Oct 5, 2021
The Mass Business Podcast
Season 2, Episode 2 – The Trifecta For Recognizing Strengths, with Saraphina Churchill
What happens when a type A personality goes to art school? They become a business imager. Captured on a camera or created on a computer, your business image, and brand elements are a vital part of your success. Saraphina combines photography and graphic design services to help her clients achieve their goals. I’m excited to share my friend Saraphina with you on this episode of the Mass Business Podcast. Here in Episode 2, we talk about Saraphina’s three-part formula for recognizing your strengths and how knowing your strengths can benefit you in all areas of your life. Are you ready? Let’s Go!!
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Matt Ward 00:02
Welcome to season two, Episode Two of the Mass Business Podcast. My name is Matt Ward and I am your host, I’m so excited to bring you a good friend of mine. Today, we’re gonna be talking about all kinds of things, including knowing your strengths. Let me ask you a question, what happens when a type A personality goes to art school? They become a business imager. Captured on a camera or created on a computer, your business image, and brand elements are a vital part of your success. Saraphina combines photography and graphic design services to help her clients achieve their goals. She’s a transplant from Western Mass and currently lives on the cape. I’m excited to share my friend Saraphina with you on this episode of the Mass Business Podcast. Are you ready? Let’s go. 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. All right, we’re back at it, season two, Episode Two with Saraphina. How are you?
Saraphina Churchill 01:45
I’m doing great. How are you?
Matt Ward 01:46
So excited to have you on the podcast. Thanks for joining me. In 30 seconds or less can you share with our listening audience on their favorite podcast app or our viewers on YouTube, what exactly it is you do?
Saraphina Churchill 02:00
Sure, basically my company, Images By Saraphina, is a virtual Art Department for the kind of companies that don’t have one in-house. In the corporate world when you need something created, you send it to the art department, and they send it back to you ready to go. But if you are a solopreneur or a small business owner, you don’t have that art department. And that’s where I come in.
Matt Ward 02:21
I think you said a dirty word there. You said corporate world. So as I always like to tell people, I think that people, small business owners have left the corporate environment because they wanted three things, more money, or time and more freedom. And yet they’re not getting any of those things. And there are so many reasons why they aren’t getting those things. One of the reasons why they’re not getting time is because they’re not outsourcing to an art department, the images that they need done, you know, and they struggle to prioritize the things that they need to do. Talk to me a little bit about your business journey. How long have you been in business?
Saraphina Churchill 03:06
Officially hung the shingle in 2019 to be solo. But you know, this was definitely another dirty word side hustle.
Matt Ward 03:15
Side hustle. Yeah.
Saraphina Churchill 03:19
Yeah, I’ve been doing this in some capacity since 2008.
Matt Ward 03:26
Right. Okay. So where are you like most of the people I know and small business that when you started your small business, you basically didn’t know what you didn’t know. Like, you knew the graphic design stuff, right. But…
Saraphina Churchill 03:43
Yeah, I knew how to do what I do. But I did not know how to run a business for sure. And but I also didn’t think I wanted to, Which is the part that shocked me a few years ago when I realized, Oh, God, I really want to be out on my own and doing this for myself.
Matt Ward 04:01
Because you wanted the control, right? You wanted the freedom you wanted the ability to make the decisions that you wanted to make that you felt were different than what those people you were working for were making.
Saraphina Churchill 04:10
Yeah, and when you find yourself thinking your boss is wrong, or, or, gee, I would have done it a different way and not necessarily wrong, but different. That gets frustrating after a while.
Matt Ward 04:20
Yeah, absolutely. So you’ve been doing this now full time since 19. Two years-ish. 19 was awesome 2020 smacked us in the back of our head or upside our face, however, we want to envision that.
Saraphina Churchill 04:40
What do you mean, what happened?
Matt Ward 04:42
Yeah, nothing, nothing, no, nothing. Nothing, just nothing, you know, something with a beer thing or something. I don’t know some Corona thing or something. So how have you evolved in your business in that short period of time?
Saraphina Churchill 04:59
Well, I used to think that I needed to stick to my geographical area. I was definitely focused here on Cape. And occasionally in Western Mass, I’d go home to visit my family and make it almost like a work trip and try to do some work out there too. But I never thought in a million years that I would ever work beyond the borders of Mass, but because of the ability of COVID, making everyone forced to go on the internet all the time now, it’s one big community, and I’ve been able to grow my business that way.
Matt Ward 05:31
And so how are you growing your business? I mean, I know you’re doing networking.
Saraphina Churchill 05:40
Yeah, at least two networking events a day. Lots of follow-up, one to ones and people.
Matt Ward 05:52
So how do you manage all of that? I mean, two a day. I mean, I’m usually like a super connector in the sense that I’m connecting with so many people in a given week or day, and I have certain processes that I follow for follow-up, how are you managing to keep those numbers up like you are?
Saraphina Churchill 06:10
Well, I have an amazing calendar. Um, I just, I find the meetings that work. So I definitely try a lot that don’t always fit and if I feel like the meeting is good, then I keep it on my schedule. And I don’t make one to ones with just anyone, I make the one to ones with people, you know within a few minutes of meeting someone whether you want to continue to talk to them. And those are the people that I follow up with. So I keep it quality, not quantity, I guess.
Matt Ward 06:39
Oh, that’s interesting. So do you ever reach out to people that you’ve never talked to, to try and get a one-to-one? And what I mean by that is, say you’re in a Facebook group, right? You see somebody posting or something. Do you ever reach out to them and see if they want to do a one-to-one?
Saraphina Churchill 06:59
I have done that through LinkedIn, the LinkedIn group has been, but there is, at least a conversation has taken place through texting on LinkedIn.
Matt Ward 07:09
So that’s interesting because I’ve recently been doing these things that are referred to as reach outs. And they’re not very effective. What’s interesting about that is, is that the lack of conversation in advance that you mentioned. And I think I think the key takeaway with this is, is there a piece of synergy? It doesn’t have to be a synergy around business, it just has to be synergistic in conversation.
Saraphina Churchill 07:40
Yeah, otherwise, it’s essentially a cold call, right? And we all know, you have to make 1000 of those to maybe make one of them work and that’s a lot of time, so I don’t necessarily need them to be an ideal client or an ideal referral partner, if I know I’m going to have a good conversation with them. That’s my time. And I’m happy to do it.
Matt Ward 08:02
Yeah. And so that obviously keeps your spirits up, because you’re not running aground all the time with bad networking conversations, right? That’s always interesting.
Saraphina Churchill 08:13
It’s not, if you’re having a good time, then it doesn’t feel like work. And it’s not all that tiring. And it’s easy to keep it up.
Matt Ward 08:20
But I mean, networking has the word work in the middle of it. But it doesn’t have to feel like work.
Saraphina Churchill 08:26
Right? Oh, if you enjoy the person’s company, I mean, yeah, what difference does it make?
Matt Ward 08:31
So that’s, that’s, I think the whole, right. That’s the entire premise of my new book, right? The High Five Effect: how to do business with people who bring you joy, like it’s just straight up, like, I might not even effectively be doing business, just hanging around people that make me laugh, make me smile, make me want to high five, I just, I’m so done with people that drain my energy.
Saraphina Churchill 08:58
I agree, I mean, if you’re not, if they’re not bringing any value to your world, and that value could simply be a good conversation over a cup of coffee, then. I mean, it’s torture, right? If you’re not having a good time if you’re forcing yourself to. I might as well have kept the day job I left. If I’m just being forced to do the thing I don’t want to do. The point of going out on your own having freedom means you have the freedom to say yes or no.
Matt Ward 09:25
No, and that’s a good point. I mean, so for me, it’s interesting because I define freedom as doing what I want, when I want, where I want, and how I want. I don’t like the restrictive nature of many things about being a business owner. And so I designed my business around this idea of flexibility. Because to me, that’s what freedom is. You see, it’s interesting. I had this conversation with somebody the other day, money is not the most important thing to me. Money for me is a means to never go back to poverty where I came from. And so I’m only looking for insulation and insurance to not go back from a financial standpoint. For me, I was so married to my business when I had the agency for 16 years, that eventually, I moved it, you know, I got it down to a three day workweek for myself. And the reason I did that was because I was tired of working seven days. Right. And as they say, in small business ownership, you know, it’s a part-time job, right? It’s 12 hours a day. What one thing do you know today, that you wish you knew when you started your business?
Saraphina Churchill 10:52
Um, that exposure is something you die of not something that gets your business going.
Matt Ward 11:03
That’s soo great. We talk about that in the speaking world all the time. They say, oh, you’d like to come speak. You have to fly here. You have to pay for your hotel. But you know, you’ll get great exposure. I’m like, yeah, many people die from exposure every year.
Saraphina Churchill 11:16
I mean, so I have a creative job, right? I mean, it’s the same thing, that whole starving artists sort of vibe, like you’re not going to be appreciated in your time, they drill that into you. And then, you know, I have a mortgage to pay. like I don’t need to be rich but I would like to be comfortable. And now, you’re gonna pay me for my work.
Matt Ward 11:35
Yeah, exactly. And so that’s an interesting approach, I mean, that’s a massive takeaway for people listening who are thinking about starting a business or very early on in their business. Be careful what you give away, you certainly have the luxury to give away whatever you want. It’s your choice, it’s your business, you have the freedom to do so. Just remember that there’s often a cost associated with that. And I’m not talking about the hard cost of actually producing that item or the labor costs. I’m literally talking about the lost opportunity cost, and the training of the customer contact. That’s your training. Because we train people how to treat us. And that goes in business as well, right? More people we let you know, talk to us certain ways. I talk about this a lot of times with bad clients, right? You need to fire bad clients that mistreat you. Like I have one client. And the very first thing I had her do was fire a client, the very first week she was working with me, I had a fire client.
Saraphina Churchill 12:38
That’s a hard one.
Matt Ward 12:40
It’s not so, It’s hard in execution. And I walked her through how to do this. It’s hard, emotionally, and execution. But what happened was, it cleared the entire space in her head. This client was occupying my client’s mind and not paying the full rate for that space. That’s not cool. Yeah, you’re not renting space in my brain for free like that. Like you go to bed at night thinking about this client or this job. I, you really have to start thinking about firing that client. I’m not saying you should, but maybe you need to think about firing that client. You know, and that’s the struggle. In season two, we’re talking a sub-theme around knowing your strengths. Tell me a little bit about what your greatest strengths are Saraphina?
Saraphina Churchill 13:36
Well, I’m definitely an optimistic person, which I think helps with the creativity side like I get enthusiastic about things and I always think stuff is going to be great. I always think stuff is a good idea. Even when I’m proven wrong later. It kind of is like Well, okay, great, now I know that, isn’t that great. And I just move on. So those are, those will be the perky things about, I think are my strengths. I’m also Yeah, oh,
Matt Ward 14:06
oh, no good, good. Finish what you’re gonna say,
Saraphina Churchill 14:10
Alright, I lost my train of thought,
Matt Ward 14:12
Oh, my bad. So, um, tell me about how you discover your strengths.
Saraphina Churchill 14:22
So you have to, you have to know it about yourself and be comfortable with the idea that that’s something you’re good at which is sometimes a hurdle in and of itself. It has to be something that other people also recognize in you. Because if you don’t have one then the other doesn’t really make sense. And then to me, the most important piece is it has to bring you joy. Because if you can’t stand the thing you’re good at that other people know you’re good at but if you hate it, it’s not a strength. It’s a noose around your neck.
Matt Ward 14:54
No, that’s for sure. It’s like saying if networking is something you don’t enjoy but you’re good at. It doesn’t mean it’s a strength.
Saraphina Churchill 15:05
No, and it’s just gonna be the thing you dread all the time.
Matt Ward 15:10
That’s so powerful. Knowing, you gotta know, it’s a good quality that you have, meaning self-awareness, right? You gotta know that others tell you, others see the quality in you. And then it brings you joy is the number three thing. That’s so great. I never thought about understanding or knowing my strengths in that way, right? Because what I see there is I see sort of, self-awareness is the first part, but then others being aware is the second part. So are you good enough that others actually see this as part of what you do well? Notice I said, well, not bad. Right. And then the third thing is, I think the joy component there is so interesting. What makes that be that trifecta?
Saraphina Churchill 16:21
Because that’s what helps you sleep at night. So for anyone who’s ever changed their career, I mean, complete change in their career has to understand this, right? If you can be really good at it, and everyone can think you’re good at it. If you hate it, you’re not sleeping, you’re not comfortable, you’re not having a good life, you’re not enjoying your day-to-day, you’re miserable. And what is the point in that? So if the things that you’re doing, the things you’re recognized for also bring you joy, your life is complete, which is why a lot of people just realize one day, the track they’re on is wrong, and they switch it. And it’s just a really important part of being a human being who likes their day.
Matt Ward 17:03
I’ve noticed that already just in season two, Episode Two here, just two episodes into season two, this conversation about knowing your strengths is actually deeper than what I thought it would be. Right? What’s more, it’s because knowing your strengths and the things that you’re good at, they’re not always easy to find. Right? They’re not, I might be able to hit a hammer really, really well. Right. And I might be good at that. And I can measure and so I can be a carpenter, right. That is probably something that I could easily identify. But what’s interesting with service-based business professionals who don’t have a skill set, like in carpentry, per se, a physical skill set, is that the skills that we often have, I think in some ways, you know, they’re soft skills, right they’re relationship skills, or their follow up, or it might be customer service or the ability to interact with people. How about the ability to act but difficult people? Right? That’s a challenge too. And these things are like, this is kind of a discovery method for me like I’m seeing this with people on this season of the podcast. And it’s surprising to me how deep these conversations are going, you know, we could probably write a book on that, on that three-way thing there. The three components of knowing your strengths, I wrote them down here. Knowing this is a good quality you have, others seeing the quality in you, and the third is that it brings you joy. It’s like a mic drop moment there. That’s good stuff, Saraphina. Um, tell me, you know, the strengths that you have, do they benefit you in other areas of your life as well?
Saraphina Churchill 19:23
Well, being an optimist does make your life a lot easier. I’m not always free, afraid the other shoe is gonna drop as they say. So that is definitely handy. And being enthusiastic can help too because if you’re, for instance, I’m a morning person, most people in my world or not, but I’m ready to go after, three sips of coffee and I’m ready to go. I can hit the ground running so other folks who are you know, don’t talk to me but for my third cup, people, I do tend to at least get them to smile and be a little less curmudgeonly first thing in the morning, so there are times where even in my personal life or even if I’m just like visiting family or friends, the things about me does kind of keep the room happy.
Matt Ward 20:14
Do you, when we think about your strengths, do you ever sit still almost like meditate and think about the strengths that you have and how other people see them in the world?
Saraphina Churchill 20:29
That’s a deep question. Um, I am a terrible meditator.
Matt Ward 20:38
I asked, let me tell you this when I asked David Virden this question on episode one of the season, he said, you know, the way you asked that question, I feel like I need to do it more.
Saraphina Churchill 20:48
Oh, my God, is that my homework? Do I need to report back?
Matt Ward 20:54
So funny enough, I felt like when I asked the question that I asked the question because I don’t do it enough myself.
Saraphina Churchill 21:01
Okay, then we’re all in the same camp. Right?
Matt Ward 21:03
We are, which, which I think is one of the most important takeaways about this. I wrote in the new book, that we think we’re alone in what we think. We think we’re the only one with the challenge that we have. Until we start opening it up to other business owners. And we realize you know, what, they have that exact same challenge. And so when I asked this question about, say, we all want to sit and think more about these types of things.
Saraphina Churchill 21:36
See, that is another reason why networking is so great. Because you again, you might meet someone who may or may not be a great fit for your business, but they’re also doing the same thing you are. They’re two o’clock on a Tuesday on a zoom screen from who knows where, talking about what they do, trying to meet other people. And so you get to sort of have that, like, I don’t have any coworkers. Right. But I mean, I do have people I network with so there’s a community, there’s a camaraderie there.
Matt Ward 22:04
Yeah, actually, in Season One, we talked a little bit about how there are sometimes people that show up the networking groups, not for the referrals, they show up because being a solopreneur is a lonely business, and they want to surround themselves with other people who have like minded problems and issues that they have.
Saraphina Churchill 22:23
Associations are great for that too, like the photography Association in Cape Cod. And it’s like, well, I mean, they’re all photographers, and they don’t need me for any reason, other than let’s talk about how crazy it is to be a photographer in this day and age.
Matt Ward 22:40
Yeah, it’s so interesting. And so um, so I guess the question is, are you gonna sit still one day and just think a little bit more about your strengths and how other people view them too?
Saraphina Churchill 22:49
I sure am. And then I’m going to email you and I’m probably going to tell you about it.
Matt Ward 22:55
That’s awesome. So So, um, that brings me full circle around to your business, you know, what, you know, as a small business owner, we all struggle with certain things. What do you think your biggest struggle with small business is these days?
Saraphina Churchill 23:13
I mean, as a business, who serves other businesses, the economy right now and the way the world is, because of the thing we’re not talking about. So what I do used to be something that was always 90 to 120 days out, you’re working on something that the business doesn’t actually need, yet, they need it later. And so there’s not a lot of stress, there’s plenty of time to try different things out, you have enough time for focus groups, right? But right now everything’s so reactive. So if you’re trying to just mitigate the need, now it gets to be, you’re always under the gun. And that can be really stressful, not just for me, but for my clients, because their businesses are under the gun because they’re constantly in flux, because they don’t know what’s going on. And there’s labor you know, all these other things going on. That is the tricky part. I think, and I don’t think I’m alone.
Matt Ward 24:06
Oh, you’re not. And so then how do you manage that? Right?
Saraphina Churchill 24:12
If the optimism comes shining through Yeah, you know it’s gonna be okay eventually. And you just keep, keep going.
Matt Ward 24:20
I’m a pretty optimistic person too Saraphina. And then I met my good friend, Jason. And I was like, I’m not optimistic at all. He is like, 10x on the optimism scale, what I am, as if that’s even a possibility, I’m like, you know, he’s just walking around on cloud nine all the time. It’s just like, I don’t know how you do it.
Saraphina Churchill 24:42
Happiness is a choice. Right. So you just got to.
Matt Ward 24:46
Yeah, I think it is. And, you know, I think he probably subscribes to that same approach to life in general. You know one of the things I always like to ask our guests about business and business growth matters a lot when it comes to things like software and things we use on a regular basis. So throwing out the industry specific design software you use not considering that what piece of software is a game changer in your business, one that you would recommend for other business professionals that if I had to come in and take it away from you, you’d be pretty upset.
Saraphina Churchill 25:26
Oh, I’ve got two. One I think everybody knows, I think you should have an automatic calendar. You know, whatever, there’s a ton of them out there. But one of those like, here to book an appointment and emails you to tell you like, Hey, you have an appointment. That saves so much time, because the going back and forth with emails or you know what day is good for you and looking at each other’s calendars. That’s a nightmare, just have it online and let people click, that would very much upset me if it disappeared. But the other thing I use a lot that I don’t know a lot of people know about, the advanced Marketing Institute has this website. It’s so I don’t know if it’s really a software, but they have this website called the headline analyzer. So whenever I’m doing a blog post, or I’m sending out an email to my list, or sometimes even for LinkedIn posts, I put the headline in there, and it’ll tell me whether or not it’s going to get traction, whether or not the words I’m using are going to be interesting to the audience I’m intending them for. And that is really handy. It’ll increase your open rates and stuff like that when you’re sending out emails.
Matt Ward 26:39
That’s such a great tip. Such a great tip, we’re gonna make sure we link to that in the show notes. So that all you listeners and viewers can check it out and see that that’s gonna be on the AMI website. That’s, that’s awesome. I happen to, I vaguely recall through a networking conversation. You’re a big reader. Yes? Do you read business books?
Saraphina Churchill 27:04
Yes, I read a lot of different things. books as well. Yeah.
Matt Ward 27:09
So what one business book, would you recommend that other listeners actually read and get value from?
Saraphina Churchill 27:18
Oh, let’s see. Off the top of my shelf here.
Matt Ward 27:27
Okay, appreciate that. But moving on to another book. Okay.
Saraphina Churchill 27:31
The one actually that I’m almost finished with, it’s actually on my bedside table right now is the new builders. That is about how the face of entrepreneurship has changed and is continually different than what most people presume it is in America right now. And what’s great about that book is it was being written as COVID was hitting. So the book actually discuss how COVID has changed business ownership and entrepreneurship. That’s a really enjoyable read. And it goes into like the history of stuff. It talks it actually, part of the book is based in Massachusetts talks about Lowell and how… the factories and….
Matt Ward 28:15
They were doing textile.
Saraphina Churchill 28:17
Yes. They talk about that, and how that changed the face of a lot of things. And it’s, it’s really fascinating read.
Matt Ward 28:23
That’s really cool. We’ll make sure we link to that in the show notes as well. So you folks can check it out. We’ll make sure we have the link over to Amazon for that. And do you ever listen to audible books or you know, audio books?
Saraphina Churchill 28:35
I actually really enjoyed the act of reading.
Matt Ward 28:38
Yeah, you know, sometimes I actually read the book with the audio book on so I can follow along in hear. So right now, and recently, somebody gave me Matthew McConaughey’s book, because I always tease in my talk that Matthew McConaughey. Hey, I say all right, all right. All right. But anyway, these 2 people in networking that as they referenced in the gift received from Amazon, the two blondes, they gifted me Matthew McConaughey. And I just thought I just so happened to go look at the audible website, because everybody wants to know, okay, who does the voice? And this is Matthew McConaughey reading his book. It says, well, when is Matthew McConaughey is really great. So the sample they had online was fantastic. I thought that was awesome. Yeah, good stuff. You know, this has been, this has been great talking to you and really understanding you know, the things that that you do I mean, you’ve dropped some super valuable knowledge bombs, especially this idea about the three components of, of really knowing your strengths. And I think sometimes as business owners we don’t necessarily take the time to know our strengths and that’s a struggle right and, and I think if we can sit still think about them. We can dig into them a little bit. deeper, maybe we’ll find that what we thought was a strength isn’t necessarily a strength or as strong as we thought it was, maybe I can build it up more. Or maybe we discover a whole new strength, right? Because it’s not like we need three strengths or two strengths or one, right, we could have a lot of them. But I think if we go in alignment with what you said, it’s knowing that this is a good quality you have, knowing that others see this quality in you, and the third is that it brings you joy. And not alone makes me happy that you have this great model of components for knowing your strengths. That’s awesome. I think that’s fantastic. Saraphina if the folks listening on their favorite podcast app, or watching on our YouTube channel want to get in touch with you, they want to network with you. They want to follow what you’re doing. They want to get in touch in graphic design services or photography services down on the cape or graphic design anywhere. How can they get in touch with you?
Saraphina Churchill 31:05
Well, they could go to my website, imagesbySaraphina.com, and all of my contact information is on there. I’m a huge fan of email. So hello@imagesbySaraphina.com. Just drop me a Hello.
Matt Ward 31:20
Awesome. We’ll put all that in the show notes and really excited to have you join us on this second episode of season two. For folks listening on your favorite podcast app, please hit that subscribe button. And if you’re watching on YouTube, definitely smash that subscribe button over there. We’re trying to get our numbers up. Smash it so hard you break your keyboard, Saraphina says she’ll buy you a new one. We’re always having a good time here on the Mass Business Podcast. If you know somebody that wants to, that you think would be a great guest have them get in touch through our website MassBusinessPodcast.com. And as always, as I like to say Don’t forget to live happy, smile a lot, and high five everyone around you. 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 hi five everyone around you.