Business Success Stories: Sandra Yancey
Company Name: eWomenNetwork
Part One – Introduction: Business Success Stories – Sandra Yancey
Avil Beckford: In a couple of sentences, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Sandra Yancey: Well, I’m a small town girl out of Dayton, Ohio. I moved to Dallas almost 20 years ago. When I made that change I just wanted to really do something different. I was in a new season in my life. I started networking, but I found it difficult to break into a network where there were women who were truly focused on building a million-dollar business. I basically started one myself and here we are 16 years later, fast forward, and today eWomenNetwork is a multi-million dollar global enterprise with 113 chapters across North America, members in six countries and a database of over half a million.
[color-box color=”mycustomcolor”]NOTE: In Part 3 of the interview with Sandra Yancey, you’ll learn that the one book that had a profound impact on her is the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. [/color-box]
Avil Beckford: What’s a typical day like for you?
Sandra Yancey: First of all, for me, I will tell you that I believe that as an entrepreneur, and as a CEO of a business that you’re serious about scaling at a very large level, ultimately your job is to do only the things that you can do. So over the 16 years, certainly my role has shifted and changed from in the beginning being the COE – the Chief of Everything – to really functioning as the CEO. And so I’m very clear. I’ve a very clear job description. It is reviewed with my team every single year, as we look at where we’ve been, and where we’re going, and how I need to show up differently as the CEO.
I focus on only the things that only I can do. How that shows up, is I’m in strategy meetings, I spend the day getting updates from my team leaders and managers on what they’re working on for the week. By Friday, we’re meeting to talk about what was assigned, and what was clear, versus what got done. I’m involved in the development of our operating system that will be launching in May 2016. With our new website, I have my two coaching programs, Soar, which is a group coaching program of no more than eight people. And then I have my Star Power coaching program, which is one-on-one coaching. I’m getting updates on the progress of all of my clients/students, and then brainstorming about how we deliver what we’ve promised, in a remarkable way. So that’s mostly how I spend my time.
Avil Beckford: Tell me about your big break and who gave it to you.
Sandra Yancey: I would say that my big break ultimately came from my mother. I’m a first generation American. My mother is from Mexico and my father is French Canadian. My father unfortunately passed away on my birthday when I turned 5 years old. I was raised by a single mother for a number of years. She did get remarried a little bit later on. My mother had a hard time in the beginning because she could speak English, but she couldn’t read it well enough to get a drivers’ license. My big break came from watching my mother never give up, and claw her way to overcoming all of the challenges that she had with myself and my two older brothers. One had a severe heart condition, who eventually passed away when he was 27 – I was 26.
And if I think about where my real break came it really came from, you know, in the early days with eWomenNetwork when I was kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and I was on the brink of bankruptcy, I didn’t quit because of my mother. She asked me one day and I’ll never forget it. I remember thinking that what I’ll do is go get a job and do eWomenNetwork on the side. She said to me, “How are you going to do that because how many hours are you putting on eWomenNetwork now?” And I was like, well, besides getting the kids up and getting them to school, I’m probably putting in a good 16 hours at least a day, getting up before they got up, then I’d get them off to school. I’d work all day. They’d get home and I’d get homework and dinner done. They’d go to bed and I’d work all night. “So how are you going to get a job, how are you going to do that do that on the side? Sandra what you want is not just a job, you want a career and that’s more than 40 hours.”
“There’s a big difference between a job and a career, how are you going to really do that?”
And I said, “You know, mom, I don’t know. I mean, maybe I’ll just quit for a while, and maybe this isn’t the season, I’ll come back to it at a later time.”
And she asked a very poignant question, which was a really big break for me, and she said, “How do you know you’re not quitting five minutes before the miracle begins?”
And I said, “I don’t know!”
She said, “Honey, you can’t quit. I’m not saying don’t quit, I’m just saying that if you do quit, you have to know that it’s the right thing to do, because otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering.”
I said, “Well, what should I do?”
She said, “That I can’t help you out with, honey, I don’t know. But I know one thing I raised a daughter smart enough to say yeah now.”
And that was probably the truth. Of all the breaks I’ve had, that was the biggest one, because she kept me moving forward when I really wanted to let go.
I did figure it out. I talked to a girlfriend, who was more successful than me. She was running her own multimillion dollar business, and I asked her for some help. She asked me to tell her what my problems were.
As I started to tell her, she said, “Sandra, you really have lots of problems.”
And she says, “Look, here’s the thing, I’ve got my own problems. I’m running my own business, but what you really need is a coach.”
And that became another big break for me, and that’s why, when you’re a member of eWomenNetwork, you automatically get two complimentary coaching sessions. I know that that fundamentally changed everything for me. And let me just tell you I didn’t have the money at the time. I was hawking my kids’ clothes, going to the consignment shops to come up with the money to pay for the coaching.
There’s a saying that’s really wise – there are two types of people in the world, there are those that learn from others, and then there’s the others. I think at some level you got to ask yourself that question, you got to ask yourself, “What side of that equation do I want to be on?” And that coaching does, it gives you the ability to tap into other resources, and think a little bit differently. Someone just hold up the mirror to help you see what it is that you’re thinking. Sometimes we’re just too close to really make sense of it ourselves.
Part Two – Career: Business Success Stories – Sandra Yancey
Avil Beckford: How did mentors influence your life?
Sandra Yancey: Mentors and femtors, I call them different because I think men do guide you differently than women. I think it’s important as a woman, to have a balance of both, because the experience we have as women, is a very different experience that men have. I’m not a male basher, this is not to put them down. I mean, I love men and I’m raising an incredible son, who’ll be 21. I’m married. I’ve been with my husband 38 years, so I don’t believe we have to put anyone down to lift yourself up. But what I can say is, I think we can all agree, is that there are some fundamental differences between men and women. So I’ve had strategically and intentionally and purposefully created very important relationships with men as mentors and women as femtors.
There is no question in my mind that I am who I am today, because of the guidance that I’ve received from both of them, as coaches, Mastermind groups and friends and colleagues. I’ve had the opportunity to sit and actually talk to Marc Cuban, one of 1500 billionaires on the planet. He came to my office, and allowed me to interview and talk to him. There were two or three things that he said that I’ve made huge changes and applied concepts into my business that I know have ultimately added millions of dollars. I mean, Laura Herring who runs a 50-million-dollar business out of St. Louis, no question that she has helped me make some really tough decisions and held me accountable, because I think it’s easy as entrepreneurs to sometimes just put off the painful aspects. But it is moving into those things and taking swift action that ultimately gets you over the hump and move on.
We can sometimes get ourselves caught up in wallowing, and over analyzing things, and delaying the inevitable. In the end, what I can tell you is, this is one point of differentiation between the super successful and those that struggle. It’s how they manage their time and their boundaries. And all of us only get 24 hours in a day, and there’s isn’t a person at least that I know on the planet, that gets a minute more or a minute less. Brian Tracy says that 80 percent of our millionaires are self made, they weren’t born with silver spoons, they didn’t have someone underwriting them and bankrolling them. So I think it just really begs the question, “What is it that these people that are super successful are doing with their time that those that aren’t super successful aren’t doing?” And I believe that learning how they spend their time, how they make decisions, how they move on, is absolutely essential. I make it my business to surround myself with people that are way more experienced than myself, and in completely different businesses, who use different business models, because the fundamentals of running a business are pretty standard. It’s not about necessarily adopting what you learnt from them. Sometimes you do have to adapt it a little bit, so that it fits in with your business model, but the fundamentals are pretty standard, and I pay very close attention to them.
Avil Beckford: What’s one core message you received from your mentors?
Sandra Yancey: That it’s actually easier to go big than it is to stay small. I think especially with women. I think that it’s counter intuitive for us. But I think that we often think that if we stay small, we will have more flexibility, more time and more control. And that’s a lot of the reasons why women go into business, particularly if they have children. They want more flexibility, more time and more control. And the truth of the matter is, that is a myth, and it’s counterintuitive for us. I mean, the truth of the matter is, it is in going big that you have more flexibility, more time and more control. When you’re small, you become the doer of everything that I was talking about earlier, the COE, the Chief of Everything.
You’re also not making the revenue – the money – to be able to hire other people to do the things that either you don’t like, or you’re not good at, or it’s just not a good use of your time. And it is absolutely in going big that you have way more flexibility. Because you have other people that can do things for you that gives you precious time to spend with your children, and your family, and to find innovative ways to reinvent and grow your business. It is only in going big that you can put better controls in because you can actually put in systems and processes and procedures to duplicate and replicate your successes. And when you’re doing it all, it’s really hard to keep up with the demand, and also put in the systems and processes.
So that’s been the big thing. It’s actually, Ken Kragen, a very close friend of mine and mentor, who said to me, “Sandra, it’s easier to do the impossible than the ordinary.” And the reason why is because when you go for the impossible it’s not crowded, there’s very few people there. It’s kind of the whole notion of go the extra mile because there’s never a traffic jam. Very few people travel that road. Ken Kragen is a Hollywood legend, who orchestrated the “We Are the World” campaign with Quincey Jones, Michael Jackson, and Bruce Springsteen. He led the largest humanitarian effort ever in the US, called, “Hands Across America” At one time, he managed 80 percent of all of the top billboard artists from Lionel Richie to the Bee Gees to Kenny Rogers, when he was doing the movies.
I have learnt that he and others that are wildly successful like himself, believe it to be true. It is actually easier to do what seems impossible than the ordinary, because when you do what’s ordinary, you become a “me too” or an “also ran”. I mean, you’re one in the masses. When you do the extraordinary, that’s when you really stand out.
Conclusion: Business Success Stories – Sandra Yancey
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 2 and Part 3.
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