Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

Build a Badass Business Podcast #38: Interview – Michelle Pfennighaus of Find Your Balance Health

Topics:Build a Badass Business Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo

  1. Introducing our guest, Michelle Pfennighaus [1:17]
  2. Michelle’s health struggles [3:50]
  3. How Michelle’s business looked in the beginning [6:10]
  4. When it felt like a “real” business [15.43]
  5. How to find your direction [21:22]
  6. What social media numbers reflect about success [29:05]
  7. Words of wisdom for working moms (and dads) [40:42]

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Build a Badass Business: Episode #38: Interview – Michelle Pfenninghaus of Find Your Balance Health

Coming to you from the city by the bay, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey guys. Welcome back to the show. Today I’m really excited to introduce you to a guest who I’ve been following since before I was even blogging. I was following her work because I loved her website, and it had this really nice design, and it had a little piece of curly kale at the top; and I just remember thinking; wow, this chick has it going on. This blog is cool; I’m going to read it. And I loved what she was writing about, and I loved her design sense and delivery, and I was just hooked. So I’m going to introduce Michelle Pfennighaus; is that right; did I say it right?

Michelle Pfennighaus: You got it; yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} A fellow Jersey girl, originally, and actually she’s back there now. I’m just going to introduce you and let you talk a little bit about who you are, what you do, and what’s going on. So just give folks the background.

1. Introducing our guest, Michelle Pfennighaus [1:17]

Michelle Pfennighaus: Sure, yes. Thank you so much for having me. This is awesome, because we have been following each other forever, it seems. And life has changed so drastically since those days of the curly kale leaf on top of my blog. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} That was when I lived 4 apartments ago in San Francisco, I remember following your blog.

Michelle Pfennighaus: {laughs} Yes. It was ages ago. And oh my god, back then, it was cutting edge Word Press design, my goodness. So anyway, I started my business back in 2009 but I had been blogging for a few years before that, which is probably when we first connected. And in 2009, I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and in that same year, or about 6 months prior, I got laid off from my job in advertising. I was an art director at the largest ad agency in Boston. So I had this whole ad career going on, and then I made a very fast shift when that lay off came to nutrition coach, entrepreneur. It was like I got slapped in the face with a new life. It was very strange.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: I just kind of went for it, whole hog. One of the things I always tell people is I think I advanced in this career fairly quickly, because I always treated myself like a Fortune 500 company. I didn’t have the budget, obviously, of some of my old clients. You know, the ones I used to work for when I was in advertising. But, I always treated myself with that level of seriousness. Like, I’m going to do this, I’m going to get it done, I’m going to have a schedule. I just kind of continued what I was doing at the ad agency a little bit for myself.

So I named my business Find Your Balance, and in retrospect, that probably wasn’t the name I wanted, but it’s so funny when you start out, you just need to find a URL and my last name was not working.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing} I’m with you sister, I am with you.

Michelle Pfennighaus: {laughs} So you know, it’s funny now. But it’s Find Your Balance, and I’ve always been about a holistic approach to health and wellness. I’ve never sided with any one particular style of eating; like my own style of eating has changed through the years, but it’s always been about a holistic approach to the food, and also how you live your life. For me, changing careers was a huge piece of healing myself. So anyway, that’s kind of how this all got started.

2. Michelle’s health struggles [3:50]

Diane Sanfilippo: What was going on with your health that kind of got you even started going to IIN. Because I think for a lot of people, it’s a health challenge or a struggle or some kind of condition or illness or what have you. What was it that got you even interested in nutrition in the first place?

Michelle Pfennighaus: In retrospect, I can tell you that my blood sugar was whacked out! {laughs} But at the time, all I knew was that I was having anxiety attacks. I was having these dizzy spells, and I would occasionally pass out. I’ve passed out on the subway in Boston more times than I care to remember. I actually had it down to a science. I could feel it coming on, and I would kind of tuck my bag underneath me, so that when I passed out, my purse wouldn’t be out in the open.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh em gee.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Whoa.

Michelle Pfennighaus: So it was scary. It was weird, I didn’t know what was going on, it was happening more, and more, and more. I thought the exhaustion was just normal. I thought everyone was just exhausted all the time; and most people are. So I thought that part was just normal. But the passing out was, to me, at stage that was what made me think; this is not normal, I need help. And doctors just kind of were like, we don’t know, your blood work is fine. You’re not anemic; everything is fine. And I’m like, I’m not fine. I must have mono; I must have something. I had nothing; much to my dismay, {laughs} because I didn’t know how to fix it.

I eventually started to see a therapist because of the sort of anxiety angle, and she wanted to give me a prescription for anxiety, and I just thought; well, I’ve heard people do yoga. So I went to yoga, and from there I started hearing about people being vegan, and raw vegan, and just different approaches to eating. And that’s what kind of got the ball rolling. It all kind of started there. But I will tell you, just within a few weeks, months of cleaning up my diet from the really obvious junk, I don’t pass out anymore. None of that stuff happens anymore. And that cleared up really, really quickly. But it was a huge change for me.

3. How Michelle’s business looked in the beginning [6:10]

Diane Sanfilippo: So I think with your website and with mine, and with your business and with mine, when we were just started out one of the big advantages that we probably both had that I think is kind of stressful for a lot of other people, because we’re in an age of new media. Everything is online; social media, etc. I was an art director too; at a small agency, but we obviously had graphic design skills. So when you have those skills, you can make pretty much the fact that you’re doing something that is a business, you can make it look super legitimate with a few clicks. Just some nice design and launch it on the internet, put up a blog post, what have you. I’m sure we both look back at graphics we made for posts years ago versus today and laugh; but, I think that definitely is a springboard for making a business seem real and kind of forcing us to get out there.

But can you talk a little bit about what it was like in the very beginning. What kind of things were you doing day in and day out? What was the first thing that started generating revenue for you, and then just a little bit of the process of what started growing and where things started to become like a real business.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Sure. And I totally agree that that background in advertising has served me 10 times over; 20 times over. It’s just amazing. I thought I hated being in advertising, but so much of it I’m still doing. I’m just doing it for myself; it’s been a blessing.

So what I was doing when I first started out was all the things. Everything I could possibly do. I was up at 5 o’clock in the morning to teach yoga; and then I would sort of alternate between teaching yoga classes and sitting coffee shops meeting with clients, or working on my website or my blog, sending out my email newsletters, going to teach another yoga class. And I get in the car and I’d drive somewhere and I’d do a pantry clean out for somebody. Then I’d drive to the other end of town and do something else. And I’d come home at like 10 o’clock at night, exhausted, thinking; I thought this was supposed to be fun. I thought this was supposed to be a really nice life outside of advertising. So I went at it really hard. And I don’t recommend that approach to anybody, because I just burned out after about the first year.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well I think it’s funny, because we can say we don’t recommend it; but at the same time, don’t you think that you probably wouldn’t have gotten to where you are; or you wouldn’t have learned all the things that you learned if you hadn’t basically been hustling for however long it was?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: You know what I mean? Like I think so many people are like; oh, don’t do what I did. And I’m like; no I think you should do it. Because until you do that, you don’t get a taste of, now you’re in such a different place. I feel like people are never going to get to the place where they can step back and be like; oh, ok. Now I know how to do this better. Because you never did it the hard way first. If you always just do it the easy way, I feel like; it’s not that you; you actually won’t get out of it everything that you need to get out of it. I don’t think. Maybe that’s a little weird.

Michelle Pfennighaus: You’re absolutely right. It’s a hustle, and to this day it is a hustle. It’s always a hustle. And you do need to throw yourself at it; you’re exactly right. I don’t want anybody to hit the wall like I did, though.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Michelle Pfennighaus: I encountered sort of a health crisis at that point, and that’s not where you want to be. So I wish someone had just said; listen, the flip side of working too hard is that you’ll burn out and not be able to do this at all.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Pfennighaus: So I kind of had to learn that on my own. And when I did, in one fell swoop; {laughs} I mean I was doing everything. I was working in person locally. I was working online; which is two different entire businesses right there. Trying to do things in person locally and also trying to have a presence online.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Around the country; totally two different business models.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: I was trying to do both of them at once; also be a yoga teacher. I had 3 different jobs basically. So when I did it that long, I realized that, and I canceled every single one of my yoga classes, quit teaching yoga, all in one afternoon, and canceled this online group that I was running. I had several members we would meet via phone; and I just, it was kind of unprofessional but I had to do it, I just canceled that. I canceled everything I could and started a little bit from scratch. It was at that point I decided I’m just going to take this online. I’m just going to put my energy into health coaching, and it’s going to be an online business. And let’s just get a little bit more efficient with how I’m using my time.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, when you first started out, you were laid off from your job, so you basically worked. Maybe you had a little bit of a buffer from some severance. I know you were married at the time. But what was the situation like financially, just roughly speaking. Were you in a situation where you had a lot of pressure to start earning money? Did you have less pressure because you had support from your husband for a certain period of time? What was the situation there? And at what point did the business you were growing financially become pretty self sufficient and; ok, this is a real business, it’s really earning money?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yeah, I did have a buffer because of severance and also unemployment carried me for a little while; definitely cushioned the blow. But I knew I was going to leave advertising; so this was all sort of planned in advance. Even though I got laid off, and it was not when I anticipated leaving by any means, I knew that it was going to happen at some point. I knew that I wanted to have a family, and I saw other women higher up than me in the advertising world, and the ones who were still there, because most of them were not once they had kids. The ones who had kids would run to catch that train to get home to see their kids for 3 minutes before the kids went to bed. So I didn’t want that.

So I had been planning this exodus from the ad world. So when we bought our first condo when we got married, we purposely bought something that we could pay for with just my husband’s salary. Even though I was still making a good salary at the time, we just discounted that entirely, and we said, let’s pretend that we lived on your salary. So that was a saving grace, because I wasn’t under major pressure to earn, because we were going to go broke or anything. The pressure to earn really was more internal. It was pressure I was putting on myself to prove myself. And that’s very strong pressure; that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m definitely nodding along. I’m like, yep, I hear you; that internal pressure. I think a lot of people listening are in a situation where they do either still have one foot in their full time job, or maybe they’re just starting something and they’re mostly still at their full time job, or they just left. Something to that effect. And I think that; so you and I had a really similar experience here, too, because although I didn’t have a husband at the time, I did the same time where I basically was like; well, I’m going to cut my rent as much as I possibly can. I moved to a place that cost just about half as much as the previous place when I decided to quit my job; because I was like, I can’t live beyond my means.

And I think that’s really good advice for people who; if you’re a guy or a girl listening, and you’re thinking; what’s the approach? I know a lot of people get to this point, too, where they already have a home and a mortgage, and they’re feeling like they can’t leave a job because they have all these expenses. And I think you guys have the foresight to know; I’m not going to be doing this job for forever, so let’s not live on this. But I think people can even do that kind of in reverse, in a sense where they start to cut back on as many expenses as possible, and then if there’s the one really big fixed one, that’s the hardest one to change, a mortgage. That’s maybe the last one to come in. But the problem is, that’s usually the biggest expense. So, people can do something about that up front, it seems to take the most pressure off. If you’re housing costs can get reduce, I just think that’s the number one smartest thing to do.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yes, definitely.

Diane Sanfilippo: So what was; you were teaching yoga. It’s so funny, because you’re describing it, you’re like, I was crazy. I’m like, I did the same thing. {laughs} We’re living parallel lives.

Michelle Pfennighaus: No wonder we got along.

Diane Sanfilippo: I know. I was not teaching yoga, but I was working one on one with people in person, I was probably doing some free classes, and I was traveling the country teaching seminars, so it’s like, who did I think I was? I don’t know, people just asked me to do it so I said ok, so I started doing it. But same thing; I’m picturing myself in the coffee shop, then running across the city to do a grocery store trip with someone. {laughs} Literally, the same thing. But what for you, what was happening terms of; when you and I started blogging, I don’t think any of us realized that blogging itself could be a way to earn money. I don’t think that was a thing. I think people now start a blog because they’re like, I can earn money with a blog. I’m like, I don’t even think I knew that would ever happen.

Michelle Pfennighaus: No, there was none of that.

4. When it felt like a “real” business [15.43]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, let’s talk a little bit about; the first things you were earning money from obviously teaching yoga, working with clients, and a program, but when did things really start to shift from just making some money and it’s like, ok, I’m getting there, whatever to hitting a point where you’re like; ok, this is definitely a real business, I’m really earning money and I can keep sustaining this?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Sure, yeah. I realized at a certain point that doing the one on one work was never going to get me to a real salary, so I needed to come up with something else. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, and I started to get a lot of emails asking me about detoxes. Michelle, is there any detox that you recommend? What do you think I should buy? I see all these boxed cleanses at Whole Foods. Just asking me for recommendations, and a few people even said; would you consider running a detox? And my answer was always no, I don’t believe in that crap.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: I just thought that was a quick fix mindset, and that was not what I was all about, and I am not going to do that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Pfennighaus: And no I don’t recommend it; I recommend that you make slow, steady, sustainable changes. You know? {laughs} And then it just hit me one day that these boxed cleanses at Whole Foods were selling to people the same thing that I was trying to sell to people. Make a change in their life to have more energy, whatever their goals were; lose weight. I was trying to help people hit those same goals, except they were making it so easy, and I was offering someone like a 6-month program, and it cost; I don’t know how much I was charging at that point, maybe $1500 or something. Of course they’re choosing the quick fix.

So I just thought, alright, I’m just going to repackage what I’m already doing into a smaller, shorter, cheaper option. And so just like that, I created a 21-day detox. And I mean, back then, there weren’t really many online programs. Now, it’s a dime a dozen. But back then, the idea of running something virtually was quite new. There were no platforms; at least none that I knew of, and I had never participated in an online program, either. So I kind of just made it up from scratch how this was going to work. Alright; we’re going to have teleseminars; {laughs} it wasn’t even a webinar. Teleseminars on the weekends, and we’re going to have emails every day, and I put together a manual, and recipes.

And I sold this thing. And that was the first time I made a substantial amount of income. I’m trying to remember a number for you; I know I had 60 people enrolled, and they probably each paid about $100. So for the first time, I was like; ooh, that’s a chunk of change.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Ooh, if I could keep doing this. Hmm! I might have found my magic spot in this whole world. I couldn’t believe I had finally hit on something. And that is what really got me going. So I started offering these detoxes a couple of times a year, and when I was pregnant with my first son, I had the largest group I had ever had before; I made a nice hefty sum of money, over the $10,000 mark, and I just thought, I was good to go. Of course having a baby; {pbbft}. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} And now you have two sons, right?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: I know that you also currently offer business coaching for other health coaches, is it primarily, or is it broader than that?

Michelle Pfennighaus: It’s really primarily other IIN grads, but I’ve also worked with an interfaith minister, somebody who did baby sleep coaching. Basically online entrepreneurs; solopreneurs.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. In terms of the contribution of that to your business; what percentage of what you do is online; like the health, the detox program. And you I both offer detox programs, but the model of how we offer it is so different, and I think that’s awesome, because people need to see that there’s so many different ways to offer your services and your programs, you know? But what percentage of your business is from business coaching versus health and nutrition stuff, at this point?

Michelle Pfennighaus: At this point it’s about two-thirds health coaching, one-third business mentorship. I really strongly believe that I can be the best mentor and provide those services when I’m still doing the work of a health coach. There are so many people who just start doing the business coaching. I have no intention of doing that. It doesn’t interest me, first of all. I mean, my heart is really still in health coaching. But also, I think people want to work with me because I’m walking the walk, you know? {laughs} I’m doing this, I’m not just talking about it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, totally. It’s funny because a lot of people ask me for business coaching, and I haven’t worked one on one with people for a long time in terms of the nutrition stuff; but running nutrition businesses at the same time as doing some business coaching, even though I don’t really do much one on one at all. I think this show being the outlet for me finding a way to help people in the meantime, you know, while I can’t take people on one on one because I am still running so much of the businesses from the nutrition side.

5. How to find your direction [21:22]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, I’m curious to know; what do you see as, if somebody is coming out of IIN or any kind of nutrition program, I think the big struggle and challenge that people have today, and I don’t know if we felt this way, I don’t remember. But I think people feel like the market is so saturated; saturated with health coaches, or nutritionists who are online and doing the holistic thing, and they also feel like their program, there’s already a program. They don’t want to develop a program, there’s already a program. They just don’t know how to get things going. I think they need a little bit of; I don’t know if it’s motivation, or encouragement. What do you say to people like that? What do you tell your clients in general about that, the whole landscape of what’s going on online?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Well, I think going back to how we both started out, I think you do kind of have to just do all the things to a degree, and figure out what’s going to click for you. You can’t necessarily plan it. You can try; you can sit down and be like, well, there’s X number detoxes on the market, and there’s this that and the other thing, and here’s where I’m; you can try to work your way through it in a very heady way, but I think some of this is just magic. I had no idea that what was going to click for me was a detox.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: I had no idea that I was going to start doing business mentorship. You know, I started doing business mentorship for people because when my son was born, he wouldn’t sleep unless he was in the stroller. So I would push his stroller for hours, and hours, and hours, and hours a day. We lived in Virginia at the time; it was very, very hot. He had this little fan that I clipped on him; it was ridiculous. And people kept asking me for help with their business; and I was like, I don’t have time. I don’t have time; I can’t schedule any phone calls, I’m always walking around.

And then someone said; I will pay you for your time. And I was like, really? You’d pay me? And I’d say, I think I can only do stuff by email. Because sometimes I’m up in the middle of the night, I never know when I’m going to be available, and they said that’s fine, we can do it by email. And so I started, just by email, mentoring health coaches while I pushed a stroller with the other hand. Or while I was nursing in the middle of the night.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. I think; yeah, we’re totally on the same wavelength there. There’s no way that I started my business, and was like “I’m going to write a book, and it’s going to be a New York Times’ best seller.” No. {laughs} I think it’s great if people have really big goals like that, and dreams, like maybe I’m envious of people who have that kind of vision for themselves. I just don’t. I just see kind of what’s in front of me, and what seems to be burning. Like; I really think I want to try this; and then I try it, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t {laughs} you know.

Michelle Pfennighaus: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I feel like the stuff that people see is the stuff that worked; and the stuff that you don’t see any more is the stuff that didn’t work. You let it fall by the wayside after a certain point in time. You don’t just keep pushing on something that’s not working.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so we’ve got mostly new entrepreneurs; again, a lot of people who are in the health and wellness industry. And they’re seeing lots of us out there, creating programs and making the business work. What are some of the things that you think are most important for people to start out doing, direction-wise. Like you’re saying; do all the things. But what kinds of things would you tell someone who is just starting a website and just wants to get going with their health coaching business, or whatever. What are a few tips or actions that they need to take to get started?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Sure. Well the first thing I always tell everybody is to start your mailing list. Just start it with whoever you know; friends, family, right now, and start adding to it, and just working on sending out email communications on a regular basis. Because you don’t even have to have a website to do that, if you think about it. You can start that now; there’s nothing holding you back. And that consistency, and getting your audience used to hearing from you on a regular basis and contributing something valuable to their lives, week in and week out, or month in and month out, is a very good practice and is something you can do right away. And you can do it for free; I mean, really. Right? Mail Chimp is still free for the first 2,000 people, or whatever?

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Pfennighaus: So why not? You know? {laughs} That to me is like a first step. And then whatever it is that you’re doing; it’s consistency. You can’t do one workshop and say, oh I don’t know why I’m not getting any more clients now; I suck. You’ve got to do a workshop today; you’ve got to do a workshop next month; you’ve got to set them up, right? The whole year; you’ve got to have them all planned out, you know. {laughs} And just do as much as you can to be consistent with whatever is working for you. In-person workshops; great. If it’s going to be webinars; great. If it’s going to be whatever.

Blogging; if you’re blogging, awesome! But you’ve got to do it consistently. And it’s always; {laughs} I look around the people who seem to have made it from when we were first starting out are not necessarily the people who were the smartest or had the best product or best ideas. They’re just the people who kept doing it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I have no reason to believe that what I do is special, or that I’m special. It’s just; honestly, different strokes for different folks, and different people have different choices. You’ve had a family and are still being consistent and are running your business and are doing it so I think you’re a good example that having a family is not the only reason why people get totally derailed.

But I think that a lot of people just don’t stay committed to it. I don’t really understand why. I think that there are ups and downs along the way, and I think maybe people might hit some more downs, or they’re just not. I don’t know what the reason is that people hit some low points and can’t find a way to keep moving forward or try something different, or just get really discouraged. I’ve definitely done plenty of things that haven’t gone very well or earned much money, and I’ve been like; ok, guess I won’t keep doing that. But yeah, consistency is absolutely one of the number one things I tell people about.

Even with this podcast; {laughs} it’s like, I don’t know what I’m doing with it. It’s not something that I’ve got some big business plan for, it’s just something I want to talk about so I decided to commit to; I think I actually had an episode that was 4 C’s and it was commit to consistently creating content. Something like that. Because that is; like you said, it is the number one thing that just separates the people who are having success, whatever that means to them. You know, whatever level of success it seems that they’re after, it seems like they’re doing it because they’re just being really consistent and not getting discouraged along the way.

So, we didn’t have Instagram. We barely had Facebook when we first started. Right? Like it was kind of new. We could share a blog post {laughs} via Facebook. We did have Twitter; I feel like we’re talking about 50 years ago {laughs}.

Michelle Pfennighaus: It practically was, in terms of social media there was nothing.

6. What social media numbers reflect about success [29:05]

Diane Sanfilippo: There was nothing. So, on the upside of that, we didn’t have the issue of comparison to the same level that we have now, right? Like I think people see more social media following numbers, because we have so many different ways people can do that. They see posts, or they see books or book rankings and all these different things and different ways of comparing. How much do you think, or what do you end up saying to your clients, about how much you can tell from what’s happening and what’s visible versus what’s not? Because I think that you can’t tell. Basically you can’t tell shit from people’s social media numbers, because some people are late to the game there, because their business is booming behind the scenes. But I think also some people obviously that may not be the case. What do you think about that?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Social media is really hard. I mean, even just on an emotional level, you just go on and you see somebody living this great life, and you think, “Ugh, my life sucks!” This person, whatever they’re doing, yoga, and holding a green smoothie in one hand.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: You know, light incense with the other, and you’re just like; my life’s not like that! I’m not even showered today! You know. It just paints this unrealistic thing, and you look and their numbers, and you get down about it. I think I got keen to the whole idea that numbers mean nothing when I first heard about B school. I’ve never done B school, but I know a lot of people who have. Initially I thought; wow! These people, they must be; what they’re learning in that program because they’re all so popular! They’re all doing so well. I really was impressed because they had thousands of whatever, Facebook fans, when I didn’t.

And at some point it occurred to me that; well they’re just networking with other people in B school. Any group that you’re a part of, everyone’s going to like your page, and you’re going to like theirs, and you can really make it appear that you’re so popular, but you don’t know who those numbers are coming from. I was just like; oh, it’s really just so much about appearances.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah; I think too, one of the things that I think is important for people to know is that because we all have; we’ve all had different stages of our business where different social media gets introduced and some people just happen to really click with one platform or another when it opens up, or just a certain type of content tends to click. One of the things I’ve seen, because I know a little bit of behind the scenes on certain things. Like book sales for example, and the success of different books. I’ve seen tons of people who have huge Instagram followings, or social media like Facebook or Twitter; they have huge followings, and it doesn’t always translate. And I think that’s a little bit like what you’re talking about.

You don’t know who those people are. First of all; they could be totally qualified people, but there’s a second layer to this, and I think it’s the important thing that people remember, that it’s not just about getting these big numbers. It’s really about connecting much better with whoever it is that you have, and then can you convert them? Can you convert them to a customer? Because we’re on the show talking about business; this isn’t the Balanced Bites podcast, it’s Build a Badass Business. We can be frank about the fact that yeah, of course; I’m cool to help people for free, and give out recipes and information. Of course, at the end of the day, there’s something that I am going to sell because I need to make a living, I need to pay my team, and that’s what we’re all doing with our businesses.

But I think there’s something different that happens when new business owners are just looking at the numbers; they’re like, I just want to get more fans on Facebook or Instagram, or more followers on Twitter or Periscope now. Without realizing that that doesn’t always convert. It doesn’t always mean that when you release a book, that it’s going to do really well. Or that if you’ve got something to sell, that it’s going to go anywhere. You know what I mean?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Totally. And really, that’s an excellent point. It doesn’t; they don’t necessarily convert to paying customers. And what does do a better job is something that you can’t see, and that’s meeting people in person. Holding a live workshop, and looking in someone’s eyes and talking to them directly. That person is 10 times more likely to become a client at some point; or at least a lifelong fan than someone who just hit like on your page one time when they were browsing through Facebook.

Diane Sanfilippo: Amen sister. I don’t even think you listen to this podcast, but I definitely have had that conversation with the listeners here at least two or three times already; that I cannot stress enough how important holding live events is, because it’s almost like this secret weapon in this whole internet/social media age. It’s actually connecting in person.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Shocking idea.

Diane Sanfilippo: I know, right?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Old school.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s like, social media, you know, there’s a hashtag out there; more social, less media.

Michelle Pfennighaus: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And when people are like; like it’s almost funny to me where I want to tell people; look, I don’t know what people think when they look at the stuff that I’m doing, but if anybody ever had a twinge of jealousy, or I wish I had that, or comparisonitis, or whatever is going on, I just want to be like; yeah, but get in my pocket for the last 5 years and see the kind of work I’m doing, and the travel, and the exhaustion from that. I’m not saying that to be proud of it to be like; oh, I worked so hard. But it is, it’s not easy and it takes so much work and it takes a lot of real, in person work. It’s not just behind the computer screen.

I almost never think about it while I’m doing it, and then after the fact, I’m like; I can’t believe I just toured like 10 cities, or 15 cities. And the people; I’ve said the exact same thing that you’re saying; the people that you’re in a room with for half an hour, an hour, two hours; if it’s 10 people there versus 1,000 random people you’ve never met on Instagram; those 10 people are the ones who are going to pause and look at your picture. Those 10 people are the ones who are going to buy your thing, you know? You just can’t put enough value on that. I want people to all be doing live events and just crush it. {laughs} You know?

Michelle Pfennighaus: It works much better. And could I say something else about comparison?

Diane Sanfilippo: Of course.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Because I just notice there is so much of this. “I want to be like so and so. I want to have a website like this person.” Whatever. And they always want to know who I follow; I really subscribe to almost zero emails from other people in the nutrition and health world. And the reason is, it just confuses me and it confuses my own trajectory. When I look at, you for instance, I get that jealousy. Holy crap look at what she’s done in this amount of time that we’ve both been in business! Oh my good; but then I turn around and my two boys. And it’s like, of course. We’ve both done huge things! A few of mine came out of my vagina! {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: But you know, just having something pop up in your inbox can send you into a tailspin of comparison.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Pfennighaus: So I really don’t. I follow very few people. I really try not to pay attention to too much of what other people are sending or whatever, because it just influences my thinking too much.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s really good advice. I think it’s cool to; and this, you know, practicing what I preach. I think it’s cool to kind of have your little circle of people that you came up with; right? Like, we came up, we started our stuff around the same time. I started after you. I did not have 2 kids, so there is no comparison for how much of your time and energy and space in your life that that’s going to take, so we do very different thing and I think we’re both successful at what we’re doing because to us, the success is personal. Right? I would never be like, you’re more successful than I am because you’re running your business and you have two kids and this family; where I have this book and this and this. It’s totally; there is no equal, there is no way to compare.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: People’s lives are so different. People’s goals and desires and dreams and picture for themselves of success is so different that it’s just, it’s so harmful to look at anyone and be like; oh I wish I had that. Because you also don’t know. I know there are tons of people who are blogging in our world, or authors or who knows what, who’ve had very, very significant health challenges. And I would never trade an ounce of their success to also then take some of that challenge. You know what I mean?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: Everybody has their own struggle and their own success. I think that’s really smart. I receive emails; I think I’m still getting your emails. I get emails from a handful of my friends and people that I like to read their stuff in this industry, and that’s really it. And then, you know, like my Banana Republic {laughs}.

Michelle Pfennighaus: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But yeah, I’m with you. If you can receive emails or follow people who you maybe came up at the same time with them, where they’re genuinely your friend and you just want to see what each other is up to, I think that’s cool. But I think if it does motivate an unhealthy psychological response, that email, then I think you’re onto something there. Just like not even following it, and just kind of ignoring it, right.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yeah, I really had to do that when I became a mom because so many people that I was following were not moms, and it just was tearing me limb from limb to think what I “could be” doing; instead of paying attention to what I was doing.

And I know you asked me earlier on about when did I feel like my business was really sustainable, and the income was really coming in. it’s been a really funny ride for that, and I wanted to say that for all the moms out there. It’s a bumpy road, because just as I was starting to make money with those detoxes, and I kind of had a rhythm for myself, and I was able to look ahead and, wow, I’m going to make some income this year. I had my first baby, and it all just went to pot for the next year or so, because motherhood just took me by storm. So I’m lucky my business survived through that.

Then I got my feet underneath me, got some childcare, got back in the game, here I am, and I remember, what was it in 2013, I was thinking, “I’m going to break 6 figures this year. It’s going to happen.” Because I could see what I was already making, and I knew what I had planned. Boom, it’s going to happen. But I was pregnant with my second son when I said that, and I was like; no, because I’m going to have him in a couple of months and {pbbft} none of that’s going to happen.

And you know, not that I was back to square one, but definitely the roller coaster takes a dive down at that point, because I had to take care of other very important matters. So it’s sort of been like 2 years up, and then a year down, and then 2 years up; and just, the way my boys were spaced out that’s what happened. So now my little guy is 18 months old, and we’re not having anymore, so watch out.

7. Words of wisdom for working moms (and dads) [40:42]

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Watch out world. So I know you do work also with a lot of moms, and they love working with you because you obviously can share their perspective, and frustrations, and all that good stuff. What advice do you have for moms, and dads, out there who are trying to make it work with their business, and trying to find whatever balance they’re going to find, right? Find Your Balance. {laughs} What words of wisdom or what advice do you have for them, or what do you tend to recommend to your clients who are in that situation too?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Childcare.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: Childcare. I can’t tell you how many people, myself included, I thought I was going to have a baby, and the baby was going to sit over there and sleep and I was going to work. And the baby gets a little older, and the baby is going to play and I’m going to sit here and work. I don’t know what I was thinking! I had no idea that as a toddler, my kids would be pounding on a keyboard while I’m trying to write a blog post, and hanging on my legs, and I did not realize that I would not be able to watch my kids and work from home at the same time.

And that is laughable now. I mean, anybody who has kids knows that that is ridiculous. But before I had kids, I really thought that was an option. I thought I would be stay at home mom/have my own business. Not going to happen. And anyone who is trying to do that, their business is not going anywhere, because you need at least; you don’t need full time childcare, but you need some dedicated hours during your week where you are not the go-to care taker. There is no way around it.

Some people don’t want to; it’s hard to shell out money for a babysitter when you’re not sure how much money you’re making. But you could do like a kid swap; I take yours this week, you take mine next week, or something like that for a few hours with a friend. You could do something like that for free. Or you could just get a couple of hours at a time. I invested in two days a week of childcare when this finally hit me in the face; oh my god, I need childcare. Two days a week, because I thought, if I have those 2 days, I’ll be able to make more money to cover those two days, so that was my goal. And when I was able to do that, I upped it to 3 days, then I upped it to 4 days, and now we have full time childcare for both of my kids. I have a nanny, so I’m able to be here with them, and run my business exactly the way I want to.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s funny, because that’s the advice we give to new business owners about just getting an assistant, like a virtual assistant. There becomes that tipping point where it’s like, not just about right now, because obviously your kids are going to continue to get older, and so you have that period of time where you’re like, ok, you want to be the one who’s there, and you don’t want to have childcare, that’s fine. But then you hit the point where you realize; at some point, they will be going to school. And if you can take back one day, or a couple of hours or a couple of days a week, and build that little by little, then you can be growing your business so that when they are in school, you’re not now several years in and thinking, oh shoot I haven’t taken care of my business for a few years, and now I have to start all over again.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Really from scratch. Even if you’re taking some time away. The flip side of that, too, is how awesome is it to be able to make your schedule however you want to, and then spend the time with your kids that you want to spend and be able to just make that call, you know?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yeah, there’s no one else who’s going to make the call for you. And that is a good thing and a bad thing sometimes, you’ve got to make these decisions for yourself.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah .Awesome. Anything else you want to tell people about before we wrap up our little chat today?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Well, just on that note of not knowing what life is going to hand you or where you’re going to take your business; I’ll just close the loop on the story about the detoxes. After many years of running the detoxes, I realized that I really hate detoxes {laughs} because I hate the mindset. I hate the mindset. And more and more I was hearing women say; oh, I was bad, I cheated last night. I had chocolate chip cookies, or whatever. And I just saw women beating themselves up constantly. And I thought; oh my god, I don’t want to be a part of this. There’s no way that I want to give women a stick to beat themselves with. We have enough of those.

So this past year, I took some time off, and kind of regrouped, and I thought; how can I make this different? So what I’m about to launch is actually a completely different program that’s taking what I’ve learned about being human, and about our relationship to food, and just ingrain habits and things that have been beaten into our head about what it means to be good, or be bad, or ugh! You know, there’s so much stuff that goes along with it. I’m going to take women this follow through and experience; where yes, we clean up our food, but we do it in a really loving and gentle way so that it’s not an issue of being good or bad. This is my new challenge.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Michelle Pfennighaus: I never thought I would get into that, ever.

Diane Sanfilippo: I like that. I think, you know, I definitely see that happening with my 21-Day Sugar Detox program. And I was with you too, where I didn’t want to call it a detox, because I didn’t like that word but then I realized that I used that word because that’s what people are thinking about.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s the word they’re using. But I think that there are a lot of different ways to approach it. And it’s good insight for people who are scared to develop a program that then later they don’t want to offer. You can change it, {laughs} you know, none of this stuff is set in stone. But the cool thing is, everybody has their different way of evolving their own thinking on something and then wanting to teach it in a new way. Fortunately for me, part of what I do like about the way we run our program is that we have a lot of close contact with people, and we do get to kind of put the kibosh on some of that negative self talk. But I’m with you. I definitely think there’s a space and place for what you’re talking about right now. Do you want to tell people the name of the program?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Oh sure, yeah. It’s just called Reinvent. It’s going to be launching in just a few days; actually on October 8th the sales page will be up and the first group will begin a few weeks after that.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s awesome.

Michelle Pfennighaus: I’m really excited because it’s all video, and you’ve got to see my basement.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: I’ve got a crazy amount of video equipment going on, and it’s a one-man team over here. It’s crazy.

Diane Sanfilippo: I can’t wait. That sounds awesome. Your stuff is always top notch production quality, and I can’t wait to see it. That’s awesome; I love that you made videos.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Oh man, wish me luck.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Definitely good luck. I know we’re going to have; this episode will probably go live right before the program launches. I know we’re going to have a little guest post from you over on, so if you guys are looking for show notes, obviously it’s always going to be at, which is the same as; show notes on today’s episode, so you can see some of the details on Michelle’s new program. If you’re curious about getting some business coaching with Michelle, especially if you’re a mom because she is speaking your language over there, I think she could be really helpful for you. Or if you just want to look at her work and see what she’s up to and kind of get some inspiration and not get comparisonitis. {laughs} We’ve been at this a very long time, but that’s awesome. I’m really excited for you. I’m excited to see it.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Thank you so much, Diane. This has been great.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. Alright, so you guys can find Michelle at, and what are your social media handles? Find Your Balance everywhere?

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yeah, it’s all spelled differently everywhere though. It’s crazy.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, it looks like Facebook and Twitter it’s Find Your Balance, and then Instagram Find Your Balance. Are you on Periscope yet? {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: No, no, not my thing. Not my thing. But Pinterest; Pinterest I’m on there.

Diane Sanfilippo: Pinterest. I’m a Periscope pusher.

Michelle Pfennighaus: {laughs} You are!

Diane Sanfilippo: I think it’s fun. I don’t know, it’s really fun to interact live with people. It’s like, it’s kind of giving back that little bit of the live event element, but from home, you know? So I do like it for that reason.

Michelle Pfennighaus: Yeah, it’s a very cool platform, I just haven’t…

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Pfennighaus: I’ve got enough video going on now.

Diane Sanfilippo: Totally, totally. No worries. Cool, alright guys. Don’t forget, you can find Michelle at, and I will catch you next time.

Hey guys, I’m so glad you’re loving the show. Let me ask you to do me a favor; come follow me on Periscope. You can find me; I believe you can search Diane Sanfilippo, or you can search @BalancedBites, which is my Twitter handle, which is the account name over on Periscope. I am going to start doing live sessions, really quick thoughts for the day. I’m not sure if it I will be every day, but it will be pretty often, and some Q&A on business topics and motivation, inspiration, etc. So make sure you’re following me over on Periscope. Download the app in the app store, and I will see you there.

That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. And drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join the Build a Badass Business group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. Do work that you love, and hustle to make your business grow like your life depends on it, because it does. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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