Innovation & Clarity with Tracy Hazzard

PR 030 | Innovation

It is such a special day because we’re here, we’re alive, we’re breathing. There’s just nothing more important than the recognition of how special this moment is and how blessed we are. That’s blessing us in every moment despite the fact that there are things that are wrong in the world and things that we don’t love about our lives and things that are going sideways at times in parts of our business or our personal life that we’d like to change or improve. Despite that, it’s such a blessing to be here and to recognize that in this moment there are people who are taking their last breath. For us to breathe and be here breathing together is even that much more special and is something to be grateful for. I’m enormously grateful to be here with you and doubly grateful because, as I’ve been so blessed to do, I get to share the stories of people who have done amazing things in their lives, have been resilient, have been smart, have been not smart, have been the whole gamut of the human experience in context of business and also in personal areas.

I have such a profound pleasure in bringing somebody on our show and for you to listen to her because she is a dynamic human being, an amazing woman, a mom, a business owner, a really smart lady. My personal assessment is this lady and her husband, they’re a dynamic duo in their business and they help a lot of people in ways that are state of the art; just not the run-of-the-mill stuff, not perpetuating old paradigm stuff in the space of business or in marketing in particular. They’re doing special things. I don’t know where this conversation is going to go. I never do. That is exciting. It’s thrilling. I don’t introduce anybody. I want our guests to say what’s important for them that we know about them in this moment.

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Innovation & Clarity with Tracy Hazzard

Without further ado, Tracy Hazzard, welcome to the show.

Thanks so much for having me, Adam. I’m excited to be here with you as well. It’s one of those things where it’s hard for me to be on this where I’m on the hot seat. I’m usually the interviewer.

How does it feel in that seat?

I’m going, “I’m not used to doing this. I’m used to do doing that intro.” It’s refreshing for a change. You don’t realize how much it is to give on the other side. It’s hard a lot of times for us to receive.

It’s not always easy to be honest, so we’re going to be honest now. Receiving is a lot more difficult than giving. What is up with that?

PR 030 | Innovation

Innovation: Receipt is a form of gift. It’s a form of win.

For me personally, it’s been a realization that celebration is really hard. I’ve had to make a conscious pivot effort to celebrate more the little wins. I was at CEO Space giving one of my talks and someone raised their hand and said, “Where’s the happy ending? What happened in the story?” I told a story and I completely forgot the win and they couldn’t stand it. I thought, “What a wakeup call for me that I just glossed over the good part because I dove only into the hard part.” That’s really of not receiving, not winning, not letting yourself celebrate those things. You’ve given and given and given, so receipt is a form of gift. It’s a form of win.

It’s difficult to give something that you don’t have, for one thing. We all know the value in giving and we want to give and we’re taught and trained, programmed or whatever it is. We’re instructed pretty fiercely that it’s better to give than to receive, which I think is not accurate. Personally, there are two sides of the same coin. If there be a giver, there must be a receiver. There has to be. Is the person who’s the receiver the one with the short end of the stick? The phrase, as I understand it, originates from ancient Greece or something where it was said that it’s better to be in a position to give than in a position to have to receive. That’s different. That’s saying it’s good to be in a position of wealth, of abundance. To be in that position is better than to be in a position where you have to receive. It’s not saying it’s better to give. It’s saying it’s better to have to be able to share and be in a position of having than in a position of having not.

I’ve not come from a wealthy family or anything like that. I come from immigrants, two lines of them on both sides. On one, I was the first college graduate, so it’s a big deal. For me, I was taught it didn’t matter about how much money you had to give. Giving your time and giving your intellect and the skills that you have, that was an extremely valuable asset that you must give away. That’s how I grew up with that constant giving in any type of realm you could. My grandmothers were always cooking. That was pouring heart and love into food. I come from a Lebanese and Italian background, so there’s lots of love and food going on there. That was what they did. That was what they were great at. That’s what they could do. That’s what they could give. You would come to my nan’s house and the first thing she’d do was feed you. You show up and you’re going to get fed. That was her love. That was what she could give. I grew up with that mindset and that served me well throughout my life.

You would never dare say, “No, thank you.” “Do you want some more? Here’s a second helping,” and you go, “No, thank you.” You could get knocked upside the head for that.

You’d be definitely taking home leftovers. You’d be like, “I can’t fit another bite.” “Here’s a box to go.” That’s how it worked.

If you think about how often it is that on some level, whether it’s physically or energetically that people say, “No, thank you,” to some of the blessings that are there for them for not feeling worthy or not feeling deserving, they’re saying to the universe, “Give it to someone else. Not for me. No, thank you.” A good example is when somebody pays you a compliment and they say, “You look great today.” What do most people that you are around say in response to that? What do you even sometimes say in response to that?

I have three daughters. I really have worked hard to take compliments better because that’s a really important role model to leave. You have to step behind and say, “Thank you for that,” instead of like, “I’m a little overtired today.” You would brush it off or something like that, and that’s not okay. It comes to a place at which you need to be able to be comfortable in that receipt side of everything. It’s not been a comfortable place for me for most of my life.

If I say, “You look particularly beautiful today,” what’s your answer?

“Thank you, Adam. I appreciate that.”

As opposed to, “Thank you and you look great.” It becomes a ping pong back and forth. Women do that more than men do on some level. It’s interesting because it’s deflecting and it doesn’t allow the compliment to land. You don’t allow it to land which, on some level if we’re going to continue down this stream of consciousness, it deprives the person who’s giving of the gift of the giving. The gift of the giving is that you see the gift land with somebody and that they fully receive it and get the benefit of it.

You returned it. You’re like, “It’s great, thanks,” then you go back to the store and you return it.

Or they re-gifted it to you. They recycled your gift and gave it back to you. Tracy, would you share a little bit about your background and what’s important to you in your life right now?

It’s important to me to be original. I met my husband at art school. This is a place at which you’re encouraged to be creative and original. We met the first day of school and that whole thing. We’ve been married over 25 years. What we have always done is there’s a collaboration and originality that has come from the two of us sharing our minds and sharing our creative process together. That is a reward that I feel like I have to push out into the universe because it’s such a gift for me and such a gift for us. The creative process, just like cooking and just like all of those other things, is a gift of love and it’s a work of love for me. Living in that space though, I feel that ingenuity, that creativity, that originality, that’s what’s going to fix this world. We want to talk about all these horrendous things that are going on in the world and the scary places and the disasters. Every day, I get to talk to innovators and entrepreneurs and I hear about these original things that are going on. I think this is what it’s going to take to fix the world. That kind of passion, thinking and heart is what will turn things around.

Your way of contributing that creativity and that heart to the world is through working with entrepreneurs and business people in their marketing.

We have three businesses. One is our business we’ve done for most of our life, which is creating original products that you buy every day at mass market retail or on Amazon. We work with a lot of Amazon sellers. We work with inventors to get their idea. It’s one thing to have a great idea, but the hard part is getting it to market, getting it out there, getting it to price out right and doing all that hard work. I’m really blessed with the skill set and a career path that has taught me all the inside tips and tools and right resources to make that happen. When I can share that with people and make that path smoother, that’s where I live. I love that. That’s the best part of my job every day. That’s what we do on one business.

That has led us to the innovation of 3D printing, which is an exciting new feature of being able to create products from nothing. Just create it from an on-demand file, yet instantly you’ve got a product. That’s wonderful because then there’s a lot less waste in the world and a lot less shipping costs. There’s a whole bunch of things that personally resonate with me that over the years of having made a lot of products that have been in Walmart and Target, it does weigh on you a little bit that you’re contributing to a lot of throwaway goods. I try hard not to design that but it happens. If I can do something now at this later part of my career to shift that around, wonderful. 3D printing is one of those things. That’s cutting edge, so really innovative. We get to see some new things going on there.

We started a podcast around that and because of that, I realized the critical importance to getting your message out, getting your mission out, getting your why out there and any ways in which we can do that in a very successful way that doesn’t make it so that you can’t do your day job. That’s the other part that bothers me. If you’re spending your whole time marketing and not doing what you’re gifted at, not doing where you give most to the world, then that’s not a good product. That’s not a good process either. That’s where we started our brandcasting business. We started that about a year ago for other people but we’ve been doing it for two years prior to that for ourselves.

PR 030 | Innovation

Innovation: If you’re spending your whole time marketing and not doing what you’re gifted at, then that’s not a good product.

I’m not a fan of waste either. I look at it like nothing goes to waste. It’s a question of what’s the alchemy, what’s the way to utilize something that would otherwise be a throwaway. People listening this would want to know what 3D printing is. Will you share a little bit about the conscious pivoting that you’ve done in your business and your personal life?

It’s the journey of a lot of entrepreneurs. You have a lot of false starts and ups and downs. For us, it’s hard to be in business with your spouse. It’s hard to have your whole family ride on the success of your business. This formation of our business that we’ve had has been about eight years. The first formation of it was a business in which we built our internet business, started with the Palm Computing environment, the handheld computers when they first came out at the early 1988, 2000’s, in that timeframe. We built an entire company and business around making accessories for that. We were right at the cutting edge of internet marketing. There was email but there wasn’t social media at that time. We created a lot of great goods. We had a lot of grassroots consumers that were pushing us out there, what you would consider to be affiliations, only they weren’t charging back there. They were just doing it because they were so passionate about it. We just had a nice business going. It was growing and it was doing well and we were really excited about it.

One day, I walked into this brand new office we had just built and we had ten employees or something like that at that time. We just got these brand new offices in Downtown Providence, Rhode Island. It was a really cool brick building and it smelled like paint still and new carpet. We hadn’t started working out at the office yet. I walked in to get the mail and there was the catalog. Back then we didn’t get internet newsletters, we got a catalog. I opened up the catalog to the latest Palm Computing device that had just come out. I opened it up and on the first page in there, it’s got a picture of a product that looks exactly like our product and it wasn’t ours. We had been begging to get into this catalog and we weren’t accepted. They kept turning us down and now I realized why. They had somebody else they were putting in there. We had a patent on that product. It was a stylus pen for handheld computers. We had patents that were just issuing. We had just received the notification from the Patent and Trademark Office. I was like, “What the heck? What am I going to do now? I have this entire office.” I went home in a daze and I told Tom and I just started crying, “What am I going to do? All of these employees, they’re a family. How am I going to make this work? How am I going to get out of this? How are we going to survive because they’re going to kill all our business?” I literally cried all night. There was no other option but to cry all night. Tom and I were young and we’d been in business five years or something like that. We looked at each other and we said, “We’ve got to fight.”

You’re in the five-year mark where the percentage is something like 96% of companies don’t make it past the five-year mark.

We were four and a half, right underneath it. Maybe we were close to hitting $1 million in revenue that year. We had done a lot of shifting in our business and diversifying, so we’d done a lot of smart things. We weren’t relying on that catalog for 100% of our business but we thought, “What if this invalidates our patent? What if this invalidates our originality as designers? This is the start of our career. This is the start of our path.” We were expecting that we were going to go through life being designers, going through our careers being designers and original, and somebody tells you, “You’re not original. This is the one that’s going to stand out because it gets more press,” than we did. It gets better circulation. It got better positioning in a catalog. That one’s going to stand out and people are going to look at ours like the copycat. That was something we couldn’t live with. We sat back and we said, “We have to fight this on principle because this is who we are at the core. We’re original and we believe that we came up with this originally.” How are we going to be able to fight that? How are we going to be able to make that case?” To be honest with you, I’ve seen a lot of inventors think that and it’s not exactly the smartest path. In hindsight, I certainly wouldn’t recommend that to anyone. Fighting IP is ridiculous. It’s so costly. It’s so time-consuming. We sat back and said, “Let’s get a little bit creative about this.”

We brought our entire team of investors and the team of people we had. We had our attorney who is a good friend of ours, our graphic designer, our PR person who was a consultant and our family who all invested with us. We sat around and we said, “What are we going to do? We have about $5,000 in the bank. What are we going to do with this $5,000? What can we do to make a case for this that is going to work?” We decided to do something that became what you would consider to be a viral campaign. We decided to do what the lawyers didn’t recommend doing. Back then, it wasn’t first to file, which is a difference than today, you have to be the first one to file. Back then, it was whenever you invented it. The conception date mattered and it might be years prior to that. We disclosed our conception date and the whole timeline by which we invented this and when we disclosed it to Palm Computing over time because we believed that it was way before the development cycle of the pen that ended up in the catalog. We put it right out there in this big timeline with a big ad on the front that was like a banner ad that said, “Do we detect a bit of pen envy?” Keeping in mind that it was a very masculine community, that went crazy. People were sharing that and sharing our webpage and emailing it to their friends. It made talk all over town. We got a little bit lucky in there, I will admit. Palm Computing was trying to go public. They didn’t like the press. The press started picking it up. We got featured in the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle and some things like that. That hit them right at home where their investors were and they didn’t like that. That’s what we did and it worked. They settled with us. This is where we get to this place which I forgot about celebrating.

The reality is when you win in a case, a lot of times you lose because you’ve paid all that money out. You may win a judgment but you don’t get a lot back from it. I don’t think overall we even got our $5,000 back because they killed the product. That happens all the time in the invention world. They’ll kill the product even though they agreed to pay you a royalty. There’s no product to sell anymore and there’s no royalty stream. It happens all the time and that’s what happened. The reality is that was a big win for us because it validated our intellectual property. It allowed us to sell off the business eventually for a multiplier. We had over a $5 million valuation when we sold off the patents. We sold them off in pieces to other companies. We were able to shut that business down and pay back our investors. It was a win overall. It was the best choice because at that moment, it set the pace for the rest of our lives saying, “Originality can matter. It does matter and is important.” If we had let that defeat us at that time, at that beginning, looking back now, that would have changed the whole course of everything for us. It was the right choice.

Will you follow that stream of thought just a little further on the side of what do you think it would have changed for you? What you did was courageous. There are a lot of ways to describe it because when we don’t know what we don’t know, we’ll make decisions based on emotions sometimes or based on our best guess or what people will tell us, and all kinds of things. In hindsight, what do you think would have been different in your experience from that moment to where you are today? What would have been different if you hadn’t fought?

A couple of years after that happened, we were approached by a professor out of Kellogg School of Business. He made us into a Harvard Business Review case study that they teach and you can buy it around the world. It’s taught in 26 universities on IP and entrepreneurship. Our case study of ttools, is what the business was called at the time, is there and they teach it in three parts. The third part is, “What did they do?” They teach it in, “Here’s what happened to them.” The second section is, “What would you do?” The third part is, “What did they do?” “Would they do it again?” was the refresh that they came back to ask us about five years ago. It’s an interesting thing. He said less than 10% of the people who go through the course choose the path that we chose. These people are studying entrepreneurship. They wouldn’t choose the wild, crazy idea.

I love the fact that they don’t tell them how it ends until after.

Some people will say, “I studied you in my class in England somewhere.” I’ll get a LinkedIn message from them and they’re like fans. When we sat back though and looked back and said, “Knowing what we know now, we would still do it again in hindsight. However, it would have been hard to actually be at the place we are now and make that decision.” It’s a very different positioning to be in knowing because the practicality of all of it comes in, the waste of time comes in. You see all that. The reality is that for us, that course was so critically important to where we are. I’m afraid that in a way, we might have gotten very jaded. That would have been a place that I didn’t want to be. Having been able to go through the rest of our careers to the place at which we are now, believing that there is a way, there is a path for the best product to succeed, is the champion that I want to be. That’s the place that I always want to stay. It is really hard to get something to launch. It’s hard to get something to succeed. It’s hard to get a product to market. Whatever is the product, it’s hard to get to market. You know that probably just as much as anyone. It’s hard to do that. To believe and have that jaded view that no matter how good it is that it doesn’t matter, I don’t think I would be the person that I am and that’s important to me. I like to be this champion of finding a path to make that work. It’s not always what you think it’s going to be, but being able to see that path and making that happen and getting the best product to win, that’s where I want to be in the world.

This is where we’re in alignment and where our relationship is strong in this place because you are a product. I am a product. We are all the product. We’re the most significant product in our lives. That’s a product for other people. It’s a belief system around that too that our place in this world, our purpose in being here is about serving and being of value in the world. To not fight for that, to not believe in that enough that you would be willing to put yourself at some level of risk as opposed to just settling for the status quo. You could have talked yourself out of it for a variety of reasons. It’s a great example because a lot of people in the space that we work in, which is in this pivot space, this reinvention space, they settle. They settle for the product that is them that doesn’t win, that they think can’t win. Just like you going up against Palm to do what you did, there was a great likelihood that you couldn’t win, that you wouldn’t win, but you didn’t do that.

It’s also a place where you sit back and you think about how much risk is okay for you. In that risk assessment, it’s good to have someone else’s view on that. It’s really hard to get that when you’re in the middle of it too. This is where those inventors live all the time, those ones with this fabulous idea or they believe so passionately about their mission. The problem with that is when you don’t have that outside input sometimes and you don’t say, “I’m purposefully discounting that because I have something I want to accomplish.” That’s what Tom and I said. We hear our attorney. We hear what they’re saying and we understand that. We see how often these things go wrong. We see the high cost of it. The reality is we have something personal we must gain by doing this. We must keep hold of this value that we have on originality. It’s more important than that. It could have been a very, very great risk. We could have lost our families. We could have lost our relationship. We could have lost our home. There was a lot we could have risked over that. We got very lucky that didn’t go that far, but we also went into it with eyes open that it could happen. A lot of people are just like, “My idea is so great,” and they’d close themselves so far off to the possibility that it’s not.

Tom and I believe very firmly that you have to have some amount of assessment of that and conscious understanding that you are making a risky choice. We don’t always make the risky choices. A lot of times we discard a lot of ideas that a lot of people would keep hanging onto. We don’t believe in trashing ideas. We believe that their time may come later. I joke about it that it’s like a discard pile when you’re playing cards. Sometimes you reshuffle the deck and they come back up again and they’re the perfect card for your hand at that time. That’s how we treat our ideas. They’re not trash. They’re not gone. They might come back again. That allows us to have that openness to them that we didn’t give up.

PR 030 | Innovation

Innovation: You have to have some amount of assessment and conscious understanding that you are making a risky choice.

They can be repurposed or maybe there will be a time when their time comes, maybe they won’t. We work more and our target is more with the person who is either making a change because they want to make a change, they want to do something different than they’re currently doing, which may include following the dream of invention. It could be that they’ve thought about a product since they were eighteen or it could be that throughout their life, they had ideas for products and things, then what they routinely see is, “Somebody did that. I had that idea. Do you not remember me six years ago telling you about that we should do that?” We hear that forever and ever and ever. People routinely pass those things up, pass up that opportunity to pursue something that they think is a good idea or that they’re passionate about. On the other side of that spectrum, we’ve also got some people that have lived on a dream and can’t let go of something that may not be working. Their assessment of it, maybe they’re so close to it but they cannot know that, “It’s time to pivot.”

If you think about something like YouTube, it’s a phenomenally successful venture. YouTube started out as a video dating site. More likely than not, none of us would have heard of YouTube had they continued down the path of a video dating site. That was the inception and that was the genius idea of it at the beginning. If they had insisted on, “I’ve got to keep to the original idea. I’m positive it’s right,” this is where the greater journey of life comes in and the greater wisdom of experience and of spiritual practice, of philosophy and of psychology. All the things that are meaningful in study have application when we look at something like, “How attached am I to something? Why am I attached to it?”

We are creative people, we’re visualizers first. We’re visionaries. It’s a gut check system that we operate on. That’s what tells us when it’s time to pivot. That’s how we’ve used it. Back then, we had a whole company riding on basically a couple of products. We learned very early on that diversifying your product line is really hard but it’s essential to do it so that you don’t run the risk of losing out completely. It’s like having only one customer. It’s a very dangerous place to have a business. We learned that early on. Having only one source of income is very dangerous and very risky, especially when you’re a husband and wife team and your whole family rides on that. We learned early on that whatever we did, we had to have multiple streams of income, multiple customers, multiple products. We’ve always built that in. In doing that, when you’re a small business, when there are only two of you, you’ve got a lot of work to do to set that up and get it going or a lot of cost if that’s business you have. It can be very expensive. How can you do that?

In this current formation of our business, which we had been doing about eight years, we’ve done 250 products in the eight years. They do about $2 million at mass market retail for our clients and for the retailers. There’s no way two people could do that volume of work if we didn’t have a very speed system for gut checking and saying, “Are these right? Are these going to work?” Out of that set, 86% of them are successful. We’re almost talking about nine out of ten successes wherein the rest of the product world and the rest of the startup launch world, it’s seven out of ten fail. We’ve reversed those odds by this gut check system that we do and we do it really fast and really cheap. It’s like that fail fast philosophy. What it involves, number one, is to get out of your own way. That’s the hardest thing.

What’s the gut check system?

We call it market proof. At the end of the day, if somebody won’t buy it, somebody won’t buy you, somebody won’t buy your coaching program, whatever it is you’re selling, somebody won’t buy it, that connection between what you’re producing and the consumer who’s going to buy it, we have to check the feedback loop on that. We have to make sure that brand, which is you or your product, is resonating at the consumer level. How do we check it? The first thing is you have to get out of your own way and get out of your own head and saying, “I know this is great.” There are some times at which you will override it. I worked at Herman Miller early in my career on the amazing Aeron Chair. It’s that iconic office chair with the mesh on it that is the icon of technology in the dot-com world back in 1994, 1995. That chair would have been a leather chair if they hadn’t listened to their own mission and their own message about why they created it, if they had listened to a focus group. You have to at some point decide to override it but you have to know you are overriding it. That’s where you have to get out of your own way and hear what people are saying about it.

The number two thing is, “Who are you asking and who is saying something about it?” If it’s your friends and your family, they’re either yes men or no moms where you get people who are like, “You’re great. Everything you come up with is great.” They’re your cheerleaders. They’re your support system. Then you have the ones that are really afraid for you, your moms who don’t want you to get hurt and who tell you, “No, you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur or you shouldn’t do this. I don’t want you to get hurt again.” You get those who are afraid for you and they say no thinking that will help dissuade you from getting harmed and getting hurt in the process. You don’t get a good answer from that audience. You have to make it resonate with them.

Number two is take it from the source. This was the advice I got when I was eighteen, “Who are you speaking to? Who are you listening to?”

This is essential to what you do when you’re helping people figure out who they are, what they want to do, what their brand means. Part of that is who’s listening to you? Who’s buying from you? Who do you want to talk to? Who benefits the most from the impact you can make in the world? This is what the definition of brand is for us. Brand is how your ideal customer, whoever they might be, perceives you. It’s not who you say you are. It’s a part of that. It’s that gap in understanding between how you say it and how they hear it that is really the definition of what your brand means. When you can close that gap, that’s awesome but that involves a lot of listening, a lot of hearing what they’re saying. Are they perceiving what I’m putting out there? Do they get it? Will they buy it?

The third part that we try to do is we try to have real world tests. It’s one thing to ask people about it because they want to please you. People are people pleasers. If you went to a group and you’re like, “This is my product and it’s really great,” and even if they’re the target consumers and they know you’re the inventor, they’re going to go, “It’s really nice.” At the end of the day, will they plunk down the money to buy it? Can we find a way to test that? That’s where 3D printing came in early into our world as a way to physically do that for products. There’s internet and mobile devices and mobile research and things that you can do with real consumers where they actually think they’re buying but they’re not. You can simulate that whole process. You can put things on a shelf next to each other. You can compare. That’s what A/B testing in marketing is. There are so many ways in the digital world today that we can do this that we have a lot more tools. For us to ignore that, shame on us because it gives us the perfect opportunity to pivot. That’s what Tom and I do really well for our clients and do really well for ourselves. We hear that feedback and say, “What little change, what small amount of pivot can we make that’s going to magnify out there later and give us the sales result we want and get us where we want to go?” That’s how we’ve been able to shift those odds in our favor.

Measuring is so important and the ability to make incremental change is vital. Just look at a single straight line and if you make the slightest change in the direction of that line out all the time, when you extrapolate over a period of time, you’ll see those two lines diverge in a big way. You have a big impact. You have two different destinations by a long shot. It’s like a very wide gap between those two different things, between that status quo line and what happens when you make a small change. You don’t know what to change if you don’t measure. That’s the problem.

If you don’t listen too. It’s not just the measurement of it because you want to listen and hear it and then say, “I have to weigh that against what my goal is and what I want to do. Is that actually an indication that I might be successful if I make this change?” That’s how you measure, analyze and then shift and pivot. That’s how we do it.

What is the ideal client for you? Who is that person? A lot of people listening to this would be like, “I’m really intrigued. I really want to know. Am I the ideal client?”

I’m really picky. The ideal client has to know who they are. I get a lot of people who go, “I’m not sure I should be contacting you,” because I’m so discerning about it. It’s not about the kind of person or how much money they have. It doesn’t matter how early stage they are. None of that matters to me. What matters to me is that they know who they are and they know who they want to speak to. It’s not, “Everyone will benefit from my product.” When somebody says that to me, they’re definitely not my client. They need to know exactly who they want to talk to. I want them to be very clear about how much work they’re willing to do for that. Are you building a brand? Are you building a business? Are you doing this passively? Do you want to just spend four hours a week on Amazon selling? It’s a very different model of business.

It’s very rewarding and it has a higher value to it at the end of the day, but it’s a lot of upfront work to launch. When you’re launching products constantly, you’re launching people, brands, it’s a lot of work in that launch stage. They have to be ready for that. They have to be willing to do what it takes there. That’s it for me. The second screener for me is always a test to see how flexible they are. If they aren’t willing to pivot, if they aren’t willing to take what I say, they will not succeed. I have seen it happen too often and I’ve ignored the red flags from clients and they’re the ones that go horribly wrong.

The only thing we can count on is that things change, so change is the constant. In mother nature, we see how change looks. Seasons change and weather changes. Often there are storms associated with those changes in the season, whether they’re tornadoes or hurricanes or what. In a hurricane, do you want to be the oak tree or the willow?

Flexibility pays at the end of the day. While I don’t mind clients who are going to push back on me and push my thought process, I like that debate. If their mindset isn’t open to begin with, it’s just so fixed. This is not the people I want to spend time with is the point. I’m far enough in my career that I can be that choosy.

I want to pivot now and just shift your thinking a little bit about the things that keep you in that space of being at your best. You’ve described in lots of different ways how you have been at your best and have been able to have a clear feeling for your gut. There are so many things that are being written now in studies about gut health, how important gut health is to your overall health, but also where gut health is connected to your brain health. How well you think and the kinds of decisions that you’re able to make, the discernment, the level at which you can entertain two seemingly conflicting ideas at the same time and be able to reconcile or entertain them, there’s a high degree of not just intelligence but effectiveness that comes from that. That’s a skill set that sets you apart from people. The gut is related to that.

I call it creative intuition. I have a high degree of intuition, a high degree of being able to listen to the creativity within me, above the noise of, “You can’t do it. You shouldn’t do it. There are too many products like this on the market.” While it is important for me to have a lot of information, and I tried to have a good broad amount of information and analytics to depend on, at the end of the day though, it is an intuitive choice that you make, “Is this the right thing to do for me, for my client, for my product, for the path that I want to go?” That’s where sitting and knowing who you are and the end results of what you want, for me that’s embodying that for my client. Making sure I know who they are and where they want to go with that so I can help and guide them on that decision making process. Through that path to make it as direct and fast as possible to get there, you’ve got to live in a place where you’re in touch with that intuitiveness.

There was a time period where a lot went wrong in our personal life and I shut it all down to protect my family. I’m like, “Obviously, my intuition is crap and I shouldn’t be listening to myself anymore. I put us all at risk. I’ve got to stop that. I’m going to close it off and I’m going to be the mama bear and I’m going to protect everyone and do what it takes to get the business running.” I got it running and I got everything going but it was so dissatisfactory at the end of the day. I was constantly telling myself, “Don’t listen to yourself.” Once I released that, the business actually exploded. It got bigger and it got expansive. We got more clients. Everything was better because I was living in the place at which I truly believe in myself. I know who I am. When you do that, the rest of it follows because everyone senses that. It’s an energy.

Cultivating creative intuition comes from trusting yourself.

PR 030 | Innovation

Innovation: Everything was better because I was living in the place at which I truly believe in myself. I know who I am.

I write for Inc.com innovation. There’s an article of us about pivot. When I first started doing that, one of the first people I was lucky enough to get is someone who you’ve interviewed on the show, John Assaraf. I was intimidated because I’m a big fan. I thought, “This is someone who I’ve always wanted to get to talk to. Now I have this opportunity.” That was only my third or fourth article, so it was a big deal to me. He was so organized. He had all these notes everywhere. My whole process was about asking him about creative thinking. The first thing he says to me is, “You can’t have creative thinking. It doesn’t exist.” I went, “What? You hit me at what I thought I was good at.” What he was saying was that you can’t think your way to creativity. You can intuit your way to creativity but you can’t think your way to that. When he started explaining it to me, I was like, “Okay.” What I realized there is that’s exactly where it lives. It lives in that unconscious, subconscious trust area of your brain and of your gut and all of those things. You have to be in tune with that to tap into that.

Do you have a ritual or practice that helps you to gain greater trust for yourself, greater trust in yourself so you cultivate that creative intuition?

Yes, I just started Transcendental Meditation. For me, that’s been a tremendous space because my brain is very noisy. What was happening was that I wasn’t taking the time to heal myself. That’s why I chose transcendental as opposed to any other meditation. I didn’t want to focus on something. I didn’t want to focus on a solution because that’s making my brain work. I wanted something where it would force a shutdown of my brain and there wouldn’t be thinking in the process. What I wanted was, in a sense, quiet and stillness because my life is pretty chaotic. I have young daughters. It’s really chaos. I wanted some stillness in that. My process is I hear above the noise. I actually visualize the success path for something. I see it. I hear it. I taste it. I smell it. It comes right up above all that noise, but sometimes there’s so much noise. Being able to believe that I am hearing that, I’m seeing that, I’m touching that, you lose a little trust in yourself when the noise is too high. That’s been the most important change that I’ve made for myself.

Is it a daily practice?

It try to make it daily. It’s a little hard sometimes but I try to make it daily and, at minimum, once. Twice daily is my ultimate goal of trying to make sure that I have morning and night have that happen. It’s helped me be clearer about that trust that I have in it when there’s a little anxiety in the back of like, “Am I really sure? My clients depend on me.” You don’t want to have that and that’s what I’ve been removing from myself. I think it’s been critical. Overall, my ritual is to just stay it. What I found is if I stop myself and think, if I don’t let it come out, I can correct it later. People are so afraid to say something but if I let it out, it usually is right. Your gut is usually right. I try not to be mean about it and say, “Your product, your baby is ugly.” I can’t do that. That’s just not where my heart is, so it won’t be mean but I might say, “This is not a good path for you. Let’s think of a better path. Let’s think of a better product for you. I think this isn’t quite right for you. Let’s dive deeper into that.” That’s my approach to it not to say no to people because you want to invite them to think different.

Tracy, I’ve loved this conversation. I didn’t have any doubt that I would. This has been such a pleasure. Is there anything you’d like to say before we conclude?

I believe so strongly in what you’re doing with the Pivot Incubator and where you’re going, Adam, because when you get that right, it makes everything so much easier. Whether it’s product development in terms of info products or product development and start a hard product, everything else becomes easy and money follows. That’s a foundation that most people need to get a handle on before they go jumping in.

The Venn diagram of things that we both feel, know, and also believe is that when we’re dialed in and we’re clear, we have clarity about who we are and what we want to say because we understand our voice. We know what we want to say. We also know who’s meant to hear it. All you have to do is ask that question. Marketing 101 is, “What’s your message?” If you know your message, then you’ll also know who’s meant to hear that message. Things flow from that place. Life is about flow. Money is a flow. Everything is flowing. Energy is flowing. There’s no limit to that. It’s just an utter abundance. If it’s not flowing to you or something is not flowing, it’s probably because you’re standing on the hose. You’re standing on the thing that would otherwise allow it to flow. We’re in our own way and much of why we are in our way is that we don’t have that stillness and we’re not clear.

My way of wrapping things up will be to remind everybody and myself at the same time, to trust ourselves and to have creative intuition. Whether it’s being in a flow state or being in the zone, that you make spontaneous right decisions, you call that luck or you can call it whatever you want, but you make spontaneous right decisions. Go with that product. Go with that message. Don’t go with that product. Don’t go with that message. Go with that business or not or pivot or not. To trust yourself at that level, there’s something that comes before that domino, and that is to love yourself. The domino of loving yourself is the most difficult one. This is the reason why so many people do struggle. By struggle, I mean they’re not hitting on the cylinders in their own life that they could be. That’s why they’re tired or they’re in a state of pain or misery or they’re angry or whatever it is. They’re not hitting on all the cylinders that they feel they’re capable of. Before self-love, because self-love is a big deal and it’s not modeled for us by our parents or the people around us when we’re growing up, these first seven or eight years where all the studies show that the emotional development takes place long before cognitive, the mind is being developed or you’re developing physically, is your emotional development which is when you learn what love is.

Your whole concept of love is formed at this early age by the people that are modeling it for you. For most folks, they get a distorted view of that or a conditional view. When you’re good, you’re loved. When you’re not good, you’re not. Love equals attention, all those things. The domino before that to me is self-care. I just want to lay this out that if we can learn how to care for ourselves, that we can apply self-care on a daily basis, we will learn something about what unconditional self-love looks like. From that place of feeling that we unconditionally accept and love ourselves, we can trust ourselves. When we trust ourselves, that creative intuition, that knowingness is more there to access. Then you have a sense of which way to pivot, the little micro change, the way to check in with your gut and go, “Is this a product I should actually bet the farm on? Should I not?” whatever those decisions are. I’m so happy you brought this conversation to the fore. This is beautiful, Tracy. Thank you.

Thank you.

I’ll remind you that one of the simplest acts of self-care is to wake up. I wish that. I’m waving my magic wand. Everybody wake up tomorrow physically, emotionally and spiritually. We’ll all raise our consciousness when we wake up tomorrow morning and then we can be grateful for that. Wake up. Be in gratitude. The third piece is if you’re inclined to say it, think it, feel it, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” Put your feet on the floor and declare, “I love my life.” Allow that to be a training for you and for me and for all of us just to care for ourselves, love ourselves and trust ourselves that much more. Thank you all for being with us on The Conscious PIVOT. If you haven’t yet subscribed, please go ahead and do that. If you want to continue this conversation with other people just like you, heart-centered, amazing people that are doing brave things, they’re challenging the status quo, they’re inventing things, they’re iterating things, I’d love for you to join us at the Start My PIVOT Community on Facebook. Tracy, I want to let folks know where they can find you so they can have that conversation with you as well. What’s the best place for them to do that?

You can find me on social media, @FeedYourBrand or @HazzDesign.

Ciao for now.

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