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Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Carrie Kerpen. She is the co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media and the author of Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business. Carrie, thanks for joining me.
Carrie Kerpen: Thank you so much, John. I’m so excited to be here.
John Jantsch: I have had your spouse on the before so I think this might be-
Carrie Kerpen: I know.
John Jantsch: … this might be the first couple.
Carrie Kerpen: Are we really? Are we the first couple?
John Jantsch: It could be. Actually I’d have to think about that. I might have had some couples on simultaneously but never separate shows with separate books. That’s awesome.
Carrie Kerpen: That makes us very happy. We often aspire to be the first couple on things separately. It is a very strange call but we do. We really do enjoy that. I will take that back to him.
John Jantsch: Check that one off today. This is going to sound like a smartaleck question but I wonder if you would define bold.
Carrie Kerpen: It’s really interesting that you ask that because there was a very big debate over the title, the subtitle in particular. I defined bold as women who appear to be fearless and push forward in spite of the fact that they actually are feeling all of the feelings. We feel all the things and yet we do it anyway, and push forward. We’re risk takers. We are trail blazers. We push to succeed in the very best. Originally the subtitle, by the way, was Secrets for Success from Bad Ass Women in Business. I was not feeling that bad ass was my brand even though bad ass definitely sales books. I felt that we weren’t bad ass. We were bold.
John Jantsch: You probably should of just gone with the three hour workweek or something. That might work.
Carrie Kerpen: Done. Just cut it an hour even shorter. Done.
John Jantsch: Since you brought it up, meaning that you have women in the title, I’m going to ask you to explain the difference between men, and women, doesn’t that sound fun?
Carrie Kerpen: Oh yeah.
John Jantsch: There’s this whole … You’re supposed to be very professional, but then you’re tamping down what actually is a strength maybe, because your passion, and craziness, and intuition is not always seen as professional so how do you balance those?
Carrie Kerpen: Well I think that it’s very challenging for women who have been taught for most of their lives to succeed in business they must work the way a man would, right? Where in reality being ourselves, and figuring out how to use that to our advantage helps us so much more. Women in general have had a very hard time moving beyond the competence factor. We focus on being the best, and knowing the most of what we can about a particular subject, or profession, and yet what we need to focus on is a little bit more of what men have been focusing on, which is the confidence factor. Having just as much confidence is as important as having the amount of competence that you have.
John Jantsch: Yeah, and it’s interesting in some of the interviews that you have the book I know some of the women that you interviewed at least professionally, if not personally, and I would say that there are certainly are few in there that could go toe to toe in the professional, and boldness with any man.
Carrie Kerpen: Oh you bet. You bet they can. The whole concept of the book is to show how many different women did it, because there’s no real one approach as a woman. It’s not like, “Here’s the woman’s guide to working in the workplace.” Many different women have many different approaches, and the idea is that you read the book, something inspires you. You see one woman, and you’re like, “Wow. She’s my spirit animal. I want to be like her.” And she gives you the tips that you need to succeed.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I was very disappointed the cover wasn’t pink, but I guess that was a choice that somebody made somewhere. I don’t know.
Carrie Kerpen: Correct. No pinking, and trinking over here.
John Jantsch: One of the chapters, and I always bristle when I read these, because I think people misinterpret this. A lot of entrepreneurs it’s very common to talk about this idea of you have to fail, and experience failure, and fail fast, and all these things. I think failing is stupid. Tell me why you think it’s important.
Carrie Kerpen: Well I’ll tell you one thing. If you think about one of the women featured in my book Reshma Saujani, she gave a great TED talk that says we teach our boys to be brave, and we teach women, our girls to be perfect. Women are taught to not fail at all costs. You John, if you fail, I’m sure you never do, but if you do, you pick right back up, and you move on. That’s what you do, but because we’re so tired, and taught from such an early age to seek perfection, we don’t let it happen. We keep going until it absolutely implodes. The idea being get comfortable with saying, “Hey you know, this was an interesting idea, but you know what, no it didn’t work.” Get comfortable with the confidence, and say, “Meh, this didn’t work. I’m going to try something else.”
I think that’s what it’s about. It’s not that you have to love failure. It’s just that you have to lose the fear of failure. It sucks. Of course, it sucks, but you have to lose the fear in order to truly succeed.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I think the difference … I don’t know if this is universal, but the difference to me is I don’t see stuff as failures that’s why I don’t think it that way.
Carrie Kerpen: You know why John? Because you have a lot of confidence, and so for women, they see anything that they do that’s not perfect as a failure quite often. It takes a lot of evolut… Takes a lot of thinking, and a lot of examining yourself to do that. It’s hard wired from birth.
John Jantsch: Well I have four daughters, and I could tell you that they were never taught to be perfect.
Carrie Kerpen: Good. Good. I hope so, certainly not from you, but if you look at advertising, and you look at a lot of what’s out there, there’s so much telling us that we are not enough. You may, or may not realize, but I’m very happy that you’re teaching that at home.
John Jantsch: Well I’m done. They’re in their 30’s so I did everything I could do.
Carrie Kerpen: Grown up girl.
John Jantsch: One of the things that was interesting, because of course, we’re talking about these ideas of … I haven’t really thought of it, Doves tales right into the perfect idea, but you have a whole chapter on loving your look as part of being a bold woman. Tell me about that.
Carrie Kerpen: First impressions are very important, and it’s not just first impressions of others seeing you. It’s what your impression of yourself is before you walk out the door. You want to feel good about what you’re wearing, and that’s okay if it’s not … It doesn’t mean that you have to be in a gorgeous Chanel suit every day. In fact, if you look at the cover of my book, it’s a bunch of women walking forward in outfits that they feel comfortable in wearing to work. When I was first presented a cover, it was all women in sort of pencil skirts, and professional attire, and what I wanted to show was that in order to feel comfortable with your look, and good about what you’re wearing, you want to wear things that feel most authentically like you.
Really it’s about discovering your own style, and being comfortable in that style. You don’t want to think about what you’re wearing when you’re in a interview, or conversation. You want to just be present, and in order to be present, you have to feel good, and comfortable about what you’re wearing.
John Jantsch: Yeah. That’s probably a huge factor in confidence. Once you’ve find that you don’t … I don’t mean you don’t care what you’re wearing, but that you are comfortable with what you’re wearing, and not worried about does this fit in here, then that’s a piece of the confidence puzzle isn’t it?
Carrie Kerpen: It feels totally natural, and you’re not thinking about it whereas, I had a story in the book where I had somebody pop in to all media, and ask me a bunch of questions, and I just felt totally off, and the reason I was off was that I was about to leave that night actually for Paris with my family, and I had worn my yoga pants to work, and my hair in a messy bun, and I saw them, and I found myself questioning everything I was saying, and wondering why, and of course it was the yoga pants, and messy bun that were making me feel that way.
John Jantsch: I talked about my daughter so family is definitely a topic I think that is not only a part of the book, but has to be a part of this conversation, and I will say that’s got to be I think the toughest thing for a lot of women entrepreneurs is that in many cases, not in all, they maybe have more of the burden of raising children, or paying attention to what’s going on with the children. My wife, we made the decision after our second child was born she was going to stay home, and raise the kids, but … I’ve had my business ever since then, and she is probably my most important employee even though she doesn’t get paid, because she allowed me to really do a lot of what this business looked like it needed. A lot of women don’t have that situation, and they’re balancing it all.
I’ve got to believe that that is probably the greatest amount of stress.
Carrie Kerpen: Oh it’s definitely the greatest amount of stress. Most women entrepreneurs start their businesses because they’re looking for freedom of time. This is where a lot of the MLM stuff comes from right? You’re home with the baby, and you want to start something, you want to fulfill your career, but you need control over your own time. A lot of times that’s how entrepreneurs … Female entrepreneurs get started, and then what happens is the businesses take off, and you find yourself without any time, and that’s very, very stressful. It’s all about the concept. Really just following the myth that women can have it all. We can have it all, but we can’t have it all at the same time. You’re never perfect at everything at the same time. Understanding that, and forgiving yourself in that process will really, really help you.
I spoke to Kass Lazerow who built, and sold BuddyMedia with her husband Mike for over 400 million dollars, and she said, “Yes, did I have it all? Yes. But not at the same time. I sacrificed a lot when I was building the company, and now I’m spending a lot of my time with my kids.” It’s really the balancing act is just that. It’s an act, and it’s very, very challenging to do. It’s one of the hardest parts that we have to deal with as women.
John Jantsch: I’m sure that this perfection thing comes into that too, because then it’s like I’m not cleaning the baby bottles well enough, or whatever.
Carrie Kerpen: Yeah. Oh everything. There’s all kinds of research on this, but you know we’re thinking about not just raising kids, but oh, did I change the toilet paper roll today? It’s every little thing that we think of that men … Men have definitely become a much greater stakeholders in the home, and all of this stuff over time, but it’s still women thinking about a lot of the little things that are creeping into their workplace in the day.
John Jantsch: Let’s get personal. How do you, and Dave manage this, because I’m not sure we even mentioned it, but for those who don’t know, the other found of Likeable Media is Dave Kerpen, and you have small children.
Carrie Kerpen: Yes.
John Jantsch: Have you guys figured out ways to manage?
Carrie Kerpen: You bet. We figured out ways to manage, but we still do screw up. It’s not perfect, but these are some of the things we do. We believe that both in our business, and in our marriage that having separate roles, and specific kind of assigned duties works very well. When we started Likeable Media Dave was the visionary, and the leader, and the CEO, and I was the operator. Same thing at home. Dave does a lot of the things that a lot of women do. He does a lot of the school stuff. He goes, and does all the school visits. He is majorly an advocate for them in school, and even serves on the school board, and I do a lot of the home stuff. I make sure the house is organized, and neat, and clean, and dinner. We also have great help.
When we had our third baby whose now two and a half. We have a 14 year old, a 10 year old, and a two and a half year old, because we’re totally out of our minds. We brought a nanny on board to help us, and that was really great too. Having good health, and really smart division of labor.
John Jantsch: It doesn’t hurt that Dave’s like an energizer bunny either.
Carrie Kerpen: Oh yes, that’s true. And also he’s a highly evolved man. He does a lot of things that are not so typically male. He’s fantastic. I can honestly say we are 50/50 partner in all things.
John Jantsch: I can honestly say we hugged it out the last time I saw him.
Carrie Kerpen: Aww. See? He’s a sensitive man. I love it.
John Jantsch: In the book, you base the book on a lot of interviews.
Carrie Kerpen: Yes.
John Jantsch: I always love to do this. What was your favorite interview?
Carrie Kerpen: I’ve gotten this question so many times. Okay. What was my favorite?
John Jantsch: You can have a couple.
Carrie Kerpen: Okay. I love Telisa Yancy who’s the CMO of American Family Insurance, and she’s an Ebony Power 100 winner. I loved her story about how she took … I liked anything that was counter-intuitive. She took a step down in her career. She went to a manager level position in an insurance company when in fact she was originally working at companies like Ford, and Burger King very, very big sexy companies. She took a step down, because she felt the urge, and desire to work in an area that helped people, and help people ideally save lives. She went to insurance, and then grew within three years to the CMO position. I loved how that step downward really propelled her forward in a beautiful way.
I love the story of Victoria Ransom who lived in a town with like 750 people, was a sheep herder in New Zealand, and then went on to start Wildfire, which was one of the largest technology companies acquired by Google back in the time when Facebook pages were really a big thing. I liked interviews with women obviously interviews Sheryl Sandberg was incredible, right? The big names I loved, but I also loved young women who were kind of just learning their first lessons in career. That was really incredible that women about what they wore, or how they got the latest promotion. Really I ran the gamete between super famous, and five years into their career, and I felt like they all had something valuable to say.
John Jantsch: One of the things I … And I actually like this in books, because sometimes I read books cover to cover, sometimes I just like picking up a book, and flipping somewhere, and you have a lot of little tips from your interviews, and so I’m kind of putting you on the spot here, but why don’t you share three, or four of your best tips.
Carrie Kerpen: Okay. One of my favorite tips that I love is using your mental mute button. I love this story from a young woman, who’s just about maybe eight years in her career, and had learned how to negotiate for pay in the best way possible, and I actually use this now. I took this tip from her, and I use it in more instances than just negotiations. It’s use your mental mute button. She likes to put awkward conversations on other people by totally muting herself. She would go into an interview, and she would say, “So what is the salary for this position?” And the immediate tendency for a woman is just to start talking. “Oh, I mean I made this at this last job, and I really deserve this.” Just putting yourself totally on mute, and just looking at them, and that puts the owe-ness on them to have a really good response. Puts the discomfort on them versus on you, and learning to own, and love that awkward by using your mental mute button was absolutely one of my favorites.
John Jantsch: I think that’s actually a tip that’s taught in just about every sales pre-training course, because that is what we’re all guilty of is kind of talking ourselves out of a sale rather than kind of controlling the sale by saying nothing.
Carrie Kerpen: Absolutely.
John Jantsch: Awesome. You have anymore?
Carrie Kerpen: Let’s see. I have a bunch. I think the concept of abandoning the five year plan that Brittany Hennessy I spoke to runs influencers at hers. She books influencers now. Talk about crazy job, right? She books influencers. Online influencers for print campaigns in her media publications. When she talked about her five year plan, what she said was, “Gosh my job didn’t exist five years ago.” Having a five year plan while sometimes a good idea, really can limit you. Being open to new possibilities, and viewing your career kind of as a jungle gym versus a ladder. Just one straight path up in a career is really interesting. She tried lots of different things to land where she was, and now it’s the job of her dreams.
John Jantsch: So you’re saying the fact that I want to be a cashier in five years probably is not a good plan?
Carrie Kerpen: No, because cashiers probably won’t even be there.
John Jantsch: We won’t. We’ll talk into a store, and it will just zap our wallet for whatever we want.
Carrie Kerpen: My god, yeah. We just went to the store on the snow day, and we went to go get … I sent Dave to the store, because he got two pieces … This is the one thing about men. He went, and he shopped, and he got too few … I needed two cartons of eggs, because we were going lots of bacon, and so he only got one. As soon as the roads were clear I was like you got to go to the store, and go get some eggs, and guess what? None of the cashiers made it in, but of course they had all of those auto attendant things. We were able to buy our eggs. This is the future man. Let it.
John Jantsch: Absolutely. I want to get those eggs without having to go anywhere though. That’s the future.
Carrie Kerpen: Well soon you’ll be able to do that. You really can.
John Jantsch: Carrier, where can people find more about Work it, and Likeable Media, and anything else you want people to know about?
Carrie Kerpen: Okay so all the places you can find out everything about me, and work it. First, I’m carriekerpen.com. C-A-R-R-I-E-K-E-R-P-E-N. Carriekerpen.com. You can go to workitthebook.com to buy it, and of course if you’re interested in our company Likeable you can go to likeable.com we create social media content for brands everywhere.
John Jantsch: Of course, we’ll have all those links in the show notes so Carrie congratulations on the book, and-
Carrie Kerpen: Thank John.
John Jantsch: … Thanks so much for stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and hopefully we’ll see you next time I’m in New York.
Carrie Kerpen: You bet. You’re the best.
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