Susan lives life out loud, loves deeply, and celebrates when others shine bright. She's the president and CEO of Huntsboro Hemp Company, a rapidly growing CBD company dedicated to producing high-quality products to help improve the well-being of customers globally. Susan is a trusted entrepreneur and sought-after speaker whose mission is to educate people about the hemp plant and the benefits of quality CBD. She and her husband live on the family farm in North Carolina.
Why did you decide to start a CBD company?
My son-in-law was in college at North Carolina State University and he came home and he was so excited about what he was learning about industrial hemp and about CBD. He told my husband who has farmed his whole life, "Jimmy, you've got to start growing industrial hemp," and he looked at me and I've been in the health and wellness industry for about 16 years. He's like, "Susan, we need a CBD company," and I told him, I said, "You know what, Garrett, I think CBD is snake oil," even though I've been in the health and wellness field for about 16 years, and teach people about eating a plant-based diet and to let your food be your medicine. I could not understand or did not understand how CBD did all the things that people claimed CBD would do. My husband was like, "We've tried different crops, and we're just gonna stick with what we know, and not add him into the growing rotation." But what both my husband and I did was starting studying CBD. I found doctors that were using it in their practices with patients. I found him meetings to attend and CBD expos. My husband was also researching and studying about growing of the plant. But what I learned was that CBD is the real deal and that we all have an endocannabinoid system and when you understand how the endocannabinoid system works with the other systems in the body, and how CBD works in the body, you start to realize that it will do many, many things in the body. One thing I'd like to say off the bat is I am not a doctor, and I'm not a pharmacist, but I understand how it does work. CBD will cure nothing and that is something I love to make sure people understand is that CBD will cure nothing. But what it can do is reduce the inflammation in your body and when the inflammation is reduced, then the symptoms that are associated with many diseases are alleviated or reduced, therefore causing you to feel better.
What is important to know prior to actually purchasing any CBD products?
When you go into the marketplace, it is so easy to get overwhelmed because there are a plethora of CBD products. So the important thing to know when you are out in the marketplace, is you want to know where the CBD was grown. Therefore, you want to make sure it was grown in the United States with a licensed grower. That's very easy to find out either by asking the person selling it or looking at the box. You also want to look for a certificate of analysis. What that is, is that is third-party testing that is done on all CBD products or should be done on all CBD products. Now, it's a little bit harder sometimes to find that. Sometimes you have to ask if the person selling it has the certificate of analysis to show you, or sometimes you have to go to the company's website and look and put in your batch number and find this certificate of analysis. One thing that we are doing at Huntsboro Hemp right now is we are transitioning to putting a QR code on our labels. Therefore you just take the picture, scan the QR code, and that'll take you directly to the certificate of analysis for that product in that match. Then the other thing that I think people really need to understand is the three different types of products out there. If you're someone that is working in a job where you are randomly tested, you need to know if your CBD product has any THC in it. If you're taking a full spectrum product, that is a product that could have up to the legal limit, .3% THC in it. It also has all the cannabinoids from the hemp plant. So if you're taking a full spectrum, and you are drug tested, it's possible that you could ping for THC, which is what's in marijuana, and then you're going to have to explain to your boss why you're pinging for THC. The other two products that are on the market, a broad spectrum, which the broad spectrum does not have any of your THC in it, but it has all of the cannabinoids from the plant so you will not test positive. Then there's also what we call isolate-based products and this is what we use in Huntsboro Hemp products is isolated CBD. We know exactly how much CBD is in there, there are no other cannabinoids in our products. Also with the isolate-based product, you will not ping in a drug test because there should not be any THC in there. So those are really the main things that you're going to want to know.
Can we go a little bit deeper into the different types of products that are out there?
So we're going to go with our full spectrum and that is an oil. As I said, it's going to have your THC in there and it's going to have all of the cannabinoids. You can find this product, the full spectrum, the broad spectrum, and the isolate, you can find all three of them in edibles, in tinctures which is an oil or a liquid that you put underneath your tongue and you hold for 30 seconds to a minute let it absorb and swallow what is leftover and then you've got your topicals. The best way to get a product into your system is through the tinctures because it absorbs sublingually and that is just a great way to get it into your system. You also get it into your system through your edibles. Now here's the thing when you take a product that you ingest, you eat, or swallow, it's getting in there and it's working systemically. So it's working on your whole body and it's not a magic pill. You didn't get this inflammation, or arthritis or, whatever is ailing you overnight. So when you take CBD in one of those two forms, you've got to give it time to work and consistency is key. Just like with any other supplement, you want to make sure you're taking it consistently. The difference between your tincture, your edibles and your topical is that when you apply a topical, it's very localized. So if your fingers, your knuckles, or your joints are hurting on your hand, and your hip is also hurting, and you apply a topical to your hand, it's not going to help your hip at all, it's only going to be localized to that area.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
You know Lori, you and I met through the Know Women. That has been by far one of the best decisions I've made, especially because I made this decision to get involved in this particular networking group in 2020. I joined the group in March and so all of the live events were canceled. So I joined the Raleigh group and I wasn't going to be able to go to the events and the big national event was canceled. But what I did there was I jumped on board and started connecting virtually with these women and that has been a great relationship and a great opportunity for me to receive as well as to give. I've met a lot of women that have helped us get our products into places that I wouldn't necessarily have had the opportunity especially because of COVID. That particular group has been wonderful and I think I've been able to plug in and offer education to other people and teach which has allowed me to move my product into areas that I wouldn't have gotten it.
How do you best stay in front of and nurture the relationships that you are creating, especially since they are spread out across America now?
I can tell you what my favorite is, I love a handwritten note. So when I can, I like to send after I've met or talked with someone, I like to send a handwritten note. It does not always happen, but that's one of the things that I love. I also love follow-up emails and then reconnecting and checking in. I have a notebook that I keep all of the network people I've met and then I put it in a rotation to try to stay connected through some type of writing and then following up with other face-to-face get-togethers through zoom.
What advice would you offer that professionals looking to grow their network?
Jump in with two feet, and there's no right or wrong. Sometimes you'll end up in a space and you might look at yourself and say, "What am I doing here?" But you can always learn something from somebody, no matter what event you're in, whether it's virtual or live. Also if you go into the networking, thinking, what can I offer someone or how can I make someone's life a little bit better today, you come away with something too.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
First off, I would tell her, I was very proud of her and that she should be very proud of who I have become. Then I would tell her that she needed to be present and enjoy what she was doing at that moment.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Is there someone that you would love to connect with and do you think you can do it within six degrees?
When I was looking at your podcast, I saw that you had an interview with Bob Berg and I love his book! So he would be the person I’d love to connect with and since you’ve already talked to him I guess I’m only one degree away!
What would you ask him, or what would you want to chat with him about?
If I knew I was going to talk to him, I go back to the book real quick. I would just want to know how he came about writing the book and sharing the beautiful stories that are in the book and how he learned at such a young age how important it is to give and that the more you give, the more you get.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would just go back, just jump in with two feet and if you don't know where to start, start looking for Facebook groups or on LinkedIn because what I have learned and understood even more through COVID is there are some amazing people in our world.
Connect With Susan
Susan’s Website: https://huntsborohempco.com/
Shabnam, the author of My Persian Paradox was born and raised in Tehran until 2004. Shabnam teaches memoir writing workshops and has been performing lectures to colleges and universities about her book and the concept of sharing stories. She actively practices a variety of storytelling workshops to help people develop deeper empathy towards each other. She is currently working on our second memoir. Her motto is, "Let's share our stories and create more empathy."
What experiences have you gained by sharing your story with others?
I couldn't believe it. It started even before I started writing my memoir and it actually encouraged me to write my memoir and I was kind of in a midlife crisis. Then I was just talking to my friends at work, especially because we spend a lot of time at work. So I have a lot of American friends who were born here, around me, and we just talked and, chit chatted and every time I shared one story from my past, I felt better. Then they got to know me better. I got to the point that this past is really bitter, but when I shared it with someone else, in a form of his story, it makes me feel better. Unsurprisingly, it makes the audience feel like oh my god, I have a very similar experience. And who would think a girl in Iran is all grown up in the Midwest in America? We shared experiences, so we just shared stories and that led me to feel like you know what, I want to write this book. Because I wasn't a writer, I started learning to write, and then I started looking for communities of writers. I published a book and then I read the book for the people. I started having a community of people who shared very similar experiences. It's just growing in so many different ways and it changed my life.
How did writing your memoir help you look at your life story differently?
It was just amazing and it still is surprising me. In general, based on what I've learned about writing stories, and storytelling, now, to put it in perspective, I just see that when you look at your story, it could be your life story like mine. It's kind of like if we want to put it in a formula, let's say, like the simplest one, the three-story act. We want to see what the setup was, what the confrontations or stakes were, and then what was the resolution. Looking at it from a 50,000 point view, it's like I see the cause and effect, and then I don't see myself as a victim anymore because I can see that I tried, and I was impacted by the social norms and social limitation, cultural limitations. I can see how I was impacted by other people and how I impacted other people. So it just gave me a sense of belonging, and that I'm not a victim. Those bitter experiences actually made me into a more resilient person. I couldn't see it before, I was just whining and I was just feeling really down. But when I wrote this story, I saw it differently. I saw the value that those stakes and confrontations that I had brought to my life.
How can storytelling make a difference and bring deeper social connections in everyday life?
It was kind of like an exploration because when you open up, you feel like you're not scared anymore. I understand that this could be talking about the dirty laundry, you're not supposed to air them, right? For many people, it's taboo, and I totally understand it. But still, we each have a lot of stories and when we authentically share our stories, from that value standpoint, there was something there.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
It all revolves around writing for me because it changed my life. I attended some classes and it was good. It was a good beginning to networking. But I remember that after two years, I felt like I am just so lonely, I just need to join a community, I just need to find the community. As a new writer, I attended a couple of writing clubs and then one of them clicked. So I gave myself a chance to see which one is proper, or closer to what I'm doing, and then I started going every month. We started reading each other's writings, giving each other feedback and now after two years, when I look at it, I'm like, wow, we built a community that we supported each other, not only throughout the writing, even though the publishing, even after my book was published. Those people were really helpful to me to spread the word about my book, come to my book launch party. But in the beginning, obviously, when the first session, I went there, I want to be honest with you, my hands were shaking. But within a couple of sessions, I was just talking to them, because I saw that they were welcoming. I was just comfortable there and we started building up. But building up means we gave each other a lot of support. It really meant a lot to me, it played a big role to me. So we can start with small communities.
How do you stay in front of your connections and best nurture these relationships?
I believe in giving and taking in a community. So the community that you start talking to you start feeling belonging. You are taking some away something out of it, but we have to think about what we can give back to the community. Just a couple of months ago, one of the leaders of that writing club that I started with got back to me and he was like, we are just going to have a panel for all the writers in our community and if you can also talk at some about publishing and your experience and like, all the stakes that you've had to deal with, that would be awesome. I was so happy to do it because you get a new give, give back.
What advice would you have to that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I just want to focus on how we look at the narrative arc of our stories and how we communicate with others. We all have stories and in each community, we share some of them that are related. I just believe that if you are prepared if you will look at your story within your heart and if you believe in the values that you've brought to this world, then you can share a good narrative with a very confident and authentic point of view with other people in a community. People then will be drawn to that authenticity and community and confidence.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I'm sure as a 20-year-old, I remember that I wasn't confident and I was vulnerable. I didn't want to show my vulnerability. But I wish I knew that the learning curve of everything exists and it's long for some of the experiences that we have to deal with when we are younger. So when I'm 20, the learning curve on social life might be a lot longer than a learning curve on learning new software, because it's just like emotional intelligence that we have to build up. But I wish I knew that or I would tell myself don't be afraid of mistakes because mistakes are a good part of this learning curve.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I'm following this kind of existing thinking philosopher that I think we are very lucky to have in America, Ken Wilber. He's the person who started researching and teaching about the integral life practice or the integral life theory to basically that life is inclusive and how we want to include everyone and every idea and every value in our life. Although it seems very controversial, we can really do that. I'm not there yet, but I really liked the practice. So because I read his books, I follow him. I joined the community, that they practice integral life theory and I'd love to have dinner with Ken and just ask all my questions. I think of the community that I built because I joined this integral life Practice. Now I have people that are in contact with him and have been working with him directly.
Do you have any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I just want to emphasize on the matter that it's okay to share our stories without the fear of judgment. Some people want to hear stories, and some people are not ready. It's not about us, people's emotions are about them and if someone reacts in a way that we don't like to see or hear, it's okay. Let them just have it in the corner of their mind, but you still share your story, and one day, maybe later in their life, they will think about it.
Connect with Shabnam:
Meghan is a native of Danvers, Massachusetts who has achieved sustained success at all levels of her hockey career in international and collegiate play. Meghan graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she majored in biology and was a member of the women's hockey team where she won three national championships. She went on to be an Olympic and professional athlete after he college. With Team USA she went three Olympic medals, including the first Olympic gold in 20 years where she led the US Olympic hockey team as Captain. As a member of the US Women's National Hockey Team since 2007, Meghan won seven IIHF Women's World Championships.
A major topic in today's world is diversity and inclusion, can you tell our listeners how you decided to take a leader leadership role in this space?
For me, I think about a lot of different factors in my life, and kind of in the world, in general, that led me towards making this part of my everyday. In general, all of us right now are eager to be a part of a world or a company or an organization that is more diverse and more inclusive and to do that we need to seek systemic change. That's a change in behavior, culture, attitudes and we all know that there's a lot of challenges that lie within seeing those changes. For me, my passion and commitment towards all of this started back in 2017, when I was able, alongside my teammates to lead a successful strike by our national team against USA hockey, which is our national governing body of hockey at the time, for gender-equitable treatment for women in the sport of hockey, and in our program. That was a long battle, we learned a lot, we discussed changes privately with USA hockey behind the scenes that we wanted to see and to make in our program and we weren't able to make any progress with them so we came up with a very public boycott. It's quite a long story, but we were able to make some truly systemic change in our program and while we're still working on those changes every single day, it amplified the movement and all of that in my mind and my teammates’ mine. So from then, I committed to helping diversify hockey in general, whether that's for opening it up to more women or more members of the BIPOC community or LGBTQ plus community, that's very important to me. But also, seeking out other opportunities to help underrepresented groups in all aspects of life and to truly make a more diverse and inclusive world that all of us are eager to be a part of.
As a board member for USA hockey, what is it that you hope to achieve?
Going off of the question that we just discussed, one of the biggest things that I want to achieve that I'm, I'm working towards every day and in a few different capacities, whether that's in my board seat, or the different subcommittees and sections I sit on at USA hockey, or being a part of the NHL player inclusion committee, where we're working to diversify elite hockey, or being a board member with the Women's Sports Foundation as well. All of those kind of have a similar goal, in my mind, and the first is just to diversify hockey. As I alluded to in the answer to my first question, when we think about hockey, traditionally, I hate to say it, but you think about hockey traditionally, and underrepresented groups are anyone that is not white, straight, men. That is sadly what people associate with hockey. So in a lot of those positions that I'm in, what I want to do is make sure that underrepresented groups are welcomed, and are introduced to the sport of hockey. Hockey changed my life in so many ways, I was the only girl growing up when I was playing and but, I didn't let that stop me. I had really supportive parents, I had supportive coaches and teams, and I was given an earned opportunities. But there's a lot of people that don't feel welcome in hockey or don't feel that it's a sport for them. Because I love it so much, because it changed my life in a million ways, I want to make sure that every single person, has access to hockey, and loves it, can play at an elite level, or a youth level, or whatever they want. Those are definitely things that I'm personally working towards every day to try to make happen.
I know that you've recently entered this wonderful world of motherhood, how has that impacted what it is that you're trying to achieve, and the mission that you're working towards?
First of all, being a parent is the greatest thing in the world. I don't remember my life before my son George was born. I've had so many opportunities in my life to go cool places are playing Olympic gold medal games, win gold medals, meet all these wonderful people, and none of that hold a candle two to being a mom and getting to see and watch my son grow every day, it's the best. But with that comes the responsibility of raising a child and the next generation in say the social climate that we're in right now. I think it just encourages me more to work towards a better future for him, and whatever that looks like, whether it's in sport, whether it's in business, whether it's in just creating a, as we've talked about a more diverse and inclusive environment, and just kinder human beings. So I think about that, and then the responsibility truly of raising what will be a white man in society and making sure that he understands the importance of being inclusive and not thinking that he, he owns the world. So I think about it in a lot of different ways. It's the greatest thing I've ever done. I think it inspires me more, to want to be more in the work that I'm doing right now. Also, it inspires me to want to enter into and do a little bit of work in the motherhood space and what that means and finding ways to support moms and dads and parents because you realize, when you become a parent that there are a lot of things about it that are difficult as well, whether that's maternity leave policies or childcare and things like that. So trying to learn a little bit about that space as well.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
It’s so great that this is the topic that you're focusing on because the word networking can be very daunting. For me, I've had the opportunity to be a part of some great networking and athlete and career education seminars through the USOC which I'm incredibly thankful for and have given me some tools to help set me up to network better at certain times. So I've tried to take the scary part of networking away with some of those tools. I would say when I think back to one of my most successful or favorite networking story, I think back to a time when I didn't even know I was networking and that's probably why it came off and why it ended up being more of a, a friendship and a relationship. But I was asked to do this event shortly after the 2018 Olympics in Telluride, Colorado. I was doing a one-time sponsor appearance at a cool event. It was at this awesome resort and it was in conjunction with Jaguar Land Rover, the vehicle. So it was this outside event, they had all of these dealership owners and people from the company there. They were celebrating them in this really fun Winter Olympic themed event. It was kind of a small, intimate group and I was able to meet just so many fantastic people. We played hockey outside, we played curling outside, which I was terrible at, we had dinner that night, there was karaoke, it was very casual and intimate, just a celebration. I was there an athlete representative to bring my gold medal and get excited and get the attendees excited about \that Winter Olympic spirit. I ended up making a connection with the guy who has become a friend whose name is Joe Eberhardt. Joe is one of the CEOs of Jaguar Land Rover in North America and we just ended up hitting it off and becoming friends and following up with each other. I would be checking on him and his family and right after that, he went skiing and ended up tearing his ACL on both of his knees so we were talking about rehab and things like that. He's just an awesome guy that I would consider a mentor and someone I've kept in touch with and respect a lot. Through that connection, I was able to become a global ambassador for Jaguar Land Rover and do some unbelievable work with them when it comes to women's empowerment at different events I've spoken at, on panels with them, or with diversity and inclusion events, being a member of the LGBT community. At the time I didn't know all of that would come from it, but it was just a great casual conversation where I was being myself, and I was able to create and continue this great relationship.
As someone who's traveled globally, and I'm sure you've met millions of people. How do you best nurture these relationships that you've created?
I think we all have a hand up a little bit right now with the world being virtual, and being able to get in touch with and get in front of anyone at any point and I think that can often help us. But I would say the best way that I try to keep things going is I truly try to be my authentic self. I don't try to be someone that I'm not in my communications with my network, or mentors, or potential business professionals that I want to put myself in front of. I really tried to connect when it feels right or when it feels organic and don't want to doesn't. It sounds a little cliche, again, but it's what worked for me. I'm also a person that truly acts a lot of time off of gut and instinct. That being said, I've found myself in situations where I'm experienced a lot of different coincidences, or things happen for a reason. That's who I am a that's kind of what's allowed me to create and keep wonderful relationships in my life. I try to be open and honest about where I'm at, or what's going on and to be inclusive to whoever I'm speaking with, as well. I just try to keep it organic and authentic and that seems to work for me.
What advice would you offer to someone who's looking to grow their network?
I would say to educate yourself on what you want to grow into, and who you want to talk to and learn a little bit about the backgrounds of people, you want to add into your network like what they do, what's important to them, what they're passionate about. I feel, in addition to being myself and sharing my authentic self, I think taking an interest in what other people are doing, or what else is out there when you're searching for what's next or a new connection I always find that I learned something new and inspires me to want to do something else, or get involved in something else, just by listening to other people. Just by understanding and educating myself a little bit on what other people are passionate about. I find it inspires me and makes me think about things in a different way which helps me grow my network and become involved in other things.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think the biggest thing I would tell my 20-year-old self is to try not to strive for perfection. I'm a very type-A personality and I've learned a lot through my ups and downs in my hockey career and in growth in my leadership about too often trying to be perfect or try not to make mistakes. I think whether it's getting older or making more mistakes or becoming a mom or whatever it is, I've tried to make myself realize that you can't be perfect all the time. Mistakes are where we grow, that's where those challenges are, that's where we find opportunities. So a lot of times in my hockey career, my professional career I was gripping my stick too tight, right? We all say that in hockey and in wanting something so bad and not wanting to make a mistake. In doing so, I would have different blind spots, or I would put myself in a bad position. So, I would say that's definitely what I would tell my 20-year-old self: Make mistakes and see challenges as opportunities because that's where you'll grow. Who are any of us if we don't face challenges? It's impossible so finding ways to embrace the challenges and not seek out perfection is something I've learned, but I wish I knew it when I was younger.
We're all familiar with the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you could do it within six degrees?
The person that I would love to connect with, at this point right now would be Kamala Harris. Do I think I could do it within six degrees? I really do think that I could. I think it would take some serious degrees of people, but I think that I could do it, and I would start that journey with Billie Jean King because, to me, she's the Alpha Dog in women's sports. She could maybe eventually lead me down the path of like, connecting with females in all the other industries. Right now, Kamala Harris is the Alpha Dog in politics so that's where I would start, and I would love to connect with her.
What final advice would you like to offer with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would say be patient with yourself. I find myself sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, or randomly, if I'm having a bad day thinking, I'm not doing enough, or I need to do X, or I need to put myself here, get myself in touch with this person. I think sometimes just being patient with myself, and showing myself a little bit of grace and respect, and honoring the things that I have done or that I'm working towards helps to slow me down. For me, that's chasing around my son and playing with him and reading books to him because there's beauty in that, too. So I think being patient with yourself is really important. Things aren't going to happen overnight. When I say be patient with yourself, obviously life and networking, and, and growing requires a lot of hard work as well, but we all need to take care of ourselves along the way too.
Connect with Meghan:
Glen Allen is the go-to CMO of digital course launches. As a multi-instrumental musician turned marketing consultant, he helps entrepreneurs scale five to seven-figure businesses by consulting them and their team through marketing and launching digital courses. He's the host of the Glen Ellyn Show, a YouTube channel about digital marketing, and an entrepreneurial podcast called Unstuck and Unstoppable. He also works as an unpaid chef, housekeeper and, chauffeur for three kids who call him dad.
What is the most effective way to build authentic connections with email list subscribers?
It's to provide value to them. Definitely an imbalance of value over information about yourself or your products or pitches for your products and services. Right now, everybody is having to do a lot of their business online and a lot of that is happening through their email. We are becoming a little bit inundated and saturated right now so it's really important to show up as a person, and not as a product, and to nurture your relationship with the people who have entrusted you with their email addresses and invited you into their inboxes by continuing to give.
For companies or organizations with multiple people, should communications be coming from the brand, or should it take that personal conversational approach?
Let's say you are an organization. I've worked in the corporate space, where we had this challenge of connecting more one on one with our audience and our potential customers and clients and leads, and we kind of had to pick a face of the organization, and that didn't have to be the founders. For a while it was me, and it was another agent of the company who was just best suited to showing up and being on camera or creating engaging content. Sometimes that means me writing in the voice of this person, but basically having a face and a voice that people can connect to instead of a brand or instead of a company is better. One of the ways that I recommend people do this is when you're inviting people to sign up for something like a lead magnet or something that gets people into your email community, and you want to take the relationship to the next level. I am a big fan of things that are video-based, things that have a person on camera, engaging with you, talking to you, showing the values, and projecting those through personality.
What are some of the best ways to attract people into our audience when we're building an online community?
A lot of reasons we're building an online community is number one: it's for the sake of the community. But also we're in business and we're not just in business, for the fun of it, and there is, of course, the commerce side of it, and we want to serve and help people, and we want to connect with people in a way in which it is financially viable for us. So we have things that we want to sell and offer that will help other people. When you're doing this, a lot of people are, you know, nurturing an audience from, say, a social media platform, or a podcast, and we want to bring the conversation in a little bit more intimately and deeper into, you know, non farmed land. Social media is kind of that rented space, whereas we have our community of people in our private groups and our email list. That's ours, especially your email list. So one of my favorite ways to build that, it's having some kind of a lead magnet or freebie that creates value for the people who are the ideal person to work with and serve. To do that in a way that is fully aligned with how you ultimately want to help them through your paid products, your paid offers your service. I'm seeing a lot of upfront mistakes with how they go about that. The best thing you can do for somebody is to solve a problem they have. A very small burning pain, that then gives them a next level, good to have a problem. If you can solve somebody's problem, you're going to have somebody who is going to become a fan of you, they're going to be engaged and connected to you with trust. I've seen this with things where oftentimes what's happening is your customer or ideal client is searching for an answer to something and somehow, they come across some freebie or lead magnet. What I see often happen is they get the thing, it's delivered to them in their inbox, they might download it, read through it, and then bounce. They've got no incentive to further a relationship with you. If you're using an automated nurture sequence down the line to then inform them more about who you are and what your products or services are, and things like that. Oftentimes, it just kind of gets lost in the noise, even if your subject lines are enticing. I think a lot of that has to do with the vehicle that people use for these freebies. Downloadables don't give you a good sense of who you are, and your talents. You need to find a way to build that trust and connection to the content.
How can we reach out to our network and collaborate with other influencers online to help build our audience?
I think one of the most important things is number one, showing up just like a person, not, you know, blasting out templates. Really taking the time to research different people and get to know what their values are to see if working with them is actually a fit. Once you've done that, having a sense of how does what you teach, or your expertise, or the way you serve people couple well with what value they're on a mission to provide to their audience is critical. I'm in the Digital Course World so I'm always consulting entrepreneurs who want to build a digital course on how to launch the thing. But the problem a lot of people have is they have put all this time into a digital course and they haven't put the time into building an audience of their own. So what I do with people is I help them forge relationships and reach out to people and network with people where they have that engaged audience already and those communities already exist, and people already have them. The thing is to learn how How to make relationships with people so that you can then reach those other audiences that are already out there. First, you make a connection and you can do that through adding value and just being a person.
Can share with our listeners one of your favorite or most successful networking experiences that you've had.
I know it sounds really weird, but I kind of systematize my networking, and I don't do it to be disingenuous. I do it because I talk to so many people online that I need to track what I'm doing, or I lose track myself of who I'm talking with and who I need to keep up with. But what I like to do is I mean, number one, I love podcasts, I love connecting other people to other people and so, one of the things that I do is I look at what networks are already out there, what people are already kind of movers and shakers, and then just approaching them and adding value. I like the idea of connecting with other podcasters especially because they value other people coming in and adding value to their audience and that's one of how they can grow is by bringing in outsiders. So with that, what I often like to do is just get to know people and promote them to my audience. If I'm engaged in a podcast or something like that, I like a specific episode, I might share that with my entire network or my Instagram or my even I'll share that my email list because it's something valuable to my audience and then it's also valuable to them because they're able to spread to a new group of people that they don't have access to. So I like to do things like share, promote it, and even write a review and subscribe. If it's not podcasts, there are other ways you can do this. We're largely networking through social media platforms so you can always provide value to other people by, you know, having thoughtful comments, and sharing other people's content, and promoting it out to your network. I feel like making that opportunity is a great way to connect to people that you might otherwise not feel like you have any access to.
How do you nurture the relationships that you have and what do you do to stay in front of these communities that you're creating?
It's strange, but I keep a spreadsheet of different things that I want to do for people. This kind of thing can be time-consuming and it's not about making it a system and making it this robotic thing. You do have to put in the time to be a person and think of ways in which you can be valuable to people. I mainly use a spreadsheet just so I can stay on top of me, that's just the way I like to work. But when it comes to the actual connections, I track ff I've made a connection, if I've connected people together, if I've left someone a thoughtful comment, or shared their content. So I like to have these different levels of giving over time, just to make sure that I am providing value to people, long before I ever consider asking them for anything or partnering with them. Sometimes that that, that that role is very short. II like to have virtual coffee chats with people just to learn about their business. Those conversations will immediately make you think of "Oh, my gosh, you should talk to so and so," and that is one of my favorite ways to do that.
What advice would you have for someone that's really looking to grow their network?
What are your pillars of expertise or value that you offer people and if you can turn those things into even some enticing headlines, you can grow your network. In terms of growing your actual network, there are so many great places on LinkedIn, where people are doing networking. Looking for people who are hosting these different networks and seeing what gaps are missing that maybe I can fill. Also asking them people if there's anything you can help with is a great way to build a connection and get someone's guard down. But if we start up front with what can you do for my thing, people's guards are up and your ability to grow your community will be stunted. So show up with the other energy, and ask what can I do for you?
I would say, learn more about business and marketing sooner. Side hustles and endeavors and like e-commerce and an Etsy store, all kinds of different things where if I would have known what I know now about marketing, I would have gone a lot further. Also, hire out sooner.
What final words of advice do you have to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
When it comes to growing and supporting your network, find ways to get them to personally engage and reach out to you and even though it may not be scalable, find ways to put in the time to actually offer real help. It's amazing the opportunities that that can open up for you. Whether it's being able to speak, or joining somebody else's network, they may promote you somewhere that you never would have expected. You just never know when you give what you know what kind of opportunities you open.
Connect with Glenn:
Kristen is a certified neuro-linguistic programming practitioner mindset specialist, trained under Bob Proctor curriculum developer, college professor, and passionate life enthusiastic. She brings all of these skills and experiences to help people define and live their vision in life. Not box-checking goals, but vision, the kind of vision that makes your heart leap, sets your soul on fire and makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.
What made you so passionate about empowering others to define and live their vision in life?
Honestly, not doing it myself. Basically, I did what I think a lot of people do which is I spent a lot of time doing what I was taught, which I thought was going to make my life fulfilling. I found myself literally sitting in this "perfect life," where everybody was like, "Yay, look at you, you're great," and I was thinking, "Should I tell them that this sucks," or like, "This isn't fulfilling," and I was afraid to admit that to myself and then to other people. It took this like, kind of peeling flesh from the bone process socially and emotionally and spiritually inside myself, to realize I'm just gonna do it, I'm gonna do the stuff that really makes me happy and feel good and excited, and let the chips fall where they may. Luckily, it all worked out and I've learned a lot, the hindsight is 2020. So now I like to support people in taking that journey for themselves because I think that the quality of our lives should be of our most importance and a priority to us.
I recently heard a quote on Clubhouse which said, "You have to fill your cup before you can fill other people's cups," and that really resonated with me, because we all constantly give, but we're not necessarily taking care of ourselves first and it sounds like that's exactly what you did and you help others do that as well.
Yeah, and something I like to share because it had such a pivotal impact for me is a book by a hospice nurse named Bronnie Ware called Regrets of The Dying. It was really fascinating because she chronicled the most frequently heard regrets. So these are things where people would say I wish I would have done this. The most frequently heard regret was "I wish I would have had the courage to live a life true to myself, and not what others wanted from me." When I heard that it really validated all of those secret fears that I just told you about, I was like, "That's it, that's my thing!" Then I thought to myself that I'm not gonna be that person, I'm gonna be sitting there at the end of the show going, "That was epic, you guys!"
I imagine that you had to disappoint some individuals to get to where you are today, tell us about that a little bit.
That's my favorite thing to let people know because it's okay to disappoint other people. Just like what you said about filling your cup first, or applying the oxygen mask to yourself before assisting others. Disappointing people is part of that process and usually, it's some of the most important relationships in your life. So people will be nervous about doing that, but the funny thing is, my experience has been and I don't like to be too specific sometimes because I'm not trying to criticize other people or their intentions, but the funny thing is after the fact once you get through that painful process of disappointing them, they usually come back back around and say, you know, you're my hero, or I'm so happy for you, or I'm so glad for you. I like to share that with people too because if that's what gets you through that challenge, it's worth it.
What are the top challenges that people face when pivoting in life and setting out to live a life that really speaks to their soul?
Fear is number one because there are all these outside influences we feel such as, disappointing people, and wondering if people are going to support me changing gears. Then there's self-identity where you have to let people know that this is where your heart is at and this is the direction you want to go in. Then practically: How in the world do I do it? Where do I start? What steps do I take? There are systems, the best system is, quote, the one that works for you. The one I like to use is to chart a course; define your destination, your milestones, the action steps that need to be taken to each milestone, and just breaking it down so it's not intimidating. You're looking a month ahead, not you know, three years ahead.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Absolutely. The favorite networking experience that I've had, I've had now three times. It consists of engaging with either an individual or small group routinely. In most cases, for me, that's been Monday through Friday, but it still works if it's only once a week or even if it's just once a month. But maintaining this thread of connection with people and understanding what they're working on, and then what you're working on and ways that you can support each other. So it's like a more extended relationship-building style of networking.
What do you do with the people outside of that group and how do you best stay in front of them and nurture your network?
Well right now, social media is huge. Groups I found to be very valuable. I tend to join a lot of groups and then you just see which ones resonate with you, where there are people that you enjoy, you find you can contribute to, and are asking great questions. So I've got a couple of groups that have been very beneficial to me.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I think to be aware of your intentions going into it. Previously, I used trial and error and I kind of did the whole throw as much against the wall as you can, well, that's just exhausting. If I were to break it down: Brainstorm and plan where are some good places for me to connect with good people. Engage authentically and give to give it an opportunity and see what's really there for you. Then reflect, you can't invest yourself in everything and every networking opportunity. Maybe even keep a spreadsheet so that you're applying your energy in a focused and productive way for everybody. Just really making sure that there is mutual value in every group you join.
Believe in it, like disappointing people and getting over those challenges of meaning to myself, this is who I am, this is what I'm passionate about. Then take a chance on yourself. I think everything we do has value and plays into where we are so I don't regret anything. However, if I could, I definitely would whisper in my own ear, "Hey girl, all that stuff you've been thinking about other people are thinking about it to go talk about it."
Who would be one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I had a fantasy about this because I love to visualize and imagine I am just crazy about Jason Silva. His angle is really that you have to fill your life with all and all is everywhere. He's just like me passionate about living and he does a great job of motivating, explaining, pontificating and I think what I want to do is I want to go camping with him because you can learn so much to go camping with somebody and have dinner over a fire. I really need to do some investigative work as to the six degrees of separation. However, I have a tip for everybody that I have not yet deployed and I think I'm honestly going to do it today. What you do is you put in the signature block of your email so that literally every person you communicate with sees this down at the bottom. Include something like this "Hey you guys, I am really interested in having a conversation with Jason Silva." I'm bold enough now in my self-assurance that I'd say I want to go camping with the guy. Does anybody know anybody who knows anybody? Don't be shocked over the course of time how people might pop up and say, "Hey, I actually have a connection."
Do you have any final advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Authenticity and mutual benefit is never going to backfire ever on you and it always grows. Also, another thing that's been on my mind because of a book I've been reading and is the idea of latent potential that you are doing work for a period of time before you hit this turn in the curve where it just swings up and go straight to the top. So as I said earlier, plan and reflect and know where to focus, but also recognize that latent potential and believe in your efforts during that period, and wait with faith that is all coming to something really good for you.
Connect with Kristen:
Don't even try to describe him this way and he'll point that one out. Change your perspective and he'll lead you down another path, maybe without you even realizing it. He's a creative dude, an entrepreneur, a family man, a business owner, no box fits, it doesn't even exist. He's a man of original thoughts, all products of unique thinking. Above all else, he is a storyteller he unpacks topics from unexpected directions, weaving influences into the music speaking and podcasting. Society, business current events, you can never predict his take. Suffice to say, it's probably different than you've encountered. Why do things happen? How do they drive behavior?
He has a CPA, has 40 years of business experience ranging from accounting operations, sales, and marketing. He specializes in returning companies to profitability. He owns four businesses in Milwaukee, a business turnaround and profit improvement firm, a bookkeeping and accounting service company, a networking training and event company, and residential rental units on Milwaukee's East Side. A core introvert he wanted a large network, but there was one problem: networking terrified him.
How did the two of you get connected?
Elzie: Well, it was funny, because I met Lorry at a networking event, of course. I'm very sensitive to my gut when my gut tells me that this is a person that I need to connect with or deepen a relationship with. So I had seen him on LinkedIn with lunch with Lorry stuff. I said to him that I'd like to do lunch with Lorry and we just couldn't find a time that works, because everybody wants to have lunch with Lorry. So we ended up doing breakfast and very long story short, he would ask me these questions that a person that you were just meeting shouldn't be asking. I thought to myself, "Why is this guy asking me these types of questions?" But it was intriguing, and it made me open my perspective to deepening relationships and being curious and open to other people's perspectives. So that's kind of how it all got started in terms of our relationship. This was a little bit before COVID happened and we couldn't you couldn't do lunch with Lorry in person so I said do it virtually. Nine sessions later, in lunch with Laurie virtual is still around.
For those that are not familiar with Lunch with Lorry, why would someone want to attend?
Lorry: Because we don't get to tell the story of our lives, it's usually your rush to business or getting something networking. Lunch with Lorry is about telling some aspect of your life story and the stories are compelling. There had been lunches when people have cried because the stories are sad and there have been lots of stories and we can stop laughing. But one thing people learn they're not alone, because there's a lot of common themes from the Lunch with Lorry.
Elzie: I think I've learned things about people that I would have never learned in a zillion years in a business setting so it's refreshing to be able to see that side of people without even really knowing what they do for a business. It's cool to be able to genuinely meet people and have those authentic conversations.
What are some of these common themes and are there a couple of stories you can share?
Lorry: Well, I think some of the stories are amazing, there was a woman who I asked what her favorite charity was and why. But there have been people who have funny stories. We had a gentleman who drove a train. He's wasn't an engineer, he just drove a train. People have had cars going ditches when they're chasing people, it's just amazing stories. But one thing about it is it is equal opportunity networking because I don't let you say what you do for a living. I don't let you do your elevator pitch. That's probably the most unique part of it. I've had CEOs next to the unemployed, and everyone is equal and on a second part are equal. Every single person has to participate. Elzie and I call every single person to explain one of their answers.
You've got this phrase that you use, which is "Stop having zoom fatigue," and can you share a little bit about how you get around it?
Lorry: Most people come to zoom meetings and in my experience so far, this is not 100% to show up, they want to tell their boss or participating and when you do that, it becomes a routine you go I gotta go another zoom meeting. I have developed systems that supercharge your networking when you go to a zoom meeting. I have pre-built templates that have connection requests, they have a spot for pictures, a spot for me to write down who I want to connect to, the outline of a post for an event. So when I go to a zoom event, it's like networking in person for me because I come prepared. What usually happens is after an event, I do a post about an event's organization before they even think about doing it. So for me, the zoom meetings are refreshing because it gives me a competitive edge. I'm the first post, I put a plugin for my company and it's given me 1000s of new connections. So it's not fatigue-free. I've sort of gamed the system, using simple ideas to build a system that allows me to get a giant multiplier effect from a zoom meeting.
Can you share from your personal experiences your most successful or favorite networking story that you've had?
Elzie: When I look at networking, I'm a farmer, right in terms of how I approach business and how I approach giving value to people. I like to cultivate and water the seed and build relationships. But I think it's extremely important to be authentic and genuine in that relationship as well. You're not looking for a sale or looking for what you can get, you're truly and authentically looking for how you can help and how you can add value, and how you can connect. When you go into any environment with that perspective and that mindset, amazing things happen. So I think a lot of the opportunities that I've had in business and life have come from and as a result of those relationships that have been cultivated. So I think for me, the key is being authentic and open minded and adding value to people, and being that connector.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network?
Lorry: There's two things that go hand in hand: Having interesting content that people want to look for and engaging them by responding to their posts. I had to slow down because I got busy at work and one of my former bosses, who never comments or likes on anything, says, "I noticed you slowed down." I hear that a lot from people who watch what I'm doing, enjoy reading it, but they never like or comment. So that's the true gauge of your engagement. There are always the people who like and comment, but the ones who don't are your real audience, because there are probably three of those to everyone who engages so you have to have interesting content. So I write Lunch with Lorry stories about people I met, and I find amazing connections. My last one, I network in Florida now of all places. I meet our gentlemen, Ed Katz, who tells me his favorite hobby is baseball. He tells me a story about how he took a picture with Willie Mays. Willie Mays was my idol growing up. When I lived in Chicago, I would go to Cub games and cheer against the Cubs because I like the giants and here he's showing me a picture of Willie Mays. Those connections you just find with people from talking to them or would drive engagement. I have a connection to him going forward, he will always remember that. He actually after that call, introduced me to a real high-end networking group in New York City. So that's the thing if you engage people, and they love what you're engaged on your content stories you share, they refer you on.
What advice would you offer that business professional who is looking to grow their network?
Lorry: It depends on the purpose. So Lunch with Laurie is a general networking company. So I will connect with everybody, I want a very broad network. But I mine that network, the people I meet who might not be a connection for my business part of my network, I mine their second and third-level connections to find potential business out there. So I'm a general networker who hones in on specific people who can help me in my accounting solutions and clarity business. So I have a hybrid strat strategy. Some people might be very focused and only want to talk to people who could give them business and there are others that it is meet anybody with no other purpose. It depends on what your goals are in life.
Elzie: I think in addition to what Lorry shared is being organized as is super important. My CRM is my best friend, to tag different contacts and what they might be looking for because I meet a lot of people. Sometimes even though I'm good with faces, I will forget your name. So my CRM helps keep me in alignment with who I've met, what we talked about, what they're looking for at the time, and ways that I can have those touchpoints that if I were relying on my memory, it will fail me, catastrophically. Having it organized helps me focus on those relationships and maintain them.
Elzie: I would just tell myself to stay focus, stay steady, and be open. I think that that would be the guiding principles that would still allow me to get those experiences because my experiences have made me who and what I am today. But I think understanding the focus and steady, right, because sometimes young people, they go really, really fast, but they're everywhere, they're not focused. So one of the things I tell my son is, you know, be steady and focused because when you're setting and focused you gain a lot of ground at a pace that's sustainable and allows you to grow.
Lorry: I was more of an analytical introvert, and I didn't like failure. I would go back and embrace failure. Every time I fail it reinvigorates me to do something different and come up with answers. I wish I would have learned failure is the cost of goods sold of success at a younger age.
Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Lorry: If you're an introvert, come to a Lunch of Lorry networking event because you will feel comfortable doing it because you're talking about yourself not asking other people to stop. Even though it might scare you up first, almost every introvert who's come I've got a note after that said, "Thank you, I didn't want to come but it was a great environment and I felt comfortable talking and participating." So just take that first step, it's a great way to start networking.
Elzie: I would just add that I happen to believe that it exists on a spectrum. There are people who are extreme introverts, and there are people who have extreme extroverts. I happen to be an ambivert, which is somewhere on that spectrum. So I think this lunch with Laurie is a cool event because whether you're on one side of either of the spectrums, you'll still get a ton out of it. So if you're an extreme extrovert, you'll love laughing at the people's stories and if you're an extreme introvert, you'll, you know, come out of your shell a bit and understand that it's okay, and if you're in the middle like me, you'll laugh at both the introvert and the extrovert.
Connect with Elzie and Lorry:
Elzie’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elziedflenardiii/
Lorry’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lunchwithlorry/