Shadé Y. Adu is a personal brand strategist, international speaker, bestselling author, and founder of Savvy Solutions Consulting, LLC. Shadé helps women entrepreneurs create profitable personal brands and powerfully communicate with their ideal target market online by leveraging social media and live streaming. She has helped thousands of entrepreneurs increase their revenue, build digital products and connect with new clients. Shadé is also a featured expert in Black EnterpriseThe Huffington Post, and Hello Beautiful.




In This Episode

After building a following of 10,000 within a year by live streaming, Shadé knew her “expensive hobby” had become a real business. The brand strategist continues to stand by live streaming’s unique ability to connect you with your niche audience, but she warns to make sure you have a business goal in mind with each video. Shadé shares why entrepreneurs shouldn’t fear the realness of live streaming, the one thing you need to operate at your highest level and keep everything afloat as an entrepreneur, and more in this episode of Modern Ontrapreneur.

Topic Timeline:

0:55 Humble Beginnings

Three years ago, a dream blossomed into something big.

1:33 Get Help

Don’t be afraid to invest in a team of support.

4:06 Unique Skill Set

What Shadé brings to the table

5:05 What’s Working for Shadé

How live video has changed the game

7:25 The Fear of Live-streaming

This income-generating activity scares many entrepreneurs.

11:17 The Struggle is Real

Balance and focus stays in the limelight as Shadé works.

12:35 Shadé’s Legacy

Anything is possible.

12:59 An Entrepreneur’s Role

Be philanthropic with everything you do.

Clarity creates a pathway to cash.

– Shadé Adu

Show Transcript

LR: Welcome to Modern Ontrapreneur. I’m Landon. Today I have Shadé Adu, who’s a personal brand strategist, international speaker, best-selling author, and founder of Savvy Solutions Consulting. Shadé helps women entrepreneurs create profitable, personal brands, and powerfully communicate with their ideal target market online by leveraging social media and live streaming. She’s helped thousands of women entrepreneurs increase their revenue, build digital products, and connect with new clients. She’s also been a featured expert in Black Enterprise, the Huffington Post, and Hello Beautiful. Whew. Thanks for being here.

SA:  You’re welcome, I’m excited. Thank you.

LR:  So, how long have you been at it. You’ve been consulting brands for?

SA:  I started my business living in Kazakhstan, and I started-

LR:  What!

SA:  Yes, I started my business internationally. I was an educator and teacher trainer, and a month before I left my job I started my business online.

LR:  Whoa.

SA:  I decided that I wanted to create something that allowed me to travel around the world and impact people internationally.

LR:  Interesting, and how long ago was that?

SA:  That was three years ago.

LR:  Just three years ago, so you’re just like …

SA:  Three years ago.

LR:  … fresh as a baby’s bottom around here.

SA:  Absolutely.

LR:  Awesome. So, still, those early years are the ones in which you learn the fastest sometimes.

SA:  Absolutely.

LR: If you could go back three years ago and like give yourself a hot tip about how to make life easier, what would it be?

SA:  Get help.

LR:  Help?

SA: Invest in having a team and support. You don’t go on this journey of life by yourself, and you definitely should not go on this journey of entrepreneurship by yourself. Invest in hiring a team as fast as possible.

LR: Interesting. What would be the first thing you would hire for?

SA: An assistant, a virtual assistant. Someone that can manage the checking the emails, writing the emails, uploading your social media posts. A lot of times we spend so much time doing those things, and they’re not the income-generating activities. Focus on the things that make you the most money, that allow you to operate in your excellence so that you can make more money and be able to afford to hire someone. It’s really important.

I see, especially with women entrepreneurs, they want to do everything by themselves. It’s a mindset shift to talk to them about changing your mind and figuring out, and understanding, you are the CEO now, not the Chief Everything Officer, but the Chief Executive Officer, and your goal is to delegate so that you can operate in your highest level.

LR:  Yeah, I totally agree and, actually, we teach the same exact thing, which is to hire an assistant first. The other thing I see people doing is hiring people … They hire sort of like experts. They want to delegate like the high-level stuff. They try to go hire a marketer, or a sales person, or somebody to help them build their product, which, when you’re starting out is actually the stuff you should be keeping, and also the hardest stuff to delegate, right? The easy stuff to delegate is the uploading of the photos, or even like going and picking up the laundry, and like anything that gives you your time back, so that you can focus on those high-end activities.

SA:  Absolutely, especially in the beginning. You don’t understand your messaging. You don’t know who your market is. You’re like a baby, you have to get your feet wet. You have to make mistakes in order to figure out exactly what you want to do. Even for myself, I started off as a life coach, and college and career coaching. I had an extensive background in education, but people kept coming to me. They said, “Okay, I want to do this career thing, but I really want to start a business, and how did you build your brand?” They kept saying this thing to me over and over, and then one day the light bulb went off. “Maybe they want me to help them build their brands,” so I just naturally transitioned, because the marketplace, and the women that came to me, told me that that’s what they wanted from me. That’s really important in the first couple of years, to listen to what people are saying they want, specifically, from you.

LR: What do you feel like your unique skill set is that you bring to this endeavor?

SA: So, I think there is a multifaceted skill set that I bring to this. One of the things … I used to be extremely insecure that my background was not in business. I don’t have an MBA, I come from education. Being an educator and someone who understands how people learn, I know how to break down complex topics and ideas and make it easier. I always say, if a fifth grader can’t understand your brand then you need to go back to the drawing board.

Breaking down complex ideas and making it easy for people to understand what you do, because clarity creates a pathway to cash, and revenue. When people know what you do, and they’re able to understand it, then it makes it easier for them to be a client of yours, or even make a referral, be a referral.

LR:  Yeah, interesting. Clarity creates a pathway to cash. I have a feeling that’s going to be the tag line of this topic.

SA: Clarity creates a pathway. Absolutely.

LR: What is working right now for you to get customers, get people kind of following you. I’m sure that’s how it starts. What is the thing that’s working the best right now for you?

SA: For me, I am extremely busy. In addition to being a full-time entrepreneur, I’m also a full-time doctoral student.

LR: Oh, wow.

SA: Technically, I’m skipping class right now. Don’t tell my professors. Time and being busy is extremely just a part of my life. One of the biggest things that’s been helpful with me for creating content, because experts, and people who want to build brands on line need to create content, has been the onset of live streaming. Live video has been amazing. It allows me to create content in real time, so there’s no excuse about having to upload videos, or having to save posts, or having to filter beautiful Instagram photos. I do it in real time.

It allows me to create content and connect with people from around the world and share my message of personal brand strategy and social media marketing. If you are not doing live video, you are leaving money on the table, opportunities, you are leaving speaking engagements, and you’re leaving people who really need your support, because entrepreneurs provide solutions to the marketplace. There are people who are Googling you, they can’t find you. Definitely creating content in real time, and it forces you to take action, so live streaming has been one of the biggest business builders for me. It’s been transformed.

LR:  Interesting. Are you doing it on Facebook?

SA: Facebook live. I started off on Periscope and I built an audience of about 10,000 followers in about less than a year on Periscope, and that really just skyrocketed my business. Before Periscope, I would even say I didn’t have a business, I had an expensive hobby.

LR:  Interesting.

SA: I just was sharing my journey on that platform, and people in this entrepreneurial journey we all feel like unicorns. No one knows what we’re going through, but through the power of sharing your story, and through the power of just being myself, I found fellow unicorns. Through that we created our own unicorn entrepreneurial community. It’s been phenomenal being able to live stream and connect with people literally from around the world. It’s allowed me to have clients in Africa, Europe, in Asia, and Canada, and then throughout the United States. Whenever I’m traveling people are like, “I know you,” and I’m like … It’s really crazy how you can be like a mini-celebrity because of live streaming. It gives you opportunity to have your own television show.

LR: That’s so interesting. What do you say, though, to those people who are a little nervous to be on live camera? That’s pretty different than something like this that’s going to get edited, and the stupid things we say are going to get chopped out, and it’s all going to look pretty and well put together at the end. When you’re live, it’s live, and not saying the right thing, or making a mistake, or whatever it might be is kind of like there on your permanent record. How do you get over the sort of concern about looking bad?

SA: This is a big apprehension for a lot of CEOs, and a lot of entrepreneurs that I’ve consulted with and spoken to. In the onset of live streaming, the people were like, “Well, what do we do? What do we talk about?” I say, “Just be yourself.” People are so afraid of being themselves. It’s such a novel concept, a foreign concept, that people are like, “I can be myself?” Things happen. Sometimes your lighting’s going to mess up. There have been power outages. Sometimes things are … I’m crying, snot is falling out of my nose, things are falling, the baby is crying, dogs are barking, but this is real life. Because you decided to become an entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean life stopped. Live streaming allows you to really be real.

Another thing, it allows you to kind of take the real out of reality and be real, and be authentic. No one’s expecting you to be perfect, prim and proper, every single day of your life, and that’s exactly what people want to see. They want to see your imperfections, because they have imperfections, too, and they want to be able to relate with you. Live streaming allows you to do that. If it’s a complete disaster, don’t worry, just press delete. Just press delete, and do it again. I’ve had that happen. I’ve had crazy mishaps happen on live streaming, and I take an opportunity to reflect, and I always know that there is an opportunity to press the delete.

LR: Awesome, but one of the things that it feels like you’ve got to be, if you’re going to be live streaming, is interesting. You’ve got a whole kind of like vibe about you, and you’re kind of like, you know, you’ve got to rant about things, you’ve got an opinion, how do you decide what to talk about, if you feel like people may not be interested in what you’ve got to say?

SA: We always have this fear that people don’t care what we have to say. That’s one of the biggest things that people want to feel. They want to feel like they belong and that people relate to them. Every live stream I actually take notes, so I have a little notepad, or a post it that I’m looking at to make sure that I’m staying on target for my goals, because for me-

LR: Like, while you’re doing it?

SA: While I’m live streaming I will have notes, because for me live streaming is not just about live streaming, it’s an income-generating activity, it’s a business activity, so you need to have business goals. Whether it’s going to be lead generation, I’m leading them to a landing page to sign up for a webinar, or a freebee, I have an end goal in mind, whether it is I’m pitching a paid product. So, live streaming for me is an income-generating activity, so I come prepared with my script. I can still be off the cuff, but I do have some talking points, and I know where exactly I want to take them. It’s a journey. So, where do I want them to go?

That’s extremely important. It should do something. Every live stream has a purpose, whether it’s going to be a visibility-building activity, a lead generation, or direct sales activity, or getting someone onto a discovery call. You have to decide, what part of the journey this live stream is going to be, and be prepared. You can always prepare in advance, and if you can’t think of content, think about something that’s happened in the world and how that relates to your business, and brand. For me, I love taking live streaming about things that have happened in the world, or in popular culture, and relating it to personal brand building, and what entrepreneurs can learn from that.

LR: Interesting. So, what are you struggling with right now? What is the thing you’re trying to figure out and learn? What’s kind of your personal cutting edge in business?

SA: For me, the struggle is always balance and focus, because I work with a lot of extremely ambitious entrepreneurs. I say they’re 60% looks like everyone else’s 100%. They have seemingly outward success, but that’s not enough for them. They want to leave a legacy. They want to transform lives. They want to build generational wealth. What the outward appearance looks like is amazing, but they want more. For me as an entrepreneur who’s a full-time doctoral student, a full-time speaker, and author, and traveling the world, balance is extremely important to me, and creating a business that makes me happy, and not what other people think my business should be.

That’s extremely important and struggle, and also balancing school, so understanding that I need to outsource. I need to allow other people to do things on my team. It’s okay if I have someone come, the laundry service clean my clothes, because I need to be in the library. It’s okay if I say, “You know what, this is not the season to scale, this is the season for me to study so that I can scale later.” Understanding that this entrepreneurial journey is individual and that I need to make the decisions that make the most sense for my life.

LR: Well, you’re a young person, but you just mentioned that entrepreneurs want to leave a legacy. What would you like yours to be?

SA: I want my legacy to be that there is someone right now, whether they are born, or not born, I want them to know that this is possible. Whatever they want to do in this world is possible. If they want to travel, if they want to dance, if they want to sing, if they want to become an educator, I want them to know that their dreams are possible.

LR: Awesome. So, we’ve named this thing Modern Ontrapreneur trying to get at the fact that we live in a unique moment, that everything has changed so much, and that there are kind of new opportunities and maybe new responsibilities for entrepreneurs today. What do you think those might be?

SA: There are so many opportunities. When you step up into the limelight there’s an obligation that when you have great things happening for you, you definitely want to give back and be philanthropic, especially in the millennial age. As a millennial, it’s important that whatever I do there’s some type of philanthropic effort to it. My background’s in education. I was a teacher in the inner cities of Philadelphia and internationally. Whatever I do, I want to be able to inspire children in the next generation to be absolutely amazing. When you have opportunities, it is your obligation to provide opportunities for other people, too.

LR: Yeah. Thank you so much for being here. It’s been a pleasure. Would you sign our wall?

SA: Absolutely.

LR: Awesome. Thanks.

Want more Modern Ontrapreneur Podcast?

Check out the previous episode featuring Rand Fishkin of MOZ.

About Tatiana Doscher
Campaign Strategist Tatiana Doscher is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a dual B.A. in Communication and Global Studies. After working with several small and local businesses, Tatiana joined Ontraport’s Marketing team. She loves running, hiking and enjoying Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches.