would be to convert leads once people get to your website. So convincing them that they should pick up the phone and call you, or to download something, or reach out to you.
So another piece of this is thinking about the strategy for your content. So I just said it’s kind of like step one. So step one is basically taking an inventory. So step two is more of what- how can I strategically use this information? So we just talked about how you can use your website content, your blog content, newsletters, podcasts, all that kind of stuff is intertwined, and really kind of in harmony to drive your end goal. But in terms of a strategy, one of the things that I did- and I know a lot of authors who are doing this now, is when I started writing on my blog in November of 2012, it was really starting off with the podcast, but when I started writing I knew I was going to use the information at some point somewhere else. And again I didn’t really- I wasn’t coming from a personal branding side of things. I wasn’t trying to figure out how to build my personal brand. All my goal at the time was to help educate people, and it’s still a huge, huge part of my goal is to educate people on LGBT stuff. But I knew as I was writing these blog posts that I would do something with them eventually, and it wasn’t fully thought out, but in hindsight, and something you could learn, is that if you say, “My end goal is to have a book by the end of 2016. And I write to my blog twice a week,” maybe it’s once a week, maybe it’s once every two weeks, maybe it’s once a month. Whatever the frequency is, so you can put that content together each week as you go throughout the year so by the time you get to the end of the year, you have all of the content available, you basically just have to marry it all together into something that creates a book. So if you’re talking about one topic that goes in with the second topic, you’re going to have to create- going in and adding paragraphs and making sure that the flow is right, and making sure that the chapters flow well. But the beauty is that you would have all of that information to work with rather than sitting there in November saying, “Crap I said in 2016 I’m going to write a book, and now I have to write 30,000 words. So it’s a matter of really thinking strategically; instead of having to write 30,000 words at once, how can I write thirty blog posts that are 1,000 words each and marry them together into a book by the end of the year? So it’s really thinking from a big strategic level of how to do that. So as I mentioned in my first book which is, ‘But You Don’t Look Gay,’ and it’s The Six Steps to Creating a Successful LGBT Marketing Strategy. What I did is when I first started, the first half of that book really is a lot of information about who the community is, the buying power of the community, some of the bigger marketing tips of understanding why people use the rainbow in their marketing, giving some data, and that kind of stuff. All of that information was taken from past blog posts. And again, I didn’t have the strategy at first for how I was doing this, so it was completely disjointed when I started working with it, but the content was all there. So I probably had I would say 15,000 words to work with probably at the very least, and I was able to move things around, and really just bridge these thoughts together, but it was a little more cumbersome because when I was writing it to begin with, I wasn’t writing it with an end goal of, ‘I’m going to put this in a book.’ However probably midway through 2013, I guess maybe it was even in early 2013, I had the thought of creating a series of blog posts that all tied together in one topic, which happens to be the six steps. So I think when I was doing it I had created five steps. So it was what are the five steps to creating a really good strategy? And I would write it saying, “Okay so this week we’re going to talk about step one of five,” and I would write a blog post about it, sometimes it’s 600 words, sometimes it’s 1,000 words, and then I would say, “Come back next week and we’ll get into number two. And then we’ll get into number three.” So it was a series that lasted over the course of five weeks, and that one- that information is the second half of that first book. So it was so easy because I had already written it with a natural flow from chapter to chapter essentially. So because I had that in mind of, ‘I’m going to make a book, like this is definitely going to be the foundation of my book,’ it was really, really easy to take those blog posts that really already flowed well together, and putting them in the second half of that book.
So going a little bit further along, I created my second book in 2014, and that one is, ‘No Wait, You Do Look Gay,’ and it’s The Seven Mistakes that Prevent People from Being Able to Sell to the Community. And that one was very artfully crafted over the course of probably ten months, maybe a little bit longer, of here’s all the things that I want to include in this book, and oh by the way I have six months of blog content that I have to come up with. Let me make sure it’s both. So in essence, somebody could go to my website and go through every blog post I’ve ever written, which is over 400 at this point, it’s probably closer to 450, which would be a total pain in the ass of having to go in, and try to find things, and sometimes it’s logically setting up for the next thing to read, but most of the time not, and not intentionally, just how the website’s structured. Or you could just buy the book for $10 and make it easy on yourself, and have it laid out beautifully for you.
So I guess the thing that the book has that the blog posts don’t have is there’s additional content and context for building the business case, and building the business case for this book itself. So from that standpoint, this is something that anybody can do. So I know that I’ve been talking about authorship, and really becoming an author in 2016, but you can totally be tag-teaming this approach. You could be working on a content marketing strategy, and working on a book at the exact same time, and using that same information in both places. And of course for- I don’t know if it’s an ethical reason, I don’t even know what to call it. You don’t want it to be completely identical. So I made sure that when I was writing both of the books that I’m adding a little more information in the book because I want people to feel like they’re getting a value from it. In the grand scheme of things, you can probably figure out 85% of it on the website itself without ever having to get the book, but again it’s the convenience and the ease of having the book to look at, and to guide you through the process.
So if you already have content, and going back to that inventory of taking an inventory of where you’ve been seen, but then also things that you’ve produced, there’s probably a good chance that you have the foundation- a big foundation of being able to put a book together in a relatively short period of time, because you already have a lot of it, you just have to start putting it together like a puzzle. So in terms of the content marketing strategy- So there’s taking the inventory, and then there’s having a strategy for what you’re going to do with that information. And the content marketing might flow into a book, maybe you don’t want to write a book, and that’s fine too. I think that a lot of people have it in mind that they can sit and just spend an hour and write 600 words for a blog post, and that doesn’t have to do anything else, and there’s fabsolutely nothing wrong with that.
So if you do want to go down the road of creating a book, and again this is probably applicable if you’re just trying to figure out a content marketing strategy. The third step would be figuring out basically what your outline would look like. So if we think, ‘Hey we started at the top, we took an inventory of everything we have, and now we have these stacks of stuff that we can use and they’re all over here on this side of the desk, and now we are strategically looking at what we want to do with this information whether it’s just producing on the blog- I guess podcast too, on the blog or podcast, or producing a book with this information eventually. The next piece would be coming up with an outline. So even if you don’t want to write a book, it still would be in your best interest to have some kind of road map, or some kind of outline to follow, which could be part of the overall strategy. But having some tactical road map that basically says, ‘Okay on Tuesdays I’m going to write communication tips, and on Fridays I’m going to write marketing tips. And every other week I’m going to do an interview.’ So that way you at least have an outline for what you’re trying to accomplish. And I use those examples because when I started my blog I was writing twice a week, and I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work. But now four years later I have 450 blog posts that are just kind of out there in the universe, and when someone goes to Google and they’re looking for something around LGBT and marketing, a lot of times I’m the one that shows up because I have so much information out there for it. But you can save yourself a lot of time and headache if you come up with an outline. So I was doing my Communications Tuesdays, and every Tuesday I would write something about a faux pas that people say or do, or a term that you might not want to use, or one you would prefer to use. And then on Fridays it was very tactical and marketing driven. So what’s a step to launching a successful strategy? What’s step one? What’s step two? And those were always on Fridays.
So if we’re looking at it from that standpoint, you can take route one, or route A, whatever we want to call it, and say, ‘Alright I’m just going to focus on getting content out there. I’m not trying to do a book.’ So pick a day of the week that you want to release your blog, podcast, whatever it happens to be, and pick a theme, and then go from there. And they don’t have to tie together, but if you want to figure out how to use this for a book down the road, actually put together an outline of a book. So you don’t have to have any of it written, don’t get stressed out about, ‘Oh I don’t even know what I would write.’ Just start putting together an outline of your thoughts, and from there you can totally create this outline that turns into your roadmap of, okay chapter one has to be on general high level who the LGBT community is. Chapter two can go into the more nitty gritty details of the LGBT community. Maybe it talks about the ‘L’ of the community. Chapter three talks about the ‘G’ of the community. Chapter four, the ‘B.’ Chapter five, the ‘T.’ Chapter six, okay now you know all this information, why is it important? I guess really think through what people ask you the most about, what are those common questions? What is your process and your methodology for how you walk a client through whatever product or service it is that you sell? Because that’s really going to be the framework of what could be your outline to your book, and also an outline as part of your content marketing strategy.
You may be listening to this and thinking, ‘I have never written an outline for anything, let alone a book.’ So what I could recommend doing is mind mapping your ideas. Mind mapping is really just grabbing a piece of paper, writing down your central idea in the center of it, and then just branching off, drawing lines that come out from that center that are different pieces of information or topics around your business that you would want to talk about. And if you just go to Google and type in ‘mind maps,’ there are tons and tons and tons of information, and pictures, and how to’s of actually creating a mind map. But it’s really simple. Grab a piece of paper, write in the middle ‘LGBT marketing,’ and from there what are all the pieces that people would need to know about LGBT marketing? It could be the same thing for financial advisors. So if you’re an advisor and you’re listening to this, circle financial advisor, that’s who you are, you’re in the center of it. Who are the clients you work with? What are the questions they ask? Where are you doing business? All of the things that could be beneficial to your end customer to hear. Or maybe your end customer- maybe you’re not trying to get customers, maybe you have a different goal of your book. But regardless, starting with the mind map, and then from the mind map you can create an outline because then you can start grouping things together. So even though it might look like a big, crazy, chaotic mess of information on a page, you might look at it kind of high level and say, ‘Alright for some reason there’s a lot of chatter about marketing tactics. Let me just grab all of those and put them aside in one place.’ Or ‘There’s a lot of chatter about words that you shouldn’t say. Let me put all those on this side of the page.’ And then eventually it becomes really clear, ‘Oh wow, there’s actually a story arc here, there’s a structure here. I couldn’t see the forest through the trees before to see that there’s a structure, but there’s totally a structure.’ So really from that mind map stage it’s a matter of creating- it’s going back to the outline. So you either create the outline first, or you use a mind map to help you create the outline. So those are kind of like steps three and four kind of combined.
And then from there you just plan and schedule your time of essentially how you’re going to get it done. So if you decide that, ‘Hey my outline has enough for fourteen chapters, I’m going to try to write 1,000 words each for each of these fourteen chapters. So now we have 14,000 words.’ That’s great but how are you going to do that? Are you going to block out time on your calendar? Are you going to reserve certain days of the week to focus on your writing? Are you going to write say every morning from 8:00 to 8:30, and when 8:30 hits, the buzzer goes off, you’re done? Are you going to do it for four hours on a Friday? Are you going to focus one day a month? There’s a million different ways you can do this, you just have to do it with what works best for you. For me it used to be focusing on writing for a little bit every day. I used to do usually between 8:00 and 9:00 AM, I would do my writing. And then once that was up, I was done, and I moved on. And now I really morphed into- by the time I get to the place where I want to write something, I have it in my mind pretty concretely, and it’s just a matter of getting it out of my head and on paper. So I wrote a blog post- one of the January blog posts, I ended up writing it in like 21 minutes, and I do time myself just to see, whereas when I first started this about four years ago, that easily could have been something that took me three hours to do. So of course you basically- you get better as you go through. And it takes a while, there’s a lot of process involved, but it’s a matter of scheduling it and make time for it.
And then of course the last step would be if you’re going to schedule it and make time for it, then you have to actually do the work, that’s the big piece. So you actually have to get it done. So that could be just using a Word document, that could be getting a product like Scrivener, which is a product specifically for writing whether it’s blog posts, books, whatever it happens to be. It’s a really helpful tool, I happen to love it. I’ll make sure I include a link in the show notes for that, and just as a side note the link for today’s show would be www.JennTGrace.com/78 for episode number 78.
So yeah, so I know I just kind of spewed out a lot of information all at once, and maybe it didn’t come out- I’m thinking as I’m talking it became more clear as I went along, but it’s really what we’re talking about, is the six steps to creating a content marketing plan that could eventually evolve into a book. Or the six steps to creating a book that could evolve into a content marketing plan. So it’s really just those six steps of taking an inventory, creating a strategy, outlining and then mind mapping, or mind mapping and then outlining depending on what your process is. Planning and scheduling, and then getting it done.
So yeah, that I’m sure I have raised far more questions than I have answered, but I hope that today’s episode gives you at least a little bit of a framework of how you can use content marketing in your business, how you can use it as part of your personal brand, how you can have that evolve into being an author by the end of 2016 if that’s what you’re trying to do, or if you’re listening to this podcast and it’s 2017, it’s all still applicable. Everything I’m talking about is totally an evergreen topic, meaning this is something that you can do regardless of when in a period of time this happens to be that you’re listening to it. So for anyone listening to this, I would strongly encourage you to reach out, whether you leave a comment in the blog post that this podcast is on, whether you comment on it in LinkedIn, send me a tweet, send me a note on Facebook; wherever you happen to be, I probably am too, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this because I really am thinking I would like to go into more detail on content marketing from a really big picture level, and just helping give you kind of that step by step advice. I am currently working with a fair amount of really large companies who I’m helping with their content marketing strategy, and it’s something that I really love doing. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve never really marketed it. Like it’s not something- like to me I’m teaching straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. That is my tagline, I’m still sticking entirely true to that, but because my business is built on content marketing, I do have a lot of companies that reach out to me to say, “Hey, how did you do that? How did you build it? Can you build it for us?” And of course I would love to build it for them, because as long as it has some tie into what we’re talking about in terms of the LGBT market, then it’s a win-win for everybody, and that’s kind of how I prefer to do things.
So anyway, if you want to reach out to me on social media, by all means please do. If you want to contact me, you can do so on my website. And if I threw out things that are not clear to you, please email me and ask for clarification, and I can certainly do a follow-up episode about this. And yeah, we can kind of go from there.
So I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, and we will talk in episode number 79. Talk to you soon.
Thank you for listening to today’s podcast. If there are any links from today’s show that you are interested in finding, save yourself a step and head on over to www.JennTGrace.com/thepodcast. And there you will find a backlog of all of the past podcast episodes including transcripts, links to articles, reviews, books, you name it. It is all there on the website for your convenience. Additionally if you would like to get in touch with me for any reason, you can head on over to the website and click the contact form, send me a message, you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all at Jenn T Grace. And as always, I really appreciate you as a listener, and I highly encourage you to reach out to me whenever you can. Have a great one, and I will talk to you in the next episode.