Listen, Labor, Launch #9 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass Business

Build a Badass Business Podcast #9: Listen, Labor, Launch: A Process for Working on Anything

Listen, Labor, Launch #9 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass BusinessTopics:

I gave this talk at PaleoFx this year (2015), the largest Paleo nutrition and wellness conference that exists annually. It’s a fantastic event and I highly recommend attending next year. I am helping them to organize a business track since this talk was so well attended – can’t wait. I’ll be adding a transcript to sooner than later as I add podcast blog posts there. Please let me know what you think of the episode by leaving a review of the show!

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Build a Badass Business: Episode #9: Listen, Labor, Launch: A Process for Working on Anything

Coming to you straight from her basement home office in suburban New Jersey, 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. For this episode, I wanted to do something a little bit different. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke on business at PaleoFx, which is the biggest paleo oriented health and fitness conference that happens every single year in Austin, Texas, and I was really excited to be able to talk about something other than food for a change. I think there were over 200 people packed into the room, we were sweating our butts off. A couple of points during the talk, I think I mentioned something about being really hot, so if you’re like, what is she talking about, that’s it. It was really hot in that room, and the lights were kind of just beating down on me. So not only was it 80 degrees in Austin, but that room was just packed.

It was an awesome time, and I’ve talked to a lot of people about business and marketing over the years. I’ve worked in small business marketing for a long time, talked with clients one on one, have talked to friends and just folks who have asked me for advice. I’ve also done business coaching one on one with a lot of other nutritionists .Years ago I was doing it, haven’t done it recently, I’ve just been busy with other projects. But, this was the first time in a bigger format I actually delivered a talk on a concept I came up with when I sat down to try to think up how exactly I do what I do. How do myself and my team really iterate on everything that we do over and over, whether it’s looking at what we’re doing on social media with different posts, or whether it’s a project that we put out and something that we sell. Whether it’s a book, or recipes, etc. So on and on.

There’s a process that I came up with, and I talk about it in the speech that you’ll hear in just a little bit about trying to boil it down to 7 steps, and 5 steps, and it really just came down to 3. So the process that I’m going to go over; I will at some point be able to put up a graphic so you guys can see what this looks like in kind of a visual format, but the slides were really not that, there’s not a lot of text on the slides so you’re not really missing much to just hear it in an audio format. But it’s a 3 stage process called listen, labor, launch. So here’s the talk.

Presenter: Hey everyone!

Audience: Hey!

Presenter: Here to introduce Diane Sanfilippo, I’m sure all of you know who she is. She holds a BS from Syracuse University and is a certified nutrition consultant who specializes in blood sugar regulation and digestive health. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and the 21-Day Sugar Detox, blogs at, teaches seminars nationwide, and has a top rated weekly healthy podcast, the Balanced Bites podcast. Diane.

Audience: {Applause}

Diane Sanfilippo: Hi! Wow. Is this loud enough? Can you guys hear me in the back? Awesome. Everybody’s taking pictures! Hi!

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: They’re going to be weird, and then Julian Bakery is going to post it on a video .

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I’m just warning you now. So I’m just going to do another quick introduction, because I’m sure some of you are familiar with the fact that Practical Paleo is a book I wrote a few years ago. Before I get started, I just want to say thank you to all of you for the support that you’ve shown for that book. It’s something that I get choked up a little bit every time I do a book signing or an event, and I feel like you guys have embraced that book as the book of the community. So many people tell me they’ve purchased like 10 copies, which I believe, but I think it’s crazy, and I just really appreciate it. I just wanted to say thank you for that.

Audience: {applause}

Diane Sanfilippo: Sometimes I wonder how I got here, it’s all very crazy. So what a lot of you may not be familiar with is the fact that before I ever studied nutrition, got into teaching it, I’ve been an entrepreneur for pretty much all my life. So since I was maybe 20 years old, I had a little experience where, I’m pretty much just like my father. He would go to the bagel shop and be like, ah, I could make a bagel for less money than I’m paying for it.

So, there was this time where I was in a little jewelry store, and I saw these bracelets, they were Swarovski crystal, I don’t know if any of you ladies remember years ago, it was like you were supposed to wear like 10 of them at a time, and they were like $10 or $15 a piece, and I just thought that was crazy. So I figured, there’s got to be a better way. Right? That’s what every entrepreneur has in their mind; there has to be a better way to solve this problem.

For me, it was the problem of being a college student who couldn’t afford all those bracelets. So I decided to start making them. Yes, I made jewelry at one point in time. I think a bunch of people kind of pick up that hobby, but of course it became a little bit more than a hobby and I had too many on my hands, and I was like, what can I do with these? What can I do to support this expensive hobby of mine? So I started selling bracelets. Actually my mom became my first salesperson, and took all these bracelets to her school, she worked at an elementary school, and lots of the teachers were buying them, 3 for $20, and so she’s send me money at college and that was kind of Ohh, I got louder here.

That was kind of the beginning of probably one of my first entrepreneurial endeavors. And ever since, I’ve always had jobs on and off where I went to an office and consistently felt kind of cages in the office. One of the last jobs that I had, I just remember going in there every day. I did everything I could to make myself fit in there. We ordered lunch every day, it was a start up, so I took over picking which places we’d order lunch from, because I was eating gluten free paleo. So I was like, ok, at least if I can make lunch work, then I’ll be ok for a little while.

I made it about 18 months at that job, and then I just had to leave. And that was the last job that I had where I went to work for someone else. It was a 6 figure job, and I left it to just start my own thing. That was just a few years ago; that was probably right before I wrote Practical Paleo. Just so you guys have that little bit of background about me. I’ve also worked in graphic design, so I know a lot of you have commented about how Practical Paleo and a lot of my materials, and I also now have a full time designer on my team who is here, Nicole is here. There she is.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But it’s really important to me to communicate whatever message I’m sending visually and graphically, because I learn in pictures and sound. I don’t learn well by reading, I tend to fall asleep if I try and read too much. So this presentation is not a lot of reading. This is my own quote, because I was throwing a bunch of quotes in here, and I was like, what do I always say or what do I want people to live by. This is something that a few months ago, I talk about nutrition all the time and when I thought about doing a talk this year, I was like, I don’t really want to talk about food anymore. I haven’t been doing it that long, but when I burn out on something.. If I’m lit up about something else I have to go to that, and I want you guys to take everything I’m saying kind of a little bit of a message and a lesson.

It’s almost impossible for me to give you a lot of practical tips in this size group without being able to talk to every person about what’s your strategy, what’s your business that you’re going to take on. So I’m going to give you a little bit more theory that you can then apply and show you how to use it in a practical way. Because if somebody asks me how do you do what you do, I’m like, I don’t know. {laughs}

We have a crazy system, but when I sat down to think about it and boiling it down, you’ll see the system that I worked it out to. So what I was getting to there is, a few months ago I had a conversation on the phone with just a friend about her business, and when I got off the phone, my fiancé was like, you were so lit up doing that. You don’t even sound like that when you talk about nutrition any more. And I was like, yeah well that’s because I love to talk to people about their business, and what’s happening, how to motivate and inspire them to kind of take it to the next level, to dig out from them what it is that they really do love doing. Even if you have a business now, there are parts of it that you love and parts of it that you don’t love, and that’s true for all of us.

For me, my mom always said growing up, do what makes you happy. I think a lot of parents worry that if they tell their kids, do what makes you happy, they’ll end up lazy and just playing all day or whatever. I think I’m a good example of the fact that that’s not necessarily true. I’ve always followed what makes me happy.

But I think you should do what lights you up. If you start talking about something, that’s the thing that if you were to come to me and say, I want to do some business coaching, and you’re talking about your business, and then you mention this other thing, but when you talk about it, you literally light up. Your face gets excited. Your friends can tell you what lights you up if you don’t know what it is. A lot of times people talk about that like, what are you passionate about. Right? It’s that thing that you just can’t stop talking about. Business and marketing, it’s just always been that way for me. So this is the thing that really lights me up.

I think one of the things that gets in the way for most people is fear. You guys can’t see the board here, but it just says fear. There are not a lot of notes, don’t worry.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s fear. And I think it’s really important that you observe your fear. I have a new podcast that I started, I only have 8 episodes of it, but I did talk about fear on the podcast. Anybody listen to Build a Badass Business podcast? Holy. Wow. That’s amazing, thank you. {laughs} I was like, 3 people might listen to that.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But I think fear gets in the way. I can’t say that I share that with you. I’ve never really been afraid to just try whatever it is, and I think that if you have the same single fear that I have, which is not living my life to the fullest while I’m here. I know that we have a limited time, and I feel like we just have to do what we’re going to do, and not worry about what people think.

Tony Robbins says that the path to success is to take massive determined action. And that’s actually what he says against fear. So if you’re afraid, and you’re sitting here and you’re like, I have this business I want to start, I don’t know what to do, you’re afraid, I get that feeling too but I quickly snap out of it because I quickly make a plan.

I’m the worst girlfriend to talk to, my girlfriends want to call me if they’re going through a problem, I’m like, so what are you going to do about it? {laughs} I’m not the girl who can just listen. I’m the one who’s looking at you with the nail in your head, like, take the nail out of your head.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Have you guys seen that YouTube video? I’m very man, masculine in that way. I’m like, get the nail out of your head, make a list, what are we going to do. So I definitely resonated with this quote when I saw it from Tony Robbins. I was like, well that’s what I do. That’s always what I’ve done, if I had a problem or something I’ve been afraid of. It’s to take it on with massive action.

So if you’re sitting here like, I don’t know if I should start that blog, or make that product, or whatever it is. Do something, because you’ll get a response one way or the other. When I tell you about the process that I tend to use when I sat to think about, what do I actually do, it will make a lot of sense to you.

I think a lot of times the question comes up, what thing do I do first, and what if I fail. I’ve failed. I had a meal delivery business several years ago. It was kind of ahead of its time. There are tons of paleo meal businesses now, and the paleo movement has just obviously catapulted, and when I started it was 2008, 2009. It was too early. So to me, it failed because I closed it, but realistically it didn’t fail. I learned something from it. I also learned it’s very hard to earn a living in the food business, so for anybody who’s considering it, you have to be doubly passionate about it. I know we have Naomi, who’s going to be talking with me in a workshop later today and tomorrow, she has that passion and she’s doing it.

You really have to have that passion. And if you fail at that thing that you did, you just have to detach yourself and your self worth from the outcome of that thing that you took on. So if I said every time I failed something, I didn’t get back up, I wouldn’t be here. If I had that business and I closed it from a meal delivery business, and I just said, ok well I give up on this whole nutrition thing altogether; can you even imagine? You just nowhere if you give up.

I guess my edit to this didn’t come through. There are no failures, every outcome is a lesson. That’s really the lesson there. How many of you guys have started something and it just didn’t go how you planned in your business? And of those people, how many of you learned something from it that was valuable to take forward? Yeah. So if you’re sitting here worried about it, you just have to keep moving on.

When I sat and I thought about everything we do on my team, I have, I don’t know, there’s 8 or 10 people who are all different parts of my team, do different things. I’ll talk about how I decided to bring different people onto the team in a second here. But when I started to think about what do I do; when I put a product out or a book out, or even I post a tweet or I post a Facebook message, or I post something to Instagram, I’m not great at all of that stuff. There’s certain things I feel like I do well, certain things I don’t know what I’m doing. We’re all trying to figure it out. But everything that I do, it’s a matter of listening to what the response is, doing the work behind it so that’s the labor part, so it’s a three part cycle if you want to pay attention to this part; over here they can’t see it.

Listening, doing the labor, and then launching it. And this can be done on kind of a micro scale or a macro scale. I’m going to dive into that deeper in a second, but I tried to whittle it down to 7 steps, or 5 steps that I always take, and it kept coming down to actually just 3. It’s just a 3-part cycle that repeats over and over again, even something like this talk. If I decide to give this talk again, when we go through everything that we’re doing at the end, when I take your questions, I’ll be listening and paying attention, and watching the response that you have right now, just raising your hand. That’s me listening. It doesn’t have to be actually just listening to you speak, but just paying attention to how people respond to what you do.

See, that was the quote that was supposed to be there before. So what do you guys think if I tell you that listening is really about getting that feedback, observing what’s going on, what are some words that come to mind, if anybody wants to shout something out, I have a whole bunch to reveal next but I want to see if you guys have an idea of what that might entail. It’s kind of the early stage before you go and do some work. Anybody have a thought?

Audience: Research?

Diane Sanfilippo: Research, yep perfect.

Audience: Brainstorming.

Diane Sanfilippo: Brainstorming.

Audience: Feedback.

Diane Sanfilippo: Feedback, that’s yep, absolutely.

Audience: Survey.

Diane Sanfilippo: Survey, yep. So, if you guys can see that; you guys are good! You’re in the right place.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: So researching, studying, surveying, planning, maybe it’s dreaming. This might not be as hands on, conceptualizing, connecting, so I know a lot of you today you’re here to connect. You’re still in that listen phase of the business, or even of some part of your business that you want to take forward. Interacting and then watching, seeing what’s happening. I think it’s really important; I’m kind of hyperaware of things. I pay a lot of attention to what’s going on, not only with my business, with other people’s businesses. If I go onto somebody’s Facebook page or Instagram or whatever, I watch what questions somebody asks another person. If they post a recipe, and somebody gets questions.

I know you guys have seen in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking the Sugar Detox books and in Practical Paleo lots of options for nut free. Because when I first started teaching, the first question was, can I make this nut free. So instead of just ignoring that, or instead of ignoring the fact that people need autoimmune friendly recipes, I listen. And instead of just getting frustrated by it, or thinking it’s too much work, I do the work. Or I ask my friend who was my coauthor to do the work for Mediterranean. She did a ton of work, so that the product we put out there is better received.

So it’s really important to do that. Can you guys think of any other elements I may have left out of this that would be relevant to your business?

Audience: Acknowledging your weaknesses.

Diane Sanfilippo: Acknowledging?

Audience: Your weaknesses. Acknowledging your weaknesses.

Diane Sanfilippo: I can’t…

Audience: Acknowledging your weaknesses.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, acknowledging your weaknesses. Absolutely. And that’s going to come into play even in the next phase. So this makes me laugh, I don’t know if it got cut off here. No, it didn’t. Oh this; I don’t know if any of you guys have heard of Jeni’s Ice Cream?

Audience: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: There was a little debacle recently with a health scare or something, but that happens in most businesses. There’s a blip in the road, a bump in the road. But I love this quote that she had, “I didn’t follow my heart, I worked my ass off.” And I think I do both. Anybody who spends much time around me knows that, I think I’m a lazy person, but when I say I’m lazy it just means I try and find the fastest way to do things because I can’t stand when things take too long. But I work hard. And what I work for is the freedom that I have to do what I want to do. But I love this quote from her, because it was so spot on. I just think it’s about both of those things.

This is the labor stage that’s next. This is where you’re really doing the work. So what kind of comes to mind in terms of that, just grinding it out that you guys can think of?

Audience: Learning.

Diane Sanfilippo: Learning would kind of be more in that listen phase.

Audience: Processes.

Diane Sanfilippo: The process, yeah.

Audience: Delegating.

Diane Sanfilippo: Delegating, absolutely. Things like sacrificing, this is a big one when it comes to health oriented business. I absolutely think that we need to try and find balance, but I also think; how many of you are in the 0 to 1 year stage of starting or growing a business. So I think most of you, especially in this community, it’s important to take your health seriously. However, if you’re an entrepreneur, you may or may not be able to get where you want to go if you don’t sacrifice something. Often that tends to be a small piece of your health.

I’m not saying that as a, here’s my blessing to go never sleep! Or to, you know, be so stressed out that you’re drinking all weekend and then you’re totally unproductive the next week. That’s not what I’m saying. But at some point I’ll be posting, {laughs} I’ve been talking about this blog post for 3 years now. A blog post on adrenal health, and what happened to me after I wrote Practical Paleo. I basically just, I was so burnt out, because as you’ll know as an entrepreneur, it’s not just the work that stresses you out, when it comes to publishing a book or anything else that you pour your heart into; it’s emotional. And that emotional becomes physical. So it’s physically exhausting to just stay up and do the work, but it’s emotionally exhausting.

I showed somebody a picture yesterday; I had no soul left in my eyes. My eyes are bloodshot, I looked just beat up after writing that book. But that was the thing that I had to do that I had that much passion about. I’m not saying I want everybody to sacrifice to that level, I wasn’t dealing with an autoimmune condition going into it. That was just where I was at. I remember, I went to a doctor and I got blood work done because I just felt sick, and there was nothing wrong with me. I was just stressed out.

So it’s really important to understand that even though we’re in this community where we do value our health and take it very, very seriously; if you’re not taking every chance you get to work on this business that you want to build, no one is going to do it for you. And in the beginning, you have to do all that work. You can’t delegate if you don’t have money to delegate to somebody else, to pay somebody else. I think it’s important to understand.

This is one of my favorites from Marie Forleo; anybody know who Marie Forleo is? Anybody know who Gary Vaynerchuk is? I feel like, if they had a love child, I feel like that would be me.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: They’re both from New Jersey, I’m not quite as harsh as Gary and I’m not as touchy feely as Marie, I’m somewhere in between. But she says, “Everything is figure outable.” And I love that quote, because when you’re in this labor stage of your business, especially when you’re new and you don’t have the money to pay somebody to do something, you have to figure it out. And it’s critical that you know how everything in your business works to the best of your ability.

I am not an accountant; as soon as I could hire a bookkeeper, I hired a bookkeeper, got an accountant to do my taxes. But, I know how to pay my people if I need to, I know how to fix my website if it breaks, to a degree. There are certain things that, if you can take the time to figure it out, you’ll feel so much more confident. Then when you hire someone, and they run into a problem, you can help them. There have been so many times where we’ve had issues, and they’re like, we don’t know why this thing is broken. I say, ok, let me take a look at it, and because I took the time in the beginning stages of my business to figure everything out for myself, then I was able to help my team and move on.

I think that’s a really critical thing. I think it’s important that everyone not just abandon things quickly, even if you do have the money to pay someone early on, and I think that’s probably an issue that a lot of entrepreneurs run into who get a ton of capital up front, they don’t take the time to figure things out for themselves, they quickly hire other people. Not only does it drain your resources financially, but you put your power in someone else’s hands as soon as you hire someone. And I don’t think that’s a problem, but you have to be ready to do it, and you have to make sure that you know to some degree how to do their job. Because if they leave, and you’re left high and dry, what are you left with? So I think it’s really important to do that.

So, this is the launch stage. Again, this might not be a huge product launch, but what would be some ways, even on a micro scale, or a macro scale, that you guys can think of that would be considered launching, or putting something out there in the world.

Audience: Sharing on social media.

Diane Sanfilippo: Sharing on social media, exactly. I love this.

Audience: Blog post.

Diane Sanfilippo: Blog post, exactly. That’s launching. So I’m sure some of you are like, oh, that’s launching something? Yes. Before I ever sold anything to any of you in this room, before you ever bought my book, you probably read a blog post. You probably got to know me that way.

So it’s publishing, whether a book or a blog post, teaching, right now, sharing something on social media, selling something, releasing whatever it is, sending it. Maybe you just wrote an email, and you sent it. That’s a launch. You cross that off your list; you launched that email. That little Mail Chimp high five, it’s like my favorite thing.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Except when the link is wrong in the email; not my favorite. Everybody’s done that. You’re like, shoot! I already sent it. Opening your business, broadcasting, or even giving something away. Right? I’m sure a lot of you have gotten my free shopping lists from my website? Yes, no? If you haven’t {laughs} Free things, even giving that away; that’s a launch. You put it out there, and then you can get something back in terms of what’s going on in the cycle. So does this make sense to you guys?

Audience: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: So let me talk a little bit about the cycle of even something as simple as a post to social media. So, as I mentioned, if I post a recipe and get feedback on it, I’m paying attention, I’m listening, I’m kind of iterating on that the next time I post something.

So here’s something right now on Facebook, in the past, when we used to get great reach and be able to reach those one hundred whatever something thousand people on the page, the question was always, what is this? What brand of sausage is that? What vegetable is that? Wanting every detail. So at a certain point, it became a little bit exhausting to answer the question every time. So I would just put in the post exactly what I was eating, right? At some point you just have to do that.

Well then, Facebook reach started declining. I’m like, well I want people to engage, I’m not even going to tell them what this is, I’m just going to post a picture of this weird looking food so that everyone will ask me what it is, because I wanted to get that engagement.

That’s part of listening; not only to understanding what questions are going to come from the post, but understanding what Facebook is doing, and the fact that I need to get people to engage on the page. So giving every detail of information in the initial post may not be the right thing right now. I have not figured out Facebook, so don’t ask me for advice on what to do on Facebook. I have no idea. But that’s just one example.

Same thing with the books. As I mentioned, if I get feedback about something that’s going on that’s not working for people, even if somebody says this recipe didn’t work, instead of getting defensive right away, I think it’s very natural for us, when we are sort of type A; I think a lot of business owners are type A. We’re putting ourselves out there, we’re charging forward, we think that everything we do was the best. It was great, how could you think it was too expensive, or my recipe wasn’t great, or whatever it is. But I think it’s really important to listen to that feedback so that you’re taking some grain of truth out of it. Pun intended?

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Even something like Amazon reviews. I read every single review that’s written on Amazon of all of my books, because I think it’s important to know not just those 5 star reviews, but the 1 star and 2 star reviews. And this is true for anything that you’re putting out there. If you know that somebody has a complaint, if one person actually voices that complaint, there’s at least 10-20 other people who have the same complaint, so it’s important to listen to that, try not to get defensive about it, and try and see what’s true in there.

Sometimes, it just a hater. Sometimes it’s just somebody who wants to say something negative, and they’re putting it out there, and you have to ignore it. But I think it’s important to always see if there is some amount of truth to it.

Is there another example that you guys can think of that you’d like me to kind of walk through the process of how I would do that for some kind of post or some kind of product? Just throw something out.

Audience: Branding.

Diane Sanfilippo: Branding? So when it comes to branding, listening for branding, I think what’s really important there, it depends on the market and the type of product or service that you’re offering. But if you’re in a field like the paleo community, right, and you’ve got a new product that you want to launch, or maybe it’s a blog or a website, looking at what’s out there already and what can set you apart is always important. So if you create a logo, or a whole color scheme for your blog, and it looks just like everyone else’s, then no one is going to really be able to identify what you’re doing thereafter.

The other part too is, I know a lot of people ask me, if I’m going to name my business or my blog, should I call it something paleo or should I call it my name; what should I call it? I think it really depends on what you’re doing with that business. So this is where doing the labor part is really hiring someone at that point to help you with developing a logo and really getting the look and feel going. But if you’re not sure how to brand it in terms of what you’re calling the company, it’s important to think about where you’re going with the business.

For me, Balanced Bites is the website that I’ve had for forever, but I’m not going to be talking about food for forever, so at some point, I think it was last year, I decided to shift things to my name. So if you just type in, it’s going to take you to my website. I know,, they’ve all got, they’re branded by their name.

And I think that’s also a little bit of listening to what’s out there, but then listening to your own intuition on your direction of where you’re going to take things with your business to help you develop that. And then putting it out there and seeing how people respond. So one of the things I would consider; perhaps at the time, I don’t know if I would call it a mistake, but for something like Instagram, for example. How many of you guys are trying to grow your Instagram followers? For Instagram, for example, I think if you have your brand as your name, but you’re just getting started, nobody knows who you are. They don’t know your name. People don’t know my name; they used to call me Sarah, Danielle, every other blogger out there.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Which, you know, it’s fine. I’m not offended, I’m just like, that’s not my name, thank you very much. So at some point, when I decided to shift to be able to talk more about this stuff too, I changed it to my name but I definitely noticed a drop off in how quickly people were following me. Because Balanced Bites tells you very quickly, right away, what this person is going to be talking about. Probably going to be talking about food and nutrition, so if you want to follow food and nutrition, ok follow that.

If you’re just getting started, I actually think it’s better to keep something that connects you to your audience in the name of whatever it is that you’re doing. It’s just like years ago when we used to do branding for a lot of landscapers. The landscape company would be called M&C construction. We don’t know what that means. Construction is in the name, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the business. It’s somebody’s initials, and that doesn’t really tell me anything. So at that point, you need to revisit, kind of come up with a name that really talks more about what you’re offering. Hopefully that makes sense.

So I think we have, we’re almost at the 15 minute mark? Ok, so I’d rather take some more questions from you guys, because when I come to talks like this, I find that the questions are the most fun part. Do we want to pass the microphone around? That went faster than I thought it would be, but I like this part better. I’m sweating. I’ll repeat the question.

Audience Member: Hi. This is great, it’s a nice switch from hearing you talk about nutrition, which also is great. I recently started a blog, and I posted on my Facebook page. I don’t really understand how Instagram works yet. But how do you get your blog to be visible to more people and how do you get known on your blog?

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s tricky right now if you’re trying to take a blog post to Facebook and expecting tons of people to see that blog post. Years ago, that was really effective, but the most effective thing to do for your website now is search engine optimization. So that when people are searching the internet, they’re finding you for what’s relevant to what you’re talking about. So that can be done; there’s ton of information if you do a little Google search for search engine optimization. But you can do that for the site itself, and also by post and by page. So really getting the right keywords into your content and what you’re talking about. And there’s different strategies for that, but it varies depending on what it is that you’re teaching and talking about on the website. That’s really what I would say in terms of trying to get more exposure for that.

The other part, too, is probably connecting with more people. I know people right now; I get a lot of requests to have guest posts on my site. We don’t do it a lot right now, we may do it more in the future, but that’s something that cross posting with other bloggers who may have a higher following than you, or maybe lower. You don’t really know. Judging by a Facebook following or any social media following is tough, because somebody may have a ton of website traffic, but just may not have jumped on the social media thing at the right time. So connecting with other bloggers and cross posting and being able to support each other. I think that’s important.

Whatever stage you’re at, just because you may not be a close friend of mine, you know I’m friends with Bill and Hayley from Primal Palate; you know, we’re friends with each other and we’ll support each other. It’s hard to be able to support everybody who starts a blog. We just don’t have the time to all do it. But there’s always kind of a new crop, a new community of people who are starting a blog. There are probably at least 10 people in this room who are blogging now who are like, yes! Let’s share posts. Let’s help each other out.

You can also start a Facebook group. Maybe there’s people right outside this door, you guys can collect up and help each other. You start a group and start to help each other in that way, and that’s another way to share your posts across different people’s audiences.

Audience Member: What’s the number one thing you think we risk by choosing to capitalize on our passion?

Diane Sanfilippo: Stability is probably the number one thing you risk. I mean, that paycheck. The paycheck going every day and just knowing that you’ll get that check. But quite frankly, I don’t think anybody is safe, even when you go to a job every day. You could get laid off tomorrow, which I always think is the best blessing. If you got laid off, take it and do something else. But I think that’s what we risk. But I honestly believe when you put yourself in that situation where it’s sink or swim, you have to make it work. And for me, that’s what drives me the most. If I have to do the work to make that thing happen, if you’re passion is there you just go and do it.

And if you’re not that passionate, if you don’t have that, if what I’m saying is like, oh my god, I can’t imagine sacrificing an hour or two of sleep a night, or just really struggling for a period of time. If you can’t do that, then you’re probably not an entrepreneur, and that’s ok. That’s ok. And I would say of all the women, and it’s all women on my team, of all the women on my team I think they’re all entrepreneurial, and at some point some of them may do their own thing and maybe not, and that’s ok too. I would absolutely love for them to all stay on my team and be entrepreneurial, but yet not want that extra level of the stress, and the struggle, and the frustration that comes with being the one who’s in charge of all of it and has to stand up here and do this kind of thing. Not everybody wants to do that, or has to. And there’s value in being entrepreneurial even if you aren’t your own business owner. Does that make sense?

I was so entrepreneurial, every job I had, I mean every time I left they were always like, what can we do to make you stay. I’m like, this has nothing to do with you. It’s not you, it’s me, I have to go.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: But I’ve had companies try and make a new position for me because they didn’t want me to leave, they’re just like can we have you do this other thing instead, I’m like, no I’ve just got to go. Even the best jobs I’ve ever had, I had one boss I worked for that was kind of similar to the situation that we are with my company, but a very small company, I was the first full time employee that he had, and I was with him for 4 years in that company, building it. It was the graphic design company that I also then hired to help design the books that I put out. So it kind of goes full circle. I probably paid him back all the money he ever paid me. {laughs}

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But at the time, I was very entrepreneurial, and I didn’t just go and work on my own completely because I did want that stability. But then at a certain point in time, I need to break the shackles, I cannot be tied down to a job like that. If somebody’s like, you have to show up at this time every day, I’m like, no, no, no.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Appointments and scheduling; I’m like, what time is my talk? I don’t like to be scheduled, so there you go. I think it’s just the stability that you risk. But I don’t know how bad that even is in this day and age.

So many questions I love it!

Audience Member: This is really awesome to hear you talk today, very inspirational. I follow Gary Vaynerchuk as well, and you remind me of the female version of him.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: We’re all from New Jersey, me and Gary and Marie.

Audience Member: Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe that’s what it is. My question for you, very cool stories hearing about what you’ve done entrepreneurially. How old were you when you started your paleo food business, and what sport did you play in high school?

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I’m sweating so much. You can’t tell what sport I played by my build? I played soccer and volleyball mostly. I pretty much look like a soccer player. When I started the meal business, it was 2008, I think, and I was in the listen phase, I was researching, I was looking for corn plastic and anything that was biodegradable. I was in San Francisco so I was based there doing it, and that’s actually where Balanced Bites came from.

My elbow pits are sweating.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s how hot it is. {laughs} What is happening. Balanced Bites, the name for it actually came when I was, I actually worked with a nutritionist for my own health, I was trying to figure out what to eat to run a half marathon, and she had this spreadsheet to calculate what kind of macronutrient breakdown I should eat. I can’t give you my whole story, because we don’t have a week. I’ve lived like 3 lifetimes already, business wise and all of that. So I give you the really high level version.

Anyway, I worked with a nutritionist, and she had this spreadsheet. And I was like, oh if I could just balance this out for different people based on their needs, and also I studied from Paul Chek the holistic lifestyle coaching certification, he talks about metabolic typing. Which not everybody is really into it, but he talked about protein type versus carb type. Basically, I’m like, everybody wants more protein. So I would balance these meals for different people, and that’s where the name Balanced Bites came from. I still have the cooler bags I used to deliver meals in. We take them to Whole Foods now.

But yeah, that’s where the business kind of started and that was 2008. And I only ran it for about 3 months, because after that much time I was cooking 2 days a week. I know anybody here who is doing a food based business, our friend Hima from Tin Star Foods over here is like, yes this is me. But working in a kitchen, I was working maybe 6-8 hours a couple of days a week in the kitchen, and I was just exhausted. I would eat a chocolate bar before I would start cooking because I couldn’t even think about digesting food, I was so stressed and anxious to cook. I was like, oh my god if I ruin all this grass fed beef…

I don’t know who I thought I was starting a food business. I was not chef Pete Servold with Pete’s Paleo; I was just, I don’t know, I just decided to start it. That’s what I’m talking about, that whole fearlessness. I was like, ok so I need to take a food safety class, and I need some recipes, and I just kind of got it going. I guess, I don’t know, I was probably not quite 30 at the time. But that was not my first business.

I have to say, too, in between everything, if you have a skill set that is marketable that you can fall back on at any point in time. So I mentioned, I was a graphic designer for a long time. I actually hired someone to design most of this presentation. I put some little pieces into it, but just because I can doesn’t mean I do it now. But as a graphic designer, when I left my last job, I always knew, we’re talking about that security, I always knew that if I needed to do something, I could work on some graphic design projects.

You have to kind of kick your pride to the curb and just not be too good for something. I’ve worked part time jobs in between all these things that I’ve done. When I left, my first time leaving the corporate world was, I had only worked maybe 2 years out of college, I worked at GAP at their headquarters doing inventory planning, I worked at the Children’s Place doing the same thing, and I left and I worked at Trader Joe’s for a while. That was the best. That was so much fun for me.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I worked at Trader Joe’s for a while; then when I left the other corporate job, for graphic design, I went and worked at Lululemon for a while. Also fun.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t have an issue with pride like that. I’m like, so what, what’s the worst that can happen, I’ll move home with my parents. Well a couple of years later I did, and while I was finishing Practical Paleo, I was living with my parents. So what? I don’t know, I don’t have an issue with that kind of thing. If you have someone who can help you, obviously not everybody has that situation, but I was like, I’ll just live in the room I grew up in. It was a lot smaller when I went back.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: This room is really tiny.

Audience Member: It’s a huge honor to meet you, you’re like a celebrity to me.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s so weird.

Audience: {laughs}

Audience Member: I’ve heard every podcast that you and Liz do.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awe, thank you.

Audience Member: And it has taught me so much to the point where I feel like, I know more than most people now, I’m not certified, but starting my own blog, very early days. I have a real job, it pays the mortgage.

Diane Sanfilippo: Blogging is a real job.

Audience: {laughs}

Audience Member: Well not, I mean in the sense that, blogging right now is not going to pay Wells Fargo when the mortgage bill comes through.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes.

Audience Member: So the question is, if we spend that up front labor time providing valuable content to people, at what point do you transition to making the money, how do you do it, and how do you pay the mortgage so you give up the other job.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s a really good question. Ok, so a couple of things here. Making that transition I definitely believe in working to the point where you are like, I’m sort of breaking, and you do have to start with your blog monetizing it. There are a lot of ways to do that. For those of you who aren’t monetizing a blog yet, we’ll probably talk a little bit more about this in the workshop, and I’m sure I’ve started to talk about it on the podcast and I’ll talk more about it there, too. But signing up for Amazon Associates is number one. Not every state allows it, there’s a few that don’t. But every affiliate program that you can get involved in.

I was talking about Tin Star; some people are signing up for an affiliate from them. Kasandrinos extra virgin olive oil, one of my really good friends. Any company that you love, don’t be an affiliate if you do not believe in it 100%. I will not promote anything that I’m not 100% behind at least to the best of my knowledge and ability. Always something can happen, but promoting anything that you love in every blog post that you have. And make sure people know, you know, if they click on something there’s an affiliate link there, and finding ways to do that until you create something that you can sell.

I was blogging for a long time before I, and I was putting out the fats and oil charts and all kinds of things that I felt like people would love and use before I started selling anything, and the first thing I sold was the 21-Day Sugar Detox as an eBook, and it was $21 and it was a Google check out thing, and I don’t know how many people bought it but a bunch of people bought it the very first time I put it out there. And I was kind of shocked at how many people were waiting; people bought it just because they wanted to say thank you for the information I had given them for the past year or two, however long they had been following me.

I think when you get to that point. And the other reason I like this question is a lot of people start blogging and they feel like they need to write an eBook or do something that they sell right away, and I’m like, it’s too soon. If they don’t know, like, and trust you… People have to know, like, and trust you before they’re going to give you their money. All of you probably, if you bought something, a book of mine or whatever, you were following me first, or a friend maybe referred you and that’s kind of that social proof of validating what I’m talking about.

But I think people see bloggers who maybe started working years and years ago. You didn’t see all the work we put in ahead of time, you just saw the book come out, or whatever it was, and there are so many hours and so many years that went into all of that. So I think taking it slowly and recognizing that if you do have a job, don’t quit it right away. But if you get to the point where you’re like, ok my blog is making money but I don’t have enough time to make it go to that next level, or I want to write this eBook or create a program, whatever it is, teach a seminar.

There’s not a lot of people teaching seminars these days, and every week some new gym is asking for a seminar. I’m like, I’m sorry I don’t do it anymore. If someone wants to start teaching seminars. {laughs} Anybody?

But I think it’s important to do that work and then get to that point where you do have something for sale and you can say, ok, if I leave my job, I won’t have the same amount of money, obviously, but now I have to make this thing work. The other side of that, it’s not obviously going to work with a mortgage that you can’t just quickly change what’s happening with your mortgage. But every other expense you have revisit what you’re spending on everything. Because everything you have a bill for every month; of course a couple of dollars here and there isn’t going to add up as quickly as your mortgage, and maybe a car payment or insurance, all that kind of stuff.

When I quit my last job, I wasn’t supporting family, I didn’t have a mortgage, but I was paying $2000 in rent, and moved to a place that was $1200. It was smaller, not as nice place, it didn’t have a beautiful view, but I was like, if I’m going to quit my job, I need to pay a lot less in rent every month because I don’t have money coming in yet. So I think whatever that means for you, if it means not going to Starbucks every day, whatever it is, you have to be ready to make those sacrifices to not get your manicure every week or two, or whatever. I was painting my nails myself for a while.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Anybody who follows me on Instagram, I have a thing about my nails. But those are the little things that, if you’re not willing to give that up then it’s not maybe the right thing to do. But you have to just be willing to make those sacrifices.

So many questions!

Audience Member: Hi Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: Hi.

Audience Member: Thanks so much for what you do. I’ve heard you talk a little bit about the importance of getting systems in place early on in your business.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Audience Member: Your financial systems, I’m revealing a major weakness in myself. I’ve also heard that businesses can fail much more quickly by growing too fast than growing too slowly. I feel like my business has done that exact thing, and I have not taken the time to really put the systems in place and now I’m kind of at a, wow, I need.

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s the business that you have?

Audience Member: I’m an in-person paleo health and fitness coach.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok.

Audience Member: I’m working 90 hours a week now, and it’s almost like I need to back up and say, I’ve got to get all these systems in place.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so two things here. Number one, 90 hours a week is not ok. I was talking about sacrifice, but that’s not ok. Before I get to the systems, I’m going to get to the real problem. You’re trying to earn money by exchanging your time for dollars, and you’re never going to earn the money that you feel you’re worth by doing that. I’ve told everybody on my team that just a week or two ago; I was like, I want everybody to start working on something they can sell, because even if I keep raising your salary, it’s never going to take you there.

I had the same experience with my boss years ago, who he kept raising me all the time, but I never felt like it was enough and it had nothing to do with him or the money I was getting paid, it was because I had more to share and I felt like there was money that could be coming in to me for that. So there needs to be a way for you to earn money that doesn’t require an exchange of dollars for your time.

I told that to people; I was doing business coaching when I first started my blog I had a lot of women who had gone through the IIN program, the nutrition school, they do a really good job teaching the marketing skills but, I don’t know, they wanted to learn something from me so I did business coaching. That was the first thing I told everyone, that’s what I tell everybody anyway, because you’ll never get there. That’s number one.

Systems, I have two views on the systems. Number one, if it’s a really expensive system, if there’s this like application, oh I really want to use it, but it’s really expensive, don’t use it until you have to. Because if you can’t afford it, there’s no reason to do it. It doesn’t seem like that’s the situation you’re in; cross that bridge when you come to it, right.

So you’ve come to that bridge, you just have to invest the time, whether it’s a payment system or I don’t know what kind of system you feel like you need, but if it’s a way to take payments that’s faster instead of taking checks, or whatever it is, spend the time to figure it out and just take a little bit of time away from the grind. Because now, she’s to the other end of the extreme, really grinding it out, and now needs to pull back a little bit.

Which is actually a really good place to be, because you’re like, ok I have a lot of demand, people want my services, but now I need to kind of cool down a little and figure out how to make this manageable for me. I think that’s a better position to be in than sitting in a warehouse of product that nobody wants, you know building demand.

Any of you guys in my Sugar Detox coaching group but not yet certified? A few people. I think I have somewhere between 2 and 3,000 people in a group on Facebook who are waiting to find out when I open enrollment for this coaching program that I started. I’m letting them wait, because we haven’t finished everything; there’s parts of the website that need to get finished and it’s kind of out of my hands with the developer, but I’m like, ok you guys can hang out and wait because when the infrastructure is there, then we can handle it.

For me, and what I’m doing, I don’t need to just get people in now, I can wait and build that infrastructure and then bring them in, but I did start it as a beta group, so I had a bunch of people come in and we were kind of building things at the same time. So it really depends on where you’re at with your business. So you’re at the place where I would say slow down a little, take a day off here and there, and just get the systems put in place.

But I definitely was not the kind of person who, at the beginning, every system was perfect, I’m terrible with paperwork and anything with my bookkeeper, she has access to all my bank accounts, everything, because I would not pay my bills on time. I’m constantly traveling. The one time I missed a payment, I was like, I need somebody to pay for this. I’m not paying a late fee, I’m not dealing with any of that. Especially if you have the money to pay the bill, and it’s late, there’s no reason for that. So as soon as things start slipping, you really have to make sure those are under control.

I wore real deodorant this year, too. I never do.

Audience: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s not helping! {laughs} I was like, oh this stuff works.

Audience Member: Hi Diane

Diane Sanfilippo: Hi.

Audience Member: So I’m curious when you’re first starting a blog, and you have nothing yet and you’re thinking about how you want to buck it and categorize things, you’re already starting to think about things that far off in the future. Do you have any advice in terms of where you start, or is it just kind of give it what you’ve got…

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, I wouldn’t think so far ahead.

Audience Member: Ok.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think, when I started blogging, I had no idea I was going to write the books that I wrote. I had no idea. I don’t think or plan anything more than at most a few months or a year ahead. My poor team is like, we know!

Audience: {laughs}

We are going to plan more for next year! This fall. But I would say it’s one thing that I feel like I’m not that good at, and I’m trying to spend more time thinking about it, but because I’ve been, for the past several years, maybe four or five years in the very strong labor/production phase, producing so many materials and books and all this content, and then we’ll be able to kind of step back and look at how we’re organizing that and what we’re doing with it.

But if you’re just starting to blog, I would definitely not get caught up in, what categories do I need to post for, and what do I need to talk about? That’s just fear and it’s just going to stop you because you’re afraid of what you should be doing, and you just have to create something, just get it out and share it and go through that cycle over and over again. Put it out there, see what people say, see how their response is. If you typically get a bunch of hits, and nobody cared about that thing, put out a recipe and people will go read and then try the next thing.

People always like recipes; you guys ask for a lot of recipes. But that’s the kind of cycle. And go through this cycle every time, when you put it out. But I wouldn’t worry if it’s something that people want or not right away, just kind of get it out there, and then go through this process every time. I’m drawing this little circle.

Audience: {laughs}

Audience Member: Hi Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m not choosing the question people.

Audience Member: She’s right here.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yep.

Audience Member: So, I live in a very small town in southeast Texas. It’s very slow moving, not progressive. Basically, we have a small food business there. It’s really hard to get people to care, because of where we are, the local where we’re located. How do you get people to give a damn about their health, really?

Diane Sanfilippo: You don’t.

Audience Member: You don’t?

Diane Sanfilippo: No. And this is something I took really early on from Robb, because he would just be like, don’t try to fight the fights or inspire and motivate people who just don’t care. Even in a small town, if you wanted to give a free talk somewhere, and it’s a library or it’s a gym or it’s something. If you have anything and you get people to come who want to hear about it, cool. But you can’t be the one who’s going to motivate that internal change for people. There has to be something that’s motivating them, and then be available.

So be there, be blogging, be doing whatever, be putting the content out. Be where they are, so if you have people who you think might be interested if there’s a gym, even if it’s not in the small town, if it’s in a neighboring town, put up a flyer. I think a lot of times with the internet we forget that there are people right near us that we can help. And doing things like putting up flyers or putting business cards somewhere, that still reaches people. You have no idea, there are people who are like, oh yeah I came to your talk at the library like 6 years ago. They’re still on my emailing list, I see them at events now, it’s not inconsequential just that one or two or ten people that you might meet and reach, because then they’ll extend that further beyond.

I think you can’t force it. I don’t know, I think it’s tough if you’re in a really small market and you’re especially trying to do a food thing, especially if it’s fresh food of any kind, then I might reevaluate and do that whole listen phase again. If you’re putting it out there and you’re not getting a response, take that as something to reconsider how you’re approaching it and where you are. Maybe you should move to a bigger area.

Audience: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m like, I really think when you’re an entrepreneur, I go back to having a mortgage. Nothing is permanent. I don’t care if you have a mortgage; if you have a family, or whatever, you can’t do things immediately. But if there’s a life you want to live, and you’re saying I can’t because, you’re just creating excuses that, that’s your own restriction. It’s your own restriction.

You can sell a house. It might not be quick. You can move to a new city. It might not be quick. You know what I mean? I’m not saying everybody has to do that. I think to build these confinements on the walls of the structure of society, this mortgage is a 30-year thing, or I have this job and I have a family, and I have to pay for this…

Yeah. People all have responsibilities. So just make a plan. And if it’s going to be a year or five years, whatever it is, just make that plan. But if you don’t do that, you’re just going to be stuck, and there’s always going to be some reason why you can’t or why you won’t or don’t do it. I mean, I can’t imagine staying in that position and not making those changes, because we just have one shot.

I think there was like, this is totally not the presentation that it was supposed to be because I’m missing a quote from Steve Jobs, because he talks about not being afraid, because we’re all going to die. That’s the only thing that at this point, I’m afraid that I won’t do everything I want to do, I won’t see everything I want to see and live my life to the fullest. If there’s anything else you’re afraid of, it doesn’t really make sense. Because that’s really the end of it. So you have to make the most of it right now. This is all we have. Whatever your faith or whatever you believe, I believe this is what we have, so we have to make the most of it now and live for now and not worrying about the future. If you’re worried, as Tony Robbins says, massive action. That’s what you really need to do, take it back to take massive action, and get started with something now.

Presenter: I think that’s all the time we have for questions you guys.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ahh! Thank you!

Audience: {Applause}

Diane Sanfilippo: So if you guys want to… Thank you. If you guys want to hear more, I did start the Build a Badass Business podcast and you can check that out on iTunes and follow me on Instagram. I started a Build a Badass Business one, but I’m not doing a ton there yet, but you can follow it. And obviously my Diane Sanfilippo. Thanks guys!


Diane Sanfilippo: Alright guys, that’s all I’ve got for you 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 pretty regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. And you can follow me on Instagram @DianeSanfilippo. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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