What a Global Pandemic Taught Me About My Business

Welcome to Uncommonly More with Stacey Harris. I am Stacey Harris, the CEO and founder of Uncommonly More. Uncommonly More is a contract marketing department for female owned brands ready to build a bigger impact. Our team supports leaders who want to mark it with integrity and share their message airway. With a focus on people first, the team supports clients by building strategies that support growth. Essentially we do uncommonly more, and here at the show we’re talking about podcasting and content marketing and digital marketing strategies and social media marketing and all sorts of other things you need to know now to make a bigger impact with your business either on your own or with the support of a team. I think we should just get into it now though, so let’s get started.

So as you might have gathered by the intro, this is not Hit the Mic anymore. This is now Uncommonly More with Stacey Harris, and before I get into today’s episode, I want to say a couple of things. One, thank you so much for listening to the show. I know we’ve been gone awhile. We actually took a pause to do some restructuring and I’m going to talk more about that today, but I’m really excited to evolve this podcast and realign it with the agency because that’s who this content is built to support, is the kind of people we support. So, that’s you, so thank you for listening.

If you are newish here and Hit the Mic never made sense, maybe for the 500th episode we’ll tell that story. That’s later this year. But for now, thank you for being here. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for all the notes asking where the show was. We were doing a big rebrand, big overhaul, so you may have seen the cover art already. If you haven’t, be sure to head over to the Uncommonly More site and check it out. I’m super excited about what’s next for the show. It’s going to be really cool and what’s next for Uncommonly More as an agency, which is a lot about what we’re going to talk about today. 

The number two thing is, this is not the actual episode I planned to share with you today. In fact, I have a whole series of episodes coming out starting next week around podcasting, starting with two truths and a lie about podcasting. It’s going to be a really good bunch of episodes. I’m really excited for you to hear them, but as we were in, honestly last week, I was thinking, I really want to speak to what’s happening right now and talk about the shifts I’ve made in this last bit of time. And so let’s jump into that because these are my business lessons from a global pandemic, which is not actually over yet and we probably have kind of a way to go. I want to share.

Let’s start at the beginning…

First and foremost, I live in Southern California. We were the first state in the U.S. to go on a shelter in place order. We were pretty early in the whole call the rest of the school year, shut everything down list, and so, we’ve been doing this whole quarantine thing for eight weeks, which is so many weeks. It’s so, so many weeks. And I’m endlessly grateful because up until this point my family is healthy and happy and home. And so that’s kind of the perspective I’m going through. Now, the thing I will say is, this last eight weeks has been a real spotlight for anything that’s not working.

Tara Newman over at The Bold Leadership Revolution, which if you haven’t listened to her podcast, our agency produces it. Go check it out. It’s a great show. She’s got some really great resources that have come out over the last eight weeks around navigating what’s happening right now in your business. It’s just, it’s some timely content for you to check out. So, she is also my coach. I’m in her mastermind and I’m also a member of The BRAVE Society, and one of the things that I have started doing, thanks to her, is CEO Debriefs. And one of the questions I frequently want to avoid is what are you tolerating? And interestingly enough, I am really good at highlighting and making note of what I’m tolerating. I’m not great at changing it. Full disclosure. And this last eight weeks for me has been a real spotlight on anything I’m tolerating and really why it doesn’t freaking work for me.

And so there are some real shifts that are happening. There’s some real action that I’m taking, both inside my business and inside my personal life, to make sure that I’m not spending all of my time tolerating. And so, if you get nothing else out of this episode, which I hope isn’t true because we’re only four minutes in, but if you get nothing else out of this episode, I want you to look at. What have you noticed in the last eight weeks that you’re tolerating in your life? Maybe it’s the structure of your day, maybe it’s the way your team works, maybe it’s your client load, maybe it’s the way in which you work with clients, whatever it is.

For me, I noticed that I have been tolerating spending a ton more of my time in my client’s businesses than in my own, and it’s easy to do because I love my clients and I love the people my clients serve, and I like being able to help them, help the people they serve, and we can’t sustain that. We have to take care of Uncommonly More so that Uncommonly More can take care of those clients. It is a circle, not a vicious one, but it is a circle.

And so, I really am shifting and I did a big scary thing, I took last week off with absolutely no real notice or planning. I think I had about a week and I told my clients, I was like, “Hey, I’m not going to be in next week. Best of luck.” No, that’s not true. My team took care of everybody. It was great, but I took some time to work a little bit on my own business. I took some time to just rest. I played a lot of Animal Crossing. If anybody else plays Animal Crossing, let me know. I want to check out your island. I’m obsessed. But it was a lot of fun to take some space, and as I came back, I realized how much my team actually does for our clients, and we shifted around some of our client contracts and who owns tasks inside of my agency and took even more off of my plate, and that is life giving.

And so what are you tolerating? What are you needing to shift? It doesn’t have to necessarily be a massive shift I’m learning. The phrase I kind of say to myself is, what is the next best step? What is the next best thing we can do? 

What was your word of the year?

It’s interesting because at the beginning of this year, I chose my word for the year full of fear, because last year I chose expansion, and it nearly killed me. It was not a fun word. And so, this year I chose efficient. And so, I’ve been asking myself, what is the most efficient way to do this? And that’s been really helpful. And I think for me it was so easy to be like, there’s no space for grandiose plans, and word of the year now, I just need to buckle down and do the work and reconnecting with that word has been an interesting perspective to walk through all of this with.

And so I encourage you to look at what you’re tolerating, look at what your word for the year was and reconnect with what’s next because it’s been a crazy, crazy start to the year, and on the other side of it, and there will be an other side of it, there’ll be a new normal that’s different than now and different than before, and I think to go into that with the most sanity possible, we’ve got to stay connected with what we want to do and what we’re working towards.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though because I made some choices in the last eight weeks. One of them was to really dial down my own personal visibility. I had our scheduled standard stuff going out for Uncommonly More, but this podcast stopped about eight weeks ago. The stories on my own @thestaceyharris Instagram account got much slower. My posts to, again, my personal brand, The Stacey Harris social stuff all but stopped, and part of that was I knew there was a shift coming in this show. I knew there was a shift coming in really aligning the work I’m doing now and my personal brand I went into this year knowing that I was going to be focusing completely on Uncommonly More and closing down some things.

For example, just last week we finalized closing of the doors of Hit the Mic Backstage backstage, a membership site I loved and ran for four and a half years, and it was the end of something, but it was the right end or something because this year, again, has been really about me shifting my focus into being the CEO of this agency and running this agency in a way that really supports the people, and by the people I mean the people who work for it and work with it. The people who hire this team and this agency and the people who watch what we’re doing and want to know more and want to learn more. I am fully committed to staying, people first. I think it’s going to be more important than ever. I think I’ve probably said that 50 times in the last 18 months, but really do think it’s more important than ever, and it just gets more and more important every day, to really be talking about customizable, implementable strategy that is driven by the people involved in it, both you as a marketer and your audience as a buyer.

I think we’re seeing a ton of here’s how to survive the pandemic formula, which is hysterical because I’m almost certain that none of these people were alive during the Spanish flu, but yet here we are telling us how to survive in our internet based business during a global pandemic, which by the way, there’s not been a global pandemic since the onslaught of the internet. So there’s that.

I dialed back my visibility but we didn’t come to a halt. Uncommonly More still marketed and I made a really conscious decision to do my most important marketing activity, which was to fully show up and support my clients as best I could and as best my team could. And so I, for the last six or seven weeks, up until last week, really went 150% at how do we make sure our customers are cared for and supported and we made a lot of changes. We did essentially three months worth of work in a month, fixing and changing and working ahead and working ahead some more and changing other things. We had clients who had launches that I had to adjust, and you know what? Here’s a little note. We had clients who had launches in the last eight weeks, and guess what? They were fine.

Now, most of them ticked in below what we wanted, but nothing was crickets. Not one was crickets. And so, people are still buying, people are still investing in themselves. People are absolutely still spending money. I have spent money in the last eight weeks and said, don’t freak out too much on that, okay? We’ve had sales. Our sales have been slower, but we haven’t been making very many sales messages or asks in the last eight weeks either. And so, if sales feel really slow for you right now, if you’re like, I have no idea where the money’s going to come from, I want you to look at whether you’ve been making the ask. I want you to be looking at if you showed up and been visible and been valuable to your people because that’s the first step.

What’s really been interesting is the amount of time I’m spending realizing that nothing really has to change, not at the core of my messaging and my belief system and the values of this agency. 

None of that needs to change. What does need to change is my own actions, my own priorities so that I’m supporting myself as a business owner, my team as a business and a team, and making sure that everything we do is directly in alignment with the things we believe. And some of that has meant really just taking better care of myself and don’t worry, this isn’t suddenly going to become a podcast about self help and caring for yourself as a leader because I don’t know nearly enough about that to talk about it on a podcast every week. Let’s be honest, but what I do know is that I’m spending a lot of time going, what do I need right now? What do I want right now? And I want to encourage you to do the same. I want you to look at where you need support right now.

We decided to not make a hire that we had planned on making, not because we’re not going to hire somebody, but because when I sat back and I looked at what I actually needed, we actually needed to fill a different role in the team and so we’ll be hiring in Q2, just not for the role I had planned on hiring and so reconnect with you and what you need and what your business needs right now and see where you need support. Maybe that’s in finally getting that podcast off your to do list. Maybe that’s in getting out of your email inbox, maybe that’s in getting out of your Instagram DMs or your Facebook messenger, maybe it’s upleveling your website or your graphics package, or your books. Maybe you went to apply for some of the SBA loans and opportunities you had there or grants and you simply didn’t have the paperwork you needed to do that really easily. Maybe it’s time to uplevel your accounting team, your finance team, your bookkeeper.

Look at what you need right now and start making steps to get in that direction because that clarity has been one of the best gifts of the last eight weeks. And honestly, I mean, I would return that gift to not have a global pandemic all the way without fail 110% of the time, but if we’re going to do this and we’re going to survive this and we’re going to be quarantined, we might as well get clarity, right? We might as well figure out what it is we actually need right now. And so, those are some of my biggest business lessons is, where can I realign with my values? Where can I be super clear about what’s next in my business, not just for me but for my team. We had our Q2 team meeting earlier this month or rather, last month, because it’s May now.

Let’s be honest. No one is keeping track of the days at this point, right? If it’s just me, it better not just be me, and I said, “Here’s the deal guys. Nothing is really changing.” In fact, we’re doubling down on the intentions and the plans that I had for this year. We might actually work them a little longer than I had planned because I looked at what I was tolerating and I need to make some changes on this side of things. And so, nothing’s really changing except a lot is changing. The name of this podcast has changed. Welcome to Uncommonly More with Stacey Harris.

The way our services are formatted have changed slightly. 

We’re going to have some new things to talk about starting next week on the new episode, talking about podcasting. I’ve got a new single session option to work with me. There’s always been a one hour option to work with me, but now there’s a podcast specific hour call with me, podcast strategy call, where we can talk about the strategy of launching your show or how to uplevel your show. We can brainstorm content ideas. We can talk about editing specifics. We could find new music and create you a new intro and outro, script your new intro and outro, any of those things, anything you want to talk about, about podcasting. And so, that’s rolling out. So, things are changing and they’re not and that’s cool, but that’s what’s next for us.

Also, next week I’ll be announcing two very cool new free opportunities to learn from us around podcasts. I’m really, really excited about that, so I really encourage you to steal some of Tara’s language again to debrief your last eight weeks. I’ll link in the show notes to an episode. She actually did an episode last week on debriefing her April and she talks a lot about the changes she’s making based on what she’s learned. And I think now’s a really good time to do that for yourself, too, because I think the clarity that nothing is really changing and everything is changing is when everything is an overstatement.

Nothing is changing and some of the things are changing, is incredibly freeing because in a sea of pivots and burn it downs and everything’s different now, so nothing’s going to work the same, which is a ton of the marketing we’re being brainwashed with right now. It was really nice to shut that out and connect with like, okay, so what am I doing? Oh wait, yeah, I’m good. I need to make some slight changes, but those were changes that needed to happen, pandemic or not. So, I’m glad I had the spotlight to go, oh yeah, this doesn’t work. I’m going to, no, I don’t want to. But other than that, nothing’s really changing. I am willing to bet, not a ton has to change for you either.

All right. If you have questions, if you want to chat, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re on the email list, hit reply to an email. If you follow me on Instagram or LinkedIn or Facebook or any of those places, send me a message. I would love to hear from you. Again, thank you for listening to the show. Thank you for being a part of this community. I’m so excited to get into the next eight weeks of episodes where we’re going to be talking a ton about podcasting and strategy and doing more with your show, starting next week with Two Truths and A Lie. These are the things podcasters won’t tell you. I’m really excited.

If you want to book your own podcast strategy session or just a single session marketing strategy session, you can do that over at the website uncommonlymore.com and I will talk to you soon.

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