We’re going to talk about real, tangible business growth and how to make that growth consistent but first, we need to address a big problem.
We need to address how many of you are being seduced by influencer marketing in the online business space.
I remember the first time I heard the term “celebrity entrepreneur”, and was so confused.
I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs.
They were entrepreneurs because, for one reason or another, they were unemployable.
My great grandfather was a tailor in Nazi Germany.
Nobody would hire a Jew in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s.
My grandfather was a self-employed author/illustrator because he didn’t want anyone to have control over his art.
My father has issues with authority figures and doesn’t like people telling him what to do.
He spent much of his early 20’s shuffling from job to unemployment to the next job just long enough so he could collect unemployment again.
So, celebrity entrepreneurs made ZERO sense to me, and I immediately rejected this term as bullshit.
But nonetheless, these influencers prevail in the online space and they often peddle promises of atypical results in atypical timeframes.
Before we address this problem, I want to preface this conversation by saying it’s all of our responsibility to talk about how there is a fine line in marketing and sometimes good people step over that line, unintentionally.
And maybe some people step over that line intentionally, but that’s not for me to be judge and jury on.
I feel like it is my responsibility to help my community become more informed and discerning buyers.
I, personally, take responsibility for not being more outspoken on this topic in the past.
The conversation we are going to have today is the conversation I have with my clients and my colleagues but I’ve been reluctant to share it publicly.
- I do my very best to stay far away from the things we are going to talk about today.
- I don’t ever want to come across as judgmental. I do my very best to be non-judgmental. I believe everyone is on their own journey and I hold compassion and deep empathy for the human experience. I’m the type of person who looks for the wins, the positives, the lessons learned even in the middle of the mess. I know there are people who are out there who look to criticize, critique, and tear apart others and their work. That somehow by finding the flaws in others, they justify their own decisions and enoughness. That by nitpicking and judging the work of others, they can then go do the exact opposite and make their work perfect. That is not who I am nor do I ever want to associate with that type of thinking.
It is not my intention to drag anyone through the mud and I DO believe these folks have good intentions.
But, we have to consider how we are allowing them to influence and impact our choices and decisions in our businesses.
As leaders need to talk about this…
There are a lot of problems with our current narrative around entrepreneurship.
If you are in online business circles where the entrepreneur influencer is marketing to you how possible, how fast, and how perfect they have risen to where they are in their business, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
It usually includes an alluring rags to riches story with highly stylized photos and a carefully curated brand identity.
The copy starts with the “I’m just a girl that enter humble/simple beginnings and is now living a perfect sometimes curated to look imperfect life”
I know you think I’m talking about one particular person but I’m not because these influencers are popping up like a legion of stepford online business goddesses.
These women (and men) uphold their ideal that growth happens super fast because every headline in their PR Arsenal is designed to include the tight timeline in which their results happened.
Because it’s what will HOOK you. It makes good media, polarizing copy, and makes things interesting.
I actually don’t have a problem when people do that, because I know it’s my responsibility to discern whether or not I believe it, want to read it and then make the choice to give that person my attention.
Sometimes the headline is true and sometimes it isn’t.
That’s where I need to do a gut check.
Now on the topic of results, they can happen fast — 100%.
But typically not the way they are being portrayed.
Because there is a lot they aren’t telling you in their rags to riches story or their income claims.
This doesn’t make them a bad person, but it does mean everyone needs to be an informed and discerning buyer.
Here are some of the things they might be omitting…
They certainly aren’t telling you how fucking hard they are hustling, how anxious they are, or how depressed they have become while chasing that dream life.
Or they tell you but they make it a big, internet, vulnerability confession — remember when last year everything looked perfect, I have a confession. It was actually the worst 6 months of my life so I burned everything down, started from scratch, dropped the hustle and still made 7 figures.
They typically aren’t telling you how much they have spent on ads.
They aren’t telling you their financial breakdown, especially their profit.
They aren’t telling you about their costly mistakes. And they aren’t telling you how ensconced they are in seedy internet marketing networks.
Because they most likely don’t understand how to run an actual business or what their financials actually mean.
They aren’t telling you about how their customer delivery has failed during times of rapid growth. It always does. That’s the risk that comes with fast growth or scaling for scaling sake.
They don’t share their actual lifetime value of a customer or how they need to keep feeding the new leads monster.
They don’t share their refund rate.
Since most of these folks rely on massive amounts of sales, they sell to a broad audience at a low dollar value — what is the rate of default payments?
And how much time and money is spent on customer service for refunds and default payments?
Affiliates — there is nothing inherently wrong with an affiliate model, you just have to understand what that means — are they using affiliates, how much do they actually keep, meaning profit after paying for ads, paying for affiliates and paying a person/team to manage the affiliates because now your affiliates are an entire customer base that needs to be managed.
For all their transparency and inside looks at their lifestyle, they give you remarkably few tangible takeaways from their podcasts and webinars regarding how their business operates.
I was watching a Fyre Festival documentary this weekend and what really struck me is how they used influencer marketing to sell out this festival where some tickets cost upwards of $100,000. They defined influencer as someone who monetizes their identity.
Psychology today defines identity as:
the many relationships people cultivate, such as their identity as a child, friend, partner, and parent. It involves external characteristics over which a person has little or no control, such as height, race, or socioeconomic class. Identity also encompasses political opinions, moral attitudes, and religious beliefs, all of which guide the choices one makes on a daily basis.
This is what gives me so much pause.
Yes, people want to buy from people.
It’s important for customers to know, like and trust the BUSINESS they are engaging with and me, the leader of the business.
However, I believe the problem becomes when we are monetizing our identity more than our knowledge, skills and abilities that allow us to provide a credible service.
When my clients buy coaching or a skill-building program from me, they aren’t buying ME.
They are buying my 20+ years of experience, the skills and knowledge I have gained along the way, my ability to teach them that skill or support them in their desired result.
Recently, a specific influencer has found herself in a big mess — Rachel Hollis — first it was plagiarizing mommy bloggers, then it was plagiarizing Maya Angelou, then she posted a weird picture of tomatoes and talked about anti-racism and then there was the post about her and her husband separating.
Now, I am NOT a fan of Rachel Hollis and I’m also not going to vilify her simply because I don’t know a thing about her.
I don’t follow her. I don’t read her books. I don’t listen to her podcast. I don’t buy tickets to her events. I’m not her target audience.
However, I did go and scope out the comments on her IG post where she announces her separation from Dave. SO many women saying they felt duped and mad that they paid her money to teach them about marriage and now she’s getting divorced.
THIS is the actual problem with monetizing your identity and not your skills and actual expertise.
Because I know plenty of relationship counselors/coaches/therapists who have been divorced and are credible experts in their field. Sometimes, their experience, pain, grief, loss of a relationship actually makes them better, more compassionate, and empathetic in their work.
But Rachel didn’t have any expertise in that area other than the “show”, the literal show she and Dave put on as influencers — that monetized their lifestyle and their identities.
They are just the newest form of reality TV.
To the people feeling duped, it really sucks when heroes and heroines fall from grace but why are we putting these everyday humans who are failable on pedestals?
Whose responsibility is it to vet the people you consume content from, learn from, buy from?
What if we all stopped looking to be distracted from our lives?
Tuned it out of reality TV and tuned into what’s going on within our 4 walls?
What if we hit the Delete button?
Stopped giving our time and energy to it?
I understand that in some cases there is inspiration to be found in these influencers — but often with inspiration comes emulation.
And with emulation comes comparison.
Maybe you’ve tried to emulate these people in some form or fashion because those results are just too good.
Maybe you have bought their products in a moment of low confidence because you thought they MUST have the answer.
Maybe you followed their steps only to find out how far away from where you actually want to be — away from your values, your vision and your truest self.
I even know people – my clients – who have followed these steps and they worked. Until they didn’t.
The biggest problem with any influencer, whether it’s in the business space or a different space is the inherent power dynamic. The power dynamic is set up in a way where they have influence OVER you.
The other day on a sales call, I got a great question — “what do you expect of me as your client?”
I’m not a big fan of the word expectations but I get what she was getting at — what am I responsible for in our coach/client relationship?
And the first thing I said was I expect you to be my equal — to stand shoulder to shoulder with me — understand that your strengths and gifts are no less than mine. We simply have different strengths. Don’t put me on a pedestal. Enter this relationship feeling empowered.
She got chills when I said that and I meant every word.
I do believe most of these influencers sit blissfully unaware of the power dynamic in their positioning.
I do believe they are trying to have the biggest possible impact and do the most amount of good in the world.
And what fun to be able to monetize your identity. To monetize WHO you are, your lifestyle and make money just for being you.
Takes the pressure off from having to actually deliver actual results.
Let’s talk about results — I was listening to a podcast the other day about how to make 6 figures a month and this influencer said the word results a gazillion times in between giggles but gave no actual substance as to what the results were or how to get them.
At which point, I started to wonder less about what was wrong with this influencer — it was clear she had no idea what she was talking about — but I started to why do people give her money? Why do they follow her?
Are they buying the polish and shiny marketing? Are they buying from her because they want to BE like her so they are trying to buy her identity?
I get the allure.
I have found myself drawn to hyper-stylized graphics, the perceived perfection, and the big, fast, eye-grabbing results.
Especially, when I have been in a place of low confidence, going through a personal or professional challenge or feeling poorly about myself.
But here is what I want you to do. I want you to trace their mentors — who have they learned from?
What trade secrets are they implementing and then teaching to others?
Who are their friends? You know? The ones in those pictures that you inspect carefully to see who’s who?
Are they bragging about the impossible sums of money they have spent on a specific mentor and now you can access them too because this person has worked with them?
You know the claim — “it costs $100,000 per hour to work with so and so and now they’re co-hosting this thing with me”
Who have they learned from who has actual business acumen or is it a bunch of marketing tactics pieced together or worse someone who is known for predatory marketing tactics?
For me, this is energy. If I take in said internet darlings energy, I’m also taking in the energy of all the people they have taken in, and do I want that?
I’m incredibly discerning with my money. If I give them my money, what do I think they will do with it?
Do we share the same values?I hope at this point you see that your thoughts on business growth are heavily influenced by marketing messages that may or may not be true.
What if your business growth was slow or moderate but steady and consistent? Can you get equally excited over something so mundane that the sexy allure of fast, fast, fast doesn’t distract you as much?
Let’s talk about what will get you massive results at a more moderate pace.
Tune out the noise: This is an actual strategy of one of my clients this year and it’s working better than either of us expected. She’s someone who was plugged into a lot of gurus and mentors AND it worked for her. She is an absolute dynamo when it comes to implementation so some of the courses really played to her strengths. But she instinctively knew what got her here wasn’t going to get her there. So we pivoted her strategy and removed her from allll the groups, programs, gurus, and essentially the noise so that she could listen to her own knowledge AND guidance with me as a sounding board, brainstorm partner, and blindspot highlighter. Her results this year have been phenomenal and are allowing her to support her family at a new level and even take advantage of interest rates right now and buy a home.
Put YOU at the forefront of your strategy: Avoid getting sucked into other people’s templates and strategies. Don’t build it like they have built it. Build your business in a way that honors all of who you are — your likes, dislikes, strengths, experiences, how you like to work. Lots of strategies will work – -there are infinite ways to make money — infinite products to sell, services to offer, strategic partnerships to be made. The strategy that will work is the one that you’re excited to show up for and commit to over and over and over again. For more on my philosophy that The Strategy is You, listen to https://theboldleadershiprevolution.com/the-strategy-is-you/
CEO Debrief –– create a regular review process so you have a short feedback loop to help you assess what’s working, what’s not working, review your performance as a leader and have some solitude for self-reflection. I highly recommend our audio masterclass called The Most Overlooked Business System. This system has personally helped me 10x my business in 5 years which is in my mind a moderate pace although it feels like it happened fast. Each year I see consistent and steady growth and I contribute 80% of my growth to this one system.
You can find the masterclass at theboldleadershiprevolution.com/masterclass
SLOW — Slow down. Period. And when you think you have slowed down, slow down some more. People tell me alllll the time that they admire my hustle. That I get shit done. I had a mentor ask me once “Tara, how do you haul balls the way you do?” She was from Montana and I absolutely chuckle when I think of that phrase “haul balls”.
I appreciate that people admire my hustle but good lord, I spend a lot of time in rest, quiet, reflection, strategic thinking. My strategies are simple and my primary strategy is slow down so you can speed up.
Which is why we have created the SLOW model which we are incorporating into all of our work. This model takes something you most likely know logically and helps you put it into practice.
SLOW stands for step back and reflect
Lower pressure and expectations
Own the Now
We use it to help our clients reduce overwhelm, and it’s a tool we use inside of The BRAVE Society.
If you’re someone who is looking to grow a sustainable, legitimate business that generates real profit so that you can thrive no matter what, you are going to want to get on the waitlist for The BRAVE Society. We open doors in September — this is where you get the tools and accountability to create massive growth at a moderate pace.
Join the waitlist for The BRAVE Society right here.
Important links to share:
Listen in on CEO Debriefs and Get 10 BOLD Questions for your own debrief.
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