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Intro: Welcome to the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast with JP Stonestreet, episode #6.
JP: My guest today is joining us from Los Angeles, California. Her name is Melanie Benson Strick and she is known as America’s leading small business optimizer. She has a gift for guiding fast-paced overwhelmed driven entrepreneurs to thrive in their small business with over 13 years of mentoring thought leaders and big thinking entrepreneurs, Melanie is a liberator. She helps you uncover the costly breakdowns and derailleurs in your business and helps you reenergize your profits. Ultimately, she frees you to do more of what you do best. So, without further ado, I would like you to meet Melanie Benson Strick.
Hi Melanie, thanks for joining the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast. How are you doing?
Melanie: I am good, thanks for inviting me.
JP: You bet, I am so happy that Jessica Rhodes, I understand that you work with her to get people for you podcast.
Melanie: I do, she is a rock star.
JP: Yes, I met her at NMX last week at the New Media Expo and she made a very good impression on me. She did pitch me your services, which I may use in the future, but right now I have like 20 some people lined up for my podcast and I don’t need her to schedule anything for me just yet.
Melanie: I think you will be very happy when you are ready.
JP: Yes, I got that impression. I talked to Cleo who is another one of her clients and he didn’t have anything but great things to say.
JP: So, Melanie why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself first and then tell us a little bit about your business?
Melanie: Okay, a little bit about me. I have been an entrepreneur, I guess you might say my whole life, I started very early on at seven with all my grand schemes of how to get the local kids to buy my grandmother’s baked goods. I just kind of kept progressing from there, but after I did about 14 years in Fortune 500 companies, I just had the bug to really do my own thing and create my own hours and able to have my own freedom, so about 2000 I started my own company and the crux of what I do is I teach entrepreneurs who are feeling overwhelmed and/or as if what they are working so hard to create isn’t performing financially as what they would like, I teach them how to optimize your business so that it works 10 times more profitably, 10 times more effortlessly whatever it is the thing that they really want to achieve and I have been doing this for a lot of time and when I started my company I got very well known for helping people create the better leverage strategy so that they weren’t in overwhelm. I know that no entrepreneur has ever felt overwhelmed.
JP: Never, no.
Melanie: Yes, so partially it is because of my own journey I really struggled to get profitable when I started my business, I was working 14-hour days, I couldn’t ever seem to get on top of my to-do list and it was really hard to make enough to get the things done to get past that early – there is kind of like a blocker on your trajectory. There is so much to get done and then I realized that many of us never stopped being busy actually, we never stopped having enough to do and in my own journey I found that every time I hit another little success, there is a whole other slew of things that were getting complicated and frustrating and caused stress, I was overwhelmed. So, I learned very early on how to leverage my time to be able to scale my growth and to be able to accomplish a lot with less effort than most of my friends, colleagues, and clients. So, that kind of became my claim to fame and one of the things I think that was so big for me JP was that I realized most of us, if we don’t have anything better to do, we will just work, right? We will just spend more time working all these – put more into our business and for me, I really wanted to have a life, like I wanted to travel, I wanted people there to take time away and working minimum between 30 less than 40 for sure hours per week, that’s really important to me.
Melanie: I decided I was going to be a lifestyle enthusiast and I was going to go out and find out what the best spas, what the best beaches, what the best experiences were out there in the world, so I had something to shoot for that wasn’t just about making more money and getting more stuff done, it’s been fun, it’s been a fun journey.
JP: I just read an article this weekend called Busyness is Dead or something along that lines and it was talking about how so many of us get bogged down and just busy work that we don’t actually get what it needs to be done, done. We are like working on our business, calling people, getting sales, we fill our time with things that don’t really matter.
Melanie: We as meaning of us as human beings I should say, I don’t think everybody has this little phenomenon, but I would say a lot of entrepreneurs do is we create the illusion of success by filling up our time and there is a psychology behind it in terms of our mindset and that is often times we don’t really have the paradigm that we can be successful and feel by freeing our time. We think if we are not being busy, we are not being successful enough. So, there is like this unconscious, we might say like a trap like a link between more success and being busy all the time and it’s perpetuated in our society and from what we hear like you have to work harder, you hear people say if you are not working long hours, you are not working hard enough, you are not putting enough effort into your business and that’s nothing to do with how much you work. It has to do with how well you focus on doing the right activities at the right time, so it is about teaching our mind what that is and creating a disciplinarian structure so that we are focusing on our most valuable, most profitable and highest return on investment activities.
JP: Yes, it’s a real paradigm shift because we are raised to be busy. I was raised “work really hard” that’s the work ethic, especially in America we have that work ethic and sometimes working hard is not the right thing to do. I used to say in my business when I owned my company that we need to work smarter not harder and it is a paradigm shift. You have to sit back and think “Okay, how could we be doing this better? Should we be doing this? Should we be outsourcing this?” I just had a meeting this morning with my business coach and she was beating into me again how important it is to outsource some of these functions like producing my podcast and producing some of the videos that I create because I kind of like doing that, but it’s not a very good use of my time to do the postproduction piece, I need to be focusing on the content and the business and the marketing and not production which I can pay somebody to do.
Melanie: Yes, there are these two things that work when I hear people say that because as an optimizing expert I am always looking for how can I get more out of the person’s time and how can what they do expand exponentially, like that’s my whole goal and what I hear a lot and maybe you might hear yourself on this is that one or two things are usually at work, I can do that so why should I pay someone else and I actually enjoy doing it, so I am good at it, so why would I pay someone else” and one of the things that always people think about is “Can somebody do something better, faster, or cheaper than you?” So, even if you are good at it, if you can pay someone less than what you are worth per hour and you are doing it yourself, you are actually costing the business money and you are limiting how much you can grow, so that’s one skill of it and then the other thing of it I think sometimes we just get into this and this goes back to a money mindset we get into this trap where we think may be we are bootstrapping or may be we are not seeing all the dollars coming in from something, so you think “Well I am just going to hold on to it and do it myself.” What we are doing though in a way is we are kind of shortcutting the flow of prosperity and prosperity consciousness because if we are kind of constricting in that way, we have a really difficult time doing the things like you are just saying like our time is limited and finite. We are putting our attention into things that will create exponential growth we’re too into tactical and we end up cutting off what I consider to be highly profitable endeavors. So, it’s a real mindset shift that many of us have to get into to start handing off more of the activities that would keep us from being busy all the time.
JP: Yes, one of the downfalls of entrepreneur is, one of the reasons why we start our own business is because we want to be in control and we want to do it because we get tired of other people not doing it the way we want and so that’s something that most entrepreneurs really struggle with is this delegation piece because that’s a big reason why we start our own business to have that control, but we have to realize that giving up that control and teaching someone else to do it the way you want it done is a lot more control than trying to do everything yourself.
Melanie: Yes, again it goes back to mindset and the decision that if I want to grow, I can’t possibly hold on to everything myself, if you take Bill Gates or any of them – I am not saying everything wants to be Bill Gates or Richard Branson, but the psychology of their success is bring other people in to do what someone else can do better, faster, cheaper or literally to replace you in the circuitry of getting more done and so at a certain point, if control is an issue then you are going to find that you don’t get to grow. Let go to grow is the little saying I like to say.
JP: That’s a good one, I think I am going to write that down “Let go to grow.” That’s great, I love that. I am still finishing, but I have read most of the Steve Jobs biography, have you read that?
Melanie: I have seen the movie, but not read the book.
JP: The book is fantastic, it really kind of gives you a view into his very bizarre life, but one of the things he was fantastic at was delegating, getting the right people on his team and then letting them run with it and I think that’s one reason why Apple was so successful before he left and then was successful again after he came back is because he is just a master of attracting the top talent. He said he only wants A players on his team. You are one or the other, you are either – what did he say – I don’t want to say it on here because it is a cuss word, but he said “You are either a hero or zero” basically, but he had a different word for zero and that’s why some of the entrepreneurs make it so big and are so successful, I think that is a large determining factor and a lot of differentiating factor between the ultra-successful and just the mediocre.
Melanie: Ultra-successful and mediocre, I think it has to do a lot with the fact that as entrepreneurs many of us will go for cost savings which will lead to us compromising the level of quality or excellence that we can achieve or create by hiring a certain person for what our budget is and then all of a sudden we are disappointed in the results because we have hired someone who is may be not as confident or at the level of what we are going to need. So, I think again everything always go back to the mindset, what is the thoughts you are thinking and what is it that you are wanting to achieve and what are you telling yourself about that investment or that action or that progress, every single leap I have ever made, every single leap a client has ever made, it always goes back to “Are they approaching this with the right mindset, do they have an attitude to achieve higher levels of success and do their actions back that up.” It’s funny I get into a lot of really interesting dialogues with people when they are not achieving what they want and when you can get them to the point where they can look at wow the way my brain is processing all these and the story I am telling myself and the thoughts that are roaming through my mind that are really actually debilitating me and I see this happen in the way we design our business, the way we work in our business and what we accept as our results and at what point do we challenge ourselves to stretch and grow and when do we just put up with mediocre.
JP: Yes, I wrote a blog post, you mentioned an interesting point about paying someone and not wanting to pay someone, I wrote a blog post about the importance of investing in your business and a lot of entrepreneurs especially first time entrepreneurs they are really conscious about the money situation even though they may not have one, a lot of people I counseled I say don’t quit your day job, keep your income coming that way you don’t make decisions based on fear of finances and being unable to pay the car payment, the mortgage payment, keep your day job and start your business while you still have income because it’s not like you start a business and you immediately have enough income to pay your salary. Unless it’s a bigger business where you get funding for it and you can make it your full time job, so a lot of people struggle or stress out about the financial situation like Oh I will save this penny here and this penny there by doing it myself” and the problem with that as a result is usually not nearly as good as hiring a professional and it’s sucks your time that you could be using to do things like marketing and sales and content creation and networking all those things that you can’t pay somebody else to do.
Melanie: They call that stepping over dollars to pick a penny.
JP: Yes, that’s a great analogy.
Melanie: The idea is that our focus is on the wrong end of the game and when you are in a place where you are trying to just save a few pennies here and there, you are actually compromising big revenues because your focus is on how can I save instead of how can I grow.
JP: Yes, that’s a great point and a huge paradigm shift and a lot of that has to do to with our views of money and one want to kind of switch gears a little bit and talk about your concept of the six MoneyDNA blueprints because I think that people have to – I tell everybody before you start your own business, if you have issues around money, if you are raised believing that money doesn’t grow on trees and all of those negative things that we were raised to believe about money then you need to work on that first because you are going to sabotage your success because you think money is the root of all evil, so you have to fix those beliefs first and so let’s talk about your six MoneyDNA blueprints and how that effects peoples’ success as entrepreneurs?
Melanie: I want to be really clear limiting beliefs don’t even have to be about money to affect your financial situation.
JP: Very true.
Melanie: One of the things about the blueprints is let me back up and say that in my first two years of running a business, I went through being the brokest I have even been my entire life and was really struggling and something shifted for me. I did some list work and I did some clearing of some old leaves that were clouding my vision and when I did that what I call the recoding process, what happened for me was within nine months, I went from struggling to make $1500 a month consistently to making over six figures and I realized how significant our attitude and our beliefs are in terms of driving what behaviors will take where we wouldn’t take. So, for the next 10 years, I used all those tools in my coaching and found it to not only be extraordinarily valuable for me to continue to multiply my six figure business but also with my clients, but then something happened for me in 2008 where I had a really big landmine and I had a huge financial meltdown in my life. A lot of people are afraid to talk about their problems with money and having massive failures, I am really straight out because I see a lot of business owners facing similar things and that is our blueprint is keeping us within a certain financial parameter, so in other words once we start to push up against what we consciously or unconsciously believe is our game that we can have financially, things start to happen that cause us to either blow up, slow down, or have like inconsistencies, all of those things happen and I have worked with seven figure business owners who were broke. I have worked with six figure business owners who one month have like a 50,000 a month and the next month have a 5000 dollar a month and what I found is that these blueprints are pretty much consistently driving the behaviors of business owners all over the planet and when we recognize what blueprint we were encoded with because most of our beliefs and our attitudes and our wiring if you will around money, is programmed into us as a child in the conditions that we grow up in or may be our culture or religion or may be our parents or the people that are really influential in our life and it’s actually lot more to than that which I explain, I have this web training I do because I think once you understand this, you are literally given the keys to the kingdom and these six blueprints, every single one of us has at least one of them, many of us have one or two may be even three of them and they act like a success program just like if you have a program in your computer that runs a predictable – you boot it up and you get that software or it turn on your browser or you print a document, we as human beings run that blueprint all the time whether we know it or not and it kicks out a specific set of outputs as well and most of it is limiting what we truly can achieve, so here’s the six blueprints. I will just give you the high note version of them.
Melanie: Because of time today, but in essence the first one is the under-earner and the under-earner typically is someone who charges way less than they should and so the setup is that when you are an under-earner, you tend to never really be able to get help financially because you are charging either less than the industry standards or you are just so afraid to step up your game and push your resistances that you are constantly struggling to make an opportunity to really get by, so you are kind of like to have a struggle addiction.
JP: Yes, I tell people don’t charge what you would pay, charge what your clients would pay because a lot of people are really cheap, they are like I wouldn’t pay that much. If your product to your service is worth it, you need to charge what it’s worth not what you would pay for it.
Melanie: True and I actually add one other dimension to it when I am working with people, I tell them charge what it’s worth because a lot of times people have reworked their belief that they are not valuable by attracting very low prosperity consciousness clients. Their client base wouldn’t sustain the rate increase either. So, that’s the first one, the under-earner. The second one is the over-spender. The over-spender is someone who is constantly in a place where they throw money at problems and they may actually make a decent amount of money but because they have absolutely no clue what they spend in their life and in their business, they constantly run broke or they are really limited in how much money they have to work within. They tend to not be able to make the bigger investments because there are cash poor, but when they do have money, it’s uncomfortable for them, so they have to get rid of it. So, that’s kind of hitting their ceiling of what they believe is okay for them. So, you got the under-earner, the over-spender, we have the ostrich and the ostrich is somebody who hides in the sand in hopes of – another word for them is avoider, they are avoider and they tend to avoid and abdicate responsibility for money and success. They are really uncomfortable talking about money, they are really uncomfortable managing their finances and a lot of times the limiting lever on that one is that they were told and this happens a lot for women is that it’s the man’s job to take care of the money or you are never going to be good with money, so just don’t bother with that, marry somebody who is good with money and sometimes men get that message as well, but I see it happen a lot more with women and the whole cycle is truly devastating because these people don’t ever know how much money they have and they often times achieve really great success, but because they don’t pay attention to their money, they blow it all up or they are never profitable because they don’t really pay attention to the numbers. So, there is lot more stories to that, the avoiders because they don’t know how to have a good relationship with money so they unconsciously are rejecting it. Speaking about unconsciously rejecting that leaves us to our fourth blueprint which is the monk.
JP: I can’t wait to hear this.
Melanie: So, the monk is someone who they because of their calling life or because of the vocation they have picked or the type of work they do and usually these are people who are about giving back, lot of philanthropist, a lot of social workers, people who are really about the giving and the supporting. If they have an opinion that money is bad or that money is not important, they will consciously reject money. Most people would say what’s wrong with that money, these people, they are not doing this to build a proper business, they are not doing this to sign about the money for them, here’s the problem, it is that they tend to struggle financially and that makes them get into a position where they cannot do the work they want to do because they don’t have resources and they haven’t gotten the mental shift that when you are on this planet to do good work in the world and you know how to be really fluent with money and you are a good steward of money and you know how to make money, you actually can increase your ability to impact the world.
JP: Yes, you can help more people if you have more money.
Melanie: Exactly, it’s the real the least system shift, this is one of the ones that I find that when we recode people’s MoneyDNA, which is what I call the blueprint you are running. When you recode and you are a monk, you are on fire and actually I was that person early on in my journey like it’s not about the money, even though I want to make six figures, I have this cool thing like I don’t want to be like greasy and all these limiting beliefs about being wealthy and successful, what I realized is that I actually as a high six figure business owner and I have had seven figures in the my business at times, what I find is I am able to do so much more and it’s not even about the selfishness about being able to travel or anything, it’s simply like I have the resources to be able to support people, I can give people scholarships, I can do things to make a difference. I can have the space to do philanthropy, like this last summer I put on a one-week success camp in a really high risk community here in Los Angeles and I funded a lot of it and I took a lot of time away from my business to do that, I can’t do those things, you can’t give back if you don’t have the affluence to do that. So, it’s a real paradigm shift for lot of peoples, the monk.
Melanie: So, we have covered four, the fifth one is something that you and I have already alluded to and I call it the busy addict. Busy addict is someone who at first glance is next to or actually that gives the appearance that they are really successful, but the problem with the busy addict is they are so busy that they are actually usually not focused on their most profitable activities, they are just build up all the time and they never have time to do the things that actually would further the business so they can’t really have long-term sustainable success. They tend to have short bursts or they are so overwhelmed running their business, they are so maxed out that they actually don’t get to enjoy their financial flow and so one of the things the conditions that comes up for busy addict is simply I don’t want to get bigger because I can’t work more.
Melanie: It limits your ability to achieve more and the essence of that blueprint is you cannot achieve any more prosperity when you are already tapped out with what you have. So, that’s one of the conditions you know you are trapped in the busy addiction blueprint is you literally said yourself “I can’t get any more success, I can’t afford to get any more business, I don’t want to grow, I don’t want to need more because I have to work more” and we have to break down that paradigm and those internal conflicts so that the person can actually see that there is more effortless or more sustainable way to grow.
JP: Yes, I think that’s the one that I struggle with the most. I think that defines my MoneyDNA blueprint because I tend to bog down in the details and I got my career started as a software developer, so I buried myself in details for years and then I moved into management, I started managing development teams and even though I wasn’t coding as much, I still was in the details of requirements and client management and all that stuff and then when I finally started my first successful company, I had a really hard time stepping away from all of that work. I was very busy all the time and I still am, I still struggle with that.
Melanie: I would say the devils in the details and most people meant by that is if you don’t manage the details that your life can get really complicated. I look at it also that when you get too bogged down into the details, in other word for it as you often get pulled into the weeds you have a very difficult time being able to really secure your business and you can’t really grow exponentially when you are touching every single little tiny things, so that’s the busy addict and then the sixth one is what I like to call the hoarder and think of it as a squirrel who runs around and collects a bunch of nuts and they store them for the winter. At first glance, the hoarder is actually really good at making money, so financially they know how to be successful, but the one downside to the hoarder is they live their life in constriction and they pretend like they don’t have wealth and tell everybody they don’t have any money and they act like the guy Scrooge in that Christmas fable is this idea of the guy who is miserly and he just greets people and makes people feel bad, he is secretly collecting more wealth at the expense of other people, that’s the hoarder energy and the reason why this doesn’t work long-term is that most of the people who hoard, they don’t really have a healthy in in that relationship, they tend to hold on so tight they cut the life force off of prosperity and because they are not enjoying it, it will dry up and die. So, either they lose it all or they are afraid to spend money, so they don’t really enjoy their life, so they are not really thriving, they are just kind of like deadening themselves to prosperity. Then there is actually a seventh one, I talk too much about it right now, but I will just say that there is a positive blueprint and it’s the one that I really have developed all of my business success models around and it’s the thriving blueprint and the thriving blueprint, the idea behind it is that you can’t thrive and feel a sense of effortlessness when you are doing the right work the right way and have your business set up a design so that it can create a sense of ease and flow as most people create really complicated, really overwhelming businesses and the thing behind the thrive blueprint is that you are programmed to automatically do the right things for the right reasons that get the right results.
JP: That’s powerful, I am glad you are out at the seventh one because the other six show that it’s important to know what’s wrong. I like Tony Robbins’ quote, it’s something along the lines of “It’s great to identify your problems but spend most of your energy on the solutions” and that’s what your seventh MoneyDNA blueprint is, is the solution to the problem that almost everyone has, in fact I would argue that if you’ve never worked on this issue, you have it. I think everybody has an issue around money, one of those six unless they have put energy into addressing those because I think we are raised from children by most people to have one or more of those issues.
Melanie: Yes, most people are really smart and capable, it’s just that when you don’t have the right programming, you have to work hard, it’s almost like there is a part of you that is working against the smarter part of you.
JP: Yes, it’s the self-sabotage.
Melanie: You think there is something wrong or like I have failed; there’s nothing wrong with you, it‘s just that you need to upgrade the strategies in which you are trying to build your business and that’s what makes consistent predictable income attainable.
JP: That’s great. Okay, your business, this is pretty much what you do, you help rewire people’s MoneyDNA blueprint, is that correct?
Melanie: Well, that is one of the things I do. My whole goal is I want to turn people into high performing productive, efficient, and thriving business owners. So, if the blueprint is in place, that will allow that thriving to happen then we always start with rewiring the inner game, rewiring the approach and we call it recoding so that you can put into action faster, so that you can take action and get results. Sometimes people look around and are like “I am doing all the same things so and so is doing, why isn’t working for me?” and that’s because your blueprint isn’t going to allow you to sustain it. There’s some work that came out a few years ago by a man named Gay Hendricks, who wrote a book and you probably heard of it called The Big Leap and one of the things he talks about is that we all have an upper limit and when you have an upper limit, you literally have set yourself up to be unable to achieve higher levels of success because when you start hitting that barrier what you are comfortable with, what feels normal to you, something will blow up, something will get in the way and that’s where the blueprints show up, is like we work harder because we are busy addict or we start charging less because we have under earning patterns and we think “Oh, we are not making enough money because I am charging too much.” So whatever that blueprint is, it starts engaging the behaviors that keep you locked in where you don’t want to be.
JP: Yes, it is really unfortunate how we self-sabotage, we sabotage our own success and most of time it is completely subconscious, we are not even aware that we are doing it.
Melanie: Yes, which is one of the reasons why many people turn to coaches who specializes in these areas because left to your own devices it’s very hard to sort the stuff out of your own and I actually created a pre-training around it because I didn’t want people to have to rely directly on getting an appointment with me and my time is really scarce these days, it’s very difficult for me to do one on ones with people, so I wanted away to let people have access to this training so they could self-asses where they were and given the tools to help them really do the recoding and be able to create a new model for their business and their life, it’s going to be more in the thriving category.
JP: Yes, that’s great and I am assuming that they can learn more about that program on your website?
Melanie: Yes. You can also go straight to Money-DNA.com/webinar that’s the little shortcut. You can always go to my website SuccessConnections.com. That is there as well with all of our trainings and all the different ways that we help smart, very capable, but way too overwhelmed entrepreneurs.
JP: That’s great and I will put links to both of those on my show notes page for this podcast as well.
Melanie: Cool, thank you.
JP: Okay, I want to switch gears a little bit. A lot of the people that I talk to and help, their concern and their main concern is how do I drive traffic either to my website or my business, how do I market, advertise, so I want to switch gears and talk about how do you do that in your business and let’s start by telling us how you got your first five customers?
Melanie: Oh boy, okay. Let me talk about what I did in the beginning and it’s actually radically different today and what I did in the beginning was very much about networking. My first five clients came from people I knew or people that I met in some kind of a networking experience and I will tell you those first five clients were probably the hardest clients that I ever got because there was a lot of convincing and trying to sell people, I didn’t necessarily have the same established credibility’s I do now, so there was a lot of having to overcome obstacles, but I got them and I think the key when I am working with newer business owners is you have to know what you are worth is and what your value is and you have to know how to help someone else experience that without making them feel sold and I did it all wrong in the beginning. I didn’t have those skills and I didn’t have those tricks, I wish I had had me as my coach.
JP: Yes, ain’t that funny, I feel the same way. I wish I could go back in time back when I started my first successful failure and say “Okay, this is what you are going to do wrong and don’t do that.”
Melanie: Right, exactly and the interesting thing was that was the least I have ever charged in my entire life for my coaching, so here I was working the hardest for the least amount of money and that was probably why I was so overwhelmed because “Oh my gosh how I am going to get the 40 clients so I can make six figures of this approach.” It was what you do today and what happens now and the way people tend to come into my work and ask me to coach them or enroll in my program is more of what we might call education and attraction based model and I should learn this and I’m going to give a guy a plug, I learned this from Adam Urbanski, who to this day is one of my best friends and we have been masterminding together for 10 years and what I learned from him really revolutionized my life and it made me a much more successful business owner and that was I realized if you are selling people and you are trying to push what you do on them, first of all if it doesn’t feel good to you, it doesn’t feel good to them and inevitably there is a lot of tension and it’s not necessarily the best approach and what works better is if you can help other people understand what the problem is that they are experiencing and how you solve that problem and so there is lot of educational tools out there, there is what we are doing right now, there are e-books, there are regular books, there are webinars, there are speaking, there are social media to a limited degree that works, there is YouTube videos, I mean there are just so many different ways that you can educate and so what I do now and I do for myself and do with clients is I look at what are the things I am best at because I will be honest with you, I am not the best. If somebody asks me to go speak at an event that was of the traditional back of the room sales model and my income depended on being able to “close the room” which is industry lingo for being able to sell while from the state that is not who I am, it’s never been the things that I do out, but when I can just simply be in an experience where I am sharing with someone that I recognize that they are overwhelmed, I recognize you are working way too hard to get the results you are getting, you might be on the edge of depression, you might be feeling really stressed out and you are looking for some hope, you are looking for a better way to do it. Well, I happen to be an expert in leverage and really be able to help you optimize exactly what we are doing now, so you can work 10 times less, you get 100 times better results. I can be in a situation where I can help someone feel that hope and that possibility that I have something that will help them, that’s when I get my best clients, that’s when we get our best enrolments, that’s when I know I have somebody that can really help and I am not having to disclose somebody so to speak because I need money, I am literally there and I can help someone because I have a solution for problem that they want dissolved, that’s what I teach my clients is how do you set that up for yourself, is social media the best, is speaking the best, is doing phone calls for some people the single best way is that you reach out, you “cold call somebody” and you create a way to get that engagement that you are looking for. So, that’s what works for me now, my best ways are partnering, we have a lot of partners who serve our target audience and that will reach out and say “Hey, Melanie what you do is really perfect for me, could you come teach your MoneyDNA program to my community or my Get Out of Overwhelm or whatever?” and we also do a lot of Facebook ads because you can really target the type of problem that people are having on Facebook now.
JP: Do you get good convergence of Facebook ads?
Melanie: We get decent convergence; it’s all about how well you do it to be quite frank.
JP:…and how targeted it is.
Melanie: Yes and how targeted and it requires a lot of testing and tweaking and so we are just getting ready to go through another round of really honing that in and in my list I have a pretty good size, we have 15,000 people in my community here that are looking for solutions so we e-mail communications to them and doing interviews like this. I do a lot of interviews and I am very limited in the live speaking I do, so I usually do somewhere between four and six live events a year and so that is another way, but that is not my main way. I used to do about two a month. So, I was on the road a lot, not optimum for me.
JP: Yes, I started this podcast for two reasons I really love talking about these topics and for years I have been asking people about their entrepreneurial journeys and how they got their start, what their inspiration was, I have been a SCORE mentor since 2009 and so I have a chance to meet with lots of people who want to be an entrepreneur or who are pretty early in the process and I always start my meetings talking about these types of questions because it’s just fascinating to me and I thought what better way to share this with more people than through a podcast, so that’s the main reason why I am doing this and then the other reason is to drive traffic to my website at JPStonestreet.com, I wanted to put my plug in there because podcasts are a great way to drive traffic to your website and a lot of people are doing it now and they are creating great content that really helps people and they are benefiting from it at the same time.
Melanie: Yes, I am glad you said that because two of the newer things we are doing is last year I did start a podcast myself, mine is a video podcast and I did that specifically because iTunes is looking for video content and I set a goal that by May of this year we are selected as one of iTunes new favorite small business podcast.
JP: Awesome, what’s the name of your podcast?
Melanie: If you go to MelanieBensonStrick.com/podcast, you will be setup on the iTunes, but it’s called the Small Business Optimizer.
Melanie: The other thing – this ties in with podcasting and I think this is often a very overlooked strategy and I just realized couple of people asked me recently on interviews like “What’s one of your favorite ways to drive traffic and get leads?” and I thought what do I do that’s different that we can talk about and I realized one of the things that I do that is highly effective for me is I look for ways to be experienced as the leader and the expert in a formal community, so doing this is obviously one way when you are being interviewed and you are being endorsed, but another thing I do is I pick, usually it’s not more than one place to be a leader and an expert, so right now I am highly involved in a group called Women’s Speakers Association, many of my clients are speakers because they are experts but they are kind of overwhelmed and trying to figure out everything that took all the business and so I host a weekly chat, a Twitter chat for that community and that has actually been driving about 30 to 40 percent of my enrolments in clients.
JP: Wow that’s great.
Melanie: Yes, so when you find ways to establish yourself as a leader and you create a routine and you create momentum and your consistent presence, I think it’s a fantastic way, so you can do that with podcast, you can do that with certain, like Google Hangouts and things like that, but I like to do it by literally leveraging a community someone else is doing all the work to build but giving back something of value to that community.
JP: Wow that is brilliant. See that’s the kind of stuff that I and my listeners like to hear because a lot of people wouldn’t even think about doing a Twitter chat to drive business like that. They would think well I have to do with my own following and you are doing it with someone else’s following, but it’s a value to them.
Melanie: It’s really valuable and you know what’s so cool is it has three dimensions of why it works. First of all, the community I serve their social media and those kind of stuffs isn’t one of their core strengths, it is one of my core strengths and I can give value and I can do something easily like literally takes me no time to do it, but it’s so valuable to, I am getting constant exposure to other experts by booking them to be a guest, they are usually members of the Women’s Speakers Association community and so now I am seen as an expert in their eyes and I am their leader so to speak and I am giving them value by spotlighting them and the third all the people who experienced it as participants they see me as an authority and as an expert, so it is actually working on three levels and I don’t have to go and do all the leads myself, I literally leverage what’s already created, so it’s a really powerful ___44:14___ it doesn’t work for everybody and you really got to find the right unique scent on it, but that is one of the things that works really and by the way I have done it over and over and over again. It was one of the leaders in our faculty with StomperNet, it used to drive about 25 percent of my business every year. I have done it in the past with other communities and just it works really well.
JP: Wow and do you have to get permission from the community to do that?
Melanie: Yes, you have to partner in like was invited into faculty with StomperNet, so that was really quite a coup and very flattering, but you didn’t just like jump in and swipe their community.
Melanie: I am one of the council members, I am a founding council member for Women’s Speakers Association, so the thing I discussed with them that would help them build their business but also I knew it would position me as well and it was a win-win-win.
JP: Great, I am taking notes because I want to put all the links to all these different things you are talking about on the show notes page. The Women’s Speakers Association is great and you said StomperNet?
Melanie: Yes, StomperNet I don’t think is active anymore, the organization has gone away, which is why I ended up not being part of it anymore, but when it was in its heyday, it was really great.
JP: Okay, so we talked about several things that are working really well for you. What is not working in your business or for you or your entrepreneurial journey right now, if anything?
Melanie: What’s not working? I think one of the things that’s always top, which is staying on top of all the moving parts, there are a lot of moving parts at a business that has been around and is as mature as mine is and you create something new and then you realize it’s going to make about ten other things change and yes, that’s a little bit of a tedious piece and having someone on your team that can manage that, that’s probably one the hardest things to train for because they are not as enmeshed as your are but you have been working towards that. I would say just really like having a way to continually manage all of the things that are constantly changing and keeping up the technology unlike right now Facebook has done all these changes to the way their algorithms work, so everything we were doing is not working anymore, so that’s a hard thing for me to keep up with so, you got to have really great expertise or experts you can turn to and really keep things going the way you need to without losing momentum, that’s one of the tough one for me and it turns out it has made me stressed out, so we have worked really hard to figure out how do you manage that, how do you systemize that, how do you have a way to even simplify all the different offerings so that it’s easier to manage the moving parts.
JP: To manage.
Melanie: Having a good team is really key around that one.
JP: How do you find your team members?
Melanie: It’s different all the time, but I would say most of the time is referrals and I teach a program called Build Your Dream Team and interestingly enough I have a lot of really imaging resources go through that because they want to build their own teams in other to serve their clients better and a lot of times I find my best people when they go through my Build Your Dream Team program. So, that’s another way. Once in a while, I might find someone online, but I don’t really use that as well as much for my resource, I actually look for someone who is like a friend or colleague who is getting good results.
JP: You are trying to stick with people who are local for that part of your team?
Melanie: No. I have people all over the world. I have people in Australia; I have got people in Canada. I have got my team spread out everywhere; I don’t have anybody that comes in locally to work directly with me right now.
JP: Do you have like weekly meetings with your team or do they all kind of work or their own?
Melanie: No, we have weekly meetings and we use project management systems to control the flow of focus and activity and to manage where things are at, but yes for the most part, we have a weekly meeting and I am available for check-ins throughout the week.
JP: Wow, that’s good. This is a really great advice. This is going to help a lot of people.
Melanie: Yes, I find that learning how to be a leader not a manager and to understand how to hire, train, and delegate proficiently is one of the best skills you can have as an entrepreneur.
JP: That is very, very true and it’s one of the hardest things to do.
Melanie: Well, it can be, but I actually find that if you are willing to surrender what you think is supposed to look like and learn from people who had a really great experience in how to lead and effectively get things done through other people, it isn’t as hard as most of us think it is.
JP: That’s what you do. You help people get over those obstacles.
Melanie: Yes, I do.
JP: Okay, so do you have a mentor or a coach? Obviously, you are a coach and a mentor; do you have one of your own?
Melanie: I do, I actually get mentored on three different levels. I am always in a mastermind group and masterminds can be good and bad, you have to really understand how to use a mastermind group. If you are somebody who has bright shiny object syndrome, you have to be careful that you are not going to keep getting all kinds of ideas that you try to implement, but I find mastermind’s group is great for accountability as well as to kind of keep myself on the edge of my gain. I have a coach, I do have a mentor, I actually hired someone that charges like three times what I charge, I want to continually be stretched into what I can see as possible and I also have a lot of mentoring that happens through my team because they are all coming in with their own expertise and my job is to hire really smart people to do better what I want to get done and so I am always learning from them as well.
JP: Yes, and I tell people all the time that you have to surround yourself with people who know more than you or who have had a different experience than you because it’s too hard to do it all yourself. You can’t expect to know everything and the most important thing an entrepreneur can say is “I don’t know” and then rely on the people that they surround themselves with to help answer the question.
Melanie: Great point.
JP: Who or what inspires you? Do you have a hero or something that inspires you?
Melanie: Besides Wonder Woman? People who succeed despite the odds inspire me. When I know that someone is facing challenges and they just stay in the game and will succeed no matter what, that’s really inspiring to me. My inspiration comes in a lot of interesting ways. This might make you laugh, but my 15-year-old niece inspires me. She is an emerging artist and she is just starting to realize she could make money with her talent and she is really determined right now and learn how to do it all and I watched this kid like just let her most natural talent, be her guiding force and to not control her brilliance through other people’s dogma or what she is told she can or can’t do, she follows her own brilliance and I think as human being knowing that when you do the things that light you up the most that you have the most genius around and you allow yourself to have more and more time to focus on that, that is what makes life work better, that’s what feels more effortless and so I think she is really inspiring to me right now. She reminds me go back to the things that make you feel alive. Go back to the things that make you go passionate. It’s so effortless for her, but I watch her, she is a great teacher for me. When she does things that are hard for her, she is deflated, she is grumpy, she doesn’t want to do it. This is how everybody is. When you are forcing yourself to do things you are not good at, hard. When you are doing the things that are impo (sic) for you, easy. That’s inspiring for me. It does motivate me, but my clients too. I have these amazing clients. I just feel so blessed, they are experts, they are transformational mentors, they are passionate and when they get in and really work the process, I am just like I am so blown away. It makes me want to work harder for them. That was coming to mind right now. I know that at times other things inspire me as well, but that’s probably where – I do a lot of reading as well.
JP: That’s my next question is do you have a book that you would recommend, one that has influenced you?
Melanie: Oh gosh, there are so many.
JP: What’s the last one?
Melanie: I was been reading Bob Burg’s Adversaries into Allies and I love Bob, Bob is actually a friend of mine and I have interviewed him for my podcast several times. His books are tremendous and this one is a really interesting one. I tend to read about five books at once. I read a lot of stuff on leadership. I go back to over and over and over again, John Maxwell’s Developing The Leader Within You book. I give it to all my clients, a powerful book about really allowing yourself to emerge as a leader. I find that Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek even though it’s been talked about a million times, there’s something really fresh about perspectives in this book that I found really turned our industry upside down and gave you the permission to look for new ways to do things. I look for books like that that inspire me. I actually do a daily reading and right now and it’s going to be completely outside of the box over time, but every morning I read from a book called Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson and I read it because it reminds me how to be graceful and at peace with myself because as an entrepreneur and we can close with this because I got another appointment I have to run to unfortunately, but as an entrepreneur we are our own worst enemies because we are never satisfied with what we created and that’s our blessing and our curse because we are constantly driven to achieve more, to be more, to have more and it’s part of our creative genius, it’s part of what keeps us doing good stuff, but it’s also a curse in the sense that we get really hard on ourselves and we focus on all the things we haven’t done. We focus on all the things that we haven’t got into yet and we see the gap, we get frustrated, we get disappointed. When you are focusing on what isn’t working, your life can go really oppressive and negative and when you focus on what is working, your life can go real expansive and exciting. Everyday Grace reminds me to be really grounded in what is and to be grateful for what is working well, but while noticing the differences I can still make and just to really put my attention on what can I do differently today to move that forward without making it bad or wrong that there is a gap.
JP: That’s great; Marianne Williamson was brought up in one of my other podcasts.
Melanie: I find her to be a powerful teacher, really powerful teacher and mentor. She was one of the few classes I ever took in the genre 20 years ago, may be even 25 years ago and she is somebody I hear in LA. I have the privilege of being able to go see her speak on Monday nights and she is a very powerful mentor and she would be somebody that inspires me.
JP: Great, actually that was the person that inspired one of my other guests, Denise Brummond, in one of my podcast episodes, that’s amazing. I am going to read her stuffs, she must me extremely powerful.
Melanie: She is a very, very profound spiritual activist, we may call her that.
JP: That’s great. All right thank you for that recommendation and I will put all of these links on my website for the books and all these different things that we talked about. Melanie, thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast.
Melanie: Thank you, it has been really fun to talk about a lot of stuffs that I don’t get to talk about very often. So, thank you for inviting me and I can’t wait to hear some of your other guests.
JP: Very good I appreciate it. We will talk soon.
Melanie: Okay, bye now.
JP: Thank you.
Which MoneyDNA blueprint are you, like I said I am probably the busy one, the busy guy, I am always doing things that I shouldn’t be doing, but we all have our battles. Did you listen to the section on the marketing? My goodness! She has some great advice, some great pointers on that, the Twitter chat, brilliant idea. The way she doesn’t sell, she sells without selling another great idea something that – this is a change in the industry that we are going to start seeing a lot of we give in order to get. That means you don’t sell, you share and by sharing people will buy what you sell. It seems counterintuitive, but it really works and I am seeing a lot more people approach it this way and it’s a lot more pleasant for your customers. So, I hope that you enjoyed this podcast and got as much out of it as I did and be sure to check out Melanie Benson Strick’s website. I put the links to her website and all the books that she talked about on my show notes page at JPStonestreet.com/podcast. So, go there and check that out right now. Until next time, this is JP Stonestreet with the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast.