If entrepreneurship was a drug, Sabina Hitchen would be its pusher. A high school teacher and curriculum designer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation turned New York City PR Agency owner, she now teaches biz owners & entrepreneurs how to get publicity for their businesses strategically and confidently.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:18] – After college, Sabina moved to Chicago
- [01:31] – 5 years later she realized she was in love with teaching
- [01:53] – She went to the Gates Foundation and loved it even more
- [02:12] – Sabina took a leap and went to NYC
- [02:26] – She got a job in Public Relations
- [02:48] – In a few weeks she realized that just like teaching, she loved PR, too
- [03:10] – When she left the agency, her clients left with her
- [03:42] – She started seeing that a person can be the best in their field but they won’t make it without PR
- [04:24] – For the past 10 years, Sabina has been teaching entrepreneurs to gain their own publicity
- [04:51] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Before anything, we need to lead with relationships
- [05:39] – Building the relationship makes everything so much easier
- [06:34] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Sabina always taught in a live-class format, but her dream was having a video course. A few years ago, she spent months working on it and realized she was experiencing analysis paralysis
- [08:51] – No matter how long you’re failing and what you’re failing at, you can always decide to change the ending
- [09:57] – Live more courageously
- [10:05] – Strive for progress, not perfection
- [10:27] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: A few years ago a colleague asked Sabina if she wanted to do a weekend-long live event. It was an awesome idea but a departure from everything Sabina had done prior. She said “YES” anyway!
- [12:46] – The same elements and fears that were in Sabina’s worst moment were also present in her ah-ha moment, BUT she used these feelings differently
- [13:14] – Say “YES”
- [13:34] – Everything is solvable
- [13:46] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “I am super fired up to be back in the classroom”
- [14:18] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “My history degree and lack of real-life business experience”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Enjoy the ride”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I celebrate the small victories”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Grammarly
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success – “Because if the inside ain’t working, the outside cannot work”
- [16:19] – If you’re stuck, ask yourself: Am I being professional? Am I being polite? Am I being persistent?
- 16:36 – Connect with Sabina on Facebook and Twitter
- 17:20 – Get a ton of FREE PR Goodies on her website: Sabina Knows
John Lee Dumas: I am ready to get lit.
John Lee Dumas: Yes.
John Lee Dumas: Business-wise, of course. Business-wise [inaudible] [00:00:04].
John Lee Dumas: If entrepreneurship was a drug, Sabina would be its pusher. A high school teacher and curriculum designer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation turned New York City PR agency owner, she now teaches biz owners and entrepreneurs how to get publicity for their business strategically and confidently. Sabina, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Sabina Hitchen: Okay. Let me take you down and let me say again, thanks so much. Being here with you even digitally is an amazing, exciting experience.
John Lee Dumas: Yes.
Sabina Hitchen: So, I’m pretty pumped. You are my Justin Bieber. You are my Justin Bieber.
John Lee Dumas: The Justin Bieber of business. I’ll take it all day long.
Sabina Hitchen: Before he went bad, before he went bad.
John Lee Dumas: All right, good to know.
Sabina Hitchen: Okay. So, let me take you down my story. After college moved to Chicago. I thought I was gonna be a lawyer, didn’t feel right. So, I said, “I’m gonna go into teaching first. Let me give some of my magic to a classroom.” I thought it would be for a year. Five years later, I was still in the classroom, and I realized, A.) Oh, my goodness. I am in love with teaching, and also a big important part of my story was I realized the great power that comes from accessible and quality education. You give somebody amazing tools. They can create an amazing life.
So, that really stuck with me. Went on to the Gates Foundation, designed education curriculum. Again, I was like, “I am loving teaching. I love learning how to create and deliver killer education.” But I soon realized I didn’t necessarily love teaching in a high school classroom. That was not my jam. So, I took a leap. I followed my heart to the call of the Big Apple, and I began what I proclaimed to my parents as my New York City chapter. I was like, I’m going there. I have no idea what I’m gonna do, but it is calling me.
So, I moved to New York City, and I got a break. I got a job in public relations, and I swear to you, John, I was literally googling what is public relations the day before my first day of work. I’ll say that now because I’m cool admitting that. I did not know what I was doing, which I also think is important for people to hear, so they know that we all start somewhere. So, got into that job and within a few weeks there, I realized just like I realized I loved teaching, I said, “Oh, my gosh. I love public relations. This is amazing.”
So, long story short, I worked in PR. I had a bit of a Jerry McGuire moment at an agency when I said, I’m loving public relations, but not loving the way this specific agency is running. So, I left and my clients came with me. And before I knew it, about two years after moving to New York City, there I was, a gal in my 20s with my own agency. And when I say agency, I was in my Brooklyn walk-up apartment that first year with a bunch of clients, taking calls in the bathtub because it was the only way I could have privacy because the rest of my staff was in my living room. So, let’s be real.
But I was loving it. I was doing both. I was doing PR. It made me excited. I was working with small business owners and start-ups. That was my client base, but one thing I started seeing as my business grew and I was meeting more and more entrepreneurs it was that you can be the best baker, the best graphic designer, coach, artist, Facebook ed guru – I don’t care. You name it – veterinarian, but if nobody knows your business exists; your business will not make it.
But all of these entrepreneurs, they knew how to do what they were good at, their business. They knew their industry. They did not know how to do public relations, so the teaching spark came alive in me again. And I tell you, JLD, I was teaching everywhere. Networking groups, coffee shops, phone calls. I wanted to teach PR because I missed teaching, and I loved PR.
So, that was where sort of the spark of the business I’m in now began. And for the past ten years, that is what I’ve been doing. I’ve been teaching entrepreneurs how to get their own publicity. I ended up shuttering my PR agency because this called me so much. And now, I’m back in the classroom over at Sabina Knows and our digital education platform, Press for Success. And I am teaching, not high schoolers, but I’m teaching small biz owners and entrepreneurs.
John Lee Dumas: What’s something that we don’t know about publicity that we should as entrepreneurs?
Sabina Hitchen: Here’s what you don’t know because everyone wants a quick fix. What people need to know if before anything, the lists we want to buy of contacts, or memorizing emails scripts, all the things we need to know – What we really need to know is we need to lead with relationships. Before you obsess over what the email you’re sending is or how to find someone’s email address in the first place, you need to lead with the relationship. That’s my gospel of PR.
The press are just like us, so treat them that way both professionally and personally, and invest in the relationship first. Email with them. Social media with them. Tweet with them. Converse on Instagram or Insta Story. Send them an email praising their work before you send them an email asking for something like coverage because if you build that relationship, the rest is gonna be so much easier and so much faster for you.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, I know the people, the names, and the avatars that respond to my Instagram stories, my Snapchats, my Facebook posts. I see that. I know the people that are most integrated and are most involved. So, when that person comes to me months, years, however long later, it’s like there’s already the beginning of a relationship there because I know they’re not just coming out of left field. “Oh, I heard about this John Lee Dumas guy. Let me send him a pitch.” No, this person’s been a supporter of mine for a while and that makes a meaningful difference.
But, Sabina, let’s get real for a second because it’s not all daisies and sunshine. Let’s talk about you, Sabina, your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. Take us there. Maybe it’s in that tub when you’re getting that phone call in the early days. Who knows? But take us to that moment. Tell us that story.
Sabina Hitchen: It’s funny because when you say worst entrepreneurial moment, I’m like, “Which one, JLD?”
John Lee Dumas: Well, there’s only one worst. Let’s be real.
Sabina Hitchen: There is. I’m gonna take you one to – it was semi-recent, in the past few years because it really was the peak of my epic failures. And that was – let me give you some backstory. So, as you know, I’ve been teaching entrepreneurs for years, teaching for years. But I always did it in a live class format because that made me happy. That was my comfort zone. That’s where I hung out. So, I was doing that, but as a lifelong teacher, my dream was to have this nuts and bolts, start to finish, video course someone could take any time, always accessible, really powerful. That was my dream.
So, I spent, a few years ago, months creating that, investing financially, emotionally, timewise. And when you’re invested like that, everybody in your life is also along for the ride. So, my family, me, my friends, my dog, everyone’s investing in this. I spent months working on it, and then I realized one day, I am frozen. I had it done, but I kept re-tweaking it, kept fixing it, and then I realized I was in a deep stage of analysis paralysis, super judging myself, total imposter syndrome. All the things, John.
All the things were happening, and it was an especially hard pill to swallow because teaching is my jam. That is my whole calling and purpose. I love it, and teaching people to promote themselves is my specific educational area. And yet, I couldn’t do it myself. And because of that, I was hurting financially. I was hurting those I loved who had supported me, and I basically sat there for months-
John Lee Dumas: -Well, let me jump in here, Sabina. You were also hurting the people who needed to hear your message, your teachings, but just because for all the wrong reasons, you were withholding it from them.
Sabina Hitchen: Completely, I was in this perfection-seeking holding pattern or something, and I couldn’t – I was like a plane circling, and all those people who need what I have to offer weren’t getting it. And it was the most – I mean, I’ll be real. I was depressed because when you’re not doing what you’re meant to do, your business doesn’t just suffer and those who need it, but your brain and your heart suffer. All of it hurts because it’s suffering everywhere.
But I’ll tell you what. Here’s where the story starts to get good because after months – and it’s so hard. I’ve only admitted this to the people in my circle and now Fire Nation, but I sat in that pattern for months. I was doing the easy parts of my business. I was not doing that. But then here’s what the best part about your worst business moves and failure is is that no matter how long you’re failing or what you’re failing in, you can decide at any moment to change the ending of that failing situation. You don’t have to stay in that storyline. So, I had a moment when I was like, this storyline, this course of action, which was basically inaction, is not serving me. So, I’m done with this right now.
And I had a – I still picture where I was, but I had that moment when I flipped the switch and decided to act more courageously and decided to put my big girl PR pants on and start marketing. But those six months were a very difficult part in my business, but again, I still am grateful for it because it really proved in real life, in professional life that you can remove yourself from the business storyline that you are telling that isn’t working for you at any time.
John Lee Dumas: Sabina, I’m gonna say one sentence that I think sums a lesson that I got from your story, and then I want you to follow up with one sentence as well. And then we’re gonna move on. And that one sentence, Fire Nation, is live more courageously. Live more courageously. What do you got, Sabina?
Sabina Hitchen: I’m gonna say it is strive for progress, not perfection, baby.
John Lee Dumas: Love it. Let’s talk about an idea, not just any idea, one of the greatest ideas you’ve had to date. It doesn’t have to be the greatest, but just one that you think would make a good story for Fire Nation around how you had that idea, the steps you took to turn that aha moment into success. Take us there. Take it away.
Sabina Hitchen: All right. So, I’m actually excited about this one because I’m hoping it pushes others who are in a space of maybe avoidance or fear into a space of action. So, picture it. New York City, a few years ago. I’m a confident biz gal. I’m doing my thing. I’m teaching my classes. I’m speaking “I am amazing” in my head. I like how things are floating along, and then a colleague asks me if I want to kick it up a notch.
Do we want to do a weekend-long live event in New York City, invite entrepreneurs from all over the world, give them magazine editors, tv producers, honor talent, major influencers, content creator to even breakfast and lunch? That alone freaked me out. The logistics of serving all these people breakfast and lunch.
So, it was an awesome idea. I knew it was an awesome idea, but in real life, that idea was a departure from anything I’d ever done. I don’t do live events. That was not my wheelhouse. So, I was super pumped in the planning and super terrified in the execution in the beginning. But it goes back to this – One of my favorite things, Tina Fey. I’m a big fan of Tina Fey, and one of my favorite things she ever said was, “Just say yes and you’ll figure it out afterward.” So, I said yes, totally unprepared, JLD. I was like, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it.
And every single part of that event from building it to selling it to coordinating it to getting everyone there was scary, new, and challenging. And I’ll tell you all what. First of all, breaking it into scarier, littler pieces was easier, but also you have to be in it. You can’t dip a toe into something and expect it to work, so I just got in it. And I’ll even admit up until the day before the event, part of me was wishing for a blizzard because I was so scared. I was like, can a blizzard just shut down the city and this doesn’t have to happen?
And hey, little things went wrong like the second day, our breakfast didn’t arrive, and I literally ran down 23rd Street in heels 30 minutes before I took the mic to start it to grab Dunkin Donuts and coffees and lug it back up the street in heels. But guess what? It was all good, and it reminded me this, and I hope Fire Nation takes this firm, that the same – Because the event was a smash, it changed something within me.
It made me grow. It made me step into something I could’ve been but I was afraid to be. It changed all the businesses that were there, but it also showed me this. The same elements and feelings and fears that were present in my epic fail, that six-month fail in my business were also present in this aha moment, but I just used them differently like a different recipe with the same ingredients. So, that was – doing something I was afraid and not really ready to do, but growing into it and doing it, changed my business and me forever.
John Lee Dumas: Okay. Same rules, my one sentence is say yes. What’s yours?
Sabina Hitchen: Oh, my gosh. That’s my sentence too.
John Lee Dumas: I know. I knew that I stole it. I totally knew that I stole it.
Sabina Hitchen: So, I’m gonna say yes, and just say yes again, and say yes again because you have to. And also, throughout those little experiences – That whole thing was a series of me saying, “Yes, there is a solution.” Maybe also it’s everything is solvable. You will find a solution. It might not be a perfect solution, but you’ll get it done.
John Lee Dumas: What are you most fired up about today, Sabina? What has you most fired up?
Sabina Hitchen: I am super fired up to be back in the classroom, back in the classroom I designed and I love that gives me freedom and gives other people freedom, and also a classroom where – I’m just gonna say it – My students, my online classroom, my digital studio audience, they are slaying it with their publicity and they’re doing it with free resources, and that just gets me business high.
John Lee Dumas: Business high, Fire Nation, is what we’re gonna be flexing into with the lightning round, so don’t go anywhere. But we’re gonna take a quick minute first and thank our sponsors.
Sabina, are you ready to rock the lightning round?
Sabina Hitchen: I’m ready to rock.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Sabina Hitchen: I’d say my history degree and lack of real-life business experience. I thought I needed an MBA to be an entrepreneur.
John Lee Dumas: Hey, I had a history degree.
Sabina Hitchen: Really?
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, I loved it.
Sabina Hitchen: That’s what I taught. I taught history and political science. People say, “Did you teach business?” I was like, “No, I taught what I’m passionate about.”
John Lee Dumas: Oh, I love it. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Sabina Hitchen: Best advice hands down was from my mama Maria, my mentor. She said to me, “Enjoy the ride.” Right? I thought she’d say something deep and business prophetic, but she was like, “Look around. Look at this very moment every day and enjoy the ride.”
John Lee Dumas: What else is there, Fire Nation? I mean, the ride is life. The ride is the journey. You want to enjoy every step of the way. Even when it’s painful, enjoy the lessons you’re learning. And Sabina, what’s a personal habit that’s contributing to your success?
Sabina Hitchen: One of my favorite personal habits is that I celebrate the small victories constantly and specifically all day long. So, thoughts lead to things obviously, so I don’t let any small victory slip by. I actually anchor into it. I picture little bells ringing. I close my eyes and I make sure I just celebrate every single moment that goes my way all day long.
John Lee Dumas: Share an Internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation.
Sabina Hitchen: Okay. My favorite Grammarly. It’s a Chrome extension that will fix your grammar, spelling, and the workflow of your work everywhere from emails to Facebook posts.
John Lee Dumas: Past sponsor of EOFire. They’re a great tool, and if you could recommend just one book, what would it be and why?
Sabina Hitchen: Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Depack Chopra because when the inside ain’t working, the outside cannot work, and they sound – You might think, “Oh, it’s too woo.” Oh, no. It is gonna school you in the way you live and the way you do your business.
John Lee Dumas: 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 bye-bye.
Sabina Hitchen: All righty. So, parting piece of guidance. If you are stuck in any way in any part of your business, I like to do what I call my three Ps test. I ask myself am I being professional? Am I being polite? Am I being persistent? If I can yes to those three things, go for it. Give it a chance. You’re all good. And find me anytime, any day via @sabinaknows on social media.
John Lee Dumas: Love it all. Three P’s, professional, polite, persistence. And Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you’ve been hanging out with SH and JLD today. So, keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Type Sabina, that’s S-A-B-I-N-A in the search bar. Her [inaudible] [00:16:23] page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, Fire Nation. Time stamps, links galore. And one more time, Sabina, how can we find out more about you?
Sabina Hitchen: You can find out more about me and all my goodies at sabinaknows.com. And if you go to Sabinaknows.com/fire, I’ve got all kinds of free PR goodies to help you, what? Build relationships with the press from tips to templates, all free and downloadable just for your Fire Nation listeners.
John Lee Dumas: Sabina, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Sabina Hitchen: Thank you.
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