Overcoming Perfection and the Messy Middle with Racheal Cook

I’m really, really, really excited to have Racheal Cook on the show today, because, A, you guys know I don’t have very many guests. Like, I think we’ve had three in the last year. And, so you know I only bring really cool people to you guys. So, I’m really excited to talk to Racheal today, and we’re going to talk a little bit about this idea that we need to be perfect in our marketing, in our business. Quite frankly in our lives. And just, every moment of every day.

Stacey Harris: And so, I want to jump in and say, Hi Racheal.

Racheal Cook: Hello.

Stacey Harris: And also, Racheal, tell everyone about you. Although, I think probably, my audience knows you a little because I have talked about you in stories and stuff. Because I’m just a little bit obsessed with you apparently.

Stacey Harris: But in case they don’t, in case they do not pay close enough attention to my stories, who are you?

Racheal Cook: Okay. Well, I am Racheal Cook, I’m a business growth strategist, and I help women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. I’m also the host of a podcast called Uncomplicate Your Business because it’s all about keeping it simple and strategic so that you can create success without all the stress, and all the hustle, and all the burnout.

Racheal Cook: And I have been doing this work for, going on 12 years now.

Stacey Harris: See, the thing I love about getting to talk to you about this stuff, is the same thing I like about talking to Tara about this stuff. Tara Newman, who I’ve had on the show before, is like, there are actual quality conversations happening because there’s actual knowledge.

Stacey Harris: And so much of what’s happening on the internet, and I feel like at some point we’re going to go down this rabbit hole, so we’ll just start here, is just fluff. It’s perfectly dressed, beautifully laid out on Instagram, fluff.

Racheal Cook: It’s high heels and the sparkles, confetti everywhere.

Stacey Harris: Balloons. There’s a lot of balloons. Eiffel towers. Yeah, yeah. Anywho. And so, what I like talking … Why I like talking to you, is because you will go down the numbers, data, rabbit hole, which is great because I like the information, but don’t want to do the digging.

Stacey Harris: So, I will listen to your numbers and then I’ll go find all of the like, “How do we change this?” That’s where I want to get all diggy. And so, thank you for bringing that to us on such a regular basis.

And I want to make sure we’re having this conversation with the information that, Racheal and I both run actual businesses, that generate actual revenue, that employ actual teams. And that this will not be fluff, this is not ideas, this is not follow your passion and feel your best in every moment, because that’s not real.

Racheal Cook: That is not the reality.

Stacey Harris: And so, I want to make sure we’re bringing a ton more reality to business, and I’m not saying online business, because quite frankly, it’s all business. So, what caused you, sort of, what was your nudge, your push into starting 12 years ago? Because you were in corporate before that, right?

Racheal Cook: Yeah, I was in corporate before that, and I burned out. Hard. Hard. As in, I started having anxiety and panic attacks, and I was like, “Am I having a heart attack?” I didn’t know what was happening. And I ended up in the emergency room 10 times in a row, basically. Just, each time just being like, “I’m dying. Hook me up to the EKG. Like, clear. Give me the paddles.”

Stacey Harris: That’s because a panic attack does legitimately make you feel like you’re dying. That’s the only thing going through your brain is I’m going to die.

Racheal Cook: Yes, and I ended up… It was getting so bad, I mean, because I was in consulting on was on the road all the time. Most consultants are like this. They just send you off wherever you’re going to go so I was literally pulling over my little Prius thinking I’m going to die on the side of I-95 because I’m in the throes of a panic attack and here goes this huge 18 wheeler going 90 miles an hour beside me. And so I ended up asking if I could take a leave of absence. I filed for disability for three months and was on short-term disability while I figured out what the heck was happening.

I was in my 20’s. I was like what is wrong? I should be fine, but I wasn’t and it was just a really toxic environment for me. It wasn’t just the hours and this was the thing, It wasn’t just the hours. When you’re in consulting and finance and you’re the only woman of an office of 50 whose not an administrative assistant or in HR… I had filed so many complaints about sexual harassment and everything else. It was such a toxic environment for me. I remember I was sitting on my therapist’s couch and she’s explaining to me what a panic disorder is and what anxiety is and why it’s all showing up at the same time. She basically was like, well you can go take this handful of medication and get back to work or we can look at what’s really happening.

I realized oh, maybe the environment is actually making me have these problems. So that’s the biggest reason why I left. I left for three months. I was on paid disability. During that time I was literally on a yoga mat or going to a therapist or seeing a life coach or going on a retreat. It was basically a three-month emersion in personal development. I probably did the equivalent of ten years of personal development in those three months. What I realized was the environment was toxic, I couldn’t go back. I could design my life the way I wanted. That was a huge idea at the time. I remember at the time Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek came out and I read that and I was like, this doesn’t sound legit and that’s when realizing some of it could be, maybe there’s some I can take out of this.

Then my yoga teacher said, hey I know you don’t want to go back to corporate, could you look at my business here because I’m struggling. I was like oh, okay, can I see your PNL? What’s that? What does your membership numbers look like? Huh? What’s your retention rate? What are you talking about Rach? What’s your attrition? Huh? And I was like, oh, they don’t know this. There was this gap and it’s still a huge gap. There’s more consultants and coaches that talk to small business owners, but not a lot that bring corporate background. They’re only focused on just the marketing or just the sales. Because of my background, years in corporate consulting, consulting and prepping companies for start up funding, getting my MBA in entrepreneurship and small business.

I had this huge experience that I could bring to these solo business owners. So I could sit in there and talk about business finances. I could talk about the business model. I could look at cash flow projections. We could talk about marketing. We could build out the sale system. And I started doing that for her yoga studio and that led to her friend saying, what is she talking to you about? Suddenly you’re out traveling the world teaching, how are you doing that if you have a studio back home. She’s like, oh you need to talk to Rach and that just snowballed and that little imaginary light bulb went off over my head. It was like, oh, this could be a thing.

Stacey Harris: Oh my God, I’m laughing because I had the exact same moment. I launched my business after being a stay at home mom for two years. I had struggled with postpartum depression, I was just simply not built to be a stay at home mom. It’s not-

Racheal Cook: Me either.

Stacey Harris: It’s not in my DNA. There’s nothing wrong with it, I think it’s great. I’m just not built for it. Physically my body rejected it. So I was like, I don’t want to go back to a commute and all of those things. What could I do? And I legitimately started googling work from home which is a terrible idea. Don’t do it. There’s nothing good that’s going to come from that search. I’m sure it’s worse now than it was ten years ago.

Racheal Cook: It was terrible.

Stacey Harris: So I was like, I found Odesk or something. Like one of those job sites and I started doing admin work. I was like, oh I can do this and I’ll make a little extra money and realized that I could cut out the middle man and legit do this because I was getting referrals from people for more than admin tasks. More like management kind of things. They were like, hey could you handle this customer thing or this client relationship and I was like, oh yeah. It was one of those, hey, this is a thing. I could do this. Like this random light bulb moment, like oh, I didn’t know. So I love that, I love that moment.

So, as you kind of fell into this, kind of like oh hey, this is a thing did you find that the needs should be perfect and the execution came alongside of oh wait, this is an actual thing and not just an I’m helping some people out because that’s how mine lined up where I was like, okay now I have to put on the big girl pants. And this has to be epic.

Racheal Cook: It’s so interesting because if I were to… You see so much more in hindsight right?

Stacey Harris: Totally.

Racheal Cook: Things I know now that I wouldn’t have done, right? The first thing is spend a ton of money on a website and a photo shoot when I didn’t really have that money to spend. Thinking that it needed to be perfect out the gate. Then six months, a year later realizing wow, this is not the right website or whatever, because things had changed so quickly. I see this a lot with my clients. I feel like so many people do this. You feel like… And before everybody had websites, by the way, it uses to be business cards and logo. I need to go out and get the perfect logo and have my business cards made and then I’ll be legit and for me it was the website. It was I need to have a logo made, I need to have this beautiful website, I need to have a photo shoot. And this was 2008 and I still felt that way. Granted, that was the perfect part. There wasn’t really social media then. Facebook didn’t have Facebook pages, I think it was just profiles. I don’t know that there was any other social media out there.

Stacey Harris: MySpace.

Racheal Cook: So there wasn’t really a lot that I had to show up as in the outside world. I could pretty much just hang out behind my website for a long time. I think, when I look back over my content, and if you really wanted to see some terrible videos and things, you just go find me on YouTube, you will find them there. They’re terribly lit, I’m literally hiding out in the small tiny second bedroom we had. It was terrible. It was so terrible. So I wasn’t afraid to go out there and try things because no one else was doing it for a long time. So I feel like when I started recording my first videos, and you probably felt this way too… Like when videos first started coming out and you could start posting to YouTube, remember when they had a ten or twenty minute limit on videos? This was how back then it was. No one was doing it so it didn’t really matter as much and I feel like when it all just got started it was just about jumping on.

But then it became super polished and that’s when the insecurity started setting in. When I saw people who I was watching go from just flipping open a laptop, recording a video to post on their YouTube channel to now like, here’s a set and by the way I have a hair stylist and I have a wardrobe designer and I have professional lighting and there’s all these fancy microphones and cameras. It started to feel like you had to be in TV production. And the pressure just kept building. I started seeing that probably about the time… When did Instagram hit the scene and then start getting really polished? I’m thinking 2015, 2016.

Stacey Harris: Yeah, I want to say like four years ago at the absolute most.

Racheal Cook: That’s when I started feeling it. I started seeing because this is how people try to differentiate themselves right? Their contents not really hitting hard so they’re going to instead make it as pretty as possible and have the best production value. To be honest, if you’re to look at some of them, there’s really great content out there and it might be terrible production value, but it’s great content. But people are attracted, they’re attracted to things that are pretty, that are polished, that are highly produced and edited. And this is honestly one of my personal pet peeves. If you watch a launch that’s super, super heavy in the video editing realm, it’s there to do the razzle dazzle show.

Stacey Harris: Totally. I call it faux credibility. Like you can dress up absolutely anything with this polished exterior. Suddenly the monkey is wearing a suit so he’s a really smart monkey.

Racheal Cook: That’s exactly what it is. So that’s what I started seeing and what I’m seeing now… So that was probably about four years ago when we started seeing the super polished videos, people’s weekly video shows going from laptop camera to whole film crew. We started seeing launches go from a little low key, but maybe nice videos, but not all the B roll and all the fanciness. We started seeing, the level of production kept increasing and also we started hearing more and more about multi-million dollar launches and this whole keeping up with the Jones’s thing, you start to feel like in order to be relevant and in order to get people to pay attention to you have to be more perfect.

Racheal Cook: And it wasn’t just in business either. Ten years ago I remember my kids’ first birthday. We basically had no extra money. We had twins so we had no money to throw a birthday party and it was homemade cake, the twins had icing everywhere, I looked hot mess. It was just family. Everybody brought something. Now we’ve gone to a one-year-old birthday party recently and it’s like, holy cow. My wedding wasn’t that nice.

Stacey Harris: Yeah, they don’t get better as they get older. Colin’s ten and I’m like wait, what are they doing? There are video game trucks that will arrive and the kids file through these video game trucks and play all… it’s bananas to me. Yes, 100%. Also, sack lunches to go to school now are not sack lunches that went to school when I went to school.

Racheal Cook: No, you have to be like a chef.

Stacey Harris: What happened to peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Like legitimately, what happened to peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Or Lunchables. That was the big treat to me was mom sprung for Lunchables. That was a big deal. If I sent a Lunchable to school there would be a riot of PTA parents knocking on my door.

Racheal Cook: It’s not just the business world is what I’m saying. It’s happening across all aspects of our lives. I’ve never seen more people care more about what their homes look like then now because of HGTV and Pinterest. I’ve never seen people buy so much makeup because now of Instagram, beauty influencers and YouTube beauty bloggers, right? It used to be like you had a little makeup kit of your favorites and now you got to have a whole desk dedicated to make up.

Stacey Harris: Yeah, a room.

Racheal Cook: It’s changed so dramatically in the last four or five years, this whole everything has to be perfect, everything has to be next level. The production has to be this much higher and what I’m seeing right now are two things. One is keeping a lot of people from just getting started and the other side of that is it’s also getting a lot of people to overinvest before they’re ready.

Stacey Harris: Yeah, that’s where I want to come back to because it’s interesting that you talk about the website. I was determined to shoestring as much as I could when I first got it started so I built my website which was an interesting adventure all on its own. But I’m so glad I did because again that hindsight piece, I closed that business and opened this business, which by the way was named something different than in like 12 to 15 months because I had learned so much in that first year.

I narrowed my services, I narrowed my ideal client and I learned so much and just that doing, just that sort of like falling forward, that had I spent 20 grand getting my business off the ground it would have been all for naught. And I see so many people who are coming in now in 2019 who don’t want to do anything for fear of it being wrong. And I see this so often, specifically with social media because that’s what I talk to my clients about. They’re like, once I figure out Instagram then I’ll start doing stories. I was like, you want to know how to do stories? Start doing stories. You want to get good on video, start doing videos. Feel free to go wander down the abyss that is my YouTube channel and you will also see horrible videos.

Racheal Cook: But the contents still good and that’s-

Stacey Harris: The content’s great, except for the content in my Google+ which doesn’t exist anymore, but outside of that… and Periscope. There’s old Periscope on there. Getting started is… and what’s funny to me is these tools. We have so many things now that make it so easy to get started without a ton of investment. Without a ton of information on what’s happening which I don’t know that that’s great either. But you can jump in and figure it out.

And it’s funny because this idea of reaching all of these people and being this perfect and polished is often what ends up pushing out actual clients away because they think they can’t ever compete. It forces them to pedestal us to a point where they’re like but yeah, Racheal can do that. Yeah, Stacey can do that. I can’t do that. I could never get on a podcast and answer questions. I could never just sit in front of a microphone and talk. I promise you can, it’s wildly not that complicated. Literally, this thing is just plugged into the computer and there’s zoom on the screen in front of us. This is not a very difficult task. I promise. But the reason we can do it is because we started doing it.

Racheal Cook: Yes. And that’s the key right? Is just getting started and I think getting started is never easy. I literally have clients who are in my CEO accelerator who are going through some up levels right now. They just sent their first cold pitches out to invite people to speak at something. [crosstalk] messaged me. She’s like, Rach I just sent this out. I think I’m going to throw up. And I’m like, it’s okay, go throw up. I’ll still be here. I’ll wait while you go throw up and then you’ll come back and people are saying yes. So I feel like we got to get over that. We just got to do the thing. But the other thing I love that you said is pushing our clients away. I remember when I was just starting my business… By the way, I got pregnant with my twins within the first year of starting my business. It’s not exactly the order I would recommend, but you want to light a fire under your ass to take massive action, get pregnant with twins. Then be told you’re going to be on bedrest for three months. You will figure stuff out.

We will book 18 month long contracts. You will do whatever it takes to make it easy because you have a literal time bomb that could be happening. It’s crazy. But I remember I was looking for a coach and in 2009, here was the landscape of women coaches. Ali Brown, Marie Forleo. And they were not super well known. Neither of them had children. They were both single. I was thinking to myself, I can not relate to these women. How are they going to help me navigate having kids. I’m not dissing Ali Brown or Marie Forleo, but there was literally no woman coach out there or someone who had walked this path before, who had walked it with newborns much less newborn twins who was doing it in a certain timeframe.

And I remember because I couldn’t see myself. I was so frustrated and then I was trying to get information from the men and that was terrible because that was like, this is not going to work for me dude. I can’t fly around the country to events. I am breastfeeding. I remember just feeling so incredibly frustrated that there was no one who was in my specific situation and it just looked like I wasn’t going to be able to succeed because the image that they had projected was so narrowly defined of what success could look like.

Stacey Harris: The moment I got started too, I launched my business in 2011 so it was just a couple years later and Marie Forleo had kind of hit. She had been doing B-School for… I think I joined in 2013. I think I joined maybe the fourth round of B-School.

Racheal Cook: Yeah, I was like the second when it was still the first three or four hundred people.

Stacey Harris: Yeah, there were like 2000 people who had ever taken B-School. Which is bananas when you think about what B-School is like now, but that’s a whole other thing. I remember thinking, yeah she can do it because she’s got blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. She’s got the help. She’s got the script. She’s got the blah blah blah and the best thing I did was exactly the thing you and I both joked about. I went to her YouTube channel and I scrolled all the way to the bottom to where it was her on her couch with her laptop talking into… genuinely in her lap, like she was looking at the laptop camera on her lap.

It was not like she had an external camera even. I think that so often we look at the perfect and we’re like, no we can’t do that. And also that representation of there’s a lot of different journeys. I was in the same boat, I had a two-year-old. Everyone I was looking at were these wonderful, youngish single women who lived… I lived in Phoenix, Arizona. I didn’t live in New York. I didn’t live in LA, which is where they lived.

Racheal Cook: You didn’t like take trips to Paris all the time?

Stacey Harris: No. I was trying to maintain my sanity. Literally, not a joke. Literally just trying to be sane again. It was so interesting because I looked at all of that polish and thought there’s no way I can achieve that because I don’t have blah blah blah blah blah blah. What’s interesting is we are so often now seeing, we’ve grown, we’ve put ourselves in positions where we did do that. And I’m totally owning this as something I am working on changing. We don’t talk about what it took to get here.

Racheal Cook: Yeah, the messiness.

Stacey Harris: Exactly, and you and I had this conversation when we were in New York for Tara Newman’s Mastermind Day around…There is this window that’s right about to hit six figures and even like you just hit six figures. That is the hardest part of the business because you now have clients who you have to service and you now have money coming in but you’re not totally sure what to do with it, but you don’t have enough money coming in that someone can help you with all these things. And we don’t talk to any of them. Instead, we say here’s how to start your dream thing. It’s going to be an instant million dollar success. Or you have these people who’ve already made gazillions of dollars, why haven’t you too?

Stacey Harris: That messy middle, I think, avoiding that is what feeds this perfectionism. It’s what feeds this idea that we have to stay perfect.

So what are some of the things that you are doing because you’re doing a really great job of this on stories, to start helping. Let your audience in a little bit on that messy middle because I think there’s a lot of people listening to this right now who could be helping us in this idea of showing that it is not all macaroons and Eiffel towers and laptops on beaches, which is a whole other rant for me.

Racheal Cook: So here’s some things I’ve done this year and I’m scrolling through my Instagram to remember what I’ve been doing. One of the things I did, I didn’t have my latest photos photoshopped.

Stacey Harris: That’s awesome.

Racheal Cook: The main photo on my website, when I had that photo shoot three years ago I remember feeling so frustrated because I was super critical of myself. I was like, I am a plus sized girl and you can see my double chin and my… I had twins so I have this little skin flap that I have to wear an extra layer of compression things because no I’m not getting surgery for that. But I was so sending it off to the photo ship person and like could you make my chin look nicer or can you flatten out the twin flap. Funny story, when I first-

Stacey Harris: I love that you call it the twin flap.

Racheal Cook: Twin flap. When I first sent that photo to be edited he gave me Jessica Rabbit boobs and I was like, no, I don’t want to go that far, I was like imagine double Spanx. That’s what I was looking for. So this time I have not photoshopped any of my photos. And I just hired a new photographer this past year. I realized that one of the things I hadn’t been doing was using a lot of stock photography on my site and not just showing up as me. And so I decided instead of buying all these stock photos and investing in all these membership programs that I don’t need, giving my captions, giving me stuff that’s not really me. Like, let me just hire a photographer every quarter.

And so we decided where she would show up and just showed me as me. So she showed up and she did a photo shoot here in my home office. You will see a double chin. You will see a little bit of curviness and I’m okay with it now. It’s really okay. I just got back photos from our live event. It was great, they just feel really real to me because it was an actual thing that I actually did and it wasn’t posed and whatever. So that’s part of it, is making sure you show up as you and not modifying it or getting too hung up in all of that.

Another thing that I have been doing to overcome perfectionism is, one, show up all my stories. The feed still needs to be pretty because I am kind of a snob about some of those things. So most of those are professional photos. It makes me feel better, but the stories, I was like, I don’t need to have my hair and make up done. I can just show up and talk. And I can show up and talk about things that I’m talking about, like with my friends. Like real conversations. Not just, hey guys, how you doing today? Let me give you the three tips to do X, Y, Z. Pep, pep, pep, pep.

Stacey Harris: Yeah.

Racheal Cook: I realized, and Tara was actually the person. She was like, did you notice that you always start your stories with “hey friends”? And I was like, oh I do? And she was like, why are you doing that? I don’t know. I guess I had just seen somebody else do it and I’m trying to be friendly. And she was like, but do you need more friends or are you here to give real advice and real insight? I was like, oh yeah I am, I just need to be me. I don’t need to be anybody’s friend, like, you can be my friend.

Stacey Harris: Also, ever in the history of the world have you walked into a group of your friends and been, “hi friends”?

Racheal Cook: No.

Stacey Harris: I’ve hung out with you and that’s never how you’ve welcomed me.

Racheal Cook: No, and you know what’s funny, is since I started making these changes I remember when you and I first connected in person and we had talked a few times before that, you said something that was kind of was like, oh, you said, okay hey Rach I’ve known who you are for a long time, but now that I’m in the room with you I actually like you.

Stacey Harris: It’s not that I didn’t like you before, like hold on.

Racheal Cook: No, no, no, but I think this was super insightful for me because it showed that I was holding back from being who I actually am in real life because I wanted to be perfect and in my mind a lot of my identity is wrapped up in being the type A, overachiever, 4.0, magna cum laude, all the degrees, everything’s going to look perfect and that’s, I mean if we want to go there, that is how I validated myself. That’s how I felt like I was enough. I might not be the prettiest girl. I might not be the fastest runner because I don’t run. I might be a size 12 or 14 sometimes, but I can be smart and I can be polished. So when you said that to me in New York I was like dang it. You called me right there. You were like, I like you more now. I was like…

Stacey Harris: It’s because you’re awesome. But when we edit ourselves to the point of feeling presentable sometimes we remove those best parts of us. Those parts that are the most interesting. And it’s funny because you talked about your Instagram grid that’s still being more polished. I like that too. I consider the Instagram grid the gallery and the Instagram stories is like the coffee shop that occasionally hangs art. Like everyone just kind of hangs out.

Racheal Cook: Your website wouldn’t be pictures you took on your iPhone right? People are going to get… as nice as you can, photos. As nice as you can things that are the primary marketing assets that you have. But the things that are meant to be conversational, they should feel like they are really you having a conversation with somebody and that’s what I feel like the stories are, that’s what I feel like going live on video is and that’s what I’m trying to do more of.

Something that I have done recently, when we were in New York together I challenged myself to have 100 days of bold conversations and the platform I was going to use is Instagram. So I feel like I’ve been warming up to it and then saying some really bold stuff and then sitting there in what Brene Brown calls the vulnerability hangover where I’m like, whoa, I really went there. I really called some stuff out, but then the response I get has been amazing. So what’s shown up for me is me worrying about being perfect has shown up in me putting a lot of pressure on myself. Me making things take a lot longer than they need to. I would literally get up in the morning and do an hour and a half of hair and makeup before every single Facebook live. Then I was like, this is stupid. Do you see a single man care about that? No. They are still wearing yesterday’s shirt with grease stains and crap all over their office. They don’t care. So I was like, okay I can bring a little bit more of whatever, more just casual.

It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, and I think that’s what’s big for me it’s just being more casual and thinking more about what are the conversations that I am having with my clients. What are the conversations I’m having with my peers that I’m not having externally? Because that was another thing that I realized, and it didn’t hit me until honestly until recently with my CEO accelerator. They were like you give us so much great insight, but you don’t share that on your podcast, or you don’t share that on your social media and I was like, whoa, they’re getting a different angle of me too because they’re in a room with me. [inaudible] experience than when you put the perfectionist filter on before you produce anything. So there’s a lot that I’ve been deconstructing and trying to get out of my own way with.

Stacey Harris: I think you bring up such great point and it’s funny because I’m, as you know, I’m going through this too. A lot of this podcast is changing because I was also falling into this like, well I have to have conversations inside of this little box because that’s what everybody will be comfortable with and that will be the right amount of rebellious that will just be enough. I won’t freak anybody out.

And it’s interesting because when you start to inch further and further out of that and you start to say the things that are really on your mind regardless of what you look like, regardless of what’s happening aesthetically, regardless of where you shoot it. Those remain and continue to be the conversations that I get messages from people, I get emails from people who are like, I’m so glad you said this. No one will say this. These conversations aren’t happening anywhere. I’m glad I finally found some place where I can have these conversations. There’s someone who would say this and it’s like, I’m sorry that I was being a perfections and hiding from you of you guys because I’ve literally been saying this to my clients for nine years.

Racheal Cook: Exactly and so that’s what’s happening to me right now. When I took your workshop, the Hitting the Mic Live workshop, which, by the way guys you need to go because I walked away with so many new content ideas and I think one of the things that happen, especially when you’ve been in business awhile, is you feel like you’ve said freaking everything. It’s like I’ve already promoted [inaudible] a million different times. I’ve already talked about this thing and you just start to get like, does anybody care? Is anybody listening? And what I took away from that is you ask some really good questions. Some of them that really stand out to me was like, what makes you mad? What are you frustrated with? What about your industry do you not agree with.

And those questions helped me a lot because it’s really easy to find stuff that you do agree with. It’s easy to look out there and say, oh I love what this person is doing and we all get excited about everybody else’s thing and oh, look at them they’re awesome or I’m going to share this, this is great. But we often don’t speak out about things we don’t agree with. That we think are messed up or that we think are broken or aren’t working or are actually dangerous for people. And that’s where I’m getting the most feedback right now is where I’m coming out and saying this doesn’t work for us. Why are you doing this? This whole strategy is actually holding you back. I did a whole Instagram live. I need to upload it to Facebook because it’s too long to put on IGTV.

But did a whole thing all about predatory marketing that we really need help for. It’s sucking us in but not actually serving us and people were like, whoa, I had no idea. This is crazy. And I’m like, yeah this is a thing and these are the conversations I’m having with my peers that other people might not have. Or the conversation I had just about women needing to do better and not buying into the cool kids club or the cliques, or… again, the perfectionism that everything needs to be polished and perfect all the time.

These are the things that are resonating and these are the things that upset me about my industry, that give this space a bad name. The online business, the online coaching space. This is why there google searches saying is this a scam? Because it’s these strategies are giving it a bad name. If I’m not speaking out about it… I feel like now I realize by me not speaking out and sharing my perspective people aren’t educated and people aren’t informed first. They don’t know any better because they’ve not been in this space. They don’t know the typical tricks that people use in order to get where they want to go and really get people to buy from them even it’s a more of a predatory type of thing.

Stacey Harris: I love that you share that because I do feel like we’re almost complicit in the predatory marketing if we don’t speak up. If we see something that’s really terrible that’s happening and we just keep letting it happen, we’re just as guilty. So we have to be showing them, yes there’s another way. Yes, there’s another way to grow your business than this thing. No you don’t have to participate in blah blah blah because hanging out with x,y,z is the only way to get successful.

I loved that story and I’m really excited that you’re sharing it more widely because I think it is one of the most important conversations we need to be having. In the last year, year and a half we’ve talked a lot about what’s happening to women in corporate. We’ve talked a lot about what’s happening to women in other industries. We’re not talking about the fact this is happening to women who work from their homes and travel to events. There’s a lot of really terrible stuff happening in our own little yard that we all made. In this little playground we built together, the same stuff is happening and if we don’t speak out against it we’re complicit in it.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. We need to talk about it and then we need to set boundaries around it. One of the things I talked about is the whole bro marketing challenges. If you haven’t heard, anyone talk of bro marketing, you must be super new to the space.

Stacey Harris: There’s also a lot of Lambos.

Racheal Cook: Yeah, we have a lot of new Teslas and you know, apparently all live in beachfront mansions or they just rent them for the day for their photo shoots. One of the other.

Stacey Harris: Definitely the second one.

Racheal Cook: So there’s was a lot these events and conferences where… They are seriously sausage fests and dudes are preying on women making them feel incredibly uncomfortable and not just sexual harassment jokes, it’s more than that. We’re talking like assault, we’re talking women feeling safe and when women have spoken up to some of these people they act like it’s not their responsibility to create a safe space for women to attend these events.

And then on the flip side, there are events right now where when they were criticized about women not being on the speaker’s docket. They were like, well there are no women who talk about marketing. There are no women who talk about conversion. I’m like, are you serious? Are you serious. There’s even a conference… Somebody just shared something with me. It was a conference that was basically giving a discount if you were a woman, to go to the conference and it’s pandering to women. Instead of figuring out why this conference isn’t attracting women, it’s like, lets just continue to treat you less than with your cute little woman business and try to see if that’ll work.

Stacey Harris: That makes me like… I’m mad right now. I had not heard that one. You got me on that one. Oh my gosh.

Racheal Cook: Right, we do have to clean up this mess in this little playground and it means putting some boundaries in place around like, what events do we attend? When we hear bad things happening at certain events we need to call them out and talk about it and say, whoever it is that’s running this event, what are you doing to make sure that these things aren’t happening? Are you hiring security, are you making sure that women feel safe in these spaces? Are you having these conversations because if they’re not willing to have the conversations they’re not willing to support us. And this goes across so many different things. Back to-

Stacey Harris: I feel like we got like far off-

Racheal Cook: Stand up for what you believe in and actually take a stand. For example. I just had an interview with one of my clients… I’m a business growth strategist so she was doing an interview about how she implemented a strategy I taught her to grow her business. She is a nutritionist. You can’t throw a shoe without hitting a nutritionist or a health coach. They’re everywhere. Suddenly everybody’s a nutritionist and health coach. You know what I love about first her kind of taking a stand against what she doesn’t believe? She’s taking a stand against the diet industry. She’s a nutritionist who does not talk about weight loss. She focuses on health at every size and I’m like, whoa, that is awesome.

So when you land on her content and her marketing she’s not trying to follow the status quo with what most nutritionists think they should talk about. She’s talking about something she leaves in or talking about what she gets frustrated within her space. And it’s resonating, it’s laming for people. So I feel that was a huge lesson I learned from you and that you have pushed me more and more over the last quarter since the Hit The Mic Backstage Live workshop is just leaning into that like what are the things that you want to say that maybe you’re saying just to your peers or just to your mastermind, or just to your business BFF’s that you haven’t had the courage to say what bothers you, what can you stand up for and those are the things that people are waiting for you to say.

Stacey Harris: I love that you said that. Thank you very much. I’ve loved having you in the realm. I think that often times, the things we’re frustrated with our industry are also things our clients are frustrated with so we’re not really… The only people we’re potentially going to piss off are also the people who do what we do. They’re not going to pay us at any point in time. So, I’m good. There’s no downside.

Racheal Cook: Totally okay with that.

Stacey Harris: All right, I love that and I want to leave everyone with the challenge of going out and choosing one thing you don’t love and taking a stand against it. Do it in stories. It goes away in 24 hours. If you don’t like it don’t post it. Just get on and be like, here’s how I think about this. Here’s my perspective. This is something I’m working on constantly. This is something Racheal is working on. This is something that you will not just work on one time. You will find new levels of this as you progress. At least that’s been my experience. Racheal, would you agree?

Racheal Cook: There will always be something that annoys you.

Stacey Harris: There will.

Racheal Cook: So I’ve got plenty of content.

Stacey Harris: That’s true. I’m with you. So before we go, I attended your event out here in LA, which you don’t do in LA anymore. The CEO retreat which now you do in Virginia?

Racheal Cook: Yes.

Stacey Harris: When is your next one? You do them quarterly right?

Racheal Cook: We do them quarterly. We’re doing a virtual one coming up on June 14.

Stacey Harris: Oh cool.

Racheal Cook: The virtual one this year and the other two for September and December will be here in Richmond, Virginia in the beautiful Quirk Hotel which is amazing. But yes, we love doing the CEO retreat to help women really plan out strategically their revenue plan for the next 90 days and have the marketing strategy and sale strategy in place to make that happen.

Stacey Harris: I had a such a good time at the one in December. And it’s funny because I do all my planning so early that I was like, I don’t know. And I went and was like, my schedule is for joke. I’ve got to fix this. That was my big take away, I came home and I rearranged my calendar. I was like, what am I even doing. I don’t even know.

Racheal Cook: You’re working too much.

Stacey Harris: Perpetually, but I think it’s so valuable and this is one of the things that goes back to what we were talking about, about wanting to support the events that are doing it right, like if you want to be in a room with people who are paying attention to this stuff to are doing this work who want something different… be in rooms like that one, be in rooms like backstage live. Be in rooms that resonate with you instead of going to these conferences that you think you have to go to because that’s where the cool kids are. Go to the rooms that are resonating with you at a values level.

Racheal Cook: Absolutely. Vote with your dollars. That’s my mantra. If you vote with your dollars, in life, in business, the people you choose to support that’s-

Stacey Harris: My friends laugh at me all the time because I’m like, I can’t go there. I don’t spend money there. There’ll be a restaurant and they’ll be like, lets go to [inaudible] and I’m like no, I don’t eat there. But with my dollars. It’s a running joke among my friends they’re like nope, Stacey won’t do it. She votes with her dollars.

Stacey Harris: Alright, thank you so much for your time today. Go check Racheal out. The links will be over at the show notes. Check out the CEO retreat, it’s a really great way to spend a day in your business without being in your business and distracted my things.

Resources

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