2019 Year In Review… and celebrating 1 year of Uncommonly More
Welcome to episode 469. I want to start this show by normalizing something unrelated to what we’re going to talk about. It’ll only take a minute, but stay with me.
I have been retrying to record this episode for probably two weeks, because I’ve been really in and out of the game when it comes to getting behind the mic and recording. And I think it’s really easy for us to elevate other people, other podcasters, other content creators, other business owners, other parents, other spouses, other people doing anything that we also do. And thinking that it’s easy for them, and it’s not.
It’s not easier for anybody else. We’re all navigating trying to get this stuff done. And there are times when it’s more filled with ease. There are times for me when podcasting is… It feels better, it feels easier. I know that will come back after I’m back into this.
I spent so much of last year in and out of consistency, which was fine and cool, because guess what? There’s a ton of episodes here, and the marketing machine still works. And the download numbers were still there, and the audience was still there. And you guys still listened and that was great, but I wasn’t recording. And so the muscle that gets behind the mic, and does the show, and is hopefully semi-entertaining and more than semi informative is a little weak right now, a little atrophied. So these next few episodes are going to be a little more laborious for me, and hopefully not for you. But I wanted to be really, really transparent about that, and about this show and about the fact that it’s weird for everybody sometimes. And it’s off for everybody sometimes, and that’s okay. That’s a part of it. With that, let’s shift gears, and let’s actually dive into today’s episode.
Today’s episode is actually very celebratory. I’m so amped to say this.
Uncommonly More is a year old.
And so I thought what I would do today is look back at the first year, good, bad and ugly, and share a little behind the scenes of going from a personal brand, training focused brand, mostly consulting focused brand, into the agency, and really providing the depth and width of done-for-you services. How the team has grown, my own growth in this last year, and share a little behind the scenes, because it’s not something I do super super often. But I’ve been getting a ton of questions about the agency. So let’s dig in.
Where we started…
First, I want to rewind a little more than a year, to about 18 months ago, and talk a little bit about how Uncommonly More actually came to be, because I don’t know that I’ve ever actually told this story.
So in 2018 I was focused mostly on Hit the Mic Backstage and one-to-one sort of coaching/consulting. I call it consulting because I’m not trained as a coach. I don’t feel I’m a coach. I’m much more like consulting, mentorship kind of vibe, with Backstage Amplifier Mastermind. And that was really my focus. We filled in here and there some done-for-you strategies, but then we always… And I say we, it was me and the mouse in my pocket. It was me, Charles was helping out a bit here and there, but for the most part it was me.
So I would build these strategies, and then we would hand them off. And the clients team would implement them, or let’s be honest, they would sit in a Google Drive, because that also happens sometimes too. And so I was looking at what’s next for specifically the strategy services, but also for me and my business.
And we’d been running this podcast for, at that point, three or four or no, four, almost five years. And Hit the Mic Backstage was four-ish years old. And it was time to see what my next evolution was. And so I started really noodling around on this idea of an agency. And what it would be like to not drop my strategies in somebody’s lap and say best of luck, but instead really, for lack of a better way to phrase this, follow through and help them with the implementation. So I went back to a couple of clients and said, “Hey, do you need any sort of touch-ups with your strategy? Do you need any sort of freshening up or follow up?” And most of them were like, “We haven’t finished implementing yet. It’s crazy.” And I said, “Hey, if you ever need help with that, I’m actually starting to offer ongoing retainer services.”
I wasn’t even calling it an agency yet. And there was some interest, and I had one person who was like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, let’s do this.” And I said, “Cool. We’re actually going to launch an agency, and I want to have some team helping me. But for right now it’s just going to be me while we figure this out. Cool?” And they were like, “Cool, let’s do it.” And so we did it. And it went really, really well. And so fast forward to December of 2018. We had brought on that client, and I had a couple of clients that I’d actually had from way back before The Stacey Harris existed, when it was still Hit the Mic Marketing. And I was actually a social media management focused brand, but it was still just me. I wasn’t running a whole agency, I wasn’t really building strategies, I was just offering management services of just social media.
Enter Cali, to save my sanity!
So we really looked at how do I manage these couple of clients and oh my god, I’m going to need to bring some people on if I want this thing to grow. And I’m doing so much, what am I going to do? And enter my world Cali Orr. Cali continues to be a critical part of my sanity at Uncommonly More. She’s my right hand. She’s our digital marketing manager, she’s incredible. But we brought her on December of 2018. I think she actually started like mid month December, and it was the best choice I’ve made so far. Spring forward to January, and we launch all the social and say, “Hey, officially Uncommonly More digital marketing agency for female leaders. Ta-da.” Right? And it was great and I kept saying, “Okay, the website is going to be done by the end of January.” The website, it’s now January 2020, remains not complete just by the way, which was actually a really good thing because of some of the stuff we’re going to talk about in this episode.
But so everything was kind of launched and took off really fast. Really quickly, we brought on I think two more clients in January and February. We were building strategies, and we were growing, and it was great. And I was still deep in the doing of a lot of this stuff. And it was like, okay, we’re going to need to adjust this.
Trying to be two brands…
Part of the problem we were so deep, I was so deep in the doing, is because I had decided that instead of evolving The Stacey Harris into Uncommonly More, Uncommonly More was a brand new baby, brand new paperwork, brand new social, brand new site. Everything was brand new. And so strategies and done-for-you retainer services were going to exist under the agency. And then under my personal brand, under the The Stacey Harris brand, I would continue doing Hit the Mic Backstage.
I would continue doing all of the training stuff that I had been doing, but that would live under that business. We would have two entities. Oh and by the way, I decided to launch live events. So in February of 2019, we hosted our very first live event. It was an in person workshop, it was in New York City. So not only did I decide to do this, I decided to do it on the other side of the country, which is a life choice that I just made, and we’re just going to move right past. And so I had these two separate businesses, and that was fine. Everything was growing. Everything was good. I was tired. It was February. Fast forward a little bit again, the agency’s still growing. The Stacey Harris stuff is still growing, and I go to Tulum, Mexico with my Mastermind, and it was incredible.
It was fantastic. Shout out to Tara Newman and The Bold Leadership Revolution and her Mastermind. And I’m in it again this year, and I’m going to be going to Tulum again in a couple of months, and I can’t freaking wait. But I came back and I was like, “Everything has to change. I cannot continue to do this at the pace in which I’ve done it, it’s kicking my butt.” And I went into my first big isolation of the year.
I didn’t do any podcast episodes for about a month. I was barely on Instagram stories. I was still running my The Stacey Harris social. Uncommonly More social was run by Cali, and I was so tired. I was so, so, so tired. And I was like, I just have to step back. And so I did, and that actually birthed the episode, Why Strategy is Part of My Self Care, which is still one of my favorite episodes. And if you haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend going and listening to it. We’ve actually evolved it into a talk, and it’s a big part of my teaching now in my consulting and everything I talk about. Because it is probably the thing that saved me time and time again last year.
Our next hire, a podcast editor.
And I fast forward now to the summer, and things were picking up, and things were starting to go really well, but I was still really tired. And so we made our next hire ,and that was Laura, who is our podcast editor. This was the first time in the entirety of my business that I had somebody else editing podcasts, mine or our clients, because I have a degree in audio engineering. This is the thing I do best, right? So that was really hard to let go of, but it was the best choice I’ve made around this podcast, because it was such a huge relief to me in the business.
And so that was really incredible. And not long after that, I can’t remember exactly, I should’ve looked at my journals for the timing. But right around there I was like, “Maybe this isn’t two brands because yeah. It’s a lot for me right now.” And so we decided to pull everything together. And so I was like, “Oh great. So this is how the website is going to work. I’ll do that in December.” Again, spoiler alert, still isn’t finished. It will be, it will be finished at some point. So that piece of clarity around, oh, this is all one offering, was really, really valuable for me. And so we decided to start moving everything into Uncommonly More. And that helped me get super, super clear on who I serve, and how I serve them, and what I actually provide and what my team actually provides.
And so we saw some more growth, and that was really incredible. And we fast forward to December of 2019, and we brought on Lauren, who is our Digital Marketing Assistant. And it’s been really, really cool. And she’s only been with us for about a month now. And it’s been really, really cool to see her role grow, and her take to the team so quickly, and see the impact, selfishly for me, in having, again, even less on my plate from the day to day running of the business. And that team growth has really allowed us to up level how we serve and who we serve. And so as we look ahead to 2020, I’m really getting super, super clear on our favorite clients and how we serve them. And it’s evolving a little bit. My role is certainly evolving, how we serve the team and how our team serves the clients is really more of my job than it’s ever been before, which is really, really cool.
But to go from seven-ish, eight years of running everything myself and doing the solo thing. And I’ve always had Charles helping me here and there. And he’s been a huge part of my growth. But like having a real, real team has been an adjustment. And I think it’s something we don’t talk about enough when we’re looking at what’s next, and when we’re looking at where we want to grow. And so I wanted this episode to highlight really my own, as the person opening and growing this agency, my own adjustments. And so as I look about what’s next, it’s me coming out even more from scheduling social posts, and making sure links are live, and organizing show notes, and really steering the ship strategically for me and for our clients. And so I hope that this was a cool look at what our first year was.
It’s never going to be perfect.
But I want this to more importantly be a look at if you’re somebody who is bringing on a team and you’re inundated with experts on how to do that, and what to say, and who to prioritize, and how to hire. And I wanted to share the non-expert experience, journey as it were, of doing this. And it’s by no means done. We’ve got a long, long way to go. But I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in 2019 was that the only way to figure it out is to keep moving forward, is to start doing it, is to make the jump and then build the plane. Because no longer am I just building a parachute. No longer is it just me that I’ve got to get sailing. I’ve got to build a whole plane. And so everything we decide to do is again, just that leap and then, all right, let’s see what happens.
And so if you’re somebody who is looking at… Maybe you’re a coach and you want to bring on other coaches. Maybe you’re looking at launching a content agency or a virtual assistant agency or a digital marketing agency, whatever it is. I wanted to share a little bit about the craziness. I want to wrap this up with looking at the three things I did really well last year, and the three things that I didn’t do very well last year.
The Good & The Bad
The first one being in both columns. One thing I didn’t do very well last year is I isolated. One thing I did really well last year is I isolated for a lot shorter periods of time than I ever have before. And I actively looked for and asked for ways out. And I think that was probably the most critical piece of my personal development growth and the growth of the agency, because I have in the past had a propensity for isolation. And that propensity has stunted my growth a lot over the years, as it does anyone who has a propensity for isolation.
And I think anybody who’s ever struggled with depression or anxiety sort of knows that instinct, because depression and anxiety are isolating diseases, they’re isolating conditions. The very nature of them is to isolate. And so as somebody who has had that and who continues to deal with that, it was really, really important for me to exercise the muscle of not only asking for, but accepting the life raft when it showed up. And again, asking for it to show up was really key. So I would say that one goes in both columns.
Number two, I let myself stumble through systems. On the pro side and on the con side, everything was not systemized. One thing that was really rough about 2019 is we duct taped a lot of things together. And on the positive side of that, that allowed us to come into 2020 really clear on what we needed from the systems we were building.
And so 2020 is the year of efficiency, and dashboards, and structure, and systems, and all of the things that I as a human crave, because I enjoy knowing what’s next. And things that are critical as an organization for growth. And I wouldn’t know what we need now had we not duct taped last year. It was something that was really rough, and it was also something that allowed me to do things I’m really proud of, which is put together the project management system that was actually going to serve us, start putting together a training library that actually serves our growing team, evolve this show and make this show easier. Hopefully to get recorded and edited and out to you. And so again, two sides of the coin.
The third thing, which is again two sides of the same coin, the rough thing for me last year was saying we chuck it all, I’ll just do it myself mentality.
And so falling back into old habits and saying like, “Oh well I’ll just…” We’d bring on a new client and I would stay the lead on the project much longer, much, much longer, than I needed to, which led to communication boundary issues and scope creep issues, and also didn’t serve my team in learning how to grow in their roles. And so on the positive side of that, I would say by the end of the year I had exercised the muscle of feedback over takeover. That was something that really, really improved last year. I’m much, much, much, much, much better now at giving feedback than just saying, “Okay, I’ll take this and I’ll carry it over the goal line,” or whatever sports metaphor fits here. Right? And that was really, really, really important. I really think I got better at feedback than I’ve ever been.
And the idea that I can give feedback, they can take feedback and I’m not being mean, which this may surprise you was a concern of mine. But also it’s instruction. That’s how we both got better. And so again, two sides of the same coin, and I think that’s an important thing to realize, but a really important thing as I move into year two as an agency owner. That’s what I wanted to wrap up with was those three, for lack of a better way to phrase this, pros and cons, things I did well, things I didn’t do well in 2019. And I want you to look a little bit at your year, your 2019 and the things that you maybe didn’t love. How can you reframe them into, “But that caused this to go really well,” because it’s been really helpful for me.
Again, I’m not an expert on this, but I’m just sharing what’s worked for me. A little behind the scenes. This is one of the more behind the scenes episodes than I normally do. So that’s uncomfortable, but it will be fun. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope it was helpful. What I want to leave you with is that our agency is growing, and our team is growing. And if we can help you in any way this year, please let us know. We have evolved a lot of things, even right up to the moment I’m recording this.
The Stacey Harris is now my personal brand as the CEO of the Uncommonly More brand, no actual offerings exist under it. Everything’s under Uncommonly More. We’ve made some changes to how we offer things like our training site and our training workshop days. Our primary focus for Backstage Live in 2020 will actually be to offer them inside of other groups, meaning as of right now, we probably won’t have any public facing openings for those. However, if you run a Mastermind or a group program, or you have a meetup or a workshop or an event where you’d like to have me come in and do Backstage Live for your group, reach out. And we can talk through what that entails and what it looks like, because it’s a really cool way to serve your group. And we did some of that that last year. We’re doing more of that this year. And I’m really excited to make that available to people.
And if you’re somebody who’s like, “Man, I really wanted there to be a public one because I wanted to go.” Cool. Get together five, eight, 10, 15 people and say, “Hey, I want to do this. Do you guys want to do it?” Build your own program, come to me and we can make it work, because that’s a really cool way for us to get you what you need. All right? All right.
I’m going to wrap this up because I have two more episodes to record after this, full transparency, this episode, guys. I would love, love, love more than any other episode probably, to hear from you on this one, so let me know how you liked this. If you want more of this in 2020, this podcast will definitely be evolving in 2020 and for today, thank you. I’ll see you next week.
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