The eCommerce business doesn’t just mean putting products on a site and selling those products. You’ve got to find the right people. In this day and age, the demand for great digital and eCommerce people is hard. Jennifer DiMotta, the Founder of DiMotta Consulting LLC, developed the DiMotta Method for building an eCommerce business. Jennifer is an entrepreneur and growth leader who’s led successful aggressive growth strategies for several direct to consumer brands and retailers. In this episode, she talks about leadership development, how leaders can be effective at changing the culture, and the benefits of having your own business. She also shares her DIY Methodology to becoming your own leadership coach and touches on emotional intelligence, setting SMART goals, and the biggest issues women face in the workplace.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Jennifer DiMotta. She is an entrepreneur and growth leader. She is the Owner and President of DiMotta Consulting and she does some interesting things to deal with culture, women and leadership. We’re going to talk about all kinds of things.
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Leadership Development And Becoming Your Own Leadership Coach with Jennifer DiMotta
I am here with Jennifer DiMotta who is the Founder of DiMotta Consulting and she’s a Midwest native. She’s led successful aggressive growth strategies for several direct to consumer brands and retailers. She has created the DiMotta Method and apparently, another one is coming out that I can’t wait to hear about. She has written quite a bit about growth strategies and leadership development so I’m looking forward to this. Welcome, Jennifer.
Thank you. It’s great to be on here.
We were talking a little bit before the show and I’m very interested in what you’re working on and what you have done. Let’s get a little background on you. I gave a little bit, but how did you get interested in doing all this in leadership?
I am a Midwest native. I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. I have lived in a number of different places since then. That’s what happens when you’re moving around and helping companies grow aggressively. In particular, I spent most of my time on direct to consumer brands, retailers, specifically in eCommerce and digital which is still such a big unknown for so many companies even to this day. Part of the reason I went into consulting was to more quickly help educate digital and eCommerce cross more companies than ever. Having spent many years across the United States, many different big-box retailers and doing the same thing almost over and over again, they wouldn’t have much of an eCommerce business if anything super small.
I have to start from that blank sheet of paper considering how I built up strategy, how do I support it with the right team, the right P&L budget, and put all of that together. Having done that where I started thinking about this from a methodology perspective was probably three companies in. I was like, “If I’m going to continue to do this, I need to be efficient and smart about taking what I’ve learned in the past and applying the successes, dumping the failures, then just continuously honing it and making it more successful. That is where the DiMotta Method was born, which was an opportunity for me to very succinctly and successfully educate on how you build up an eCommerce business in essence.
eCommerce business doesn’t mean just putting products on a site and selling those products and having it be a day for you. It’d be so nice if it was that easy. It’d be so fantastic. My job would be maybe even better, but it certainly wouldn’t come with any challenges. The challenges are the fact that you’ve got to find the right people. They are a big part of the DiMotta Method. That’s one of the four Ps. You’ve got to find the right people. In this day and age, the demand for great digital and eCommerce people is hard. On top of that, I’m a huge believer in culture. It’s not just about your experiences. It’s about your attitude. Those are tough people to find. That’s one piece of it. Another piece of it is your P&L and having people have strong financial acumen.
Every client I’ve been in and every business I’ve been in has not had an accurate financial P&L. I’ve had to create accuracy and I’ve had to create process. On top of that, I need to make sure everybody has the acumen to take ownership. P&Ls are super useful when they’re accurate and when people understand how to use them. It’s super funny that baseline, but it’s true. Every single place I’ve done it hasn’t had the level of accuracy you need. That is another part of the DiMotta Method. Another thing is the purpose. In all reality, you can’t just put a bunch of products up on the site and sell it. You’ve got to have purpose these days. It is a red ocean. It is full of great websites, great businesses, great brands, and you’ve got to strike a purpose that’s compelling to your consumer and something you can execute on. You’ve got to get that down and make sure everybody knows that.
Defining and purpose is the third thing. Taking all of that and writing out a documented tactical plan with things like timelines, owners, KPIs and things like that are so critical, and then continuously hold yourself accountable and discipline to that plan. The DiMotta Method has been formed by going through six companies and have been very successful in building out their eCommerce business in a very aggressive way, but very sustainable and very profitable. It’s just very much to the point where they have the ability to continue the success once I leave. I’ve honed that into a documented method which now that I have my own company, I can now take to all my clients and be efficient about how I can help them leverage the whole digital world.
I don’t know if you saw the Wall Street Journal where the woman had been hacked from not setting up her eCommerce properly. She just had $1,500 or something and now she owes $27,000 or some horrible amount. She hadn’t even gotten it live yet. I think that there’s so much that we don’t know about how to set things up and we need help with so much of the things you’re talking about. That’s what I think can be so frustrating for people. When you’re talking about the P&L, what advice do you give somebody? Is there a book that people can read who aren’t great at this stuff that needs to know the basics? How do you help them become up to date on how to have a good P&L strong statement?
I don’t know if there’s a book. I’ve grown up owning a P&L. I’ve had it for many years. I like my money. I like to manage my money. It’s an important aspect of your life. eCommerce, in general, can be very expensive. There are a lot of things that go into those. When you want to grow aggressively and I’m talking triple-digit growth, your expenses can get out of hand. Using that to say, “This is in the plan. This is where the dots all have to connect. This is exactly how we’re going to spend the money. This is exactly what we think is going to come from this.” Continuously, some of my clients were on a weekly basis because a lot of the expenses you do know at that level. With other clients in mind, we’ve got more sustainable and we’re now a typical monthly P&L review. Getting them to say, “If I’m going to spend these dollars in marketing, it has to come through here.” Many business people don’t understand what it means to run pricing and promotion strategies, and it can hurt a P&L to run them and not know what’s going to happen. All of this stuff is very predictable.You don't have a business without profit. Click To Tweet
We go through the line items. P&L seems scary simply because you don’t know what they are. Once you go through, it’s like, “That’s pretty basic. It’s like managing my checkbook. All I have to do is add and subtract. I don’t need to do anything major.” That’s a P&L too. Once I show them how to document their expenses, what those expenses are, where they’re coming from, how to document them, and how to understand the levers. Pricing and promotions are levers. How to understand those different levers? I build out a P&L template, which I’ve had for years and then have them fill it every week. The more that people get accustomed to doing it, the more comfortable they feel. We then get the P&L. Realistically, it’s just not surgery. P&L is simple, but people fear it because they have never interacted with a P&L before. They rely on that finance team. The business has to come to the table with almost a more thorough understanding of what their P&L is and the finance team does.
I have a lot of people who are starting out new companies and it takes money to make money. I was kidding somebody and I said, “My next book would be when there’s no E on EBITDA.” You have not to have anything. A lot of people fear that financial inexperience. I know I’d been talking to a lot of women about this lately because California just had some laws changed about wanting to have more women on board of directors. We’re going to see more women in those positions, but I’ve met a lot who don’t feel comfortable with the financial aspects of it. I could see that the template sounds interesting. I may have to look at that. You talk about a lot of things that are eCommerce-related and I was looking at some of this information. It’s one of your sheets that I have in front of me. You suggest that maybe we should pull business away from distributors like Walmart or Amazon. I would like to know what you think of why we should do that and how does that impact the economy?
I’m on the board of a bank. I get some crazy numbers coming at me and I’ve realized how simple P&L is after getting all these crazy numbers. One of the things I see with the market and this is one point of view. I’ve seen it several times because I’ve been in this business for many years. Everybody is trying to make a buck. Everybody is trying to make a little bit more. You’ve got Walmart and Amazon fighting each other. You’ve got a few others that are also following those two and trying to fight each other for price. Everybody is on this track of price erosion, which is margin erosion. You take the E out of evened out because it starts not to exist. It’s what manufacturers lack control in this entire situation. It’s very difficult to have any type of leverage when you’re dealing with Walmart or Amazon. They’re much bigger. They have much more volume.
Going into it, it’s important to understand the carrot and the stick on this. They’re going to be excited to have you in and they’re going to show that they’re excited to have your assortment, but over time, they’re going to ask you for price reductions. They have an algorithm and if you give one to Walmart, you’re going to end up having to give that same thing to Amazon. It will come very quickly after because they follow each other. They are looking at each other just to make sure that you have some diversification. Most of the clients I work with, I’m working on the direct to consumer brands. Go around Walmart and Amazon and build your brand directly with your consumer. There are a few reasons to do that. Number one, your margins can be more than double by doing that because you no longer have to take that stair step of a wholesale price with them which then they lift the price to the consumer. You are going from your costs directly all the way to the consumers’ price. That’s where you can start to afford the marketing and the other expenses that come along with direct to consumer brands.
The more you can build your brand into the consumer’s mindset, the more leverage you now have. If Walmart or Amazon is going to find that somebody is searching for your brand name, you start to improve on your leverage. Many manufacturers are still not thinking about eCommerce that way and they have very little leverage to this day unless your old manufacturers got tons of branding, but even they’re stressed as far as some of this environment and dynamic goes. The real key is making sure you can also build another business that can sit alongside you selling the products to Walmart, Amazon or whoever else that’s direct to the consumer that helps you build up your brand, build that leverage, earn it some additional profit. Learn also how to directly interact with your consumers and get the consumer insight you need to grow your product set continuously.
The other thing Walmart and Amazon are not going to do is they will not give you any data about your consumer. You won’t have any idea who your consumer is, at the end of the day. You will just be a transaction. You’ll see money coming into the bank, but you won’t say anything else. It’s very limiting in this day and age where it is entirely too hyper-competitive not to have that data. There are all these strong reasons to make sure that you’re not giving away everything to Walmart and Amazon. Part of what we do is we say, “That consumer, in general, we’d know because we’re also an Amazon buyer and we’re also a Walmart buyer. We have an idea.” We give some of our products to that, but then we save a product set for our own direct to consumer business. It’s exclusive and it’s what we want to sell directly to our consumers. It’s how we can segment our products across the different lines of business. That’s another thing we work on to make sure we’re strategic.
I would call that the new omnichannel because retailers are dealing with omnichannel on respect of distribution methods. Do I sell the product via the store? How do I integrate the online with it? They’re thinking about omnichannel from that perspective. Manufacturers are thinking about omnichannel from the distribution of their products. One of the newest channels that just has to be in play for them to win long-term is to go directly to their consumer and build up their own eCommerce business. You can’t do that if you’re giving every single thing away via the Walmart and Amazon channel. It’s too difficult.
You’ve touched on so many things and I want to go back. You talk a little bit about profits and growing and how much you could make if you’re on their site versus your own site. We hear so much about growth. Everybody wants growth for seeking profits for growth. Can you have both and how does that work?
You can have both. That’s what I’m known for. I’m not a big believer in aggressive growth without a plan for profitability because you don’t have a business without profit.
Do you hear a lot of that though?Whoever you are as a leader, anybody underneath is going to copy that. Click To Tweet
It depends on the type of investors they have and the goals and all that stuff. There’s a lot more money now being shifted back over to brands. It makes sense because we’re living in this very hyper-competitive world. We’re living in an Instagram world. Instagram is very brandy. It was commerce for a while that you were very focused on your expenses related directly to get an order. Now it’s shifted where we’re diversifying a little bit more to the brand, which is fine but you have to strike a balance with anything because you can’t be in business without profit for the long-term. You can for the short-term. A lot of models I do are anywhere between three to five-year models and it does depend on where the business is at. If the business has no consumers, which I have been working with a business who’s a multi-hundred-million-dollar wholesaler, but that’s all they do. They wholesale off to all these retailers. They have no consumer base whatsoever and they want to start up direct to consumers. They’re going to be starting with acquisition.
The acquisition of new customers is a lot more expensive than retention. With the fact that there’s that non-mix, it’s a 100% acquisition. The model I built out shows that they will lose money in the first year. It will take three years to get to the point of profitability. From there on out, they’ll be profitable as long as they follow these guidelines. They’ve got to turn this acquisition model into a mix of acquisition and retention model. That’s the other benefit of having your own business. You can’t retain consumers you don’t know even exist in that model of wholesale versus the way that you look at things in your own direct to consumer businesses. It’s not about me making a profit on the first order for these consumers. It’s about me making a profit on the second, third, fourth, fifth order. You can aggressively grow and make a profit. Sometimes to kickstart, you may not make a profit in the short-term, but you have to have a plan and a vision to make that profit in the long-term.
I hear a lot of people who are focused on profit and growing revenue. Every time I go to these events, all I hear about is cultural problems. Everybody is hired for their knowledge. You’re fired for their behaviors. If the CEO doesn’t buy in, the culture can’t come down. It’s going to be a big mess with soft skills and emotional intelligence. You and I talked a little bit about the importance of curiosity and some of the things that I’ve researched. You and I both talk a lot about culture. Why do you think we have so much problem with culture and how effective can a leader be at changing the culture around?
One of the things I have to say is I’m a huge proponent of culture. It comes down to people. That is culture. Everything comes down to people. Everything does not come down to a P&L. Everything does not come down to profit. Everything comes down to people. Everything else is a result on some level. You do have to hire right. I do even see people hire right and then they don’t intentionally build good cultures. They’re so afraid of the exception that they don’t help the rule flourish. They’re so worried about unlimited vacation. Everybody is so concerned about that. The studies show that if you give out unlimited vacation, almost no one takes advantage of it.
The balance to all of this stuff is you are able to hold your team accountable to people. People love to be held accountable. They have to have bought into it. That’s a key, but they love to be held accountable. The two things I find goes back to those five dysfunctions of a team. It’s accountability and trust. They go together. You can’t hold people accountable if you’re not willing to trust people. There are so many other things involved with this, but there’s not a good system of development of leadership. There’s a good system of, “Let me train you how to do this task. Let me show you how to do this process.” When it comes to self and leadership development, there’s less than 25% of companies in the United States that have a development leadership program and over 80% of employees are desperate for one. There’s a huge gap with that.
There’s a significant gap with self-awareness. There are a few studies out there that show that less than 10% of people know who they are. Helping people become more aware by taking some of the tests that are out there like Myers-Briggs emotional intelligence test and the StrengthsFinder test. Helping them become more aware is an excellent start to how you can help them understand who they are and help them understand who others are. Even little things like that are showing that you want them also to take time to develop themselves, which then has little baby steps to improving cultures. You’re not just out there saying, “Get this task done.” You’re saying, “Let’s dedicate some time to develop ourselves. How do you feel about that?” You’re helping others say, “I deserve spending the time to develop myself. That’s worth the time.”
Some of those things are just not inclusive of cultures these days. That’s part of the program I built with becoming your own leadership coach. I built that through also the experience that I’ve had. When you hire a bunch of new people, you’re bringing in a whole new team where you’ve got the opportunity to build a whole new culture. I wanted to make sure we had the best culture on the planet. People want to self-develop. They have desires to self-develop and then saying, “I’m also committed to having to spend some work time doing that,” so that it doesn’t dig into your other life.
That all ties into some of the stuff I’ve researched. When I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence, we dealt a lot with empathy. Self-awareness is important. All of that ties into interpersonal skills and empathy, which are also tied to emotional intelligence. As I’ve studied perception and how people perceive one another if you’re working in different cultures, it can be very challenging. What I found interesting was you need IQ, you need EQ, you need CQ, Cultural Quotient. I like to think you need CQ too or whatever you want to call curiosity quotient. All these things need to be in for people to understand each other well. You talked about trust. Trust was such a huge part in the perception of how you interpret somebody. How do you help people build that trust?
I start with trust. I don’t know if you saw that movie Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer. She’s like, “I’m giving you all an A. You get an A right now. You have to lose it.” That’s the way I approach trust. People will respond very positively. Assuming you’re hiring good people. People respond very positively to that and then you have to act on it. Leaders truly have to say things like that loud and then they truly have to show the action that shows that. I do trust people. People can lose trust, but I will trust them on the get-go. This goes back to leadership development. Let’s just assume you’ve had leadership development. Leaders I’d see most often do not help hold their teams accountable to the results. They’re too often telling people how to get to those results and that hurts trust a lot because you’re saying it’s your way to get to this result.
What I like to do is help people understand what the results are, make sure they’re bought into those, and then I let them go figure out how to get to those results. We do check-ins, but it’s about the results. Especially when you own a P&L, it’s like, “You’re responsible for a third of this revenue and this margin, etc. Help me build out a plan that’s going to show me how you’re going to get there.” They then will go off and build out a plan. Your responsibility is not to sit there and build a plan for them. It’s also not to say it’s my way instead of their way because there are 100 ways to the exact same solution or exact same result. If they can show and prove that they’re going to get to that result and you check in with them often enough on that result and that’s what they’re doing, that’s exactly what the dynamic you’re trying to build with yourself. If you’re a leader and the individuals who are underneath you, don’t tell them how to get somewhere. Show them that you have a vision and you have an end result you want to get to and you want their help in achieving that end result. They’ll step up to the table or they’re not the right people. We have to make that assumption that you’re hiring the right people.You have more confidence when you know yourself a little bit more. Click To Tweet
When you over control them, that’s when you get status quo thinking. That’s what I’m trying to avoid when I’m talking to people about curiosity because we want them to come up with unique ways. Maybe they can under promise and over deliver that way. Maybe you’re setting a goal that they can beat if you don’t make them have to do it the way it’s always been done. I agree with that. You talked about different kinds of training for the management of whether they had it or didn’t have it. I’ve seen a lot of mid-level talent not get trained. I see a lot of people in the mid-level kiss up and kick down and then people pass them and that comes back to bite them later because nobody ever trained them to have the correct people skills. What do you see in mid-level management in terms of training?
I’ve had much mid-level underneath me. First of all, it’s very difficult to have the time. They don’t have access to leadership development. The people who have access to leadership development are already in high-ranking roles. It doesn’t make sense. When they do have leadership development, it’s very cookie cutter. It’s also just not available most of the cases. It all comes down to people. For me, that’s the most important component. I feel like it is the number one reason why I’ve had success with aggressive growth with people. I built a methodology and it’s called Six Steps to Become Your Own Leadership Coach. It’s a DIY methodology.
The message is laid out and I educate on the method. Those individuals have the opportunity to walk themselves through leadership development using this method to help develop their skills. They have an accountability partner so that they’re not just out there on their own and whatnot. I take groups through this because I share it for no other reason to share it. I have individuals I take through it specifically at my clients, but then they refer me to other people they know so it’s expanded. I also speak about it. It’s my main speaking topic because of the whole problem that we have with not having access to leadership development, particularly with the manager and director levels. Most of the organizations I’ve been in are promoted for doing such a great job at the level they were at, but they have had no management or leadership or any training in how to become a better leader. I developed this to help the people that were underneath me and hopefully keep expanding horizon on this and keep talking to more and more people about it.
I’ve had good feedback. It’s this DIY methodology so it’s scalable. That’s what you need with middle-level management because there is so many of them. It’s scalable and it’s personalized because step one is learning who you are. It goes back to the fact that many of us don’t understand who we are and so we started trying to copy someone. It’s either we’re not doing anything about or we’re copying someone that we think is a great leader, but they may not just be a match to the skill sets that we have or the strengths that we have. We’re pushing against our own weaknesses or we’re pushing against things that are not natural to us. We’re not building our leadership straight based on who we are as a person. Those six steps start with self-awareness and getting to know who you are so that you can build a leadership development path that’s very personalized to you. It strengthens your strengths and reduces your weaknesses so it makes it even more fun for you, and you’re more energized and motivated to develop continuously.
A lot of people who I deal with are trying to become better speakers and they try to emulate someone. I can’t be Zig Ziglar. It’s just not my personality. It’s the same thing in leadership. You could admire those people and think, “That’s amazing. I wish I could be like Zig.” That’s not who I am. That’s an important point. I’ve seen a lot of people emulate bad behaviors and they didn’t even know it because that’s how their boss treated them. They thought that they’re trying to beat the next step up and they think that’s a great thing to do. I’m glad you touched on that and I want to go through the rest of your steps. If that’s step one, I want to hear step two.
Step one is getting to know yourself. We were doing the Myers-Briggs emotional intelligence and StrengthsFinder. If you’re part of a larger company, I would highly recommend Leadership 360. I am a huge fan of those. I’ve taken several and they gave me a lot of great feedback. If you’re not familiar with the 360°, you’re getting feedback from all sources, your peers, your direct, your boss, yourself and others and you get to deem who is giving you the feedback. The highest level of accountability with the best outcome is pure accountability and it’s true. When your peers hold you accountable and you hold your peers accountable, there is just no other type of accountability that’s better because your boss has position and power. Your directs aren’t going to hold you accountable. Peer accountability is great. When you get peer feedback, which often you don’t, you start to see some commonalities across what you see in the emotional intelligence, what you see in StrengthsFinder, what you see from Leadership 360. That’s a significant part.
I want to tell you it was Patrick Lencioni. Daniel Goleman agreed with you completely on getting more of a 360 evaluation on emotional intelligence. Since he’s the guru and the guy behind it and a lot of the research on emotional intelligence, he agreed with you with that.
The second step is the hardest. This is definitely hard for women mostly. It’s thinking big and building a big personal vision for yourself. What is a big vision you can think of that would make you feel super challenged like, “Am I ever going to hit this? I want it.” I have some formulas I help people use just to get started. Your vision is something that you want to stretch yourself out there and think, “A few years down the road, how big can I go with myself or with my career?” This is more or less professional. It ends up impacting personally as well. Step three is now getting it down to your SMART goals. Your SMART goals generally should be two to three goals you have every 90 days that you track on a weekly basis. That is critical. I work with individuals on building those SMART goals.
I have a template and each person builds their own leadership playbook. All of this stuff that they’re learning about themselves goes into certain pieces of the leadership playbook and their SMART goals come from there. They’re learning about themselves and they get us a step closer to that personal vision so it all connects. The next step is finding your accountability partner. This is where separation syndrome comes into play. I work with these individuals week over week and then I’m like, “You need to go find your accountability partner. Here are the recommendations.” They’re like, “I have to go find my accountability partner I thought you were in.” I’m like, “No, you’ve got to go find it.” I have a set of rules and statistics that gets them energized and excited and every one of them has found their accountability partners. Step five is also hard, particularly for women. It’s very simple, but it is not a good discipline that we are so good at reflecting and punishing ourselves. We’re super good at that. My step five is reflecting reward and do it on a daily and/or weekly basis.
I will ask them every time I meet with them, “What did you do great and did you reward yourself?” Often, they’ll say no until I asked them the fourth or fifth time and then they’re like, “I did it this way.” We have different levels of rewards. We have small, medium and large. It seems such a small step, but it’s a very big step for people. They often tell me, “I was so motivated after I rewarded myself.” It just goes back to who do you want to be and how do you want to help others reflect on themselves. It’s the mirror that you talked about. Whoever you are as a leader, anybody underneath is going to copy that. These are things that you need to be doing not only for yourself but to show that others deserve to do the same thing for themselves.Practice makes for comfortability, and it gets easier and easier over time. Click To Tweet
Step six is to champion others. There is nothing better than holding yourself accountable and being sustainable to development and ongoing development than to put yourself in front of others and start sharing your learnings and successes with the world. For example, the first group I took through was five women. I asked them to go find three women to start taking them through these steps and give them the playbook and start sharing it and making sure that other women feel like they deserve to spend the time on themselves. It is very female-focused. This is nothing to do specifically with females. It just happens to be where I spend a lot of my time. I was working with female leaders.
I saw that you spoke at the Fearless Women’s Summit. That’s where I first saw your work. You present to women at the Wharton School of Pennsylvania and you do all this stuff. You were voted the Most Powerfully Influential Women in Colorado’s award. You had Top 100 Women to Watch. You do a lot of things with women. Since we brought up women, we hear women apologize all the time and men don’t do that or women sometimes hold other women back. Do you see a lot of that stuff? What is the biggest issue you see in women and their lack of competence at work and those issues?
It is that lack of confidence and courage. I know you know the StrengthsFinder. She had command and self-assurance both in her top five. You think this woman would have some confidence. It’s a good sign. However, every single person throughout the self-awareness component of this had said she had struggles with being confident. However, as you go through self-awareness, you have more confidence when you know yourself a little bit more. You just earned yourself more confidence, but confidence is such a big thing for women. They struggle with that. Another piece of this is to help them understand themselves more so that they can earn themselves more confidence. Being a support system, sometimes they’ll be nervous.
I had a couple of women that were in between jobs. They’re going through interviews and negotiating. I even heard this on another podcast of yours and I’ve been on panels about negotiating. It’s hard for women. Usually, I try to use myself as an example but when I’m on the inside of myself, I’m scared to death, and I’m worried I’m going to get told no. All of the same things that every other woman is thinking about and then portraying is the stopping point, and it has to be within yourself. It’s that stopping point where you have to say, “All this stuff is on the inside, but I still know that at the end of the day, I’m worth this and I’m going to take that courage. I’m going to take that step forward and negotiate what I’m worth and see what happens.” It’s literally trying to own and strangle your fear rather than letting it strangle you. Practice makes perfect. It is not a thing that people are born with or anything like that. It’s something you just have to make a decision at some point in time of your life saying, “I have to practice pushing against this fear rather than letting it push me out the door.”
I deal a lot with that with the curiosity component because the four things that help people back from being curious is fear, their assumptions and that voice in their head, technology and environment, all the people that are around you. As you’re talking about confidence, I think that it’s a big thing for women. What I found on the people I know who seem like they’re hard on themselves, they just have a high bar compared to some of these people who think that they’re great. I’m thinking, “Your bar is not very high.”
I always say, “Let’s not put our bar below the ground here. You deserve more. Get your bar up.”
It’s a hard thing for some people. We’re back to the perception of where we think the bar should be. It’s subjective. The women who I know and men who I know get frustrated by what other people bring to the table because they’ve put their bar at a different spot than somebody else. Mentorship can help if we see what everybody else is doing and get more of a 360 view of things. We were so myopic and narrowly focused on our own perception and not how everybody else sees the world. What do you think?
Competence and courage go hand-in-hand. The other thing with fear is it’s the fear of making a mistake. You do have to sometimes decide for yourself. I grew up with two parents that very much feared any setting that bar high. I didn’t grow up with parents that were daredevils. They’re not even close. I don’t know if that sparked me to think more, but they think I’m fearless. I’m not fearless. It’s just that I’m willing to say, “What’s the worst that can happen? I’m willing for that worst to happen rather than being late.” With 5,000 people on their deathbed, the number one regret is they didn’t have the courage to do what we didn’t do. I always think about that and go, “I’m not laying on my deathbed and saying that. I’m not going to do that.” It’s your mindset. Where is your mind when it comes to certain things? Is there anything in life where it’s important enough to you that you would have the courage and you would be okay with an outcome of it not working out? Is there anything? Usually, there’s something. It’s building a muscle. Find the one-pound weight and start lifting the one-pound weight. Practice makes for comfortability and it gets easier and easier over time. Usually, it’s taking that first step. A lot of times, that’s where I’m helping individuals in these programs taking some of those initial steps.
They say that 85% of what we fear won’t happen. We spent all this time thinking about that. That’s our assumptions. We get this voice in our head. If we could just tell ourselves that this is a learning experience that if you fail, what do you learn from it? It’s not a life and death thing. A lot of us put so much weight like, “I can’t have that on my record.” Do you see younger generations more able to handle failure than Boomers? I see much more confidence for some reason.
That works in the corporate world. You have to be okay with making mistakes. You can’t make success happen without mistakes. It’s not reality. When I started eCommerce, it was the late ‘90s and nobody knew what it was. We were guessing for years. We’re still guessing. That’s also practice right there. We need that particularly in the world we live in now because generally speaking, you do have to try anywhere between 20 and 30 things to get something right. You have to be okay with stuff going wrong. It’s managing and mitigating risk to the best of your ability. It’s where you pick up the smart people versus the people who are just not thinking. The smart people aren’t making mistakes. They’re smart about how to handle mistakes is the key. They’re smart about knowing if a mistake happens, here’s what we’re going to do about it. It’s not about not making a mistake. You’ll never get to success without mistakes. What we classify as successful people in life, if you look at their background, they made plenty of mistakes that they’re not exposed enough. Maybe that’s a whole problem within itself of exposing those successful people’s mistakes. It’s like, “This is what reality looks like.”It’s not that smart people aren't making mistakes. They're just smart about handling their mistakes. Click To Tweet
It’s harder when you’re dealing with losing all of your own money sometimes. That’s when they shut down the most. It can be very challenging for so many people to build all these strengths. I know you deal with so much of the same stuff that I do and I thought this has been so interesting. I’m curious about DiMotta Consulting and what you do in terms of a platform for mentorship. Is there something that we didn’t cover here that we can touch? I want to make sure we cover everything before we share your website. Is there anything else that we can touch on?
I like your environment component of what’s holding you back because that’s something that has a little bit of control on as you get older in life. You can control what’s around you, and you just have to let go of the old, the past and all that good stuff. I was a single mother for several years. I’m a solo parent. I had a child very early in age. She’s 23 now. My foraging was stressed quite a bit. I had talked about the option to lose money. I didn’t have hardly any money in the first place, but taking risks was also difficult because of that. The reality is your 85% of this is not going to happen and it didn’t. You sometimes have to believe in the fact that it could result in something very positive. That’s another thing. People love that story because I was a single parent, and I had to go get my Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s degree while I was also working and taking care of a child. You can do it and the likelihood of you succeeding is strong if you have the will to do it. It’s not necessarily about the book smarts. It’s the will to be successful.
Not knowing what it’s going to be like and only looking back and realizing how hard it was because if you knew ahead of time, you’d be going, “Oh no.”
Sometimes being completely clueless might be a part of that. I can’t even think that I would do that. When I mentor college students, sometimes I do take them through that story. They love the story. I didn’t go to Harvard. I didn’t get my degree, get my career, get married and have a child. I had a child first and then went to school. I got my Bachelor’s and my Master’s and still have had an amazing career that I feel very lucky and I feel very honored to have. It doesn’t have to work all out. A lot of times when I’m mentoring college students, we talk about that because they don’t have as much fear, but then again, they think there’s a perfect path. There’s not necessarily a perfect path. The key is to go back thinking about who are you, how are you going to leverage your strengths, make sure you know who you are and you will find your way faster with more fun and more motivation. It’s understanding who you are. It comes down to that.
That ties so well into Rich Karlgaard’s book which was on my show and he’s a friend of mind. He wrote Late Bloomers. We have this idea of you’re supposed to have taken a certain path and then if you don’t hit this by this age, all of a sudden, you’ve got this idea that you’ve failed. We’ve got to get out of that mindset because a lot of the best thoughts sometimes come later in different paths and yours is a typical testament to what he wrote about. This has been fascinating and I know a lot of people are going to want to know more about contacting you to find out about your methods that you offer and your consulting and speaking. You speak everywhere. I couldn’t believe your list. You’re busy. Can you share how people can find you?
Thank you, Jennifer. This has been so much fun. I enjoyed having you on the show.
It was. Thank you so much. This was great.
I’d like to thank Jennifer for being my guest. We get so many great guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can find them at DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. You could go to the main website of DrDianeHamilton.com and go to the radio show. You can get to the Curiosity Code information from there. You can find out more about my speaking and consulting. Everything is there, but if you want to go straight to the Curiosity Code book and the training and everything else, you can go to CuriosityCode.com and it’s all there. I enjoyed this show and I look forward to the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- DiMotta Consulting
- DiMotta Method
- Six Steps to Become Your Own Leadership Coach
- Leadership 360
- Rich Karlgaard – Past episode
- Late Bloomers
About Jennifer DiMotta
Jennifer DiMotta is the founder of DiMotta Consulting LLC and Midwest-native. Jennifer has lead successful aggressive growth strategies for several direct-to-consumer brands and retailers with a proven and highly sought after method coined “The DiMotta Method” (TDM).
The DiMotta Method has been proven to foster and sustain aggressive sales and profit growth with an unrelenting alignment of (1) building a financial foundation, (2) designing expert-driven strategies, and (3) empowering top talent.
With DiMotta Consulting LLC, Jennifer works constantly to spread awareness of The DiMotta Method, encouraging brands and small retailers to power up their direct-to-consumer growth plans to diversify and control their brand destiny.