Season 3 Episode 12
Christy Wright, business coach and best-selling author

Do you ever wonder why some businesses thrive while others struggle to keep up? One crucial distinction is the ability to understand customers' pain points — and positioning your business to solve the problem. In this episode, bestselling author and business coach Christy Wright explains why gaining clarity on what a customer actually needs is vital to achieving long-term success. Today, we’re passing the mic to one of our podcast’s co-producers, Stephen Roach, who will be conducting our interview with Christy.

Christy Wright is a certified business coach, dynamic speaker and personal development expert. She served for 12 years as a Ramsey Personality with Ramsey Solutions before taking a leap of faith to venture out on her own. Christy has been featured on the “Today” show and “Fox News”, as well as Success, Entrepreneur, and Woman’s Day magazines. Whether she’s running around on stage or running after her kids, challenging leaders or changing diapers, Christy makes the most out of life and encourages others to do the same. Tune in to gain practical insights and actionable takeaways to help you run and grow a better business.

Stephen Roach: Well, Christy, thank you so much for joining us today on the Entrepreneur Studio Podcast. It's such a joy to have you here with us in Oklahoma City.

Christy Wright: Oh, my gosh, I love entrepreneurs. I love what you guys do, so thanks for having me. This is going to be fun.

Stephen: Absolutely. You have done a lot of work as an author, a business coach. You've helped a lot of women begin entrepreneurial journeys. I'm curious to know, what motivated you to leverage your business gifts to help other people on their journey?

Identifying patterns and finding your niche

Christy: Yeah, this is a great question and it's interesting because I think a lot of people get overwhelmed by this idea of calling and purpose. What's my calling in life? What business should I start? And for any entrepreneurs watching and listening right now that are the creative type, we have a million ideas a day. How do we narrow this down, Stephen? I could do so many things. I could start a landscaping company, I could do hair, I could become an accountant. No, I couldn't become an accountant, but we could do a lot of things, right? And I think what I have learned, at least in my story, which is not prescriptive, it's not a formula but I think it works for many people, is I have learned what I'm called to do and what my purpose is, I've learned that by looking backwards. And when you look backwards on your life, you will often see patterns and themes.

So it takes the pressure off of, “I've got to discover the one thing I was put on this earth to do,” which is intimidating and probably not realistic at all, right? And instead, you look backwards and go, “Okay, what are the patterns?” Well, the patterns in my life are my mom and dad both were entrepreneurs, so I was raised by entrepreneurs in two separate businesses. I was raised in my mom's cake shop, I went to construction sites with my dad, and so I watched them build a business and make a way and pay employees and lead a team and deal with customer service. I watched this from the time that I was little, so that's a pattern.

Well, then in high school, I started working in my mom's shop as early as I could, at age 12 or 13 even. Then I go to college and get a business degree. I started my own side businesses in my twenties to help me pay the bills, and so I look back and I go, “Oh wow, there's such a pattern of business. There's such a pattern and a love of business in my life.”

When I look at other character traits that I have and personality qualities, I'm an encourager, I'm a motivator, I'm a speaker, I'm a challenger. For anybody familiar with Enneagram and you don't think it's totally evil, I'm an Enneagram eight so I like to push people.

Stephen: I was going to say an eight.

Christy: Yeah, totally an eight. So I like to push people, and so you put all that together and you start to see, “Well, there's a lot of different things I could do with that.” And in my journey at Ramsey, we were really trying to find my niche, or niche if you're fancy. We were really trying to find my niche right around 2014 when I was moving into a full-time author-speaker role, and we just saw an opportunity in the market. Etsy was taking off, side businesses, solopreneurs, mom-preneurs, home-based businesses, side gigs were all taken off and we thought, you know what? There's an opportunity for me to use what I know. I'm a certified business coach, have a degree in business and so on, and really serve the marketplace. And so it was from looking backwards. It was from looking backwards how I discovered what I wanted to do.

And I would still say with a disclaimer there, I don't know that I'll do it forever, and I took a season where I didn't do it when I left Ramsey. So take the pressure off that you've got to find your one big thing, because if this doesn't work out, you know what I'll do, Stephen? I'll do something else. I'll do something else and I'm going to be okay, and you are and everybody listening will be. So the pressure's off to find the one thing, but I think you can learn a lot about yourself by looking backwards.

Stephen: That's so good. I love this idea of patterns and themes and looking back, because for entrepreneurs, it really is a process of discovery. A lot of it is a process of trial and error, but as a business coach and a public speaker and an author, you help a lot of people discover those patterns and those themes in their lives. But I've heard you say that understanding the problem you solve is the most important thing you need to know as the business owner, so talk to me about why you think that understanding the problem is where you need to start.

Understanding the problem your business solves

Christy: Well, business is very, very simple. We can over-complicate it. We can get intimidated by it. We get all, “Oh, what am I going to do with business licenses and taxes?” And those are real things, but at the core, the basic of business is you are solving a problem. That's it. It's a one-liner summary of what business is. In business, we solve problems for the marketplace. What's so important about this though that I think a lot of people miss because we get excited in the branding and the logos, and, “Ooh, I'm going to start a new Instagram account. I'll make it official. I'm going to buy a new laptop.” Okay, cool, great. That's not making you money. What's actually going to build your business is on what problem you solve, and when you understand this piece of information, you understand so many other pieces of information about your business. Your business plan comes to life and you get more clarity.

So for example, when you understand the problem you solve, you now know your target market because your target market are people that have that problem. You also know your marketing language because what are you going to talk about on your website, on social media, on all of these platforms? You're going to talk about how you solve that problem. You're going to understand your pricing and your value, because what are you going to price for? How are you going to have confidence in the value you bring to the marketplace? By looking at the problem you're solving? That's what we're pricing for. That's the basis of the value. So when you understand, really deeply understand the problem that you solve, it gives you so much clarity about your business, it reduces the overwhelm, builds your confidence, and really sets you on a path to build your business well.

Stephen:So you could say that solving the problem functions is the meta-narrative or this umbrella of how a business functions, but inside of that, there are so many different ways that you can approach solving that problem and you can apply it. And for instance, I'm thinking of email marketing as one way; social media, which we'll get into in a little bit; lead magnets. Talk to me about some of the specific ways that you could apply problem solving to your business.

Christy: Yes. Okay, I love this question because I think this is something that many business owners misunderstand or just bypass. So if anybody listening is familiar with Donald Miller, he's a friend of mine. I love him, StoryBrand. He talks about the internal and external problem. A great example of this would be Chick-fil-A. So they solve the external problem for people through their business of chicken. You're hungry, you now have chicken. Not just any chicken, but you have Jesus chicken, so this is holy chicken. You're about to get saved. Okay, so you're fed right? You've got a great breakfast, a great chicken biscuit, whatever. The internal problem though, and this is what's so brilliant, the internal problem that Chick-fil-A is solving is that you are getting fast food and you don't feel gross about it. You are getting fast food and you just somehow still feel great about yourself afterwards, where most fast food, you just feel greasy and gross and stinky and your car's a mess.

So they're solving an internal problem of needing food conveniently in a beautiful, pleasant environment that is clean and you don't feel gross afterwards, but then the external problem of hunger. So with your customers, you're always solving internal and external problems through your business, through your products and services. I'll give you an example with Business Boutique.

So this was the brand I built at Ramsey and it was a coaching group. It was courses, events, podcasts and so on. The external problem that I solved was people needed a business plan. That's what my book Business Boutique is. It is a plan for your business. It is step by step, this is what you do. Follow this plan and you'll have a plan. Follow this plan and you'll have what to do with your business. But the internal problem was completely different. The internal problem was confidence and fear. My longest chapter in that book is chapter two, and it's on fear, and it's the most talked about chapter, the most tweeted about chapter, the chapter that I get the biggest response on. And it's the chapter, believe it or not, that I had to fight the hardest for, that the editors wanted to cut out, that it seemed like fluff. I said, “No, I know my market. This is what they struggle with.”

So what someone needs from you and what they think they need from you might be two different things. People thought they needed a business plan, which is true, and I gave them that at the event or in the podcast or in the book, but what they really needed was confidence. They needed to believe that they could do it.

And so you come to that Business Boutique three-Day event, for example, and I believe in you so much and I give you the teaching and the inspiration that makes you believe in you so much that by the time you walk out of the room, you're willing to act on the business plan. Because the reality is you could have all the information in the world, but if you're scared, you're going to be stuck. You need to believe that it's possible. That confidence is what changed the game for them, not the plan. Now, they got both.

Here's why your listeners need to understand this. You need to understand both your internal and external problem you're solving, what they actually need and what they think they need. Because if you only talk about what they actually need but they don't know they need it, they're not going to buy from you. If I just advertised a business conference that's going to build your confidence, build your confidence, build your confidence, but they don't think they need confidence, they think they need a plan, no one's going to come. You need to understand the internal and external problem which is essentially aligning with what they need and what they think they need. Similar with Chick-Fil-A. They're selling you on chicken, but what you're coming is for this beautiful experience.

So you need to understand that, but every single thing you do in your business, and when I say that I mean that very literally, every single thing you do needs to solve a problem for people and here's why. Because our brain is wired for survival. That means that all day, every day, your brain, my brain, every brain is thinking one thing. Why do I care? Why do I care? What's in it for me? We're wired for survival so we're constantly filtering out irrelevant information.

Think about social media, okay? You're scrolling through social media, Stephen. You're scrolling on Instagram, checking things out, and your thumb stops. Why? It did something for you. That post connected with you in some way. It solved a problem for you. Maybe it made you laugh, maybe it gave you great information and tips. Maybe it gave you interesting news, it entertained you, but it did something for you. Those that don't, you scroll right past. This is an analogy for everything in business. The emails that you send as a business owner that connect with your audience and solve a problem for them are going to get opened, and those that don't, won't. They're going to scroll right past. They're going to ignore them and your open rate is going to plummet. So every single email you send needs to solve a problem for people. Every post on social media needs to solve a problem for people. Every podcast needs to solve a problem for people. Every single thing you do, from products to services to marketing, landing page copy, everything should solve a problem for people.

And when you do that, you are connecting with your customers on the most primal level, which is what's in it for me? Why do I care? You're going to communicate the problem you're solving and then solve it for them, and it makes them lean in, listen, stop on your post, open your emails and care about what you're doing, because if you don't teach them how this is relevant to them, they don't care.

Stephen: That's so good. And I've heard a lot of people say that this generation doesn't want to be sold to. It's like we've seen enough ads. We don't want to be sold to. We want to have a personal connection to the brands and the products that we use, and this idea that you're talking about really leads to a relationship. It's a very relational dynamic, and that's something that I see even in the work that you do. And I love the analogy of Chick-fil-A, and it's not just the external, but the internal. And I think Donald Miller also talks about the philosophical problem. It's like, why this should be it.

But one thing I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on is, for instance, we had your friend Mignon in here yesterday. For a business like hers, she's selling cupcakes. It might be hard to immediately say, “Well, what kind of problem is she solving?” And another example might be you live in Nashville. This is the music capital, and so when we talk about industries like the entertainment industry, the arts industry, you don't immediately think about them solving a problem. How would you apply this same framework of problem solving to a business model that's not so immediate, if that makes sense?

Christy: Right, and I think even the word problem, we have certain associations with that word. So I say, “You solve a problem.” You think, well, a plumber fixes a leaky pipe. That's a problem. You solve it. A masseuse solves a problem.

Stephen: Oh yeah.

Christy: I want a luxury for my birthday. I want a spa day. That's a problem. It's just a different way to look at it, and I think it may take some digging. So for example, art. I have a lot of artists in my coaching group and they would say, “Oh, I don't solve a problem.” Oh no, you do because your custom art provides something for people that they need or want. So maybe your target customer is someone that would never buy art from TJ Maxx or from a store, a retail store. They want custom art. They want to be able to tell the story. “Oh, I know a local artist and she paints this and here's her story.” They talk about that piece. Well, that's a problem because that person wants something unique in their home.

Maybe you're local artist and you provide gifts. Again, your audience member doesn't want to go to Target and buy a gift. They want to get something thoughtful, unique, something that has a story. Well, that's a need that you're meeting. That's a problem you're solving. It's just not the leaky pipe problem.

Stephen: Sure.

Christy: So when you understand it, you can talk about it more accurately. And I think a lot of business owners, they get so in the weeds of their business, they know it so well, or they think they know it so well that they miss the basic communication around problem-solving and so they're not connecting with their customers. They're not communicating what the customer cares about. They're saying, “We have art. We have art.” They're not connecting on the philosophical problem or the internal problem or the actual thing that's going to make that person be compelled to buy from them, and you have to connect with them there if you're going to build trust and they're going to feel like this is for me.

Stephen: Yeah, that's really good. I think that for a lot of entrepreneurs, it begins with solving one of our own problems.

Christy: Absolutely.

Stephen: We might have this own curiosity that we're following, this own unresolved thing in our own lives that leads us to build the business, but then the more that we just pursue that and grow in that work, we discover that there are a lot of other people that are sharing the same thing. And so understanding your customer's pain points and having empathy for them, talk to me about that and about how understanding your customer's pain points can help you in things as practical as product development or even just the way that you communicate.

Christy: Okay. So there's two pieces of this that come to mind as you talk and I've got a ton of examples, but one of the things that I think is really easy to fall into as entrepreneurs, you assume you're the only one that feels that way. So if I struggle with organization or I struggle with clutter in my home, I think, “Well, I'm the only one that feels this way,” so I undervalue my experience, I undervalue my skills, I undervalue my story and so it's tempting not to put it out there. And I tell entrepreneurs this all the time. Whatever your skill set is, your experience, your story, your knowledge, it is so easy to undervalue because you assume if it's easy for you, it's easy for everyone else, or if you struggle with it, then everyone else probably has a solution for it and so on.

The innovations, especially in product development, come from the courage to say, “I'm going to be the first one to solve this.” So, WubbaNub, the pacifiers that have the little animal attached? The story of that is a mom was in Florida on vacation with her kids and her child just kept dropping the pacifier. And so she took a hotel sewing kit, sewed that pacifier to his little stuffed animals, and that's how WubbaNub, which is now a massively successful company, was created. Sarah Blakely with Spanx. That was invented because she was going to an interview or something and she didn't like how her legs looked in white pants and she cut out the bottom of her pantyhose. So a lot of innovations come from the courage to say, “I'm going to solve this better. I'm going to solve it differently.”

But even if you're doing something that is, quote unquote, common or average or already being done, like you're an accountant or you're a painter or you're a fitness instructor or you're a business coach, the thing I want to remind people is no one can do what you can do like you can do it. So yes, there might be other people doing it, but it doesn't take away from you solving that problem for a group of people that connect with you, your story, your style, your voice, your experience. And so it both takes courage, but it also takes the reality to go... You know what? A great example is when I was on book tour for Business Boutique. We would have book signings at Barnes and Noble books all over the country, and one, 200 people would show up and I would do a short talk and do Q&A and then I would sign their books.

And inevitably I'd get this question. “Well, what if someone's already solving this problem? What if someone's already doing the thing that I want to do?” And my answer was this. “Look around this bookstore. How many books are in this bookstore? Hundreds of thousands? Maybe millions, I don't know. And yet you're sitting here ready for me to sign your book, the one that I wrote. I'm not the best business coach. I'm not the best author, that's just a fact. I'm not the best, but I believe that I have a story and I have content, and I have a style of teaching that connects with you and you and thousands of other people in a way that no one else can. So there's room for you in the marketplace too. Even if someone else is solving that problem, there's room for you too. There's room for you to create a better product or a slightly different product. There's room for you to provide a slightly different service with your voice or your style. There's room for you too in the marketplace.”

Stephen: I love that, and it makes me think of this silly quote from Dr. Seuss, and he said, “There's no one alive that's you-er than you.”

Christy: Yes. I love that quote.

Stephen: I think that no matter how many times a story has been told or no matter how many times a certain product has been made, it hasn't been made by you. It doesn't have your story and your particular take on it. And you've talked a lot about fear and you've also talked about courage, and those are very fundamental aspects, I think, of entrepreneurship. And also, we mentioned several times the StoryBrand framework, the problem solving, but let's talk a little bit about being the guide and how understanding the customer's pain points as well as solving the problem for yourself. How does that position you to help others? And maybe an example from your experience in that.

Christy: Yes, okay. So I think probably most people listening already know the statement, “People buy from those they know, like, and trust.” That's just the basis. Think of who you buy from, who anyone buys from. You buy from those that you know, like and trust. In fact, you can probably think of instances where you needed something and the person that was selling it to you or the person you interacted with, you didn't like them and you went somewhere else. Because it feels philosophically wrong to give money to this person I don't like. “I don't like you, I don't want to pay you. I'm going to go somewhere else.”

So if we understand this basic business truth - people buy from those they know, like, and trust - then your job as the entrepreneur, which is also the marketer, which is also the face of the company, is to get people to know you, like you and trust you. And the best way that you do that is by being the guide. This is Donald Miller language of the guide. Another way that I would say it is you are the student in the story, so you are a student alongside them. You're a little ahead of them. You're going to show them the path of what worked for you, the transformation you've experienced or the business plan that you've created or whatever.

I think of an example. So I also train speakers, train people in speaking and presenting because I've spoken for over a decade on some of the biggest stages in the country. So some of my marketing language, some of that story arc would say, “I've spoken on some of the biggest stages in the country and it's really intimidating to write a talk. You have so many ideas and you don don't know how to organize them. I've created a talk template. When you use my talk template, you know exactly where to put your stories, where to put your jokes, where to put your content. You'll never have to worry about writing a talk again.” Okay, but listen to that. So I've spoken on all these stages. I've been there. I know what it's like to be overwhelmed by writing a talk. I have learned the hard way. Learn from my mistakes and let me teach you, my top template.

So when you're sharing, “I've been there,” it creates this trust, this authority because you have lived experience. You have empathy because you've been there and you've struggled too. You have examples to share that really relate to them and that, again, further that trust. And so sharing your experience brings them on the journey with you, but it mostly gets them to know you, like you and trust you so that you can help them.

Because I'll be honest, I don't really want parenting advice from someone that hasn't been in the trenches with kids, or either an expert psychologist or someone that has toddlers. Don't talk to me about how I should deal with dinnertime when you've never dealt with these crazies at dinnertime. I don't care. I want someone that has been there. And so the empathy is such a connection point for people, and I think business owners, because they're so goal oriented, sales minded, even solution oriented, they can go, “Well, here's your solution. Here's your talk template. Here. Here's your talk template. Here. Just use this business plan.” And people are going, “Will that even work for me? Do you even understand? But you don't know my business. But you don't know my story.” And so you have to slow down as a business owner. You have to slow down as a marketer and you have to start with the story.

You have to start with, you've been there, your lived experience, the problems you're solving, the problems you've experienced. “Isn't it frustrating when...” “Isn't it hard when...” “I've been there too.” Spend some time on that problem, because what happens at that point in all your communication, and this is one of the things I teach, not just in speaking, but in business and marketing and content, always start at that point of the story around the problem you're solving, the story around the problem you're solving. Because when you begin there, you get your audience to lean in and listen, where by the end of you going through this section of whether it's a landing page or an email or whatever, they're nodding along. They're going, “Yeah, me too. Man, I thought I was the only one that struggled with that. I thought I was the only one scared in business. I thought I was the only one that didn't know how to write a talk. I thought everybody else had it... Man, me too. Okay, so what do we do about that?” And they're ready.

They're ready for your solution. They're ready for what you're going to offer. They're ready for your products or your services or so on, so sharing your story and your lived experience around the problems you've had and how you've overcome them is going to be the baseline for them liking you, trusting you, knowing you, and being ready for your solutions.

Finding your voice

Stephen: Well, you brought up your training people in public speaking, and I'd love to dive into that with you a little bit. I was thinking that public speaking and the ability to present, it's an often overlooked part of leading a business. To be able to lead a team or to give a presentation, whatever it is, it requires the skill sets of public speaking. Talk to me a bit about how public speaking lends itself to this problem solving and also to business leadership.

Christy: Well, the thing that I think most entrepreneurs don't realize is they are a speaker. They are, they already are. You're already, whether you're pitching clients or you're on Instagram or you're on Facebook Live or you're on a podcast or you're on a webinar or a coaching session, you're speaking all day, every day. And the problem is... See what I did there? The problem is, Stephen, is you were never taught how to do this. No one taught you how to speak, except maybe eighth grade speech class where they gave you that three-point structure where they said, “Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them,” which is not what we really do. World-class communicators don't do that. We don't use laser pointers, we don't stand behind a podium, and we aren't boring you to tears. Thank the Lord for that.

We're storytellers, but storytelling is an art. It's a craft. Every brilliant speaker, every business owner that just happens to have powerful presentations, it's not an accident. Everything is intentional. Every pause, every fluctuation in their voice when they go really, really fast and they sound frantic and then they slow down to make a point. We were even joking before we started recording and I said, “Well, my volume fluctuates a lot, Stephen. I hope you've got the gain set right on these mics.” The best speakers, everything they do is intentional. How they use the stage, how they connect with the audience. But what's amazing is you have the ability to connect with people, build your business, build your brand, bring more customers in through speaking. Now, don't think stages and bright lights. I mean any type of speaking. You've got a phone in your pocket right now that you could go live and you could speak. You could deliver a powerful sixty-second talk, a Reel, a five-minute talk, a Facebook Live, a webinar that's 30 minutes. That could bring thousands of people into your business.

Just a few months ago for example, I did a webinar and it was five goals you need to set to be successful this year. I had 1,500 people register for that, 1500 new contacts into my business from one webinar that then I can converted into my coaching group. That was speaking, that's what that was. And so when we understand the potential of speaking and connecting with people, the reality is your ideas are only as good as your ability to communicate them, and that's true for every business owner. I don't care how good your ideas are.

If you're in your mom's basement and you can't talk about them, no one's going to buy them, so it's your job to learn how to be a powerful communicator and a speaker and presenter. Again, not just on big stages. Anywhere, anytime. On a podcast like this or on a webinar or being a guest on someone else's podcast, on the local news, any way. Any way that you can do it, it is your job to learn how to be a powerful communicator if you're ever going to bring people into your business and get them to understand the value of the products you've created.

Stephen: That's so good. There's such an intentionality behind every part of it that I hear you talking about, and you brought up social media, and so I know that social media is a large part of how you communicate to your audience. It's a large part of how you solve the problems of your followers. Talk to me a bit about building your social media, building a brand on social media. What you've learned from it, some of the mistakes you've made, some of the challenges you've faced, and some of what you've learned over time, because I've spent some time with your social media and it's fun. I love being there.

Christy: Thank you, Stephen. Thank you.

Utilizing social media as a business tool

Stephen: It's awesome, but just talk to us a bit about how you've leveraged social media to solve the problems of your audience.

Christy: Yes. Okay, I love this. So let's just go ahead and just... Can we just say the thing that everybody's thinking? We have a love-hate relationship with social media, but mostly hate. Can we say that?

Stephen: A necessary evil maybe? I don't know.

Christy: Are we allowed to say that? The reality is most business owners didn't get into business because they want to be an Instagram expert. They got into business because they wanted to help people, and it is this necessary evil in many ways. So here's my take on it, and different people will tell you different things depending on who you talk to. I think it is a great piece of the puzzle. I don't think it should be the entire puzzle. I don't think it should be all of your efforts. I don't think it's the only way to grow your business, and in fact, there's some businesses where it just doesn't make sense to waste your time on social media. I'll give you an example just for anyone listening right now.

If you are a high-end consultant, if you're a high-end business coach where you are charging thousands of dollars a month, you're on retainer, you've got high-end clients, they've got high net worth, they've got a very short amount of time, your business is going to be primarily word of mouth. Your existing clients are going to refer their friends, which are also high net worth people, to you because you solve problems for them and that's how your business grows. It's not because someone happened to hop onto your Instagram account and they loved your reel and they're ready to pay you 10 grand. That probably is not your journey here. It's probably not your funnel.

Now, other businesses, if you are an online-based business and you want to help the mass market, you've got lower price points, you're talking between $20, $30 and five, $600, then yeah, it's a great way to generate leads. It's a great way to move people through your funnel where you're getting them to know you, like you and trust you. I guarantee you, the vast majority of people that signed up for my coaching group this spring had interacted with me at some point before that, maybe followed my reels for a few months, maybe they were a past client at Ramsey.

It takes people time to warm up to you, and social media is a great way to just add value, brand yourself as an expert in this space, stay front of mind for people, and just like you said, have fun with them. Be silly, share stories, be weird, be relatable. Just use it as a piece of the overall picture, not put all of your expectation that that is going to solve all your problems, because the reality is it probably won't unless that's your main core business, and it can take a lot of time to build an audience that could sustain an entire business.

So yeah, build it, work on it, and for people that hate it, which is most people, I just encourage you to batch time. So maybe you set aside two to three hours a week all in one time, you write a bunch of reels or write a bunch of posts, create them and schedule them. This is not something that should annoy you daily. You probably hate it because it's this burden that you never get around to. Just schedule the time, batch the time if it makes sense for your business, and then it's off your mind for another six days.

Doing what’s right — right now

Stephen: That's so good, really good. Well, you mentioned batching your time, scheduling your posts, and so this leads me into the topic of time management. And for entrepreneurs, that is a primary characteristic of being an entrepreneur. We don't have a nine to five per se. There's no time that we clock out. That's always on, especially when it comes to social media, things like that. I've spent some time with your book, Take Back Your Time: The Guilt-Free Guide to Life Balance. And for many business owners, this idea of a work-life balance is a bit of a myth. Some people say there's no such thing. If you're going to be an entrepreneur, time management, these things are not possible to achieve, but you've redefined what a life balance is. And so I'd love for you to talk to us a bit about what your research and experience has taught you about time management and this whole work-life balance.

Christy: Yes, and speaking of things we love to hate, we love to hate the word life balance, but we love to talk about it. Because I'll tell you, I have been a business coach for, I don't know, 13, 14 years. I've traveled all over the country. I've spoken to every type of business event you can imagine, and non-business events, faith-based events and so on. The number one question I'm asked - men, women, any age, any stage - the number one question I'm asked is how do you balance it all? And when we talk about balance, we talk about it as a verb, an action verb. How do you balance it all? How do you even the scales? Is it a 50/50 split? Is it 50% at work, 50% at home? We know that's not realistic and it never works. Does it mean I do everything for an equal amount of time? Like I do an hour of quiet time and an hour of working out and an hour on my business? No, that's not even remotely realistic.

So we have these ridiculous ideas of what balance means, and then we feel frustrated with it because we know we want something and it feels like it's called balance, but everything we think of when we think of balance is not realistic or even desirable. Even the analogies that we have, Stephen. Juggling balls. You've got to keep all the balls in the air, keep all the balls in the air. You're spinning plates, you're walking the tightrope. These are examples of a circus, Stephen. No wonder we feel crazy. Every analogy we have for what we're aiming for is an actual circus. Bring on the elephants and the lions that jump through the hoops of fire. This is terrible. This is not a good way to lead our lives.

So here was my entire premise of the book, that I believe is true and right and works for me in any season or any stage. Life balance is not something you do, like an action verb, how you balance it all. Life balance is actually something you can feel and become even in your busy life, where you feel balanced in any season. And here's what that looks like. It's not from doing everything for an equal amount of time. It's about doing the right things at the right time. And when you do the right things at the right time, you actually feel that sense of balance you're looking for, because you're no longer feeling the pressure to do everything. You're just saying, “This is what's right, right now.” And that's the most simple but powerful question you can ask yourself any day, any week, any season, during any project in your business. What's right right now?

Get in the habit of constantly asking yourself that question because when you start your week on Monday and you say, “What's right right now? What is right this week?” and you plan your week, and a fire comes up on Wednesday or Thursday, that shifted, didn't it? Because what's right right now might be the fire. I get a call from school that my son fell on the playground and busted his head open and he's heading to the emergency room. What's right right now? My son. I don't care what's going on at work. Things will shift throughout your week and we need to expect that, but it gives us permission to constantly be reassessing, what's right right now? And when I know what's right right now and I do what's right right now, here's what's so powerful about this - it helps you shake the guilt for all the things that are not right right now.

So I want to give you a very tactical example, because I'm a teacher, I love to make this tactical. In the summer, let's say the summer, I'm going back a couple of years here, the summer of 2021. I did not work a whole lot. I was super flexible. I went to the lake with my kids. I played. I worked out, I saw my friends. I had a very light workload, and it was awesome. So what was right then was playing with my kids, working out, having fun. Fall of 2021, I launched my book, Take Back Your Time. My number one priority for that season was launching my book. Yes, even above my children. It was the number one priority. Second were my kids, but if Mary Grace wants me to braid her hair and I've got an interview in LA, I am sorry Mary Grace, I'm not braiding your hair today. I'm going to LA.

We have to be honest and realistic about what is a priority. We're not bad people. Mary Grace, I'll braid her hair when I get home, okay? Everything is not the same importance every single day, literally. So fall of '21, my top priorities are launching my book and being with my family. Because both of those were very consuming, not much else made the cut. So whereas in the summer, I might've had five things that made the cut of priorities, in the fall of '21, only two - launching the book, which took a lifetime, and then being with my family anytime I wasn't on the road. So here's what that means. That means that when I walk through my house and it is a mess and I'm stepping over toys everywhere I turn, I'm not beating myself up, Stephen, going, “Oh, you're such a bad mom. You're such a failure. Your house is a mess.” I'm going, “Girl, that's not right right now. It's not right right now. It might be right later. It's not right right now. You're launching a bestselling book.”

When I'm not seeing my friends, I don't feel like a bad friend. It's not right right now. When I'm not working out, I'm not lazy. That's not right right now, okay? So when you ask yourself this question, what's right right now? You give yourself clarity about what the priority is, you give yourself permission to focus on it, and then again, importantly, you shake the guilt for all the things that are not right right now, so you can actually focus on what is right right now.

Stephen: That's so good. It allows you to flow between the seasons and to show up prepared for what needs to happen at that particular moment it sounds like.

Christy: That's right, because it changes. It changes, yeah.

Stephen: Yes. Well, what would you say then are some of the non-negotiables of who you are, of the way that you run your business, the way that you live your life? What are some pillars, I guess you'd say, of the way that you function in all those times?

Christy: Ooh, that's a really good question, and I think my answer today is probably really different than my answer would've been even a year or two ago. I have learned so much, Stephen, since running my own business this last two years. So I left Ramsey in the fall of '21, ironically right after I launched that book, Take Back Your Time. Didn't see that coming. So I leave in the fall of '21, and at first, my first initial response, which may be a lot like of your listeners if they have left an office job, a nine to five, corporate America, if they've left that to start their own business, they may have felt or are feeling how I felt, which is like, “Freedom! I can do whatever I want. I don't have to wear pants on this Zoom if I don't want to. I can just sleep in late. I don't have to take a shower for three days.”

It sounds really nice, and the reality is we start to feel a little bit like we did about a month into COVID where it's like, “Ooh, we need structure, we need pants, and we need a shower.”

Stephen: Can we quote that?

Christy: Yes, please.

Stephen: We need pants, we need a shower.

Christy: Put that on social, Tweet that. But I think that the reality is we think, “Oh, I want all this freedom. I don't want any structure. Don't box me in. I'm a free spirit. I'm an entrepreneur. Don't tell me what to do.” The reality is we end up floating through our days and we feel scattered and confused, and we work really hard but we're not sure what we did, and at the end of the day, we feel like we didn't get enough done. The reality is we all need structure. We all need structure.

So I think one of the things that is essential to me now that I would've never guessed a year ago had you asked me is I need a schedule, so I set a schedule for myself so that I know I'm working these days, these hours, and then when I'm off, I give myself permission to be off, and I am able to braid Mary Grace's hair or go to do XYZ with my kids or whatever that looks like. So a non-negotiable for me today is a schedule. And I know that sounds crazy, but the beauty of being an entrepreneur is you get to set it and you get to change it. So if you want to change it, for example, next week, I'm going to Disney and so I'm taking that whole week off. I wouldn't have been able to do that before. We're planned a year, two years in advance sometimes with events.

So you get to set your schedule and you get to change it, but I do recommend you have one because it gives you a sense of control in your day, and at the end of the day, you know that you accomplished what you wanted to accomplish.

So that's a big one. Another thing I really try to stick to, and it's not always possible a hundred percent of the time, but if my kids... This is very tactical but I like to give examples. If my kids have a doctor's appointment, if they're sick, if they have doctors, dentists, anything, I want to be the one to go. So I'll have our nanny or house assistant take Mary Grace to dance or take the boys to gymnastics or whatever might be going on. I do it a lot of times, but I'm okay with her filling in for me if I've got something going on. I really try to avoid that with doctor's appointments. Doctor's appointments can be scary for kids. If they're going to get a shot, I don't want someone else in that role. I'm their comfort, I'm their security, so that's a very tactical non-negotiable.

So for example, my daughter needs to go to the dentist. There's something going on with a spacer in her mouth. I'm here in Oklahoma. It's not hurting her. She's fine, but we need to get it looked at. They had appointments today and yesterday. I said no to those because I'm here and my husband couldn't make them, so we're going to be doing that tomorrow when I get home. So it's very tactical, but I like to make it actionable for people listening. Figure out what those boundaries are for you, and then stick to them as much as you can. Obviously, if something major comes up, you make a change, but those are some things that I really try to stick to.

The freedom of starting over

Stephen: Yeah, that's really good. Well, we've been talking about problem solving as the meta narrative for entrepreneurs and business owners, but you brought up to me that you had left working with Dave Ramsey. Am I correct? You worked with him for about 12 years. Is that right?

Christy: Mm-hmm.

Stephen: This idea of starting over.

Christy: Let's talk about it. Do you have tissues? Do we have a counselor on site? I don't know.

Stephen: Especially after such a long season of doing this. And you learn the problems that you solve in a particular context, but then when you're launching out into the unknown, maybe you don't know what problem you're going to solve next. Talk to me about starting over and what you've learned from that experience that entrepreneurs listening to this podcast can take with them.

Christy: Yeah, I think the idea of going out on your own and having this Jerry Maguire moment where you're like, “Who's with me?” And you grab the goldfish and you're heading out the door, I think it sounds really glamorous and exciting, and the reality is it can be terrifying. And I'll tell you a few emotions that I experienced in those first, I don't know, six to 12 months. Number one, I just had unbelievable gratitude and appreciation for the teams that had supported me before. I thought I appreciated them before, but when I had an entire IT team, that the moment something went wrong with my computer, there's an entire team that just knows how to fix it, or an entire social media team, or a team that would do my calendar and vet incoming requests and they would decide if it was spam or if it was real.

Where all of a sudden I'm doing all this. There's a problem on my computer and I don't know what I'm supposed to do, I don't have a team to go to, it can be really terrifying and it also can be really, really overwhelming. Because you are forced - especially for those of you that are starting on your own, you're a solopreneur, you don't have a team - you are forced to do everything yourself. You're the CEO, you're the chief everything officer, and it's terrifying and it's overwhelming. It can even make you feel stupid where you can't solve this computer problem, for example, and you feel stupid and you're like, “I know I'm not stupid,” but you're doing something that you're not gifted to do or skilled to do, so that can be really, really overwhelming.

It can also be very humbling. It can be very humbling. The analogy I use with the Ramsey transition, from leaving Ramsey and starting my own business is I feel like, Stephen, I went from being the face of Minute Maid where I'm the face of this massive organization to having a lemonade stand on the side of the road and I am squeezing lemons. I'm like, “Anybody got any sugar?” They may want my cup of lemonade. It's so humbling. It's so humbling.

But I think it's also, so much character is forged in that transition of learning and getting back up and dusting yourself off, and not letting those failures define you, not letting the mistakes define you. Not letting those valleys of not being able to figure something out lie to you and tell you you're stupid when you're not, and it creates this resilience and this resolve and this strength that I think is essential to entrepreneurship. But starting over, it takes both humility, where you're willing to do things you never did before and learn things you never wanted to learn, and it also takes incredible courage where you're just willing to try. And when you do look stupid because you make a mistake, because you will, because we all do, you're willing to dust yourself off, hold your head high and go, “I'm going to try again. I'm going to try again.”

I have actually, literally... This is a vulnerable moment. I have literally said that out loud to myself after some moments of embarrassment over the last two years where something didn't work or I just messed up on something and I have been like, “Okay, I'm going to try again. I'm just going to try again.” I recite that to myself. I tell myself I'm going to try again. I'm not going to crawl in the fetal position and cry and tuck my tail and go home. I tell myself what is true, I'm going to try again. And honestly, I believe that that is the distinguishing factor between entrepreneurs that make it and those that don't. They're just willing to try again. If you are going to get your feelings hurt or a critic on social media or a mistake get you down, then you're going to tuck your tail, go home and you're going to go get a normal job with a paycheck.

But if you're just willing to get up and try again and again, and again and again, you're going to make it. You're going to make it. And every successful entrepreneur —the big names that you know, the big names you've had on this show, I guarantee you, they have just been willing to do that. It's not that they haven't made mistakes. You just don't know their mistakes because they just keep coming back again and again and again, and eventually, you succeed, but you've got to be willing to try again.

Stephen: Wow, so amazing. So amazing. Christie, this has been an incredible conversation and I just want to ask you one last question. And of everything that you've learned with you that you've taken with you over the years, if you could distill that down to one piece of advice that an aspiring entrepreneur could take with them today and implement into their business, what would you tell them or what would you have them to do? Or let's even put it this way. For someone who has to start over, what's the first step you'd have them take?

Christy: This is so easy for me. As soon as you start talking, it's like, “Oh, I can't wait. I can't wait.” One of the things that I have lived and taught for years is this statement - do it scared. So many people think that you have to be fearless to take action, you have to be confident to build a business, you have to wait until you're ready. Ready is a myth. There's no such thing as ready, and so you don't have to wait until you're not scared to do the thing you want to do. You do it while you're scared. The antidote to fear is action. Nothing will silence your fear of doing the thing like doing the thing, so go do the thing.

So what is the first step? Any first step. Any first step. It could be a Google search, a phone call, starting an Instagram account, buying the laptop. I don't care. Any first step is building a case for the fact that you can do this, and then the second step is easier, the third step is easier and so on, but the key factor is that you're willing to do it before you're ready. You're willing to do it scared. You will learn the most by doing in business and parenting and life, so just get out there and get moving. Try some stuff and see what works. You will learn by doing, so do it scared. Don't let fear keep you from taking action or else you'll never do it. Do it scared is the best advice I could give.

Rapid fire questions

Stephen: Oh, that's so good. That's so good. Well, listen, before we let you go though, I want ask you some rapid fire questions.

Christy: Okay. I'm ready. I love this. I love this.

Stephen: All right, let's do it. Are you early bird or night owl when it comes to productivity?

Christy: I'm both, and it's awful. I never get any sleep. I'm actually a night owl but my kids force me to be an early bird, so I just have less sleep. I really should work on it. I would prefer to be a night owl though.

Stephen: You'd prefer to be a night owl?

Christy: Yeah.

Stephen: Okay. Well, then describe to me your morning routine in three words.

Christy: Oh. Kids screaming.

Stephen: I was going to say kid, get up.

Christy: Yes. Okay. No, for real. Okay. I have a quiet time where I read. I'm only allowed three words?

Stephen: Yes.

Christy: Read. I'm a talker, Stephen. This is a real challenge. Okay. Read, kids, and dry shampoo. Dry shampoo to keep my hair so I don't have to wash my hair. That's how I would do it.

Stephen: That's good. That's a good tip for entrepreneurs, the dry shampoo.

Christy: Three words. Oh, three words is hard.

Stephen: As a Nashville local, what is your favorite hangout spot or hidden gem that you like to introduce to people?

Christy: Well, it's so funny because all local Nashville people have migrated South, so now, we're Franklin people because Nashville has been taken over by the tourists in their jacked up tractors and hot tub buses, which is the weirdest, most embarrassing thing I've ever seen. Please don't think that's my city if you come to Nashville. We did not create that. I don't know who created it. Probably Californians. Anyway, okay. So Franklin, Graze on Main is a really cool bar restaurant. They have live music. It's in downtown Franklin. I love that. Fido is a great coffee shop if you're in the Green Hills area, but it's my favorite coffee shop and breakfast place.

Stephen: Okay. Well, what's the guiltiest pleasure that you spend money on?

Christy: This is so dumb, but I just bought a curling iron that was $200. That is an obscene amount of money to spend on a curling iron. But Stephen, in my defense, I've wanted this curling iron for like seven years because it's really good. It's professional grade, and I've got to tell you, in the practical, Take Back Your Time, that thing curls my hair in 5% of the time it used to take. I have literally gotten my morning back because I've got this curling iron, so 200 bucks, man. That's just ridiculous.

Stephen: Wow. I'll have to try it out.

Christy: That's absurd. That's absurd.

Stephen: Okay. Well, then what is one negative thought that holds people back more than any other?

Christy: Who are you to do this? It's the imposter syndrome, and I'm a person of faith so I'm just going to call it out. It's the voice of the enemy. Who are you to do this? Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are? Imposter syndrome, you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you, it affects up to 70% of people. It is a trait of the high achiever, so people out there on the front lines, your listeners are the ones struggling with this thought, not people sitting on the couch binge-watching Netflix all day, eating Cheetos. They're not worried if they're enough. It's people actually doing stuff that have this thought, this battle. Even really successful people struggle with this.

Kate Winslet has said, “Every morning, I'd go off to a shoot and I would think I'm a fraud. I can't do this.” Maya Angelou, who has written 11 books, best-selling books, she said, “Every time I would sit down to write, I would think, they're going to find out now. They're going to find out you're a fraud.” Even really successful people do it, and that goes back to do it scared. Just ignore that voice and keep doing it. The antidote to fear is action, but that voice of, “Who are you to do this?” Everybody that is doing anything good is struggling with it.

Stephen: What is one essential habit an entrepreneur needs to reach their goals?

Christy: Structure. They need a schedule. We pride ourselves in being creatives and being free spirits, and we are floating in outer space most of the time. We need structure, so give yourself work hours and even give yourself an environment that has structure. So it is unrealistic for me to write from home when my daughter is in the other room, dancing, singing, frozen, whatever. I have to go to a coffee shop, put in earbuds and tunnel vision. Force yourself to focus because creatives, man, and entrepreneurs are like this. We're creatives, we are all over the place and we are killing our productivity and killing our output and our progress because we just pride ourselves in like, “I'm such a free spirit.” Give yourself structure if you actually want to make a difference.

Stephen: That's so good. Well, Christy, this has been a phenomenal conversation. I've learned so much from you just sitting here with you. I appreciate your work and all that you're doing, and thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.

Christy: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.


Subscribe to The Entrepreneur’s Studio

No matter how much you prepare, surprises are guaranteed when you run your own business. Who better to learn from than the people who have stood in your shoes? Level up with The Entrepreneur’s Studio - an on-demand suite of lessons, tools and tips from entrepreneurs who have been there before, bringing big ideas to small businesses.