Real good content: Carolyn Hern
Carolyn Hern and I met when neither of us knew what we were doing. I’m kidding. (Not kidding.) Carolyn had just decided to leave her corporate job to venture into fitness-franchise ownership and entrepreneurship; I was working at lululemon, and trying to figure out what the next couple of years were going to look like – but I knew in my gut it meant going out on my own. We both were kind of doe-eyed in our own, respective ways. I think a professor whom we both had in business school (but at different times) saw that and made that connection. She introduced us with the idea that we’d have a lot to talk about regarding fitness and business.
That was all, like, four or five years ago now come to think of it. We’ve been friends ever since.
I’ve watched the evolution of Carolyn as a business owner and thought leader. She is a really good example of a friend who has been totally honest about her transformation as a business owner. She’s seen the good, the challenging, and the dark side of the moon – and she’s talked about it openly on her blog and in her book. And I respect that.
Before the book, what did content look like for you – how often were you blogging and what topics did you find were the most fun for
you to write about?
Before I wrote my book, She’s On Her Toes, I was blogging twice a week – sometimes three times – on my website of the same name. I was just writing about all the things I was doing in my business on a daily basis. At the time, I was working on building my team and hiring the right employees, so most of my posts focused on my hiring process and what I was doing to make sure I was hiring the right people.
But the posts that resonated the most with readers, weren’t the fun ones.
I wrote a lot about some terrible failures that I had just experienced—I made a terrible, hiring mistake, and it almost cost me my business—that’s what people wanted to read. And I don’t think it was mean-spirited. As small business owners, we have all made mistakes—like really big ones. I think readers were relieved to find out they weren’t alone. More importantly, after making a mistake, you can recover and make your business even better. So, I’m not sure telling the world about all my mistakes was necessarily fun, but it was important.
How did and why did you decide to make the leap from blog to book?
Business owners are always hearing how you need to put yourself out there and start a blog so your clients know more about you. So, I finally got it together, and I started a blog. Then, I’m not kidding, it was, like, three weeks after I got the blog going, and all I kept hearing from these same people promoting blogs was, “Nope. Now you have to have a book.” So, I said to myself, ‘Sure, I can write a book.’
I’m pretty sure all my friends thought I was crazy. I remember telling one of my closest friends that I was going to write a book, and she just smiled and nodded. But having a book is a great business tool and it’s been an excellent way for me to speak to large groups of people and promote my business and the message of the blog, which is you have to hire a great team to run your business so you can focus on big ideas and innovation. Your team works IN your business. You work ON your business. There’s a difference.
What was your writing process for the book? How did you decide the content you wanted to share personally and professionally?
Since I had been writing pretty regularly on the blog, writing the book wasn’t a huge departure from the writing I was already doing. I just had to figure out how to write everyday for several hours. If you haven’t read the book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller, check it out. Reading that book really helped me focus on what was important—writing and getting out the message of She’s On Her Toes. But more than that, it actually gave great advice on HOW to do what matters. If you don’t already practice time blocking, you’ll want to start. Blocking out big chunks of time to do what is most important is a game changer and really ups your productivity.
When I decided on the content for the book, I knew it was going to have to be really personal about my business, which was pretty intimidating. There was a time about two weeks before the book was supposed to be out for sale that I almost cancelled the whole thing. The thought of having everyone read about all my mistakes and all the things I had to do to fix them was overwhelming. Fortunately, I got over that. I think bourbon helped.
Now that the book is out – what content choices do you make when sharing learnings from the book on social?
I’ve had a lot of positive feedback since the book came out—which is so gratifying! Whew, I’m not a total idiot. Haha!
But I have heard that people want more step-by-step instructions on how to create a hiring process—they don’t know where to start. And, they don’t know how to structure an interview or what questions are important to ask during an interview. I’ve been working on a workbook and some courses to meet this need.
Because my blog content is all about what I’m working on in my business at the moment, it has evolved to now focus on how my team is working and selling. I think I might be starting to write a second book about women in sales. Don’t worry gents, the same principles apply. Stay tuned!
Favorite book, passage, poem, article, you name it.
I have read this poem hundreds of times, and it’s actually the last page of my book. While, there doesn’t seem to be any known author, I hope these words encourage you to keep working towards your own dreams.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit—
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a person turns about
When they might have won had they stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out— (This is my favorite part!)
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,—
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
Why do you do what you do? How does your content support you in that?
My business was recently honored by the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and Truliant Federal Credit Union as 2017 Best Small Business in Winston-Salem, so I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this. I don’t know this for a fact, but I think one of the reasons Pure Barre Winston-Salem won was because of my blog and book. The Chamber and Truliant could read a year’s worth of my thoughts on business philosophy and all the work backing up those thoughts.
So why do I do what I do? Being a small business owner isn’t always glamourous. It can be really hard sometimes. But, I am motivated by the idea that there is nothing worse than wasted talent in this world. You know, the idea that everyone has great potential and can accomplish great things. And for me, that starts with being physically fit to accomplish all those great things. When your body is strong, your mind is strong and you can do just about anything.
Every day, I get to see my clients do amazing things in the studio that I know help them do amazing things in other parts of their lives. We just recently had a young, 20-something client start taking class after having a debilitating stroke. She literally has to modify everything, but she’s making it happen. I am so inspired by her and grateful that she trusts us to take care of her. That’s what it’s all about. Helping a community find its potential and helping everyone get stronger.
What if you were at the center of a workplace where everyone was pushed to be their best? What if your business was bigger than you? What if you could wear leggings EVERY SINGLE DAY? Yep. I have a pretty good life.