January 21, 2020

Episode #221 // Plan a Happy Life with Stephanie Fleming of Happy Planner

A happy life doesn’t just fall in your lap, so we’ve brought in Stephanie Fleming of Happy Planner to talk about how to plan out your happy life. We’re also talking about navigating pivotal life moments, cultivating happiness and creative freedom, fraudy feelings, and so much more.

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"Just being self-aware as a person matters in business. You have to know who you are as a person and you have to know who you are as a professional."
- Stephanie Fleming

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • How Stephanie got her start in entrepreneurship
  • Evolving your product offerings from one thing to another
  • Dealing with external and internal pushback
  • Making a decision at pivotal moments
  • What it means to plan a happy life
  • Using planners and systems to cultivate a happy life

RESOURCES DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE

MORE FROM Stephanie Flemming

MORE FROM KATHLEEN

Braid Creative

MORE FROM EMILY

Almanac Supply Co.

Episode Transcript

Emily: I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen: And I'm Kathleen Shannon

Emily: And this is Being Boss.

Emily: In this episode of being boss, I'm excited to share a delightful conversation I had with today's guest about creative expression, fraudy feelings and planning a happy life. As always, you can find all the tools, books, and links we reference on the show notes at www.beingboss.club.

Kathleen: Whether you're building up your side hustle or working for yourself full time, you'll quickly learn that as a creative entrepreneur, the work you do isn't always well creative. FreshBooks cloud accounting is here to help. I personally use and love FreshBooks cloud accounting. It's easy and intuitive but robust enough to keep me organized. They have automated systems that help me track my expenses and invoice my clients so I get paid faster without the headache of chasing down payment. FreshBooks is the number one accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams today over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses, and track their billable time. Try FreshBooks cloud accounting for free by going to freshbooks.com/beingboss and enter being boss in the how did you hear about us? Section

Emily: Want to know what single thing it moves the needle in my business most every single time I do it? Attending a conference. It was at a conference when I realized I wanted to become a content creator. It was at a conference that I first met Kathleen in real life. It was at a conference that I learned the importance of business strategies like how to take real time away from my business, zeroing in on my value proposition, and learning how to first grow my team. Conferences are immersive experiences that remove you from the daily grind of your business and surround you with the content people and activities that inspire new ideas and boost your business forward. It's for those reasons and many more that we are hosting our first Being Boss Conference in April 2020. Join me, Kathleen, and a brood of bosses for keynote speakers, panel sessions and hands on workshops that will leave you and your business play more boss than when you arrived. Learn more and grab your ticket while they last at beingboss.club/conference. I look forward to seeing you there.

Emily: A happy life doesn't just fall in your lap and I'm especially saying that to any of you out there who are embarking on or who have embarked on your business thinking that that's what's going to happen. Getting that happy life is a many stepped process that happens alongside starting your business, making annual action plans, dealing with your inbox and going to that conference. It also happens at the same time as dealing with that awful client mishap or having that opportunity fall through.

Emily: Making a happy life for yourself is a never ending project that weaves in and out of every project you have going. And the moment you put down that Baton to put something else ahead of it, well you'll likely immediately veer off course and could soon lose sight of what you're really working for. We talk often around here about things like the work life blend tactics for prioritizing what brings you fulfillment and how to live and work by your values so you always feel good about what you do. And in today's episode we're hearing more of this and more from a heavy hitter in the industry of creativity and planning. Stephanie Fleming. Stephanie is a creative entrepreneur, speaker, optimist, and a wellness seeker. Most notably, she is the cofounder of Me and My Big Ideas, creators of the happy planner. What began 20 years ago as a tiny garage based business is now an industry leading lifestyle brand that offers a wide variety of products that inspire customers to live creatively and plan a happy life. It's Stephanie's mission to create a happy life movement by empowering people everywhere to take control of their own happiness by embracing planning, positivity and all things creative. She sounds like a boss to me and I am so excited to share her and her story with you here. Hello Stephanie. Welcome to Being Boss. I'm so glad you're here.

Stephanie: Hi. Thanks for having me. I'm super excited to be here talking with you.

Emily: Oh, we're going to have a blast. So one I'll note we both have cups of tea, sitting here hanging out. I'm excited for just a really good chat about creativity and business. I'm excited to have been with you on a couple of things, but before I get started, I want you to tell everyone a little bit more about you and how it is that you got to where you are today.

Stephanie: Okay. Oh wow. Okay. I'll try and make it, you know, like the cliff notes version. My name is Stephanie Fleming. I am a creative entrepreneur and about 21 years ago now, almost, I think it is, my mom and I started me and my big ideas, which was a company that we created out of a need for a product that we didn't see out on the marketplace. And, um, so, but to go farther back, a little bit farther back, I grew up in the creative industry, so my parents ran a, um, like a craft manufacturing company and a distributors. So I grew up like seeing creative people in business. So I kind of had that entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age and worked the warehouse and you know, our parents had us doing all kinds of things like, you know, Oh, you need to, you want some extra money, you're going to to go pick orders in the warehouse.

Stephanie: So I was really fortunate enough to be able to see how businesses work from, you know, the mind of a 15 year old or, um, and see my parents work very hard for what they wanted. And then I, you know, was in high school and had got pregnant right out of high school. So I was kind of, you know, starting life going like, okay, I'm going to be a mom. I didn't go to college and I just was going to make my life work. And um, and I did that. I had had another child, got married and, and I did in home daycare for like eight years, just trying to make ends meet and you know, be a mom and do all the things. And about eight years into that, um, I was not making ends meet and having a really hard time just, I love the little kids that I watched.

Stephanie: I, I am the oldest of a lot of his mind and ours, there's like nine of us all together. So I love kids, but I needed to get out, I needed to exercise my creative muscle and to be quite honest with you and like I wanted to pay the bills. So, um, my mom at that time had just gone through a divorce with my stepdad and they sold their business. So my mom was at this place in her life where she was saying, okay, I'm in my forties now I need to start a new life. And I was saying, Hey, I need to change my life up. I need to, you know, do something different. And, um, we were at my son's baseball game, I think in the fall of 1998. And scrapbooking was kind of just in its infancy at the time. And we didn't have like this, you know, this idea that was going to change the world.

Stephanie: But we were scrapbookers and we were creative people and we were wanting a sticker that was different. So it started out with just one idea to take the little tiny stickers that people were putting in these big giant scrapbooks and say like, you know, well, what if we made bigger stickers that had these clear borders? And what if we just tried to like, you know, go into business together. And we had an artist friend who was going to do the work for us. And, um, and we, I, I'm like, I have $0 million to put into this. So I will put in 100% sweat equity cause like had maybe negative $0 million. Um, and so I, so we went and we just, we just went for it with that one big slash little idea of creating this product that we, um, wanted to see in the marketplace.

Stephanie: And in 1998, I filed for a DBA, um, you know, doing business as is most of your listeners I'm sure know and just kind of took all of the chances and said, let's, let's just see what this, where this goes. And, um, so we did that. I went to, um, there was a lot in between there. I, we worked really hard, took our products to a trade show a couple months later, like made moved mountains to make that happen. And um, kind of the hit of this show, you know, this little idea we had turned into this business that people wanted also turn, you know, and, um, we were able to continue to follow that process of being the customer and saying, what do I want to do in this craft and creative industries? What is the product that I want to see that's not out there and let's go make it and bring it to the marketplace. So we've been doing that now for 21 years. I hope that sum that up without not giving you too much.

Emily: No, it totally does. And I even want to like pass a couple of kudos to your mom. And that's one of the ones that, one of the things that really stood out for me there was this idea that she was in her forties and thinking, yeah, you know, new life starting all over. I know, you know, for me, I am mid thirties and started a new business about two years ago. And sometimes I think like, I don't think I could ever start any business or I know a lot of our listeners are a little bit older and are really sort of feel hindered by their age almost to start to that new venture or their new life or that new passion or whatever it may be. But your mom went for it and did it and it sounds like it's paid off.

Stephanie: Yeah, I think that she's, my mom's taught me, she a lot of things in life, but she's very resilient and my mom's kind of had this like, it's never too late. There's never something that is too big for you to try and conquer. I mean, like I said, I, I don't have a college education, but I am a very smart person. Um, and I know at that point just in my life, I mean, I'm, I'm all for, uh, higher education as well, but if you don't have one or if you're, if it's later in life, there's so many things that you can do by being an accomplished, by being a hard worker, by believing in yourself and just going for it. Um, that, and I think there's something to be said to win when you don't have, um, you know, you, not that she didn't have anywhere to go but up, but we were at these places where, you know, she was, I want to say she was, she would have been like 48.

Stephanie: She would've been like my age. I'm 48, so my mom would, Oh, that's really interesting. My mom would have been my age trying to start this whole new, this whole new life. And I'm telling you, she wasn't, if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have done it. I'm a much, uh, um, I'm kind of a perfectionist. I take a long time to like, I want everything to like I'm a thinker and my mom's like, let's just do it. Let's just do it. And so that push that she had, um, has taught me a lot and has really helped us get into business. I'm sure I would've over-thought myself right out of the business, you know, and doubted myself and my abilities. And so that's been a real gift. But she, you know, she definitely has that resilience. Um, nature.

Emily: Oh, it sounds like you guys make for a wonderful partnership. I would love to hear a little bit about how you evolved from the beginning scrapbooks stickers into planners, which is what you're most known for now.

Stephanie: It's part of you. So one of the things when I grew up speaking to my mom, when I grew up, um, we, my mom did basically the same thing that my sister does now at our, in our business. And what I did before my sister did was, um, kind of go out there and you take a look at the industry that you're in and you see, or you see that industry from the customer's perspective, you become that customer and you see, um, you know, what is what, like in our instance, what was the scrapbook or doing, you know, what was somebody that was scrapping, knew what is she want, what kind of products does she want to see? And when we, we saw that early on in our lives, my mom was doing that.

Stephanie: So my sister and I kind of came across that naturally. Um, and, and I think, and she helped to nurture that in us. But in our business, when we saw scrapbooking start to, you know, we, we were there, the roller coaster ride, but it was like up, up, up, up, up, up. But for a lot of years. And, um, and we would come out with products and then we kind of saw this, um, one year, I think it was 2014 scrapbooking had already started to level off and decline. People were still scrapbooking. But when we were in business, we have to grow, we have to continue to grow. Um, and we needed to find out what were creative women doing if they weren't scrapbooking as much. And um, because that's who our customer is, the creative woman. And so I went on and I was searching Pinterest and it was my job and my sister's job at that time as well to see what are they doing, what is our customer doing if they're not doing this, you know, the, the art of scrapbooking as much.

Stephanie: And I was on Pinterest and saw people using regular planners, like, you know, in my opinion, boring kind of just nothing planners, but they were using our scrapbooking products to liven them up and to make them, they were stickers that were really designed for scrapbooking. And they were using them in planners to kind of bring this creative vibe to planning their busy lives. And so my, my observation was our customers are busy. Scrapbooking takes a lot of time and she wants to do something that is, um, she kinda needs that permission, you know, to like to bring that creativity into her life. And a planner was where she was doing it. And so I did a lot of research into the industry. I bought all of our competitors or future possible competitors products to see could we offer something unique and different because, you know, my belief is, is that if we can't, then we're just white noise.

Stephanie: You know, there's a lot of people that can do things well. And I'm sure you know, for your listeners, whether they're, whatever their businesses, you know, if you're a photographer, you gotta you have to know like, what do I offer that's different because I'm sure there's tons of wedding photographers, but if you are a good one and you can see like what you can offer that's different, you know, how do you stand out? Um, that was, that's kind of how we've always come out with products to see if, if it was something different. And, and in that case with the planners, um, there were a lot of great things that were out there. But what I wanted to do was to create one that was really customizable that I could change around. Cause I was, some of them were very expensive. A lot of them were kind of plain.

Stephanie: There were no accessories or stickers, which is what we did, um, that were designed specifically for planners, which is so ironic because like, the reason why we got into business in the first place was creating products because nobody had stickers that were specifically designed for scrapbookers. And now there were no stickers or accessories that were like designed to fit within the columns of your weekly date or your weekly planners and um, and the artwork. I just thought we, we have an incredible team of designers who are so talented and I thought if that artwork could get in planners, so we, we brought that idea, um, to our team to see what they thought and you know, you know, my, my portion of that was let's get, um, let's get the, the idea to the team and let's see them just kind of bring it to life. And that's exactly what happened. And um, it literally changed our business almost overnight. I think when in the course of a year, a year and a half, we tripled the size of our business from the introduction of the planners.

Emily: Nice. That came from looking at your customers. Yes. I know in our realm, a lot of times I hear things around creatives or there's this interesting thing that happens whenever you go into business as a creative. Most people go in wanting creative freedom to just create what they want. Whenever you start a business, you, your creativity is at least a little bit, but most of the time, a lot dictated by your customers. Did you ever have any sort of internal or external pushback in terms of that? And if so, how did you deal with it?

Stephanie: That was probably one of the toughest things for me early on because I remember hearing somebody saying, well, you don't take things personally. And I'm thinking, I take everything personally. I've had to learn not to, but because as a creative person, you put your heart and soul into what you do. You know, that's not necessarily just a job. You are putting something out there and into the world and it feels like a part of yourself. Um, and I think when that's what makes it magic, you know, that's what makes it so special is when you do put that out there. But that is like putting your child out into the world and then saying, what do you think of my baby? Honestly tell me, do you think my baby's beautiful and someone's gonna go, you know, like we're looking, you know, and, and you do have to be able to, like if you, if this is a business for you, you have to be able to separate that and find the, the line of, you know, am I being true to myself, which I hope you, you know, you always are.

Stephanie: Um, but also if I like it, but nobody wants to buy it. It isn't a business. You don't have a product. You have a hobby. You have something that you might love. And there's nothing wrong with that. But, um, you might not have a business and that might be okay. But if you are in the, you know, if you're looking to create something that is going to be, you know, bringing in, um, a revenue stream, then you have to listen to your customers. And that's been one of the things with the happy planner and using social media has been a way for us to have this real time conversation with our, our customers saying like, they love something that we do or we wish you would come out with this product and we've been able to react, which, I mean, you have to listen to what your customers want.

Emily: True story. True story. Thank you for sharing all of that. That is of course, wonderful insights. Um, I'd like to move a little further and you've had such, such a robust journey I feel in the past 20, 21 years. I would love to hear from you if you can pinpoint any pivotal point in your path where we're, maybe you've made a decision that you can see made a huge difference in your business.

Stephanie: I think there've been two. The first one is, um, just starting it and not overthinking it. Um, because I think so many people get wrapped up in the doubts and, well, what will, I don't know. I don't know if, and I do this, I struggle with this and, and work on it all the time now, but every time if you're prepared enough, if you've thought about it and you really wanna go out there and it feels maybe not safe, but it feels, you know, there's a difference between like, you know, when somebody says, you know, do something everyday that scares you. And I'm, I'm not, uh, an adrenaline junkie and so I like to be safe, but doing something different isn't safe. So if you've done your homework and you feel like it's something you want to do, um, but you're just afraid to do, to step out there and take the chance, um, learning to do that, especially like from day one with my mom just going, like, we looked at each other going like, should we just do it?

Stephanie: Let's just do it. Let's give each other, let's, how about a year? We gave it, you know, a year to see, who knows if we were going to like to work together, who knows if, you know, this might be a bomb. And that was okay. And so along the way, learning how to just start like that has it obviously launched the business, but it also has given the freedom to when we want to launch a new product, you know, we don't know, not everything we come out with is the happy planner. You know, we've come out with some serious dogs, I mean really bad products and we thought they were good and nobody liked them. And you know, if we gave up every time we had a product that, you know, that wasn't a home run, we would be out of business. So, you know, kind of that I think the starting mechanism of like believing in yourself enough to, to just go for it.

Stephanie: That's been a big one. And then I think the second thing is, um, I S I really had to kind of step out of my mom's shadow. She's very creative and she's very, um, we're very close. Uh, she's very good at what she does, but she and I are extremely different. And so I really compared myself a lot to her and to a lot of other people doubted myself because I didn't have a college education, uh, thought I needed to. I've got pictures of myself in like suits, like pantsuits, like nothing. It's not me, but I'm trying to be like, I was always trying to be like, you know what? I thought somebody else thought that a business woman should be. Um, and somewhere along the way, I think, uh, I was, I want to say it was probably about 10 years ago, so it wasn't, I mean, it was into my career.

Stephanie: I just said, you know, I was invited to these like CEO summits and, and I was never the CEO, but I would go, and then I felt kind of like an imposter because, you know, I was like, Oh, I don't know. I don't, I don't have the education they have. I don't have this. And finally, one day I learned to say, you know, believe in my talents and the things that I do well. And I really focused in on, Hey, this is, this is where I, this is where I should live. You know, this is where I should push myself and I don't need to be the CEO. I don't need to dress in a business suit. Um, and it was actually when I started to focus in on those things that I was able to tap in to the creativity that was enabled me to see, you know, the happy planner, you know, being born. Um, because you know, now I, the confidence that I have, just knowing what my abilities are has changed my life and it's changed my business. So I think, you know, just being self aware enough as a person, it matters in business. You know, you have to know who you are as a person and you have to know who you are as a professional.

Emily: Thank you so much for sharing both of those things. You just hit on two of the biggest things that we talk about ally here at being boss and one of them is this idea that you just have to do the work. You have to show up. You have to trust the process, you just, it, you have to have like that leap of faith that just, you know, you're going to do this, you're going to express yourself creatively. You're going to do business. It's, it's gonna work. It's gonna work out one way or the other. So high five on starting for sure. And then this idea of owning who you are, of, of setting the fraudy feelings aside, we call them Friday feelings. That's so great. And, and also letting everyone in on the fact that even you feel them too. Because I would imagine amongst our people, you where you've made it, do you, are, you are, you are probably on a couple of people's vision boards, I would imagine in terms of what success looks like. And even even people who are, you know, in Walmart and target and Michael's and everywhere have fraudy feelings to and have to deal with some with some of those mindset shifts that come from showing up, expressing yourself creatively, openly and publicly, um, and finding where it is that you fit in all of it.

Stephanie: I think that's been something that I'm, I love Instagram and social media when it's used properly and one of my favorite things to do and the one I get the most feedback on, surprisingly, it's not the product. People love the product, but it's when I show up as myself and be real and that's all I've ever been on. But once social media came around before the fraudy feelings happened to before and they come back, they come back all the time. But it's such a freeing feeling to know that it's like I don't have to be anybody other than who I am, what I bring to the table when I'm working on it. And when I am doing the work and showing up is, is good enough. And if it's not that I need to work harder at it and I'm okay to say, you know, sometimes, you know, I'll go on.

Stephanie: I'm my, my new title in our business is happiness ambassador and about six months ago, um, I was not feeling so happy and you know, there's a lot of pressure to, you know, go on and be seen in like, do you hide it? Because our product is all about happiness. And um, I thought, you know, it's more important to be seen authentically and be a genuine person, whether it's social media or whether it's business for me to say, Hey, you know what, I'm struggling right now. Um, it actually, it's kinda hard by being the happiness ambassador and struggling a little bit, but here's how I'm going to work through it and I actually use our product to work through it. So it became like a, a way to share things and you know, because I also think there's this illusion of, um, and, and I don't ever want to be, I think it's P does people a disservice to further the myth that, you know, once you make it, it's easier.

Stephanie: The way up is easy. Once you get it, it's just as hard, if not harder. It's worth it. I love it, but it's hard, you know, that saying of find something you love and you'll never work a day in your life is just not true. You know? I mean, you might enjoy it, but it's work. And if you're not able to do that, and like there are days on social media, I would say like, Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry guys. I haven't been back here for a while. I miss you because if I showed you what my week was, it would be like, get up in the morning, go to work, come home late, you know, eat something really quick from door dash. Um, go to bed, get up in the morning, go to, that's, that's what's happening. It's not, you know, Oh my gosh, you hit the big time and then you just get to bask and lay by the pool. You know, the work still continues,

Emily: Right? Then you have to deliver. Yeah. That's when all the work actually happens. Right

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Emily: I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about what it means to plan a happy life. Um, is do you call that like your business mantra or your tagline? Like, how does that fit in the mission of me and my big ideas slash happy planner.

Stephanie: But yeah, so I think it's, it's a motto. It's a tagline. It's all of the above. Um, and because I feel like when we created the name, the happy planner, it kinda had a dual meaning. So the planner would be happy. It would be filled with positive affirmations and it would look pretty and, and it would just be better than a gray blank office store, you know, planner. And, um, but it would also make you a happy planner, right? It would bring a little bit more joy into your life and creativity. And so in that we wanted to create a tagline that was a little more active, like, you know, and plan a happy life was where we landed. And what I love about that is around that time, about 10 years ago, I was telling you a big shift in my life was really believing in loving myself and knowing that I was enough and, and positive affirmations that we had had in some of our scrapbooking stickers really helped me through that.

Stephanie: And so, um, you know, I really started to understand the importance of self awareness and personal development and, and the fact that there's nobody in this world that is going to take you no charge and going to hand you your life, your business, anything on a silver platter. Like you have to decide what happiness looks like for you and then you and only you have to develop a plan and go get it. Um, you know, because happy things might happen around you. But if there's something, a goal or an ideal life or feeling that you want, you have to number one people to say, you know, what looks good for me, which is, you know, um, creating, uh, a home and a business that I'm proud of and being very close and being a very present and loving wife, mother, grandmother, you know, family member and friend and um, creating a home where people feel loving and creating a space of peace and contentment that may not be the ideal happiness for someone who's an adrenaline seeker.

Stephanie: You know, who wants to climb Mount Everest, Everest. And so I had to do the work to say, this is me, this makes me happy. And so everyday when I'm planning in my planner, I am looking at am I creating the space to um, to take some time for meditation? Am I working now to say health is important to me? And right now I'm, I've been kind of stressed out and I haven't been taking care of myself like I should. So, you know, it's on me. So let me put that in my planner, let me make that time. Um, and you know, if I'm not, if part of my work is not fulfilling, what is it about that and how am I going to work around that or through that, or what am I going to do? Um, and so the idea of don't, you know, we don't want people over-planning and underdoing, you know, so get in there, make a plan, but you know, ultimately your happiness is up to you.

Emily: So were you always a planner user or did your planner make you a planner user?

Stephanie: I've always been a planner in my head. I think that, um, I've, and I just like in my behavior, I don't do spontaneity very well. I like to plan things out. Um, and in, in school, I don't know that I ever had like a calendar planner, but I wrote things down a lot. I've always been a paper person. Um, whether it's been in crafting or in writing things down. I love a good app. I love, you know, technology to a point. And, um, but I, but it doesn't make me more productive. It doesn't make me prioritize. I'm a really right brained person. So, um, getting something down on a computer screen is great. I have to trigger my brain in a different way. I have to trigger my brain by writing something down and planning and writing. The act of writing does that. Um, scientifically I w was not my study obviously, but there's been studies that have shown that you trigger a different part of your brain that helps you remember when you write things down. And I need to be able to say, you know, that thing that I'm putting off that I really don't want to do should be the first thing I'm doing this morning. I physically put it in my planner.

Emily: Same. I'm the same. I have to, I have to write things down as well. And again, that like brain hand, eye coordination, like there's so many more little systems I think that go into you writing things down. I find it to be super powerful too. So yes, all the tech things. But also can I just have my paper planner please?

Stephanie: Yes.

Emily: Awesome. So you mentioned briefly there, this act of this act of prioritizing and writing things down that are important to you. There's something that we talk about a lot here too. And even in our book we had this little exercise and we call it like, um, we call it, it's like a garden. You have this garden and it's a walled garden and those are your boundaries. And within your walled garden, you write down what it is that, um, that is most important to you and the different areas of life and whatever it is that you're playing thing in. That garden is what you're nurturing and protecting and everything else, all the weeds just don't belong there and they can stay away. And I often feel my planner is that sort of visual representation of that quote unquote Garden that we've outlined in our book where the things that go in my paper planner are the things that are most important. I mean, I have a Asana task lists out my wazoo and so many things on my cat. Like there are so many things going on, but I know that what is happening in my paper planner is most important for what really makes me happiest if I may. Um, but do you have any sort of systems or processes or um, any way that you use or you've seen your community use planners, um, to help them really cultivate their happiest life?

Stephanie: Yeah, I mean, one of the things, I have a system that over over the years I'd say has really helped me. It started, um, because I, I'm not good at, I'm not good at multitasking. I'm really good at focusing in on something and working on it. And the minute I'm all over the place, I mean I can do it. I'm a woman, I'm a mom, I can do it, but I'm not very effective. So, um, so I've developed this thing the busier my company got in my life, got everything that was running through my brain, everything from huge presentations, you know, sales presentations to I need to empty the dishwasher or get my tires rotated was all just circling around in my head. And, um, and so I learned to have just what I call a match, uh, master action item list, like a master list.

Stephanie: And I actually have to have a personal one and a work one. And, um, anytime it's, there's two sheets in my planner at all times and I will say, Oh my gosh, if I'm in the car and I think I need to rotate my tires, I don't let anything stay in my brain for very long because number one, I'm going to forget it. Um, and number two, you don't file it away in the same way. So, um, and it takes up the same amount of time in your brain to think empty the dishwasher and prepare, you know, to, for a speech in front of 1400 people. Like it's the same thing, you know, it's taking that same space. So, um, so I would just, I immediately write it down if I am somewhere, I don't have my planner, I use just the notes app in my phone and then I'll transfer it over.

Stephanie: But it always lives there. And then I have this concept of what I call, um, the today list. And to me it happened when I was going through a really tough divorce and I found myself actually physically on the floor crying going, I don't know where my life is going to go. Call my brother over. And he just said, cause I was like, I need to get a divorce attorney and I need to like what I'm going to do, where to sell the house, where my kid's going to go to school. I was just, you know, I, I didn't even know how to think. There were so many things going through my brain and he's like, you need, you don't need to worry about those things today. You need to get them off somewhere, put them on a list, write all the things down that you need to get done.

Stephanie: And then today, what do you need to get done like you? And he goes, you need to pick up Kayla from school. You need to cook dinner for the two of you. And maybe throw in a load of laundry and maybe call someone to see about maybe getting the name of a divorce attorney period that don't worry about anything else. You can do those four things today. Tomorrow you can have a different list. So I will use my planner to take the items off of my master lists and transfer them. I use like a, there's a, um, it's a vertical line, right? Your vertical column. It's Monday. And I will look and say, okay, on Monday, what do I need to do on Monday? I prioritize it so that I have a realistic view of the things that I need to get done. So I'm not, cause when I look at my master list, if I looked at that thing, Oh, it's like you're a sauna.

Stephanie: When I'm sure you look at, I'm thinking, Oh my gosh, when am I going to get this done? I get overwhelmed. Anxiety sets in and, and then I will procrastinate and do something completely off that list. And like, you know, what I should try is acrylic painting today. You know, nowhere on my list, but that's going to feel good. So, um, so my, I really, I love lists list-making and prioritizing and then putting them where they go in your day. So on Monday I look at what do I need to get done on Monday and I plan it off on Sundays. So I kind of take a look at what my week looks like. And that way if there's something that, like if I'm going to get my, you know, I keep going back to tires rotated cause I need to get my tires rotated. But if I think about that on your list, it's on my list. And if I think about it and I go, you know what, I'm going to take it and I have an appointment, I'm going to do it on Friday. Then on

Stephanie: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I'm not worrying or thinking about the tires, rotating, freeing up space in my mind for the creative ideas that I need to have and for the important thinking that needs to go on. And this giant head of mine, you know?

Emily: No, that's, that's such a wonderful tactic. It's funny you're talking and I have a similar process as well. I just call it my weekly list. So on Sunday and it's usually Sunday, like late afternoon. And that's usually the time for me where I have, um, I've been going through my entire weekend, not at my computer or at my notebook to write things down. So I have all these things like bumping around in my head for me to like really enjoy my Sunday evening. Like those last hours before Monday starts rolling around, I have to sit down and get it all out on a list and then come Monday morning I'll start tasking it all out, you know, in all the places where it needs to be for either, um, and fun tactic here, I'll even make lists for people on my team.

Emily: So if there's like a question that I need to ask someone or I need, I need to check in on that thing that I delegated to someone to make sure it's getting done or I need to, you know, give them this update or tell them to do this thing, whatever it may be. This master list that I create on Sundays really shapes the rest of my week but also gets it all out of my head so that I can enjoy those last couple of hours before getting to work.

Stephanie: We might be the same person because I do the same. We might meet the exact same person cause I do the same thing is when it comes down to like my list, I will open it up cause I'll know like I need to check in with Hannah about this. Well you know, I'm constantly going and then I look at Hannah when I see her walking down the hall and I'm thinking I had something for her. What was I going to say to Hannah? And I'll open up my list and say if we have a meeting or if just like, Hey, Oh, here are the five things that I needed to touch base with you on. Um, and so I think we're, we have so many of the same, um, yes, uh, planner brain.

Emily: I'm right there with ya. Yeah. Perfect. Okay. Thank you so much for sharing that. I think that's a really helpful tactic. If anyone out here is not making lists, you've heard me Kathleen, say plenty of times. Make lists, you've heard it again, make some lists. It frees up brain space so you can think about any and everything else and take action and take action.

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Emily: I would like to ask you one more question around the growth of your business and especially I mentioned earlier, Happy Planners are everywhere. Like if you guys haven't seen a Happy Planner anywhere, you're not going anywhere, everywhere these days. I think that's so fantastic. I would love to hear from you if this may be a triggering question. Sorry, not sorry. If there have been any moments where you've learned really big lessons that maybe some of our listeners can take with them moving forward.

Stephanie: So I, you know, having you say like, Oh, there's happy planners everywhere and um, it's true and I think the minute you are onto something that gains any popularity or success, there's always going to be people that are, you know, kind of riding your coattails or we'll say imitating or copying or you know, on anywhere on that scale. Sure. Um, and it's very hard. I think we saw it in scrapbooking when we had products that would really be successful. There was, you'd find people, you know, outright copying you or just really knowing the law and changing it just enough that you can't protect yourself. Um, and I would get really wrapped up in that for a long time. And again, my mom kind of popped in with some words of wisdom and just said, you know, we need to just basically keep your eye on your own paper, eyes on your own paper and keep your side of the street clean.

Stephanie: And, and, and you know what I took from that after I, you know, was like, Oh, but this is not fair. You know, um, I started to realize that, you know, if I waste my energies, obviously there's times where we have to protect, um, things that are, um, we have trademarks and copyrights and all of that. And we, we do. But if I spent so much time worrying about where everybody else was, what my competition was doing, and Oh my God, how are they following us? And that's too close. And then I would spend zero time dealing, doing what I do best, which is, you know, working with my sister who's a business partner and, um, coming up with what's the next thing? What's the next design? What do people want? That is where I should be focusing my energy. So, um, I think if you, you know, really be, it's, it's been hard because when you have that, there's also, um, there's also a lot of people who immediately will make assumptions about, you know, maybe some of the moves you make or products that you have or the more popular the product becomes, the more input you get because people love it.

Stephanie: You know, they love it, they get attached to it and then they have very passionate opinions about it for, you know, good and for bad sometimes. And so, um, I think that it was just that whole idea of, you know, doing our work, keeping our eyes on our own paper and really just believing in what we do. And then we put it out there in the world. You know, if somebody, they're copying or too closely, the closest they're ever going to get to you is one step behind. So I just feel like, you know, you, yeah, you might be following me really, really close. You might even be getting, I'm not a runner or a biker, but don't they have that like backdraft or the, you know, the thing that makes you go faster if you're following somebody, something not an athlete. Um, but I feel like, you know, but if you're always, if you're not worrying about that behind you, you're going forward, you're moving forward.

Stephanie: You may be falling down, but you get up, you make mistakes, you keep going. You just, it's that whole, you know, you do, you like you have to just pay attention to what you are doing. Don't be so concerned about, um, about what other people around are doing it. You really have got to hone in on what's your specialty, what makes you unique, what are you doing that's bringing something different and um, and really stay there. I agree with every bit of that. And it is an important lesson for creatives. Like you said earlier, it tend to put their soul into their work and get very passionate about it and can get a little hurt when either someone's copying or commenting in a way that they don't like. And like, I'm guilty of that for sure. I think we all are. But it is important to just put on those blinders.

Stephanie: Do the work. Yes. Yes. And I think that, you know, I, I think it's important to, I learned to identify instead of pushing it down, because when I was able to give myself permission to say a comment that came on, you know, comments, something comes on and all identify like that hurt my feelings. Like I don't do it publicly. But personally I just said, you know, Oh, that really hurt my feelings. I'm really giving 100%. And I know that I have, you know, like I said, one of my biggest goals in life is to continue to any business that I do, I do with integrity and honesty and, um, and that I feel really good about it. And so I know that those are like my pillars. So when somebody makes an assumption or says something and I'm thinking, they don't know me, they don't know what I'm doing and I have to feel it, and then I go, but that's okay.

Stephanie: They don't know me. And it's, you're going to have a little bit more visibility like that. The more you know, more like more visibility you have, the more your product gets out there. And so, but to honor those feelings you have as a creative, it's okay. I am a, I say now like, um, my positivity and my sensitivity are my superpowers because I kind of being a creative person, I grew up hearing you are overly sensitive. You're too sensitive. Oh my gosh, don't be so sensitive. But now I know that the fact that I am a sensitive person that I care about other people makes me unique. And the fact that I really care about our customers, I, I am just blessed and thankful that they spend their hard earned money on a product we create that I hope brings joy into their lives. So, um, you know, I think not that every creative person is really sensitive, but I think we need to, whether you're strong and bold or sensitive or creative, to know that, you know, take in some of that feedback from others, but guard who you are and know that that's okay.

Stephanie: So you can honor those feelings and that way you can protect your creativity. You know, you can pre protect, you can protect, um, you know who you really are without just being crumbled by the opinions of others. That's a powerful stuff. Thank you for all of that, for all of that. Um, will you please share more about where people can find you around the internet and offline too cause you're definitely everywhere too. I gosh. Well I know nowadays it's like the list goes on and on but um, yeah we have, you can find out more about the happy planner, the happy planner.com. That's an easy one. Um, and we have all of the social tags there that you can find cause we are on YouTube and Instagram. Um, and my daughter Kayla and I who also works, we have a, you know, family, family, she works in our marketing department but she and I also started a podcast that is promoting and empowering people to plan a happy life.

Stephanie: That is what it's called. And you can find that on Apple podcasts and pretty much wherever you listen to podcasts, you can also find it on, um, planet happy life.com. And if, and I'm on Instagram as Stephanie underscore Fleming. Wonderful. All right. And then one last question. What makes you feel most boss? Hmm. You know what makes me, this is to be honest, um, when I can go, I go to work in athleisure, right. I go to her just like in my Lulus. Yeah. And knowing that I have gotten to the place where like expressing myself creatively and coming up with creative products has gotten me to the place where I can fully be who I am with no apologies and know that I can be a really like successful, wonderful business person in my Lulu is in my van slip ons.

Emily: I think we might be the same person right there with ya. Wonderful. Thank you so much for coming to chat.

Stephanie: Oh, I really enjoyed talking with you and thank you so much for having me. Of course.

Emily: Thanks for listening. And Hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations, and more. Go to our website at www.beingboss.club. Do the work. The boss.

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