Digital ChatterPodcasts

Digital Chatter Episode #008

By December 11, 2018 June 28th, 2019 No Comments

Digital Chatter Episode #008: Michele Scism

Eric: Welcome everyone to Digital Chatter. Today my guest is Michele Scism. She is a business coach and the founder of Decisive Minds and serial entrepreneur. Michele say hi to everyone.

Michele: Hey everybody so excited to be here and be with all of you.

Eric: All right. So Michele you are truly an expert in business and I brought you on today because I want people to learn a little bit about how you got started. So why don’t you go on ahead and tell everyone out there you know how you got started.

Michele: Yeah. So my story is you know the classic serial entrepreneur story maybe. I was born into a family that had kids to guarantee they had employees. So I was working in the grocery store by the age of five. You know we had a store, a trucking company, a wrecker service, a mobile home park. If we thought we could make a dime out of it, we did it. And so I did. I grew up in an existence. If you want to you go get it. You know there is empowerment in entrepreneurship. My entire family was full of entrepreneurs and that just is how I started out life and how I just continue. So I Eric, I’m one of those people, I just eat, sleep, breathe business you know that’s who I am and that’s how I got started. You know in my experience is working through all those businesses, and then I went to college, got an accounting degree and I spent about 20 years in the trucking industry. Built our trucking company to a point where we sold it in 2007 and my entire family retired. And so you know that was kind of the that chapter and then there became a new chapter of decisive minds and how can I help entrepreneurs do what I did.

Eric: That’s great. That’s great. So are you, you are one of the lucky ones I would say, in terms of you have a fairly great background in between your finance background and you really were taught to be driven. You were taught to never settle. I think that’s something that’s great to be taught. I had a very similar background my mother as an entrepreneur, serial entrepreneur. She is phenomenal at it and it’s still at the course though. So you know, what brought you from where you are way back then to here and maybe walk me through some more specifics like maybe after the whole trucking company you decided to start up this stuff. I mean walk me through that a little bit.

Michele: I’ll tell you what happened is I you know, I retired and I thought you know I was in my early 40s I thought I’m just going to travel the world and do whatever I want and things are going to be great. And I forgot my kids were in high school and my husband sitll owned a business. And then I found myself on on the couch in 2009 of my there’s got to be more to life than this. I can’t take this. I guess maybe it’s that you can’t take the entrepreneur out of the girl, kind of thing. And so I just kind of started searching and just checking things out online and looking for you know what is out there where the opportunities. I didn’t even know business coaching in the form that we do it existed. You know we as we had businesses we would have mentors you know our CPA’s and our attorneys and throughout our business that we never really had a consultants or a coach right.

Michele: So I didn’t really know what that was and threw some twists and turns and you know how we chase things on the internet. I ended up at an event in November of 2009. What we would call a three day marketing event right now. Right. I just started the business building event. You know went to this event and I watched this guy Adam Raincy standing on stage I could finish his sentences. I knew how to build businesses- he had my, he had the same background that I did in that he had been in business his entire life. And so I walked up to him said listen you make really good money doing this, right? And he said yes, I make a lot of money doing this.

Michele: I said great. So if I hire you, will you teach me how to do it. And he said absolutely. So in January 2010 Decisive Minds was born with the idea that I would just take my knowledge about building mainly service based businesses. We did have a grocery store so we did sell products but we didn’t create we didn’t build, right. We sold or we did services so that’s really where my expertise lies. And so that’s when Decisive Minds started that was 2010 we’ll talk in a little bit I’m sure about some of the early struggles and what it looked like back in 2010 and but fast forward to today. And you know we’re sitting at a very successful trucking business with great long term coaching clients and lots of info products. We do a lot of online marketing, which is super fun. And we do that between 500000 and 600000 dollars a year. So you know, it’s kind of a big bump to a million and I can tell you that but it is it’s still been very very successful in our industry. So yeah.

Eric: Yeah I mean it sounds like you’ve taken that that inspiration. Back in 2009-2010 when you were you know went from sitting on the couch thinking there’s got to be more than just this just living life to you know to build something. So obviously there’s tons of questions in there. So why.. Why don’t we start at the beginning, for some of these people that are out there who are starting your own business right now maybe a year or two when it’s still kind of struggling. Talk about some of the struggle that you had back then.

Michele: Yeah. So the first thing is that I am an extreme introvert and a very shy person. And so I started this business saying I’m not going to speak and I’m not going to network anymore. I thought I was just going to build it online. I would never have to talk to anybody. And it was going to just work. And so you know after those first 12 months when I made like 12 thousand dollars in 12 months and I had just two years prior sold my truck company for a million dollars. So to make twelve thousand dollars after a whole year’s worth of work. I’m like OK something’s wrong. You know so. So I had a lot I had to learn. I had to shift into the fact that to- what I teach my clients about building service based businesses is that someone has to be the alluring character somebody has to be the draw. You know the people want to work with the feel of a person and whether that is a company that has that person connect in or what that is.

Michele: So I had to step into that. So number one that was a big thing. The other thing that really I had to really sit back and learn was the whole idea of sales and marketing. So building all of those businesses. That’s not what I had to do. In the family we all had our our expertise and so we had salespeople and we had people within the marketing and I was the internal operations no business person you bring me the client. I’ll never lose them right. Customer Service and all about internal stuff. And so I see this in so many entrepreneurs when they’re starting their business. And is that they don’t realize that when we’re so open or when we’re starting on our own we’re sales we’re marketing we’re build a business we’re everything. We’re delivering the services or delivering the products. And so I’m you know I found out the hard way by putting it off that I had to learn that. And so in the second year I really I took a deep dive into getting really good at sales and starting to really understand marketing and.. And getting out there and speaking and doing all that. I did six figures on my second year so they- those things drastically changed my business.

Eric: It sounds like you.. You know, even with your wall of knowledge and your ability to take on many things you really identified some of the key components in your business that were starting to hold you back. Really. You hit it head on. Which I think is always a scary thing for entrepreneurs it’s you know for someone who is an introvert, yeah, you’re right, going to those networking meetings is tough. It’s really tough. And I as an extrovert, I see that. I see people who are not necessarily interacting or prefer the one on one conversations and so the group circle stuff. I try to go over there and expose myself to them and.. Because half the time they have great stuff but it’s just they’re.. They’re not going to just dive right into it.

Michele: I got really smart so I’ll give my introvert friends out there an idea of what I do. So I don’t network without bringing somebody. I have lots of great clients and friends that are that are extroverts and so I bring somebody who’s going to work the room and they do that. They work the room they bring the person to me. I’m fine just like you said, one on one I’m great it’s don’t put me in that circle you know. Now if I am going and I’m going to be the speaker that’s the perfect scenario for me because that means I get it right based on my expertise. They come to me. Right so that’s my goal. Get you to come to me. It’s still being able to walk up to you because it’s just not gonna happen.

Eric: You know that’s some of the benefits of really getting up on stage is it doesn’t matter if you’re the MC or you’re the keynote speaker. I mean the fact that you’re on stage is the important thing. You’re automatically an authority right way. When did you start getting into this speaking you know realm which I guess was around your second year or so..

Michele: It was actually the very end of 2010. I was about 12 months in and I got a phone call one day from a woman who was a networking director in Houston at one of the networking events there. And she said you don’t know me. I’ve been following you online for months and I would love for you to come speak at our luncheon. And I just said yes like no thought. I couldn’t think about it ’cause if I think about it I might say no. And so I just said yes and she said great. It’s two weeks from now. And let me have you come in and talk about your book. And that’s actually another really funny story about just kind of thinking on our feet. I first, when I first started this I said my my coach said you’ve got to have a book. And so I wrote a book really quick called Make Over Your Business in Six Weeks or Less.

Michele: It’s an OK book right. Is just like throw a book together so you can say you have one. And by the end of 2010 I was clear that the audience I was drawing wanted to know how I was using social media. So I was starting to teach. You know started to talk more about social media. I didn’t want to go talk about my first book. So she said “why don’t you come talk about your book?” And I said, great! Did you hear about my second book. And she said No. I said it’s called Take Action, Get Profits – Five Steps to Massive Online Visibility. And she said fantastic come talk about that. And I hung up the phone and said I gotta write that book. I hadn’t made it up on the spot, right there because I wanted to go talk about social media.

Michele: You know what that Erin is one of the luxuries of entrepreneurship. We can think on our feet, we can be quick, we can make decisions, we can move quickly on things. I couldn’t get the book in print in two weeks but I did get it written. I used it as an e-book. I sold a 97 dollar ticket to a virtual class I was going to do. Had 21 women buy it that day I walked out of there with you know 21 hundred dollar in my hand. And I called my coach, I said OK you’re right this speaking stuff really works. So you know from that point on it was on. Now I’m- I guess I’ve been speaking for about six, seven years now. Six years. And I, I promise you webinars, tele-seminars, in person. I’ve probably spoken well over 400 times. So you know at this point. There are days when I do interviews like this. I’ll do 3 of them in a day. So in all of these are speaking engagements people, they don’t have to be difficult.

Eric: This is true. This is true, in fact you know even by creating a serious digital chatter I’ve looked at doing Facebook live instead. Even now, it’s been days before Facebook everything on Periscope your cat all these things but the reason why I like this is because it’s a little bit more formal. But yeah I mean there’s just tons of opportunities out there to get in front of an audience and to speak your message. The more you do it the more refined you get. And just like you right now you just show up and you’re just totally prepared. You know we have a basic format of where this is going to go but we get to sit here and chat. You know as friends, as colleagues and really get to discover things, so..

Michele: I think this what people want Eric. I love this format because they do want to know who we really are. They don’t want the script, right. It’s is like this. This is who you and I are sitting in our living room in the afternoon right. Yeah exactly.

Eric: Exactly. Whoa. Yeah. Why don’t we switch gears a little bit a minute. You’ve been a great success so far. I would say in the eyes of many entrepreneurs. But you know why. Why do you wind up doing all this? What’s the point of waking up every day and doing this?

Michele: Yeah. So part of me loves the challenge. I’ll be honest I’m always in for the challenge right. I’ve got other business ideas coming out right now I’m not always stuck in the one business kind of person, I’ve always got lots of different things going on. But in this business in particular I just- entrepreneurs have my heart. I mean I, that’s my grandparents, that’s my parents, that’s my aunts and uncles and my cousins. And so I just loved the entrepreneurial spirit. And so watching people struggle and knowing you know. I don’t know what the number is. But my guess would be probably close to 90 percent and those who start businesses or do not have the background that you and I have. They did something great in corporate or they had a skill where their friends kept asking them to do it and now they’re going to get paid to do it.

Michele: Right. That’s their goal is you going to get paid to do it. And so I have lots of experience where they do not. And so for me it is when I was with a client a couple of days ago here in Lake Charles- guys I live in Louisiana I didn’t tell you that. I was with a client here and when we wrapped up he said “Michele, this really works. You just go on in and sign four new contracts with clients.” And it’s yeah, it’s those moments of someone going just you know “I just closed a new deal” or are “my marketings is really driving people in”, “my website is flourishing”. Whatever those things are. It’s just I feel like.. I feel like I have 100 businesses right, helping them build their businesses.

Eric: Yeah I mean it’s I think that’s a huge thing for someone like you who’s able to do that. It’s it’s great that you’re a success. But I mean really who cares if you’re not able to spread that and to help other people you know find their way in the industry and.. I know a couple people started businesses and they ended up having either closed them or just kind of switch gears. It’s a shame because you see that driver had a fire in them at certain times and you know that the have it but they just.. Maybe they’re missing a couple pieces or a couple of things.

Michele: And so what’s important Eric is to know that that is normal. That is natural for an entrepreneure. We don’t hit everything out of the park. I tell people all the time I am you know- people always say to me it’s like you’re everywhere Michele. I am massively visible. I am throwing things out against the wall all the time. And my goal is for like 20 percent of that to like kill it, right? And do very good because I know that 80 percent of it is just going to be whatever. And so I read the other day and I don’t remember the the actual thing but the guy who started PayPal there was a great blog post about him the other day. PayPal was actually his 5th company that he started. And he failed in the first four. Right. And so you know if I look back there were companies even in our family existence that we closed and had to pay off the debt. You know we never filed bankruptcy, we never did those kind of things ’cause we always stood up for whatever it was. But some of our companies we knocked it out of the park and some of them were OK, and some of them bailed. And so you know if that’s been your existence in any way out there guys it is to know that you still have the entrepreneur spirit withing you, go do it again. Change whatever it was that went wrong last time. Do some analysis and figure out what that was. So yeah, keep going.

Eric: Sure. And even speak to that some people don’t always have those tools to do the analysis so. So you know how do you go after finding a coach. How do you find someone to help you if you’ve never done it before?

Michele: Yeah. So that’s a really interesting question actually have a lot of people ask me that. How do I choose a coach? How do I know I need a coach? And so you know I look at myself with my clients as their board of directors. If you’ve ever been in corporate, if you are building someone else’s business more than likely there was a board of directors for you to go to and say what are we think about this and how we process this. Most people aren’t- those kind of corporations or building their business by themselves. So your coach should step in and be that piece for you. For me when I am, I’m very loyal to my coaches. Over the seven years I’ve only had three, and one of them was very short term. It’s because you know just wasn’t a great fit. And I learned it after the fact and you do, that and you move on. But for me what I’m doing is I’m looking at who’s a little who’s a little farther ahead of me. Right. They don’t have to like killing it. But I need them to have been through what I’m going to go through to get to the next step in my business. So I’m looking for that. I’m also looking for. Are they current, relevant. Are they still in the trenches. So you know if you’re going to hire a coach you want to be careful. If their business looks exactly like it did 10 years ago, then they’re not implementing.. You know we’re in a very fast, moving, fast paced environment. So I look for what are they. Are they current. And are they still up today. And then the third thing is my gut I will tell you in this business anytime I go against my gut I regret it. So you just kind of know. What you don’t want to do is let any of those things hold you back and stop you. It is way better to jump in and find out than to just kind of keep going and keep thinking: I should, I should, I should. I’m all about the decision, right. Yes or no. Make a decision as I recall this place the size of mines.

Eric: So yeah, you have to decide and execute. You know there’s analysis, paralysis, everywhere out there. And I.. It’s happened to me, I’m sure it’s happened to everyone out there. You, you research. You, think, you think. Should I hire this person, this person, this person. Should I go with this software platform. Should I charge this much, this much. And luckily for some of us we can test things out. You can say “Hey, can I test you out as a coach for three months and then we see you know” we get to decide what we want and if we’re going after our coach and we take a test you out for three months and they say no, you say OK. You decide, either decide OK maybe they’re really confident or maybe they’re just not the one for me.

Michele: Yes. And so so many of us who are out there coaching, we’re putting out tons of content or we have smaller programs or you can get a lot of clients who come in through those process of buying something that’s a couple hundred bucks and listening to me teach classes and then going “OK I get a feel, that’s that’s who I need to talk to”. Right. So it’s of another really great way to kind of vet all of these coaches.

Eric: This is true. This is true. And in fact anyone listening right now I hope you’re trying to identify some people out there that could potentially be someone to help you out. I mean, for example I have a financial person- a remote financial person. I’ll give her a shout out, Amy Anderson. She and I have to get her on here. So Amy has been like my financial coach. She has been the one to congratulate me on my successes and to come down to me when I’ve not been keeping up with things. And you know this is why I pay her not just to keep my books clean but really for her for that person to back me up. And that’s what I need as an entrepreneur. I don’t want to wear 17 hats. That’s right, every single day. It’s so tiring. And that’s why people burn out. It’s because you know if you try to handle your finances, and you try to handle your sales, you try to handle the content, you try to handle.. You burn out. And if you don’t have an amazing spouse or you know a million dollars to play with starting on you know on your venture then you’re probably going to burnout.

Michele: Yeah. Yeah. We need to protect ourselves from that so yeah. I agree.

Eric: Well tell me you know if you were to give yourself some advice 5-10 years ago. What, you know, what kind of advice would you give yourself?

Michele: Ten years ago had you had told me I’d be doing what I’m doing, ha! I would have called you a liar. I could tell you, it’s really funny. So right the second year of my business I started doing my own three day events. And so I’ve done them for six years now and about three years in, my mom and dad came for the first time to see me do my three day event. And so I’m up on stage you know teaching and people are asking questions and I’ve got the answers. And we go to a break and my mom walks up and she said “how do you know how to do this? Because you were that little girl who was always up against the wall.” So yeah, I would say that I should have started speaking earlier that definitely.. And my coach was telling me, guys. And I was fighting with him, that I was not going to do that. So shame on me. He was right.

Michele: I should have done that earlier. That would have that would have really broken it open another year in advance. You know there’s tons and tons of things at this point probably that I would go back and have done a little differently. A lot, a lot of that was I needed to know how to sell and I didn’t. Early on. And that was such a struggle for me. Back in our other business years. If I go, if I went back and looked you know 10 or.. Actually this is 10 years ago this year that we sold the trucking company. I was very focused on on my parts and I wasn’t looking at what are those other pieces that I was like y’all go handle the selling, right. I don’t want to do that. So I think I should have been more open to all of that at that point.

Michele: I would have been a little ahead of the game when I got here but it wasn’t what I did it. So this is what I learned. The biggest one by far is the speaking though, Eric. If, if I had started that earlier. Who knows where I’d be right now. You know I just did a whole series of TV appearances. And I will tell you, you know, 5-6 years ago I could not have done it. I just couldn’t have done it. And at this point I am so clear on what visibility does for your business and what it is. What is the value. It is for me to be the alluring character in my business and still at the same time I’m building a business that can be sold. It’s not really it’s not fully reliant upon me, it will not be relying upon me in a while at all, and I can sell it right. I believe in building businesses that we can sell. So it’s not the Michele Scism show necessarily but it’s definitely Michele brain.

Eric: Absolutely. OK. OK. Just going back to the whole speaking thing. Would you. Would you mind walking us through it. Because for a lot of people the thought of dressing up and going to do a TV interview getting on TV, it’s scary. Yeah. And you know I can tell you the first time I did it I was a little nerve wracking. I talk about my experience was I talk about Steve Jobs passing away and this was years ago. And I was asked that. This was like 9:00 o’clock at night. I was asked to do an interview that was going to go on at 11 o’clock in the news. And I started.. Even though I know a ton about Steve Jobs and the industry, the tech industry. I still did research and prepared and you know, long story, short they ended up showing maybe 20 seconds worth of.

Michele: I think you’re right it’s over like this. I think most of my segments were about three minutes long and even though I had been speaking for five years at this point I was so nervous. My nervousness shows up in shaky and in a dry mouth. And so by the end of that first couple of interviews I could barely move my lips. I was just so nervous. But they came out fantastic, it didn’t matter, you couldn’t tell. You can’t see it. So yeah..

Eric: That is true. I think most people need to rest easy thinking about that. You know, not everyone knows it. You’re freaking out. You know behind your head there. But you know what. What did you do.. In the beginning you mentioned a little bit about taking some smaller speaking gigs and then.. How did you kind of worked it up into the three day, which is a pretty good deal.

Michele: Yeah that’s a good question. So I didn’t get the request from her to go speak at the networking thing and that was the first in-person speaking event I ever did, the very first time ever stood behind a podium. Actually guys, I had to pass a speaking, speech class to get my degree. And I took it four times, I dropped it the first three, and finally as a senior I had to pass it or I didn’t get my degree. So I stuck to it and got through it as a senior, that’s how much I despised speaking. And so that was my first in person but prior to that those last couple of months what I started doing was creating my own speaking opportunities. And so I would teach webinars or in the beginning. So for me just a definition here for me a webinar has a visual aspect and a tele-seminar is just audio, right.

Michele: So I started out with a couple of tele-seminars where people could not see me or see a PowerPoint or see anything. I could just be behind the phone. And then I moved quickly to webinars but it did not have my face on it. It was strictly PowerPoint voiceover. And I was doing those. You know I started doing some interviews bringing some other people in. I was creating my own speaking opportunities when other people didn’t realize they should invite me in, right. Because I was just- in this world I was not known in the beginning. I left a world where I was extremely well known. But in this world I wasn’t known I had to build that again. So you know in the beginning who invites you to speak if they don’t know you’re a great speaker.

Michele: So I thought, why not just build my own space and then that started to lead into other people inviting me to be on shows like this or.. Blog Talk Radio man, those people they’re always looking for guests. And at this point I get on lots of those kinds of shows. They actually, I don’t have to go find them anymore. They’re coming to me at this point. Back then what I would do, again from the introvert standpoint is, I’d go to Blog Talk Radio. I’d find one that I thought would be a great space for me. They were talking about entrepreneurship or whatever. I would figure out who the host was. I’d go friend them on social media. I’d start liking their posts I might, if they blogged, I’d go share their blog post. You know, I just started getting myself noticed by them and my name noticed. And then once my name was noticed either they would reach out to me and just want to know more about me or I would get the courage up to send them a message on Facebook and say “Hey I would love to be on your show.”

Eric: It is really that simple though.

Michele: Yeah, it’s really that simple. Yeah.

Eric: And I did the same thing. I had someone the other day, I commented on a LinkedIm post about something and this young gentleman who just graduated said “hey I saw your post about this and I just wanted to know if I could be on your team and join you for this for this potential thing”. You know, I find that an honor. First of all, that someone to reach out to me as as you know an expert or someone who is pushing forward. So it’s it’s a humbling experience of course. And then you know I’m going to find out more about them and if they’re right fit, great. If not, I’ll tell them, I’ll be honest with them.

Michele: That’s right. That’s right. So you know it it’s all about the time. Right. I am six-seven years into this business and I could have spent that time just saying “yes someone is gonna call me” or I could take whatever the next step was. And so by doing that I’m sitting here now going OK. Well now the reality for me is that people contact me constantly, like every day I get a request or something. And if I hadn’t taken all those actions that I did for all those years Eric, I wouldn’t be sitting in this spot. I had to earn the right to be sitting in this spot. And guys think about it five years from now, is five years from now. What are you willing to do over the next five years so that in five years you’re the one that everybody wants, right. And you walk into a room and they go oh my god you’re, you know, and that’s what happens to me now, it’s like I’m a little rock star. So I don’t mind that either by the way.

Eric: Nothing wrong with a little fame.

Michele: Nothing wrong with a little fame.

Eric: So Michele, do you have anything you can leave everyone with today? You’ve been such a great sport. You know, is there something you’d wanna give away to everyone out there.

Michele: Yeah. And I’ll leave you with a thought too. And that is: take one step next. It’s not about getting yourself in entrepreneur magazine tomorrow. It is about taking the next step and getting on the first show or putting out your first blog post. Or taking, you know, writing whatever that first thing is, or teaching your first class. Whatever that next step is. Or maybe your two years in and it’s about you looking at a plan of how am I going to the next level of visibility. So that’s been my focus. You know we spend a lot of time last year looking at what’s the next level. The next level for me was TV. The next level for me was to focus on getting into Entrepreneur and I just got quoted in Entrepreneur last week. And you know I mean yeah. So we. And there are strategies to make it happen.

Michele: All right. So Entrepreneur didn’t just call me. I can tell you that, I worked to get in there and.. And so yes. So take the next step and then yeah I would love for you guys to connect and go to my website, tons of information. Great blog post on there. If you’re.. If you’re bulding your list which we didn’t really talk about today Eric, but you and I both know how important that is. I have a great report on that is- talks about how to build your list using free stuff. How to use the free stuff to get people to say yes to your list and so you can go directly to it at or just go to any page on my website and you will see it sitting there.

Eric: Perfect. Michele you’ve been phenomenal. Thanks so much for all the advice and information. It was great to learn a little bit more about you.

Michele: Thanks Eric. This is fun! You guys, go take that next step.

Eric: Perfect. We’ll see you all later.