Sept 3, 2021
The Mass Business Podcast
Season 1, Episode 5 – Visibility Drives Business Opportunities, with Bobbie Carlton
Welcome back. In our 5th episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Bobbie Carlton. She’s a business owner, PR professional, and public speaker. She tells us all about her day job, her night job, and her dream job while we talk about active listening, sharing knowledge with those around you, and learning from others. Bobbie shares her knowledge and expertise about getting yourself out there and how that can drive opportunities for business growth. Being seen and public visibility are important aspects of any business. Are You ready? Let’s go!!
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Matt Ward – 00:00
Welcome to the Mass Business Podcast. My name is Matt Ward and I am your host, and on today’s episode, Episode Five, we’ve got a fantastic business owner, Bobbie Carlton. Bobbie is the founder of Carlton PR and marketing, innovation nights, and innovation women, or as she calls them, the day job, the night job, and the dream job. She’s an award-winning marketing and PR professional who speaks regularly on marketing, public speaking startups, and women’s issues. We are talking to Bobbie today about how to grow a business. And she’s got the perspective that many other people don’t have. Are you ready? I’m excited. Let’s go.
Intro – 00:59
Welcome to the Mass Business Podcast where small business owners, also known as risk-takers, share their stories about the growth of their business and themselves. Our interviews and our content is focused on growing a small business, and understanding networking and referrals. I say it all the time. And I’ll say it again today. You never know where your next referral will come from.
M – 01:32
All right, well, welcome to Episode Five. And welcome to the show. Bobbie, thanks for coming on.
B – Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited.
M- It’s been a while since we chatted and I always love the things that you’re doing out there. And the fact that one of the reasons I wanted you on the show was because you have three or more businesses there are probably there that you haven’t even mentioned. Because it’s trouble keeping up with everything that you’re doing. One thing that I’ve always been impressed by, you know, as a professional speaker myself, is this idea that you guys are trying to eliminate manels, and many people don’t know what manels are. So real quick, tell people what you do. And what a manel is?
B – 02:15
Sure. So that’s the dream job business, innovation women, and innovation women is a non-traditional speaker’s bureau, it’s more of a platform where we connect event managers with awesome speakers who just happened to be women. Although we have about 1500 women on the platform, we also have a handful of really secure guys who are not afraid of being on a platform called innovation, women, they just want those speaking opportunities as well. And while one of the things I rail against is manels, the all-male panel, I firmly believe we need to get both women and men on stage because visibility drives business opportunities.
M – 03:03
Sure. And that’s probably part of a PR marketing strategy. Is it not?
Absolutely correct. I mean, I’ve been doing PR for about 35 years, and during that time, getting people on stage is a major part of my job.
M – 03:19
Would you say that that is one really strong strategy that a small business owner can do to maintain to grow their business and maintain themselves in a tough business market?
B – 03:30
Absolutely. And you might not think of yourself as a public speaker. But there are a lot of different ways to be a public speaker. There are so many local organizations and events that hold regular meetings. And they are looking for people to come in and just give a talk about what you do. Or maybe be on a panel where you’re sitting on stage and just having a conversation. And point of fact, I mean, what we’re doing right now, that is a kind of public speaking, a podcast, a webinar, all of these different things are speaking opportunities, and they help drive your visibility for your business.
M – 04:14
I mean, when I go back and I look at the agency that I owned for 16 years, from to 2002 to 2018. I realized that, that my origin into speaking actually came from this idea that I was going out and speaking at chambers of commerces is about doing email marketing, I was doing what’s referred to as bizdev speaking, I was growing my business that way, and now that’s not so much what I do anymore. I still do some of it. I’m more of a paid professional speaker, but interestingly enough is that the way most professional speakers get their start doing bizdev speaking.
Yeah, you know, or they won five gold medals in the Olympics. Right. Well, that wasn’t me. I mean, it If it was Olympic pizza eating, I probably would win.
B – But we lobby, we lobby to have it added to the roster.
M – So So if there’s one strategy or tip that you can help a small business owner, when I define small business, I’m not talking about the government definition of it, which is $250 million or less, I’m talking about true 10 person, or smaller business, what’s one tip or strategy you could give them to grow their business or start growing their business today?
B – 05:35
Absolutely, I think one of the biggest strategies that I recommend is think about how visible you are and what you can do to share your knowledge with the community, the more sharing of your knowledge you do, the more people realize what it is you do and want to hire you for it. So back to public speaking, or maybe it’s public relations, where you’re getting yourself written up in the media, or maybe it is social media marketing, it’s all about driving that visibility.
M – 06:06
So that brings a good point is like you’re talking about sharing knowledge. And I’m a huge advocate of giving away the farm so that people realize you’re the expert, and then they hire you to do that. That’s what I did with my web agency. I told people how to build WordPress websites. And then they actually hired us because we weren’t in the business of building websites, we were in the business of saving people time, right? Small business owners don’t have the time. So when we talk about knowledge, that’s one of the things we’re talking about in season one of the Mass Business Podcast is knowledge. It’s it’s, it’s educating ourselves, and lifelong learning, what are the types of things that you personally do in your businesses to continue to educate yourself?
B – 06:49
You know, it’s funny, I always tell people, it’s like, I just hire really, really well. You know, and I’m learning from all the people that are around me. If you open your ears, if you spend a little bit of time listening, the people that you work with, they’re experts in what they’re doing, or they are picking up tidbits somewhere else. So every time you just listen versus talk, you learn so much.
M – 07:18
That’s, that’s, I wish I could say that I put you up to that. But that’s the second pillar in my book on referrals is listening, right? And it’s about active listening. It’s about listening with the intention to learn something from somebody. And one of the strategies I work with people on as I’m coaching them is is on the referral side is to ask a question, listen to the answer, and then ask a question about the answer. Because that will show the person that you actually cared, you know, that conversation you have at the end of the day, with your significant other where you say, hey, How was work today? And then they start to talk and all you hear is, woh, woh, woh woh, you hear the Charlie Brown sound? Because we don’t actually listen, we’re just going through the motions of asking the same questions in the happens in business and in networking groups, and in, in, in business, networking environments all the time. And if we want more referrals, if we want to grow our business, we have to listen to what other people are saying, and that I love the fact that you took the angle of listening to the people you surround yourself with. There’s a reason why you surround yourself with great people. Right? How long did it take you to discover that bringing on great people, offloading some work to people was a key ingredient in your business success?
B – 08:47
You know, it’s funny, I think many entrepreneurs and many business owners have perfectionist syndrome, you know, and nobody can do it as well as I can. And you realize pretty quickly that you, and your time is not scalable. The most valuable resource that any small business owner has any entrepreneur has is their own time. And while they may have great ideas, it might be that they have great ideas that they are not capable of implementing. So once you get beyond you yourself as a small business as a solopreneur you have to be hiring people that are better than you at things. That is how you learn. I think a lot of the things that as a PR person I brought into being a business owner. You know, for example, I always taught my clients you know, watch the evening news, watch the interviews with politicians, watch how they give presentations. You will learn something from going to school on public figures as a public speaker. So you know The minute that you are owning your own business, and you’re hiring the next person, you’re hiring the next person with the idea of Okay, they are here to help me, but also what can they teach me?
M – 10:13
So, there’s so many questions buried in that around teaching and learning. What is your biggest challenge when it comes to learning new things?
B – 10:24
Oh, I think time management, you know, the day job, night job, and dream job are lovely and wonderful. And it’s all stuff that I love to do. But at the same time, you know, like, there’s a lot going on, and you know, having the time to learn new things. I’ll give you an example. You know, last year a new hot social media appeared on the horizon club. clubhouse, right. You know, it’s like, Do I really have the time to invest in the clubhouse? Well, I better make the time. And you know, that has proven to be a great source of leads of referrals of practice opportunities for public speakers, and there is intense interest among the Innovation Women members. So I had to get in there very quickly. I had to be available and make myself that extra time to go and learn something new.
M – 11:32
So how did you compartmentalize the time because I know that time management is a huge issue for small business owners. They don’t have any time. Yeah, you too?. How did you do it? Did you offload other work to find time for this work? Or……
B – 11:44
I tend to be a bad example of this. I fully admit that I do the things I tell people not to do. I stole the time from personal time. I stole the time from sleep. And you know, so my initial forays into clubhouse were early morning, late at night, when I probably should be, you know, doing. You know, I don’t know how many other entrepreneurs are poor sleepers. But you know, you’re up in the middle of the night. It’s like oh, clubhouse is active. Mm hmm. Yeah, the siren call of clubhouse. And before you know it, it’s 3am. And you’re on clubhouse. Don’t do this people. Listen…..
M – 12:31
So you’re on at 3am on clubhouse? Yeah, no, but if it’s getting your leads, I guess that’s worse. You know, everybody talks about, when I talk to people, the number one small business issue seems to be sales, right? They say sales solves all problems is the comment and then when I talk to people specifically on the referral side, oh, yeah, I’m getting referrals. I’m getting them from my clients. And I’m like, yeah, that’s not true. You just not tracking them, you know? So you learned clubhouse? And that’s kind of behind you now meaning you use it, you don’t have to learn it. What are you learning new now?
B – 13:07
I think one of the things that I was investigating as I was kind of coming out of the learning mode of clubhouse is coaches. And I fully admit to having had a love-hate relationship with the word coach, because there are a lot of people out there who call themselves coaches. And some of them are the mode of feeding back to you what you already know. And others are truly, I would say coach players, where they are adding something to the mix. And a lot of the people that I had previously spoken to as coaches, were those who are just feeding back to me what I already knew, like, Yeah, I know that, I know that, I know that. And there’s value in those if they can help you see what you refuse to admit to yourself. And so starting to work a little bit with coaches on my own challenge, which it tends to be time management and self-care. And you know, the whole I’m stealing clubhouse time from my sleep. So the pandemic I think has made a lot of people realize that, you know, we cannot work all the time, it is not healthy, and we need to make time for downtime, reflection, and giving our brains a rest. So those are some of the things that I’m working on right now. And I have opened up you know, to maybe talking to some of those coaches and asking for help.
M – 14:55
How, how tough is it to ask as a small business owner I mean, you mentioned it before around this idea that, you know, we were so we’re this complex that we have right? What did you call that before? It was like the superiority….. just the idea that we can do everything right, the Superman complex or whatever you call it. And so how did you, you know, how did you get to the point where you were asking for help? Whether it be with a coach or with staff or anything else?
B – 15:29
Yeah, I mean, I think you have to fail a few times. You know, it’s like, wait a minute, I just didn’t do something as good or as well as I want to do it. Huh, why did I fail? Like, well, maybe I failed because I was a little overtired. Maybe I failed, because there are not enough hours in my day, back to one of the biggest issues for entrepreneurs, which is lack of time, are our precious resources is our own time. And we have to make the downtime to let our brains rest, to come up with the innovative ideas. So you know, if you have a few failures like that, and you save yourself Now, why is this happening? You have the self-reflection and saying this, is I an opportunity here. You know, why did I fail? I had, my coach actually said to me, spend a little time doing B work. And I was like, what I always do A work, you know, A-plus work? And she’s like, do you really need to do A-plus work on every single task? Isn’t there a point where you can say that is good enough? And I have been in the service industry for many years, I work with clients, I want every client to get my A-plus work. And so when that permeates every, you know, to the very core of your existence, it’s hard to say that spreadsheet does not need to be an A-plus spreadsheet that that little niggling thing over here, this small project does not need to be an A-plus project. It can be a B project, it can be a C project. So there’s prioritizing things.
M – 17:22
So are you then type A personality? Obviously, because using the term “A” and….
A little bit? Maybe, you know, I mean, you know better than anybody that during the pandemic, I was a little like ready for anything, and feeling a little cooped up. And I did a little retail therapy during the pandemic. I bought a couple of other companies. That’s laughing.
M – 17:54
Thank you for that. Yeah, Bobbie and I had a small transaction a couple years ago during the pandemic where I sold a business to her. So that’s a year. A year. That’s right. Yeah.
B – 18:05
And I bought another company a couple months after that.
M -Yeah. And you know, spending spree retail therapy, business, retail therapy, business, retail therapy. Yeah.
B – But these were ideas and concepts and tools that were helpful to building the innovation women offering.
M – 18:27
Yeah, speaking of tools, one question I’ve been asking everybody on Season One is, what’s the one business tool that you use, that you would recommend for other small business owners that could really help them either save time or make more money in their business?
B – 18:44
Hmm. So the thing that we’ve been using during the pandemic is we’re an office 365 shop. And we use Microsoft Teams. And teams has become the center of our technology stack because it provides us with our email, Outlook. It provides us with a chat function inside teams, we have shared files there. And every morning at 830, every morning, we have a team meeting. So half hour where the whole team gets together on video, we talk about our day, we talk about the projects we’re working on, if we need help, if we’ve got some cycles to help other people. So really everything that we’re doing these days, we’re using this one platform to share and communicate. Because we did shut down our office, we are all working from home, why not reach out and touch close. Right? So that has been super helpful. I would also say some of the tools that I acquired this year, when I acquired lioness magazine. We also got with it, Asana.
M – So somebody else mentioned this on the podcast, too.
B – Yeah. I mean, they were using Asana to manage their whole editorial process. And the way they had it set up. I mean, the founders of Lioness Magazine were just amazing. Such good organization, a lot of things that were automated, it was really well set up to be managed by a small team. And the Asana tool was part of that project management.
M – 20:37
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah, a lot of great learnings here on this podcast. And thank you, Bobbie, for coming on. If the folks out there listening and watching on YouTube want to interact with you, obviously, they can interact on the Mass Business Podcast Facebook page and on our YouTube channel, right in the comments. I’m sure Bobbie will be commenting back, but also, how can they reach out to you? How can they find you to learn more about your services?
B – 21:03
I always tell people, I’m very Google-a-ble. But CarltonPRmarketing.com. innovationwomen.com, mass.innovationnights.com, lionessmagazine.com, myspeakerleads.com but I’m a Twitter girl at heart. So there you go, BobbieC, B-O-B-B-I-E-C.
M – 21:28
There you go. Alright, well, thanks for coming on. Hopefully you listeners out there and viewers on our YouTube channel. Got some, some tips today to help grow your business, whether it be the speaking side, the PR side, the marketing side, the tool side. There’s a lot to learn from Bobbie, we could never pack it into a day’s worth of a podcast. I assure you of that. I’ve talked to her many, many times. She has many tools out there available. Pick up some of those websites, find out more information, see how you can grow your business. Thanks for coming on the podcast, Bobbie. We greatly appreciate it. And for those of you listening and watching, we’ll see you next time on the next episode.
B – Thanks, Matt.
Outro – Thank you for listening to the mass business podcast where we focus on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. Don’t forget to like on your favorite platform and share out this podcast. This show has been produced by Heather grant. Music by Cailte Kelley. All rights reserved. I’m your host, professional speaker, author, and word of mouth referral consultant, Matt Ward. Don’t forget to live happy, smile a lot, and High-five, everyone around you.