Michelle McCullough got her first day planner at the age of 12, started her first business at 19 and currently runs 3 different businesses. With over 1,000,000 downloads on her podcast, 300,000 followers on social media, and a regular segment on Fox TV, she shares her “secrets” in her book Make It Happen Blueprint.
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- Google Docs and Google Drive – Michelle’s small business resources
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3 Key Points:
- Don’t let past failures define who you are—the trick is to learn from them.
- If you are finding yourself following the status quo, this is a great opportunity to reevaluate what you’re doing.
- Balance does NOT exist. The things that you love will flow together, harmoniously.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:06] – Michelle loves what she does with her business and she’s also a mom of 2
- [01:30] – We can allow our work to be a part of our life
- [01:56] – Michelle tries to establish the double trifecta for high performance which is marketing and motivation
- [02:15] – When Michelle was working with entrepreneurs, she was figuring out how time management and understanding their goals helped them to scale their business
- [02:33] – When you know your goals and understand time management, you can achieve high levels of performance
- [03:01] – When Michelle realized that she wanted to make money, she knew that she needed to hire more people
- [04:40] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: It happened 8 or 9 years ago
- [04:55] – Michelle had a somewhat public fail of a business
- [05:04] – At that point, everyone was telling Michelle to just go back to the corporate world
- [05:40] – Michelle learned a lot from that experience of failing, even if it was embarrassing
- [05:47] – “Humble pie doesn’t taste great, but it’s good for you”
- [06:20] – Mistakes and failures will come and they’re part of a real experience that we have to go through
- [06:33] – “The fastest way to quiet naysayers is results”
- [07:32] – Hire people and don’t waste your time doing things you’re not good at
- [08:05] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Michelle started a promotional product company when she was 19
- [08:27] – After a year of people calling Michelle because of her yellow page ad, she decided it wasn’t her space
- [08:51] – Michelle is a big fan of experiential marketing
- [09:10] – She created a big event, brought back 80’s movies and played them in a movie theatre; she advertised to people in their target market
- [09:39] – “How can I help people experience my brand?”
- [09:49] – Marketing doesn’t have to be boring and textbook
- [10:15] – “When you’re on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect” – Mark Twain
- [10:28] – There are a lot more opportunities on the other side
- [10:48] – We can get so caught up with things that people are already doing that we forget to do things our way
- [11:10] – We have in use our ability to succeed and we just have to believe in ourselves more
- [11:25] – Don’t be afraid to try those big, crazy, and outrageous ideas
- [11:42] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? Michelle has been expanding her experience through speaking
- [13:05] – Some of the communities you can join are Youpreneur, Fizzle and Facebook Groups
- [13:28] – Collaboration is key
- [13:50] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – Money and security
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “It’s not about balance, it’s about priority”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “My power up and power down routine everyday are my #1 go-to, favorite success tool”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Google Docs and Google Drive
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen – talks about the ways that we grow our businesses through innovation, how we measure our life beyond our business contribution, and the ways we make it work with our family and other priorities
- [17:23] – Money doesn’t solve all of your problems, but time is your greatest asset in business and it can also be your biggest liability
- [18:00] – Connect with Michelle through her website
- [18:03] – Go to SpeakMichelle.com/fire to get a FREE resource: part of the Make it Happen Blueprint book!
Interviewer: Michelle got her first day planner at the age of 12, started her first business at 19, and currently runs three different businesses with over one million downloads on her podcast, 300,000 followers on social media, and a regular segment on Fox TV. She shares all of her secrets in her book, Make It Happen: A Blueprint. Michelle, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Michelle: Oh, gosh, it’s so hard to interact between my personal life and my business life because they kind of just meld together, and that makes me so happy. I love what I do with my businesses, but I’m also the mom of two and a wife to only one, thank heaven, and I love to travel and I am just loving life. Life is great.
John Dumas: Well, I love you talked about that melding because I do believe, Fire Nation, as entrepreneurs, if we can stop trying to find this perfect work-life balance and just say, hey, why not just allow my work to be part of my life and integrate it in a very healthy way – and, you know, Michelle has a family, she’s able to do that – I mean, to me that’s a win-win. And Michelle, within these three businesses, within all of your success, over a million downloads of your podcast, which is a massive number, what would you consider your area of expertise? Like what is that thing that you definitely are known for?
Michelle: I have tried to establish for myself first and then for others what I call the double trifecta for high performance, which is marketing and motivation. So for my businesses, for my clients, understanding – I started out as a marketing coach and I still do a lot of consulting, business strategy as well. But what I found when I was working with entrepreneurs is that it wasn’t just the marketing but it was other pieces of their life and trying to figure out how to have time management skills and figuring out what their goals were, that if they wanted marketing support they couldn’t figure out any of that until they understood a little bit about their own personal development and what they wanted to do. So now we do both. And when you meld both together, then you can achieve those levels of high performance. You’re a lot more productive, you can accomplish more without burning, and you can really be truly satisfied with the things that you do in your life and your business. So in that little sweet spot where those two intersect is where I love to play the most.
John Dumas: Well, within that playground, what would you say is something that we don’t know as entrepreneurs but would be really helpful if we did know?
Michelle: Well, I know for me – and I did this for a long time – that I really thought that if I could do more things myself that I could save money. And then I figured out that I didn’t want to save money, I wanted to make money. And so when I figured that out, I realized I need to bring more people into my business. I hired assistants, I hired consultants, and people that could help me with one-off tasks. And so now I’ve got a whole team of people who work with me that I wished I had hired so much sooner because my business didn’t take off until I was finally having everything done in my business at the proper level, that assistants were doing the right things, that high-level contractors were doing the right things, and that I was focusing on the revenue-generating activities and building up the brand that were really important. And so hiring a team and building in that support system is really that big number one for me.
John Dumas: I love [Indiscernible] [03:09] when he says, “Can you stop freaking out about buying $4 latte and instead go focus on making 10,000 more dollars in a month so you can stop freaking out about a $4 latte?” And that’s just the mindset that we can have as entrepreneurs. I mean, when you’re making $40,000 a year via a salary, like I get budgeting, Fire Nation, but when you can get that latte and be happy and go into a positive mindset and get that caffeine and you’re fired up and you go create something that creates 10K, then guess what? You don’t have to worry about a $4 latte anymore if you can make that happen; that’s something you can gift to yourself. So what I kind of want to talk about now, Michelle, is one of your worst entrepreneurial moments. And actually, let me rephrase that because I want you to talk about your worst entrepreneurial moment. Take us to the lowest of the low. Take us to the moment in time that you can picture as the devastating worst entrepreneurial moment. Tell us that story.
Michelle: It happened about eight or nine years ago. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I start so many businesses, and some of them work and, let’s be honest, some of them don’t.
John Dumas: Totally.
Michelle: And I have killed a number of businesses, but I think each of those have helped me to grow good businesses. But I remember when I had a somewhat public fail of a business that was very well known among friends and family, and I remember everyone saying to me, Michelle, now you just need to go back and get a real job. And I remember thinking, but that’s not the point of that. But in the midst of that, I’ll have to say that that was probably my worst entrepreneurial moment, realizing that one thing that did fail that I really thought was going to be the next big thing that I was really attached to and, you know, they say don’t mix the personal and the business, but it really was personal for me. But in that sense, I realized that even though that particular part failed, it really opened up new opportunities. And while it’s okay to let businesses fail sometimes and let them go and let them run their course and that doesn’t mean that entrepreneurship is over, and so I really learned a lot from that, and I’m so grateful, even though it was super public and somewhat embarrassing. I had to eat a little humble pie and start over.
John Dumas: You know, humble pie doesn’t taste great, but it’s good for you, meaning that it’s going to energize you going forward to prove yourself once again or you’re just going to learn a lot of lessons. I never necessarily liked eating vitamins, but I knew that it was doing good things for my body, and that can be what humble pie is sometimes, Fire Nation. And Michelle, for you, what do you want to make sure our listeners get from your worst moment? Like what’s a lesson? What’s a takeaway that we can implement in our lives to maybe avoid not every humble pie because we’re going to have to eat one eventually at multiple times, but maybe that same humble pie that you ate?
Michelle: Mistakes will come and failures will come, and that’s totally part of the human experience that we get to experience in a very real way, obviously. And none of us are free from making some of those big, giant mistakes, and sometimes even public ones. But I think that one of the things that I’ve learned is that the fastest way to quiet naysayers is results. And even when I was faced with all those people saying, hey, see, you can’t do this and even when it’s not you as your own worst enemy but everyone around you saying, hey, this isn’t going to happen, you’ve got to give it up, girl, that it’s okay to look back and say, hey, listen, I can learn from that and start over and that I don’t have to let what happened in the past define me and to move on. But the trick is to learn the lessons, right, and to learn the lessons of things that you can’t – you have to make sure that you don’t do again and figure out the places where you needed a little help. And what I needed was I was trying to do some things on my own outside of my area of expertise, and I needed to get some help to help me with that. And so I learned that, I made that mistake, but now I just bring more people in to help me build what I can’t do and so that I can focus on the things that I really can.
John Dumas: Fire Nation, figure out how to amplify your strengths because if you’re great at a few things, well, you need to be questioning that. That’s your greatness you’re bringing to the world. That’s where you excel. And the things that you’re not good at, like why are you going to waste your time when you could be doing things that you’re great at? Hire. Bring people in that are awesome at those things that you’re not. Build this well-rounded team. Take your time back so that you can rock and roll in the area that you should be rocking and rolling in.
Michelle, let’s talk about another story. This one’s going to be one of your greatest ideas. I mean, obviously launching a podcast that now has over a million downloads was a phenomenal idea, but this is your story; this is your choice. So what’s the story of an ah-ha moment that you had and walk us through how you turned that idea into success.
Michelle: One of my first businesses that I started when I was 19 was a promotional products company, and this is back, like websites had just barely been created, but they cost like $25,000 to make them and people were still advertising old-school, and I went to school in marketing and advertising. So I felt like I was checking all the boxes, but I remember paying a lot of money for a Yellow Pages ad. And after a year of people calling me on the phone to sell me, I figured out that that was not my space, and I had spent a ton of money doing things the traditional way. And I realized that that’s not – that I don’t have to do things the way everybody else said they were going to do them. And from that moment, I remember waking up to go, wait a minute, I can create and do marketing in my own way and I can create different ideas and different strategies that work.
I’m a really big, huge fan of what I call experiential marketing, things like events and activities where people are coming in to experience you as a person, as a business, whether that’s with simple things like an in-business tour, ribbon cuttings, classic things that even chambers of commerce do, but even to creating like some bigger events. We created some really cool events with a movie theater and started bringing back ’80s movies and having people come in, and it gave us a unique opportunity to chat and advertise and promote our businesses to people who are coming to these events that were within our target market because we figured out who they were, what their age groups were, and so part of that ah-ha moment was just saying, hey, listen, it doesn’t have to be done in an old way, but what could I do? How can I get people in a room? How can I bring people in? And that really opened the door for me creating some fun things in my business by saying, wait a minute, how can I help people experience my brand; how can I help people experience my business and do things in a different way but brought me much greater results and they were a lot more fun, too.
So marketing doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be textbook, but there are so many ways, and especially now that the online platform has changed, the ways that you bring people in and help them experience that. Try the ways that other people are doing things, and that’s fine; I think success leaves clues, as Jack Canfield says, but what can you do that’s different and not be afraid to do some of those different things?
John Dumas: Some of the biggest successes that I’ve seen people stumble into is that they zigged when other people have zagged. I mean, I love that Mark Twain quote that when you’re on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect, because if everybody’s doing it, awesome; like maybe everybody is right, but at the same time like how are you going to stand out in that just wave of, you know, mass humanity? And the fact that everybody is wrong, how much opportunity is on the other side of that wave where nobody is, you know, that blue ocean strategy, so to speak. So definitely zig when others are zagging when you see the opportunity, when it feels right, Fire Nation. That’s kind of my big takeaway, Michelle, but what do you want to make sure our listeners get from your story?
Michelle: We can get so caught up in trying to do things the way other people are doing them that we forget to do them our way. And like you said, zig when others are willing to zag, but that could be really scary sometimes. So I get that and that can be frustrating, so find other people that can help you bring in the right team that can say, hey, I got this big idea, chat about it; get a great mentor, whatever that is. But what I love the most about this is realizing that I think that we have within us the ability to grow and succeed and we’ve got to trust ourselves a little bit better. And so sometimes the greatest things come from those big, hairy, crazy, audacious ideas and goals that come, and to not be afraid to try them. And sure, some of them fail, but I think that more of them work than we think, as long as we put everything into it and be willing to try something new.
John Dumas: What are you most fired up about right now? Like when Michelle gets up in the morning, what is she excited about on the business and entrepreneurial side?
Michelle: My favorite things are obviously I’ve grown and expanded my business the last couple of years through speaking, and so I still have a heavy client load that I love, but I’ve also had the book. My book is coming out this month, and so I’m super fired up about my book launch that’s coming. But more than anything, one of the things that has been really exciting for me is the way that I’m collaborating with other entrepreneurs on big projects, helping other people with the things that they need or the things that I need. And after eight or nine years in this online world, reaching out to different people, different hosts that have been on my show and figuring out how together we can build these big businesses, and I am the most excited and fired up about working with other entrepreneurs and saying, hey, what can I do for you, what can you do for me. And I’ve been building some really awesome and incredible collaborations over the last couple of years that I just – that’s what gets me up in the morning, figuring out that sometimes entrepreneurship is lonely.
And for people who are working by themselves or sole entrepreneurs, especially as you’re just getting started, if you’re just working out of your house, that can be one of the things where it’s like, ah, I’m charting this by myself. And I have found that as I collaborate more with other people and say, hey, what can you do, what can we do, how can we build some things together, that I’m really building a bigger business than I ever thought I could because I’ve got an immense group of people that are out there doing their own things, but that together we’re figuring out how to make it better, and I love that.
John Dumas: And, Fire Nation, there are communities out there just waiting. There’s Youpreneur, Chris Ducker runs that; there’s Fizzle, Chase Reeves. I mean, there’s Facebook groups that are just chocked full of very specific niche entrepreneurs you can join. You can surround yourself with these people. So if you are that sole entrepreneur that Michelle was talking about, alone and lonely at home, I mean, just virtually get on Zoom with somebody, say hello, like have a conversation, you know, meet up. This collaboration is key.
Now, Fire Nation, we’ve been dropping value bombs like you wouldn’t believe. It’s been like a rapid-fire of value bombs. They’re not going to stop because the lightning round is coming up next as soon as we thank our sponsors.
Michelle, are you ready to rock the lightning round?
Michelle: Ooh, I’m getting a little nervous, I’m not going to lie, but I am ready.
John Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Michelle: I worried a little bit about the money. I worried about the security that comes from regular paychecks working corporate and making that jump into jumping into providing for myself and bringing that all in. But I think that in the end, it was just really great. I realized that $50 can do a lot, and I started my first business with 50 bucks, and now I can provide for my family and do all kinds of other things, and I’m so glad I didn’t let some of those crazy limitations about what I thought money was to limit me from what it actually has become right now.
John Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Michelle: The best advice I have ever received came from Danielle LaPorte, and she told me – because I told her I needed to find some life balance. After I had two kids and I was still running my businesses and I was trying to figure that out, and she said, Michelle, it’s not about balance; it’s about priorities, which is something I knew. But in that moment, I felt like my whole world opened up, and I figured out some things about the ways to run my business. And not to feel mom guilt about growing companies that were important, about sharing messages that I really knew needed to be shared, and in that moment figuring out how to prioritize different things and that it’s okay to let my business be a priority and it’s okay to let my family be a priority when it needs to be. But the longer I searched for balance, the more I would find nothing because balance doesn’t exist.
John Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Michelle: My power up and power down routine every day are my number one go-to favorite success tool. I wake up every morning and I go through and I read something inspirational. I review my goals. I may be doing something a little bit physical just to wake up my brain, even though I do my exercise at a different part of the day. But I really start my day – I call it the power up for me; people call it a power hour or whatever it is. It’s not always an hour for me. But it’s like me plugging in and recharging. But then I do the same thing at night, so doing it in the morning wasn’t enough. I needed to do something at night where I could get back centered on my goals after a day of craziness of whatever it was, reading something, really getting into and excited about the p.m. and looking at the schedule and closing out the day and powering down.
John Dumas: Can you share an internet resource, like Evernote with Fire Nation?
Michelle: Oh, I’m a big fan of my Google Docs and Google Drive. But within Google Drive, you also have the ability to do questionnaires and things, and so as I’ve been reaching out to entrepreneurs or if I have a blogger strategy going on, I love having all of that right there in Google Docs with my favorite files. But then also being able to do the survey functionality and getting people into one place with the forms.
John Dumas: If you could recommend one book to of course join on our bookshelves, Make It Happen: A Blueprint, what would that book be and why?
Michelle: One of my favorite books is How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen. Super smart, Harvard professor talking about the ways that we grow our businesses through innovation, and then he also talks about how we measure our life beyond our business contributions and the ways that we make it work with our family and other priorities as well. I think it’s great.
John Dumas: Michelle, let’s end today on Fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Michelle: As entrepreneurs, there are so many different things going on. And as I consulted with different people all over, I have found that money doesn’t solve all of your problems, but time is your greatest asset in your business. And you can either – it can be the biggest liability or it can be a great investment. And so I’ve seen people that have had millions of dollars squandered away because they are terrible with their time. And whether you love your planner like I did from the time of 12 where you can do something else, but figuring out how to make time work for you instead of against you and making peace with the clock I think is my number one tip for entrepreneurs.
John Dumas: I thought you were going to say making out with your clock, which would also be good as well. I mean, we have to love our clock. How can we connect with you?
Michelle: Kiss it, yeah. Yes, you can find me at speakmichelle.com, and if you go to speakmichelle.com/fire, I also have a free gift resource, part of the Make It Happen Blueprint that you can get for free to help you with your favorite tools and success principles for marketing and motivation.
John Dumas: Love all of that. And Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with MM and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type in “Michelle” in the search bar. Her page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore. And Michelle, one more time, give us that URL for the EOFire gifts.
Michelle: It is speakmichelle.com/fire.
John Dumas: Michelle, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
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