Raise your hand if you have trouble setting and upholding boundaries in all aspects of your life?
If this is you, you are not alone! Standing up for what is important to you is a hard thing to do.
On this episode of the Empowered Business podcast, we are talking all about how to set boundaries in your life and business with Racheal Cook.
As an award-winning business strategist, host of the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast, and best-selling author, Racheal is on a mission to end entrepreneurial poverty for women. Over the last 10 years she has helped thousands of female entrepreneurs design predictably profitable businesses without the hustle and burnout that doing #allthethings inevitably accomplishes.
In fact, Racheal is a sought after speaker on entrepreneurship, marketing, and productivity and has been featured by the US Chamber of Commerce, Forbes Coaching Council, Female Entrepreneur Association, and more. Her real passion, though, is supporting savvy, soulful women as they implement the strategy, systems, and support to uncomplicate their business so they can work less and live more.
Setting healthy boundaries sounds simple, but it can be a hard thing to do!
I am glad that Racheal joined me for this conversation to share so much valuable information. I hope you feel inspired to set and stick to boundaries of your own after listening in!
If you are ready to start your digital product business, check out my free training! You’ll learn 3 secrets to creating digital products that sell like crazy. Included, you’ll get my foolproof 3-step strategy to discover the perfect money-making digital product for you.
Speaker1: [00:01:27] So I want to bring on Rachel Cooke, who is an award winning business strategist, host of the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast and best selling author. Rachel is on a mission to end entrepreneurial poverty for women like that is an amazing mission, by the way. So over the last 10 years, she has helped thousands of female entrepreneurs design predictably profitable businesses without the hustle and burnout that doing hashtag all the things inevitably accomplishes. In fact, Rachel is a sought after speaker on entrepreneurship, marketing and productivity and has been featured by the US Chamber of Commerce. Forbes Coaching Council, Female Entrepreneur Association and more. Her real passion, though, is supporting savvy, soulful women as they implement the strategy systems and support to uncomplicate their business so they can work less and live more. And that sounds like something we all want to do. So let’s welcome on Rachael and hear how we can make that a reality for us as well. Rachael, welcome to the Empower Business podcast. I’m so happy to have you.
Speaker2: [00:02:33] Thank you for having me, Monica. I know we are going to have a lot of laughs during this conversation.
Speaker1: [00:02:38] We are feeling that this is going to go somewhere good because we’re both very opinionated people. So we have a lot to say. Ok, so I like to kick off every interview by asking about your entrepreneurial journey, like how you got started and more importantly, what are you doing today?
Speaker2: [00:02:54] Ok, so this is one of those stories. It’s kind of a long and winding road, but I’m going to try to condense it a little bit. I did not start off thinking I would be an entrepreneur, despite the fact that both my parents were small business owners. So I grew up in small businesses. I grew up in the early 90s doing data entry for my dad’s insurance business back when it was a Dosso computer with the black screen and the green type. So I had been behind the scenes in businesses for a long time. But in my mind, an entrepreneur was someone like my dad, who was very outgoing, very like big personality, willing to go up and talk to anybody, very much like, you know, backslapping, you know, schmoozing type of sales guy. And so I kind of went on my own path pretty early. I thought I was going to be a professional musician. So I actually started my journey not in entrepreneurship, but getting a degree in music performance for French horn. And while I was getting my music performance for French Horn, a couple of things started happening. One. Once you get to the university level of music performance, you start to realize really quickly if you’re actually super talented or if you’re just a really hard worker. And I was just a really hard worker. And in the world of music performance, as you can imagine, there’s not that many jobs for French horn performance. So I started kind of thinking somewhere around my sophomore year, is this really what I want to do? And I explored some other things in the music world, but I ended up accidentally starting a couple of businesses in college.
Speaker2: [00:04:25] My business that I started when I was probably about a sophomore was when you were a music performance major. One of the requirements to get your degree is you have to have a junior in a senior recital, which is basically a solo concert. It’s you, your instrument or singing or whatever, and a pianist, and you’re filling an auditorium with a couple hundred people. Your family, your friends, all the other students of the music school are required to attend these recitals. And because it’s such a big deal, I mean, imagine like you’re getting all dressed up in this ball gown and your hair is all done and all that, any of this huge deal. And afterwards, there’s a reception. And I remember a lot of my music friends were like, I can’t afford to have this reception catered because the catering was so expensive. If you went to like a real company or whatever, and then they’re running around trying to get ready for the recital the whole time to set it up. So I was like, well, I’ll handle your reception. So I started catering receptions for my friends who were all music majors, which is hilarious because I’m not really a great chef, but I’m really good at figuring stuff out. And I come from a massive family. So for me, throwing like a bunch of meatballs and achieving dish and making a bunch of little small order type things that I bought from Costco, that was like not hard because I was like, everything’s giving dinner we’ve ever had as a family.
Speaker2: [00:05:43] That’s kind of how it goes down. And so I started that business and I started thinking, well, if I’m not going to do music, what am I going to do? So I switched into the business school not knowing exactly which direction I was going to go in. But I started realizing there was a lot of opportunity there. And while I was an undergrad, I started tutoring for the athletic department. So any major university that has a huge athletic department and especially has a lot of student athletes, those student athletes are required to keep a certain GPA in order to maintain their scholarship status. I discovered and this was the second business that I could earn fifteen dollars an hour per athlete to tutor. And at the time, there was nobody tutoring econ, finance, accounting. All of those business requirements to get your business degree. So I started putting together a study groups of all of these student athletes, and I’d have like 10 or 15 athletes at a time going through everything to prep for their econ exam, are going through everything to prep for their next finance exam. And so I was making one hundred fifty two hundred dollars an hour as an undergraduate, as a tutor, because I was kind of gaming the system. I was really good at making money whenever I needed to.
Speaker1: [00:06:54] And that’s actually genius, like.
Speaker2: [00:06:56] Yeah, but I tell people all the time, I’m like, if you’re a good student, go find out about the tutoring program at your university, because they pay really well. And if they know you’re a good tutor, they will keep you busy with kids who need those basic core classes. And so I kind of continue doing that. And I started in the business school. I shifted to entrepreneurship and small business management, which at the time at East Carolina University where I went, I was just getting started with an entrepreneurship program in the early 2000s. Entrepreneurship programs and universities were just getting started. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it. We started doing so many cool things. I was involved with the Small Business Institute. I started doing undergraduate case competitions. I started working with the local SBA, and they invited me to stay and get my MBA in entrepreneurship and small business management. So I got paid to get my MBA. And wow,
Speaker1: [00:07:50] I yeah, I mean, I got half paid to get my MBA through my corporate job. It would have been nice to get the whole thing paid for it.
Speaker2: [00:07:56] Well, at the time, business is the one graduate degree that is lacking women. Most other graduate programs are becoming majority women. So you go to law school, it’s now majority women. You go to medical school, it’s majority women, you go to business school. Women are still in the minority. And there is a few reasons for that. One, it’s not being pushed as much as like a medical or legal, but it’s definitely something where they’re looking for more women to come in. And so I think they saw me and they were like, OK, this girl gets it. She’s really into it. She’s good at these strategic consulting things we’re giving her. Let’s bring her into the MBA program. And so I continue during that. My whole job in the MBA program was I was working with the entrepreneurial initiative, which was part of the whole UNCE system, to basically get startups their first round of funding and provide called consulting to small business owners in the area. So the tech triangle around Raleigh is massive. There’s tons of biotech going on. There’s a lot of startups happening in the granite. This was 20 something years ago now, which makes me feel really old. But that’s what I started with. So after my I graduated, I got recruited straight into consulting. And it was different because it was more corporate. And I missed working with small entrepreneurs who are kind of owner operated.
Speaker2: [00:09:21] Suddenly I was working with, quote unquote, small businesses, but they were multi-million dollar, you know, very traditional, like industrial machining, paper, manufacturing, utility companies, construction, manufacturing, things like that. And I just wasn’t super into what they were doing. So after a few years in the world of consulting, even though I was really good at putting together strategic plans and all these things, I just was like, this is not for me. And I had burnout pretty bad at that point, because anybody who goes into the world of consulting, whether you’re going into one of the top consulting firms or one of the boutique consulting firms like I was in, they tend to grind the young people really hard, like 80 hour weeks or low. So you’re working like six days a week. You’re on the road a lot. And I got to the point where I was literally driving back from Washington, D.C. on I-95, back home to Atlanta where I was. And I had a panic attack for the first time. And I was like, OK, this is not working for me. This is not the road I want to be on. So I ended up taking a medical leave of absence. I was like, something’s wrong. I need to figure this out. And I ended up on a yoga mat and full circle moment, my yoga teacher comes to me and goes, I know you don’t want to go back to your career in corporate.
Speaker2: [00:10:42] Do you think you could help me with my yoga studio? And I was like, oh, a business that I’m actually interested in that I love the commission and the person running it. And so that kind of kicked off me. Starting my own consulting and coaching business in 2008 was my yoga teacher literally came to me saying, I’ve been in business for a little over a year. I’m struggling. What do I do? And I was like, Ooh, challenge, let’s go. And we turned it around. In a few months. She was able to start traveling and doing the things she really wanted to do with her business. And they just kind of snowballed from there. So fast forward. I think we’re coming up on 13, 14 years now. I have worked with I mean, thousands of women entrepreneurs a lot, and the holistic health and wellness space coaching, creative business. Its owners, service providers and I’ve loved it so much because every woman that I work with and I get to support, I get to see them doing work that truly matters and makes a difference in the world. And I get to see them create just amazing freedom for themselves and their life.
Speaker1: [00:11:43] So that is such a great story.
Speaker2: [00:11:47] A long, winding journey. But there you go. In a nutshell, that’s kind of what’s happened.
Speaker1: [00:11:52] So you brand it your whole business under your name at this point, but you have programs that live underneath your name that have like a like a CEO collective is one of them. I know. And so like when I think I know your program names and I know that it lives under because like I’ve been following you for a really long time, which is I was trying to think of like when I started following you, but like you’ve been on my radar for quite some time, probably for at least five years, which then when you said 2008 is really when you spun into a small business, I’m like, wow, you have been doing this for a very long time. So like the program. So two questions on the program right now. What are they? And then when did they start?
Speaker2: [00:12:30] Oh, good question. So the programs I have right now, I have the CEO collective, which is our pretty comprehensive way that we work with women entrepreneurs currently. We work with them in a one year container where they’re coming in to learn how to implement what we call our 90 day CEO system and actually put some structure and systems in place in their business. What I find for a lot of our clients is they’re coming to us after they’re through that startup stage. They’re starting to make great money, but it’s all the other stuff that gets overwhelming and it starts to feel like it’s pulling them away from what they really love to do. So we’re in there for a full year to help them put in place the infrastructure of their business, to make sure they have all the systems in place, to support team in place and really help them move away from being the operator of the business to more of the CEO of the business. So that’s our core offer at this point. That’s pretty much what we’re focused on. Ninety nine percent of the time now, four times a year, we hosted what we call the CEO retreat. This was an in-person event. Currently, it’s all virtual, but this event started in twenty. Yeah, it was January twenty eighteen. And it started as an experiment.
Speaker2: [00:13:43] Up until twenty eighteen. The only way I was working with people was through online courses or coaching, you know, via Skype or Zoom or whatever, where we’re using. But I started having this feeling that I wanted to bring people together in a room, not for a hype you up rah rah fast, but for a workshop, like we’re going to get stuff done and you’re going to walk away with a 90 day plan. And I was realizing that so many of the women that I was working with were coming to me with so many ideas, like ideas exploding everywhere. But they were lacking focus and they were lacking follow through. And I knew that I had just because of my background and the way I run my business, I was like, doesn’t everybody just run their business on a 90 day plan? Doesn’t everybody have a way? They’re tracking every week what they’re doing turns out now. So I started hosting that event. I thought it was going to be an experiment to host an in-person event. Fifty five people signed up. Wow. And I’ve been hosting it every quarter ever since. And it wasn’t until Covid happened that we had to be 100 percent virtual. But we’ve done a combination of doing an in-person event and then the week following during our virtual version, like three years now.
Speaker1: [00:14:54] That’s awesome. Ok, so primarily, what kind of businesses do your clients run?
Speaker2: [00:14:59] Yeah, I would say a lot of coaching and consulting. So a lot of anybody following in the Live Your Best Life category? I have I have worked with every type of coach you can imagine. There’s probably not a niche of coaching I haven’t worked with at some point. A lot of holistic health and wellness. And that comes from starting with the yoga business owners. I had a lot of yoga business owners, which turned into a lot of a lot of these businesses dance studios, movement studios, personal trainers, nutritionists, dieticians, a lot of people who are in the wellness space, a lot of certified people. So like highly trained dietitians and therapists and people who have a lot of credentials behind their names. And then what’s funny is, even though I started with a lot of holistic health and wellness, it was like I started with the yogis. Then all the other holistic health and wellness people came on. Then all the coaches came and then all the creatives came.
Speaker1: [00:15:57] That’s what I because I mean, I don’t know why you would have crossed my path unless it was like in the course space or the creative entrepreneur space. So that’s what I’m like trying to piece together. How how you got on my radar.
Speaker2: [00:16:10] Well, I think it’s one of those things where and I see this happening a lot. I mean, it’s even happened for you. Like we start in a specific niche and it really lets us get our footing right. It lets us get our foundation in place, figure out exactly how we’re going to make this work and what we’re going to do. And then it’s like people start knocking on your door. Or they’re like, hey, I’m not a yoga teacher, but I think this program can help me, and I’m like, cool. Come join us. And for me, one thing that really helped is in 2014, I created a free challenge called the fired up and focused challenge. And this was the first time I went from talking about like more marketing and sales strategy to talking about productivity and getting things done at that time. My twins were four years old. My youngest was a year old, and I was only working. I mean, I’ve only worked twenty five hours a week since I started my business. That was a big priority for me. And so I ran this challenge because people were like, well, how are you only working twenty five hours a week with these three very small children? And my husband left his job that year to come be a stay at home dad. They’re like, how the heck did you do that? And so I put together a productivity challenge. And that was probably the one thing that started breaking me a little more mainstream outside of the yoga community, because more and more people were like, yes, this is what I need. I need the productivity piece.
Speaker1: [00:17:26] You run a challenge that the challenge you run in December, like going into the new year.
Speaker2: [00:17:30] That’s the best year ever challenge. And they found two hands. They can go hand-in-hand. Yeah.
Speaker1: [00:17:36] Ivry, actually, now it’s so funny that when you start saying that, I’m like, right. Because I remember trying everything like I got the power sheets that that were all the rage at one point with bloggers. And, you know, I tried so many planning methods early on in my business, like the Trello boards and everything. And and I remember it probably was either going into 2016, maybe 2017, somewhere in there early on, I was just looking for any planning method that worked and that and because at the end of the year, you know, it’s it’s like that really fun time where you’re closing out a year like the New Year’s upon you and like opportunities unless this is such a baby entrepreneur. Yeah. He’s like like like now I don’t know if I totally see it that way anymore, because now I you know, I have employees. There’s a lot more responsibility I feel like I have now. But then it was like kind of like endless dreams, really. And I do believe that still. But it’s a little bit more structured than it was back then for me. And that’s how I found you. So that is actually really interesting. You’re right. I have the same experience with everyone kind of knew me as the Pinterest girl, but it got and, you know, there was a I’m almost positive it was Amy Porterfield some I benched so many of her episodes back in the early days, so I couldn’t tell you what episode it is.
Speaker1: [00:18:53] Somewhere along the line. And it was in the early days of my Pinterest stuff where she said, you know, because she was known for Facebook when she got started. Now, like you never hear her on Facebook. And she said what you get known for. You have to stick with for a minimum of 24 months. And if because if you don’t, you won’t like basically have a foothold. Yeah, absolutely. Referable. And like people look at you as like an industry expert. And I remember just constantly being like, I got to hold on for 24 months. I’ve got to hold on for twenty four months. I took that is like like the Bible a little bit. And I and I did you know, I held on for four years. And boy, did it make. Did it make a difference. So that makes perfect sense to me that, you know, everyone’s face,
Speaker2: [00:19:36] Every celebrity entrepreneur we’re following, though, again, because I’ve been in this space for so long. They all have a story like that where they all started with one specific thing and then went from there. And I think it’s really fascinating to kind of go backwards and watch. But, yeah, when I started talking about some of these things, you know, I think we tend to think that if something comes easily for us, it must come easily for everybody else. And so for a long time, I didn’t talk about productivity or I didn’t talk about planning or strategy like holistic big picture strategy, because I was like, well, surely everybody else does it this way. Nope. And yeah, that’s kind of like a bonehead thought now that I’m looking back on it. But I was just always confused. I was like, what is wrong with everybody? Why can’t they get their stuff done faster? What’s going on? And what I realized, I mean, this is I’m super lucky in the fact that I grew up around entrepreneurs. So I have a very and not just entrepreneurs, but like old school, very traditional businesses. And I think when you come into business pre Internet, you have a very different perspective of how to have a successful long term business. I think the Internet has kind of distorted a lot of this for a lot of people coming in to be entrepreneurs. Because I got my MBA before there was online business. Right.
Speaker1: [00:20:54] So I graduated in 2010. And I’m a you we they had just gotten gotten on to like Google and whatever they Sjöberg
Speaker2: [00:21:02] Had released Facebook when I was in grad school. And I remember being in grad school and getting the Facebook.
Speaker1: [00:21:09] Yes, I was an undergrad. And you had to have an edu email address, remember?
Speaker2: [00:21:13] Exactly. Yeah. That old world. And what’s crazy is the what has happened, just kind of looking back as I’m seeing things coming full circle, is that still those. Traditional foundational things that I learned as a kid watching my dad make sales calls, you know, working behind the scenes or this obstructer to put a database in there, their new computers in DOS, those, you know, filing and making calls to collect on bills that you’re owed on invoices. Those types of things are foundational that I think a lot of Internet people, Internet entrepreneurs just aren’t seeing. And so they think it’s all about social media and looking a certain way and influencer this and that. And, you know, it’s about understanding what is really making the difference to move your business forward. And often it’s not the sexy stuff. It is the rinse and repeat 80 percent of your business. If if 80 percent of your business is it, rinse and repeat, kind of humming right along. Then what happens is you’re always like that little duck with your little feet paddling as fast as you can. Not really going anywhere. Right. Like you’re just exhausted because you’re constantly trying to figure everything out.
Speaker1: [00:22:27] This while we think very similar. So one of the I started, as you know, what people call a blogger. And for a lot of time, a lot of times it was easier when people ask, what do you do? I would just call myself a blogger, actually have a whole episode called Is Blogging Dad or I take issue with the term blogging and blogger. And the reason is, is because I realized when I want it to make my blog and I see it with quotations in business, what I could not understand, having my MBA working in corporate for 11 years. Why why in the world do people spend so much time on social media and putting out free content with no end game in mind? I’m like like this is yeah, this is how I got this is how Pinterest became a thing for me. Because when I started it, when when I started the business full time, Pinterest was still just a haven for free traffic for bloggers. You know, now a lot of effort had to go in. If you hit the right keyword, you could explode your traffic fast. I was seeing bloggers getting five hundred thousand million page views making practically no money because they didn’t understand the ROI of a page view. And it was all about the page view and not about what came out of the page view, which is all that matters, because that’s how you make money.
Speaker2: [00:23:40] And this is this is exactly what makes me crazy about the industry right now, is it’s all of these vanity metrics that people are focused on. They’re focused on the wrong thing. Yes, I have clients right now. So, for example, I am an amazing client who is a holistic nutritionist and chef. She has zero website. She has very small social media presence. Her packages start at five thousand to ten thousand dollars. And she’s making close to she’ll probably hit two hundred fifty thousand dollars this year. Good. She’s been in business for a little over three years right now.
Speaker1: [00:24:17] And I’m like, no presence on the Internet.
Speaker2: [00:24:20] No. Wow. Because she knows who she’s targeting and who she’s talking to, and she is focused on the right things. And for her, we know exactly what systems need to be in place. And it’s not like her audience is on social media. They’re not paying attention to social media. Her audience is she’s an executive. She’s positioned herself as an executive health coach. So she’s got people out of the DC area that are like executives for the FDA or for major government agencies who are coming to work with her for like a year minimum. So either Hudl and she’s not worried about being popular in social media, having a fancy, slick website. There is no funnel
Speaker1: [00:25:02] Because it’s highly referable. That’s about it all. Yeah. Oh, this is thank you for saying this. And that is true. Even if you have an online business, at the end of the day, you know, and this is one of the hardest I talked about this at some point, but this is one of the hardest things I had to swallow about online business, which was in corporate I hate it, networking. I told myself that for years. And I think it’s because I just didn’t love being in tech and I didn’t love the roles. And I had to play by because they were not rules that were kind to women or those with diverse backgrounds. And so I did not appreciate the rules. I kind of like always prevented myself from going the extra mile because it was like, I don’t want to do this. I don’t agree with this. So when I got into online business, I had this idea that I was going to sit behind my computer and really not have to talk to people. Yeah. By the way, it doesn’t it doesn’t work that way because all online business also is is a big network of being referable.
Speaker2: [00:25:57] It absolutely is. And this is something I think that we don’t talk about enough. I think there’s a lot of people who think that if they just slap up a really beautiful website and have great photos to post on social media, that they can be inaccessible and not talk to people and not spend the time networking. But I have found every massive opportunity has come my way because I have built a network like almost every major speaking opportunity I’ve had at. Ton of opportunities to be interviewed on podcasts or to speak on a stage or to partner with somebody on something, they’ve all come because I know people
Speaker1: [00:26:35] You know, I’ve actually said I’ve said this about like, OK, so I am a believer that there’s nothing wrong with buying yourself into rooms. I honestly. Oh, no. That’s a great way to do it. It is a great way to do it. If there’s a room that’s inaccessible to you and you can find a way in like incorporate. One of the ways I found my way into the boardroom was through marketing, because it was a girl it was a woman friendly position in corporate to be in, especially in tech. I ended up in the C suite because of it. You know, like I found my way in literally through my tradition. My MBA is in finance, but finding my way my way in through the finance or accounting department. And I wasn’t going to happen. But marketing, I found my way in. Well, I have joined I’ve said this to a lot of people before, and I think it’s really important. I have joined a lot of programs in this online space and spent hundreds of thousands. I don’t even want to add it up honest. I actually look at my cutt, my cookbook statements and then you over it. But, you know, we’ve all done I wish all the things and some of the programs I’ve joined have been absolute junk.
Speaker1: [00:27:33] And it kind of makes you wonder how they feel comfortable taking your money. And I could focus on that. This is what I tell people who have done really bad investments and they to do rather whole business. And like, listen, I have done so. I’ve done great programs, crappy programs. But at the end of the day, one thing has proven true. If you let it play out, which is the connections I have made in those programs, even the ones I really was kind of bitter, that I paid money for payoff years down the road with its absolutely tangled web of that person knows this person, and they refer you. It happens all the time. So it’s not even just about the program you’re in. It’s about the people you’re meeting and connecting with. And it’s just it’s absolutely referable. And that really that’s what basically I heard Amy Porterfield tell me in my earbuds all those years ago was stick with it, because you entrepreneurs burn out and they want to jump. You know, we’re we want we always have ideas and we want to jump to the next thing. But if you do that, nobody’s ever going to know what you’re about and then you’re never going to have a business.
Speaker2: [00:28:29] Yeah. And that’s what that’s unfortunately what happens. It’s the double edged sword of being entrepreneur, like most of us tend to be very creative. We love coming up with new ideas. Most of us, if we’re kind of the visionary entrepreneur, if you want to use that kind of language, that becomes the reason we can get up and going so fast. It also becomes the reason we like blow up our own business. Yeah, because we’re constantly changing. And it’s what makes it hard for people to keep up with what you’re doing, because people you met last year aren’t like they’re not always watching what you’re doing. So if you’re constantly changing, they’re just going to think you’re a flake and aren’t serious about your business.
Speaker1: [00:29:04] Exactly. And I honestly think for years, an online business is a long time. It really is hanging on to your dog years. Really? I’m like I always tell people in the real world. I see that with air quotes as well. Oh, here’s an online business is like 20 years. And in a brick and mortar, I kind of feel like. But sticking with Pinterest for four years was probably one of the best decisions I made, even though like probably two years in, I was really ready to do the next thing. But what what it did was it did instill confidence that when people reach out to me, I I’ve gotten that. Oh, you don’t do Pinterest anymore. I mean, I get that a lot like that. Oh, I mean, what happened? But they don’t then be like, oh, I don’t I guess I can’t really use her for I was going to have her speak here, but I guess I can’t use her now. Instead, they ask like, what are you doing now? Maybe it will still fit in because I stuck with it as long as I did.
Speaker2: [00:29:55] Absolutely. Absolutely. I found the exact same thing.
Speaker1: [00:29:57] That’s OK. Ok, so one of the things I want to talk to you about is this is it’s kind of they kind of go hand in hand. I think productivity and actually boundaries go hand in hand. I think if you don’t have boundaries and you really can’t be productive. Now, the first question I want to ask, though, is you do talk and I saw it on your website, like you have a 90 day SEO plan or your retreats are based on 90 day plans. You work with your clients, 90 day plans. Does this how does the year planning fit into your 90 days? Like how do you when you enter either a fiscal year or calendar year? Do you plan for the year or do you only plan for 90 days?
Speaker2: [00:30:30] We do absolutely plan for the year. What I found and this is, again, coming back to like looking at what I know and what I’ve done, and then also watching what works for my clients. What I found is for a lot of my clients and just I think the industry in general, we tend to get so focused on these big, huge visions that trying to figure out what we need to do day to day is where we end up finding ourselves falling short, getting stuck, and then we don’t really get the momentum we’re looking for. So for business owners who haven’t been around a super long time trying to plan a year or two or three years in advance, it actually becomes really challenging. If you don’t know what your capacity is, you don’t know what it’s like to have momentum. You don’t have assets built up in your business that make it easy for you to rinse and repeat. You don’t have systems or or things you can do over and over again, then planning a year in advance. Just a lot of time with sticky notes and colored pens, that’s not really going to pay off. So I found that I had to start shortening timelines for my clients because they just didn’t have the lived experience yet to understand what they could accomplish in a year or what they could accomplish in three years. And to be honest, for a lot of small businesses.
Speaker2: [00:31:47] Your first year to three years is just kind of getting going and understanding what it looks like to have a business like you. Like we both said, like where you start is not where you’re ultimately likely going to be, but it’s that startup stage where you’re learning so much about yourself. Right. You’re learning so much about how you like to support your clients. You’re learning so much about the way that marketing works for you. You’re learning so much about what sales looks like for you or how I work with a team. Like there’s so much you are learning. But if we set the bar so high with our vision of where we want to be a year or three years, I find that it can start to be very defeating for a lot of people because they just feel like it’s so far away and they can’t see how they’re going to get there. It’s just too big of a cognitive leap. So we do kind of an annual plan. That’s why we started the plan your best year ever, because I was like, OK, how can I get people to create kind of a more realistic annual plan? And if you go through that challenge with me, there’s a few things that I think are really important about the way we do it that is probably different from a lot of people. I feel like a lot of people start with like throwing all the big goals out there, all the big dreams out there.
Speaker2: [00:32:58] We’re kind of going a little backwards because I’m actually looking at let’s start with your life and then design your business around what you want your life to look like. Let’s crunch the numbers. Let’s look at what’s working and what’s not working. Instead of having a million big goals you want to go after. Let’s make sure that this is really accessible to you and kind of plan on a 12 month basis like each month. What are your big things you’re going to work on? And from there, we can take that and break it down into 90 day plans really easily. And what I found is it was kind of like putting like, you know, if you go bowling and they put those bumpers in the little alley, things really don’t. Yeah. For the kids, it’s like business planning with Bumper’s, you know, it’s a little bit of a safety net and it keeps us from getting in our own way to where we’re visioning so big that we can’t execute and implement and get to where we need to go. What I have found is that with almost all of our clients and this is why with the collective, we keep people with us for a full year, because what we’ve found is the first time they’re trying to do a 90 day plan and actually creating it is kind of the easy part.
Speaker2: [00:34:01] The hard part is following through with it. And what we found is like the first time is kind of the practice run, right? It’s kind of like you’re on a tricycle as a kid. You’re kind of learning how to pedal your feet, but you’re not really good yet in the next time you’re on a two wheeler, but you’ve still got the little training wheels. And then finally, we can take the training wheels off and you start to get some momentum, because now you’re learning how these things should rinse and repeat. So, yeah, that’s kind of how that fits in there. We want to give a long enough timeline that people feel like they can see some real growth in their business. And I’m just not a hype up person. I’m not like, we’re going to 10x your business in a year. Honestly, I’m like I like a steady pace. I would rather you grow at 20 percent a year, 30 percent a year at a sustainable pace that allows you to not overwork, enjoy your nights and weekends, take some vacation, pay yourself really well, and consistently be building the things behind the scenes in your business that three years from now your business will have doubled instead of trying to go so hard and so fast that you’re hitting burnout within six months.
Speaker1: [00:35:12] Well, I don’t think I actually got that memo until five years into this full time, which this is my fifth year. I was in an utter state of burnout for years. And that was what my whole episode. I did a life update episode last month or at some point, I don’t know. It kind of all mixes together, but it’s episode 22, if anyone’s interested. But essentially, I hit an actual wall where I decided that I literally built a business that I did not love anymore and it was not serving my life. And to the point where I would have rather closed shop than to not be making an impact I wanted to make. That was a big one, because like I started this with the intention of making. That’s what redefining mom was all about, like calling attention to the lack of maternity leave policy isn’t what women go through as working moms. And I just wasn’t I didn’t I was disconnected from my purpose and my my bigger impact. And then also, I wasn’t showing up as a mom the way I wanted to. I was like a.. With my kids. I was just always overwhelmed and stressed. And I was like, why is the point of all this? And so I actually this year planned. And it’s so funny how it works when you it’s almost like a lesson in giving up control, because as soon as I start taking days off. Reading all the time, like my stress, I got my stress levels down, I don’t work more than 40 hours, I do work all week and this last weekend, but that was an exception. And I wanted to I was having fun. And I think that was what was important I was doing.
Speaker2: [00:36:34] That’s different. Yeah, it’s
Speaker1: [00:36:36] Different. And no one for like I actually like it wasn’t like I had to get it done and just like I was in the zone. And what I realized was this was I said I wanted this to be our first million dollar year, like we’ve made millions of dollars over these years, but like in actual 12 month period. And then I said, you know, but I’m just not married to it, which is so backward. I’m very goal oriented. And I always say I don’t do failure. So to say, well, my goal is a million, but I’m OK if I don’t hit it. But really with how much lower my stress and we’re still up right now. Thirty five to forty, depending on the quarter percent year over year. I blew up our whole business last year and we’re up that high. I’m way less stressed. I’m taking care of my mental, physical, emotional health. And it’s all because I led with what with our impact on other people and what I want it to look like for my life instead of leading how pretty much corporate and, you know, like how I was trained working for a Fortune 100 company, which is it’s all about the profit no matter what
Speaker2: [00:37:32] You know about the numbers. Well, and that’s this is why I think it’s so important. We have to before we set boundaries, we have to start with what is our definition of success look like removing the revenue and how much your business is earning, removing that from the table for a minute. What does success actually look and feel like for you in your life, in your whole in your relationship and your spirituality and all of these other areas? What does success look like there? Because if you don’t have success in those areas, then you have a heart attack tomorrow. And will it be worth it that you worked yourself into the ground? And right now what I’m seeing is women in our generation, the older millennial Gen X women, we are hitting burnout like never before. And it is it is causing some significant health challenges for a lot of women that I work with, especially after the year that we’ve all just had. And so we have to redefine what does success look like in all of these areas of our life and get clear about what that looks like. And we have to start detaching ourselves from what society says it sure looks like. So for my health goals and my definition of success with health, it’s not about me wearing a certain size jeans. I really could care less about that. It is very much about I have the energy to go to the pool with my kids this afternoon and swim with them. It is very much about we can go on a hike as a family, and I’m not going to be complaining about how hot or uncomfortable I am. It is about I can get through the night without another hot flash, you know, like these
Speaker1: [00:39:08] Said the feel all of that, because everything about my life with my weight centered around what society said the scouts should look like. And that was my soul. And it was like I didn’t even necessarily care what the scale said it was. Everyone else told me I should care about it, my doctor, everyone. And that’s probably why I never this is the first year where I was finally like, I do not care, except I don’t feel good. It’s not a good thing. That’s it.
Speaker2: [00:39:33] And we have to decide what that looks like. So for me, health looks like getting great sleep. Health looks like having energy to get up and do what I want. Health looks like actually wanting to eat healthy foods because they make me feel better instead of feeling like I have to because I’m trying to put some calorie deficit or something. And having these conversations with myself has been really helpful. I do this with my you know, with parenting like we I have yet to find a mom who’s like I want to be a terrible parent who ignores my kids and just looks at my phone all day long. Right. None of us want to do that. But how many times do we find ourselves like zoned out and just exhausted and needing to doom scroll because we need that like dope, I mean. Well, you have to ask yourself, what is success with my kids look like? I realized, you know what, I am a certain type of mom. I’m really good with older kids and they’re really good, like, let’s watch a movie and snuggle mom. Let’s go do a creative project. Mom, I’m not so much the let’s go play a sport mom or
Speaker1: [00:40:35] Or get on the plane, get on the floor and play like honestly with my toddler. I love her to death, but I’m not getting on the floor and building blocks. It’s it’s seriously painful for me to do. I will snuggle her. I’ll go on walks with her bike rides. I am not building the blocks. I’m just not doing it.
Speaker2: [00:40:53] So we create we have to create our definition of success. And I have three kids. So for me, I want to take each kid on a mommy and me date that they get to choose at least once a month where we have that quality time. That usually means we’re going to the bookstore and then we’re going to get coffee because my kids are exactly like me. But to me, so for me now, looking, zooming out and looking at some of these definitions of success and some examples I’ve given, because I’m so crystal clear, I can look at my calendar and go, you know, one of my definitions of success for my. Quality in my personal development is I love a slow morning. I am not somebody who has a complicated morning routine, so I don’t actually get up and go to work until usually 10 o’clock in the morning because I like to get up and have my cup of coffee and journal and read and be by myself for a solid hour because I have to speak to another human being. But that’s such an important definition of success for me. That helps me create boundaries around my calendar. So I’m not going to be the person who’s available for at eight o’clock or even a nine o’clock call. That’s just not going to happen because I don’t want to do it.
Speaker1: [00:41:57] Would you care? Would you say boundaries are a flex muscle? Essentially, you have the more you do it, the more you set them, the easier it gets.
Speaker2: [00:42:04] Absolutely. And there’s a couple of parts to it. One, you’ve got to be clear about what it is. And usually the easiest way to tell if you’re have a boundary that’s not very strong is you feel resentful or frustrated about something. So I know this is maybe something a lot of people working from home might relate to. I do not like getting interrupted when I’m working. It is such a thing. It will trigger rage sometimes because I’m just like I want to get in my zone and do my thing. So I put my phone on airplane mode and I used to have like my mother especially. She’s a whole new gen old generation. You know, they they think if they call that, you should be like, oh, mom, what’s going on? And I finally was like, Mom, I am working from ten to two. I cannot talk to you on the phone. You need to just wait until I get home. In fact, don’t call me until after four o’clock. And, you know, it took a long time for her to get that. But I was like, mom, you know, the best time to call me is about four o’clock in the afternoon, because then I’m definitely done at work. I’ve had a little bit of decompression time coming home. And, you know, I just have to level set that expectation and then follow through with it. Is the big thing following through with it?
Speaker1: [00:43:10] So in the CEO collective do help a lot of women, business owners with these boundaries.
Speaker2: [00:43:15] Oh, my gosh. I never thought, you know, again, it’s the things that come to you. And it’s not that it comes easily. It definitely has been a learned practice. There has been a lot of therapy and coaching going into me, getting much better at boundaries. This is yeah, my whole life journey is definitely not having them. I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. We did not have boundaries. I had to learn them very quickly because I just knew that I wanted to change the direction and the narrative for my own family. And because I’ve put so much work into it, I think is why I’m so good at it. Now, I’ve had, you know, 20 years of working on it at this point. This past year, I never thought I would spend as much time talking about boundaries as I have. And so much of it, it has been because women who had great boundaries before, especially if they were working from home suddenly when their partners were coming home or the dynamic shifted, it’s like all the boundaries they had went out the window. And I’ve seen this happens not just, you know, pandemic, but it also happens if you have a major life change or a real change in your family or something, you have to like reestablish those boundaries again.
Speaker2: [00:44:25] So I was seeing so many women who had created a great routine for working from home. They had their kind of rhythm sorted out. They weren’t feeling distracted by like life stuff while they were trying to get work done. And then suddenly they were having a partner home who was totally disrupting and honestly disrespecting their calendar and what they had set up. And so it was like, hey, you’ve actually got to have a conversation with them because they had no idea you had these systems in place. And it’s not fair for you to expect them to know. You have to have a conversation, a hard conversation about, hey, here’s what I’ve set up that works for me. If this isn’t going to work for both of us, how can we renegotiate this to make sure that you get your work done? I get my work done. The kids’ needs are attended, and no one feels resentful that they’re kind of being put upon when it could have just been a conversation to kind of negotiate what needs to happen.
Speaker1: [00:45:19] Yeah, I do. You know, we built my husband a soundproof office in the basement during
Speaker2: [00:45:24] During Covid that he led us to soundproof headphones.
Speaker1: [00:45:27] Honestly, because I need I have a very eye on the the four. I’m in the extra bedroom upstairs. I have a beautiful windows. I need natural light like my mood is very effective me to heat. You know, we do have an egress for his because we had to be built to code. And so you need an egress for any like actual finished room in a basement, at least in New York. And so because that he can’t see outside. But he did it wasn’t a sticking point to him. And we made it soundproof and it like changed our lives, to be honest with you, because we would I will never forget when my second daughter, when we I lost my workspace, when my daughter was born in our last house, and it made it so that he was right below me in a house that was built in the 50s. So there’s no soundproofing going on here. Know, all of a sudden I started my workday like the first day our offices moved and all I heard was his loud voice. And I was like, how am I ever going to get anything done? I. Can’t record anything, I can’t be getting calls, and he’s like, well, I have the corporate job, so I have to do this. And I mean, like in
Speaker2: [00:46:32] One year, they’re like, but I have this very successful business. I have to do this.
Speaker1: [00:46:37] Yeah. And it was just like I remember we bought it so bad that I we. And so finally, it was just like I worked my butt off to get him that soundproof office because it like changed my life, to be honest with you.
Speaker2: [00:46:50] And this is where I find that often we and I think this is just the thing so many of us were conditioned to just put up with things and we just deal with it and deal with it and deal with it, kind of grin and bear it, whatever. And then we get to a breaking point where we just are so upset and angry and frustrated all the time at everybody that, again, if we just sat down and had a conversation, okay, what are your needs? I realized I need that’s definitely natural light, like whether I’m at home in my home office now or at my office downtown. Tons of natural light. I need quiet. That’s huge for me, which is the biggest reason why last year I went out and rented an office. I was like, I need out of this house with three kids, three packs and a husband. Like it was not happening here, even with the home office space, it just wasn’t happening. And I need space to kind of decompress in between. I’m kind of like a toddler that I need transition time.
Speaker2: [00:47:45] I think a lot of us do. Yeah, I do, too. And I think one of my biggest challenges, what I would do, especially with my kids at home, I would get up and leave, leave the office, but then they’d be like, mom, mom, mom. Can you do this? Can we play this game? Can we can I get a snack? Blah, blah, blah. And I got to the point where I was like, when mom walks through the door, you need to give me 10 minutes before you talk to me like you should say, hi, mom, but don’t ask me for anything until I’ve had a chance to come in my purse down to the bathroom and get some water or something. But please, I just the coming in in the constant barrage of everybody else’s stuff and even that, I just need a minute. And, you know, it’s one of those things where you tell your kids and then they start to understand. They’re like, OK, mom’s here. Hey, mom. And then they come in like 15 minutes later. How are you doing? Can I get
Speaker1: [00:48:32] The same person? I honestly, we have very similar I need because I was programed in corporate. If I can’t deal with work interruptions, it makes me very cranky. And it was like I had this like this ideal when I started my blog. I was going to have my kids home. Yeah. No, no. I need dedicated work hours. And you know what that is? For some reason, I was telling myself that that somehow made me a bad mom. I don’t even know. But it does not make me a bad mom. It means I honor my boundaries and I know how to be a better mom because of it. Because I know that if I’m mad at her for constantly interrupting me, then I’m not being a good mom and I’m not getting anything done in the business. And then like everyone’s unhappy, it doesn’t make any sense. And I just think I have pretty good boundaries now that you’re talking about it. I think everyone probably could get better at it. But I feel I feel a little bit more encouraged that
Speaker2: [00:49:17] I’ve set up. I think it’s just clarity about what your needs are and expressing those needs and asking for support around those. Because if we don’t have clarity on what our needs are and we’re just kind of frustrated, but we can’t pinpoint what is actually happening, then we can’t fix anything. So I have friends who are completely different from me. I mean, I definitely have friends right now who they’re more extroverted and they miss going to like the coworking space and things like that. And so they have to build into their ideal calendar time to co work with somebody or time to attend something because they need that stimulation. And I think once you know what your boundaries are around, that it’s so much easier to make sure that your week is set up so that your needs are met and you’re not frustrated with things that are honestly pretty fixable for the most part, like a lot of the things that we just keep putting up with are fixable. If we just take a minute, pause and say, OK, what is the unmet need right now? What is pushing me out of my zone of being able to get stuff done? And once you’re clear about that, it does get so much easier. So I think for a lot of people, that inventory, that personal inventory is usually the first step. And then you have to communicate it because a boundary that’s not communicated is not really a boundary. It’s you hoping people can read your mind. Yeah. And that’s not going to happen.
Speaker1: [00:50:38] I think a lot of things are negotiable. But I will say one of the biggest things I’ve I’ve done to really enforce boundaries in my family is and I had to do this a couple of times with my husband. I’ve had to say this is not me. I’m not asking for permission. I’m telling. Yeah. And it’s just the end of the sentence. And I know that this and I’ll acknowledge I know right now you’re upset with me. You don’t want me to draw this boundary. I have to for my own sanity. And I would never have done that five, six years ago. And our marriage never. And it’s not his fault. It’s just I wasn’t vocal enough about my boundaries for a lot of years. And so I then I kind of came out swinging and he’s like, whoa, and I get it. But when I made up my mind, my mind was made up. And I’ve had to do it a couple of times. I’m a little it’s not so much like that anymore. But in the beginning, I really had. I say I’m not asking, I’m telling.
Speaker2: [00:51:26] Yeah, and I think that’s something that is a skill that you develop, right? Like it’s a muscle you strengthen as you get better at it. And if you’re working with anybody, it doesn’t matter if it’s your you know, your husband or your spouse, your partner, your kids or people on your team, like understanding what everybody’s needs are and how you can best meet them. It’s setting everybody else up for success. You know, my team, I understand their boundaries, too. I understand how they want to communicate with me. I understand when they’re available. I understand when they’re not available. I understand the things I’ve done that have piss them off at the pass. And because I understand that I know where the boundary is. Right. And I think that’s really important, because it’s not just about our boundaries. It’s not everybody that we’re working with to. And it’s just that level of emotional intelligence being aware of what everybody’s needs are and making sure that everybody set up to succeed.
Speaker1: [00:52:19] Yeah, I love that. I love that. Because on the flip side, I should say, like I always I’m one of the biggest things. My husband would never take time for himself and I’d be because he would get upset that I took time for myself. And finally, I start speaking up. I’m like, you need time for yourself. I’m not trying to prevent time for you to take. You’re like. And so I kept and it took him like six months before. And I remember the first time he said to me, I’m doing. He looked at me like I was gonna say no or something like I’m doing this because I want to do it. I’m like, fabulous. Thanks for joining the club of actually like there’s nothing wrong with that. Like he’s taking his first like boy trip this year. I start taking girl trips again in 2015. Fifteen. He had such an issue with it. That was like one of the first times I put down my foot and I said, no, I’m going like, I want to do this. And he was not happy. Now he’s taking a trip with just the boys this year. And I’m like, yeah, like I’m excited for him, you know, because I don’t know, he just never gave himself permission to do it for all this time. And maybe watching me do it.
Speaker2: [00:53:12] It is absolutely watching you do it. I had a therapist told me who told me that the way for me to help everyone in my life is not to tell them what they need to do to fix themselves. Surprised, but it’s for me to lead the way by by walking my talk. And so for me, like I don’t want a girlfriend trip. I want a solo trip. Like I just want to go by myself somewhere. And I have I will go check myself into a hotel for two nights. And all I will do is hang out and sleep and read a book and do massages and spa treatments. And it is exactly what I need. But if my husband is getting cranky, you better believe I am like texting his best friend. Like, dude, you guys need to go hiking. You need to get him out of this house. And it’s all about just understanding again what everybody’s needs are. Mccluster, we’re all working together to get them met and making sure that we’re being fluid with them all. Like I said last year, all of our demands quickly outnumber the personal needs just because the world flips so quickly. But once we have a chance to get our footing again, we can figure out a new way forward. And it might not be the way we thought it would look like, that’s for sure. Like I never thought I’d be in a year or two of homeschooling three kids, but here we are.
Speaker2: [00:54:25] And, you know, it’s it’s definitely before I would have been like, there’s no way this is happening. I don’t want to deal with that. But now they’re thriving. I’m thriving because I removed myself from the home to go downtown, you know, three or four days a week. And it was just because we’re constantly checking in saying, OK, what is it that I really need? What is it that they really need? What is it that my husband needs? And then renegotiating that for ourselves renegotiated even with my family. Like this year, I had to take on managing all my mother’s nursing care. She was 24/7 nursing care at home. And there was the point where I think my mom thought I was going to be down there every week and they’re like an hour and a half away. And I was like, Mom, I can’t have like once a month, babe. This is too much for me. It’s getting too hard. And she was a little upset at first, just like, oh, can’t you just come more? And I’m like, no, actually any time with my family and I’m running a business like once a month and then she for you. Ok, we can do that. And those are the times where it’s hard to enforce boundaries because, you
Speaker1: [00:55:22] Know, she with moms,
Speaker2: [00:55:24] Especially with moms. But those are the times where it quickly will become depleting for you. And then if you are like the two of us, where you’re the leader of your family. Right. And you’re running this business. Me getting depleted will spiral into my husband getting depleted, that my kids are getting depleted. My business will not run as well. It will just be this domino effect of things starting to go off course. So that clarity is essential.
Speaker1: [00:55:50] It is. I this is the best boundary discussion I’ve had. I can’t even tell you maybe with the therapist I had a good boundary discussion. Besides that, you’re like a therapist. You’re a therapist for business owners. I kind of feel like to before I am nice to you. I have a feeling a lot of people to listen to this be like. I think I need to look into Rachel’s program. I could I am feeling
Speaker2: [00:56:15] A lot of permission to stop working so hard, thinking a little more strategically about what you’re doing and
Speaker1: [00:56:21] Boundaries so people have boundaries. Want to look into this program, how do they know?
Speaker2: [00:56:27] Well, the best thing is to come check out my podcast, promote yourself to SEO and get a taste of what else I talk about, you know, this horrible bouncer’s when we do talk a lot about how to grow without the hassle and burnout, because that is a major value of mine, is to create a world where women are able to create sustainable success so that they can do what else matters most to them in their life. So come check us out on Promote Yourself to CEO. And if you want to learn more about the collective, you can head over to the CEO collective dot com. Awesome.
Speaker1: [00:56:58] And if they want to find you on Instagram, how do they do that?
Speaker2: [00:57:01] Yes, you can find me at Rachel Dot Cook. I am kind of quiet there right now, but I do check in on a regular basis.
Speaker1: [00:57:08] So do you guys be a little bit more active?
Speaker2: [00:57:11] I did the summer kind of taking a little bit of a sabbatical and so good for you because we needed it. We needed it for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Come find me on Instagram. And I love checking in with people there as well.
Speaker1: [00:57:22] Well, awesome. Thank you so much for sharing all of your awesome knowledge in your journey today. It’s very fascinating.
Speaker2: [00:57:27] Oh, thanks so much for having me. I feel like we kind of had a long and winding conversation. It’s been so much fun.
Speaker1: [00:57:33] It was. And I know a lot of people there’s so much to glean out of this. Like I feel like people are in a limit. So thank you. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of the Empowered Business Podcast. Be sure to follow the show and leave a rating and review. I read each one and I love hearing from you. As always, you can find all the links and information mentioned in this episode at Monaca Froze dot com Borg’s podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in.