How a Family Breadwinner Created Her Savings and Found Her Professional Development Home

How a Family Breadwinner Created Her Savings and Found Her Professional Development Home

Hey everyone. It’s Tara Newman, and we are here with The Bold Profit Academy Case Study series. That is what I am calling this because we are interviewing some of the really amazing, genuinely amazing women in the program to share their professional development experiences so that really more people can hear what it’s like to actually participate in a business-building accelerator program that isn’t sketch-city. Right, Danielle?

Danielle Levy: Right.

Tara Newman: Yeah. I’m here today with Danielle Levy. Thank you for joining me, Danielle. Why don’t you tell everybody who you are, what you do, and who your best-fit client is?

Danielle Levy: Yeah, so I am an integrator fractional COO. I love to hang out on people operations and all things people-oriented to make businesses grow and thrive. My audience is B2B and B2C, six, seven, and maybe not quite eight-figure businesses.

Tara Newman: Alright. Awesome. I love you because you and I do have a similar background, almost exactly the same. Tell me what you were doing before you started your business.

Danielle Levy: I was burnt out and miserable with what I was doing. I spent probably close to 20 years working in ad agencies, design studios, communications, consulting firms, and I was completely burnt out and I thought, “Well, I might as well go to graduate school,” got an MBA, came out of graduate school even more burnt out than I was when I went in. Then I said, “You know what, I have a milestone birthday. I’m going to celebrate it in a way that feels really good to me because I’m just tired and burnt out.” I keep saying that word but that’s all that I was. I had a happenstance introduction that launched my business.

Tara Newman: Amazing, amazing. What was the aspiration, just now curious hearing your story, because this is the story of the women that are in the program, that are the women that I work with, established experts, have had a traditional nine-to-five, and didn’t leave because they wanted to start some seven-figure or eight-figure business but left that in necessity. They were burnt out, they were emotionally drained, physically exhausted, and mentally overloaded. When you left, what was the aspiration?

Danielle Levy: Yeah, I mean, I think for me, I always have had this mindset of if I work hard enough, if I do enough things, if I show up enough, then it’s going to get me somewhere. I don’t even know where I thought that was. There were two things that I saw happening. One was I would get there, wherever the fictitious there was, and I was like, “This is more of the same garbage,” or two, I would fall into some reorg or someone’s best friend would become the vice president, whatever, and there would be a reshuffle. It was like, no matter how hard I worked, there were so many things that were beyond my control and so many things that I didn’t agree with that I saw happening that I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Tara Newman: So you’re just looking for something better?

Danielle Levy: Yeah, absolutely.

Tara Newman: Something better, something that was in your control where you had some autonomy. I hear that a lot from women, especially right now, as so many small business owners are considering going and getting a job just due to the stress load that everybody’s been under for the last few years. When they go and they’re like, “Okay, I’m going to go back,” because they would be making six figures in their nine-to-five in a traditional setting, you certainly would be, I would be, almost everybody would be, at this point, making that level of salary, when they start to really look at it, they don’t want to lose that autonomy and that agency over their time freedom, over the way they work, and over their choices that they’re making and the decisions that they have to make.

Danielle Levy: Sure, and the other thing that I would add is I was the primary breadwinner in our family and I had two really young kids. When you’re sitting in meetings with your boss or with your colleagues, and they’re talking about diversifying our client base because we can’t have 80% of our team working on X client or 90% of our team working on that client, it was like the light bulbs were going off and I was like, “Well, then why would I put stock in 100% of my revenue coming from one source?”

As I saw more reorgs and acquisitions and all of these things that happen, I was like, “Well, this is getting scarier and scarier because 100% of our income is dependent on this one thing that I can only control to an extent,” and that as a mom, and as a professional became a really, really scary thing for me. That was probably what really pushed me to say that I have to do something about this.

Tara Newman: That’s really interesting. Because so many people believe that their job provides more stability and security than a small business and I think it’s the opposite. What I’m hearing you say is you felt similar to that, that that didn’t completely secure you either and that you would like to have that line of sight and that control over those decisions.

Danielle Levy: Yeah, absolutely. It was interesting, I worked in a lot of startups, and there’s maybe some risk in startups. I worked in some really established companies. No matter what company I landed at, it always had that same feeling of changes on the horizon. You don’t know who’s going to be reporting to who or whatever’s going on.

Tara Newman: Sure. Yep. I totally understand that. Now I want to lead people into that very first conversation we had because it’s a part of the story that we’re going to tell today. Danielle was referred to me by a colleague, a mutual colleague, and she joined the waitlist for The Bold Profit Academy. I sent my typical email out to people who join the waitlist for The Bold Profit Academy, and we booked a time to chat. When we got on that call, first of all, what was happening where you’re like, “I need to talk to you or I’m thinking about joining this program,” what was the urgency there?

Danielle Levy: Sure. When I transitioned into doing what I’m doing now, I had a lot of insecurity. It was a new playground, there were new terms, who were these new clients and all that thing. I had to reconcile my corporate professional experience with this new environment. Once I did that, I knew I wanted more. I was referred to a mastermind by a very, very trusted colleague, and I said, “I want to make sure this is a true mastermind with women that one up level. I’ve been in some coaching programs, they weren’t the right fit for me. I’m very self-motivated. I didn’t need a coach, per se.”

This was my first major investment. The group ended up being very, very small and ended up very, very cookie. I didn’t love the person that was running in. I didn’t see a lot of learning happening, nor did I see a lot of community happening.

Tara Newman: What did you see happening? I’m just curious. If you didn’t see learning, community, and that mutual support, what was happening?

Danielle Levy: A lot of individual conversation.

Tara Newman: Oh, that’s the clicky part that you said.

Danielle Levy: Yeah. It was so and so knew what so and so was doing in their business. When you got on a group call, it was like I wasn’t really part of the conversation. There wasn’t an agenda. There wasn’t teaching that was happening. It was show up and was a lot of like what you see on Facebook, like, “Let’s throw a virtual dance party,” or “Cheers, we made it.” There wasn’t enough depth for me to it.

Tara Newman: Okay great. It locked up, thanks.

Danielle Levy: So then I went to the other extreme, I’d been to a very well-known event in the industry. I went in there saying, “I’m not going to drink the Kool-Aid,” but I was with a couple of clients, I came out, and I very deliberately said, “Is this right for me? Because I’ve just been in this environment, and the Kool-Aid is being poured for me. Am I going to step into this?” I made a very conscious choice that yes, this was the right choice for me.

I was a number. I don’t even know that I had a number. I was part of an uncontrolled crowd of people that were changing their systems and there were coaches constantly being assigned. I’m a very organized person. I was like, “I couldn’t keep track of my mentor is here on this day and this coaching is on this day.” Aside from the logistics, which I couldn’t get my head around, this was double the investment of the first group, I couldn’t quite figure out what the teaching was all about.

It was a game of how do we take technology and make it work for us. Where’s the silver bullet, I guess, is how I felt about it. All of the money that I spent, which was the biggest investment that I had made, I didn’t know where I fit into any of it and everyone that I talked to would shuffled me off to somebody else. It was too big.

Tara Newman: How did you feel about what they were teaching in that group? Whatever you were being taught or whatever you were being supported with, no matter how chaotic it was, you mentioned Kool-Aid so immediately I’m thinking, “This is one of those internet marketing ces pity.

Danielle Levy: It was and I had those suspicions before I signed up for it, but having been to the live event, and having talked to many of the other folks in the program that I knew, I was like, “Okay, this reputation has just taken on a life of its own. This is actually right for me.” But it was just a marketing tactic. I’m not even calling it a marketing strategy, I’m calling it a marketing tactic.

Tara Newman: Yeah. Just like darts at a dart board kind of.

Danielle Levy: Yeah. There was a lot of, “Well, this is what your numbers say. Go back and work on it yourself.” Well, my numbers say this because I did my best job. It was very bizarre advising on the thing that had happened, but there wasn’t a leading coaching investment in me, I felt.

Tara Newman: Alright. The urgency for them when we had that conversation was around “I’ve tried these other things and I don’t want to be on my own. I’m looking for a place where I fit to be supported and grow.”

Danielle Levy: Correct. After that second year of investment and professional development, I went to a trusted colleague who I’ve known for years and years and years and I thought, “You know what, she will not steer me wrong. She knows me. She knows my people and I respect 1000% everything that she has to say.” Immediately, you were the only one that she introduced me to. She said, “You have to talk with Tara.” I was like, “Okay, if she says that I have to talk to you, then I have to talk to you.” Then I got to your website and there was a waitlist up and I was like, “Oh, I guess I have to wait a bit.” Then you emailed me.

Tara Newman: Then I emailed you and we had a call. I personally felt like we connected right away just because I think our backgrounds are so similar.

Danielle Levy: Yeah. If I could just take a step back on that though, I was pretty standoffish when I got on the call with you because you sent a very short email that was very sincere, but I was so colored by the previous experience that I had, I was like, “This woman can’t be for real.”

Tara Newman: She’s too good to be true.

Danielle Levy: Right. So I went into that call with “I’m not drinking more Kool-Aid. I don’t care what my colleague says. I’m not getting involved. But out of courtesy to this other coach, I’ll talk to Tara.” That’s the mindset that I went in with.

Tara Newman: That’s funny, because initially, that was not my interpretation of you. But we did get there. You said like, “That email you sent,” and I said, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry you felt that way. I actually sent that from my Gmail account personally.” The look on your face was like, “What?”

Danielle Levy: Yeah.

Tara Newman: Okay. You managed to get over your skepticism and you were really looking for a place where I think that you could, like you were saying, learn, grow, and I’m going to say be in a mature audience of people, a mature cohort of people. You, like everybody else pretty much in my program, are actual experts with lots of qualifications, lots of business maturity, and lots of expertise. When you first joined us, and you haven’t been with us for six months, I don’t think. I don’t even think you’ve been with us for six months. What was a breakthrough that you had within the last six months of joining the program?

Danielle Levy: You’re going to put me on the spot because I forget the word they use, it’s a Yiddish word.

Tara Newman: Pushke?

Danielle Levy: Yes.

Tara Newman: Okay.

Danielle Levy: I mean, do you want to explain to people what that is?

Tara Newman: A pushke, my Bubbie used to tell me that I needed to have a pushke. A pushke is like a set aside account that was just for me to access just in case. It was typically just in case my husband was an ass and ran off or something like that, that I wouldn’t be left to my own devices, that I would have money of my own. We can have pushke for lots of things.

Danielle Levy: Right. It was the first time, so secretly, I’ve always had one, but it felt very negative to me. It felt like I’m just taking off the top. I’m not serving my family. I’m not serving my business. It felt negative and achy to me. But for some reason, over the years, I’ve always been driven to do it. What I loved about the conversation was it was a mature group of professionals, like you said, talking about it in all the different ways that it comes into our personal and professional lives, and that it is a necessity.

We laughed a lot in that call. There was so much learning that was happening. We normalize the realities of when you would need to draw on it, that it’s okay to do it, and it’s okay to disagree with your life partner or your business partner or even use it as a protection mechanism if your business goes sideways, and it was just a very normalizing thing that I thought I’m just going to hack my way through my business and keep my fingers crossed kind of way.

Tara Newman: Yeah. What I’m hearing you say is that was a very honest, transparent, normalizing, non-shaming, and nonjudgmental conversation.

Danielle Levy: All of those things, yes.

Tara Newman: One, about money, two, about business, relationships, boundaries, and all of that, that comes into play with it, and that you really had a learning and a takeaway from that that was supported by the other women in the group. Would you say that that’s your normal experience in that group?

Danielle Levy: Yes, absolutely my normal experience in that group. Again, just the maturity all the way around of the group. The conversation could have gone anywhere. For me to say I’ve been with you for six months, and that was one of the biggest ahas that I’ve had, I mean, I’ve had plenty of ahas, but I’m also somebody that has been through a lot of financial training before, I have a bunch of degrees and I’ve gotten to a couple of business schools and so a lot of times, the numbers of it all or the Profit First methodology isn’t always what I’m going to agree for. It’s those intangibles, the community, and the all-around up-leveling of the conversation that really attracts me.

Tara Newman: Yeah, I remember when you first joined, and you came into the community and we do a wins post every Friday, and the wins, I don’t know, you can correct me if I’m wrong, they’re pretty stellar. They’re pretty legitimate results that people are getting on a weekly basis that move their businesses forward in increasing their growth and their revenue. I remember your first comment because it really struck me, and it wasn’t necessarily uncommon, but you were like, “I found a place.” That was like your win. You’re like, “I found a place where I could learn and grow with a bunch of women in business.”

Danielle Levy: Yes. Another win that I’ve had is there’s another woman in the group that needed a hand with an area of business that I handle all the time. We went through the process together and I gave her some tips. We’ve Voxered a lot over a couple of weeks. I’ll never forget when she posted her win of the week was that we had achieved our goal. It wasn’t about me achieving the goal, it was, “And I have worth in this group.” What I do is really valuable and I have impacted somebody else’s business in a positive way and someone that I respected so much in the business that she was running.

The lessons that I tried to give her and the coaching that I tried to do was just everyday conversation and me just being me, but it was a place where I really felt like I could stand up and say, “Hey, I can help you,” and also just work really collaboratively and confidently with her. That’s a win for me that I hadn’t had in other groups.

Tara Newman: Yeah. I will say that y’all really care about each other and you connect but in a meaningful way, I don’t think in a clicky way, like you were mentioning in another group, but in a very grounded, professional way. You interact with each other and give each other really good feedback. Somebody else mentioned on another call that when they asked for feedback, it was real feedback.

I don’t know if this has been your experience. It’s certainly been mine and why this program is so important to me. But as somebody who is an expert, I would go into these programs, and I’d realized that the person who was teaching the program wasn’t an expert in what they did. Then they actually didn’t understand what I did so they couldn’t even see my value. They didn’t understand what I did, because they didn’t have that real-world business experience. It would wind up really messing with my confidence to be in a group with people who didn’t understand business at the level that I understood it. Then I, to what you were saying in the beginning, would become very insecure.

Danielle Levy: Yeah. It’s an interesting thing in this space that we’re in that sometimes it just takes deep pockets for people to get where they are. I genuinely feel like nearly everyone needs to go through some form of corporate experience to understand appropriate rules of engagement, communication skills, boundaries, and all of those things. I think that’s one of the things that I just adore working with you so much because you bring all of those things in a very modern way. You’re just consistently showing up and saying, “And this is how it applies today, and this is how it probably is going to look tomorrow. This is the knowledge that I’m bringing with me and here’s how we’re going to modernize it.”

Tara Newman: Yeah, we talk a lot in frameworks, process, and structure so that you can come in and put your spin, your strengths, what’s relevant today into the mix, and you will always have a business that succeeds because you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, because that’s what I see the most is just people don’t understand why they do what they do sometimes and that might not have applied to you because you had an MBA, but just in general, there’s a lack of why and process behind it. What would you say to women who are considering joining the program?

Danielle Levy: Why are you waiting? I mean, do it right now. I just did. For me, it has brought the professional and personal community and just the true teaching. It has brought professional development, strategic thinking, the day-to-day “here’s how I make small moves with big impact.” It’s just the real deal. It’s interesting because after we had that initial conversation, I went back and read your sales page. I heard you reading that to me even though I was just reading it in my head. I was like, “Everyone needs to know that this is the real deal. This is the way that coaching and development need to get done.”

Tara Newman: Yeah, I think people sometimes have some dissonance and that’s why it takes them a little while to join. But this case study series is going out at a time where we’re going to be significantly raising our rates. We’re raising our price by 50%. It’s going from $500 a month to $750 a month. Now anybody who’s currently in the program will always have the price that they came in at. This is a loaded question, and I didn’t even prepare her so now I’m scared that I’m asking it, but at $750 a month with what you’ve seen out there in the marketplace, do you feel that the value is there?

Danielle Levy: I absolutely do and I feel like, for $750, that’s a steal.

Tara Newman: Yeah. It’s going to go up again, but yes, we’re going to $750 first. So thank you. Thank you so much, Danielle. Is there anything else you want to share with women right now who are in business and maybe they’re a little hesitant, concerned, stressed just in life, in general, it’s like one woman to another, is there anything that you would like to share with them, some words of encouragement?

Danielle Levy: Just to trust their instincts. When something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right for them as individuals, when something does seem right, or talk to people, your trusted folks, and just trust your intuition because you’ll get there.

Tara Newman: Yeah, thanks, Danielle. I really appreciate you.

Danielle Levy: Thank you. I appreciate you too.