Tamara is the Founder of LaunchStreet – the online platform for entrepreneurs & intrapreneurs to innovate and differentiate for measurable success. She is an authority on waking people up to their ability to innovate and then launching ideas that stand out in this crowded marketplace. She has built multi-million dollar businesses, learning from her successes and failures.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:07] – Tamara has 20+ years working with innovation
- [01:41] – The goal of my work is to be the catalyst, to unleash a million innovators
- [02:21] – Tamara is a mother of two boys
- [02:49] – Tamara’s area of expertise is helping people unleash their innovation
- [03:22] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: We tend to believe the myth that the barriers to success are time, money and competition. It’s not true. “The real barrier to success is indifference.”
- [04:33] – What is something you’ve changed your mind about in the last 6 months? The best idea doesn’t win, it’s the one who communicates their idea best that wins.
- [05:46] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: She burned through $15,885.43, had a pile of 3,856 t-shirts, and 20 cents in her bank account. It wasn’t the lack of money that upset her, it was the feeling of failure.
- [08:20] – Tamara had focused all her energy on an innovative product but not on an innovative business
- [09:18] – The Market Rewards Innovation
- [09:46] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: She was very aware of her assets in business, but was ignoring her greatest asset: her community. Instead of considering herself to be a thought leader, she realized she was a curator.
- [12:02] – You have to be willing to open up and be vulnerable
- [12:56] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? Her community and team – they keep her on her toes.
- [13:59] – Compare and despair
- [14:37] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “I have climbed the corporate ladder and I used to compare myself to the market out there”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Invest a lot in yourself”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I believe the rules don’t apply to me”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Focus@Will
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – You are a Badass – “it’s a great reminder of tapping into your inner strength”
- [18:07] – It’s not always the best idea that wins, it’s the one that speaks the language of innovation
- 18:18 – Tamara put together the Language of Innovation for Fire Nation! Get it here :)
Tamara Kleinberg: Oh, my gosh, I am so on fire, I think I'm already sweating! So, how's that for starting energy?
John Lee Dumas: "T" is the founder of LaunchStreet, where innovators go to create standout success and TheShuuk.com, the testing ground for the world's coolest new ideas. She's an authority on waking people up to their ability to innovate, and then launching ideas that stand out in this crowded marketplace.
"T", take a minute, fill in some gaps from that in and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Tamara Kleinberg: Yeah. So, I have 20-plus years in innovation. I started my career by working with Fortune 500 companies like you know Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Clorox, creating new products. So, if you walk down the aisles of Target, you'll pass brands and products that I helped them bring to market. And now I am fortunate enough that companies like Disney and RICOH and Otterbox, if they're looking to up their innovation game and foster a culture of innovation, they'll call me.
I've built multimillion dollar consulting firms, launched businesses of my own. I've learned from my successes and, I think also most importantly, my failures. I talk a little bit about that in one of my TED talks.
It's the goal of my work to be the catalyst to unleash a million innovators into this over-saturated crazy world that we're in. And, let's see, on a personal note in my ideal day, I get up, a drink a ton of coffee, I would do CrossFit, and then I would binge watch Netflix and HBO all day and –
John Lee Dumas: Give us one show that you would binge-watch within those?
Tamara Kleinberg: Oh, my, well, The Fall just started. Have you seen The Fall? Uhh.
John Lee Dumas: No, I've heard about it, though.
Tamara Kleinberg: Let's just say I might've lost a few hours yesterday.
John Lee Dumas: You weren't preparing for this Fire Interview all day yesterday, shame on you!
Tamara Kleinberg: In-between my prep Netflix and I had a little bit of some time together!
And so, the last thing I'll say is that I've got two crazy boys. And John, you know what, if you wanna see innovation, thinking differently, about getting what you want in action, watch and 8-year-old and a 12-year-old come together to negotiate a new game for their phone. It is – they are masterful! I lose every time!
John Lee Dumas: Wow! I love all of that, so funny, so cool. Kind of break this down for us right now, I mean you shared a lot. What would say in just a couple of sentences max, what is your area of expertise?
Tamara Kleinberg: Yeah. My area of expertise is helping people unleash their innovation. So, unleashing what I would consider their best asset, which is their innovative mind. So, whether that they're an entrepreneur trying to get traction in the marketplace and stand out, or intrapreneurs, people within organization trying to do things a little differently. My goal, and I'd say my area of expertise, is getting them to unleash that, so they can get to all those goals.
John Lee Dumas: Okay. So, within that, within the innovation what's something that we, as entrepreneurs, all the listeners here today, what's something that we need to know that we probably don't?
Tamara Kleinberg: I think we have this myth and this thing we're working against where we think that the real barriers to success are time, you know if only I had more; money, if only I had more I could get more of what I want done; or, even the competition, who is out there going for the same customer. And what I've found is that's actually not, it's not true.
The real barrier to success is indifference. And we spend so much of our limited energy on being better than the competition, or figuring out how to save a buck, when the real battle that we should be fighting is that indifference in the marketplace. Our customers are overwhelmed, they're distracted, their indifference. And if we fight that battle of indifference and stand out, we'll have more time and we won't need more money because the stuff that we're doing will actually work and we will smoke the competition!
John Lee Dumas: I love all of these words – smoke, flame, on fire, ignites. Because Fire Nation, the real barrier to success is indifference, make sure that you are absorbing that phrase in your minds.
And "T", what is something that you used to believe recently; you know within the last six months, that you just don't believe any more? I mean, you talk about innovation, that's things that are changing, happening quickly. What's something that you used to really believe in that you just don't?
Tamara Kleinberg: I used to think that the best idea won. You know it was, it didn't matter what it was, but oh, my god, if it was good and it was out there, like obviously, right? I mean haven't you had that moment where like, this is so good why aren't people buying into it?
John Lee Dumas: The cream rises to the top every time.
Tamara Kleinberg: Right, of course!
And what I've experienced, and I think we've seen in the marketplace time and time again, it's really not the best idea that wins it's the ones who can actually communicate their idea best. And the innovation, in particular, when you're trying to do something different and stand out, it has its own rhythm, its own language of innovation, and it's something I've had to craft over my years.
And if you can learn the language of innovation, you can get to those results that you're looking for. The idea is one part of it, but it's about the traction of your idea, that's where the success happens.
John Lee Dumas: The traction of your idea.
"T", let's go back into your journey as an entrepreneur and take us to where you consider the worst entrepreneurial moment to date. That moment in time to start the story there and tell us that story?
Tamara Kleinberg: All right. John, I'm gonna ask you to close your eyes and get this awesome mental image that's about to happen for you.
So, it's the tiny little hallway in my old 1938 house basement. And I've got this pile of t-shirts, it's 3,856 t-shirts high. And in fact, it is so high that I can't even get to my laundry room, and it has gotten so bad that I have to go buy underwear at Target because I can't get to any of my laundry, it's on the other side!
So, it's early in the morning and I'm sitting on the top of this pile of shirts in my sweatpants, and my curly hair is just, it hasn't been done in one-too-many days, and I'm looking down at my phone at my bank account and it says -0.20. Because I had burned through $15,885.43 with zero to show for it.
So, I mean it, I'm sitting down there and I'm slumped over on top of this pile of shirts. And my boys, who are I think about 3 and 7 at the time, they come downstairs to see if I can find them clothing for school. I'm not kidding you, they came down, turned the corner, stopped, said nothing, turned around, went back upstairs, and I heard them say to my husband, "Nope, we can't find mom, I don't know where she is", like it was so bad, right?
So, I roll off this pile of shirts. You know when you when you were a kid and you'd roll down the grass hill, that's just how I was, clunk-clunk-clunk all the way down to the floor. And that was my rock bottom.
But you know what, here's the honest part about it, it wasn't the money. The money's tough, but in fairness as entrepreneurs we have low bank accounts all the time, it's part of being all in and going for it and kind of outsourcing. So, I don't believe that not having money is the low point; I think if you really dig, and this is what I experienced that day. The low point for me was I felt like a failure, I felt like fraud. I was afraid to leave my house because if I left my house and someone like my neighbor or a colleague from my old job –
John Lee Dumas: How you doing?! How's it going?
Tamara Kleinberg: Yeah, ah, my god, right?! Like what if they said how are you doing, what would I respond, like how would I respond? It would be horrible, and I don't want that question. So, I was afraid to leave my house that day, I was just totally just distraught and I was like somebody had taken a big sharpie and written "Failure" on my head, it was so bad. So, that was my, it took me a couple of days to be willing to leave the house.
John Lee Dumas: So, where do you go from there? I mean, what lessons – looking back, now here we are in late 2016 – do you take away from that moment that you can share with our listeners to offer some advice, some lessons learned, some hope?
Tamara Kleinberg: I admit one fundamental mistake that I think a lot of us make. I had focused all my energy on building an innovative product but not an innovative business. And it's a distinction I don't think we talk enough about. We glorify the inventing, the creating part, it's so glamorous.
But it's not about the ideas, right? We talked about that. It's about the traction of the ideas. And being an entrepreneur, regardless if it's a product or service it doesn't matter, whatever you're doing –and I'm sure you know this better than anyone – it's a marathon it's not a sprint.
And innovation used to be layered across everything we do, our marketing, our sales, our distribution, our pitches, how we deliver our offer, everything. It goes back to that battle against indifference and having a killer offer just isn't enough anymore. If you build it, they will not come. You've got to go and be in market with an innovative business.
And if you think about it, John, what are some of the brands or businesses that you absolutely love and adore? Because I'm guessing they're ones that shake things up a little bit.
John Lee Dumas: Uber, Airbnb, Netflix.
John Lee Dumas: See? There you go. The marketplace. Actually, we reward innovation, we open up our wallets to innovation, to disruption, we love it! And we, as entrepreneurs, need to be bold enough to do that and we can't stop innovation of the product, it has to be in everything.
John Lee Dumas: "T", tell another story of your journey, this one being what you consider one of your greatest ah-ha moments. And, of course, you've had a lot of these moments, but which one do you think is gonna resonate with our listeners? Take us to that moment, tell us that story.
Tamara Kleinberg: I've had a lot of – this is to me was a lot of little light bulbs that went off that finally came together, they became so bright they were ones hard for me to ignore. So, I always looked at my best assets as what I built in my business, my offerings. I think a lot of us do. My Keynote, The Shuuk, my inventions, your podcast, like all of those things is what we look at and say, these are our assets, this is what we've built, and that is all great to a certain point. But kind of the light bulb went off and I realized I was actually ignoring my greatest asset, which is my community.
And once I realized this, everything opened up. So, when I realized it wasn't just about me and my 20 years of experience and my connections, and all that is great, but it was really about my community. And I shifted my thinking, and instead of thinking of myself as just a thought leader, I had started to realize that what I am actually is a curator, and that's when the real momentum began.
And granted, it wasn't an overnight shift. As entrepreneurs, we have a lot wrapped up in our egos and we kind of have to have thick skin to go out and do what we do and be a little bit confident. So, it's good to some point, but it wasn't really, at the end of the day, all about me. And when I flipped this into building a community, and, yes, bringing that innovation and that curated content and ideas to the community but also letting them engage and have a voice and bringing their expertise, that's when I finally hit that all so elusive hockey stick.
I've never understand that phrase; by the way, it boggles my mind. Because the hockey stick goes to the floor, but I get what it means.
So, that's when I hit that hockey stick road. So, these entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have this place on LaunchStreet and they're innovating and they're achieving these great results. I kind of look at it as like it's a block party with a bouncy castle and a barbeque all the time.
John Lee Dumas: Well, I love all that, especially what you said about the curator part.
I think it's so important, Fire Nation, that you're looking within yourself and saying, what am I doing as a curator, what am I doing as a content producer, and really thinking how that is resonating with your audience. And you know, your audience, again, they can very likely be indifferent unless you make them not indifferent by being someone who is innovating, by doing things like those companies that we mentioned.
Now what do you want "T", the one takeaway for Fire Nation to walk away with from your story?
Tamara Kleinberg: From this story, I'd say you have to be willing to open up and be vulnerable. It's really, like I said with our egos, we're really wrapped up in all the things that we know and that we do and that we bring to the table. And that is important to a point, but if you're really willing to open up the kimono and be vulnerable and bring your community in, I think you'll shift from this one-way conversation which is what I was doing in the past, I'm the expert you're the customer, to being this community and it doesn't matter what business you're in. People out there now, part of overcoming indifference, is creating a two-way communication of voice not just being the blow hard out there. Am I allowed to say that?
John Lee Dumas: Yes. You can say blow hard, I will not take that off the air, it's – yeah, it's not one of those seven words, I think, you can't say EOFire. [Inaudible] [00:12:05].
What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Tamara Kleinberg: I think professionally I'm really proud of my community, both internally and, I mean of my team, the team that I built around me that work for me, as well as the community out there. I think it's so great.
What makes me fired up about them is they are keeping me on my toes and I am learning from them, too. They're forcing me to up my game and that is really cool.
And I just, I just have to share a personal because it happened this morning. I hit a personal record in my clean and jerk this week. So, I lifted – I know I was so excited – 132 pounds off the ground over my head, and that's not –
John Lee Dumas: That's a person!
Tamara Kleinberg: – right. I lifted a man over my head! You know I know that's not a lot compared to some of the other CrossFit athletes –
John Lee Dumas: Hey, compare and despair, first and foremost today.
Tamara Kleinberg: That's right! Good point! And you know I'm turning 44 in 11 days, so this is the strongest I've ever been and I think it takes a lot of energy to be an entrepreneur, so yay!
Tamara Kleinberg: "T", well, congratulations. But I'm gonna kind of harp on you for a second. I guess you did compare yourself, and this is something that I really say a lot on EOFire because it's so important, so I wanna say it again, Fire Nation.
Compare and despair, there is always going to be people you can compare yourself to that have more money, that are stronger, that are better looking, to fill in any blank that you want always. So why would you ever do that? The one person that you should compare yourself to, the one person is you yesterday.
So, "T", if you had a personal best today, you're comparing yourself to you yesterday, you win, girl!
Tamara Kleinberg: You know what, you speak the truth.
John Lee Dumas: Thank you.
Tamara Kleinberg: I got – just a slap, slap in the face accepted!
John Lee Dumas: Boo! So, speaking of slap in the face information, we got some unbelievable values coming up in the Lightening Round Fire Nation, so don't you go anywhere.
Let's thank our sponsors.
"T", are you prepared for the Lightening Rounds?
Tamara Kleinberg: I'm standing on the top of the tallest tree. I am totally ready!
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from – actually, I've gotta step back. I'm picturing you even holding a lightning rod on top of that tallest tree right there!
Tamara Kleinberg: Perfect!
John Lee Dumas: That's how excited you are.
Tamara Kleinberg: I'm ready!
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Tamara Kleinberg: So, this one's kind of funny given the slap in the face I just got. But I've climbed the corporate ladder and I've been an entrepreneur. And I used to compare myself to the marketplace narrative out there which tells you that being the entrepreneur is you're young, you're hip, you get millions in investment overnight, you're glamorous, you wear skinny jeans and a plaid shirt. And I would look at them and I would look at me and be like, I don't look like the cover of Fast Company, I don't get it. And then, like you said, shame on me, I realized first of all why am I comparing because it holds you back, and second it takes all kinds.
John Lee Dumas: All kinds! All kinds! And there's been some people on the cover of that Inc. and Fast Company that would not have made the cover of Glamour or those other magazines. They come in all kinds.
What is the best advice, "T", you've ever received?
Tamara Kleinberg: Well, one of my most cherished mentors told me early on, "Invest a lot in yourself." He said if you look around at the entrepreneurs that really make it; they invest in themselves personally and professionally. And thanks to him, I allocate a portion of my revenues every month to personal growth.
And he told me never be myopic about spending money on only things that you think are gonna get you that one next sale. He said it's a personal growth that has paid off for him the most. I think he's absolutely right, so I try to model that.
John Lee Dumas: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Tamara Kleinberg: I've always lived with this delusion that the rules don't apply to me. And to be clear, John, I know that there are rules and they apply to all of you, but they just don't apply to me. And I've always believed this.
So, every time I see a brick wall I'm not thinking, oh, no, how do I get over that wall. I'm thinking, well, how do I go around it, or wait a minute it's not even for me so I'm just gonna walk around it and pretend like it didn't exist.
John Lee Dumas: Would you share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation?
Tamara Kleinberg: So, my favorite of all favorites right now, and I think you've heard of it, is Focus@Will. It's the best –
John Lee Dumas: It is pinned on my Chrome browser all day, every day, I listen to it. I interviewed the founder of it, I loved that so much, his name is Will. It's a great company, I love it!
Tamara Kleinberg: Scientifically proven to get you in that state of flow, and every time I listen to it, first of all it keeps me from binge-watching so boldness there. And second, not only am I more productive which is great, but I'm actually more creative in the work that I'm doing which is I think equally important.
John Lee Dumas: "T", one book and why?
Tamara Kleinberg: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I love it!! In fact, what I do, I have the audio book so I just pick a track randomly and I play it almost every morning while I'm getting ready. And I just, it's a great reminder of tapping into your inner strength and your flow.
And, John, I'm just gonna add one thing to this. I think it's so important to grow your library, and I would expand on that and say that I also think it's important to stalk people in real life who are just killing it out there. I don't wanna wait for them to put pen to paper, I wanna stalk those people, reverse engineer what they're doing, and see how I can apply it to my world.
So, I'm always out there reading, and then I'm also watching people and how they do things.
John Lee Dumas: Nice add! And "T", we started on fire, let's end on fire with you giving us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Tamara Kleinberg: Yeah. So, my piece of guidance also includes a free gift for Fire Nation if that's okay.
John Lee Dumas: Sure.
Tamara Kleinberg: Cool.
So, as we talked about, it's not always the best idea that wins it's the one that speaks the language of innovation. And if you change your language, you change your outcomes.
I thought about what would be of huge value for Fire Nation, so I put together the Language of Innovation method package. Because you know what, it is no fun when no one is listening or buying your ideas. Whether you're an entrepreneur, like we said trying to get traction or an intrapreneur trying to make innovation, no traction, no sales, it just feels like wasted time and energy.
So, I put together this package that includes the Language of Innovation, it's got video and audio and some downloads, and all this other stuff. And my hope is that the listeners will take advantage of it so that they can get that buy-in from those key decision makers and outperform the competition without working yourself into the ground. It's so important. And make more of what they want faster.
So, if you go to GoToLaunchSreet.com/Fire, you can get free access to it because I want you to change your language so that you can change your outcomes.
John Lee Dumas: Change your language, change your outcome.
And Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you've been hanging out with T.K. and J.L.D. today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com. Just type Tamara in the search bar, her Show Notes page will pop up with everything that we've been talking about today.
These are the best Show Notes in the biz. Fire Nation timestamps, links galore and, of course, go directly to GoToLaunchStreet.com/Fire. Did I get that right, "T"?
Tamara Kleinberg: You totally got it right.
Tamara Kleinberg: GoToLaunchStreet.com/Fire for that killer gift from "T" to you.
And "T", I do wanna thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today, for that we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Tamara Kleinberg: Hey, back at you! It was fantastic!
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