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The 4 Most Powerful Podcast that Changed my 2016

When I started working for myself earlier this year, I started listening to podcasts with more regularity and intention. Working out of my home, I have found podcasts to be amazing companions to my day. Most weeks, I reserve three hours to listen over lunch, at the gym or while I am doing tedious admin.

They help keep me inspired, teach a new skill or expand my knowledge. I credit podcasts for keeping me sane, entertained and informed. If you are looking for new podcasts to add to your playlist, or just getting into podcasts for the first time, here are my favs for work inspiration.

Dan Post-Senning and Lizzie Post, the host of Awesome Etiquette

Dan Post-Senning and Lizzie Post, the host of Awesome Etiquette

1Awesome Etiquette with Lizzie Post and Dan Post-Senning. Lizzie and Dan are first cousins and the great great grandchildren of Emily Post. They joined the family business and work at the Emily Post Institute where they share advice and tips for modern day etiquette on a weekly podcast. They answer listener questions, offer sample scripts of things you can say when you find yourself in a sticky situation and close the show with an “etiquette salute.” A listener will call or write in to share something wonderful and kind a stranger or friend did for them to salute them. 

While I personally enjoy the weekly doses of etiquette wisdom they share, I also enjoy listening from a business perspective! As someone in the service industry, its important that I treat everyone with respect and consideration and It's a great reminder that graciousness is always in style.

New to the podcast, listen to episode #100, where Lizzie and Dan share answers to classic etiquette questions.

Lewis Howes, host of School of Greatness

Lewis Howes, host of School of Greatness

2. My friend Sameerah tuned me on to the School of Greatness. I think we were out to dinner one night in DC and got on the topic of podcast. This was a month of so into my business. I think this may have also been my first download! Lewis Howe’s the School of Greatness is a one-stop shop for: business tips and advice from the top thought leaders in virtually every industry, motivation and inspiration to live a meaningful life and stories of how people overcame. Lewis puts our three shows a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) so there is always fresh content to absorb.

New to the podcast, listen to episode # 397 Sara Blakely: SPANX CEO on Writing your Billion Dollar Story

Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon, hosts of Being Boss

Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon, hosts of Being Boss

3. Being Boss: Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon are my soul sisters! I absolutely love how real they keep it, the community and space they have created for creative entrepreneurs, the way they share how their business operates and the powerhouse guests they bring on the show! Everything they share is intentional and with the purpose of motivating creatives to get the building blocks in place and to think like a boss. Seriously, I can’t say enough about Emily and Kathleen, although we have never met, I could see myself laughing and drinking a margarita with these girls.  

New to the podcast, listen to episode #73 Legal Advice for Creatives with Autumn Witt Boyd

Amy Porterfield, host of Online Marketing Made Easy

Amy Porterfield, host of Online Marketing Made Easy

I have no idea how I found Amy Porterfield, but let's just say her podcast Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield was god-send. Amy is interested in helping entrepreneurs be efficient and effective with the time they spent online or on the computer. She brings on the best of the best and walks you through step by step how to do something. I think any business owner can benefit from this podcast but especially those that run an online business.

New to the podcast, listen to episode #106 Are you Repelling or Attracting Your potential Customers? With Jasmine Star.

So there you have it folks, the 4 podcasts that enriched my life in 2016. I am curious, what podcasts are you listening to?

 

Changing Course: How I quit my job and launched my business

This blog first appeared on Wear What you Have, a blog dedicated to highlighting inspiring people and images. Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be interviewed about my career path and how I got to my start as an event planner. I try to be candid and not sugarcoat anything, I hope it gives you a little dose of inspiration in the pursue of whatever makes you happy!

After 10 years of work in International Development Sophia Lafontant left her job at Oxfam to start By Sophia & Co, an event planning company based in Connecticut. She tells me that “I thought it was going to be my path to continue work in the international development arena with a particular focus on policy.” However, like all of us, Sophia is a complex individual with an array of passions and interests that cannot be quenched by one role. The thirst for something different driven by restlessness of the status quo prompted her abandonment of the international development path for the unfamiliar world of becoming an entrepreneur . Here is Sophia’s journey of realization, preparation and launch that gave birth to By Sophia and Co.

Realization:

Before any dream comes to fruition there is the moment when the dreamer acknowledges the dream and decides to change the status quo. For Sophia the yearning for creativity and taking a risk catalyzed the process to seek a career change.  She says, “I started feeling restless but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I could have been happy doing the same job somewhere else.” But before making the choice to stay in the same field she asked herself why she was playing it so safe. She continues to explain that she’d been playing it safe doing what was expected of her including investing in a master’s degree but she knew there was more. Event planning had been lurking in the background but at first she never considered it as a career choice. In fact during the period of restlessness that occurred after working in the same field for years, it wasn’t even the obvious the choice. Sophia’s multifaceted personality meant that event planning had to compete with her other interests. She stresses that, “I’ve always enjoyed the arts, I’ve always enjoyed fashion, I’ve always enjoyed music, but I’ve never been one of those things”. In fact event planning was somewhat of a pragmatic choice. When Sophia first considered a detour on her set path, the goal was to “look at the things that I’m passionate about and see if there is something more out there I can do. If there is a way for me to use a different part of my brain and try to bring beauty into the world.” Event planning fit the mold of creativity and also required usage of skills Sophia acquired over time; so out of her many passions it won favor. Sophia is “organized, has an eye for aesthetics and a knack of translating visions into something concrete” so event planning was her perfect 9-5 buster.

Photo Credit: By Sophia & Co.

Preparation

One of the takeaways from the chat with Sophia is that just because you’ve discovered your passion doesn’t mean you should charge into your boss’ office and proclaim your resignation, then figure out how to fulfill your dreams; you have to commit to a well thought out plan. Her first step was to figure out whether a career in event planning was the right fork in the road. She tells me, “I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a phase and it was something that I could turn into a business. You can’t always turn a hobby into a business.” In order to do so she volunteered for projects that included event planning within her organization [Oxfam] and made event planning her side hustle. She describes the side hustle which she maintained for 15 months as a period of “discernment”. “I really wanted to make sure it was something I enjoyed doing; I could handle the logistical details; decide what kind of events and what types of services I wanted to offer.” Working on event planning projects within Oxfam allowed her to build a network of individuals who could later be clients and also gave her an opportunity to flex her skills. Hence her advice is that if you are passionate about certain work and are looking for a career change, find a way of doing it within your organization as you make the transition.

Photo Credit: By Sophia & Co.

Though, the side hustle and projects within Oxfam reinforced Sophia’s vision of being an event planner, being an entrepreneur was not something that she thought of automatically. “Being an entrepreneur didn’t cross my mind. I’ve always liked having health insurance,” she jokes.  After much thought she concluded that while owning one’s business has its drawbacks, the pros far outweigh the cons. Working for yourself means “you are able to set your own schedule, work at your own pace and create the culture you want.”

Building a business that allows one to channel his or her passion renders flexibility and freedom, but it also lacks the steadiness of fulltime employment.  Hence, leaving a fulltime job that guarantees a reliable paycheck and health insurance cannot be done impetuously. Once Sophia came to the conclusion that working for herself was the destination, she developed a strategy that would get her to the finish line. To reach her destination she needed enough resources to not only launch her business but also have a cushion for living. Her advice to anyone hoping to make the transition is to have “a decent amount of savings, at least 6-8 months”. She acknowledges that, “financing can be a huge hurdle if you are chasing your dreams” but not a barrier if one is committed to saving.  Sophia prioritized saving while maintaining her fulltime job and she was able to move in with her boyfriend to further decrease her financial commitments. While moving in with a loved one isn’t an option for everyone she says, “it’s important to find ways to save. Whether it’s getting a second job, cutting down on your lattes, not shopping as much or not taking as many trips.”

Photo Credit: By Sophia & Co.

Implementation

When launching her business, Sophia’s honesty with herself about her capabilities helped her determine how to finance By Sophia and Co. “I knew what I knew and I knew what I didn’t know. I knew I was creative, I knew I could deliver my services, I knew that I knew jack squat about running a business,” she admits. Hence she reached out to her community as well as free online resources to fill the knowledge gaps of what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur and it seems that all the search for knowledge has paid off as she had an abundance of information about how to make it work.

The first tip from Sophia for the implementation stage is determining what you can afford; what requires breaking the bank and what can hold off. “I made some upfront investments but nothing that put me in financial strains,” she says. For example, she didn’t splurge on building her website, but she spent money on a logo because it’s important for branding. WithSquarespace she was able to build an affordable site without sacrificing beauty. Another recommendation is to find and utilize free resources. In addition to competitive research, she used Your Rate, a free resource to help her calculate how she needed to price her services based on hours worked and vacation days. She stresses the importance of competitive pricing, having too low of prices can send a signal to potential clients that one’s work is not up to par.  When it comes to acquiring clients, Sophia has so far been able to build her portfolio from networks that she had formed through her previous job and community. In fact, Oxfam was her first client, attesting to the importance of blooming where you are planted and publicizing your skill-set to the world.

What’s next for By Sophia & Co? The goal is to be profitable in the next year. Sophia made it clear that she doesn’t want her business to be a side hustle, but she says “in order to continue to do it full time I need it to be profitable.”

Last words from Sophia

What she wishes she could have done differently? Taken business classes and found a mentor.

Favorite Podcasts: Being Boss: Mindset, Habits, Tactics and LifeThe School of Greatness with Lewis HowesOnline Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield

Copyright 2018 By Sophia and Co. All rights reserved.