As entrepreneurs, we have to stay connected or we end up feeling very alone. Entrepreneurship gets way more risky when you disconnect from others and think hustling is how you build your business. Kristin Darga of Impact Founder jumped on the podcast with me to chat about how to build your business without running the risk of losing everything – even when you hit your goals.
Join us as we go deep into the halls of building business & keeping your wits about you. Find out what she would have told herself way back in the beginning of starting Impact Founder. Listen in!
KRISTIN IN HER OWN WORDS: Peaceful. Wild. I choose both.
Real, graceful, with an edge.
Award-winning author, an expert in entrepreneurship.
“Breaking me is what made me who I really am”
Done is better than perfect
because perfect never gets done.
The first time I got up in front of an audience to speak, I was shaking the piece of paper I was reading from – the one I was reading word-for-word. Sure, I took speech class in college, but it didn’t really prepare me for the real world. I was sweating, terrified, and wanted to sit down. The story written on that paper was about how I learned how to tithe and I was sharing it with my church. There were maybe 30 people – all of whom I knew really well. It was the worst feeling a person could have and I won’t forget it.
Looking back on those three minutes of torture, I can see clearly now that I was taking a first step into the unknown. I was sweaty and shaking hoping I didn’t encounter into something that could eat me alive. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was done. There’s no way I could have know that 10 years later speaking would be my number one source of income.
There was that time I got in my car and ended up driving 7,000 miles in 3 weeks (by myself) around the country on the Live Your Brand Tour interviewing 18 businesses about how they live their brand. This was before podcasting equipment and Siri recording all of your content for you. I wrote down everything they told me in a notebook and then compiled them into a series of stories. They weren’t perfect, but they were done.
Looking back on those three weeks of exhaustion and wishful thinking, I can see clearly now that I was doing epic shit to get noticed as a brand strategist. I was doing the hard work and putting in the time to get the research and knowledge to share with future audiences and clients. There’s no way I could have known that Entrepreneur Magazine would pick up the series, publish it all, and then interview me as a Veteran Brand Strategist.
When I started the Adventures in Branding podcast, I had no idea what I was doing. I hired a podcast producer, carefully mapped out my first 5 episodes, sat down and started talking. It was AWFUL. The humans sitting in the room looked at me sideways asking where I had found the NPR voice I was using. We deleted them immediately.
We re-recorded those first episodes and I shared the story of finding my purpose in life. They’re still the most-listened-to episodes of the podcast after 85 episodes. My 9th anniversary episode ended up as the #1 on a list of entrepreneurial podcast episodes in Inc Magazine. There’s no way I could have known that getting this podcast started would lead to hearing stories of how the episodes have changed people’s lives. They’re never perfect, but you know what, they’re done!
I closed Sisarina 18 months ago and launched a new brand. We launched Branded Confidence as a placeholder business until I figured out what I really wanted to do. It wasn’t perfect, but it was done.
On the same day we launched the new brand, we launched SPEAK With Confidence. (Go big, right?) I trained 12 people to rock their talk on stage. The event wasn’t perfect, but it was done and everyone had a blast. To the point that the audience members asked me if they could do it. So, we kept building it to the point that we built an online course and a workbook and launched it in a new city. It wasn’t even close to perfect but man, it was satisfyingly done.
For the whole time I’ve been an entrepreneur, my Crew has tried to convince me that I am the brand. That MY face has to be the face of the business. That our clients hire us because of my expertise. I refused to believe them and refused to let my face be the brand.
Which leads me to today.
As you’ll see, we ditched the Branded Confidence name and Sisarina is nowhere to be found. Melanie Spring is the brand. Melanie Spring Productions, Inc is the corporation. We create & host unforgettable in-person brand experiences for you and your team to tell your story. We create safe spaces for you to show up as yourself & walk away with everything you need.
SPEAK With Confidence is our 6-week online course + 4-night 3-day in-person retreat to help you craft & deliver your talk – your way. ispeakwithconfidence.com
The Define Your Brand workshop comes to your HQ to get your whole team on the same brand page while giving you implementable processes & systems build brand ambassadorship. see Workshops
Unforgettable Stories is a new 2-day workshop for brands to come together to collaborate, brainstorm & share ideas on how to tell your own unforgettable brand stories. Coming in June!
As one workshop attendee said, “EVERY SINGLE DETAIL was thought of. The thoughtful details throughout the week made me know that I could trust the process.”
My favorite part of all of this: we launched this website (the one you’re viewing right now) because it was done – NOT because it was perfect. I could write SO many lists of everything we need to do to get it to where we want it to be and it will forever be an iterative process. The brand will keep growing. Our services will keep growing. But our focus – our focus will remain the same.
We prepare humans & companies to tell their unforgettable brand story.
Now, I’m going to get back to doing that instead of worrying about everything that’s not done. Like I tell my speakers – THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU. THIS IS ABOUT THEM.
Get out there and do the thing you’re meant to do. Get it done. Especially if it’s not perfect. xoxo
“The whole essence of story isn’t about being likable.”
– Marc Gutman
Marc Gutman and I met at his Happy House – an old coal shack renovated into his office space – outside of Boulder, Colorado. It was the perfect location since this week we’re talking all about finding your happy place. Marc is an amazing storyteller who I’ve known from Maverick, Entrepreneurs’ Organization and weirdly overlapping social circles. We could talk for hours – but here’s an hour we recorded on the podcast just for you.
Marc grew up in Detroit, Michigan before hopping into his car after college and driving to Hollywood where he began his storytelling career. He’s the founder of Wild Story, a brand story messaging consultancy. Marc found his happy place in between being a master storyteller and a strategist working with outdoor brands.
“When you talk about putting your values where your money and your mouth are – that’s what brand is really about.” – Marc
Listen in as we talk about balance, work-life integration, finding your personal and professional core values and the art of sticking to them. We use Nike as a case study for the power of having enough courage to show up for your brand. The kickass-ed-ness of using your brand to polarize. And how taking big risks can lead to huge wins (like 30% increase in sales for Nike after their Colin Kaepernick ad.)
WARNING: This episode contains adorable puppy-appreciation breaks:
Check out Marc’s office – The Happy House – and adorable pup here:
AS HEARD ON THIS EPISODE: Find out more about First Descendants and the work they do for young adults with cancer and how you can support their work. And make sure to tune into Wild Story’s new podcast Baby Got Backstory!
(Caveat: This is NOT for people who love the holidays & think they’re the jolliest. If you think they are, skip this post completely.)
As soon as the adorable kids in their uterus-tugging costumes walk away from the house and the Halloween decorations come down, you know it’s time for the holidays to really begin. CVS has had Christmas decor up since August and you’ve been hearing Deck The Halls-esque songs since the school year kicked off. (Side note: in Norway, they don’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving so they’ve been ready for Christmas with their Norwegian sweaters and tinsel for months.) In the US, we’re bombarded with Black Friday ads since before the leaves change color – and yet all we can think about is “which relatives will be talking about their political views and how do I stay far away from them?”
I was Googling terms like “how to handle the holidays” – because I’m one of the many Grinch-grumps who doesn’t like Christmas music or Christmas decor until after Thanksgiving is put away. I’m actually the girl who looks forward to January 2 when the holidays are over, the unmet expectations are still crying tears of sadness and a new year of hope is finally beginning. I LOVE buying gifts for people all year long – I dislike buying things just to buy them. I also dislike having to see people I’m not interested in seeing JUST because it’s the holidays. And then there’s the whole “I didn’t get what I wanted” crap. Expectations are the reason for the season, right?
DID YOU KNOW: Two of the synonyms for “expectation” are FEAR and HOPE?!
Anyway – in case you were wondering, there are LOTS of articles about how to handle the holidays. They tell you all you have to do is: be positive, be grateful, love yourself, and breathe. Easy peasy. *eyeroll*
I mean, I’m typically a super positive human but I have to ask – have you ever wanted to punch someone when they tell you to “just be positive”? It’s not as easy as they say. And the people who say things like “just be positive” are probably the people who need to hear that the most. Also, “just” is demeaning. As if it was nothing.
Since I can’t find an article on how to unsuck the holidays without “just being positive,” I’m writing the dang thing myself. Mostly because I need to hear this but if it helps you as well? BOOM! Winning.
Let’s start with yoga. (but not really)
I was in a yoga class this weekend, and the teacher started the class sharing a prayer asking for wisdom through our pure thoughts, our pure words, and our pure hearts. We touched our foreheads, lips, and hearts. Throughout the class, every time we would get into Star pose (where you basically spread your arms & legs like a star), we would squat into Horse (where you squat in Star pose & put your hands in prayer in front of your heart) and touch our head, lips and heart. It was a reminder to purify our thoughts, words, and intentions. Over and over – for an hour. By the end, it was with each of us.
I walked out of class into the icy weather with a renewed heart, happier thoughts, and joyful words. It was just what I needed. A reminder that everything I have to give this holiday season is inside of me – not anyone else.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now let’s talk about church. (but not really)
That same day, I went to a church service about Forgiveness. I had just taken a test about my Strengths and got 100% on Forgiveness. I felt like – this is gonna be an easy service. I’ve got this.
Until he started talking about how most of us have a hard time forgiving OURSELVES. *sigh* Yep, he got me. I’m REALLY good at forgiving other people – but beating myself up about things I’ve done? Or things other people blame me for? I’m also really good at that. Typically I beat myself to a bloody pulp – FOR YEARS. (I still beat myself up over stuff that happened over 20 years ago…) By the end of the service, I was realizing how many things I had to let go of – that it wasn’t about being forgiven by others, but by MYSELF!
The fun of being human. Always something to work on.
Holidays are the best test of patience and self-reflection. From relatives who think you’re crazy for your political views, sexual orientation, tattoos, or haircut to the grating holiday music your older sister HAS to play on the untuned piano (and sing along to), there just isn’t enough rum in the eggnog to make it through. Not making the horrified face when you open a present from “that” uncle is almost impossible. And getting lipstick on your face (again) from your second cousin’s aunt Rose is imperative. Until your grandma reminds you that you’re too tall to find a man and you become 15 years old again sitting in the corner drinking more than your share of wine from a coffee mug so no one can see you’re a lush.
“Just be positive” isn’t going to work – but this weekend made me rethink how I can approach the holidays. You’re welcome to join me in my new holiday habits over the next weeks. Let’s change the conversation in our heads and see how we can find a little more of ourselves during the holidays.
10 Steps To Unsuck The Holidays
1. Forgive yourself.
That thing that happened when you were 17 isn’t your fault. Your brain wasn’t even fully developed yet. The stuff you think others still hate you for – it’s over and only you are still mad about it. That divorce, miscarriage, fight, misunderstanding – whatever it was. Let go of the mean things you think about yourself and whatever you feel is your fault – and forgive yourself for good. Then move on.
2. Limit social media scrolling.
Everyone is going to post all of their awesome holiday fun on social media – not all the fights or tears. Use the new iPhone Screen Time app to limit your usage so you aren’t just hiding in the bathroom scrolling through everyone’s parties while you’re miserable wishing you were somewhere else. If you’re having a tough time, share it with a friend. They’re probably have a tough time as well & can commiserate with you without making you feel worse.
3. Say nice things.
To yourself AND to others. While you’re sitting there judging yourself for what everyone else thinks of you and judging your family/friends for all their shit, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Find something you appreciate about yourself and the people you’re around – and say it out loud. The more nice things you say, the happier you’ll feel.
4. Buy yourself something you don’t need.
It doesn’t have to be expensive (but it can be if you really like to do that for yourself.) Choose something you REALLY want and buy it for yourself. All expectations for what you’ll get as a gift will disappear and you’ll enjoy yourself. (I’m buying myself a massage package to my favorite masseuse. #necessary)
5. Walk away.
When the shit hits the fan (and it will), instead of getting upset about it, take a deep breathe, say “I’m sorry you feel that way,” close your mouth and walk away from the situation. Period. Then text a friend who will cheer you up, go back in and keep holiday-ing. Staying in an argument or in a place where you’re feeling offended isn’t going to help you keep up the holiday spirit.
6. Do something nice for someone else.
Especially if they don’t expect it. And maybe even without them realizing it was you. Leave a sweet thank you note, gift a gift “from Santa,” send an unexpected card, send money to a friend, donate to your favorite organization, text a relative you haven’t talked to in years, spend quality time with humans less fortunate than you, and listen a little longer than you really want to.
7. Make a dish you love.
Food can be a big part of our happy memories. Make the green bean casserole the way you like to make it. Get up early and bake that coffee cake your dad used to make. And eat all the bacon before everyone else wakes up (just like he did.) Do what gets you into the holiday spirit by eating the things that remind you of your happy moments.
8. Know that it’ll be over soon.
The new year is just around the corner and you’ll be well on your way to “keeping” your resolutions. It’s just a season – and it’ll be over before you know it and you’ll have to deal with Valentine’s Day questions. So, ENJOY IT! Even if you have to choose one little thing to enjoy. Take a picture of your favorite part & look back on it with fondness.
9. Cuddle a puppy.
This is one of my favorites. Find a corner and snuggle a dog while you read a book. It’s amazing what dog affection can do for your soul. And stay there for awhile – without anyone realizing you’re gone. Having some downtime in the midst of the craziness will help you stay sane. And dogs are REALLY easy to talk to. They’re GREAT listeners.
10. Make up a new tradition.
Every family has traditions but where did they come from? Someone made them up. Buy everyone an ornament instead of a gift, find a new recipe that will become a staple at the holiday dinner, create a game for the kids to play, teach everyone a new card game, or let the kids stay up late watching holiday movies with the best homemade popcorn in their PJs.
There you go! You’re on your way to unsucking the holidays. (hey! At least it’s not “just be positive.”)
I’m going to make a concerted effort not to let my holidays be ruined by unkind words, thoughtless comments, or ridiculous expectations – especially if a certain person decides it’s necessary to tell me my dog is fat again (he’s FLUFFY!) I hope you’ll join me in this effort to unsuck your holidays. Let me know how it goes. And know that I’ll be posting the good, bad AND the silly. I’m with you, friend.
PS. Need a Kickass holiday gift? Go grab tshirts, tanks & mugs for you and the family members you really like. xoxo Shop
“Money is a tool to further your purpose in life.”
– Alex Agresta
Alexandria (Alex) Agresta is Chief Purpose Pioneer at Purpose Pioneers and is now a SPEAK With Confidence Rockstar Alumni! I’m such a huge fan of hers and I promise two minutes into this episode – you will be, too. This woman is so on brand and so purpose-driven it shines through her in every way.
Alex knew her purpose was all about purpose when she was six-years-old – so who better to talk about living a life and work full of purpose than Alex herself?! On this episode, we chat about systemizing purpose and creating systems around fulfillment in life, why your purpose is your brand, channeling both masculine and feminine energies, and, of course – manifesting that shit!
“If I’m tired and want to take a nap in the middle of the day because I’ve been working my butt off – then I’m going to freaking do it and not feel guilty.” – Alex
If you’re in a season that needs some light, tune into this episode & walk away puking rainbows.