Before it was even a thing, Diane Mulcahy created an MBA course on the gig economy at Babson College. Gaining immediate traction, it was named by Forbes as one of the top ten most innovative business school courses in the country. Diane is the author of The Gig Economy, a bestselling book that has been translated into five languages and featured widely in national media. She joins us today to talk about outside-the-box jobs and what led to her interest in writing about these.
With a goal to help small business owners grow a truly successful company that does not take over every inch of their life, Amy Walker put up her consulting company called Amy Walker Consulting. Amy is a small business strategist, international speaker, executive business coach, and an author. Today, she shares how playing to your strengths, getting the right people in the right places, and putting up systems can help people make it past six figures in their business. She also gives some tips on reclaiming your balance.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Diane Mulcahy and Amy Walker here. Diane is a Private Equity Adviser. She is the author of The Gig Economy. She contributes to HBR and Forbes and a lot of other teaching and interesting things that we’re going to talk about. Amy Walker is an international executive Business coach, a professional speaker, corporate sales trainer, author and mother of five boys.
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Joining The Gig Economy with Diane Mulcahy
I am here with Diane Mulcahy. Before it was even a thing, she created an MBA course on the gig economy at Babson College. The course gained immediate traction and was named by Forbes as one of the top ten most innovative business school courses in the country. She is the author of The Gig Economy, it’s a best-selling book on about every place you look. You’ve seen her on CNN, Forbes, Huffington Post, New York Times. It’s so nice to have you here, Diane.
It’s lovely to be here. Thanks for having me.
I was interested in your work because everything I’ve done is unusual, it’s outside-the-box jobs. What you write about fits what I’m fascinated about. Can you give a little bit of background on what led to your interest in writing about this and your background in general?
What led to my interest in writing about this was my first job out of college. I started working and everybody told me that the career advice I got was about figuring out what you want to do when you grow up and you’re in your first job. Look around you, see whose job you want, focus on that and that is great advice. I started working at a consulting firm out of college as many people do. I looked around everybody above me and I thought I don’t want any of those jobs. None of them are appealing to me.
I couldn’t get over this idea, having just come out of college that I wanted to work differently. I wanted to have a portfolio of varied and interesting things to do like I did when I was in college. I thought, “Eventually I’ll outgrow that. I’ll get used to the working world. I’ll adapt and that will go away,” and it never did go away. I was always looking for a different way of working. Traditional work didn’t work for me and I learned about the gig economy. I started exploring it and have been working independently for the past several years and have no intention of changing that so that’s how it all came about.
What set me on a path of not wanting to do what was typical for everybody was when I worked as a pharmaceutical rep. I worked in a company for many years and several years of them were in pharmaceutical sales. You got used to working out of your house, you’re free to do what you want and go as you please in a way. You had hours you were supposed to work, it wasn’t that traditional 9 to 5 job. When I left that, I went back to a company situation where you had to work 9 to 5, 9 to 6, whatever it was. That was hard for me because I’d been so used to doing the other type of thing and I loved the things became more flexible. I love to work remotely and independently. I’d do well at all that but what I found was it was hard to find jobs that fit. If you look up the kind of jobs, they’ll get you all the work at home, put together baskets for $5 jobs and it’s hard to find the jobs. Have you found that is true?
I have found that it has changed, so it’s important to say it upfront. The way that I define the gig economy and talk about it is incredibly broad. This conversation is not just about Uber drivers. The way that I talk about it is that if you’re not a full-time employee in a full-time job, so it includes consultants, independent contractors, freelancers, on-demand workers, people who have side gigs. It’s incredibly diverse. In terms of working at home and having flexibility, certainly that was very difficult to find, even several years ago, companies didn’t allow it to get large. That’s changing. However, it’s bifurcated in the market.
If you look at companies out there, there are ones who realize that the way we work is changing. Employees and workers in general want flexibility. They want autonomy, they want control and they are setting up workforces that are blended with independent workers and employees. They’re allowing remote work and flexible work. They’re hiring remote workers. There are companies that are very progressive that get it, and then there are companies that have their proverbial head in the sand and are thinking, “I hope this goes away.” Because they are very wed to the traditional model of managing by the clock in the chair and they want people in the office, in their cubes from 8:00 to 6:00 at least every day and that’s how they’re hoping the world continues. They’re the two different kinds of companies I’ve found.
It is a discussion about the work-life balance even in the companies that want you to be in their physical presence. It’s interesting when I go to startups and different companies where they say we want work-life balance within. I’ll put a gym in the building so that people never leave. There is this mismatch of what they say but then they expect you to work extra-long hours and a lot of the startup mentality is you have to work non-stop. When you’re working in these gigs, in addition to your regular job, are we seeing much more hours worked? Are we seeing people putting in more than eight hours?The gig economy offers a way to bring on workers and see how they work and what their products are like. Click To Tweet
We see people putting in more than eight hours in the traditional jobs’ economy and in the gig economy. I don’t think that how much people work is specific to how they work, it’s specific to the type of work they do, the person that they are and what drives them. We see people in traditional jobs that are salaried, working very hard because they’re driven internally or they love their work or for whatever reason. We see people working in the gig economy who are paid by the job or by the hour working all the time to maximize income, so it varies. I don’t think you can make a general statement.
It is interesting what you said about the startups because the companies that want their employees or independent workers around all the time are in the office or they’re very place-based. It’s a very old-fashioned way of managing. I can tell you with certainty, because I have looked that there is not one study that says that coming into an office every day for eight or ten hours a day, five days a week maximizes anything that any employer cares about. It doesn’t maximize productivity, satisfaction, engagement, collaboration. It doesn’t guarantee that you have a good or strong or a functional culture, none of those things.
What is clear is the studies that there are very definitive on the conclusion that independent workers are the ones who are engaged, productive. Who does a good job collaborating, enjoy the work that they do, have less stress, are healthier, don’t sit in expensive real estate, are getting the job done and are focused on deliverables? It’s interesting that the evidence is so clear and yet companies persistently act in ways that are contradictory to that.
That is interesting and I’m wondering if these independent workers work harder because they’re drawn to that because they’re hard workers. For me, I work the hardest when I work out of my home than if I’m in an office because I’m stuck there. I’m supposed to be there 8:00 to 5:00 and they don’t give me anything to work on so I’m staring at the clock.
The data is clear, they’re more efficient and they’re more productive. They’re there to get their work done and then they can move on and do something else, whereas people in an office waste a lot of time. They’re inefficient and they’re less productive. They’re interrupted more. They have meetings. There’s chitchat. It’s a less productive environment. When do you ask people where do you go when you have to get something done? Almost nobody says the office. It’s not the most productive environment for people, it isn’t. A lot of companies get very nervous about culture when you think about hiring a remote worker or allowing people to work from home or be flexible, particularly chief HR officers. They get very worried about culture and my response to that is being in an office is not a necessary nor sufficient condition for creating a good functional productive culture. We can all think of examples of offices that we’ve worked in where the culture is not good, dysfunctional or toxic. Being in the office is no guarantee of that. There’s a lot more that goes into setting a culture than having people in the next cube.
You say that more than a third of Americans are working in this gig economy. What’s interesting though is the people I know who do the same things I do, like I teach online for example or I do certain things. Not everybody does the same amount of work. How do you make sure that these people are doing what they should be doing? How do you motivate people? That’s what I was looking at in my work with curiosity because if people develop their sense of curiosity, they’ll be more aligned, engaged and innovative. They’re doing things they’re more passionate about. What is the solution to making sure that people are doing what they should be doing?
That’s a persistent problem even when people are in the office. If you ask managers, “What are your people doing all day?” They have no idea. The way to make sure that people are doing what they should be is to make sure that they have clear deliverables, objectives and milestones to meet. It doesn’t matter when they get their work done or how they get it done or how quickly. What matter is that they’re delivering the results, the value and the objectives that you want them to, that’s what matters. Focusing like putting a laser beam focus on what are the results. What are the deliverables? That’s what matters and that’s how to manage people who are working flexibly, remotely and that’s how to manage employees.
The other important thing to remember is that when you are working with an independent contractor or a consultant, you give them a scope of work which lays out what they’re expected to do and what they’re expected to deliver. If they don’t meet your expectations, you don’t give them another contract. One of the persistent problems in companies is employee’s underperformance. Even after decades of HR and management theories, it’s still a big problem. What the gig economy offers is a way to bring on workers to work with them and to see how they work and to see what their work products are like. If they don’t meet your expectations you have the option to not work with them again so underperformance becomes much less of a drag on your company’s performance and the ability to achieve overall goals.
You would think the lack of benefits and things that they have to supply were going to be a problem. I know that people are worried about how they’re going to have insurance. If you’re working in all these 1099 situations, what are you finding people are doing?
People are doing different things. Many independent workers are able to access corporate benefits either through a spouse that is working a traditional corporate job. They’re covered under their spouse’s plan or domestic partner or their parents. They’re able to get access to corporate benefits even though they don’t work in a corporation. There are a significant number of independent workers that are in that situation. The other way that they’re accessing insurance is through the Affordable Care Act. It’s certainly not perfect and it’s better in some states than it is in others. The quality of your experience depends very much on where you are but it does offer a way for independent workers to access healthcare insurance, reasonable prices and gives them adequate coverage. That’s how they’re pursuing it one of those two ways, generally speaking.
When you think of benefits, you think of retirement as well. The way we’ve looked at retirements are changing. We’ve got Boomers who always looked at Social Security and we’re starting to worry and that’s going to go away. How long are people going to work and what’s going to be retirement for younger generations? Will they retire?
We don’t even have to think about the younger generations, we can look at the Baby Boomers. What we’re seeing is that traditional retirement as we think about it, this idea that you fall off the cliff of your working life and land on a beach or a golf course for many years. That is already showing signs of fading off into the sunset. Baby Boomers are realizing two things when they hit retirement age, one is that they don’t have the financial wherewithal to stop working completely. Defined benefit pensions are no longer. Baby Boomers don’t have the money saved to be able to stop working so they need to keep working as long as they’re able. Secondly, they don’t want to drop out. They want to remain active and engaged. They know or they hope they’re going to be living for the next many years and they don’t want to spend all of that time doing nothing. Those are two big drivers that are keeping even Baby Boomers in the workforce in some capacity. They don’t want the constraints of a full-time job that they want to remain active and we’re going to see that going forward as the new model of retirement which is continued engagement but at a lower level than all-out full-time work.
The other thing I would say is retirement savings is the one area where independent workers have a huge advantage. If you are a higher earner, an independent consultant or a software developer or any of the other knowledge profession, you are in the knowledge professions. You have the ability to save much faster and much more than if you are an employee because as an independent worker, you’re allowed to save both the employee and employer sides. If you’re a higher earner you can save up to $50,000 a year pre-tax towards your retirement. It is not well-known but it’s a huge opportunity.
I know you wrote an HBR article which I thought was good. I want you to talk about that because you tell your students that they should stop looking for a job. What do you mean by that? Can you talk about that article a little bit?
I wrote an article for HBR, it’s called Why I Tell My MBA Students to Stop Looking for A Job And Join the Gig Economy. I’ve been teaching a class on the gig economy at Babson for the past several years and the whole point of the course is to prepare my MBA students to graduate into a workforce that doesn’t guarantee them full-time jobs and that doesn’t offer any job security. What I advise them is to be prepared to work independently because by doing so, they can take into their own hands their sense of security, financial stability and professional development because they can control it. It’s risky to put all of your employee eggs into one employer’s basket. It is concentrated, there’s no diversification and companies simply don’t offer any promises or guarantees anymore. There’s no promise of a career ladder of professional development. There’s no promise of loyalty or of any job security.
Our economy is incredibly dynamic and even companies that are growing that are successful, profitable are still laying people off. They’re still laying off departments or divisions or teams that represent products or services they no longer offer or that they’re moving into a different market. Companies get acquired all the time. They merge. I work with startups. They go out of business. They don’t raise financing. There isn’t any job security anymore. For students coming out, they need to prepare for a career in which they take control, they manage and they make sure that they are taking care of their own financial, security and professional needs.
That brings to mind I taught for multiple universities and I never wanted to give up certain universities because if one goes under. One doesn’t give you jobs if something happens. Not have all your eggs in one basket. At least in online courses, the problem is if you ever wanted to root and say, “Don’t give me a job right now because I’m doing something else,” then you get put at the bottom of the list. You might not ever get anything else so I find a lot of people never get to take vacations in that realm. Do you see that in any other industries? You have to work harder to maintain this job because if you don’t, you are easily replaceable.
I certainly see that in traditional jobs. If you look at employees, they only get two or three weeks of vacation a year and they don’t even take their vacation time. Some companies have stepped in and mandated it but for many companies they have a situation where their workforce doesn’t take adequate time off. They don’t take their full allocation of time available. In the independent world, it varies more than it does among employees because independent workers have more flexibility. You definitely see independent workers that are starting. They’re trying to build their business. They’re trying to build their company. They’re trying to meet an income goal. They’re working all the time and they aren’t taking a lot of time off. That’s a decision that they’re making and they’re prioritizing building their business on their career or their financial security.
On the other hand, I have interviewed and seen a lot of independent workers that make taking time off a priority and that’s one of the reasons that they work independently is to be able to take more time off. I’ve talked to independent workers who set income goals every year and strive to reach those goals by working nine or ten months and being able to take the summer off to spend with their kids or to take time over the holidays. They may end up taking eight or ten weeks a year or maybe they take off every Friday so I see a lot more flexibility around time off among independent workers.
In many cases I see them taking much more time off. It’s intentional, it’s planned and what’s important to realize too is that it reflects priorities and values that are important to the person and that’s one of the big draws of working independently is that you can say what matters to me in my life? What are my priorities? What are the values that I want to live? For example, if the family is a big value you can structure your work life in order to prioritize family obligations whether it’s caring for aging parents or spending a lot of after school or summertime with your kids whatever it is. Independent workers are much more intentional about the time they take off than employees.Independent workers are much more intentional about the time they take off than employees. Click To Tweet
My friend who works for a company was able to work remotely because her house is in the middle of nowhere. She’s so overqualified for so many things, but because she’s out in the middle of nowhere, she can’t do jobs where you have to call on people or do certain things. It’s challenging for people I know who have certain skill sets to find jobs that fit their wheelhouse. I know an online education, for example. There are sites like higher-end jobs, it’s great. You could find flexible online teaching jobs. Are there websites that are better when looking for these jobs like LinkedIn? You have to work for the company and then they let you work remotely sometimes. Where do you go for these jobs if you’re in that situation? Is it hard to find them?
The first place to go is your network. It’s thinking about your colleagues that have already worked with you that know the work that you produce, that understand the skills, the expertise and the value that you bring to the table. Thinking about what are the companies I’ve worked for? Who are the colleagues that I know? Where are they now? Starting there is much easier than hopping onto a platform where nobody’s ever heard of you. Nobody knows what you do, so start with your network. Secondarily, it’s starting within your industry or sector. Even if you’re working your network hard, also think about are there ways that I can expand my visibility within my industry or sector? It might mean spending some time going to some conferences. Speaking and being more visible or putting out some content and ideas like writing for an industry publication. Putting yourself out in a way that people who are like-minded or who might value the things that you’re thinking about or doing can reach out to you. Those are ways to bring people to you as well as reaching out to people.
In terms of platforms, is there a good place to go? What’s happened with the platform world is that it’s become niche and specialized which in a way makes sense. If you’re a software developer you are going to want to go to someplace like Toptal. You might find something on Upwork but Toptal is going to be much more specialized. There’s Catalant, which is a platform for MBA graduates primarily who come out of big consulting firms. They are ex-Bain, BCG or McKinsey and they want to develop an independent consulting practice. You can go to Catalant and then get matched up with projects with companies and there are so many. There are platforms for lawyers, physicians, CFOs, financial professionals, graphic designers, the list goes on. The platforms that ever merged have become fairly specialized so it’s doing the legwork online to make sure that you are available and present on the platforms that make the most sense for your industry and expertise.
I have noticed quite a bit of that. I am on with board of directors, board of advisors for that type of thing and a lot of older workers probably are looking to do some of that. I agree, there are so many resources available and what you talk about is so fascinating because I wish all this stuff was more available when I was younger because I would have loved it. All those years, I couldn’t work independently and do things that I would have liked to have done. I love that you wrote about this. A lot of people can learn a lot from your work and I was wondering if you want to share some link that people could reach you or find your books and different information.
My book is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, can be ordered through independent book stores all the normal ways that you find books. My website is DianeMulcahy.com and if you go to the Contact page, I also put out a monthly newsletter on The Gig Economy that features the articles and the work that I do as well as curating interesting pieces about The Gig Economy that are published, generally. I usually have a reflective question that can help you if you’re thinking about transitioning to independent work, some exercises or questions that can help you along the way towards accomplishing that goal. Those are the best ways to reach me.
Thank you, Diane. That was so much fun. I enjoyed having you on the show.
It was great to be here. Thanks for your thoughtful questions.
Making It Past Six Figures In Business with Amy Walker
I am here with Amy Walker who is the CEO of Amy Walker Consulting, where she’s a small business strategist, international speaker, executive business coach and author. She’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs create a business model that works make money and doesn’t take over their lives.
Thanks, Diane. I’m excited to be here with you.
I’ve seen your work. You’re in Fast Company, Huffington Post, US News World Report, CEOWORLD Magazine. You are everywhere. A lot of people sometimes don’t know all the guests on my show, so can you give a little background? How have you reached this level of success?
I always tell my clients that success looks like work. We have been for several years consistent in our efforts to get our message out there and be able to promote the work that we do with small business owners. I started my company several years ago. I was a few weeks away from having baby boy number five. The timing was all wrong but it was all right at the same time and we launched with a vision and a goal that we wanted to be a great resource for all the entrepreneurs and small business owners who are trying to figure out, “How do I grow a truly successful company and not have it take over every inch of my life?”
A lot of times, as entrepreneurs we start because we want freedom. We want a lifestyle and then we get in and we’re like, “I have the worst job ever with a terrible boss who tells me I’m stupid and doesn’t give me weekends off.” That was our mission and that was our goal. We love running a family business. My husband and I work together. Our boys are still young, so far none of them are working in the company. My twelve-year-old thinks he might want to take over the company. My almost seventeen-year-old son says if he ever has to work in the company, he will have failed in life, so it’s a mixed bag.
You have such extremes of what your kids want to do. I have one that’s completely opposite from the other and my girls and I can’t imagine having five. Five is a lot but you help people make it past six figures in their business and that’s an interesting thought because a lot of people get stuck at a certain point. What are the things that hold people back?
A lot of people in the beginning are held back because there are missing pieces in their marketing or their sales and they haven’t systematized it so that they can do both at the same time. I’ve been learning to play the ukulele. It was my birthday present to me. When I first started learning to play, I could move my fingers where they needed to go and I could strum one note. I couldn’t make a strumming pattern and then I had to learn how to strum and put my fingers in the right place at the same time. I couldn’t sing and do it at the same time, so it was this process of getting multiple skills all going together. I see people do this with their marketing and sales where they need some leads and so they go do an expo where they sponsor an event or they run a Facebook ads campaign. They get leads and then they go to sell to all these people and then they jump into selling. While they’re selling, they drop the ball with marketing and then they get to that point where they go, “I have no leads. I better go market again.” Instead of creating it so that it’s systematized and it can run altogether.
That’s the first block that people have, but there’s a second block that happens when you hit six figures. This is what keeps people stuck in the six-figure trap because having a business that does six figures does not mean you’re earning six figures. Most six-figure business owners are working hard because they are the one doing it all, so they become the bottleneck in their business. They’re the one that keeps the business running and it can’t run without them. At the same time, they’re blocking the business growth so that next phase of growth to get from six to seven happens through building a better team. Building better strategies and getting the right people in the right places to help your business be able to grow beyond you. It’s fun when you can go on vacation or move across the country or something and look in your accounts each day and see that more money is coming in. You’re sitting here and you’re going, “I’m out of the office. We’re making money, that’s amazing.”
It reminds me of tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Playing that on the piano trying to get both hands to work at the same time was a hard thing. It’s almost like cooking Thanksgiving dinner where everything’s going to be hot and coming out at the same time. What kinds of things systematize? How do you do that? Do you have any tips?
One of the things that are lacking for most small business owners is a marketing calendar so their marketing is not planned out several months in advance. They’re surprised when they have a gap in marketing. It’s like, “We didn’t see that coming,” and everyone should write this down because it’s one of my best tips. A gap in marketing now is a gap in sales in a few months and so if you look at your calendar and you have a light month or there’s not a lot of lead generation going on. You can put on your calendar a few months from them bad sales and it will come true, it’s very prophetic. That’s the first thing, getting the calendar in place and knowing what you’re going to do to generate leads so that every single month you have leads coming in and you’re nurturing the leads and then you’re converting the leads.A gap in marketing now is a gap in sales in a few months. Click To Tweet
What do you do in the next one? I want to know what you put on the marketing calendar for people who are reading if they don’t know what they need to do.
That’s a little bit more of a complex question because it depends on what you’re good at. For example, I love to speak, you love to speak that’s why we’re on podcasts. For us, when somebody who loves to speak, they’re going to be doing things like podcast interviews. YouTube is a great platform, speaking gigs, webinars, small group workshops and live events. Those would be for somebody who loves to speak. Somebody who does not love to speak wouldn’t want to do any of those things but if they love to write they might be making article submission. They might be doing blogging. They might be writing reports and sending them out an old school way. It’s that long-form content that you send out you might be doing that. You might be building funnels because you enjoy that process of copywriting.
If you are somebody who is pretty technical you might be playing around with SEO, keywords, running your Facebook ads, your Google ads, all the pay-per-clicks. When you are trying to pass six into seven, when you’re in that phase of business the early six-figure below the mark, you should play to your strengths and not do things because somebody else does them well. There are things that I’m not that good at. It’s not until you have a team that you can succeed in things that you’re not good at because you have to have a team who’s good at them.
In the beginning, you should play to your strengths. Everybody should have six to seven different ways that they regenerate because I have found for me in all my clients, we are no longer getting all our leads through one source. For most of us it’s a trickle. The exception is if you’re a big-time influencer, if you’ve got one million people subscribed to your YouTube channels. YouTube is going to bring you most of your business but I still see those people on Instagram. I still see those people running Facebook ads.
They’re not entirely on one platform but for me, I get fifteen to twenty leads a month coming from LinkedIn. I get ten to twenty leads a month coming through my YouTube channel. When I do a speaking gig, I’ll get 50 new leads. When I do a podcast interview it depends on the size of the podcast but anywhere between 20 to 100 new leads. It’s this trickle where I don’t have to do all six or seven of those things every single month but I need to have stuff going on every single month so that I’ve got those multiple sources dripping leads into my business. From there you have to have a good system to convert them because having a lead does not mean you have a client.
What are the best conversion tactics that you offer?
I am a big fan of learning how to sell. Everybody wishes we could do everything online but I’ll tell you there’s a lot that you can do online. It takes longer and the learning curve is a little slower and it requires more money. For these six-figure entrepreneurs, if you can learn to sell and use all of your marketing to generate sales conversations for you, that’s going to be your fastest way to acquire new clients. It’s to get old school, get on the phone, have a conversation, convert the client. It’s practicing your sales skills, getting great scripts that are high converting and feeling confident in the sales process. It’s the fastest way to get there.
I know a lot of people talk about the value ladder where I need something that’s $10 and then I need something that’s $50. I bring them into the hundreds then I bring them into the thousands. When I got started, the reason we were able to do six figures our first year, quadruple at the second year is we flipped the funnel and we’re like, “Let’s bring in all these people and let’s talk to you about the most expensive thing we have first.” Not everybody bought but a lot of them did, and then the ones who were like, “It’s too much, I’m not quite ready for that.” “Let’s go talk about this.” We have a down-sell option. Flipping the funnel, if you want to sell $100,000 a year and you can sell ten $10,000 products. It’s a lot easier to get enough leads to get ten clients than it is to try to sell $100 products. A $100,000 of a $100 product, that’s a lot of sales which means you need a ton of leads and leads are more expensive than they used to be. If you want simple, I say flip the funnel, go for something high-end first.
What was the most expensive thing you were selling?
My first year was $5,000, my most expensive thing.
What was it though?
It was personal coaching with me. I hate to disappoint ever and that is no longer my current league for personal coaching. That was several years ago when I started. I had a group program that was $2,500, I want to say I had an automated course that was about $500 and that was it. We consistently held, brought in leads, called them, got them on the phone and then had sales conversations.
What was the background that you’re able to sell? What were they buying? Why would they go to you?
I’m a serial entrepreneur. I started my first business when I was in my early twenties and this was my seventh business. I was teaching people how to do business and at the same time have balance in their family life which is pretty much what I’m still doing now.
Do you mostly talk to women or men? What ratio do you have?
I’m about 60:40 women to men. Women tend to be drawn to me because they look at me and they’re like, “You have how many kids and you’re doing what? I need to have a conversation with you.” I do find that my female clients come to me because they want the life balance that we have. Whereas my male clients, it’s like, “You know the systems, the process, let’s do this.” They still want balance and they still feel like that’s great value but it’s not as much of a decision-making factor as it is with the women. Like my female clients, they want balance. They want to figure out how to do both.
Do you ever get burned out? How do you make it balanced? What are some of your tips for that?
I had a year of burnout, my 2017, the whole year. I felt like I was pushing and the passion was gone and it wasn’t fun anymore. I couldn’t think creatively because I had been pushing so hard for so long. 2018 was my year of reclaiming my balance and reclaiming what I loved. I’ll give you a couple of tips. The first one is I give you permission to change what your balance looks like at different seasons of your life. Because for me in 2017, I was still trying to operate my business and my life the way that I had when my kids were small, but all of the sudden I got a bunch of teenagers and that is a different ballgame. I have two that are small still but having little kids versus having teens is different. I was forcing myself to work in an old definition of balance and it didn’t work for me. You’ve got to let yourself evolve with time and let your desires evolve and let your priorities shift.
The second tip that I’ll give you for balance is you have to claim your time first, which is not easy to do. I wake up in the morning and I’ve got to get the kids up and ready for school. I’ve got a to-do list that is longer every day than I can possibly get done in a day. For me to say, “I’m not going to,” and I do get the kids up and out of the house but then before I start working on anything related to the to-do list, I take time that’s for me. I take time to journal, to think, to meditate. I listen to music. I do what makes me feel strong, grounded and centered for the day. I work on my business priorities first. I don’t even jump into clients or anybody else’s needs or start answering emails until I’ve had time to look at what my priority items are that are going to grow my business and move it forward. A lot of times we get sucked into the squeaky wheel tasks and when you’re spending a lot of time doing squeaky wheel items, it’s frustrating. Because you’re working hard but you do not see yourself progressed towards what you ultimately want.
If I was going to give one more balance tip, I would say you’ve got to change your definitions of the roles in your life. I was raised by a stay-at-home mom and then after my parents got divorced and my dad got remarried, a stay-at-home stepmom. Here I am a hard-working mom who has a business and has a lot of kids and I was trying to fulfill both roles of being a stay-at-home mom and being a working mom. I have an entirely different definition, I’m a hybrid and so I had to restate what it means to me to be a good mom and in the early years I had a lot of mentors who were men. I love them and I learned a ton from them. I remember working with the speaking coach once and he said to me, “Amy, once this takes off are you honestly telling me your dream gig is going to call you and you’re going to say, ‘No, I’ve already made my two traveling trips for the month?’”You have to be strategic about what to say yes and no to, and create your own definitions of what you love and what works for you. Click To Tweet
In my mind I’m thinking, “Yes,” and in his mind he’s like, “That’s crazy.” I realized being on the road all the time does not work for this season in my life. I don’t even want it. I had to redefine what it looks like to be a speaker and I’ve done a lot of online speaking. I’m strategic about what conferences I say yes to and what conferences I say no to, but I had to create my own definitions of what I love and what works for me as I assigned these critical roles in my life and let go of old definitions that no longer serve me.
Are you finding many online speaking gigs that pay? That’s the one thing I see the most of those are harder to make money doing.
The online speaking gigs are more for lead generation and then you’re converting new clients and there’s not a lot that pays well. You can get quite a few training gigs where you’re getting paid maybe a couple $100 but they’re not big-ticket speaking opportunities.
It’s interesting to see the different online opportunities. A lot of consultants are doing their own webinars. I have a lot of people ask me to be on there to get everybody’s attention. It’s good for them. Those can be newer things. I’ve seen a lot and there are a lot of people who will do it for free because they get exposure.
Webinars are not what they used to be. People get in and they’re like, “I’m going to do webinars,” and they expect it to produce as it did several years ago. If you want to make money speaking online, you’ve got to be on YouTube. You have to understand it’s going to take a couple of years but then it can become a mass source of consistent lead flow. I do think that’s the place right now like it’s moved. It used to be webinars and tele summits. It’s moved. It’s YouTube and it is going to take you some time so you’ve got to be willing to invest consistently for a couple years before it gets there.
What do you put on YouTube if you want to do that? Are you talking about doing a 45-minute webinar version so you talk about three-minute things that you send you back to the website? What are you talking about in terms of that?
It’s funny because YouTube calls it long content but it’s short. We’re talking ten, fifteen minutes of how-to tip-based videos and then you’ve got to do the cue on YouTube. I always tell people that with your social media, YouTube is the high-maintenance girlfriend that is very demanding and will not be ignored like she takes some time. It’s doing your keyword research to make sure that you’re making content that people are searching for and that you’re running it through a tool like TubeBuddy where you can see if your channel has the strength to perform well in those keywords. It’s consistent like you’ve got to be posting same time, same day every week, hardly missing and definitely there’s a formula to being successful on YouTube. The thing is they’re going to make you fight for your first 1,000 subscribers like you will work hard. It’s probably going to take you a year but during that time you can have consistently people leading into your client base because you can say, “Click on the comments and download my free guide to XYZ,” and you’ve got leads coming through the whole time. Even though you’re not going hit it big for a while, you’re still going to be able to have that trickle of leads coming in.
It’s hard to do that, I remember I did more of that in the beginning to talk at the camera. I like doing this where you’re talking to somebody else and a lot of people have a hard time thinking what do I say unless you read a script, some people are great, it’s just off the top. If you want to learn about this, my friend, Ford Saeks, has been on my show. He’s the king of being able to do that. He is so great. Every time, he’ll give me an example right off the top of his head that’s better than anything I can work on for a few months. How do you get the sense of talking to your camera effortless like that? Are some people better at it than others?
I’m sure there are people who are naturally great at playing the ukulele but if I practiced enough, I’m going to get there and that’s what it is. There are people who are naturally good at it, but for the rest of us, this is a success principle. You have to be willing to be bad in the beginning as long as it takes until you get good. I fortunately was not the virtuoso kid who was good at everything. My older sister was good at everything she touched. I was the kid who had to work hard to be good at anything and so I’ve always had this sense of I’m okay with trying something and being bad at it knowing that if I stick it out I’ll get there in the end. That would be my advice with YouTube is to write a script and use the script. You can download a free teleprompter on your laptop but you can buy a cheap teleprompter these days and use a script, read the script and practice. As you feel more comfortable, then go off-script.
Who’s tying into all this date this video and about that with podcasts as well. Everybody’s got a show, everybody’s got this, everybody’s got that. Who’s watching all of this? The only time I go to YouTube personally is if I’m researching guests to see what they do. Who’s sitting on YouTube all day watching this stuff?
It’s everyone. YouTube is the second-largest search engine. It’s owned by Google and all visual content that’s consumed, 85% of it is digital.
By sharing through Facebook in other ways or people going to YouTube? That is my question.
They’re going straight to YouTube. My kids do not watch TV, they watch YouTube. They watch YouTube like we used to watch TV, but there are a lot of people that when they go and they do a search with your videos. Even if you do a search of Google the videos that answer those questions show up at the top and you click on it and if you have a chance to read how-to step-by-step versus to watch a how-to step-by-step, most people will choose to watch. You’ve got that but then you also have people who when they have a question they go straight to YouTube and they search that question.
YouTube is the largest video platform, the second largest search engine. It’s massive in terms of its power. I was not an early adopter to YouTube so I’m having to do what all of you are doing which is where we’re fighting for our first sales, subscribers and we’re proving to YouTube that we’re loyal and we’re going to play by the rules. I’ve got clients who were early adopters that have one million subscribers and the number of people to have every time you go and speak online to have 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 people watch it, you don’t have to be on the road all the time. You don’t have to be doing webinars in front of 25, 30 people. You can build strength in that platform.
I used it a lot for different things. The thing that I don’t do is subscribe to channels that much. I’ll just find something. Are you finding that people are subscribing a lot more or they’re finding it because they’ve searched for a how-to? Do it the same time, same day, those people I would imagine are subscribers that want that.
It’s both. It does take time to build your subscribers that before YouTube starts recommending your content. I don’t want anyone to think they’re just going to start putting stuff up and they’re going to have a ton of subscribers. It takes time to build those but you’ll have both, you’ll have people who will find your content through doing searches and the keywords that you chose to bring them to your content and then you’ll have people who subscribe to the channel and they watch everything you do, it’s a mix.
For a lot of people who do shows like this sometimes I put some of my shows on YouTube even though they’re not video. How likely are non-video things doing? How well are they doing on YouTube?
I have not seen them do as well and I haven’t seen interviews do as well because YouTube is the high-maintenance, demanding girlfriend and she expects things to be done the way she wants them to be done. For example, our conversation that we’re having here, we’ve meandered through a few topics already. We touched marketing and sales structure. We’ve talked balance. We’re talking YouTube and content creation and YouTube doesn’t like that. They want to find a video that’s straight to the point, specific around one topic and follows a flow and a format that they expect. It’s more like TV, like your favorite TV show, you expect it to follow the same format every single time.
Fixer Upper is a great example of that. Every time you watch a Fixer Upper, at the beginning they’re going to be with their family, they’re going to talk about let’s go meet the people, they’re going to show the people and then Chip is going to do something dumb and they look at the house. It’s so formulaic and that’s more what YouTube is. It needs to follow a formula so something that’s free-flowing. It’s harder to make it work on YouTube.
Is it almost better to have a script or at least an outline?You have to be willing to be bad in the beginning for as long as it takes until you get good. Click To Tweet
It is in the beginning for sure.
This is all such interesting information, so many people can be helped from this. Thank you so much for sharing. A lot of people want to know how they can find you if they have more questions or want to hire you.
I am releasing my second book and I would love to give it to all your readers for free. It is called The “I’m Not A Salesperson” Sales Book: Sell Like A Natural Even If You’re Not. We were talking about your sales skills, your sales scripts and confidence, it’s going to go through and cover all of that. If you go to SalesAreMyThing.com, you can get that copy for free and from there it will direct you how you can get in touch if you want to learn more.
Thank you so much for doing that. What’s your main website?
It is AmyWalkerConsulting.com.
Definitely check out more of your stuff. You had great advice and so many people need help with a lot of this stuff and I appreciated having you on the show. Thank you so much, Amy.
Thank you for having me. It’s been wonderful.
I’d like to thank Diane and Amy for being my guests. If you’ve missed any past guests please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. If you go to the radio section there, you can listen. If you go to the Curiosity Code part, you can find out more about my work with curiosity. It’s all there and I hope you join us for the next episode.
- Diane Mulcahy
- Amy Walker
- The Gig Economy
- Why I Tell My MBA Students to Stop Looking for A Job And Join the Gig Economy
- Amazon – The Gig Economy
- Barnes & Noble – The Gig Economy
- Amy Walker Consulting
- Ford Saeks – previous episode
- The “I’m Not A Salesperson” Sales Book: Sell Like A Natural Even If You’re Not
About Diane Mulcahy
Six years ago, before it was even a thing, Diane Mulcahy created an MBA course on the Gig Economy at Babson College. The course gained immediate traction and was named by Forbes as one of the Top Ten Most Innovate Business School Courses in the country.
Out of that course grew a book. Diane is the author of The Gig Economy (Harper Collins), a bestselling book on Amazon that has been translated into five languages and featured widely in national media including CNN, Forbes, Huffington Post, NPR, NECN, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Oprah.com, PBS, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Worth.
About Amy Walker
Amy Walker is the CEO of Amy Walker Consulting where she is a Small Business Strategist, International Speaker, Executive Business Coach, and Author.
Amy is passionate about helping entrepreneurs create a business model that works, makes money, and doesn’t take over their lives. She believes that business can be a platform for creating positive change in the world.
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