In This Episode
After taking Chicken Soup for the Soul all the way to the top of the charts, Patty Aubery now plans to do the same with GoalFriends, a business group dedicated to teaching close-knit classes of women entrepreneurs about the principles of success and strategic career planning. In this episode of MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR she shares her humbling new startup pains while exuding an optimistic outlook on how millennials can improve business.
1:07 Slow Down
Don’t let the moment blur by; enjoy the present.
2:50 Don’t Be Someone Else’s Agenda
Proactively figure out what you are going to do so someone else doesn’t take advantage.
4:41 From Daydreaming in Class to Real Visionary
Inspiration breeds action: GoalFriends, the BNI for women.
6:53 Big Company, Same Problems
Just because a company has made it big doesn’t mean they don’t struggle with the same problems as other small businesses.
9:40 Simpler is Better
Don’t bombard your list; keep it simple.
12:00 Make a Difference
Testimonials from those who have been touched by your product makes everything worth it.
13:35 Give Millennials a Chance
A new, talented generation brought up on video games needs opportunity; step up and give it to them.
– Patty Aubery
LR: Welcome to MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR. I’m Landon Ray, and today I have Patty Aubery. As the president of the Canfield Training Group, Patty Aubrey is overseeing the growth of the publishing industry’s first billion dollar brand Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she’s created a multimillion dollar training company around the success principles of author Jack Canfield. She’s expanded these programs into 108 countries. She’s now dedicated to bringing that experience to women entrepreneurs, teaching audiences in small groups, the principles of success, and strategic career planning. Patty is the go-to coach and mastermind partner with some of the top names in the training industry. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here.
PA: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
LR: Although, I will say that it took you less time to be here than most because you’re right here in Santa Barbara.
PA: I am.
LR: That’s awesome.
PA: Which is great.
LR: Yeah. You’ve been at this, I think I just said, for quite a long time, and you’ve obviously learned a ton along the way, and what would you say to your younger self? Your “career-starter Patty”‒ that a piece of advice that would’ve made the whole journey smoother, less painful, faster. What would it be?
PA: I don’t know if I could have made it any faster because of when we started. I think the first book we had an email that was SoupForSoul@AOL.com if you can imagine. And all you ever heard was, “Your mailbox is full.”
PA: I don’t think I could have made it faster, but I think what I would’ve done is I probably would’ve enjoyed it more. I just had a baby, so I was really struggling with the whole guilt in staying home, and working, and running a company, and building a huge business, and do I stop what I’m doing after five years of working really hard to finally get something off the ground because it took that long to actually make it go? I think I would probably just really cut myself some slack, and really enjoy it, and be present wherever I was whether I was at work or I was at home. It was that constant struggle for me.
LR: How do you make yourself enjoy it more?
PA: Well, I would’ve enjoyed it more by not beating myself up when I was at work thinking I should be at home, while I was at home thinking I should be at work.
LR: Just give yourself a break.
PA: Just saying, “You know, you can’t have it both ways. I mean it can’t be all things at the same time.”
PA: Really, it’s not about quantity, it’s really about quality whether it’s about quality content, quality stories, quality time, whatever it is. With your wife, your kids, your husband, that’s really the thing I think I would do differently and have the confidence to do that. A big deal.
LR: Yeah. I had a business that I started before this one that I hated, and it was the design of the business. The kind of people that I had to have there, the relationship that I had with the customers, it was just not designed in a way that was ever going to be any fun. When I started this one, I had it in mind to try to design a business that could be enjoyable, which I think was an important first step for us. Can you imagine how you might build in systems …
PA: Oh yeah.
LR: … Or strategy like that? What would it be?
PA: Yeah. Well, actually I’m glad that you said that because it definitely was the situation for us as well. I had 230 book titles. It started off with one a year and, at the end before I sold it, to 18 books a year I was publishing. The one thing I would’ve done very differently is that who was going to be an author. You say you have a clear vision, and you said these goals, but unless your vision is so crystal clear. You have the potential to becoming somebody else’s agenda. As you know, I’m sure when you start to get successful people start to come out of the woodwork, and everybody has an idea. For me, it took a while, and a lot of pain and suffering of not having qualified people show up and do what they were going to do to finally say, “Wait a second, I’m going to proactively really figure out who I want to go after, and bring them in.” That was a game changer. It changed my life because it made it much more simple.
LR: Yeah, I can imagine. What is … You got a lot of stuff going on. What … And have done so much over the years. What do you feel like your kind of unique skill set is that’s made all that possible?
PA: I’m crazy. I wasn’t a good student. I was constantly sort of day dreaming, and I really think outside the box. I like to live five years out, so I’m someone that is always looking at what’s next, and I’ve learned over the years to really support myself with an incredible team that’s willing to the right now, the present so I can be working in the future. I would say that’s probably my biggest thing. I’m very intuitive, and I’m pretty visionary.
LR: You’re focused five years out on the vision that you’re working to create. Where does that come from? Are you looking at trends in the industry or are you literally on the inside? The world that you’d like to see?
PA: I only do things that come to me through some sort of divinely inspired thing. I don’t know what it is. I have to be completely inspired at some level, and I know when I get … You know when you get that kind of goose bump like, “This would be an amazing idea.” Or something comes to you, that’s when I know that it’s time to act on what’s next, and I really only go by that. I’ve never gone by what’s anybody else is doing. I check out what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. For example, I just started a new company called GoalFriends, and it’s sort of like a BNI. Have you heard of BNI?
LR: Yeah. Business Networking …
LR: … International or something like?
PA: Yes. Business Networking International. I called Ivan Misener, the founder and CEO. I said, “Ivan, I’ve got this idea. It’s kind of like BNI, but it’s only women, and they get together once a month, and they have a little workbook, and each month they start with a bucket list, and they start to set goals, and they do this throughout the year. They meet once a month. Tell me all the things that I need to know. What should I not do?” I get coaching on that kind of stuff, but mostly it’s kind of where I felt like I need to know typically, and I follow that.
LR: I’m getting the sense that you’re kind of at a place in your business that’s obviously mature, and at a place where you can kind of do what you want. You’ve got such a reputation, and such a huge list that the idea of “I’m going to start a new thing,” it’s like you’ve got the research to sort of make that successful, and you may not, and I can be wrong here, but you may not be struggling like many of the people that I’m surrounded by to figure out how to grow a list or making a Facebook ad work.
PA: I’m completely struggling with that.
LR: Oh good. Tell us about that.
PA: I don’t know anything. It’s interesting. I’m really glad that I came to this because it really opened up a whole new world for me as far as … We have a social media team on the Canfield side, and we’ve a million people on Facebook, and all kinds of things. But some of the things that I’ve been really wanting are really creating buckets, and really specifically going out to individual … Really you, not the whole world, and not listing if you’re this, or this, or this, or this. Really, if you are this one thing that it’s so confirming for me to today I completely struggle with that, and I have a team that’s working on like you said we have luxury retreats, we have a new online certification, we do like a one week seminar every year that’s five days in the summer, we have one day events that we’re doing. They’re really busy. Anything new is always kind of how do you fit that in.
PA: And the other thing is this other venture GoalFriends is completely new. And it’s mine, and it’s not part of my original organization. I’m having to sort of reinvent, and what’s happening for me is I’m getting a lot of … I’m appreciating my team a lot more. But for all the people that do what they do because I’m starting at the ground, and it’s hard.
LR: It is.
PA: It’s really hard. It’s to learn everything you need to know about Facebook, to be writing the right copy, to creating all the programs online, to who’s running the back end. Are you using Infusionsoft or ONTRAPORT? Whatever it is. I mean there’s a lot that goes into this. I’m almost glad that it was sort of boots on the ground when I started working because it was … At some level it was just as hard, but it just seemed less complicated. Maybe because I had a 29 year brain and not a 52 year old brain.
LR: It could be. But paper is also less complicated than computers. It is.
PA: Yeah, well you can’t see what’s behind it, and it’s not all there. It’s difficult, and it takes a lot of work, and it takes finding the right team members, and if you don’t understand how to get from here to here it’s very difficult to vet who’s going to get you from here to here.
LR: Yeah. Interesting though that you’re … Even at the … With all the experiences and successes under your belt you’re still kind of struggling in learning with the same stuff that all of us are, which is the fundamentals of this moment, which are segmentation, how to be relevant, how to deal with the giant ad platforms, how to create traffic or whatever it is, right? Very interesting. What is working? Have you had a breakthrough recently that has changed things for you?
PA: Well, a couple of things really. I mean for me, I’m one that doesn’t really believe in bombarding people at this point with a bunch of different funnels and so forth. I sort of … I’ve been testing, speaking to individual audiences a little bit more. For example, our luxury retreats. It’s very high end, it’s very expensive, and I just said, “This is what it is, here’s what it costs, and I need 24 yeses,” and that works.
LR: You say that via email? Via broadcast email too?
PA: Pretty much. I mean I don’t say, “This is what it costs, and this is how.” But I said to my team, “Let’s not do the whole funnel, opt in kind of thing. Let’s just … It’s very exclusive, it’s only 24 people, it’s by application only,” that kind of thing. That’s working pretty well. It’s just keeping it simple. I think for me, I don’t know about you, but sometimes at this point I just want to say yes or no. Maybe that’s a little anti-norm, but that’s sort of where I’m at. What else is working is taking our program that we have, and the certification we have, and putting it online. I think we had 500 people in six years, and we did 1200 people in the first year when we put it online.
PA: That was a … Can you really transform people’s lives online? We shot it all live, so there’s a lot of processing, and it’s amazing. The results we’ve had, so that’s really working.
PA: This GoalFriends thing I think is really working. I think women really want to have the community, and the collaboration, and the confidence that they need to go out and do whatever is next for them, and that’s sort of working as well.
LR: Yeah. Good. You’ve created a lot, and you’re still going. But what is it kind of like all for? When you’re feeling like you’re looking at the arc of your career, maybe even looking back from the end, I mean what would you like your legacy to have been?
PA: That I made a difference in other people’s lives. It’s really what it’s about. It’s when I get letters from people, and the things that they do, and I’ll never forget the first testimonial I got for the online program that we created because I was working on it thinking maybe I’m crazy, I’ve lost my mind, I’m drinking my own Kool Aid. When you get into these places.
PA: The first video I got, my sales gal brought it to my house and said, “I want to play you a video.” This guy said, “I work in the auto industry, in the service department, and I went through your program, and my life has changed forever.” I was just … I mean it was something I never thought I would touch, and I was hysterical. I’m like, “Oh my god, I am not crazy, and we’re changing the auto industry, and it’s amazing.” But when you do it right, and when it’s good content, and when you’re coming from a place of really wanting to give people breakthroughs, to make their lives better, to improve their relationships to all the different areas of their lives, and you really mean it, it’s so unbelievably rewarding. It’s what keeps me going because I work a lot, and I love it because of that. It’s not about me.
LR: Yeah. We’ve called this thing MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR. We’re trying to point to what the unique opportunities of this moment are. Things have changed as you know so much over the last … Even just a few years, let alone a few decades. What are the kind of unique opportunities that you see that are available to entrepreneurs today, and maybe what are the unique responsibilities that entrepreneurs have?
PA: Gosh, that’s a really good question. I would say for starters you figure out whatever it is you’re passionate about. I have kids right now. One son is graduating from college, the other one is a sophomore, and my senior started to kind of freak out a little bit. I’m pushing him. “What is it that you love to do?” Don’t come from a place of “Hey, where can I make money?” Because you and I both know running a business it’s not easy. You really have to love whatever it is that you’re doing, and I think that’s … I think a lot of people are kind of complaining about millennials, and, “Well, they don’t have the same work ethic.” But maybe they’re coming from a different place. Maybe we should back up a little bit, and say, “What would it look like for you in the perfect environment? What would you like to tell us?” I think we have an opportunity to bring in these young kids that are completely talented, who grew up on video games, and give them a chance, give them what they need, give them permission to take, to step up, and see where they can take us, and not be threatened by that, and really look at it from a different standpoint. I think that’s a big opportunity for a lot of us today. And it’s really not embracing change. It’s really embracing opportunity, and what they know, and it’s about encouraging them. When our kids learned to ride a bike, like “Come on! You can do it! You can do it!” Welcoming those new ideas, and giving people space to have them because that’s really what makes the world work.
LR: Yeah. Awesome Patty. Thank you so much for being here.
PA: You’re welcome. Thank you.
LR: It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you. Would you sign our wall?
PA: I would.
Want more MODERN ONTRAPRENEUR Podcast?
Check out the previous episode featuring Alan Gertner of Tokyo Smoke.