Generator Ep. 026 – Kristen Lettini: How to Build Your Own Fairytale

In this episode, Maine portrait photographer Matt Stagliano talks with Kristen Lettini. Kristen is a Business Management Consultant and the host of the Build Your Own Fairytale podcast. She helps simplify and streamline processes so small business owners can do more of what they love, rather than get stuck in their day to day tasks of their business. Podcast Title: Generator Episode Title: How to Build Your Own Fairytale Episode Number: 026 Publish Date: March 3, 2024 Episode Overview Join us for an inspiring conversation about building a successful business on your own terms. Learn how systems and workflows transform solopreneur ventures, saving time and increasing revenue. Get tips on managing burnout, overcoming imposter syndrome, and optimizing your social media presence. Discover strategies to create work-life balance while pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. If you're ready to design a fulfilling and successful business, this episode is for you! Key Topics and Talking Points **Systems streamline success: Discover how implementing systems and workflows transform businesses, leading to growth and sanity. **Solopreneur Solutions: Get expert insights on systems specifically tailored for solopreneurs and small business owners. **Work-Life Balance and Burnout: Learn tips for creating boundaries, avoiding burnout, and achieving a fulfilling life as an entrepreneur. **Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Explore strategies to combat imposter syndrome and step confidently into your entrepreneurial role. **Social Media Strategy: Optimize your social media presence with actionable tips on content planning and audience engagement.

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Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 026 - Kristen Lettini: "How to Build Your Own Fairytale"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
In what I can only describe as grateful surprise here I am welcoming you back to yet another episode of generator this podcast I have going on about creativity. This is episode 26. And at the time that this comes out, I’ll be out at WPPI in Las Vegas. Now WPPI is a huge portrait conference with photographers from all over the world. Hopefully when I get back I’ll have a full episode of reviews and stuff I did from the show. That is if I stay on schedule with my recording and editing and plan all my time correctly, which is why this episode is so timely and poignant. My guest this week is Kristen Lettini. Kristen is a business management consultant and the host of the build your own fairy tale podcast. She helps simplify and streamline processes so that small business owners can do more of what they love and who doesn’t want more of that in their lives. She’s so easy to talk to. And it’s no wonder she’s a brilliant, brilliant woman. After a really long career in the world of science, Kristen shifted her focus and began helping others develop ways to make their businesses better. With her podcast, she’s helping all these burgeoning solopreneurs build scalable and repeatable systems so they have more balanced more energy and more success. She described herself as a fairy godmother and her magic wands are tools like 17 hats and Asana. Kristen is truly a systems and workflow guru. And for someone like me, she’s a godsend. I love having order and systems and processes. But truth be told, I hate developing them. So we talk all about the importance of spending the time to create the systems that will inevitably make you more successful in whatever it is that you do. We talk about balance and personal lives and social media and 100 other things. I love talking to Kristen and I know you’ll love hearing from her. So with no better title than how to build your own fairytale. Here’s my guest, Kristen Lettini

Have you been?

Kristen Lettini 2:34
I’ve been okay. Ben. Okay, actually had a stomach bug this past weekend. So that wasn’t that fun. But yeah,

Unknown Speaker 2:40
I was gonna take you out.

Kristen Lettini 2:41
I’m not fully but it was weird. It was one of those like, I had to nap every day. And I’m not usually into napping. So I was like, this is weird. I have to go lay down and I want to get work done.

Matt Stagliano 2:52
Did you find that you love the nap? Like did it? Did it reinvigorate you? Or was it just like, hey, I’m sick, I need to rest? Or were you like, I’m gonna I’m gonna sneak this in every single day.

Kristen Lettini 3:04
It was it was a little bit ball. That’s not quite I’m gonna stick it in everyday. But I did at one point say to my husband, like, this is so weird. Like, I feel so unproductive. That’s just not my thing. And he reminded me he said, rest is productive. And I was like, oh, yeah, that’s one of those quotes I’d put up on Instagram. And I totally forget about when I’m the sick one. You know,

Matt Stagliano 3:23
I actually saw that on your Instagram. It was not too long ago that you put it up like remember to rest. And it’s something that we all forget. It’s great. You’re listening to your own advice, way to walk the walk. Let’s talk a little bit about your background. So for anyone listening, if there’s anybody out there listening, Kristen and I chatted a while back, we’re both ambassadors for 17 hats. We were chatting on about a week or two ago, time is irrelevant these days. To me. The thing I loved about talking to you is like you had a similar arc to mine career wise, science and consulting and podcasting, and they’re all these like conductivity points for both of us. So I’d love to just hear your story again about how you wound up in business management consulting, how you wound up in podcasting, like what does that arc look like?

Kristen Lettini 4:20
I would say it’s less of an arc and more of a like, you know, rounds and valleys. But essentially so after I’ve majored in science and undergrad, I ended up working for a mom and pop, pharmaceutical excipients distributor. It sounds very sophisticated. But I spent three years there before saying you know what, I want to go back and get my MBA, I want to dig into the business side of things. Working for a small company, you’ll learn a lot but I want to go back and get the formal degree in business. And post MBA I ended up joining a major pharmaceutical company really well respected. I spent 13 years there, working across procurement, communications and marketing not necessary. Really the usual mix you hear from folks who work their way up the ladder. But yeah, I just I entered through procurement because my background had lines up nicely with procurement and supply chain. But I quickly realized that wasn’t where I wanted to be. And so it took me five years to network and take on stretch assignments to actually make that functional switch within the company. But after 13 years, I had made the switch I had done communications and marketing, I said, my heart is still elsewhere, right? I love this company. I love the people, but I want I feel like I want more. I felt like bell I always have to take it back to the fairytales. I felt like belly I just wanted more. I knew there was something else out there for me I needed to try. And COVID really did me and write it was really high stress time I had twins doing virtual kindergarten at home. During the height of COVID. It was pretty chaotic over here. And I was in employee health and wellness. So I was trying to communicate with 150,000 global employees, encouraging them to stay healthy and do things to take mental breaks. And I was not doing those things myself. So by 2022, I had worked up the courage This was many years in the making, I had worked up the courage to be like, Okay, I’m gonna submit my resignation. I gave plenty of weeks notice I didn’t want to leave anybody hanging also didn’t want to get rid of my paycheck just yet. But eventually I took the leap. I had luckily the support of my husband’s who said, okay, you know, I’ll hold down the fort for a little bit, you go figure out what you want to do. And I had contributed my share for quite some time. Let’s see what he went through business school for two years, and I was pregnant. So you know, I think it evens out. But yeah, I left in 2022. Without a plan, I didn’t know what my business would look like, I just knew I needed to eat time and space to figure it out. Fortunately, I’d already started the podcast. So my podcast is built around fairy tale, but I didn’t feel like I could really own where I wanted to go with it until I had left corporate myself. So when I left corporate, I changed the direction. And I speak to women who have built their careers outside of the traditional nine to five, which is what I wanted to do right when I left. So that was on the podcast side. And then on the business side, it took me almost a year to figure out, Hey, I’ve always loved planning and organization and putting puzzles together. What if I helped other business owners sort of build systems for them? Like, I think that stuff’s pretty cool. Most people don’t, not most many. But like, that’s my talent, that’s my passion, I can help someone else build their business while I’m building mind if I build a system for them. So that’s sort of how I found 17 hats, and became an ambassador for them as well as this summer,

Matt Stagliano 7:32
I have so many questions. So we’re gonna get into a whole bunch of stuff, thinking back first to the MBA, having connected with a lot of entrepreneurs that have gone to business school, because they had an idea that they wanted to bring to fruition or they came up with an idea in business school and started that, was that a focus for you? Or is it really just, I’ve been working, I want to solidify, get the get the degree, and then be able to bring that back and level up, but kind of go back to to the same field and doing what I was doing? Or did you come back and realize, Wow, I want to completely change directions.

Kristen Lettini 8:11
So the mindset when I went for the MBA, I want to say unfortunately, but it all, it all worked out for a reason, right? I did not have the entrepreneurial or an idea in my head. It was just hey, I really studied the science and I only picked science for my undergrad because I liked it. And I was pretty good at it. So I was like, people will think I’m smart, right? Like if I can get a degree in chemistry, like no one’s gonna doubt me in the academics apartment department like, oh, that’s that’s an accomplishment. That was literally my thought process as a however old you are, right. 20. So not not the most career driven, right? And so same thing with MBA, I thought, Okay, well, if I go back, I know this opens doors. That was pretty much the extent of it. And it wasn’t until I was really deep into corporate America that I was like, Huh, okay, this is how things work, you may see see a lot over the years of the company. And that’s when I was like, Well, I wonder if I could do this for myself. Like, I that’s when I started listening to other podcasts and reading books and like, Oh, these people have done it. Why couldn’t I and you start building that, like Curiosity have been I could do it. I think I could do it. I have no idea what I would do it in, I think I could do it. Saw

Matt Stagliano 9:19
this time and time again, with Cisco Systems, where people would come in, they’d go to business school for a couple of years, and then come back and realize Cisco wasn’t for them. They wanted that energetic startup, right? They didn’t want to be part of a big machine anymore. But now they had all this knowledge that they could take to a startup that they didn’t have before. So it was kind of like really finishing out the toolkit. Now let’s fast forward a little bit as you start to think podcast, you’re definitely a systems person, right? We’re kind of have the same mindset. Did you find it was easy to identify that most people don’t have systems or workflow? I know as a creative, I’m out of my mind, right? So there’s legal pads everywhere. It’s a system to me, I know where everything is. But if somewhere walked were to walk in, they put me in a straitjacket. And they say there is no system here. So was it easy for you to identify? Or was it just something given your nature? You just started to look around and realize that everything could improve because of systems. And if not me, then who?

Kristen Lettini 10:31
I wish I could say it was a black and white, one of the other I feel like it was more of what for example, right? When I left my job, I said it didn’t have a plan. And so when I stopped working, I had all this, all this free time air quotes. And I just had the podcast, right. And so I remember sitting at my desk, one of those first days thinking, what I work on first, do I work on Matt’s episode? Do I work on this episode? What step Am I like? I was just feeling very frazzled. I’m like, How is this possible? I just left a really stressful, you know, eight to five pack day. And now I have all this time, and I can’t figure out what to do. Like, there’s gotta be a better way to figure this out. Well, I didn’t have a system other than my notepads. And so that’s when I found I started Googling and watching some YouTube videos. That’s when I found a sauna. And I was like, oh, no, Asana is this system that I need that helps organize all my To Do lists, I can put together a really nice plan and know what I need to do today, right? This is all due today to make sure all my podcasts episodes down track. So I sort of found it by need. And then once I found it, same thing with 17 hats, I was working with a friend who was one of my early, you know, unpaid clients. So like, Hey, can I poke around in your business? Let me help you. I’m looking for things to do and explore. And I was like, Oh, I love this. This is like putting a puzzle together slowly. But surely, I was like, Oh, I love this stuff. People hate. People don’t like this. People could really benefit from this just like I could. And they don’t even know it. So now I’m at a point in my journey. Where How do I? How do I communicate and explain to fellow solopreneurs entrepreneurs, small business owners? While these systems don’t feel fun, right to think about or dream about, maybe for you, there’s people who really enjoy putting them together, and they could greatly benefit your business and your sanity, right? They just save you so much time and effort. It wasn’t a natural thing, I think was the short answer you’re looking for.

Matt Stagliano 12:27
No, but I think you follow the path that a lot of us do. We’re super energetic, we’ve got an idea. We want to get it out there, whatever it is, right? No photo studio, a consulting company, a tire shop, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got the idea that we’re passionate about, a lot of us run full steam into it. And think, Alright, I’m gonna jump off this cliff, I’m gonna build the wings as I go. There’s an art and a science to that do I suppose. But what I’ve seen over and over and over, especially on the creative side are people that aren’t necessarily inclined to think in terms of systems and workflows. It’s real drudgery. But it’s absolutely necessary. You know, my introduction to Asana, which I love, by the way, was I was working for a magazine, years ago, a digital magazine, and I was trying to be the COO and heard these cats. Everyone was in different places. And we’re trying to really build this company up. And we needed a platform in which we could do that. That was great collaboration that was you know, asynchronous, we could have all our task lists and be accountable to each other and found a sauna and I loved it. So I’m going to dig into that because I haven’t used it in a while. And I want to know what you think about it. But the same thing for me when I started the studio was I think I know what I’m doing. But I had no idea what I was doing. And so I tried a few different systems and wound up with 17 ATS. Again, we’re not this isn’t like some big shill for 17 ATS, but it had everything that I needed to really start putting these systems in place. And the hardest part for me was what do I do?

Kristen Lettini 14:11
Yeah. What do I do? Like, okay, now what

Matt Stagliano 14:16
it was like on a daily basis, alright, I’m going to start some workflows. I’m gonna do automated emails. Well, what emails do I send? What is my workflow from the time I get out of my car to the end of the workday? What am I doing? And that, for me was difficult to really think through and write out but having done it once it got the majority of the work done. What do you see as some of the biggest stumbling blocks for people that are just starting out and have to think about all shit, where do I start? Where do you start? I

Kristen Lettini 14:49
feel like the hardest part and I’m back to full circle here back to that rest is productive, like taking that time out, to sit with and think about what is my process? It’s like what happens when a customer reach out reaches out to me like, then what? Okay, you you answer your email. Okay? And then what? You ask them a couple of questions to clarify what they’re really looking for. And then what like when you start sitting with asking yourself the questions, okay, one, what actually happens right now? What’s the process? And to going back to question each of those steps like, do you need to do it that way? Could you do it a different way? Because some magical system sends an email for you? Would it really lose that much personal touch? The answer is probably no. So I think it’s that taking prioritizing the process, sitting down and mapping it out, and then being open to like, there’s a little bit of ego like, well, I have to do it this way, because it’s my business. And I do it the best. And yes, there’s a degree of that, for sure. That’s how you’ve gotten this far. But there’s also a degree of you need to be smart with your time, it’s your most valuable resource. So if you could automate that email or ask those few questions through a questionnaire versus spending your time, you could be doing something else, it’s going to make you money, right. So I think it’s just taking that time out that step back, because I have to look at my business holistically versus like, just keep things going. And it’s hard to take that time out, like I get it, but it pays dividends.

Matt Stagliano 16:14
That’s a big thing for solopreneurs, where they don’t want to necessarily give up the control. And they also don’t realize that by giving up that control, whether it whether it’s through delegation to a person, or delegation to a system, yep, that getting that time back frees you up to do the things that we were talking about earlier, rest a little bit, give your brain some space to think about, how could I improve? What I’m doing here? Is the system that I just wrote out? If I walked into a company that ran this way? Would I like or not like the system that I’m working in? A lot of people just feel trapped by it. What are you seeing as like, you know, as people will say, okay, ready to write out my systems, and they start doing this stuff? What is the the thing, the psychological thing that we all have? That is like the big obstacle to get over? I know, for me, it’s that personal touch. I love customer service. I love the experiential side of what I do. So for me, it was originally hard to automate customer service stuff, because I felt like I was not giving that personal touch, regardless of industry. Were people getting stuck as they write out these processes, or they look at them and think, you know, I can’t give up that part. I have to do that.

Kristen Lettini 17:44
I think they get caught up on like, well, I have to email them. Well, what do you really do with that email? Are you just asking a question as to do you want Saturday or Sunday? Or are you just trying to make that personal connection? Like, dig? It’s like a layer deeper of the email or whatever that step is? What are you really trying to accomplish? And I saw this the same in corporate America, right? I’d be in communications and executive would say, we need a flashy video for this upcoming meeting. Well, why do you what are you really trying to accomplish with that video? Okay, video is really cool. What what are you trying to accomplish? So it’s the same thing, we all think we need one thing, we think we need to write the email, we think we need to send the checklist. What do you actually so it’s, it’s hard, it’s even sometimes I get caught up in it too, like, what is what am I really trying to accomplish with this step? So it’s hard. And it’s really, I think, the easiest way, the quickest way through is to bring in an outside brain and outside consultant to to think through it with you. So you can say, here’s what, here’s what I think my process is, here’s what I do. And an outside party can say, Hmm, why are you doing it that way? Have you ever thought about this, and those are when you have those massive lightbulb moments, more so than one of you can have on your own right? The solopreneur is like so deep in it, it’s hard to think about it differently. And the outside person doesn’t know enough to just go in there and build it the way you want it. So it’s it’s a team. It’s a team process. And I think to go, that’s where you get the best results. And this

Matt Stagliano 19:03
is where I love what you do, because you’ve niche down primarily and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve niched down to the solopreneur. The smaller businesses, female owned businesses, right, where people are kind of getting into a different phase of life or a different career or they’re just finally following their passion and they’re getting things off the ground. They often need that second set of eyes, they’re detached, you have no stake in their business. But you can look at it and say, oh, yeah, no, it’s very clear to me, you’re wasting a ton of time right here. So let’s dig into that. This is what I love about what you do. Because we’re so often scared to ask for that help, or to be vulnerable enough to let someone into our company and see under the covers what’s actually going on. Basically, when people start out with application they know they have to get there. Life in order, right, they’ve talked to you and they realize there’s some gaps in the process that they have to start organizing. And we talk about Asana a little bit. Now Asana can be the avatar for any collaboration software or project management software out there. But how does using a system like Asana, where 17 Hats really start to impact the business? Is it giving them free time? Is it increased revenue? Where do you see these big impacts coming from utilizing systems?

Kristen Lettini 20:31
Yes. Okay. So and yes, just to echo it can be any, any system Asana happens to the one we know, the one that I use, I love but yes, whatever system works for you. So like, I just, I just recently finished work with a client and built her workflows and 17 hats. She She literally said to me, she’s like, Oh, my gosh, Kristen. It’s amazing. I’ve saved so much time. And for in her case, she now is collecting revenue revenue upfront automatically through the workflow. So they weren’t getting on her calendar until they paid. And she’s like, I just like tripled my income. Because last week, I had all these things booked, but no one paid half them cancelled. There goes all this loss for me. She goes, I looked like I was making a lot of money. But it wasn’t because they all canceled to us now. They’ve paid me so even if they don’t show up, like I’ve made the money until they actually show up. So she was still she saved time and she increased her revenue. But yeah, I feel like most times, my clients are coming to me, they get to a point where they’ve grown very scrappy, right? We all start out not trying to spend a lot of money not trying to invest in systems like I’m just gonna set up an email, and people are gonna call me, I can’t blame him. That’s what I didn’t do, right? You’re, you’re just getting started. You can invest in these big things. But once they get to, like, sometimes it’s like, 10 clients, it’s Oh, yeah. Now I have, you know, I’m laying in bed at night at LinkedIn, I do this for this client. And you got little posts here, and you’re scribbling in notebooks here, I still do it. I still scribble things all over. But when you finally get to that point where like, I can’t, I’m just panicking over, I’m missing things. You’re dropping the ball. That’s when people are usually coming say, okay, I get it. I need something. I don’t know what I need. But I need help. This is not my notebooks and posts are no longer working for me. Because I have successfully grown, which is a great problem. Now, what do you got? What kind of systems can we put in place, and I love I love it to be a 17 Hats workflow where things can go out automatically, I can book and pay. But sometimes it may be as simple as an Asana checklist, right? Where each client needs this checklist done. If you do all these steps, you’ll be in good shape. So I like that both systems work nicely together, and they have their different strengths. But ultimately, it’s sadly, I feel like people aren’t getting there proactively, it’s a necessity, because they’re approaching burnout, they’re dropping the ball, the reputation is at stake. And they don’t want to lose what they’ve worked so hard to build a lot

Matt Stagliano 22:54
of entrepreneurs that I know. And again, I’m in the creative arts, right. So I know a lot of photographers and videographers in hair, makeup artists and whatnot. And when whenever we’re starting our companies, it generally seems to be that we’re thinking about one to two clients at the beginning, we have the dream of getting to 100 clients, we’re focusing on one or two now or more. So the President maybe the this week, or maybe this month, but people aren’t thinking out longer term of how they scale. And this is really where systems make a huge difference when you want to scale the company. Yeah, right. In thinking about that, how are you showing the results to people? Meaning, trust me here, we’re going to give you more time and energy back for your family, we’re going to put more money in your bank, we’re going to just decrease stress. Right? Yeah, that’s kind of what we all want. We want to have that work life balance. What did you take from your experience in finding that work life balance? And how are you applying that to what you’re seeing on an everyday basis with your coaching clients?

Kristen Lettini 24:08
You know, this is like the million dollar question because I I’d love to get to the here you can save X out or like I need that infographic visual, and I’m working to build it through testimonials. But I think people clearly once they see it happen one time or they see oh my gosh, I’m gonna have to send that email. You can make that happen automatically. And it’ll still say Hi, Matt. How you doing? Like, oh, yeah, I want that. Nobody wants to be sitting in their inbox sending all these tedious emails. Unfortunately, right now, I’m still at a point. And my clients are still at a point where they’re getting to that push comes to shove I just throw my hands up in the air. I need something. And the second they see there’s a possibility they’re like, all all in Yeah, right. They’re all it just takes getting to that moment of this is not going to work. I am not happy. I’m stressed out. I can’t do it all All, this is not the dream that I imagines. Those are all sort of the tipping points. You

Matt Stagliano 25:06
know, it’s it’s interesting to think about how we all work a little bit differently, right? We all got different pain points and expectations and how we’re going to run our businesses. And there is no one right way, right? I’m not gonna sit here and be some level of absolutist where you have to use this system, and you have to do these things. And you have to have workflows, right? Everybody does things, everything differently. One of the things that I was finding without having systems was that I was losing a lot of inspiration. I was losing a lot of motivation. I was losing the why I started this thing in the first place. Because I was getting so tied down working in the business, I wasn’t thinking forward and working on the business, right? That’s kind of this old adage, you want to be working on it, not in it, how do you stay motivated, and inspired to keep building your business, when you’re giving so much of yourself to other people in their systems?

Kristen Lettini 26:08
It’s so funny, because when I’m working on a client’s workflow, I am like, energized and excited, I can’t like I will lay in bed either. I wonder if I could do it this way. Like, I will think of ideas to make their workflow better. And then when I sit down to work on my own, I’m like, Oh, let me go check over here. Let me see what’s going on Instagram, like, you get distracted, you let yourself I let myself procrastinate. Because I guess it’s, it’s so it’s so energizing for me to help a client discover something new. into me, it’s sort of the same old so I, I struggle with it a little bit on the personal side. But then that, you know, all I have to do is think back to. So I want to go back to working in corporate and working for someone else. Short, had a great paycheck, great benefits, but I love this lifestyle that I’m building now where I can book meetings when I want during the day. If I don’t want to work on Fridays, I can block my calendar, I don’t have to work on Fridays, and I have to ask anybody’s permission. I go back to that like self motivation of why am I to your point of why am I doing this. And for me, sometimes it’s just taking that step away, taking the rest taking the walk, because I come with my best ideas when I’m not sitting here at the computer,

Matt Stagliano 27:16
isn’t it the strangest thing, when you’re not, for me, it happens when I’m driving on the road and just zoned out. And then I think it’s because we give our brain that chance to just relax a little bit ease up off the gas, the creativity starts to flow a little bit differently, and you never know where it’s gonna come from, or what it’s going to apply to might be a system, it might be an idea for a photograph, it might be oh my god, if I just did this for my customers, I could really save time and they’d be so much happier. Is this why you’re so into the fairy tale podcast like building that fairy tale? Tell me about that, right? Because I feel like it’s such a perfect outlet for you and your personality and all your expertise, that you get to sit behind a microphone like this. And instead of just helping one client, now you’re helping tons of people at a time, you’re not trading your time for money, you are helping a lot of people by volume. Tell me about the your experience with the podcast and how that’s changed things for you or affected you and how you do your work. I’d love to hear that.

Kristen Lettini 28:27
Well, it’s two things. One, I remember. And I still every Friday night, my kids are still young enough to want to hang out with us on Friday night. So Friday night, we have pizza movie nights here. And every Friday night like well watch a movie. And oftentimes, I’ll be so inspired, I’ll tear up at the end. Like I’m perfect audience, I make these parallels between what’s in the movie, and my kids are not taking these same things away. But I’m like, Oh my gosh, this is a perfect, you know, match for what I’m feeling when I want to break out of corporate America and go do my own thing as an entrepreneur like, oh my gosh, Rapunzel breaking out of the tower, like I don’t know, I just, I enjoyed all those movies. And I always took away a message again, I don’t know that it was ever intended to be the message. But I would take messages away because I was struggling with what I wanted to do what I wanted to be when I grew up. And so I printed the podcast because it was it was really for me a couple of years ago, like my audience is where I was a couple years ago thinking they’re either stuck in a job currently where they’re wondering, like, is there something else out there for me? So I love being able to bring to them new ideas, new entrepreneurs who are saying, here’s the business I built, I built it in. I’ve had people counseling and grief. I’ve had people who are using their Cricut machine to create crafts and sell that, you know, like things you were like, oh, that’s that could be a business. I had no idea. I can do that too. Why can’t I make a business? So I love being able to bring those ideas to people who are sitting there thinking I want something else, but I don’t know what because that was me. Right? And here’s an idea. And by the way, even if you have the idea, we all need to keep that inspiration going and I love hearing just constantly having these conversations Oh, I wasn’t thinking about something in photography. But that could totally relate to my business over here in this industry right getting those new perspectives. So I want them energized by having those conversations and meeting these guests every I’m published every two weeks, but all the time, and then being able to help other women who are stuck feeling like me, like, oh, there is a way out. Maybe I can do this myself. And we don’t have to like I was very much I forget what you said before, but like, just sort of following the checklist of what’s next. Like I did that everything in life, I got the degree got married, got the house had the kids like, very good rule follower. At some point, following all the rules, I was like, huh, this, this is what it gets me like, is this cool? But not that exciting? I can I could go for something more not to be greedy, right? I’m thankful. Sure. But I get to control if I get one life and I get to control it. Like, why would I shoot for the stars? Why wouldn’t I go for something else? Why wouldn’t I build my own fairytale? So that I think it’s part driven by me part of the family movies, I just enjoy them. And they’re fun, they’re fun and whimsical, and I love thinking about them.

Matt Stagliano 31:06
You know, I saw a lot of this coming out of the pandemic, with people that started to look at life a little bit differently. And realize, you know, the nine to five thing ain’t working in a cubicle ain’t working, I’m working at home. Sure it sucks having two kids in virtual kindergarten that I’m trying to dance around. But there after that period of adjustment that we all had now, I’ve worked at home since 1998. So I was kind of built for that whole thing. Nothing fazed me at all, as people adjusted to a new way of working and a new way of looking at their family, their livelihood, what it is that they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy. I think it gave people the impetus to start chasing their dreams a little bit more. And get away from those systems that we felt confined by you are the walking talking epitome of this where you started to look at things differently and chase those dreams. So with the podcast, how has that reinvigorated things for you? Is it symbiotic with the coaching? Is it? Do you try to keep it separate? Where one is creative and informal? And one is very formal and systematic? I know it’s all woven together. But do you find yourself having to shift your mindset to go from one to the other?

Kristen Lettini 32:31
So that’s a mindset shift. But right now they’re definitely somewhat separate, right? So I and I struggle with this I struggle with if I can bring them closer together if I need to, does it matter? Because the podcast is very, for my listeners, it’s those are those early entrepreneurs, they may have not even started yet. It’s there at one end of the spectrum, whereas my clients, they’re in it, right? They’ve hit that hopefully early success and they’re ready to invest in a system for themselves. Ideally, they’d be like brand new entrepreneurs. So we could start from scratch. It would be beautiful from the start. But we’re not there yet. Despite this struggle, what they’re on sort of different spots in that spectrum of their their fairy tale journey. But I do feel like we’ve all been at some point like if you’re the entrepreneur up, you are that dreamer at one point before you started. So I’ve made peace that they’re connected, even though they’re separate for the time being and then I do have to compartmentalize like, Okay, today, I’m going to go pitch some guests make sure I have some really great talent to come on for the next show. But when I do, I am so energized. I have fun having conversations just like this. I just spoke to a woman who was a producer for the Today Show. And she said when she was actually able to be next to her kids at breakfast, because she didn’t have that 3am alarm to get into the city. I was like, oh, yeah, so that was like a real eye opener for her. And same for me and COVID I wasn’t no stranger to the work from home. I had a very flexible schedule before. However, we were called back to the office in 2021. July 2021, my husband was still home with no call the office in mind. So fortunately, we had the flexibility he was the one being able to do drop off, picks up pickups, whatever needed. But I’m sitting here going Why the heck am I commuting to the office today? Like none of my friends are commuting to the office, my husband’s home my kids are still in virtual school at some point like, why am I going to the office? Why am I the one who’s like stuck in these felt like prison walls again, even though I love the people, it still felt like why do I have this punishment? Like this is not right. Something didn’t sit well with me. In

Matt Stagliano 34:31
the artistic world. Imposter syndrome is rampant, right? We hit this point where we’ve done enough to feel good about what we’re doing. But then as we start to master that craft, making stuff on your cricket, right becoming a golf pro, whatever it is, we master that craft and then we start to look a little bit wider. And we notice other people doing it and we may want to try to get to their level but now This crushing weight of I’m not good enough in my company, I’m never going to succeed. And it all comes crashing down and it’s horrible. One. Have you ever felt that in starting all your stuff? And two, how would you advise someone like me to get out of that? If I’m experiencing it? Yeah.

Kristen Lettini 35:20
Oh my gosh, yes. 100% 100. And tamper said, I have experienced that I continue to experience it. And I would venture to say almost every Yes, on my show has also we’ve touched on this in some way, shape or form. So I think no one is immune to it. And if they are, they’re probably crazy. You don’t want to follow them anyway. But some I’m just trying to think to some of the best advice that I’ve heard and I try to take for myself, is this, the repetition, right? It’s just like, you go to the gym, and you put in the reps and overtime, you can lift more. If you’re feeling like, Oh, I couldn’t possibly put out that offer. The more times you just make yourself doing you feel more confident, okay, I can I can charge that for this service. That doesn’t feel so bad anymore, right? It’s the putting in the reps, the repetition cures impostor syndrome. I’m living that repetition. So every time like, I don’t want to post to social media, again, repetition, repetition is going to make me not feel like you know, I’m bothering somebody if I put it out there. And I try to remind myself to like, if I’m putting out value, if this is something that would have helped me, why wouldn’t they share it? That’s, that’s my goal. I’m trying to share information that’s going to help you realize, hey, this system could work for you. Here’s how you do something in this system. And if that helps you amazing.

Matt Stagliano 36:33
And speaking of social, like your IG aesthetic is just off the charts. It’s it’s so well curated your brand colors are there, like just everything about your web pages and your social, you’ve put so much thought and effort into crafting your brand. And I love that. That light blue green. I don’t know what Pantone color it is. It’s so calming. Was that an intentional choice to make people feel a little bit more comfortable, serene, because this can be a world that is so chaotic, and intemperate. And just all over the place when we’re starting a business.

Kristen Lettini 37:21
Wow. Well, first of all, thank you. Because, you know, social media is one of those places, I 100%. Have that impostor syndrome of like, I couldn’t possibly I’ll just record it. Like, I’ll just do it and see what happens. So thank you, because I do not feel like any sort of expert in that realm. But the branding and color No, it was just I like the tail on the pink. They feel very tail as they feel whimsical to me. I thought they looked clean and bright and fun. I never went with calming, but I like it.

Matt Stagliano 37:49
A lot of folks want to just jump right into the doing rather than stepping back and thinking and I asked you that question one because I meant I just didn’t know if that was part of your your brand creation. As you were thinking through all this because I’m assuming on your system checklist somewhere, it was alright, build the website, build the IG put social media content out. Social Media for me and everyone that’s ever listened to this has heard me say it 1000 times I think that social media has become a poison for a lot of us. However, it can be used as a resource and a tool very effectively if used wisely. In the rest of everything that you’re doing. Right. And especially it’s it’s the necessity for small business owners sometimes. So in thinking about how folks are utilizing social media, do you ask people to incorporate that in to their systems? If they’re not already doing it? Do you ask them to scale back if they’re doing too much? Where do you find a balance with your clients as to how they’re using social media for their brand versus Doom scrolling and wasting time and not focusing on their business? Because they feel they have to? I got to put myself out there I have to interact? Yep,

Kristen Lettini 39:06
I could not help but like dream I couldn’t think of the right fairytale. Maybe a little descendents on up you know that one? But I kept when you were describing social media as the poison and this I was thinking, Okay, it’s kind of like the tool if it’s in the hands of the villain. It’s no good it’s the poison but if it’s in the hands of the good guys, it can be used for good or bad what sort of visual I was formulating as you’re saying that I don’t get too much into the details of social with my clients, but I do for myself and I will teach my clients if they want to. I do use Asana to plan out my social. So I plan it to brainstorm I use it to brainstorm my ideas. Oh, yeah, tell me about this. I use it too. So I have a project created just for social and I you haven’t get into a lot of details. So in Asana, you can view things as for free on the free version. I’m not talking about the paid version. You can view things as account You can view them as a list like your traditional checklist or you can view them as a Kanban board, sort of that post its Sheil like here’s a category I’m gonna put some posts underneath. So I like to create a project and view it in that Kanban board style. And each board is a content pillar and you’ve probably heard of content pillars. Maybe you even have them mapped out for yourself. So for me, I’ve got a pillar for 70 nats I’ve got a pillar for Asana. I’ve got a pillar for fairytale inspiration and podcast than that I you know, I talked about my cats and my kids and peloton and all that stuff and my personal pillar, but I have pillars, right? And then anytime I think of an idea, I create a task and put it in one of those pillars and Asana. It says, Okay, here’s an idea. We’re gonna say workflows and how you create a workflow. How do you get started with a workflow? That’s a topic that’s a post, that’s a blog, that’s an email, I put it in that pillar. And then if I want to assign it a date, it will go on the calendar. So I can see oh, yeah, Friday, I’m going to talk about workflows and how to get started on my social media. I might also turn that into an email. And I use it as a way for content planning. Because if I have an idea, there’s a place to put I know, people use notes and things on their apps or phones. But in this case, I like it’s all together. It’s in one spot. My brainstorm is the same place as my content planning is the same place as my podcast, editorial calendar, like everything I’m planning is its own project. And then I can zoom out with the My Tasks button and asana and see how it all comes together. So for me, I like the ability to zoom in. Okay, we’re talking social media right now. But then I can zoom out and see, here’s everything going on my business. Crap, that’s a lot going on today. Maybe I need to move some things. So I think I was exact a whole bunch there. But so

Matt Stagliano 41:40
I love I love where you went to because you have a personal pillar in there. And like an inspiration. Pillar. I’m sure I’m not saying that correctly. But I heard you talking about like, Hey, I’ve got personal time, I’ve got time for inspiration. I’ve got these things that I’ve mapped out that so many people forget about. It’s just business tasks business to do list after list after list. And there’s no time built in for themselves. Was there a point where you said, I’ve got to start building in more personal time for me and make that my own to do list so that I don’t forget about and I maintain balance? Was there a defining point? Or is that just always been part of what you do?

Unknown Speaker 42:21
Well, it’s

Kristen Lettini 42:22
interesting, because I think you heard it differently than I said it and I like what you said, and I’m like, oh, so I was like ideas to share on social about personal. I have I do have like personal checklist in there and Asana. But I do I have a project for time off. So I will mark like, when my kids are off from school, I put on the calendar, I’m not working. That’s I’m not going to take meetings, I think the turning point for me was again, COVID. feeling like I was so close. But so far from my family when I was working from home, now that I don’t have to answer to someone else’s schedule. I thought, Okay, this is how we’re going to make it I’m going to make my schedule around them. If they’re home, I don’t need to, I don’t need to stress about like, Be quiet. Don’t come in here. I want to call it I’m not spending time with you. Friends, it doesn’t mean they just don’t sit in front of their iPads and I’m going to work anyway when they’re home. But I have the flexibility, right? If they say they want to hang out with me, if I ask them, I can do it. So it’s not perfect. But I did again, I think COVID was an eye opener in terms of hey, I can I get to own this time. I can design in how I want and with the right tools and the right planning. I can make the space for it. And I just feel like before I felt like I had no white space, there was no room to like, relax or breathe or tap into that creativity. And now I’m like, okay, I can read a little bit if you still never have feel like you have enough time in the day. But I do feel like okay, there’s there’s whitespace now I have a little room to play with. I’m

Matt Stagliano 43:44
going to ask you to brag and be vulnerable at the same time. Oh, okay, that sounds like a doozy. The first thing on the brag side is I want everyone to hear the thing that sets you apart that you know you’re good at and why clients should perk up their ears and listen a little bit more to you than anyone else. Secondarily, the vulnerable part. Where are you growing? Where’s your focus? What do you feel that you need to build more of in your business? Not necessarily because it’s doing poorly but where do you want to start putting more attention and how are you going about doing

Kristen Lettini 44:23
that is really hard so if I’m really bragging I feel like I treat my clients business as my home like I want to my my first and best customer she’s still with me. I will often be like wait like we got a sale and she’s like I love when you say we we yeah not your sale but I love what she didn’t say it but she’s like I love when you say wait because her sales my sales like yes we got a sale we got new client we got this. So I literally like I said I will lay in bed thinking about what I can do for this client to make this work and make it work really well. And I think my backgrounds in corporate marketing communications, like I’m always thinking about that ultimate client experience, because I know that getting three emails in a row from somebody is going to be annoying. So how do I get them to get what they need to know when they need to know it? And as clear as possible, like, I’m going to wordsmith the heck out of that email, I’m going to trim it down, I’m going to make sure it happens at the right time. So I feel like it’s my experience combined with the caring with the their businesses, my business. I don’t know that other people care as much as I care. So I think I think that’s my brag. And then the though, what am I growing on is definitely the marketing and the pitching and just explaining what I do, what is the magic that I’ll bring, because I know it and my clients know it when we’re in it. But I have a hard time, especially getting on social media being like, Hey, I’m so great. Come over here, this is what you need. Right? I think we all struggle a little bit with that. So it’s definitely something I’m always thinking about is how do I, and even as a communications background, I’m like, how do I communicate? This is what they need? This can help them how, and I’m the person to do it. So scenario I’ll forever be growing is how do I share that message? Well, I

Matt Stagliano 46:13
think it comes down to you. And what I’ve heard throughout this entire conversation has been, you have this relentless attention to what the customer needs, that’s different from a relentless desire to succeed. For myself, it’s putting others ahead of yourself, when you’re using Wi Fi, it is that wonderful partnership where someone feels they are truly partnered with you rather than just this is somebody that’s helping me do a thing. Yeah, we’re in this together. And it’s it’s a different way of looking at it right. And it shows that there’s been a lot of thought, empathy, and listening and service included in everything that you do. Do you ever read unreasonable hospitality by Wilk Dar, so we’ll go dark, he was a restaurant tour 11 Madison Park in New York, one of the best restaurants in the world. And the entire book is based on him wanting to go above and beyond for his customers over and over and over. It’s a fascinating book. And I think, you know, the lessons in it are all written around the food industry. But from a customer service perspective, it’s fascinating to watch all the little efficiencies and ways that you can do something better, no matter how long they’ve been done. And I think that’s where your coaching helps so many people. Now I haven’t interviewed all your clients. But when I think about your background and the conversations that we’ve had previously, there’s such a focus, a selfless focus on truly helping people because you were there once, and you’re trying to help people shortcut past some of the trials and tribulations in the early stages. Would that be a correct assumption? I mean, is there is there that level of focus for you? Yes,

Kristen Lettini 48:09
I love and I again, I go back to the musicals. I was High School Musical. We’re all in this together, as you’re saying it. Signet. And the other thing I wanted to add to you is like when I go in, I’m not coming in with the solution. Like, I need to hear from you, like we set about the process and what you need, because I don’t want to just prescribe, like, here it is, here’s the answer, because then may not work for you. Right? Every business is different. And I literally just had a client call right before this call. And she was interested in coming over to 17 hats, and I’m like, Great referral code. Let’s go I love so I’m sure half of that. Yeah. But she already had a system that was doing a lot of the same things. And I’m like, I don’t I don’t know if I can tell you to go there yet. Like I need to research what you’re currently doing before I can confidently say and whereas I feel like some people, right or wrong will be like yeah, let’s go build it over and 17 hats. So yes, I genuinely care. Like the thing that makes me happiest is when you the client, email me back or call me and say oh my gosh, this is so amazing. I’m so like, that makes my day versus a big fat paycheck, which I would love that too, right. But I get so excited when the client tells me how amazing this has changed their life.

Matt Stagliano 49:18
And I think that separates you from what we’re seeing now, which is a deluge of online educators. I came up with this simple 42 step process to make you a million dollars, so long as you have $900,000 to invest in ads, right? Simple. There’s so much I call it carpetbagging, right? You’ve got all these educators out there that have a solution to everything. You just need my system, rather than doing what a true consultant like you does, which is listen first, develop a solution based on experience and proven techniques, and then applying that to the client’s needs. needs, rather than just saying, By this, I’m going to force you into it. I don’t care if it works for you or not give me the money. And then I’ll give you the secrets. And I’ve never approached things that way. I’ve always been, you know, I had a career as a consultant as well. And I think that that gets bred into you to really work with your client, and be just as invested in their process as they are. Because within that can be created, things that truly work for them that aren’t going to work for your next client. Yeah, but it’s those insights that you gain that little bit of experience for you that you can take to the next client, and maybe build a new system, a new workflow for all of your clients, right? You’re seeing things differently now that you’ve had all this experience. I love, love, love, what you are doing, you know, if there was one thing that you could say to someone that doesn’t have any systems? What would you say to them? Listen,

Kristen Lettini 51:02
the fairy tale is out there. You just, you have to build it systematically, you’re gonna you have your dream, you keep keep your eye on that dream, and you’re just gonna slowly but surely take steps aiming towards that dream. And at some point, you’re gonna realize this system is going to help, it can help you achieve that dream. So don’t give up on the fairytale. And if you if you’re feeling a straw, man, you might need a system.

Matt Stagliano 51:27
Where can they find you?

Kristen Lettini 51:28
You can find me at Chris and Everything is there, including my social, if you want to go check that out, as you suggested, but start there, Kristen,

Kristen, with an E N, not N I N or cityads, like

person 10. Like perfect 10. Christine.

Matt Stagliano 51:46
Now with that. Thank you so much for being here. I love this. And I mean, I could talk systems and workflows all day long. And try to steal info from you, for my own stuff, get some free consulting. But of course, it is the cornerstone of any long term success. Anybody can be a flash in the pan or make something work in the short term. But having systems in place that are repeatable, that are easy, that free up time for you to do other things in scale the business is it’s almost a non negotiable. You have to invest the time to build these systems if you really want your business to be as successful as it could be.

Kristen Lettini 52:28
So I’m gonna steal some of that from my marketing lingo there. Yeah, no

Matt Stagliano 52:33
worries, no worries. That was all on a chat. GPT I just have it rolling on the screen here. Thank you so much for being here. I can’t wait to see you again. And maybe in a couple of months, I’ll bring you back. And we can kind of see how things have progressed both with the podcast with the clients and see if there’s any new insights like that a

Kristen Lettini 52:53
little accountability for that. I take my own advice. Okay. Absolutely. That this is a blast. Thank you so much. Awesome.

Matt Stagliano 52:59
Thanks again. I’ll talk to you soon.

Kristen Lettini 53:01
All right. Thank you.


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