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Tina Smith From Creative, How Business Owners Can Stay True to Themselves on Feature Friday Ep.1

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When you run your own business, one of the toughest decisions you have to make is saying no. On this Feature Friday episode of the ROI Online Podcast, Steve talks with Tina Smith—owner of the StoryBrand Certified Agency Creative—about how to make the right business decisions when times get challenging. 

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It’s something Tina has had to do on multiple occasions. And as she’s grown as a leader, she’s discovered the secret to keeping your business afloat without losing yourself in the process.

Tina’s story begins in a bike-riding excursion across Europe. While working in a corporate position, she took a sabbatical and biked across seven countries in two months. It was just Tina, her bike, and some cows. The time alone in nature gave her the opportunity to think hard about who she was, who she wanted to be, and where she saw herself in the future. She decided to focus more on the relationships in her life. It was this change of focus that led her to her very first client as an entrepreneur. 

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Over the next few years, Tina’s business slowly took off. She had some wins, but she also had some losses. As a natural daredevil, she didn’t have any problem taking leaps of faith and trying new strategies to keep the business afloat. But she quickly found out that leading with success takes more than just a wacky creative mind. She and her team had a clear idea of who they wanted to work with: companies who truly made a difference and cared about their clients. She needed structure, stability, and accountability to avoid sacrificing that priority.

One of the things that helped Tina maintain her company culture and values was help itself. She learned that, while being a one-man band can be pretty fun, having a team to support you matters more. She gets help from her business coach Mike Mcallawitsch, group coaching with business leaders from all industries, and her StoryBrand peers. Their feedback provides her with confidence knowing that she’s not alone in her struggles. We’re all in this together.

Tina’s biggest takeaways from the difficult shelter-in-place times we face today is this: You shouldn’t change who you are to “survive the times.” Trying harder, switching your product, and sacrificing your values to work with a paying client might work for some businesses. But for many, it can have damaging effects to the long-term health of your company. Stay true to yourself, and don’t let fear drive your decisions. Integrity creates more than fear ever will.

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Tina is the owner of Creative, a StoryBrand Certified Agency:

https://connecttocreative.com/

 

To learn more about StoryBrand, pick up your copy of Donald Miller's book, Building a StoryBrand, by clicking this link.

And you can get a shiny copy of The Golden Toilet on Amazon here:https://amzn.to/2X3NKlB

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Topics: Sales, Leadership, StoryBrand, Small Business, mental health, Business Tips, Values

Tina Smith : 

Powerful questions get you to the right answer. But if you ask them the wrong way, you're going to get a bad answer. And so asking myself, "What's wrong with me?", was the wrong question. It wasn't what was wrong with me. It's: how do I get to the future that I envisioned? That would have been the more powerful question, the right question to ask myself, but I spent a lot of time in some negative self talk for sure for the first couple of years, just saying, "Wow, you really bad at businesses. I can't believe this. I can't believe you're not successful yet." And so that was hard. And also, you know, having an MBA, I went to Emory, I had a lot of compatriots that were high and powerful executives, CEOs of companies, CFOs of banks. There was the constant question of, "So have we made a million dollars yet?"

Steve Brown : 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI Online Podcasts where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown, and this is the place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Welcome back, everybody to the ROI Online Podcast and I'm excited to introduce you to someone who's a StoryBrand Agency. She's an exciting individual that I've gotten to know her and you need to meet her. Her name is Tina Smith. Her agency is Creative. She's out of Georgia. Tina, welcome to the ROI Online Podcast.

Tina Smith : 

I'm excited to be here, Steve.

Steve Brown : 

I'm just grateful that you put aside some time to connect. The folks that listen to this are StoryBrand guides, they're entrepreneurs or business people. And part of the intent of this podcast is to introduce them to people that I think they should know. And you're one of them. So I'm, I'm proud to do this. Tell us a little bit about your backstory, Tina. How did you come to be where you are now?

Tina Smith : 

I think totally by accident. It's sort of a planned accident, right? You get skills throughout your life, and then you end up using them in strange ways that you didn't imagine later in the future. ,So I was working in a corporate role and I had HR, marketing, communications under my belt. Then I decided to go on a sabbatical. So I went to Europe. I biked across seven countries for two months. And then I came back and I said... I just decided that I wanted to start reconnecting with people that I knew and loved and so had some lunches just to catch up. And at one of those, a vendor that I had used as an HR rep before came to the table and was like, "Hey, I've got this thing. I want to do it. Do you know anyone who can do it for me?" And I was like, "You know what, I'm not busy. I'll do it for you." And that was my first client and I they still work with us, so.

Steve Brown : 

Awesome. So what happens on this bike ride there? Obviously you think a lot of things and I'm relating because I would take these little jobs on a motorcycle by myself and I didn't have a radio, just my mind process. And I'm curious, what was going through your mind at that time?

Tina Smith : 

The fun part about the way that I did this was I did it all by myself push pedal bike, so we're not talking about motorcycle all day. That would make me way cooler, I think. So I was biking and it was 62... I think my biggest day was 130 miles. So that was a lot of physical exertion that was happening. And sometimes like it was just pain. You know, you get hotspots, as you say, and in a certain position for so long over the course of it. But your body actually just is so give out by the end of the road that all you're left with is just your thoughts. And I didn't have music with me. I didn't have anything. So it was just me in the road. And sometimes it was pretty boring terrain, just cow after cow after cow. And it was lovely in a lot of ways, so don't let me pull you by that. But there was a lot of thinking and it was a lot of asking myself questions about, "Where do I want to be next?" There was a lot of spiritual things that were going on, addressing, "What have I done to get myself to this place today and do I want to still be that whenever I'm finished with this?" And I do think... When I got back, I came back home and for probably about a month I spent time reaching out to older acquaintances and friends and spent some time apologizing for things that I wish I had done differently. Just trying to repair relationships. And a lot of times they were like, "You know what, I never even thought about that." But me, it was on my mind, you know, it was like an undone thing. So I was able to tie off some loops there.

Steve Brown : 

What else did you learn about yourself during that time?

Tina Smith : 

I think that I can endure and do things by myself because at one point, my phone got stolen in Belgium. So I had no electronics, so I had to buy maps. And I did everything by maps. And in the Netherlands and Belgium that's not so hard because they bike by numbers, and they've got these great paths. But once I got into France and England, you just... It's not the same. And it's very hilly and that sort of thing. And so I think one of the really key things was pacing yourself, which I've carried over into today. So spending 15 minutes a day on something versus spending hours on one day and exhausting yourself and then not being able to go back to it again for a couple of days because you need to recharge, but spending consistent time. So when I was biking, it was I'm going to buy for 45 minutes and then I'm going to take a 10 minute break. Bike for 45 minutes, 10 minute break. 45 minutes, 10 minute break. And on the days that I did that I got to my endpoint exactly when I thought I would get there. On the days where I was like, "Nah, just push through." That is when I would end up in the wrong place or I would end up on the wrong timeline. And so that was another huge thing that I learned.

Steve Brown : 

I found that when I would stop and although there is some interference that happens on a motorcycle, but I would ride long days from... Leave like at early light and then try to wrap up in time where I could find a place before I got dark. But what I noticed is every time that I stopped to rest or to get gas or whatever, people would engage. And I ended up having all this whole portfolio of really interesting short conversations that were fun. Did you experience something like that?

Tina Smith : 

Yes. And a lot of times, too, there's a lot of biking that happens in Europe. Europeans do this all the time. I was by myself and I had like a tent and all my clothes on my bike. And so I got a lot of questions and comments from other cyclists over there about where I got my bike. And it was fun. It was more fun because a lot of times we didn't even speak the same language. So we can use a lot of hand gestures to try to communicate, but they were impressed with my bike and the whole load that I was carrying and they were asking things like, "How long are you going?" And then a lot of goodwill out there, too, like, "Good luck. Do you need anything?" Or I would get spare tires given to me a lot like, "Hey, here's a free resource. We're gonna go back home today, but you're not. So hey, here's this thing." And I just found what how crazy and wonderful it was the goodwill of all the people that you don't know, as you journey and you're by yourself and people are really kind.

Steve Brown : 

That was probably a concern of yours before you left. You had... And people who loved you and cared about you were like going, "I don't know if you should do that. You're gonna be all by yourself." And so that works on you a little bit.

Tina Smith : 

Yeah.

Steve Brown : 

But you leaned into it and faced your fear. Did you talk about how your growth in that way of seeing yourself more resourceful, right?

Tina Smith : 

Yes, but I will say I'm kind of a daredevil. When I decide to embark on something like this. I don't really get scared about it until I'm in it. So there were moments when I was like... And I had to wild camp a couple of days because I couldn't find the campsite or whatever. That was when It could get pretty hairy because you would hear things scrambling around outside your tent and you're like, "Is that a bear? What's happening? Am I safe?" But realizing that we have everything we need inside of us for the things that face us every day.

Steve Brown : 

Now, that's a great segue right there. When you talk about the feelings that you're feeling when you started Creative. Relate it to what you were experiencing on that bike ride and walking into this new endeavor when you decided, "Hey, I'm gonna start this business."

Tina Smith : 

Yeah, again, I think it's no fear. I've just never had that bone in my body, which is good and not great at the same time, because that means I just go headlong without necessarily thinking through all the things. So I've made a million mistakes along the way. But approaching starting the business, it was sort of just like, "This is happening. I feel really enthused about it. Let's do it. I can be a business owner. I know how to run a business." And then coming to the realization months into it, when you've got your first client, things are looking great. But then what happens after that? And how do you make some real money? A bit in order to support yourself like an adult? And so yeah, that's when it gets scary. And you're going, "Wait a second, I have all the tools. I have an MBA. I have run different departments before. So why can I not make this business successful? What is wrong with me?" I kept asking that question, which is a bad question to ask. Powerful questions get you to the right answer, but if you ask them the wrong way, you're going to get a bad answer. And so asking myself, "What's wrong with me?" Was the wrong question. It wasn't what was wrong with me. It's, "How do I get to the future that I envisioned?" That would have been the more powerful question the right question to ask myself. But I spent a lot of time in some negative self talk for sure for the first couple of years just saying, "Wow, you're really bad at business. I can't believe this. I can't believe you're not successful yet." And so that was hard. And also having an MBA, I went to Emory. I had a lot of compatriots that were high and powerful executives, CEOs of companies, CFOs of banks. There was the constant question of, "So have you made a million dollars yet?" And I definitely started to withdraw from that group of friends because I was embarrassed to say, "No, not even close, not even close to a million dollars, not even close to what I used to make at corporate." So that was a really hard, hard time for a little bit.

Steve Brown : 

So it's interesting. I believe that entrepreneurs and small business owners are the invisible heroes of the American economy. They're like you. They start a business anyway, knowing that they don't have all of the boxes. They can't check all the boxes. They can do some of them. So they start a business and then along the way figure it out as you go. But if you think about the audacity that's involved in that, right" You know all of your uglies.

Tina Smith : 

Yeah.

Steve Brown : 

But you start off and do it anyway. But yet, here you are, how many years later?

Tina Smith : 

Five and a half.

Steve Brown : 

OK. So five and a half years later, there are several people that have livelihoods because of you stepping off that cliff, so to speak, knowing you didn't have everything that it takes, right? And that's the beautiful thing about entrepreneurs. Your self identity changed.

Tina Smith : 

Yeah.

Steve Brown : 

OK, and so I... There's this process where these people, they come to work for you. They look at you and they go... They see you as having everything, everything we need to be successful. And you're going, "Oh my gosh, I need to start seeing myself as having everything that we need." Where are you different now than you were at the beginning?

Tina Smith : 

I am much more careful about expenditures, especially part of all the things I did wrong was I would take any clients that would come because I needed revenue. So I'm in varying kinds of projects, which meant I needed different tools to do every single project. And so I spent a lot of money investing in tools that I knew would pay off if I had five or six projects like the one I was working on, but then I never captured more than two for each of those. So because I wasn't focused on what we were providing, it was very difficult to be profitable because I was spending so much on tools and resources that never paid off in the end. So I was losing a lot of money that way. So I'm much more careful about decisions to move forward. I mean, so all of these things have possibilities. We all have so many possibilities in front of us. It's not like I couldn't have gotten five or six more clients like that theme. But you have to be focused to go out and do it. So before I will make an expenditure like that. Now, I will make sure that I have a path that feeds into that loop that can pay for that expense. And I give myself some deadlines and timelines to make that deliver and I can't do... Personal boundary is, "OK, we can't do more than one of those at a time. Because if we're doing a new adventure, it's great and we should do some new adventures, but we need to make sure that adventure pays off before we go on a different path." So I'm a lot more rained in, which is kind of funny, because I'm still not that rained in. Because my personality is just, "What's the next thing?" So I don't think we'll ever get fully away from that. But it's better.

Steve Brown : 

You're not supposed to and I, I don't think you should be too hard on yourself there. I'm totally relating what you're talking about. But you have to have these exploratory sorties or send out an expeditionary force and explore this tool. And there's... You have this vision and what this tool can help you do or maybe how your your potential clients would be just empowered by it. But once you walk into it, you start to figure out all the gotchas or all the glitches that you wouldn't know until you walked into the sales presentation, the videos that you watched, it's all easy. It'd be stupid not to do it. But then when you walk into and you go, "Oh my gosh." You turn the light on and you see all the little dust bunnies, you figure out all the things that were... And then then you think, "OK, we can overcome this. But now I need to get all of my team to embrace it and adopt it. And then we need to work it into our systems. How are we going to do that?" There's a lot more than just spinning up a new tool and using it out 100%. But what you learn from that helps you start to get clarity, and starts to help you narrow in what your zone of unique value that you're bringing for your customers.

Tina Smith : 

Yes. And I have learned a lot. Made a lot of wrong decisions.

Steve Brown : 

Well, we can turn this into long series if we go through all the lessons.

Tina Smith : 

Well, we could see for sure.

Steve Brown : 

What's the beautiful thing that's come out of this that you didn't expect?

Tina Smith : 

So I had a conversation just yesterday that I thought to myself, "This is why I started doing this." Because we set up a landing page. And we did a really fast because we had some fast turnaround for a brand new prospect. And she called me yesterday and she goes, "We had the most traffic, the highest conversions." She is not looking for the bazillion dollars. She's just looking to make this financially comfortable for her so that she can turn it over to other people. And so we started talking about this and I was like, "Yes." And there's joy in that journey for me watching someone else go, "Oh my gosh, we just needed this one thing and look how successful it can be." But I didn't... We were stuck.So helping pull someone else out of that rug by something that we did. And we did it very quickly and it probably wasn't even the best work we could have ever done. But just because they just needed that one thing, that one extra piece in their toolkit that didn't cost them a ton of money. And it didn't cost any of us a lot of time. So yeah, I love helping. And the story of the types of companies that we work with are all health, wellness, personal development and making a whole life for people. And her story and what her company does it just now I know that because of what we did that one day, that one thing, it's going to touch so many lives now because she's making people's lives better. And so that gives me a lot of joy in what we can deliver for people.

Steve Brown : 

I love that and I see that too. We can miss, we being you and me, we can miss the higher value that we're offering to someone think of this person that you're talking about. She feels vulnerable. She feels frustrated, and she just needed someone that she could trust to take what they knew. And if you were in her position, what would you do? And you did that real quickly.

Tina Smith : 

Right.

Steve Brown : 

And how empowering, how exciting, how much energy it gave her. That's crazy just on a little thing. So I think that sometimes we can miss that if we're trying to compare ourselves to the millionaires or those, right?

Tina Smith : 

Yes.

Steve Brown : 

I see also that we love to work with companies that are changing the world for a lot of people. And we get to share in in that positivity that we're helping propel. Why is that important to you? Why did you... Is that a niche that you're starting to claim?

Tina Smith : 

Yeah, over the past year, we have really honed in on that and one of the ways we did that, I have a business coach. I think everyone should have a business coach. If you're going to perform well, you need a coach. Tap the potential. And using some of the tools that Mike Mcallawitsch has provided, we mapped out who can we serve best? And who does it feel right to serve? And you know, we've got some rules like we're not going to work with jerks. We're not going to work on things that we don't believe in. So if you provide a product, and maybe it's valuable to someone else, but if we can't see the value in it, then we won't do the work there. So there was a lot of honing in on what that looks like. And we really felt great about... I want my life to mean something. But the way that I want it to mean something is by helping people know that it's all about relationships, and that decisions around relationships matter. And so how do we get you as a person to best be able to have better relationships? And so when I think in terms of what that looks like, you need to take care of yourself. So you as you take care of yourself. You can provide for others. You can be a better you to others. So, health, wellness, personal development all started to just fall into place. And it was places where we were already working and doing really well. And it was our favorite clients. And we had to ask ourselves, "Why are these people are favorite?" And we really boiled that down to: It's because what they're doing helps those people serve themselves and others better. And we feel really great about having impact on an individual level like that. It's not just, "OK, for for this group of people is growing and becoming better." We like for our clients to know their clients personally, to have a stake in the game, if you will, and be all about creating community that is personal one to one versus these huge mass things. So, yeah.

Steve Brown : 

That sounds awesome. I'm relating, but here we find ourselves in this shelter in place time. OK, and businesses are dragging their feet, waiting to see what's going to happen next. And so you've made a commitment, taken a drawn a line in the sand and that's a very courageous line to try as a business to say, "I'm going to say no to certain business." But now we're in a time where, "Oh my gosh, I'm trying to keep my employees. I don't want to lose my employees because I can't pay them." Talk to us more about how you're wrestling with avoiding saying yes to something that just to pay a bill and make it through the month.

Tina Smith : 

We just had this conversation yesterday. I was on the phone with my team and I was like, "Listen, we have this opportunity". But then we went through... so Mike Mcallawitsch's pumpkin plan: you develop these things called immutable laws. That it's like, if they don't pass on all of these points, then we're saying no. And you're right. It is so tempting to be like, "It's just one. It's just one thing where they don't pass." And I reached out to my coach now and been like, "Can I just have a one on one? Because I'm wrestling with this because it The money is what I need. And it looks good right now." But I know that we'll regret it in a month or two, if we end up doing that, but sometimes you need other people in your life to help keep you accountable. And also to remind you that you're strong enough and you're good enough to say, this isn't for me, and to still have everything that you need. That's the scary part. But it's also... I find it to be true. Every time I make that decision, it just gives me more courage to make it again so you have to make it the first time and then be like scared to death. biting your nails. Like, "Is this something better gonna come?" But I found that that does happen every single time. And so I'm just having faith that that holds even during this crazy.

Steve Brown : 

Most every day for the last 10 years, I've worked with business leaders such as you. And there's this common conversation that I've had over and over again. It goes a little like this, "Steve, I see other brands excelling online, and I feel we need to do the same because my customers are expecting out of us. I'm not sure where to start, but I think we need to redo our website. What's the best way to approach this?" And this is why I wrote my book, "The Golden Toilet: Stop Flushing Your Marketing Budget into Your Website and Build a System That Grows Your Business." It's a book designed to empower my business leader so that they have the words and the proper expectations to communicate what it is they really need and get what they really need instead of something that's sold to them, it puts them in a position of confidence and clarity. And so to get this book, it's a great read, you can go to Amazon, get it there, or you can go to thegoldentoilet.com, and click on "Get Your Copy." Now, back to our conversation. You know, the first time you do it it's hard. I find it doesn't get easier. And, and that's a nice rule to follow when things are good. But it's like almost a mandatory rule to follow when things are bad. When that's like... It seems opposite. I also find that when you take a team into that conversation, I realized over time is they don't see things like you do as a business owner. And so they're going to bring a perspective that maybe is not as sober or understanding all the other things that are on the line. They can go off and potentially get another job. You and I are on a hook for a long time. If we have to shut the doors, there's a long term penalty. I still gotta pay, so to speak, right? What conversations do you include with your team? You take their input, but that one on one that you reached out to your coach? The reasoning behind that. Talk about that.

Tina Smith : 

Okay, so I, during this crisis, I have tried to be very transparent with the team. We're small. So you know, it's not the same as having 500 employees and telling all of them everything. I would not necessarily recommend that because that can create more fear than a does anything. And there's a time for transparency and you have to decide what things to be transparent about. With this team, they're my core team. And so I've just been as transparent as possible the entire time and said, "Look, we might have to close our doors. We might have to downsize. We might have to take pay cuts. We're just going to keep talking about what that looks like. I'm going to tell you how long I think we've got till the next decision needs to be made." And you know, our last conversation around it was, "We're good for about a month and a half for sure. And we've got leads. So there's no dearth of opportunity. It's just making decisions around that." So what I want to encourage you to do, and have encouraged them to do, is make themselves and their families a priority. And I told them, "I am not this business anymore." That used to be my identity for a few years because I was like, "If this business isn't successful, it means I'm not successful." I don't feel that way anymore. And the coaching has definitely moved me into that role. So if I have to shut these doors, I will do it. I'll do it with grace. And I'll accept it because that's what is on my plate for the day. And I'll have everything I need to be able to accept that and move in a different direction. That's what will happen. I will be sad. I will cry. But it's not going to end me as a human being. So from their perspective, I want them to take care of themselves and their family. And if that means they need to abandon ship when the getting's good, if there's an opportunity for them to do that, I want them to know about that going to be OK. We will not lose relationship over that, and that they don't need to give their life for this company because I'm not going to. So we had some good conversation about that. I think they felt a sense of relief around that as well. Even though they're still all like you're doing everything you can to keep this business going. We're going to do it too, and we're still sticking together but it just made it feel a sense of relief that we'll all be okay. But the reason that I reach out to the coach is: I do still feel that sense of I'm providing for people. I'm providing for other human beings. And if I say no, that means that I might have to say, "I can't provide for you anymore." Because what if opportunity doesn't come? Because we're in this really weird situation where all things don't hold to be true anymore. So we're learning. What is real and what does hold to be true? I hope that making that kind of a decision does give me other opportunities, will it do it fast enough. So there's a lot of that still fear and anxiety and I think just having that one on one with my coach gets me back to: don't make decisions out of fear, even when you have every right to be afraid, don't make a decision based on fear because those never turn out well. And having practiced that for a couple of years now has been helpful because you see the pattern when I've made decisions out of fear that haven't turned out well. Whenever I've made them out of strength and confidence they turned out well. So just having some faith that that will hold to be true, and at the same time knowing that there's a reality where that might not work out, and that that reality will be OK. So having someone there to remind me that all of that is fine.

Steve Brown : 

So you have a business coach. Do you have other peers that you lean on?

Tina Smith : 

I do. So I have a business coach, and part of that we do group coaching as well. So it's helpful. And they're not in our industry. So it's helpful that I get perspective from other business owners who are kind of at my same level. We're going through the same things at the same time, but they bring a lot of different perspective to the table because they're in a different industry or different kind of business. And then I've also formed a small group of peers with StoryBrand, and meet with them on a weekly basis as well. And it's an accountability thing for people who are in my industry and being like, "Hey, I've got this thing, this problem." And it's marketing related, and you're talking to marketing related people. And so you get their expertise to the table. Plus, they're also business owners. So, yes, I have groups. I have groups. You need all the support you can get. And I have been a self-sufficient kind of gal my entire life. So this asking for help is new and difficult. But it's been so amazing and helpful. And I don't think that I could do this without that anymore. So it's, it's again, it's back to that relationships and how important they are for us to be the best of who we are.

Steve Brown : 

Yeah. You know, I'm a typical guy driving East until wanna stop and ask directions when you're lost, you know? But

Tina Smith : 

I'm the same way. I'm a typical guy too.

Steve Brown : 

Alright, so let's relate. Some of what you're going through right now you're having to apply endurance, right? You're having some, do you call hotspots or a burn? OK. How are you applying some of the experiences...That was a physical, emotional spiritual experience running around Europe. And how does that apply to what you're going through now?

Tina Smith : 

Yeah. So if I think about, you know, being on the bike, having hotspots, what do you do? You adjust, and also you do some mental stuff to be like, "It's not actually there. What you're feeling is not physically happening to you right now." So yeah, you can adjust positions and stuff, but it's a lot of psychological work that you have to do. That's hugely what we're doing right now. It's wearing the mask and... I'm talking to a yoga studio owner. And it's a hot yoga studio. And she's like, "Well, how do you wear masks and gloves while you're doing hot yoga?" And you know, equipment is very difficult to get right now. But if you have an open policy where you can wear masks, you can wear gloves. I was like some of that psychological for, "I can have an extra layer of protection if I want to." Some of these tools that we're using, even in the retail stores of the arrows on the floor. Are they protecting us? Yeah, to some extent they are, but they're also easing our minds, and saying, "Hey, it's not as scary as you might think. And we're all going to be OK As we're in this." I think it's a both end situation that there are some actual adjustments that you make. And then you also do some things that make you just feel a little bit more secure and walk in confidently forward.

Steve Brown : 

So when you turn off at the end of the day, do you rest well? What's the end of the day look like for you?

Tina Smith : 

Yes, I would love to say I'm so perfect at that. I get eight hours of sleep every night, wouldn't that be great? If this is one of the things that my coach and I work on regularly and she tells me, "Veggies first, and work supports life." So we can't let this creature that we've created overtake us. We need to feed it but we need to feed it so that it feeds us. It's like tending a garden, right? And veggies first means take care of yourself first. Oxygen mask on you first, right? So part of that is workout regularly. So we've put together some personal, physical, spiritual, emotional KPIs that I look at on a regular basis. Am I doing these things? And I've put together a nighttime ritual, which includes the meditation and journaling. On the days that I actually do it, then yes, things go really well. And the following day is kind of amazing. On the days where I sacrifice any of that—and I do; there are days that I sacrifice those things—then it's more difficult. So if anyone knows the enneagram, I'm a seven. And that means I am all over the board active. I like something different happening all the time. And rules? Please do not fence me in. And at the same time, I have come to appreciate structure, because structure actually lets me be more creative at the end of the day. And so these morning and evening rituals that I've established that I go through most days, they allow me the opportunity to make wacky decisions that I want to make or go off script when I want to do that in a way that is not detrimental and harmful for me. So that has been a huge learning experience for me as you know, the Tigger. I was told that I the female Elf, a female version of Elf. So yeah, if you can imagine, I get distracted easily. And this is just a way to put some structure around that personality but to let it flourish in that environment and structure actually does that. I hate to admit it, but it does.

Steve Brown : 

What area of leadership do you feel your best?

Tina Smith : 

So I do think, and I've been told this, so I'm not just self-aggrandizing here. But I can interact with an individual for just a little bit of time. And then I can identify a lot of their strengths in that moment. And the way that I craft some language around is very empowering. So I think that I see strengths that people don't see in themselves, and I see how puzzles can fit together. So especially in groups of people, I'm like, "If we just tweak you this way, you're going to be so much more powerful and drive this entire group forward. And if we don't, we're just missing out on all that you have to offer, all of your potential." And so I think that people find that empowering. And it's helpful for making us all a little bit better.

Steve Brown : 

Patterning, you recognize patterns.

Tina Smith : 

I do.

Steve Brown : 

Me too. I think that's one of the things that helps me. I acclimate to an environment, I start to recognize patterns and what's needed. And then start to figure out what resources would be really advantageous to apply at that time.

Tina Smith : 

Yeah, and you know, I see a lot of opportunities. I see opportunities everywhere, actually. And so it's a strength and a weakness at the same time, right? Just like we've been talking. The thing I should say no to I'm like, "Yeah, but look at all the opportunity." That happens the same with people that I can see so much opportunity in all of them and I can see how it can work together to be just so powerful.

Steve Brown : 

Business will go through stages, the beginning, kind of the fun, then you get in the rough waters as you start to scale. You know right now maybe you peeled back a little bit, but talking about a time that was scary when you were starting to get more busy then you were comfortable with.

Tina Smith : 

Earlier this year. So maybe it was kind of last year, I hired another person. She was my second full-time employee in October of last year. We are at a point where we are growing so fast that I could not deliver on everything that we were pulling in the pipeline. And so we were at a point where if I did not get help in the door, we weren't going to be able to deliver and if I did that was scary financially. But we made the decision and we pulled the trigger on it, and it's been wonderful and still scary. So we're at that interesting point. Stephen Wilkinson talks about this a lot. He's an expert on mergers and acquisitions and stages of company life cycles. And he talks about these points where you get to where you're growing, which is the scariest for any investor. They will not want to invest with you whenever you're at that breakpoint, which is where we were, because you are growing faster than your revenue will grow. And so trying to wait for that to catch up, do you have enough cash reserves to do that? And if you start looking for an investor at that point, no one's gonna buy you so. So yeah, we were we were there in October.

Steve Brown : 

It's like surfing. I'm not a surfer. I'm in Texas. So I've never surfed but I've seen it on TV, right?

Tina Smith : 

Okay, yeah.

Steve Brown : 

You get on that surfboard and you you wait for a wave and then a wave is coming and you start paddling and at some point, you're able to stand up and ride the wave, the momentum. And it's in the years that we've been in business, been paddling and paddling and almost catch a wave, start to catch the wave and then hit a hiccup. And then try. I've just been wavering between this paddle, paddle, paddle try to catch the wave, then go back to the paddle stage.

Tina Smith : 

Yes.

Steve Brown : 

It's hard because you need more accounts. But then you need people to deliver. And so my lesson from that was to set up a more defined processes easily delivered and scale back the product, so to speak, so that we can take advantage of the momentum faster with less need. that's easier said than done. You drawn a line in the sand is a big part of that process because you're saying no to things that won't take more energy to deliver. And you can do it. But if it's a one off, or you just do two or three, all the investment of energy to just do that one doesn't help you add to or build a system that you're really wanting to build that in your little zone of expertise. What question would you like to answer that I haven't asked that you'd really love to discuss?

Tina Smith : 

We're in such a weird moment right now, and we're all a little bit unsure of what happens next. But I will tell you that. That's my cat in the background, sorry.

Steve Brown : 

It's a cat moment.

Tina Smith : 

Ah. Listen, we're all working from home. So one of the things that has been interesting is everyone's trying to "pivot to what's the new normal, what's the now normal?" Whatever. We've come up with a lot of different concepts around it, and everyone's like hustle, hustle, hustle. I feel all almost like the message that we keep hearing is very Gary Vee. And that we're all trying to just, "Work harder, and we'll figure it out. Just work harder, put out a bunch of content, figure it out." And for me, I think that is a way. Listen, some people are going to do that they're going to be successful with it, and it's gonna work. For me, because I do this quiet time every day and part of that is making sure that I'm staying on my course, for my life and my business. I've heard the same thing over and over again. I'm staying the course. So my internals are saying, "There's no pivot. Right now, there's no pivot, and there's no extra exertion. This is a moment of rest, breathing, and continuing to move forward." So that's what we're doing. We're not saying, "Wait, how are we going to win the day back?" We're like, "No, we had a good plan. It is still a plan that is viable. And we're just going to keep trucking on that plan." So maybe it looks a little bit lower at the moment, maybe there's a low, but maybe there's also a sense of rest that we can find in that. And we'll just keep plotting. We're going to stay consistent. And we're gonna have some endurance through this. And then we're going to come out on the other side, and I think we'll excell. That's just been one of the things. And I guess the reason I'm bringing that up is that I want to say there are a lot of voices out there, trying to hurry us along, and trying to get us to do things differently and be different. And I think it's OK if your internals are saying, "That's not my way." It is a way but it might not be your way. So and I think that'll be OK.

Steve Brown : 

What you're talking about I think is people are... would normally be in this storm and be busy. And then all of a sudden, things just stopped. So we're left for a minute awkward because we're not busy. And we go through a kind of a freakout and then we start to calm down. But what I'm seeing, for me at least, zeroing in on: What is it that I can focus on and be diligent, be persistent, work on me a little bit? What is it I can invest in me? And I totally agree. If you're comparing yourself to what someone you see on LinkedIn, or whatever that's doing it and you think you have to emulate them, that's a way to set yourself up for disappointment or, or really be hard on yourself. When you should be, this is me talking to myself, I shouldn't be figuring out who Steve is and really tweaking on polishing those corners that I would give myself permission not to worry about because I'm just too busy, right?

Tina Smith : 

And there's a lot of striving that goes into that. And I think I've just been learning. It's an ongoing lesson, by the way, but I think I've been learning that I don't have to work so hard for things to give me what I need for this. And my journey doesn't have to look like someone else's journey. And you're right. That means that I don't have to compare myself to someone else. So even all of these tools and tips that we're sharing today, Steve, there are way and that doesn't mean that they're for everyone, but it might be for someone to hear and say, You know what, thank you, because my way was feeling out of play. Now, my way doesn't feel so strange anymore, because my way is maybe similar to this way.

Steve Brown : 

Totally. It's so weird. Like, I like to say it's like, "Oh, I'm not crazy." Right? To say if someone's listening, and they I really connecting with Tina Smith there. How do they find you? How do they connect with you? How did they learn more about you?

Tina Smith : 

Well, if you want to connect with me personally, that's different. If you want to connect with our business and what we do—and yes, I will be that connection—ConnectToCreative.com, it's all spelled out. I think if you put numbers or something in there, it'll still redirect to us. We own all those URLs, but ConnectToCreative.com. ConnectToCreative.com is our website, and you can see what we offer there.

Steve Brown : 

All right, hey, I've really enjoyed this conversation. This has been fun. Yeah, you're a great guest. I value and appreciate you.

Tina Smith : 

I appreciate you too. And I just love that we have this community where we can help each other not feel crazy.

Steve Brown : 

I'm not crazy club.

Tina Smith : 

Exactly. therapy..

Steve Brown : 

All right, well that's a wrap on another episode of the ROI Online Podcast. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better, be sure to pick up your copy of my book, "The Golden toilet," at surprise, thegoldentoilet.com. I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast.