In this digital age, content has never been more needed than ever. As they say, content is a hungry beast that never gets satisfied. But just because this is the case doesn’t mean you should keep on putting out volumes of content for the sake of it. You still need high-quality ones. In this episode, Paul Higgins is with Marketing Strategist and Women’s Leadership & Entrepreneurship Expert, Adrienne Garland, to get her expert advice on how to create content as a thought leader. She also talks about how to launch a successful podcast and provides killer tips to run your next online event. With her passion for supporting women entrepreneurs, Adrienne then lets us in on the ways she is helping women learn and grow their ideas out into the world.
Helping Women Entrepreneurs Create Content with Adrienne Garland
Build Live Give. Mentoring with Paul Higgins
Our guest is someone who had a successful career in media and entertainment by working hard and smart. Her last role on paper was perfect but the reality saw her leave corporate. Over the last couple of years, she’s provided marketing strategy consulting to some of the biggest brands on the block whilst quietly building her own platform. The tables have now turned and you will know about her passion for supporting women entrepreneurs. Her expert advice on how to create content as a thought leader. How to launch a successful podcast and killer tips to run your next online event. I also mentioned the online conference during the interview. I’ll hand it over to Adrienne Garland from She Leads Media.
Welcome, Adrienne Garland from She Leads Media to the Build Live Give Podcast. It’s great to have you on, Adrienne.
Paul, it’s great to be here.
I know we’ve missed each other a couple of times. I’m so excited to have you on. What you do is fantastic. We’re going to learn a lot more about that during the show, but why don’t we kick off with something your family or friends might know about you that we might not?
This is a little bit of a tricky question to think of and I’m going to go deep. Something that people in my professional life might not know about me is that when I was six, my father passed away. It’s something that is difficult to live with but it’s something that also drives me much. It’s unfortunate. He was only 33 years old. He had a sore throat one day and three months later, he died from leukemia. It’s terrible.
How many siblings?
I have one brother who’s thirteen months older than me. We’re Irish twins.
My mom’s dad passed when she was twelve so she and her brother were incredibly close. I could only imagine how difficult that would have been for all of you but in particular, your mom raising two children at such an early age. Thanks for sharing that. I appreciate it.
I wanted to kick it off on a high note.
We’ll get some more laughs from here but that is unfortunate. I know you’ve had a great career. You’ve worked at multiple businesses, Cablevision, PR, Newswire, PwC, and now into what you’re doing, which we’ll talk more about. Why don’t you talk to me a little bit about your career and why you started what you do now?
I had a terrific career in the media entertainment technology realm. I got into that after working in financial services when I graduated from college. I went back to school to get my MBA in Finance. It was in the ‘90s and there were a lot of things that were going on at some different brokerage houses and investment banks in New York. I didn’t want to be in that world anymore. Halfway through my MBA, I switched majors. I got into marketing and I never looked back.Content is a hungry beast that can never be satisfied. Click To Tweet
I worked in the companies that you mentioned in product development, product strategy, and direct marketing. I rose through the ranks, moved from company to company with increasing responsibilities and everything, and I worked hard. I’m passionate about what I do. I’m always looking to improve and strive for more. I arrived at this incredible position on paper at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I always say it was the best job on paper and the worst job that I ever had but I’m grateful for the PwC role because it pushed me into entrepreneurship.
My company is called She Leads Media. I started it in 2010. I had a different name and a little bit of a different approach. For the last couple of years, I have been an entrepreneur and have been trying to find my way. One of the other things that I do now that I absolutely love, not more than She Leads, is I am also an adjunct professor at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality where I teach Business Plan Development and Entrepreneurship.
There are quite a few things to unpack in that. The first thing is, you talked about direct marketing. What have you seen some of the biggest changes with direct marketing now than when you did it?
It’s a whole new world. At Cablevision, I was in charge of putting together the direct marketing plan. We sent out millions of mail pieces every single month to acquire new subscribers to communicate with them to get them to upgrade. We were always testing to see what was the mail piece that would garner the most inbound calls. With marketing in general, principles hold but the tactics and the methods are different.
Back then, we tried to segment customers into different groups and come up with creative executions that would prompt somebody to act. In nowaday’s digital world, it’s the same objective. You want to speak directly to somebody, you want to present them with a copy or an offer that prompts them to connect with you in some way. It is radically different now than it was back then. We have more information, more ways of identifying people, and it’s complex. In addition to all of that, there are so many different products, services, on and on vying for your attention. It’s maddening now.
If we’re all overwhelmed as a consumer, that means most marketing departments are the same. You talked about PwC wasn’t the ideal role that you thought it would be. Talk a little bit about the transition and what were some of the biggest hurdles when you first launched, She Leads Media.
I had a sense of myself when I left PwC. I had a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities because I got to where I was on my own. Not that there weren’t people that helped me and encouraged me, but I didn’t have somebody laying out the path for me. I didn’t have the old boy’s network. I did work hard and smart to get where I was. I thought, “I’ve got this far on my own starting a business, how hard can that be?” I was so wrong. Even now, one of the things that I have learned is that who you are and what your identity is the first step in getting into the mindset of being an entrepreneur. One of the biggest hurdles, I would say is my identity. I had to shed the identity of a corporate executive, getting things done, and adopt the mindset, persona, and identity of an entrepreneur. I’ve made so many mistakes.
I was in the exact time. I work for Coca-Cola. There are not too many big companies in the world so every someone would say, “What do you do? Who do you work for?” I’d avoid the plague because someone would want a job or want a free product. They’re like, “Can you provide some product for my local school?” If I heard that once, I heard it a billion times.
The first time I went to a networking event, I’m like, “It’s going around the room. It’s finally going to hit me on what I do.” I’ve got no idea what I do. I’d like to be a coach and a consultant but I still don’t know. It sounds like you had a similar thing in it. Out of all the interviews I’ve done, no one’s hit that on the head. That, for me, was one of the biggest challenges. How did you overcome it?
I still am working on it. I didn’t have a realization that having that identity is important. After years of not getting to where I want it to be, I started to look at all different aspects of my business. Was it the product? Was it the service? Was it all of the things from a business perspective? Once I realized it wasn’t all the things, the only thing that was left was me. I held a mirror up to myself and I’m like, “What are you doing or not doing? How are you getting in your way?” It was because I approached everything as a corporate marketing executive would and that didn’t work in this world of entrepreneurship.
I hate to admit this because I’m proud but I didn’t even come to that realization until 2019. I held on to the identity because part of my business was marketing consultants. I would go into corporations where I had been before and I would be a successful marketing consultant because I knew their language and I knew how to operate in that. That was the piece of my business that did well but the She Leads Conferences and some of the She Leads Services, that was the part of the business that wasn’t doing well. I compensated because it all goes into the same pot at the end of the day. Nobody needed to know that the She Leads Conferences weren’t profitable because I was profitable on my marketing consulting.
To back up a tiny bit, I used to do a lot of work for bigger companies and I did well. I thought She Leads Media is all about women and I should be working with smaller women businesses to help them to implement all of the great marketing tactics, sales, business development, and all of it. I shifted my business away from corporate clients and toward smaller women entrepreneurs. It was a mistake. This is a sweeping statement, many times women entrepreneurs don’t have the same type of budget as corporations do. I ended up giving so much of my time, energy, and getting next to nothing in return. I wanted to serve these women because I love them.
That is so common and I’m sure that everyone reading at the moment, the majority would be nodding their head. I made a similar pivot from corporate to small business. I went too small and now have going up. That’s something very common with identity and the way that you operate as a corporate so you can add value there. The lead cycles, the complexity, and I don’t know for you but what I get the sense of PwC wasn’t a great ending.
You realized that, unfortunately, that’s the case in a lot of corporates these days. There are lots of corporations and people reading. If you’re in a corporate and you love it, that’s great but I know for me, it was day and night. Once I got into my own business, I could make my own decisions. All the politics and everything was crazy. You already started talking about She Leads Media so we’ll move into the build section. When someone says, “What do you do in She Leads Media,” how do you best describe that?
It’s evolving too. She Leads Media is truly a platform for women that they can learn and grow in getting their thoughts, ideas, and opinions out into the world. The way that we help them do that is we offer them in-person conferences and events and now live events too. Our podcast network promotes women’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions through this medium, which I love. Hopefully, the future other media that get women’s voices out there. She Leads Media helps to promote women’s voices, thoughts, and opinions.
When you say platform, take us a little bit more as to what that is. What do you mean by platform?
For example, I have a private community, it’s not on Facebook, it’s on a completely different platform, where I bring women together and encourage them to clarify their message and to get writing, producing, and creating content that moves people and makes them think. It’s a combination of bringing people together, creating this opportunity and platform for them to learn, and to take that learning and go out into the world with it. For the in-person events, we bring experts in a variety of different areas together with women like me who are looking to learn how to do things so they can set themselves up for success.
When I talk about the platform, it’s the conferences. They’re a platform for the exchange of ideas and the building of community. The podcast network is a media platform that allows women to create content and push that content out into the world. The eventual, She Leads Media YouTube channel is another platform that allows women to get their thought leadership out but in a different form. The platform is the thing and the different aspects of it are the manner with which they get those ideas out into the world.
You talked about creating content and how important that is. What do you know about creating content that many others missed?
Content is a hungry beast that can never be satisfied. I would say that it’s important to create quality content specifically for the audience that you’re looking to engage with. As a small business owner, you don’t want to be putting out articles that have SEO terms in them in order to draw people to you. That’s certainly a tactic. A lot of people do it and people are successful but I want to encourage everybody, not just women, to put out quality content that educates, helps people to learn, and attracts the right people to the business or yourself if you’re a thought leader and to stop some of the nonsense content that’s out there. It’s a lot of filler and not a lot of substance.
Can you give me some examples of what you think that is?
For some filler content, not that it’s not useful because sometimes you do want a quick hit of something that can provide a lot of value. All of these articles that are in the top 10 or top 5 has a lot of filler. My Australian friend talks about burritos. He thinks there’s a lot of burritos. It’s a lot of rice and beans, and not a lot of chicken. There’s a lot of burrito content out there. I don’t know if I can give a specific example but off the top of my head, somebody that I was interviewing for my podcast.Put out quality content that educates and attracts the right people to the business. Click To Tweet
Her name is Lesley Jane Seymour and she is an ex-editor of well-known magazines like Young Miss and More Magazine, defunct now. She started a business called Covey Club where she brings together women that are in the reinvention phase so they’re in the 2nd or 3rd chapter of their lives. She creates community and content that is specific to that demographic and psychographic of women. The way that she creates that content is not what she wants but she does surveys. She talks to these women. She puts out different types of content, articles, events, and gatherings that are specific and give these women what they’re looking for when it comes to learning how to be in the world in the 2nd phase of their life.
It’s so important. I had someone review my podcast. It was great. I was on her podcast and she reviewed it. She said, “What makes you binge-worthy?” I said, “I try to give practical value especially in the solo shows but when I’m asking all these questions, I’m trying to think of what can the listener go and take away.” I’m like you, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn. That’s where most of my audience is and I do a lot of content, but I’m not someone to take it away whereas, I’ve read your post, and it’s your version of what everyone else has done a version of in the past. I love that saying of the filler. It is filler and it’s not great. On the flip side, good quality content. Which of the platforms at the moment for small businesswomen, in particular, are working well? What’s good content look like? What are the right platforms to be on, other than yours?
I do think that LinkedIn is a bit of an untapped resource although I have been seeing a lot of filler content and things that I don’t think are necessarily “appropriate” for LinkedIn. It’s a lot of personal stuff. I’m not saying that you can’t bring personal into business. There’s a lot of chunks that are being put into LinkedIn. At the same time, LinkedIn is an untapped platform in order to spread your thought leadership beyond your smaller group.
I chose to create a network that was off of Facebook. I love it because nobody is making money off of people unintentionally like Facebook. What is brilliant about Facebook is that it has created a habit for people. They check Facebook all the time. If you’re a business and you want somebody to go over into your group, look at your page or something like that you can, you can capture their attention and pull them over into your store, if you will, in the mall. Facebook is the mall that you obsessively go to. You never want to miss out. They’ve done a great job of creating a bad habit. Having your own platform is excellent because they’re not taking advantage of people but the challenging piece is the engagement on those separate platforms because they don’t have that habit baked into it.
I’ve had over 2 million views and gained about 150 was the last count of new clients from LinkedIn. For me, putting out my thought leadership and good quality content that is practical, LinkedIn is untapped. They say it’s still less than 3% of people post on the platform. I totally agree with you. You said you started with small women in business and that was a mistake because of the budgets. Who do you now support?
The smaller businesses at the beginning of COVID and some of the things that I was doing dried up, if you will, which is unfortunate. I decided to put all of my focus and attention on building out the She Leads Media platform and that’s one of the reasons that we launched the She Leads Podcast Network so we are pivoting with our business. We are looking to build out other aspects like creating super practical actionable advice, I like to say, courses. We will be hosting our She Leads 2020 Conference online. Hopefully in 2021, if there’s a vaccine and all of it, we’re going to do more getting together in the person going on retreats, doing things that go deeper. The marketing consulting aspect of my business, I will focus on less, and I will build up the platform aspect of She Leads Media.
Who follows it? Obviously, it’s women entrepreneurs, but describe it on what stage they’re at?
These are women entrepreneurs that are in the 2nd phase of their career journey. They are much like me, people who had great success in the corporate world, but they have flipped over to being an entrepreneur. It’s women that not only do want to be successful entrepreneurs but they also want to hold a leadership position in their lives. This is a whole other conversation but leadership is different and looks different than what you might initially think of as a leader. Cultivating those leadership skills is something that is an important component of entrepreneurship. We do a lot of talking about entrepreneurship and leadership for women that are in the 2nd chapter of their career journey.
The last couple of questions is, you talked about podcasts. You’ve got your network, you’re a podcaster, you’ve got the Sugar Coated podcast which I started listening to, which is great. For the readers, as you said, they’re in the 2nd phase, they’ve been an excellent corporate person, and now are going out to be as a marketing strategist, whatever it is, but their brand and their positioning are important. They’ve been out for a little bit and they’re like, “I’ve got a lot of content on LinkedIn and other places but it’s not mine. It could be taken away from me at any time.” It’s building a house on someone else’s land. What advice would you have someone thinking of launching a podcast now?
One of the important things to note is exactly what you said. When you’re posting on LinkedIn, that’s not your platform. You don’t control that. LinkedIn posts in a certain way. Somebody can jump on top of you and get more views. It’s important, especially for women to start a podcast so they can have their own platform. It’s also an excellent means to create a variety of important content. Somebody once said to me, “Wouldn’t you rather be the voice that you own versus being lost in a sea of other voices.”
You can do so much to promote your own content and create a whole entire ecosystem around the content that you can cultivate using your podcast. I say, “Women, you need to start your podcast.” One of the things that is a secondary benefit is as you talk and plan your podcast, you start to uncover your unique brand of content. You need to have who your ideal customer is in your mind at all times so you can be specifically speaking to them and delivering value for them.
That’s brilliant. With your podcast network, do you help people with the strategy and production? Tell us a little bit more about that.
We do it all. We do a variety of different things. If you have your podcast and you know what your strategy is, we would love to invite you to apply to be part of the She Leads Podcast Network, but we also do help women that have an idea and a concept about a podcast. We help them develop the entire strategy and everything that goes along with it like the cover art, the intros, outros, and the music, and all the good stuff. We help them to produce their podcast on whatever basis it is, whether it’s a series, a weekly podcast, a monthly podcast, or whatever it is, we do all the editing, all the distribution. We’re a one-stop-shop for it all.
You talked about a shift from in-person to online, your experience of running online events during COVID, what’s been your experience and most importantly learning so we can help others reading now?
It’s so funny, I’ve been reluctant to move forward with my conference in an online world because one of the most beautiful things about the She Leads Conference is that we created this loving environment where there’s a lot of incredible information shared and relationships forms that continue on for such a long time. I didn’t think that I would be able to create that same type of feeling on the computer. I had pushed off making the decision to even have the event. I decided after prompting from a lot of people that said you cannot do it.
To answer your question, I don’t think that the virtual events now are great. I do think that it is important to pivot, understand the medium, and modify what you’re doing so it still delivers the practical, actionable advice, connections, and everything like that. I am going to do my best to create that type of environment on December 8th with the She Leads 2020 Conference. I’ve attended many virtual events, conferences, summits, and done a lot of observation.
If there’s anybody out there that’s thinking of doing an event, if you’re a little bit on the smaller side and you don’t have a lot of resources, the most important thing that I can offer is to keep the pace quick, not too fast that people don’t know what’s going on and somewhat condensed. People are strained, they’re tired, we’re on the computer so much more than we should be so go in with the perspective of delivering quick value and use that to build deeper relationships in the future.
That’s great advice. You can find out more about Adrienne at SheLeadsMedia.com. Before we get into the live section, I’d like to talk about our assessment to help you work out if you’re going to have a high or low seven-figure business in 2021. Go to PaulHigginsMentoring.com/assessment and answer the fifteen questions in three minutes or less. Based on your results, you’ll get either a free 45-minute strategy call or walk you through exactly the plan based on your answers. For those that have done well in the assessment, a chance to share your success on this podcast like Adrienne. The next is the live section. What are some daily habits that help you be successful, Adrienne?
Getting out, getting fresh air, and stepping away from the work. This is a success habit. Another is mindfulness, taking some deep breaths, and getting from my head into my body. I was doing a lot of living upstairs way too much. Doing some grounding exercises, some deep breathing is something that gives me clarity of mind and allows me to make better choices. Another habit that I have is I do a lot of masterminding, not in any type of formal way, but with a couple of close people to me. We share everything on both the personal side and the business side. I feel that this is a habit of being able to be transparent. That benefits me and it could benefit others.
It’s a great way because it can be lonely. I set up my business to run it from a hospital bed so I’m used to working by myself on Zoom. It does get lonely and a lot of your corporate friends don’t quite understand your world like how we understand it. That’s so important to have those informal masterminds. Speaking of partners. What would you like to say to John about the support he’s giving you through this journey?
John, you have come 180 degrees. When I first brought the idea to him about me starting my own business, my husband, who I love, and who is my best friend was not a supporter of my decision. He gave me a hard time about it and I was upset. I set out to show him that I could do it. My husband is an entrepreneur himself so our roles shifted. He went from being my biggest nemesis to being my biggest supporter. I have no words to say how much he loves, supports me, and thinks that I’m the greatest. I feel incredibly blessed that he is my partner.
Moving into the give section. What’s a charity or community that you’re passionate about and why?Leadership looks different than what you might initially think of as a leader. Click To Tweet
I am passionate about women and justice. It’s what I live, eat, and breathe on. There’s not one charity in particular but everything that I do is to give women the inspiration that they can choose. They have choices that can benefit them in their lives and all. I’ll always stand up and tell every woman that she can do whatever it is that she wants to do. I support many different communities and organizations. What I give is my time and my expertise.
What was the driver of your passion for supporting women? Is there an event? Tell us a little bit more because I know how passionate you are about it. It’d be great to know why.
It’s personal and it’s over the course of my career being told everything like, “It will be a cold day in hell before a woman sits on my trading desk. You need to quiet down, you’re out of control.” It’s a personal mission to demonstrate to women that they don’t need to fit into somebody else’s box. Corporate is also something that I don’t quite understand because it wasn’t developed to embrace women and it puts women behind. Any woman knows that we’re amazing so to keep us down in any way is ridiculous. I’m so passionate about bringing those issues to the table and letting women know that they don’t need to be controlled.
I fully endorse, support, and live those values. A charity that I give the proceeds of my book, Build Live Give and a portion of my revenue is the Purple House. You can find out more at PurpleHouse.org.au. The last section is the rapid-fire section where I’ll ask you some questions and you’ll give me some rapid-fire responses. The first one is, what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
Number one is I use my calendar for everything. Anything that I have to do goes on my calendar. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t get done. The second thing is taking time for myself every day to think and ground myself, and having an amazing support system of family and friends.
What technology is essential for running your business?
I know that it’s simple but calendar. Whatever calendar you want to use, that is essential to running my business. Something else that I love is Slack and all of the Google Docs sharing suite has been a game-changer.
You’re leaving corporate and I know you’re so used to using Outlook, etc. I’ve got to say that the sooner you move to Google, the better. The other thing of personal recommendation is the sooner you move to Mac or Apple rather than PC which we’ve been brought up in corporate. You’ll have less hair-pulling days. What’s the best source of new ideas for you?
Quiet time coupled with talking to people.
It’s a beautiful combination. This is the last question and I always preface it by saying it’s the most important. That’s why I leave it last. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
That’s so hard because I’m a person in this big wide world. I would like to leave an impact that women are equal. Anything that I can do to help promote equality in a meaningful way would be an impact that I would like to leave on the world.
I can’t wait until the day where we don’t talk about the difference. It’s been amazing having you on. As you said early, you’ve got a live online conference on the 8th of December 2020. Is that New York time, EST?
It’s Eastern Standard Time, December 8th, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. We are having a break in the middle because I get it. I’m going to have the most incredible speaker as people that are part of my network and others that are willing to give their practical actionable advice for women entrepreneurs and leaders.
You can get more about that at SheLeadsMedia.com and also go and find Sugar Coated wherever you listen to podcasts. There are so many places now. It’s brilliant having you on and thanks for living your passion and changing that corporate. I know it sounds like you’re a round peg in a square hole but now helping people that are in that second phase of their journey achieve success for them a lot faster. It’s great having you on and enjoy your day.
Thank you so much, Paul. This was so much fun, and I appreciate the opportunity.
What a wonderful platform Adrienne is building. It’s so motivating and it’s a gap difference that needs to be filled. What is your biggest takeaway from Adrienne? Please share on your socials mentioning her and She Leads Media Company. To find out more about her, you can go to SheLeadsMedia.com. If you believe someone you know would benefit from the show, please share. They will love you for it. You can also fill out the assessment to know if you’re going to have a high or low seven-figure business in 2021. Go to PaulHigginsMentoring.com/Assessment. Please take action to build, live, and give.
- She Leads Media
- She Leads Podcast Network
- She Leads Media – YouTube
- Sugar Coated
- Covey Club
- Build Live Give
- [email protected]
About Adrienne Garland
As the CEO of She Leads Media, I’ve created a global platform and community for women leaders and women entrepreneurs to gather in-person and online to connect, collaborate, learn & grow in a genuine & supportive environment.
As a podcast and conference producer, entrepreneur and champion of women around the world, I recognize that it’s critical for women to use powerful language to position and pitch themselves to the media to increase visibility.
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