Michael Parrish DuDell: Build a Brand That Attracts Sponsors for Your Podcast or Web Series

Michael Parrish DuDell is an entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of Shark Tank Jump Start Your Business and Shark Tank Secrets to Success. He is listed as one of the most popular business authors on Amazon and listed as one of the top Millennial voices by IBM.

He shares advice on how he acquired sponsors like Forbes and Citrix for his web series The Next Crop and how you can build a brand that attracts sponsors for your podcast or web series.

1. Niche, Niche, Niche

One of the most important ways to stand out in the ever-growing list of podcasts is to know your audience. Who are they? What do they like? Where do they hang out online, and who do they follow? By knowing your audience, you can niche down more and more to find your targeted audience and build your brand.

Ways you can niche:

  • Demographics – age, sex, political stance, spending habits, etc.
  • Interests – Instagram influencers, television shows, brands, etc.
  • Topics – thought leadership, business, entrepreneurship, etc.

These are broad niches listed above. In order to niche down to a very specific audience, you have to make choices. When someone asks, who is your podcast or web series for, you should be able to provide a specific answer.

My podcast/web series is for Millennials between the ages of 22-24 who are interested in building a personal brand around fashion who follow Sara Blakely.

You can see how this is very niched. It’s targeting a specific age group with a particular interest and follow a specific influencer. By doing this, you can narrow down topics and series you want to put out and even look for interests Blakey’s followers keep asking about to fill a need. Which brings me to the next point.

2. Do Your Research

There are two levels of research you need to conduct if you want sponsors for your podcast or web series. The first is research on your audience. The second is research about sponsors. Let’s dive in.

Research Your Audience

As a podcast or a web series, you have to add value. If you’re not adding value, you’re not going to gain an audience. Take the time to do your research.

Ask yourself questions:

  • What’s trending with my target audience right now?
  • Is there a burning question I could answer for them?

By anticipating the needs of your niche audience, you are leveraging your potential to add value. People share valuable content, and that’s how you gain an organic following.

Research Your Sponsors

Just like you need to add value to your audience, you need to provide value for your sponsors. Think about what brands are influenced by the SPANX brand:

  • What need are you filling in that space?
  • How do you plan to market to this audience?
  • How will the sponsor benefit from being a part of your brand?

Before reaching out to sponsors you need to know how you can add value to another brand. Research is a huge part of learning about your target sponsors, their competitors, and what value your audience can bring them.

3. Be Prepared: Put Your Research to Good Use

Produce content that fits your research. You need to build out your content like an architect. Here are some important questions to consider as you flesh out your content:

  • What is the purpose behind your content?
  • Who is it for, and how can it help them?
  • For sponsors, how is this content valuable to extending their brand?

The more laser-focused your content is, the easier it will be to provide value to your audience and sponsors. Timing can’t be controlled, but preparation is entirely within your control. By being prepared, you have valuable assets to deliver when the time comes.

4. Pitch, Pitch, Pitch

Once you know your value and you have valuable assets, it’s time to pitch to sponsors. It’s essential to think about how to sell your idea. You should be able to explain your vision and why you’re the best person to present it.

Again, sponsors are looking for value to them as investors, so it’s crucial that your messaging demonstrates research, describes their pain points in reaching your target audience, and how your content can bring your target audience to their brand.

If you have spent a good deal of time focused on steps one through three, your pitch should be solid due to the fact that you:

  • Know your audience
  • Can describe precisely how to reach them
  • How the sponsor fits in with your audience
  • How your audience can add value to their brand

After that, it’s selling your pitch which depending on your sales skills, may take time. To make an irresistible offer, you need to sell them on the idea and what the sponsor would lose if someone else got the same deal.

Prepare for Launch: Build Your Brand With These Tips

Using these tips, you can build a brand and get sponsorships for your podcast or web series. Follow the steps, work the plan, and when the time is right, you’ll be prepared.

Virtual Fireside Chat with Meha Agrawal, Founder And CEO, Silk + Sonder

Meha Agrawal, an influential figure in South Asian women’s leadership, is the founder and CEO of Silk + Sonder. Her company produces beautiful bound books for paper and pen journaling as an aid to wellness and productivity.

In addition to the journals themselves, Meha has built a lively online community of journal users who support and encourage one another. In this fireside chat she shares invaluable tips for entrepreneurs launching and growing a new business.

Why Paper and Pen?

Meha explains how clinical psychologists have stressed the importance of taking time away from our endless fixation on the screens that fill our lives, both at work and at home. She talks about her “idea of disconnecting in order to reconnect with myself … through the form of both bullet journaling, but also positive psychology and various life coaching activities.”

One of Meha’s key strengths is her persistence in the face of obstacles. Here are her top tips for combatting the naysayers and succeeding as an entrepreneur.

Ten Tips for Launching and Growing a Business
1. The Founder personifies the brand. Being an approachable and personable CEO builds loyalty and value. For Meha, self-belief comes first.
I had imposter syndrome and self-doubt…. and what I realized was that customers don’t care how big your business is. They think it’s so special if they have access to the founder or the brand. For them, that’s a very unique experience.

2. Stay Authentic. So long as you admit mistakes and course correct, it’s better to stay true to your ideals, especially when you’re finding your feet.
“Pillar number two was probably staying authentic and recognizing if we make mistakes as a brand, being able to have those conversations and forgiving ourselves, as opposed to just acting like we are a fully functional and operational company.”

3. Don’t be shy. Be confident in the business you are building, and investment will follow.
“One thing, especially being South Asian and especially being a woman – I don’t know if it resonates for everyone – I think realizing you’re not building a charity, you are literally building a business… You’re providing value and not being shy.”

4. Feedback is vital. Meha believes you need to ask open questions and identify patterns in what customers tell you about their experience.
“Ask open-ended questions, so you’re getting feedback… ask multiple people, then deduce patterns and then prioritize.”

5. Every no is helpful, says Meha. When investors knock you back, this is an opportunity to refocus your pitch and anticipate future criticism.
“It’s a gift… knowing why they said no; understanding how to better position your pitch… Reminding yourself of your why, so that’s number one, and then also thinking about how you could better respond to their concerns.”

6. Finding an acceptable risk level can be key, explains Meha, and depends very much on your particular circumstances.
“I think everybody has their own [degree of] comfort with the financial risk of going full time on your project or startup idea… Understanding what that is for you and also knowing the emotional risk of not taking that leap and being miserable in your day to day [life].”

7. The customer is the most important stakeholder. Meha holds this as a key axiom for any would-be business owner.
“The most important stakeholder… is not you, not your advisor, not your investor, not your team, it’s your customer, the one that’s paying you. And that I think saved me so many times.”

8. Beware of naysayers. Keeping your positivity up (here journaling might help!) is vital.
“Don’t be shy to enlist people in your life to help you and keep the naysayers away. [What’s important is] figuring out who you need to cheer you on in those difficult moments and recognizing that it’s okay to set your own boundaries so that you have space to grow.”

9. Community-building can be key. Developing an online forum, and helping users interact with one another builds customer satisfaction, as Meha was happy to discover.
“That’s where our customers and members really talk about how they’re using the journal, sharing inspiration, getting inspired for one from one another…. to foster a deeper connection through various authentic relationship activities to, to create a safe space. It’s amazing how far it’s come.”

10. Celebrate wins and grow your team. Meha is keen to stress techniques of positive motivation and team building.
“I think oftentimes we almost are so focused on how many points are we going to get at the end of this game versus counting and celebrating every… hope that we make… The other piece is showing that you’re committed to [your team’s] growth.”

Choosing the Right Equipment For Your Zoom Or Videos with Jen Morilla

Jen Morilla is the founder of Social Girl Traveler LLC.  She teaches and coaches others on how to create a personal brand online and here she shares her top 10 tips on choosing the right equipment for your Zoom or videos.

#1        Start with a good phone

Don’t rush out to buy a whole kit.  There’s a lot to learn about running a YouTube channel but all you need in the beginning is a good phone that has a good camera.

You don’t need to start uploading videos right away, take your time to practice fine-tuning your presence on camera.

#2        Don’t make a video like a selfie

Use the camera on the back of your phone, not the one on the front.  The camera on the back is 10x better.

If you’re out walking, then the front camera is fine because you’ll see if you are out of frame but that’s the only time the front camera is recommended.

#3        Filming For YouTube

Turn your camera horizontally because the algorithm will pick up the view of the camera as being just like a regular camera.  You should use a tripod so your phone is in a set and stable position.

If you want to check you are in frame and your background looks good, use the selfie camera before turning the camera around.

#4        Record in HD or 4K

YouTube’s algorithm will recognize the quality, and your video will look a thousand times better so check your settings.

#5        Keep Video Files Small

4K is a lot of data so transferring them to your computer can take a lot of time.  Try to record in 10 minutes sections and transfer small files.  You can Airdrop them or upload them to Google Drive.  Anything longer will take twice as long to send.

#6        If you’re ready to invest in a camera try a Sony ZV 100

Of course, it takes great photos, but it’s also made for video and has an inbuilt microphone.  The screen comes right out so you can really see what the camera sees and there’s ‘dead cat’ on top so if you’re outside it takes away the air and the static noise.  It works indoors too if you have noisy neighbors!

#7        If you choose one thing to invest in, invest in sound

With Youtube the picture quality is important, but studies show that if the sound quality is bad and people can’t hear you, they won’t watch.

#8        Lighting for video

Nothing will look as good as natural light but when natural light isn’t possible a ring light will allow you to film at different times of the day in most places.  Use your eye to decide whether the room needs bright light or warm light by turning on your camera and playing around.

You get what you pay for with ring lights but a mid-range light that allows you to change the color from cool to bright to warm will work well.

#9        Put a comforter over your head

If you don’t have a soundproof booth (let’s face it, most of us don’t), and you need to do a voice over for your video, then use this trick. It will help diffuse echo and sounds.

#10      Pick your background

Lighting is more than lighting your face.  If you have a direct light against a dark background all people will see is your face with no depth to the shot.  So for basic lighting, make sure you have three points of light, the front and the two corners behind you.

Do think about what’s behind you.  Your background will say as much about you as what you’re talking about, so clear your desk and the laundry basket!

Ideally, find a plain wall or blank background that you can easily change for when you are filming by taking off the notice board for instance.  Virtual backgrounds can work for hiding mess but if you’re moving a lot the image can get blurry.

If you want to use virtual backgrounds, and they can look really great, you could invest in a green screen for a crisper image.  You should make sure there are no wrinkles for the best results.

Getting started making videos or using Zoom regularly for your business can feel overwhelming if you think you need to spend $$$ just to get started but as these tips show, all you need at first is a camera, a little know-how, and you.




Reclaiming Your Productivity with Holland Haiis

The pressure is on for us to become more productive with our day.  As strong female executive leaders, we want to always put our best foot forward. Our ambitious plan to advance our careers means that we need to do what we can to optimize our days to get things accomplished.

Little do we know that there are small things that we are doing that are killing our ability to be as productive as possible. To help accomplish everything our extensive goal lists, here are a few to get you back into your flow state.

Monitor your use of electronics

Electronics mess with our brains, disturbing our sleep cycle, and zapping our productivity. Instead of our Melatonin naturally rising over the course of the day, the blue light from our devices sends the brain signals that it is time to wake up. Our natural melatonin levels get disrupted, which in turn disrupts our sleeping pattern. Even if we get an adequate amount of sleep, we still wake up feeling groggy and unrested.

Checking our phones in the morning sets off our day at a disadvantage. We are spiking our cortisol levels, putting our brains in fight or flight right from the beginning. By opting out of this behavior, we are setting up the day to be less stressful, which allows you to get more done with less effort.

Follow the Rule of Three

An ideal part of your morning routine should be to sit down and write down the top three important tasks that you are hoping to get done. By laying these tasks out, it allows your brain to prioritize things and group related tasks, which results in better time management.

Try to limit yourself to three big things. Too many tasks can be paralyzing and make it more stressful when you don’t get everything done.

Just making a list is giving you direction and gives you a hit of dopamine. This will give you encouragement and push you along the right path while also balancing out stress hormones.

Get Green

Nature and the color green nurtures the brain. The cortisol and adrenaline that keep us stressed will automatically drop as we go out into nature while dopamine and serotonin increase. Patients who have high blood pressure, who have suffered from a stroke, and who are severely stressed get therapeutic benefits from these surroundings. Many people also feel spikes in creativity as well by being outside. Our eyes blink more as we are allowed to reset.

There are several quick ways to incorporate more green into your life that don’t take a week long retreat into the forest.

  • Change your screensaver to a nature scape to give you a minibreak when you close windows and unwind slightly.
  • Have plants in the room so that you have something natural to look at to distract you from your screen.
  • Go outside. Even a few minutes will help you recharge and make you more productive overall.

Avoid decision fatigue

We have a limited reserve of the decisions that we can make. Exhausting this reserve has shown to drastically lower the quality of our work and the effort we are able to put into a task. Because of this, tasks that we perform at the end of the day won’t get the same results as the ones that we perform in the morning.

Cut down on electronics and the constant distractions that they provide. The constant notifications distract us and force us to make decisions and prioritize tasks, even if they aren’t important. Adding time blocks of 60-90 minutes where you dedicate your best decisions and work into important tasks allows you to spend more of this resource on important work.

Multitasking is really a myth. Our brains take in information linearly. Any appearance of handling multiple things at once is really just switching between tasks. Every time you switch, there will be some time wasted making the switch and getting back up to speed.

The importance of rituals

Rituals allow the brain to relax and enjoy the task at hand because it takes away the need to make decisions. By following established habits, we can accomplish more without succumbing to decision fatigue. Routines allow us to settle in and focus on the task at hand.

Habits give our brains context for how they are supposed to feel, operate, and react to what is going on around them. They tell us when we need to be alert and focused and when we can relax. It is our way of telling our brains what they should be doing, and they can either set us up for success or failure, depending on the routine.

Final thoughts

Incorporating these tips into our lives will help us get back to being more productive on the projects we’re passionate about. By looking to limit our use of electronics, we can give our brains the break they need to perform better. Drinking in nature allows naturally allows us to relax. Being intentional about how and when we make decisions lets us focus those resources on what’s important. Finding the right rituals sets us in the right mindset for the work at hand.

As strong figures looking to grow the impact of women’s leadership, these practices are little steps that can have huge impacts on our productivity.

How to Tackle Tough Conversations with Rebecca Maxwell

When conflict resolution appears to be a lost art of conversation, it’s important to remember that even difficult conversations can be very impactful for both personal and professional relationships. It is with that goal in mind that Rebecca Maxwell shared her six tips for tackling tough conversations.

1. Start with the End in Mind

Before starting a difficult conversation is essential to think about the end goal of the conversation. What is the expected outcome? What is to be gained as a result of the tough conversation?

By asking these things, it can help you to establish some ground rules around the conversation. For instance, difficult conversations fair better in a private setting. How can you structure your time for you and that individual to discuss the important matter in private?

You want to pick a time and place that works for everyone. Beginning with the end in mind is about bridging that gap about respecting one another before the conversation even begins. That can go a long way.

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that leads others to join you.”

– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

When you prepare your points, you want to make sure you’re getting across your points clearly, objectively, and with as little emotion as possible. That’s not to say you should sound like a robot, but you shouldn’t let your feelings dominate the conversation.

Some things to consider discussing:

  • What is your story? Your narrative?
  • What is YOUR perspective on the situation?
  • What is your evidence that helps align your perspective?

Hopefully, the goal of starting the difficult conversation is not to win but to share viewpoints so both sides can be validated and discussed openly and honestly, without emotion, manipulation, or sarcasm.

Difficult conversations can be incredibly powerful for understanding, so it’s important to approach them from what can be gained through understanding each other’s perspectives. This, of course, is easier said than done, but if you focus on your preparation, you’re less apt to become emotional during the conversation.

3. Be Objective

When you share your perspective on the situation, remember to deal with facts. What are some objective statements that you can make about your perspective that may share your opinion? What is the best way to get that objective statement across?

When we speak objectively, we keep an even-keeled nature, which puts the other person at ease. After all, the point of a difficult conversation is to share challenging thoughts, ideas, or experiences. Handle it with care, dignity, and facts.

If you can’t remain objective, it may be the wrong time to have the conversation. Don’t be afraid to step away if that’s the case and reserve the conversation for a later time.

4. Actively Listen

After you have stated your perspective, it’s vital to actively listen to the other person. Conversations may begin with speaking, but they are moved forward through listening. Make sure to ask thoughtful questions, don’t interrupt, and remain objective about the other person’s viewpoint.

People have different opinions based on their lived experiences, and that should be respected no matter how foreign their ideas may be. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Think about why they may have those opinions and ask them what helped them form those beliefs.

By asking questions of understanding, you’ll maintain a healthy and respectful dialogue.

5. Speak to Be Heard

Use supportive statements. Speak from your perspective and take the other person out of your opinions. Speak calmly, firmly, and directly using “I” statements:

  • I feel…
  • I believe…
  • I wonder…
  • My perspective on the matter…

By speaking your truth, your words will be less abrasive to the person listening and make it easier for them to hear your message, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.

6. Restore the Relationship

The point of difficult conversations is to move forward, which cannot happen if, in the process of the difficult talk, you attack each other’s dignity. If the conversation has become heated or in any way disrespectful, own your part of the conversation that wasn’t working and apologize.

When you begin by owning your faults in a situation, people are more likely to reciprocate those feelings if they are self-aware. If they aren’t speaking up, don’t be afraid to ask politely if there is anything they regret in the conversation and state clear intentions not to let the difficult conversation affect your relationship.

BONUS Tip: Deflect, Bridge & Redirect

If a difficult conversation comes up and you feel it’s not the right time or place, try using this bonus tip: deflect, bridge & redirect.

If someone asks you a controversial question, answer it as simply as you can, bridge to another topic, and redirect with a different question. For instance, if someone brings up politics, you could answer simply, bridge the topic by bringing up another topic like television, and ask a question about a specific program.

Difficult Conversations Have a Purpose: Don’t Lose Yours!

No one likes difficult conversations, but if done correctly, it can lead to a profound understanding of each other’s point of view. That can lead to a better relationship professionally or personally, as well as mutual respect despite your differences of opinion.

Next time you need to have a difficult conversation, remember these six tips for tackling difficult conversations.


Most consumers base their purchase of a product or service on customer reviews. Amazon, for example, has become synonymous with its infamous buyer reviews.

When we purchase something on Amazon, the chances of receiving a polite email requesting that we review the product are high, especially if the company is smaller in size. Testimonials are an essential part of every business’s success, and as women, we must show persistence when it comes to collecting them.

Every Customer Testimonial is Beneficial

Positive testimonials allow your business, no matter the industry, to gain credibility. The experiences of our customers showcase our talent and authenticity. Even a negative review can work in our favor, if we let it, by giving us the chance to express our dedication to making the situation work for all parties involved.

There are various effective ways to collect powerful customer testimonials for our businesses without feeling overwhelmed. We have tricks for all those in South Asian women’s leadership to market themselves without working around the clock, and utilizing consumer testimonials is one of them.

Making Our Business Work for Us

We are all incredibly busy. When it comes to women’s leadership, we wear a lot of hats. We all might not have the same hats, but we change them often nonetheless.

In that sense, women need to have business processes that work for us. We need to simplify wherever possible and allow the technology available to take on some of our workloads. Collecting customer testimonials is a massive part of letting others see what we can do without always having to show them.

Customer testimonials come in many forms, both written and visual. Here, we have five fantastic ways to collect powerful testimonials that drive businesses’ success forward, allowing women entrepreneurs to take things to the next level.

When to Ask for a Client Testimonial

One of the hardest parts of receiving client testimonials is asking for them. Requesting a testimonial at the wrong time may make the client or student reluctant to review services, especially when caught off guard.

Instead of risking alienating customers from the idea of providing a testimonial, introduce the concept early on in your interactions. When creating a package for them, make sure a testimonial is part of it. It can be voluntary, but it gives them time to prepare as the collaboration progresses, and the testimonial grows closer.


Make it as easy as possible for them. Yes, this does create more work for business owners in the short term, but it’s well worth the time in the long run. If consumers can provide a testimonial in one or two clicks, not only are they more likely to leave one, but we’ve shown them how considerate we are by guiding them through.

Google Forms are an excellent way to collect client testimonials. They’re quick, easy to set up and fill out, and they’ll save directly to the business’ Google Drive, eliminating the risk of losing data.

The Strength of the Video Testimonial

The world has gone digital, and the power that video has is unmatchable to any other form of media. Users are more likely to engage in video content, and that includes testimonials. The best part is, those viewing video testimonials are often very forgiving, meaning the video does not have to be perfect to be effective.

Video testimonials are incredibly personal. They allow potential clients to see the person who has used this product or service, whatever it may be, and see their emotion when they speak about their experience. It’s organic, and it creates conversions.

Editing Tools for Video Testimonials

While video testimonials don’t have to be perfect, there are a few editing tools, many with free versions, that encourage people to stay on the video longer. For example, creating captions for a video will mean that potential clients will know what is going on without turning on the sound.

It’s rare to scroll through social media and see videos without captions. The same rule applies to testimonials. Keep in mind that not everyone can hear audio. Also, captions are excellent when applying search engine optimization. The edited result will make an astoundingly, powerful client testimonial.

Check out the following software:

Asking Clients for Headshots

Asking clients for headshots may seem invasive when wrapping up the testimonial process, even for executive women. Still, the truth is, it will benefit them exponentially, especially if those clients have websites.

We can easily place the URL (not hyperlinked) to their site underneath their name and testimonial, without encouraging site visitors to leave our sales page. Also, a headshot is comforting to those reading the testimonials. They can see that the person is real, aiding them in making a decision.

Leveraging Negative Reviews

As we mentioned briefly, negative reviews don’t have to destroy the business reputation of an entrepreneur. Responding to negative thoughts and testimonials provides us with the chance to clear up misconceptions, embrace genuine feedback, and build relationships.

We can make things right by answering quickly, talking it out to gain insight into the root of the issue, and cultivating an understanding between business owners and clients. It’s important to remember that our business doesn’t have to be a solution for everyone.

We market to target audiences for a reason. However, don’t be quick to dismiss negative feedback. There is always something to learn.

Providing Social Proof

We can preach to our audiences all day long about how excellent our service or product is, but it’s much harder to make the sale without documented social proof. Testimonials are an easy way to show potential clients that you’re more than ready to take them on while marketing yourself in a way that’s nothing but authentic.


A Woman Leaders Workshop: Five Helpful Suggestions to Avoid Burnout

As a leader, it’s common to get burned out. In this day and age of non-stop Zoom calls, no networking, no water cooler and no office, the fatigue is REAL. How do you stay inspired to drive growth and innovate your business?

Allison Holzer, author of the book ‘Dare to Inspire,’ shares 5 ways to stay inspired at work.

 Three distinct symptoms that indicate you’re experiencing burnout:

  • Physical Exhaustion – You become overwhelmed with fatigue, sapping your energy levels.


  • Emotional Cynicism – This symptom results from the fatigue-related frustration, and it casts a grey shadow over everything you do.


  • Lacking Agency – It feels like you don’t control your destiny, preventing you from achieving your goals.


The above burnout-adjacent signs make it virtually impossible to engage with your work at a high level. Therefore, it’s crucial to apply techniques and philosophies that help you avoid burnout.


Actively Seeking out Inspiration is the Foundation for Conquering Burnout


Inspiration neutralizes burnout.


However, you can’t sit around, waiting for inspiration.


You must proactively cultivate a sense of self-efficacy and possibilities. From there, confidence grows, and you’re likelier to take charge because you start feeling invincible.


Combining invincibility and possibility together transforms into rocket fuel, propelling you over any burnout-related hurdles and toward your own personal ambitions. Moreover, this feeling can be sustained, never succumbing to the burnout’s many perils.


The following 5 tips will help you stay inspired, even when burnout threats might lurk in the background:


  1. State Your Feelings Out Loud


To maintain a poker face in a professional environment, some people might internalize their most negative emotions.


Unfortunately, these daunting headspaces eat you up if you don’t identify them. It’s natural to feel insecure, scared, and sometimes even petty. After all, humans feel up to 20,000 emotions per day—they can’t all be positive.


If you don’t confront those feelings and aren’t honest with yourself, the consequences will be adverse.


Alternatively, stating your emotions – out loud – has a therapeutic effect because we’re claiming them and taking control. This little trick prevents those negative feelings from overwhelming and distracting from the task at hand.


For help with monitoring and conquering your negative emotions, download Yale’s mood meter app.


  1. Flipping Your Script


Another natural human behavior conducive to burnout is our ability to ruminate and dwell on bad experiences or little triggers. It’s akin to a cow chewing cud—except you’re endlessly gnashing your teeth about something you can’t control.


Fortunately, you can control this behavior, too, by flipping it into a positive or productive reaction. Accomplishing this script-flipping requires self-awareness and accomplishing something that’s in your control.


Here’s a practical example:


Say that your boss micro-manages you. While it’s frustrating, their behavior isn’t something you can control.


What you can control, however, is creating a priorities list that lines up with your boss’s expectations. From there, you might win them over, and it could end up with you in a less micro-managed situation.


  1. Put Yourself in Motion


Being too stationary leads to fatigue and energy-loss synonymous with burnout.


Nobody’s expecting you to run a marathon, nor do you have to.


Instead, it’s important to incorporate movement throughout your daily routine. Incrementally get up out your chair, stretch, walk and do whatever you need to feel less stuck.


Furthermore, planning walk-and-talk meetings is another excellent way to remain productive beyond your office chair’s confines. Note which times throughout the day where your energy levels suffer, and incorporate small, non-intimidating movements that give you a boost.


An array of apps exists for simple office exercises. These will aid greatly during those challenging hours of the day, be it early morning, mid-afternoon, or lunchtime.


Also, enjoying podcasts or phone-calls with friends during these occasions will add some motivation for performing these movements.


  1. Schedule Unstructured Time


There are 18 engines of inspiration.


A uniquely vital engine is unstructured time, wherein you give your brain some much-needed space. At first, this might seem in line with unproductivity, which couldn’t be any further from the truth.


Unstructured time is meant to reignite your inspiration. Walking away from a task that demands tremendous brainpower allows you to assess a problem from different angles by not thinking about it. Whereas sitting there and continually focusing on the issue is akin to slamming your head against a wall.


Give yourself thirty minutes to an hour per day to not solve any problems. Two or three hours on special occasions is a good idea as well. Listen to music, watch an enthralling movie, or do whatever is needed to give your brain some space.


Most importantly, don’t feel guilty for unstructured time. It’s a productivity strategy, not neglecting your responsibilities.


  1. Forge Personal Connections


The emotional cynicism that stems from burnout often leads people to think that, at its core, humanity is rooted in self-interest.


This outlook fosters a sense of hopelessness that results in burnout. Connecting with people on a deep level reverses this feeling because it reignites your hope in humanity. You’ll see that people genuinely care about you and are emotionally invested in your success, which is tremendously inspiring.


Find these connections in networking groups, family, friends, and colleagues. But it won’t happen if you aren’t proactive in seeking out these bonds.


With these five tips, you’ll conquer burnout and its negative consequences on your personal and professional life.



How To Turn Rejections Into Introductions With VC Nihal Mehta

The moment you enter into business for yourself, the long journey ahead of you is littered with all kinds of rejections.

Most business owners think that the opposite of rejection is acceptance. But, the truth is that the best way to counter rejection is to build resiliency.

And, when it comes to scaling your business, funding your idea, and creating a legacy, there are multiple ways to form that resiliency. Some are mindset and attitude-based. Other strategies are more practical, and they come from years of experience.

Recently, we sat down with VC Nihal Mehta and a panel of speakers at LadyDrinks, lobbing a range of questions from business owners in a variety of niches. Listen in and learn exactly how to turn rejections into introductions, funding, and business wins.

Lesson #1: Rejection is a Curve that You Can Flatten

Rejections spark a lot of emotional and psychological pain. When business owners are following up after the first rejection, the memory of rejection can be a hump that stalls their progress.

Nihal Mehta suggests doing the following:

→ Accept that the sting of rejection is a natural human emotion. You’re absolutely allowed to feel it.

→  Look at resiliency like a muscle — it needs the pressure of rejection, and even failure, to build up.

“After investing in a lot of companies, many of which have failed, you actually do build up a thickness in your skin. You do end up building resiliency as a muscle. The first few rejections are going to hurt. They hurt like hell. But like the 21st rejection is not more than the 20th, you know?”

Here’s the thing — the experience of rejection and the feelings it triggers is a sensation that flattens itself out. When you look at it this way, it becomes even more imperative that you “fail hard and fail fast.” You should be scrambling to get those first few rejections.

Nihal cites Jack Dorsey’s whopping 90 rejections from investors, before he found an investor that would actually back this category to find a company. There is, of course, a surprising dichotomy between men and women, on an emotional front, when “bouncing back” post rejection. Even so, it’s a journey.

And because it’s a journey, it’s important to maintain an equilibrium that will help you stay strong regardless of the fact that everyday isn’t going to be a win.

The CEO of Box, says Nihal, shared that part of being part of being an entrepreneur is managing the higher highs and managing the lower lows and keeping yourself right here.

Nihal says that, for him, it’s meditation, getting up, and working out first thing in the morning. These are the constants that help flatten and stabilize equilibrium in the face of rejection.

Lesson #2: Learn About the Threshold for Acceptance First

Once you acknowledge to yourself that rejection is inevitable, perhaps even desirable, you should seek to learn what the metrics of success would be. That way, you can aim for it.

If you’re trying to hedge against rejection for an early stage company, Nihal points to a couple of factors that can help you gain leverage. These include:

  • The strength of the founders
  • The experience in their particular niches and industries
  • Past experiences that have contributed to their success and growth up until this point
  • The size of the market


“Are they the only unique group of founders to really pull this off in the whole world? That means a lot to us. And, then, are they swinging for the fences, in terms of the market? That’s what we look for as venture investors. So we say, when companies shoot for the stars, they often fail and still land on the moon. So the market’s gotta be big, you know, for us.”

Lesson #3: Not Every Business Idea is Built for VC Funding

Knowing this matters because a rejection is never personal. And, even if it were, you should know that most business ideas are not built for VC funding.

The popularity of shows like Shark Tank, and the wide variety of Internet literature talking about B-round and C-round funding can make it seem like outside funding is not just the touted route, it’s the only route.

That’s simply not true.

Many founders have this misconception that external VC funding is the only way they can fund their business. But Most businesses are not meant for venture capital. Nihal acknowledges that VC funding is like rocket fuel, but only for very specific businesses.

Software, for example, is something that resonates well with VC funding. Things that are scalable, that don’t require a lot of human input, or ideas that require a ton of capital like Uber, can use the billions of dollars they’ll raise from funding rounds.

But there are a lot of incredible services businesses or creative ideas like artist production companies that may need funding. VC might not be the place for them — instead, they’re backed by angels, family and friends, or even like bank loans, so that they can grow.

“I think, unless you have something, like a defined digital product for example, you may not need a VC to step in.”

Instead, Nihal points to alternative resources such as crowdfunding. Campaigns run on platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo could potentially garner millions of dollars in funding without giving up any equity as well. And the main propeller behind this is that “regular” people are funding businesses that they want to see in the world.

High level VC funding is reserved for five or 10% of all businesses that prove to be the right fit on both sides.

Lesson #4: Use Specific Strategies to Compel a “Yes!” After You Follow-Up

There are a couple of practical techniques you can use to transform your rejections into introductions — and even wins.

Using Activating Language

When reaching out via email, you’re always trying to level up your game so you can learn and grow.

A good technique is to reach out, make an introduction, and then couch your “ask” using language like “while I have you…” In Nihal’s experience, this kind of “activating” language hooks the reader and makes the approach very friendly, casual, and coincidental.

They’re much more likely to say, “Yes!”

Use Data to Your Advantage

When reaching out for introductions or to create connections via email, data is your friend. And you should be using it to your advantage.

This means so much more than just “analytics.” Putting tracking cookies on your outreach emails and tracking whether your emails were opened or not can help you learn more about whether your emails are reaching them, are being read, or are remaining unopened.

From here, you can decide how to proceed and phrase that follow-up. If your recipient is on vacation, for example, then you know how to open up that topic.

Stay Gentle But Persistent

So what do you do if they don’t respond? You have to understand that people are quite busy and it’s not uncommon for individuals to read and then decide to get back to you later on.

Nihal himself will send two to three emails with varying language. But, as Eniac’s “human Rolodex,” he advises that you be gentle and not aggressive. Now, the data is important because, if you see that your recipient got the email and opened it, then you may consider being a little more aggressive.

After a series of sends-with-no-opens, Nihal recommends adding them to your “personal CRM.” If you add them to your monthly MailChimp mailing list, for example, then you’re still in their mind, you still keep in contact with them, but in a different cadence. That’s how you can make that individual a part of your network and you can nurture relationships with them.

They’re still “in the mix.”

“I remember…a female founder I met very early on. She’s based in Brooklyn, building a medical device workflow software for FDA approval. And by the way, we were never even looking for funding opportunities in that space. But when she pitches it it’s like the next best thing to slice bread. And when we first met her, we passed because it was too early, not a lot of traction, but she stayed in touch with us. And she did a great job of that, by the way, which is important. Create your own personal CRM people for that you meet, put them into a newsletter cycle, and email them once a month. If they don’t want to hear from you, they’ll unsubscribe. But, it’s just good to have folks that are reminded about your progress.”

Lesson #5: Build a Network and then Expand Your Brand

Another creative way to buffer against rejection (and transform them into introductions), is to take a brand- and network-building approach.

This method means you’re in it for the long haul. It might be more time consuming, but the relationships and visibility you’ll net are definitely worth it.

Nihal gets a question from a high-end residential interior designer who wants to expand her network. She’s looking for new leads outside her social circle and that of her clients, especially in the age of the global pandemic.

Here’s what he suggests:

  • Imagine the most epic people in your industry (experts) and reach out to them via LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Establish a virtual event conference or program and promote it on all social channels
  • When people sign up, those are your new leads. Even if not everyone who registers shows up, you still have a robust boost in prospects who are interested in what you have to offer
  • Your experts, their knowledge, and their workshops can help you convert customers. What’s more, they’ll also promote their presence to their own audiences
  • Suddenly, you have a replacement for the tradeshow and a healthy new audience for your mailing list.

If you focus on building your network first, you may not have to worry as much about rejections because your outreach won’t be on people who are “cold” or don’t know you at all. It will be with people who know you, like you, and even trust you.









Shama Hyder: A Media CEO’s 10 Top Tips for Persistent Selling in the Digital Age

Shama Hyder, founder and CEO of Zen Media, is an expert in social media and digital marketing. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. She shares her ten top tips to persistently sell in this digital era.

#1 Expand Your Definition of Social Media

When people hear the term social media, they think Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn, but there’s a much broader definition of social media. Once you look at it from that lens, it changes everything for you.

“Think about how many of us are now using Uber eats or Postmates or Yelp. How many of us Yelp restaurants before we try them? How many of us look at movie reviews before we decide what to watch? We let Netflix recommend, right? What, what we would enjoy bingeing on. So, this is all the power of social media. And that’s why I like to get people to think a little bit broader about influence in platforms rather than, Oh, it’s what I post on Facebook,” says Shama.

#2 Prioritize Customer Service and Personalization

Small businesses can beat their competitors across the board: in customer, customer service, and personalization. Small businesses can interact and engage with customers better than big businesses. And they are also often better at designing customer-specific solutions. That’s why they are often more successful at using social media. Business should persist in making the customer happy no matter how long it takes.

#3 Measure and Test Your Strategies

Keep measuring and testing your selling strategies. Keep a detailed record of the ROI from your outreaches. That would help you know which ones are working and which ones need tweaking. Even if the records seem trivial, it would come in handy someday.

#4 Focus on the Qualitative Benefits of Social Media

While not all posts may receive the same amount of engagement, they have qualitative benefits. Ultimately, you are building your brand and gaining exposure.

You have to realize that there’s a compounding interest enrolled with anything you do with social media. And that qualitative is very important.

#5 Engage Different Generations Differently

Not all your audiences engage in the same way. Now, we often try to measure engagement is using sort of gen Z methods: comments and likes. But with gen X and above, they consume content, but they’re not necessarily engaging with likes and comments. Knowing how each generation responds helps you tailor your messaging and know how to measure progress and impact.

#6 Be Consistent

Even if you give you a very basic example of, let’s say, you’re starting a YouTube channel, it might take five years to get your first hundred thousand subscribers. But at the five-year mark, when you hit that a hundred thousand, something happens; you tip the scales and all of a sudden, it’s much easier to reach the million and 2 million and so forth. What you realize is you are kind of compounding interest.

#7 Use Influencer Marketing

The brands that are succeeding on LinkedIn are the ones that are doing influencer marketing. You don’t have to have a huge presence; you can leverage someone else who does. Find influencers who have a pull on the target audience you are looking at and piggyback on their influence.

#7 Don’t Ignore Pinterest and YouTube

Pinterest is an amazing tool. Pinterest is a number three search engine and tons of people make sales decisions after exploring the site. That’s why you should take advantage of Pinterest.


Google is the number one search engine and guess what? YouTube is the second. Make sure your brand is visible on YouTube and you can use YouTube ads to reach more people.

#9 Talk About the Difference that You’re Making

Don’t be afraid to toot your own horns about the difference you’re making. While such things are often easier with non-profits, it is important for every business to highlight their difference. Talk about how your product is helping people and how your company is making a difference in the community.

#10 Find the Balance between Your Voice and What’s Relevant from the Audience

Balance is important. If you make it all about you, it’s not interesting. If you put too much emphasis on the audience, then you’ve lost your style. And it may take a while to hone your message. Experiment with different styles and figure out what works for you, and what your audience responds to.