Emily Thompson: I'll be honest bosses. There's a part of me that is totally against doing an episode called what worked in 2021. All I want to do is look ahead, but I think we can all agree that the past, no matter how you always holds some lessons for moving forward and besides. Talking about what works or in this case, what's worked for us in 2020.
It's exactly what I wanted to talk to. Today's guest about. Welcome to being boss, a podcast for creatives and business owners and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host, Emily Thompson. And today I'm freaking excited to be joined by my boss, pal and podcast, regular Tara McMullin, a trusted small business strategist at podcaster, a community leader and founder of what works.
She's also the host of the what works podcast and co-founder of yellow house media, a podcast production agency, and consultancy. Tara has over a decade of experience guiding small business owners to think bigger and take decisive action. Her work has been featured in fast company, Inc. Forbes, creative live and Copyblogger.
And so I think it's not a surprise that what works or more correctly, what worked in 2020 is what Tara is here to chat with me about today and a good old fashioned business bestie chat style of conversation for the purpose of giving some insight to you as. Some interesting new ways and still relevant, old ways.
We have shown up as creatives, CEOs, and brands in the time of COVID and hopes that it gives you some inspiration to continue figuring out what works for you. As we continue to navigate through, we'll be mentioning several resources in this episode, and you'll be able to find links to all of them on the show firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tara welcome back to being boss. I have been waiting to have this conversation with you for like a year.
Tara McMullin: Well, thank you so much for having me back. And, uh, I think we're going to have a lot of fun today.
Emily Thompson: This should be interesting. We were just sort of joking around about how usually I re I, usually I send guests a good little list of questions to get us going, but knowing that you are a podcaster and therefore.
Hopefully we can have an off the cuff conversation of value. I think that you can tear. That's why I have you doing this. Um, I didn't send you any questions because I wanted this to be really off the cuff. Really just short of a spur of the moment. Really get those like top of mind things from you as we explore together, um, what has worked and hasn't worked in the past.
Are you ready for this?
Tara McMullin: I'm I am ready. Let's dig into it.
Emily Thompson: Okay. So. Because you have a podcast and a network, all those things called what works, which I think is great. And I even shared on your podcast recently that your podcast is the only podcast I listen to in the world. Basically. Um, I lived, this would be a really great conversation to have with you because you get to, you get to share this information through like a more diverse lens, even because of the work that you do, then most people can.
So I wanted to take us. Threw together. One of our most popular exercises at being boss, it's called the what's working kind of working at not working exercise. Um, but we do have a worksheet for this. So if anyone wants to do this for yourself, you can go to our show notes and download that worksheet, but we're kind of kind to show you what this looks like kinda in this episode together.
So to get us started off Tara, what has worked for you in 2020?
Tara McMullin: You know, it's a very good question. Um, a bunch of things have worked this year. The first one that comes to mind because I have been immersed in it for like the last month is re-purposing content. Um, and I've done it in all sorts of ways this year.
Um, in big, big projects, little projects. Social media product stuff, just all across the board. Um, but repurposing content and revisiting things that I have built sometimes years ago has been really be active for me. So I'll give you a couple of examples. Um, there were. Multiple products that we release at what works this year that were repurposed, um, sometimes from earlier iterations of themselves.
So like, uh, at the end of last year, we did a free webinar called the commitment blueprint. I turned that into a digital notion, uh, template digital product in March called the leadership dashboard. And then I took the leadership dashboard and turned it into a live workshop in the summer. And so I've repurposed that content multiple times.
It will probably go through some other, uh re-purposing at some point as well, but that's been super-duper effective. Um, I just finished a big project for the, what works network called the stronger business playbook that has repurposed a ton of templates and worksheets and things that I've built over the years.
Um, and on the yellow house media side of things, our podcast production agency. See, um, we have taken the process that we take our clients through repurposed that into a coaching program and now have repurposed it into a membership site. Um, and so while I feel like, or, and I know my team feels like I have been so prolific this year, most of what I have done is just recycled shit.
Um, but it's worked. Really well it's made me feel really good and energized. It's allowed me to deliver value in all sorts of cool new ways. It's made good money. Um, and I think that it's really tightened everything up too, so that it, so that. The business feels less scattered. Um, so that's worked really well.
The other thing that comes to top of mind that worked really well this year is just, you know, all of the mindset work, all the self-leadership work, all the habit work that I have done over the last four years. I needed to lean on that real heavy this year, as you know, I think most people did. We just had a conversation about that from my podcast, um, that you've done the same.
And so, you know, there's. I, and, and again, I'll, I'll try and get to the specifics. You know, one of the things that I would put in that category is, um, really developing a morning routine that works very well for me, so that I am able to process stress and anxiety. Before I start my day, I'm able to carve out space to myself to get clear on in my own head before all of the other voices start coming at me, all of the other needs start coming at me.
So that's, that was huge. I had to lean really hard on my morning routine this year. I'm focusing on. Embracing uncertainty and doing the thing that is hard or uncomfortable because it's the right thing to do because it's the thing that even if I don't know what the results are going to be, it, it is, it is the, it is the right next step.
That was huge for this year. And it's come up in big ways and small ways. Um, and the other thing that's worked really well in terms of mindset this year. Is learning to question my own, uh, sort of sense of what is quote unquote normal so that I can take a more inclusive lens to what is happening around me so that I have a better idea of how other people are feeling.
What's going on in our heads, what stories they're telling themselves. And it's allowed me, I think, to create stronger connections and relationships over this year, which has been really important for supporting people in the way that my businesses do. So I think that's, what's worked best for me this year.
How about you?
Emily Thompson: Those are good nuggets. Good packets. Okay. Here's what's worked for me. At both Almanac and being boss, I can say the thing that has worked the best is especially given the current climate has not been focusing on outward growth, but on inward nurturing and really focusing on taking care of the customers that I already have.
That one for me has really stood out. And I didn't think about that in the beginning of like, Oh, I need to, you know, let's forget marketing and let's just like extra deliver and not even extra deliver, but just deliver so well that it feels extra.
Tara McMullin: Um,
Emily Thompson: you know, like. At Almanac, it literally looks like whenever we were packaging our, our boxes that even a simple craft mailing box feels like you're getting a gift.
Like the whole unboxing experience is really just next level. Right. Even if it's basic, because it's all recyclable. So it's just like craft cardboard and paper and, uh, or it's mostly recyclable. But it's so thoughtfully and, um, an aesthetically well done that, um, that it has created for us, uh, a, an experience that customers want to come back to over and over.
And I also think about this in terms of being boss where the thing that we did there was, I did not market the community this year. Very little did. I mean, I guess I shared it a good bit here on the, on the podcast, but it wasn't for the purpose of like, come join the community. It was just, we have this thing.
And again, for the purpose of it being the first year of the community, I just want you to focus on really delivering to the people who were there, not diverting my energy and focus into bringing more people in. And so in a year where. Marketing has been especially difficult. And I think everyone can probably agree where everyone's everyone's attention is a little everywhere.
Um, social media worlds have gotten a little. Interesting to be a part of. Right. Um, marketing has been a little difficult. And instead of fretting about that, instead of feeling like things were not working, we just focused on the customers that we already had and what I've seen at an, a seen real metrics, right?
Like there's actual metrics that I can look at and see that these things have been really successful for us. And that's our average order value at Almanac is. Huge. It has grown so much this year as has our return customer rate. So our customers are coming back over and over again, and they're spending more and more money with this.
Each time they come. And that for me is like hardcore success. Like, yes, let's grow, you know, our overall. Sort of bucket of, of customers, but let's really make sure that the customers that we have are so flipping happy that they can't not come back and buy more. Right. And in, so doing also tell everyone about us.
Um, so that has been, that's been something that's worked very well for us this year. And I, again, I love that I have metrics that I can look at and see our focus. Inward has not been to the detriment of our business. And isn't it fine to think that we might actually think that that would be a thing that like not marketing would be a detriment to our business.
Um, but that focusing in has really sort of been a boon for us, which has been really great. So I think that's one for me. Um, another one for me, it's funny, you said leaning on your habits. Um, and yes, that, but one of the things that's really come up for me during this watching short being with bosses and seeing how they've been coping with things, but also internally at Almanac, I have, um, An employee and a partner that I'm like working physically with every single day.
So I'm seeing how they're reacting to things both like in the world and in business. For me, it's been leaning on my experience. So. Not getting jostled, right? Whenever things are going awry or not quite as planned and really sort of having a deeper appreciation whenever I'm seeing, especially whenever I'm seeing David gets stressed out and David's like, he's a low key guy guys.
Like he's like super chill. So whenever he gets jostled, I know that like something's up and seeing him get jostled and me still feeling totally calm and cool. I've had a much deeper appreciation for the decade plus that I've had of being an entrepreneur, having that under my belt and not. Giving myself to the ebbs and flows of business that has really bolstered me and worked out very much.
So in my favor this year, because I've been able to weather the storm personally, emotionally being able to lean on that. Experience has both benefited me from the experience, but also what lended me the opportunity to be that more appreciative or that much more appreciative for how it is that I've grown as an entrepreneur over the past couple of years, it's been, it's been quite a trip.
Tara McMullin: Totally. That really resonates with me too. Um, you know, we're in a very similar situation where we get to see what other people are doing in their businesses. Yeah. And, um, I think that you're right, that experience this year was a real benefit in terms of just knowing that no matter. What weird thing happened next, or no matter what happened in the market, there was going to be a way to recover, adapt, find a way through it, stay the course.
And you know, there are different things require different responses, but I think that that experience does bring. Uh, it does allow you to keep a more even keel when that, when that sort of thing happens. And so for anyone who's listening, who's brand new and you found themselves freaking out constantly this year.
It's like, okay, it's, it will get better in experience. We'll make it better, feel less frenetic in the future because. I mean, the fact that the battery is, this is going to happen again, right? It won't be the same exact combination of events from 2020, but I hope not too. Um, but there will be other years, other quarters, other periods of time when things are really, really up and down and, and weird.
Um, I also, I wanted to go back to what you had said about focusing in word. And really focusing on the customers that you have, because that was something that has been our focus for the last few years. It was actually, this year was a year that we were not going to focus on that as much. Uh, and in, in, in some ways we didn't only because we didn't really need to this year, we had done so, so much work on getting our systems really well-documented and efficient and optimized, and just being able to run the business as easily as possible.
And what you were saying reminded me that one of the things that worked really well for us this year was having, had done that we had the capacity in March and April and may to put. Out some resources and put on some events to react and support our community in a way that we wouldn't have been able to do if we didn't have those systems in place.
And so our ability to say, all right, we have extra capacity because we run this business really well. What do you need? What can we do for you? How can we pull you together? How can we support you? Was really, um, satisfying and fulfilling. And also I think really effective in terms of, uh, furthering that relationship with our members and our clients and making sure that they felt really taken care of at a time when everyone kind of felt like they were on their own.
Emily Thompson: Right. There are benefits that come with getting your shit together. Yes.
Tara McMullin: Yes. I highly recommend getting your shit together to everyone who's listening. I went years without having my shit together and it sucked, it sucked royally. And now like, so for the PR. Maybe we can talk about this in some other con uh, context, but, um, for the first time in years, I'm, I've put together a one-on-one business coaching offer and I'm like super excited about just working one-on-one with a few folks next year.
And I put together like our welcome dash blur. Well, our client dashboard, that's also functioning as our welcome kit yesterday. And I was like, Man. If I would've had this 10 years ago, Holy crap. One, my life would've been easier too. I could have gotten better results for people through like just the list could go on and on.
And so I just sat there, literally looking at this dashboard being like, I am so glad I got my shit together. Like hello? Right. Just being so damn proud of myself.
Emily Thompson: The little bit of, of focus. And sometimes there's a lot of focus, but like the time and focus that you put into making sure the structures are in place will pay off or will absolutely pay off.
And I think that anyone, anyone who has. It's actually funny because I feel like I'm contradicting myself either. I want to contradict myself easily, even as I'm saying this, anyone who's had those structures in place this year has seen the benefits of having these things to fall back on. Actually, even though we're talking about experience and habit and habits, like the structures in your business are those for your business, right?
So your habits or your processes. Right. Same thing.
Tara McMullin: Yeah. That's exactly how I talk about it.
Emily Thompson: Right. So when you have that, it's so much easier to show up and do the work and provide the extra value and all of those things, because you're not creating the habits and delivering at the same time. On the flip side of this, I think that those of us who found, or anyone who found themselves needing to pivot or change things, one.
Part of me is like, it's probably easier when you don't have those processes in place. Right. You can just change things really quickly, but that's not true. Like you would think that you would think that not having these, not having the structure of your business set up would make a pivot easier to do, but actually it's easier to pivot when.
The structures, the processes, the systems, the team, all of those things are in place. There just is like an extra level of mindset on that that also has to like, make that shift happen.
Tara McMullin: Yeah. I totally agree with that. I think that when we have a pivot in front of us, it can feel like you are starting over, like you are building something from scratch and you are never starting over and you're never.
Starting from scratch, right? Like you are always building on what you've already built. And so if what you've built is a mess, I guarantee you, your pivot will be a mess as well. Right? Been there done that. But when you have structures and systems and clear procedures, you can make a pivot building off of that.
You might. Build new structures and processes and procedures, but it will go so much faster because you've taken the time to do that. And so like again, with yellow house media, that's exactly what we saw this year. Right. I was able to stand up a brand new business and hit. Six figures in the first year.
No problem at all, because I was building off of work that I had already done. We, we were, you know, on paper, starting from scratch. Right. I didn't have the systems we needed to work with podcasting clients, but it was a. Piece of cake to see how to build them. Once we said, Oh, this is what we need. Okay. No problem.
And then it was a piece of cake to work the systems because I was used to it because I'd built a habit around working systems. So. Yes. Yeah. I just totally agree. It is easier to pivot. It's faster to pivot. It is more satisfying to pivot and adapt when you are building off of something that is solid and makes sense and is intentional and strategic.
Emily Thompson: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. Want to know what I've seen work for every creative business boss I've ever worked with masterminding for years, I've prioritized being a part of them. And I have quite a knack for running them. In fact, it's my favorite work that I do think of it. You're sitting amongst some really making it do bosses.
Everyone is so cool in their own way. And not just because that had his killer or the way they pull off those joggers is so effortless, but because they've had the courage to show up and do things to make their business happen. And guess what they think the same thing about you. And that's not even the best part, then the hot seats begin.
Each of you intern, there's a struggle in your business that you want to workshop one, struggle with a handful of boss brains, picking it apart. Won't be a struggle for long. It'll be an opportunity for growth. Expand Jen and you'll know exactly how to make it happen. If this sounds too fun to be true, you're wrong.
It happens every time I get bosses together for a mastermind and this year I'm bringing back my mastermind retreats already on the books. I have a virtual mastermind retreat scheduled for January 11th and 12th, 2021. With more dates and opportunities coming soon, if you'd like to join in, you can learn email@example.com slash work.
January session is open to only 10 bosses. So hop to it. If you're interested, that's being boss.club/work.
Okay. Next question for us of all of the things that you did in 2020, whether. The world we were talking with capital T capital w V world, um, made you do them or not. So whether it was already in the playbook or you would have done it regardless, or you had to do it because of what in 2020 that you did new, do you plan on taking into 2021 with you?
Tara McMullin: Almost everything, oddly enough. Um, We, so I mentioned the repurposed content. I mean, we basically, this whole year has been a process of repurposing content or repurposing experiences in a way that can carry us into 2021. It wasn't necessarily. The plan we had at the beginning of 2020, but it's not, not the plan we had at the beginning of 2020, which I cannot describe other than to say, just believe me, that that is the case, I believe.
Yeah. And so, yeah, w like the commitment blueprint, the leadership dashboard, the stronger business playbook, these are things that did not exist. In the form that they have early, or the form that they're in now at the beginning of 2020, but they will continue to exist far into 2021, if not in the form that they are specifically in right now, at least in a form that is pretty, pretty darn similar.
Um, so that's exciting. Um, what else am I planning to carry with me? Um, you know, Thinking about yellow house media. Again, we expected to be making money this year in a different way than we, we currently are. We expected the sort of strategy and training side of the business to be where people wanted to spend money sooner.
And what we discovered was that. People were really into production because making a podcast is kind of hard. It's not, it is. And it's not, which is what I tell everybody. Uh, but it's a lot of work and not everybody likes that work, which is understandable. Um, and that's why we started the business in the first time.
Place. So it's been a lot easier to find production clients. In fact, we've had to turn a lot of people away this year. Um, and so one of the things that we had, uh, one of the things that we had to do, one of the things we wanted to do this year was to hire up to, um, expand our capacity. And so that's going to be something that we continue into 2021.
There's already probably two more positions that we need to fill in the first quarter of next year. Um, so that. For sure. Um, and then for me personally, one thing that I've had to do this year kind of multiple times is really get clear. You're on my own capacity and where I am exceeding my own capacity in terms of my time and energy and bandwidth and mental health.
And. Um, there have been some times where I've just had to work on fumes because. I felt that was my responsibility to people that we were working with to my team members, um, to just the people that we want to support, whether they're paying us or not. Uh, and I am really feeling it now. Um, and so there have been different times throughout the year when I've kind of recalibrated or, or tried to take a bit of a break.
Um, but. That is something that while I've done it this year needs to accelerate into next year. So I'm really looking at how do I rebalance my time between my two businesses? Um, how do I. You know, what is it going to take for me to focus my energy a little bit more? So it feels a little less dispersed.
Um, and so I'm trying to figure that piece out. I don't know if that's really an answer to your question, but that's one of the things that came to mind. What are you taking into 2021?
Emily Thompson: Well, I first, I want to hit on this to say that that struggle is so real, right? Between all the things, especially when the yellow house has done as well as it had this year.
And it's first year, like I imagine, I mean, it's funny. You can even make all the plans for success that you want to, but actually being in the middle of it is never what you anticipated being. Right. So, and who would have thought that it would be, you know, still the middle of quarantine or like COVID times, right.
So like extra levels of need to take care of yourself. Um, I think if anyone's gonna figure it out, Tara, it's going to be you, but also give yourself lots of time and grace.
Tara McMullin: Yeah, for sure.
Emily Thompson: For sure. Okay. For me what it is that I want to take into 2020. I feel similarly at being boss, the way you do about what works.
I mean, nothing is here that wasn't already here. Um, it's just continuing forward. I do miss our events so much, which has nothing to do with this question at all, but I just have to say it. I want to go on vacation with bosses so bad. I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my bones. Um, so I do miss that part of the business model.
So very much it was actually. One of the reasons I acquired the rest of being boss for myself was because I wanted to host events. So I'm hoping that one day we'll be able to do that. But other than that being boss has been able to just sort of function the way it always function. We've always been online for.
So it's been, it's been easy enough to continue forward. At Almanac though, we had to make several little pivots along the way. And I mentioned this on your podcast that we did, um, that we did recently about how our crystal parties or one of those things that came out of 2020 that I had not planned on bringing back.
Right. Like I started doing crystal parties on Instagram stories right after we launched in 2018. So we were, um, I was getting on sharing a couple of crystals and the Instagram stories, people with DME to purchase them. They did a couple of times to like varied results. Sometimes they do really well.
Sometimes it was total crickets. And so we stopped doing them for a year, a year and a half. Yeah, long time. And then this hit, we lost one of our revenue streams that made up a third of our revenue last year. And that was our local markets. And we were immediately like, what are we going to do? Not only do we have big goals for the year where we actually need to survive as well.
We were in like still in those like formative, starting years. And, um, so we decided to bring back crystal parties, but not do them on Instagram because. If you don't know if you are unaware, dear boss, I have a sincere hate, hate relationship with Instagram and anything owned by Facebook. And also just kind of in general, social media though, I've been getting back into Twitter.
Tara McMullin: Same,
Emily Thompson: right? Isn't it funny that I could load Instagram, but kind of like Twitter,
Tara McMullin: Twitter has saved my life
Emily Thompson: this year. Love it.
Tara McMullin: Yeah. I mean, yeah. I would not have had the heads up on COVID if I was not, if I had not gotten active on Twitter again, and it was like tuned into the journalists that were covering it super early.
Oh my gosh. Anyhow. Yeah, we could talk for an hour about that,
Emily Thompson: but go ahead. So back on Twitter, Totally back on Twitter. Um, but we decided to take her Krystal parties and reinvent them. And so for us, it was thinking, you know, what would make us excited because Instagram doesn't make us excited. What would make us feel?
Um, what would really give us the impact that we wanted and sharing, you know, six crystals on, you know, an Instagram story is one thing, but what would it look like to completely take it out of its box? And re-imagine it. And we ended up launching our. Almost weekly, about three times a month, crystal parties that are, um, every Friday.
Most Fridays from two 30 to about 4:00 PM, we go live on YouTube and it we've started producing like a whole show. Um, more or less it's totally low quality, but we also totally love doing it. Some people would probably see and think like that's so great. We're literally using an old DSLR and an iPhone guys.
It is like, So low-key, we are investing in some new cameras, very excited about that, but we go live, we do 30 minutes. That's like a tee time with Almanac where we. The team sits around a table, drink some tea and just sort of chats with each other. And then we go live with our crystal party and show what is usually between 30 and 40 crystals.
Um, and people are able to claim the ones that they want. And then after that, we open to open virtual shopping. So if someone's like, you know, I want to see this kind of crystal or like, can you show me how big that candle is or whatever it is we're able to sort of bring out all of the things and do virtual shopping.
And guys it's a blast. It has turned into our favorite thing that we do. The entire team loves doing it. It's how we end our Fridays. So it was the last thing that we do on Friday evening. It's sort of turned into like cocktail hour, you know, we're like getting together and. Sometimes it will do have cocktails.
That is, that is actually legit a thing. Um, but it's usually tea and, um, and it's a ton of fun and that's something that we did not start the year planning on doing at all. It is absolutely a result of COVID times and is something that will be a major part of our business model in the coming months and probably years.
So. It has not, I will say it has not quite, um, it's not making up a third of our revenue,
Tara McMullin: so
Emily Thompson: it has not completely replaced the markets that we lost. Um, but it it's a major player. It's a major player in our revenue streams at Almanac. It's also a ton of fun and it has the added benefit of it is creating a community around a product business, and anyone who has a product business knows that that can be pretty difficult to do.
Um, it's not quite the same as if you're a coach or a Yogi or whatever it may be. Um, but we have people who are showing up. And chatting together about crystals, keeping in touch with these, with each other. People are telling us that it's become their favorite part of the week, just like in their Friday, just looking at sparkly crystals and talking about rocks.
Like what's more fun than that. So, um, so that for me, Is the big one. I could probably pick out a couple more, but they don't matter. They don't matter because the crystal parties are the best and on YouTube. Yeah.
Tara McMullin: So I have a question about that. Are you planning on building out the YouTube channel more fully or just sticking with the lab?
Emily Thompson: No, I do want to that's actually, um, this sort of moves us into sort of. I don't know if we'll get into this, but some things that I want to focus on, um, in 2021 is one of the things that we learned this year in the past, we've leaned very heavily on our local markets to be our list growth. Um, this year that was also like a third of our revenue, but also probably half of our list growth was from those markets.
And after doing the holiday sale, that just happened. Our conversion rates are, Acular totally spectacular, but we're still lackluster overall in terms of revenue, because our list just hasn't grown to the level that we would like it to. Um, so that leads me to a 2021 goal of ours is to really do. Some of that upper level of marketing to get people into the top of our funnel, whatever it may be onto our list and those sorts of things we've focused so much on like really nurturing the customer and literally zero regrets.
It's time for us now to sort of shift that focus. Those the systems are in place to nurture the customer in all of the ways that we deem most important so that we can easily refocus that attention into the top of funnel. And I think YouTube is the place I want to do it.
Tara McMullin: Kind of sense to me.
Emily Thompson: We'll see.
We'll see. I'm excited. There's some, there's some interesting content ideas coming up. Um, we'll just, we'll see. Who knows. That's another thing that I am bringing in 2021. How about this one? No expectations.
Tara McMullin: Yeah, I can't say that I have expectations for 2021. Although that's been something that, you know, going back to like the mindset and habit thing, that's been something I've been working on divorcing myself from, for a few years now. Um, I am, you know, extremely goal oriented, extremely achievement oriented overachiever kind of person.
And I have noticed how much goals have. Messed with me over the years, like in as much as it's wonderful to, to hit a goal or to work toward a goal, there have been a ton of times where I've hit a goal and been like, I don't know if I want, I don't know if I want this to, I don't like the way I got here, three, I really messed some shit up along the way.
And so I've been really trying to back off of goals and I find that goals are one of the places where we end up setting a lot of expectations. I think goals are very expectation oriented. They kind of beg for certainty. Um, and so that's what I've, I've. Moved into this more, what I call commitment oriented space.
And so I set, uh, these intentions that are for how I want to show up how I want to respond, how I want to orient myself and, and the work that I do and the things that I create. Throughout the year. And that means that it doesn't really matter what's happening around me because I'm going to use those intentions to relate to that engaged to that in the way that, um, You know, I have in a way that makes me happy in a way that makes me more who I want to be.
And so I don't need to have a clear expectation of what next year is going to look like to be able to continue that process. Um, so yes, no expectations for next year, other than I expect it to be more like this year than we would like it to be.
Emily Thompson: No expectations,
Tara McMullin: no expectations. Right. Great.
Emily Thompson: It could be great, but also no expectations.
Right. And I think it's funny. Well, it's not funny. It's not funny at all. 2020 has been a crash course and releasing expectations. Right. And either you pass it or you failed it, there's no like see here, none either you are okay with letting them go now because you see that. You know, maybe those goals or whatever isn't, um, they, weren't going to be as fulfilling as you thought, or you're still sitting there fretting because you didn't meet your goals.
Right. You either passed it where you felt it. Um, I will say same. I. I actually, who is I Itallie, maybe it was the CEO day kit live that we did this year in July. I remember talking to a bunch of bosses and think there were like 500 people on that call or something. I don't even remember, but like I let go.
And Emily truth that like, I don't really tell people. Very often. And that is, Kathleen has always been the one in the group who is very, she's a specific manifester. Like she is someone who will say, I want, you know, $40,000 by December 31st. And she will have $40,000 by December 1st. 31st, we should probably have it by the first.
No, she will definitely have it on the day that she says that she wanted. And so, and so many people teach goal-setting in that way for your, for your goals to be smart, right. Specific and measurable and all those things. And I get it. I've never really operated that way. Like, and I know like I set goals and I am so not attached to them because I know that I'm one, a crazy goal setter.
And two, I always make it about half. Um, and that's just something where like, I never really expect to make the goal. I do that more of an exercise than actually setting expectations. And I'm always way more focused on that feeling. I'm a very non-specific manifestor if you guys are into human design, that's a thing.
Um, and whenever I realized that about myself, cause I always felt kind of bad that like, I couldn't set a goal and just. Make it until I learned that about myself and realize that I'm not supposed to have expectations, in fact, those expectations. And like you're saying, like if I'm hurt that I only made half of that goal, whatever it may be.
I'm like what a waste of celebration.
Tara McMullin: Right. It's a great way to put that. Yeah.
Emily Thompson: It's a total waste of celebration. So anyway, I, I have learned a lot. About myself in the past couple of years, about how it is that I set goal, like how I set goals, it looks very different than, um, than people who need those specific goals to move forward.
I definitely much more feeling based and I find that I am just generally much more happier because of it. Much more happier. That's correct. Grammar. I'm much more happy because of it. Um, and I think it's very much so lent itself to my ability to release expectations. Just in general though, this year has definitely taught me to release some, a little more because even I.
Sometimes still hold on to some expectations.
Tara McMullin: Oh yeah, totally. Okay. So this, this, um, well, it's bringing up a whole bunch of things for me first. I'll say I am also exactly that kind of goal setter, where I set an outrageous goal and then make half of it and then beat myself up about it. But what I noticed for myself is that I had a self-sabotage have, there is no hat.
I have a self-sabotage pattern around. Good enough. So I would set these big goals so that I would change my behavior and I would do things differently and I would really stretch myself and make myself uncomfortable, which is good. I don't, I'm not saying I think that's bad, but what would happen is in the process of that, I would hit some threshold that I didn't realize was there.
That was essentially my good enough goal. And then I would self-sabotage and stop doing the things that I needed to do to actually push. Past that good enough threshold to the actual goal. And I was like, okay. So w there might be something to salvage here, but for now I need to completely dismantle this way of working because it is not working for me.
And it is very, it is very harmful to me. Um, so I've switched my process to being a lot more process oriented. So I set a ton of process goals, but I said, no outcome. Goals at this point, because I just need to not do that. Um, but the other thing that came to mind, um, as you were talking about, that is the difference between having goals and expectations versus having a clear vision.
And I'm reading, uh, emergent strategy right now by Adrian Marie Brown, which is phenomenal. Uh, and she talks about this or talks around this, um, A little bit where, you know, the idea of emergent strategy is creating kind of complex solutions out of very simple frameworks. Um, and there there's a lot more, there's a lot more to it than that.
Uh, or creating co creating solutions to complex problems out of simple frameworks. And. Uh, she talks about the importance of having vision for the purpose of orienting yourself and your behavior and the way you show up. And like all those things I was just talking about. Um, But without having expectations around how you're going to get there, what that's going to look like.
And so I think that that's one of the places where I see people get really hung up and where I have certainly got hung up on the past is that people set. Really specific goals without having a clear vision. And so those goals aren't milestones on the path toward a long-term vision. They're just random goals.
And that's when we get in trouble. Well, that's when I get in trouble, as opposed to now I have a clear vision for both businesses of what I want to create, what I think they are capable of the impact that I want to have. I have a clear vision for my life, but I don't have specific. Goals. I have processes and habits and systems that I am working in the direction of that vision.
And I don't know if that distinction is going to make sense to you or to anyone else, but I, I think it's an important distinction, um, that we don't necessarily talk about very often. Um, because I think it's a tough distinction to make.
Emily Thompson: Absolutely. And I think there's an interesting thing here to think about like what people usually think of as goals and how that is different from something like a milestone.
Right. We're like goals you're told to make them smart. What does that specific, measurable all the things, whatever the acronym is, who knows? I don't care. I don't set these. Right. Whereas everything has to happen in a specific timeline for it to be a success. Like in the timeline, there is a thing that I really want to, I really want to highlight it.
Hasn't 20, 20 highlighted a timeline. Right. And just how. Whack that is and how, like, it just is up for debate sometimes as to what day it is or what time it is or how long you've worn those pants or not, whatever it may be. Um, Whereas a milestone, I feel like is more of something that will happen in its own time.
Like it is a measure of growth and success, but it's not something that has to be so, um, so rushed or detrimental, if not, you know, in the right, at the right time or whatever it may be. So I'm very much so resonating with that because I think that's even how I operate more so than with the smart goals is I know, you know, I want to meet these revenue marks, but like it's also going to happen when it happens.
Like I'm going to show up and I'm going to do all the things the way I know I'm supposed to do them, but like, if it's not here this month, it's fine. It'll happen next month or whatever, it may be. It definitely. It definitely gives, I don't know how I feel about what I'm about to say. It definitely gives over a bit of the power to the organic nature of what business, especially for creatives really is.
Right. I feel like, and I feel like there's something to be said too about, uh, adopting or embracing that sort of new way of business. I often feel like a business, especially if it's within a team. If there are multiple people involved, especially if there's a partner or whatever, a business is a living breathing thing that is completely separate from you.
And it's going to operate on its own timeline. Not on yours. So I do think there is a benefit to making a shift from thinking in milestone or for me and goals into thinking about these time unspecific milestones, where you can still gauge growth and direction, and like March toward your vision. As long as those milestones are very much so aligned with that vision.
But you are not beholden to measuring your success by these goals that you set. You know, on a day that you just like sat down at the cafe that you're not at a cafe gets COVID, um, and wrote on a piece of paper or in your laptop or whatever. Like, these are my goals for six months from now, like create those milestones and let them come when they need to come and show up and do the work along the way.
But I think there is like, you're such a more, there's such a. More present level of ease with that way of doing business. That these days I would much rather embrace than anything aggressive.
Tara McMullin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So earlier this year I wrote a post about how I managed to stop feeling so behind all the time, because I eliminated deadlines from my workflow.
So I don't operate on deadlines for due dates. At all anymore. Now there are, of course there are naturally occurring deadlines and due dates, right? Like our virtual conferences a specific day. And there are certain things that need to happen before that that happens. But I don't say I'm going to do this by this date, this, by this date, this by this date.
I give myself the ability to choose what work I do when, and to trust myself, to choose the right work on the right day for me, and to trust myself that I am going to get it all done or ask for help now. I know that does not work for everybody. I've had a lot of conversations with people about the different reasons that it's not going to work for everybody, but it has been a complete game changer for me because, uh, you know, you're kind of talking about flexibility of your plans on the macro.
And I fully embraced that as well. This is like flexibility of your plans on the micro. So on the, on the, you know, discrete task level, um, I choose what I work on on any given day. I choose what order I work on it in. I choose from my plan, like, okay, I know this, this, and this is important in the next couple of weeks.
I'm going to slot this in here. I'm going to slot this in here, but not saying I must get it done by this date or I'm behind, or I have. And so I feel like I have a lot more agency over the work that I do now. I have a lot more sense of choice and that has, that has been a complete game changer for me, like I said, and it is allowed me to.
Uh, as my capacity expand and or contracts based on what's happening in the world, what's happening in my body. What's happening in my relationships. What's happening in my brain business. I can adjust my plan without feeling like I've. Failed, or I can take on more without feeling like I'm some super woman either, because that is also not super helpful.
Um, and so I do that on a micro level and I do it on a macro level and it is just really, um, been wonderful and a lifesaver this year in terms of wrapping my mind around my work and how it's having an impact in the business. And also. Not feeling like a failure when things don't happen when I think that they should, you know,
Emily Thompson: for sure, for sure.
And I will say too, a recent episode is, um, that I did was time management for business owners where you share time-blocking and reference a training that we have on time blocking or time management. And I will say if anyone has. That, um, I share how I time block and I do just this where I will time block out my week of like, I know all the things that I need to do and, uh, everything has.
Sort of timeframes. A lot of, I move things literally every day. Like once I get in there and actually start working, like I may move that one down to later in the day and something else higher up, because that's the thing that I'm excited about in the morning, or I may decide, no, I actually am not filling that thing this week at all.
I'm going to just go ahead and move that to next week. Yeah. And I'll get to it on Tuesday or whatever it may be having that flexibility. I also find to be, um, be very beneficial. And so just sort of question for you, you are highly flexible. Are you still productive?
Tara McMullin: Oh, I'm in, I'm like I'm insanely productive.
Right. So I'm trying not to use that word anymore, but like my team gets angry. I'm so productive.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. I thought that's what you would say and just proof that like you can be a highly flexible person, um, and still be wildly productive. Um, so. I agree. And I do believe that this year has definitely forced me to really embrace that flexibility in a way, because I have become such a slave to my emotions in a lot of ways, or just like, how is my body feeling?
Or am I rested enough for like, Or whatever it may be, or the little fires that pop up or whatever, they may be really embracing that flexibility. Um, and not having any expectations around things getting done on that day, because you said you do them on that day has really given me some freedom and, and just being, and still being wildly productive, but not like, feel shame about it.
Tara McMullin: Yeah. I have found that the moving things around and also the choosing when I'm going to do things has helped me identify. Patterns of what I don't want to be doing or shouldn't be doing. Yes. So, so I'm actually more intentional and conscious about the work instead of like a sauna telling me what I'm supposed to do.
Or instead of like having a team member, tell me what I'm supposed to do. I know what I'm supposed to do if I don't want to do it. Week after week after week, then something needs to change. Right? And so I actually become more productive because I'm more aware, more conscious of the work that lights me up, and that has an impact.
And that gets me excited and I offload the things or, or change structures. So I don't have to do the things that I don't want to do, which are the things that make me less productive than in the end, too.
Emily Thompson: True that I like it. Thank you for sharing all of that with us. Um, okay. One quick question. What are you excited about doing in 2021?
Tara McMullin: I am excited about.
Emily Thompson: Or you don't even have to be excited. He will just where you're trying to really, excitement may be a little high of an emotion. What are you excited
Tara McMullin: about? A lot of things. Um, am I mentioned, I'm trying one-on-one coaching again, which is something that I have not. It's done in a, like in an official capacity or like an offer capacity in a long time.
So I'm excited about that. Um, I also mentioned I'm rebalancing my time between the two businesses. So this year I've essentially been working 30 to 35 hours a week on what works and five to 10 hours a week on yellow house media. Um, and my goal is to get that to 2020. Which sounds weird, cause we're
Emily Thompson: talking about 2020,
Tara McMullin: but I'm trying to work 20 hours of my business and 20 hours and the other business.
And I'm really excited to see what actually carving out that time is going to do for yellow house, considering how fast it is grown without me doing a whole lot. Um, so that, um, I am going to attempt, uh, um, Oh shoot. What is it called? Um, zero-based scheduling. Which I think might be kind of what you're talking about with time blocking zero-based scheduling is when you basically fill up your entire calendar so that there's no white space, or if you're going to leave white space, you label it like this is the space I do whatever the hell I want in, but it's a thing on your calendar and I'm not doing it so much because I want to have like, A rigid schedule or a rigid routine, but because of what I was saying earlier about becoming more aware and conscious about what my patterns are, what I'm avoiding, what I'm moving around and just being more aware of that, um, and to serve the purpose of trying to get my, my time balance to be, uh, more even.
Um, so I'm excited about those things. I'm we are. In the process of soft launching a membership site for yellow house media called standout podcast club. And that is going to hard launch in the new year. And so I'm super duper excited about that. Um, yeah. Uh, I think that's most of what I'm excited about yet.
I have honest to God not taken a ton of time yet to think about next year. Have you?
Emily Thompson: Um, not quite yet though. I have felt kind of itchy about it the past couple of weeks. We've just like I needed to at least get into December. So almost there to really think about it, but yes, there are a couple of things.
So you do. Who did it. I'm excited to get into YouTube. We are going to be thinking about how we can do more at Almanac, but we are very pointedly getting, being boss into YouTube next year. That will actually be happening. Um, go follow us on YouTube. Being boss club, I believe is the handle. I don't even know.
Um, but we will be starting to launch, um, at least biweekly videos at the end of 2020, and then moving into a full production calendar in 2021. I'm very excited about that. And just for the purpose of like search engine optimization and presenting content any way, like just several things around that have me really excited about it.
And then. Other things I want to try. I don't know about trying, but I'm really excited to see what our sort of revisioning of Almanac is. COVID times kind of put some wrenches into what it is that we're doing here or what our plans were at Almanac. And we need to sort of realign ourselves to see if those are still our plans.
We're just going to play the waiting game to see if we can start taking action on them. And that being retail just don't mean to be cryptic. Um, Or if there is a nother vision that we can readjust our path to for Almanac. And so at the moment, I'm really excited about, I guess, refining that focus at Almanac, right.
We've been operating this year. Just like, let's just see what happens. Yes. Um, and I'm excited to, to get back to being focused. We'll see, I love that. Right, Tara, last question, actually, before we get to the last, last question, where can people find more about all the things that you're talking about here?
Especially in that one on one coaching. Oh,
Tara McMullin: yeah. Uh, the one-on-one coaching, just email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Cause it's probably not going to be like a super public offer. So if you are, and there I've only got six spots and two to three of them are already claimed. So who knows, but shoot me an email.
We'll see. We'll see what happens. Um, Otherwise, you can find what works, where I relisten to being boss. So that's a good thing. And you can find Emily's, uh, interview from December one that is excellent. And our whole series in December is all about leading yourself and the practices that we use to move through uncertainty and to navigate the ups and downs in business.
And I'm just so excited about all of the interviews that were released. That we have released in December. Um, and then you can find out about yellow house media at yellow house, stop media and the standout podcast club at standout podcasts club.
Emily Thompson: Love it. All right. Last question then for you, what makes you feel most boss?
Tara McMullin: What makes me feel most boss? Um, I have not been able to do this in months and months and months and months, but one of the things, this is not business-related. Well, one of the things that makes me feel most boss is showing up all the bros at the climbing gym
and like nailing a really tough climb that makes me feel really boss in my business. Just any time I finished something and say, Damn. I did a good job at that. That makes me feel boss. And luckily that happens most days, multiple times.
Emily Thompson: Yes. Perfect. Thank you, Tara so much for coming and hanging out with me and having this chat.
I hope that, um, I hope that 2020 ends up kind enough to you. And then 2021 is a banger
Tara McMullin: back to you. I don't know. I'm going to put down with the slang. I hope it to be her daughters. Yeah. We'll ask her daughters.
Emily Thompson: Perfect. Sounds like a plan. Awesome. Thank you so much for coming to hang out. This has been a blast.
Tara McMullin: Thanks.
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