Business Success Stories: Sandra Yancey
Company Name: eWomenNetwork
[color-box color=”mycustomcolor”]Please read Part 1 of the interview.[/color-box]
Part Two – Career: Business Success Stories – Sandra Yancey
Avil Beckford: An invisible mentor is a unique leader you can learn from by observing them from a distance. In that capacity, what is one piece of advice that you would give to others?
Sandra Yancey: I think what’s important is that you do listen and you do read, that’s what’s so beautiful about it. To be an invisible mentor is that you are taking responsibility for your own growth and development. And no one is responsible for that more than you, so there is, without question, every single day, I spend probably at least an hour maybe not all at one time, maybe it’s two times in different 30-minute slots or whatever, but at least an hour a day, in terms of my own growth and my own development. That could be being curious about something, and putting in that keyword into a search engine, and seeing what pops up, then click and read. And sometimes, I’ll be curious about something, that I will click on and then I will hit print, and I put it in the reading file, which goes into my briefcase. I have a travel reading file, so that when I’m on a plane, and I’ve got some quiet time, I can catch up on things.
So I think it’s about being curious. What is your favorite book? Are you asking stimulating questions, being more of a listener than a talker? Someone said very cleverly, there’s a reason why God gave you two ears and one mouth, right, so that you’re listening twice as much as you’re talking. So giving yourself permission, I guess, to be a beginner. I think that’s a clear observation that I learnt from the super successful. They’re always open to learning and they’re not caught up and always looking to be the expert. They’re clear on what they’re expert in, but they’re always curious. So giving yourself permission to listen to individuals, who have got a certain amount of experience and expertise, and there’s always things I can learn. So giving yourself permission to be a beginner and psychologically that mindset allows you to be open.
I’ll search blogs and read different blogs. I mean, I stay curious, I ask really great questions. I’ve found that being a leader really is less about having the answers and more about having the questions. It’s about having a great vision, surrounding yourself with really great people way smarter than you, in their particular niche, and then saying, “How might we do this?” Because the truth of the matter is, people will, if you ask that question, they’ll give you information that you can never think up on your own.
Avil Beckford: What big steps did you take to succeed in your field? What is one step or action you have consistently taken that has contributed the most to your success?
Sandra Yancey: Yeah, I think the answers are the same for both of those things. So one of the things that I’ve learnt, is that no one makes it alone, and everyone who is super successful has a network. So really making sure that you’re doing what I call people math, and you’re understanding that. You’re thinking about, and taking inventory, of the people that you’re hanging around with. And I always say you need your professional six and you need your personal six and there should be a lot of overlap.
So you need your access team, those are the people that are flying 50,000 feet above you. The super successful that you can watch, you can emulate and if you don’t know them personally, you can read about them. You can see if they’re doing free webinars, you can see if they’ve got a YouTube channel, and they’re sharing information. You can see if they’ve got books, you can read about them. You can do a search to see if they’ve been interviewed and you listen to them, so you’re getting access to an access team. If you want to get to know them personally, to find out where they are, and you have to go to them. You can’t expect for them to come to you. So that’s your investment, it’s not an expense, it is an investment. And Warren Buffet, one of the most successful people, the top billionaire, said, and he’s a major investor, the number one thing you can invest in, is yourself. I think that’s absolutely essential.
The other thing that I think is essential, is that you have to make sure that you are stretching your day, so that it’s yielding you the best results possible from an entrepreneurial and business perspective. It’s focusing on the things that make the cash register ring. So it’s important that we understand and begin to be able to differentiate important things from distractions, making your list every single night. The super successful do not make their to do list the day of, they make it the night before. And as you make your to-do list, when your feet hit the ground, you want to know exactly what’s the highest producing activities that you can possibly do. When you make your list the night before, you can just do chicken scratch the old fashioned way. Make a T-chart, and on the left side, as you’re going through your stream of consciousness, put the things that are important, meaning they make the cash register ring. On the other side are distractions, meaning things that don’t make the cash register ring. And then the challenge for you, is to begin to say okay, I’m going to work on the things that are important. And that’s essential, because as you make the cash register ring, now you’re generating revenue that you can hire other people to do the things that are distractions, but must still get done.
If you’re not in that situation where you have money right now, and you can’t hire people, then we got to get really creative. I mean, that’s just it, you got to do what I did. You got to clean out your closet and turn things in that are just taking up space, creating an opportunity for you to be able to buy a coaching session, or buy a book, or buy a workshop, or hire somebody to do something for you. You know, if it doesn’t make sense to you to develop the expertise yourself. you have to barter. If you’ve got a skill that you can barter with somebody else that has the skill that you need to handle one of your distractions, then you do that. You know, you need to make sure that you are calling in some favors. I mean, allow a girlfriend to be the kind of girlfriend that you’ve been to them. Allow them to be that kind of girlfriend to you. Don’t be so afraid to not ask for help, but when you get that help, then you can’t get caught up in another distraction, or you won’t make progress. So be clear of what’s important, I think is absolutely essential.
And understanding quite honestly, that ultimately your goal is to do only the things that you can do. All my coaching students, the very first time we launch, every time I start a session, that’s the first thing that I have them do. Because it’s all about mindset, and I make them not only write it down. They can write it on a board, they can type it and create something, but they have to take a picture of it, and put it in their private Facebook page, because I want that in front of them at all times. Your goal, ultimately as the CEO, is to do the things that only you can do. It takes a while to get there, it’s not overnight, but it does happen if you focus on it. Because what you think about is what you bring about, and where your energy goes, is what grows. And what you give power to has power over you. So begin with the end in mind.
Avil Beckford: Tell me something that you consider to be important about the work you do that others can learn from?
Sandra Yancey: I think the most important thing that I do that others can learn from is to believe that there is this thing called balance, that you can build an unbelievably successful multi-million dollar business and have a successful marriage and raise really great kids. And I get really nervous when I hear women often talk about there’s no such thing as balance. And they’re trying to give it other names like it’s not balance, it’s harmony. Let us not subscribe to that very toxic thought and let us not drink that poison] because if you believe that there’s no such thing as balance, what I can promise you is that you will prove yourself right. And if we can all be in agreement that as human beings, fundamentally, we are all flawed, none of us are perfect. We are imperfect beings.
And so this notion of everything being perfect all the time, if we could let that go and give ourselves a break, and understand that while we believe in balance, there will be times when you’re out of balance. But you will only recognize that you’re out of balance, if you believe in balance, because if you believe in balance, you’ll be able to say if something isn’t right, something is out of kilter. You’ll start to see signals, and then you can make modifications and tweaks and adjustments to get back in balance. As a woman, you can have a very successful marriage, and very beautiful successful children that you’ve got strong relationships with, really great girlfriends, with time that you can take away for yourself to replenish yourself and take care of yourself, right, and a multimillion dollar business. But you must believe in it, and then you must act, according to what your beliefs are.
Part Three – Life: Business Success Stories – Sandra Yancey
Avil Beckford: Describe one of your biggest failures. What lessons did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
Sandra Yancey: One of my biggest failures was a really hard lesson for me, and that is I didn’t understand that sometimes people come into your life for seasons and reasons. Not everybody is designed to stay in your life forever. If a relationship ends, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t meaningful, that it didn’t enrich both you and the other person. So one of my biggest lessons was hiring someone, and then understanding that the company had outgrown their skill level, had surpassed their Peter Principle. I was so attached to their loyalty, and their belief and even in eWomenNetwork, that I held on too long, and what happened was that it made their life miserable because I wanted them. As I look back, I was pressuring them to do beyond their capability. And more importantly their desire to do more. They were comfortable and happy in the skills that they had, and they didn’t necessarily want to learn, as technology was changing, as search engines were changing.
Remember, I started my business before Google, let alone social media. They didn’t want to do that, they loved their skills, but the company was demanding more, and I didn’t understand that in business, my first loyalty needed to be to my customers. Your customers, either their needs change or their expectations change, and you must adjust with them, because even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. You must be able to shift according to what your customers are desiring, needing, and demanding. I now know how to address those conversations in a much more graceful and elegant way. But I so wanted everybody to come along with me, for the entire journey, and I didn’t understand that it was okay for some of them to be a part of that journey. Handled gracefully and elegantly, you can make those shifts and still remain very close. If you drag people along against their will, it ultimately creates tension, which is much harder to recover from.
Avil Beckford: What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?
Sandra Yancey: Well, there is the example that I just shared with you. I will tell you, learning as you grow, taking really big risks, and not taking them recklessly, being thoughtful, and doing your research, and your calculations. But if you wait until everything is tried and true, and guaranteed in entrepreneurship, I’m finding that often the case is that you’ve waited too late, because others will jump in first. There is something to be said about being the first to market, and capturing that initial market share. A really big risk that I’ve taken, is doing eWomenNetwork international conference, one of the largest four day businesswomen’s conferences in all of North America. We sell out an entire hotel, and at one point a year in advance, I had to sign a contract to guarantee the entire hotel.
That is a really big risk and a hard decision to make. I was scared to death to do it. I did it and then it was still like, “Oh, my gosh, what did I just do?” I had to pull the team together to get us organized, to charge to deliver what we had just promised this hotel. It was a huge risk, a really big decision. Now I can do it with so much confidence. And now I know the things that I need to do to be able to sell that event. Sometimes you’ve got to shoot for the moon, even if you fall short, you’ll land among the stars. But you know, it’s kind of that, hoping. As Ken said, it’s easier to do the impossible on this than the ordinary.
Another big risk was over a year ago. My lease in my building was up. We have three quarters of a floor and a tower, our business here in Dallas, Texas. I had to make decisions about the future growth of the company because I sign a lease for five years. So where is the company going to be in five years from now? Do I have the space and the infrastructure, the environment to be able to support that? I saw the trend going towards video. I had been measuring it for quite some time. I could send an e-mail out and have less than half the open rate than I could, if I went in front of the video and said the exact same thing. And the open rate and conversion rate was much higher. I saw the trend. Forrester Research published this unbelievable study about the trend, and the impact of video versus e-mail, because no one’s opening e-mails. Or when they do, they don’t read them very long, or they say they’re going to come back and they never do. But people will watch a one-minute video. It’s 1.8 million words to read to create the impact of a one minute well produced video, according to Forrester Research amongst other things.
I decided to build my own television studio, to take on a lot more space. It was hugely risky and very scary. And you know, it wasn’t just the space, it was the sound proofing. It was the cameras, it was the computers, it was the editing equipment. It was the teleprompter, it was the lighting, changing of the sets, buying sets, all of that. So it was a very huge commitment, and ultimately exceeded our expectations. The studio just opened up last May, and we believe it will be completely paid off in March 2016 because I not only do all my videos there, but now I offer video servicing for entrepreneurs. And particularly entrepreneurs whose target market is women, because we understand the nuances in the marketing of how you market to women. Big risks and lot of trial and error to find the formula, so making mistakes, things not working, but continuing to tweak them, so that you’re moving forward and turning them into positives and not giving up too soon.
Conclusion: Business Success Stories – Sandra Yancey Part 2
I conducted the interview with Sandra Yancey just before Christmas. The transcribed interview is 8,000 words, so I am dividing the interview into three parts. Stay tuned for Part 3.
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