Dawniel Winningham left her executive position at JP Morgan Chase to pursue her dream – helping others pursue their dreams. We talk about the mindset and mojo women in business need to manifest money – and why women entrepreneurs often underestimate their true value.
Welcome to Wings, Dawniel Winningham.
Dawniel Winningham: Hey, thank you so much for having me, Melinda.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, I’m excited to talk to you because you are all about women’s empowerment. For a long time, women used to think that being empowered was being like a dude. Talk to me about how women can be empowered in their authentic feminine.
Dawniel Winningham: Oh, absolutely. And me, with a background in corporate America, we are who we are. We have to remember that as women. And we’re nurtures. That’s what we are. But being a nurturer doesn’t mean getting run over. Being a nurturer doesn’t mean not having a voice, and above all things, being a nurturer doesn’t mean giving away your power to make decisions over your own life. So that, to me, is the quintessential example, or definition of, empowerment. Being able to make decisions over your own life.
Melinda Wittstock: So, coming up through corporate America, what were some of the obstacles or challenges that you had to overcome?
You know, hindsight is 20/20. A lot of the obstacles that we have as women, and especially the wage gap, because the area in which I focus on, women’s empowerment, is through financial improvement. So especially the wage gap. A lot of it is self-imposed. What I mean by that is we don’t speak up as much as our counterparts. We don’t take credit for what we do as much as our counterparts. We think that if we do the work it’s going to be recognized, and a lot of times that’s not the case, and as a result of that, we’re often more times paid much less than our counterparts.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, so we’re toiling away in the corner somewhere. I’m thinking in corporate America, or even if you’re an employee or a team member in a start-up, and getting your work done, thinking you’re being a total shero because you’re hitting it, you’re achieving, achieving, achieving, achieving, and yet nobody notices.
Dawniel Winningham: Absolutely. You hit that nail on the head.
Melinda Wittstock: So how can women speak up in either a corporate environment, or for a lot of the women who are, who listen to the show, who are solopreneurs or are at an early stage of their start-up, how can women better be heard? What do we have to do to be noticed and change that game around money?
Dawniel Winningham: One of the big things … It’s a couple of things, if you don’t mind. Number one, we’ve got to stop being afraid of money. Even the conversation around money with most women is taboo, and as –
Melinda Wittstock: Why?
Dawniel Winningham: … a result of that we’re comfortable spending it, girl. We’re by the mall.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, but why is it that we have such a hard time asking for it or holding onto it, attracting it?
Dawniel Winningham: Yeah, that’s what we were taught. We were taught, especially as women, that you serve, and you don’t ask any questions. So we’ve got to, first and foremost, we’ve got to unlearn those bad behaviors and those bad connotations around money, and we’ve got to re-learn what money really is to women. And it’s security. It’s not being 65 with a broken hip, not able to work and ending up losing your house or your car, because you don’t have any security. We’ve got to learn that.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, so not only are women not necessarily speaking up and focusing on relationships at work, but also in not speaking up, it’s really hard to be noticed enough to command the wage or salary that you deserve. Because nobody notices.
Dawniel Winningham: Absolutely, and even as entrepreneurs, nobody notices. Nobody notices because we have a hard time as women … The second thing I was going to say is we have a hard time as women separating our history and our self esteem and our personal worth and how we feel about ourselves from the work that we give to the world, the value that we bring with our products and services. We intermingle the two. So if I’ve got a history that’s less than positive, I allow that to reflect on my worth in the world. So I lower my rates and I provide too much value to my clients, and men don’t do that.
Melinda Wittstock: All right. The over-delivery.
Dawniel Winningham: [inaudible 00:05:08.
Melinda Wittstock: I know so many women who talk about that, just making everything so perfect. You know, do you think that it’s, just, deep down, it’s really difficult to create value for other people if you don’t value yourself? So is this a mindset issue? It’s just the way we’ve been acculturated?
Dawniel Winningham: Absolutely. It’s a mindset issue, and then it’s a personal worth issue as well. What have people told you that you were worth in the past? So we continue to embody and continue to adopt those things that people have said about us, and even as we change, we still see that old person in the mirror.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. So when women … So my whole world in the technology start-up, building a nice, scalable, growing business, potentially everyone who is in the technology space wants to be that one that builds that unicorn, right?
Dawniel Winningham: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: But I’ve seen so many women in that space as well, you know, if they need a million dollars, or they think they need a million dollars, they actually need more. A man is going to say, “No, you know what? I need five.” A woman’s going to say, “Look at me. I can do it for one.” And she probably will. She’s probably going to be a much better steward of that money. But a really interesting thing happens. It’s almost like the more money you ask for, the more value people perceive you … Sorry, I’m just going to ask that question again.
Dawniel Winningham: I see where you’re going. I see where you’re going.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, but … I’ll just sort of do a little edit there. That’s the beauty of tape. So, all too often in this world of women going out and asking for angel financing for their start-up, or venture capital, they think they’re heroes, or sheroes, because they feel they can do a lot more with less. So they’ll ask for a million dollars; whereas, a guy is going to ask for five. And in asking for five, the guy is going to be perceived as having more value.
It’s kind of a conundrum that women, a lot of us don’t understand. At least it took me a little while to understand. I get that now. If I think I need a million, I’m going to double it, triple it. Because you never know what’s in store for you when you’re running a start-up.
Dawniel Winningham: But that’s the same … You can take that analogy and you can apply it to absolutely positively every situation with women. If a man goes out and catches a goldfish, by the time he gets back to land, it’s going to be Moby Dick. A woman can go catch Moby Dick, and by the time she gets back to land, she’s convinced herself that, “Oh, other people have probably caught Moby Dick before. It’s not really a big deal. I’m not going to tell anybody.”
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, my goodness. That is so true. What a wonderful analogy. So how do we change this? It’s got to change, but we’re so fearful of singing our own praises.
Dawniel Winningham: We’ve got to learn … There’s a book that I read a long time. It’s called … I have to remember exactly what it’s called, but I think it’s called something like, “How to Toot Your Own Horn Without Bragging.” But you’ve got to learn how to stand at the table, speak to your accomplishments, speak to the things that you’ve done, speak to your value, and not allow your past or even who you are, gender-wise, race-wise, or anything else, distort that. If it’s a five million dollar job, it’s a five million dollar job, and I don’t have to undercut myself to get this job. You either want to hire me or you don’t.
Melinda Wittstock: So when you’re working with your female clients, how do you teach this, because so much of it is this kind of internal confidence? Like when I say internal, we can be so driven by our subconscious and not even aware of how we’re coming across or how we’re undercutting ourselves. So how do you turn this around for your female clients?
Dawniel Winningham: One of the very first lessons we do … I teach a “Charge Your Worth” class, and one of the very first lessons we do, I have them go out and I have them do benchmarks. I have them look at other companies and exactly what that other company is delivering, and how much they’re delivering it for. A majority of the time, they come back outraged. They come back outraged, because here I am, $24,000, and this other company is doing it for [inaudible 00:10:16. And then the next thing I ask them to do, Melinda Wittstock, I ask them, take how many clients you’ve had in the last year, put in the calculator how much money you’ve left on the table, and then tell what you would have did for your family with that money that you left on the table.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Right. Yes, that is … Because when you start to add all that up … At the root of it, do you find that the resistance that they’re afraid of the no? I had this great sales coach a couple years ago, who said, “Okay, look Melinda Wittstock, you’ve got to go out and get as many no’s as you can. Get as many no’s.” He sort of gave me permission, like specifically it was a metric, like it was a good thing if I got a lot of no’s, and it was kind of radical, because it freed me up to be able to just ask for the sale. And then, not only ask for the sale, but not be personally attached to the outcome if it was a no, like not to take it personally.
Dawniel Winningham: You know, some of it is sales. There are a myriad, to me, of opportunity areas that women have, our biggest of which, that we don’t work together.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s so true. Yes.
Dawniel Winningham: And because we don’t together, I can’t … If sales is my weak leg, I can’t get sales tips from Melinda. And Melinda, if customer service is her weak leg, she can’t get sales tips from me, because we’ve isolated each other and started to work in these silos, and men don’t. Men are going to bring in the best man for the job, even if they don’t like them.
Melinda Wittstock: I notice when men mastermind, they talk about business and they share their secrets and tips, and they bring each other into deals. They write checks for each other. They do all of that together, so why is it so difficult for women to do that for each other?
Dawniel Winningham: And a girl … And a woman won’t even tell you where she bought a pair of shoes. It’s a secret.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, so at the root of that, do you think that’s just scarcity? Fear of scarcity, that if one woman … Oh, I don’t know … that there’s only one woman that can have something?
If I’m a sales master and you’re a technology master, when we work together we’re going to go further. #Community #Women @WealthSpeakerClick to tweet
Dawniel Winningham: I really do. I think that’s the root of it. A lot of us have Wonder Woman syndrome, and I hung my cape and my tights up a long time ago, meaning we think we can do it all ourselves. And the truth of the matter being that we’re just not equipped to do it all ourselves! That’s just not how it works. So, if I’m a sales master and you’re a technology master, when we work together we’re going to go further. But somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten. We’ve forgotten as women that we are better when we’re a community.
Melinda Wittstock: This is why I started this podcast, because you know, I decided, Dawniel, that I wanted to be the change I wanted to see in the world, and I wanted to create an ecosystem, or a safe, abundant-minded place where women really could come together and help each other, and really share in a way that … You know, we could share our challenges and feel safe enough to feel vulnerable in talking about … Right? Or not feel … but share our vulnerability, rather, because everybody has things they’ve got to work on.
Dawniel Winningham: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: Everybody has superpowers. Everybody has things where they’re not that great. Rather than trying to do the things that you’re not that great at, better to … work with somebody else. Collaborate. Hire your weakness, right? Rather than trying to do it all yourself! I think this is so true. Men seem to understand this concept, though, a little bit better, this concept of leverage.
Like, what is the best use of my time? Like, I should be doubling down on my strengths, because I’m going to get more value for working on the thing that I’m really great at. I’m going to create more value for more people. I’m going to make more money doing that than struggling with my weakness, getting frustrated, trying to do all of it, when somebody else is awesome at the thing that I suck at, you know? Right?
Dawniel Winningham: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: Talk to me a little bit about your clients. Who are they? They’re mostly women. Are they women in corporate America? Are they women who are solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, a mix of all of it?
Dawniel Winningham: It’s a mix of all of it. There’s a mix of women who are in corporate America, trying to get out. That was my story. A mix of women in start-ups, trying to scale up. Because, of course, that’s been my story, scaling from zero to now generating a million in the last 14 months –
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, congratulations. That’s awesome.
Dawniel Winningham: That’s amazing. And then on pace to do our first multi-million dollar year next year. But it’s a combination of all of that. But the message, I think the one thing they have in common is that they’re hungry. They’re hungry for living their dreams. They’re hungry for sisterhood. We have an amazing community of supportive individuals, cheerleaders, if you will, that you know you’re not in this by yourself. So they’re hungry for sisterhood. They’ve been by themselves for far too long, in corporate America, or in their business, entrepreneurs.
And they understand leverage. Because we have created a successful economic environment where we get what we need inside of our community. If I need a website, I know who to go to. If I need an email funnel, I know who to go to. If I need graphic design, I know who to go to. If I need to re-org and get my infrastructure right, I know who to go to.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Yeah, you absolutely need that. We talk a lot on this podcast about the need for networks, that you’re really only as good as your community. Whether that’s your business networking, where you’re going to get all your leads from, assuming that you’re running a business If you’re not, if you’re in corporate America, it’s where you’re going to get your next opportunity or your promotion, all of that business networking is critical.
But it’s also important, the people who surround you as well, your family, your friends. They’re really supportive of you, and I see, sadly, a lot of women in situations where their friends are the people, or their partners are the people who, maybe they’re well-meaning, I don’t know, but they’ll say things like, “Are you sure? Is it really the right time for that? Are you sure you can do that?” Or, “Are you okay?” Things like that, that end up undermining the confidence of the woman that’s trying to go out and do something. So it’s vital to have the right positive people around you.
Dawniel Winningham: Well, you know, you choose the people around you. See, that’s what we as women, we’ve got to acknowledge that we’ve chosen the people around us. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book called, “The Dream Giver,” and in that book he explained what he called “border bullies.” That’s any time you’re leaving your zone of comfort to pursue greatness, there are going to be people who are going to try to stop you at the border.
What you didn’t realize when you first started reading the book was that the border bullies were people like your mother, and people like your husband and your friends. It’s not because they want to hurt you or undermine you. It’s because they don’t understand the journey. They don’t understand the hero’s journey. They don’t understand your purpose and your calling. They don’t understand where you’re going. So they’re really saying what they’re saying and doing what they’re doing, not to try to undermine you, but to try to protect you.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Yeah, that’s what I mean. They can be very well meaning, but they can sometimes just be expressing their own fears –
Dawniel Winningham: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: … for you. So, it can be very difficult, because … and it comes full circle around to what you were saying at the very beginning of the conversation, because we’re so nurturing, because we’re so … We place such a high importance on relationship, when people we care about say things like they, we tend to take it to heart, don’t we?
Dawniel Winningham: We do, and what we have to do to be able to counter that, Melinda, is we have to be great builders of our own networks. And that was the one thing that sustained me when I started this journey. I immediately was able to connect to some amazing women who were doing something I’ve never seen done before, and that was build businesses. I didn’t even know it existed. I didn’t even know this being outside of corporate America was even a possibility, but I saw them, and I saw them building their own network of people who didn’t watch scandal, because we had work to do, and people who didn’t go to happy hour because we were busy burning the midnight oil, trying to get these things called a start-up off the ground. So, it encouraged me. It empowered me, and it let me know what was possible. So anybody on this journey, I encourage them to seek out like-minded individuals. Because in doing so, you’re not going to feel as weird.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, so what was that moment? Take me back to that moment where you said, “Right, that’s it. I’m quitting. I’m out of here. I’m not going to be a corporate employee anymore. I’m going to create my own destiny and start my own company.” How did that all happen for you?
Dawniel Winningham: That’s too funny, because that moment actually becomes, it happens mentally far before you turn in your laptop and your security badge. That moment happens two or three years before you ever … especially if you’re making a six-figure salary, and bonus and five figures. That moment happens in your brain, and then you have to work to bring that moment into fruition in the physical realm. So, it was years ago. I left corporate America in March of 2015. It had to have been 2012 where I said mentally, “I quit. I can do better.” But of course, you don’t just walk out on that type of money. You have to transition out. You have to build your way out, and that’s what I did.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s wonderful. So what is your advice for a woman who has climbed the corporate ladder, trying to smash the glass ceiling, but has gotten frustrated there and has decided, “You know what? Rather than carrying on here, I want to do my own thing. I want to really pursue my own dream, and transition.” What are some of the first things that she should be doing?
Dawniel Winningham: Like I said, the first thing is you have to make that mental decision
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, so assuming you’ve made …
Dawniel Winningham: … to no longer continue to donate your time and energy –
Melinda Wittstock: No, I’m assuming past that point. So you’ve made the decision, the mental decision. You already know and you’re ready to go. What are some of the things you tell your clients they really need to have before they branch out on their own? Presumably they need some savings. They need some capital.
The great thing about having a job and building a business at the same time is that you have an angel investor already. It’s your job. #Startup #WomenInBiz @WealthSpeaker Click to tweet
Dawniel Winningham: They’ve got to have a plan. You’ve definitely got to have a plan. But what I was saying about the physical is, when I realized how many hours I was working at a job where I made a salary, and when I made a decision to scale that back, it gave me time to build this business. It takes time to build a profitable business. You can’t do it if you’re still over-committed to that job, working 60 and 70 hours a week. So you take the time, and you slowly start to build the profit. The great thing about having a job and building a business at the same time is that you have an angel investor already. It’s your job.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Yeah, that’s very, very true, because you do need some sort of capital, safety net. I think that’s very important. I think if like … So I’m on business number four now, and I’ve always been an entrepreneur, really. Before I was an entrepreneur I was a journalist, but before I was a journalist I was an entrepreneur. I think my first business was when I was five. So like, I don’t even know … I’m asking these questions about this transition, because I don’t even know what it’s like to not be an entrepreneur. It’s like, I’m like … I’m a little unusual, I think.
I think what’s fascinating to me is all these statistics now about how the economy of this country is changing into what’s called a gig economy, and that by 2020 some 40 percent of all Americans are going to be gig workers. By that I mean freelancers or people with a whole bunch of side hustles, solopreneurs, or just people who literally go from assignment to assignment to assignment for multiple companies. Basically freelancers, 40 percent. So to be able to survive and thrive in that kind of environment, you really do need entrepreneurial skills. So, we have this debate on this podcast all the time about entrepreneurial skills or entrepreneurial mindset. Is it something that can be learned, or is it something just innate? Like, I just know that I’ve always been an entrepreneur. It’s just always been my mindset. But I think I’m unusual. So is it something that can be learned? And how can it be learned?
Dawniel Winningham: It’s absolutely something that can be learned. The easiest way to learn it is to realize that you’re an entrepreneur already. That job is paying you to perform a service. You stop paying it, performing that service, that job stops paying you.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, I know. It can be quite heart stopping, because you are all you have. I mean, I joke with people that, if you want to grow personally or go on a personal growth journey, becoming an entrepreneur really gets you there pretty fast.
Dawniel Winningham: Yeah, because it’s the same formula, and I don’t know how it’s so obvious, but people miss it. So if you want to be an entrepreneur you find people, just like your job, who are willing to pay you for a service, and if you don’t do the service, they’re not going to pay you for the job.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. But it’s pretty important, though, too, don’t you think, that you’re doing something that’s kind of in alignment with your purpose? So you have some sort of passion, or mission, around it. It’s not just like starting any business, but to succeed, you need to start a business that you actually really care about.
Dawniel Winningham: And the keywords you said, Melinda, were to succeed. To succeed, to make any level of money. If you want to be ultra successful, this thing is so hard …
Melinda Wittstock: There are so many things that can go wrong, right? It’s not just you. We’re all human, right? So we all make mistakes. We might hire the wrong. We can only make the best decisions we can make with the information we have in that moment. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that happens beyond peoples’ control. I know a lot of entrepreneurs … Like, I know one who was ready for her big IPO on September 11, 2001, so that IPO did not … I mean, right?
Dawniel Winningham: Yeah, I’m sure. Right.
Melinda Wittstock: So there are a lot of different things that can go wrong that we can’t control The only thing we can control is really ourselves and how we react to the situations that we’re in.
Tell me a little bit more about what you think the right mindset is for women. When you come to work as an entrepreneur and you’re working for yourself, a lot of people talk about positive mindset and that kind of stuff. Can you break it down in terms of what the right ingredients are for that, to optimize your success?
Dawniel Winningham: You definitely … I think a lot of women are not bottom line focused, and that is the number one lesson I teach my clients. Because, as much as you love it and as much as you want it to work, and as much hope and faith as you may have, if you don’t get that bottom line right, you’re not going to stay in business, buddy.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Okay, so this comes back around again to the discussion about money, right? Where women have this weird thing about money. So, it’s … Yeah, like know your numbers –
Dawniel Winningham: Know them. Know your numbers, thought out, up and down. Know what’s profitable and what’s not. Have a plan to make money. Don’t just have a plan to be in business, but have a plan to be profitable.
Melinda Wittstock: Isn’t that – ?
Dawniel Winningham: Know what everybody is charging.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s so interesting. I know so many female founders who are so excited about the product they’re creating, the solution, how awesome it’s going to be, what they’re building, and all of that is great, because that’s where the passion is. They’re creating value. They’re solving a problem.
Dawniel Winningham: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: But then you say, “So who’s your customer?” and there’s a long silence. There’s a lot of … I coach a lot of … and have done, just as volunteer, coaching for a lot of men and women early stage entrepreneurs. Both of them make that mistake, but women maybe a little more so. You say, “So look, who’s your customer?” and there’s a long silence. “Have you talked to any customers yet? Have you done any customer interviews with them yet? Have you asked them how much they’d pay, and under what conditions?” Sometimes the answer is no. Men in StartUpLandia are guilty of that, too. But what are some other things that women can do to really kind of get into the zone of just thinking about the money when it’s not comfortable for them?
Dawniel Winningham: Not getting caught up in the minutia. Women are very bad about doing the things that don’t matter. With me coming from corporate America, especially at working at a financial institution, I know that 20 percent of the things that you do are going to generate 80 percent of your revenue.
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Dawniel Winningham: Be consistent in those things.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. That’s vital. So practically, how do you help women figure that out? What are the activities that are going to result in her making the most money, that 80/20 rule?
Dawniel Winningham: The amazing thing is, success leaves clues, so it’s not too much different, men-to-women, business-to-business. I’ll tell you, having profitable products and services. What are you offering? Is it solving a problem? Making sure that you have goals. What’s your profit plan? How many of these “widgets” do you need to have people buy in order for you to be profitable? Making sure that your visible. What’s your visibility plan? What’s your marketing plan? Does it make sense? And then, even, last but not least, building community. Because the profitable products and services, the Apples, and the McDonald’s, and the BMWs, and the Steve Jobs, and the Bill Gates, and the Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world, they build community around their product. They find people on a particular mission or with a particular problem and they unite them under a particular product or under a particular service. So, as long as you build community around whatever it is that you’re doing, whenever you put that “why” in the middle, people are going to gravitate to the why.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. Know your why. Absolutely. This is so true. So okay, you’ve given so much great advice, Dawniel. If there were three things that you would all our [inaudible 00:31:53 listeners today to take away from this interview, what’s one, two and three?
You are valued, and you’re valuable, and don’t ever let anybody take that away from you. #WingsPodcast #WomenInBiz @WealthSpeakerClick to tweet
Dawniel Winningham: Number one, you are valued, and you’re valuable, and don’t ever let anybody take that away from you. Don’t ever let anybody negotiate it. Don’t ever put it up for sale, because you and the things you’ve been through and the things you know are worth money.
Number two, if you don’t get your money right now, you won’t get it right later. My grandma used to always tell us, “Make hay while the sun shines,” and I think there’s even a Bible verse that says, “You’ve got to work while it’s light, because when dark comes, no man can work.” Get it done now. Get it done in your 20’s. Get it done in your 30’s. Get it done in your 40’s. Don’t be 60 and homeless. Don’t. It breaks my heart.
And number three, you have the power to create wealth, but you have to learn about money and you have to be a good steward over your finances. Do not spend your future at the mall. Don’t spend your kids’ college funds at the mall. Do not, do not, by all means, take your 401(k), your retirement money, to the dealership and buy a Bentley. What you do with your money now is imperative to your future. There are too many women who are the face of poverty, and we’ve got to stop it. We stop it by knowing that we have value.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, we do. Beautifully said.
Melinda Wittstock: So Dawniel, you have a special offer for our listeners today, and that’s so generous. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Dawniel Winningham: Absolutely, Melinda Wittstock. For anybody that’s listening, if you want a way out, if you want to better understand what it is that you’re capable to deliver to the world, or what it is that you’re capable of doing, and you don’t quite see that, definitely schedule some time for me and my team to discuss with you. We’re offering a free discovery call, and they can simply go to bit.ly/callwithcoach, and schedule some time for us to talk about your next steps, because we all need help, and unfortunately, sometimes if you don’t get that help, you’ll never be able to make a way by yourself, because if you could, you would have done that already.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that is so true. So I will put that link in the show notes, everybody, but it’s bit.ly/callwithcoach. Dawniel Winningham, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Dawniel Winningham: Oh, thank you so much for allowing me to take flight.
Melinda Wittstock: It was great. Thank you so much. Awesome. Thank you, lady.
Dawniel Winningham: Thank you. Yes, ma’am.