Jody Colvard is a pioneer who set out to change the game for women in business by teaching them how to create podcasts, TV and radio shows. We talk inspiration, challenges and what it takes for women to be heard in their full authentic feminine power.
Melinda Wittstock: Jody, welcome to Wings.
Jody Colvard: Thank you for having me Melinda. I'm so excited to be on your show.
Melinda Wittstock: Me too. I'm so happy to talk to you, because you are a real pioneer. I love … I call them entrepioneers. You are showing the way for so many other women, and you have been walking that talk for a long time.
Jody Colvard: Long, long time.
Melinda Wittstock: What was the inspiration really that helped you find your voice, your true purpose in this?
Jody Colvard: Not very many people know this, but I started one of the first online art galleries in 1994 on the internet, and then I started a program called Wired Right Now, which was called Women's Internet Result Expert Development. That was in 2004. One of the things that I wanted to do is that I felt that there was an imbalance, and I really wanted to help get women's voices out there. My father was a public speaker, and I remember always asking him, “How do you get your message so clear?” He says because you speak from your heart and you know everything that you're going to say, you know it frontwards and backwards, and so there's never a hiccup.
It's like how important it is that when you have your voice, your message that you have the skills and the knowledge on how to share that, because communication is key on how people are going to accept it. Really was my mission to start getting more and more women's voices and not just a select group in one part of the world. I wanted it to include voices from all over the world, because just one perspective is not going to give us a true change. That's pretty much how it started.
Melinda Wittstock: I agree with you so much on that. Originally with Wings, like so many of these things, entrepreneurial inspiration comes from solving a problem that's close to home, and so in my case as a tech entrepreneur, I was like, “Wow, women are having a really difficult time getting access to funding.” 2, 3% of all VC funding in the United States, and yet the …
Jody Colvard: [crosstalk 00:02:25.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. It's crazy, and then the further along this track I've gone, the more I've realized, no, it really is women all over the world and all different ages and stages of company and types of companies that really if we're able to show up for each other in a meaningful way that's the tipping point that change really does happen. When you were starting out, because it's back, when was it, 2004 that you really began FMG Radio.
Jody Colvard: Right, and I started teaching podcasting in 2004.
Melinda Wittstock: Wow. That was early for podcasting as well.
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Jody Colvard: You know what I did most of the time when I went on stage, because I spoke in China, Singapore, all over, and I spent the first part of my presentation teaching them what a podcast was. It was really educating people about new media. I did this for a lot of … I went in front of people from NBC, a lot of different individuals, really sharing what it was going to be like, how this new content was going to be that pull system. It was really educating. I spent a lot of time just educating people on what was coming.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. You're educating the market as it was growing, and in a sense creating it too. Were you often the only woman in the room? Was that what inspired you?
Jody Colvard: [inaudible 00:03:53. I always made a joke because I did a lot of Internet marketing. We started doing training back in '98, and then so I was on the stage on the large Internet marketing stages like Yanik Silver's stage and Armand Morin. I spoke with a lot of people that were in the Internet marketing world. Excuse me. I was always the only woman, so I would make a joke; it was like, “Oh, so I'm the token woman.” The guys didn't really think that was too funny, but it was the case because I was the only woman every time.
Melinda Wittstock: So interesting, because there are so many more now in the Internet marketing space.
Jody Colvard: Yes. A lot more.
Melinda Wittstock: A lot more.
Jody Colvard: That's good.
Melinda Wittstock: If you look back now and you think and how much has changed, are women showing up for each other much more now than they were?
Jody Colvard: Yeah, I think that there's a shift happening, because my experience was early on when I tried to get women to create communities. I would go to different communities and try to get them to work together. There was this competitive nature that was happening more so back then than it is now. It was kind of like, “Well, I do this. You do the same thing. I don't want to talk to you.” I think that we're starting to see that it's not going to work that way. It really is a matter of all of us coming together and working in unison, because doing it on our own is not going to work. I am seeing that shift happening and women are opening up. They're actually reaching out saying, “Yeah, let's partner on this. Let's get this done together.” That's really a positive, the most positive thing I've seen lately.
Melinda Wittstock: What do you think was the root of that competition? Is it just the sense that the air was thin at the top of the summit, that there were only a few?
Jody Colvard: [crosstalk 00:05:46 because there really weren't a lot of seats at the table for women back then. It's like when you were working back then if you went to another woman and you want to partner up, it's like, well, there's only one seat there, so it was really competitive on who's going to get it. I think it's opened up more and women realize that, you know what, if we work together then we create more seats rather than just trying to fight over the one.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. I remember starting out [inaudible 00:06:16 very entrepreneurial as a kid, but then I joined the Times of London when I was 22 years old, and I was one of the few female correspondents. I had such a struggle trying to find a female mentor. I actually was trying to seek out somebody who could, and it was impossible. All my mentors through my 20s and 30s really were men, and it was so difficult to do that. Did you have any female role models growing up or super sheroes or anybody that you looked up to in the early part of your career and beyond?
Jody Colvard: Early on, as in the world of the Internet, there was, I don't know, I'm just trying to think. It was primarily male. It's like a few women that inspired me. Actually, Dyan Cannon, she wrote and directed her own movie back in the, was it late 70s, early 80s and it wasn't seen very often, but it was so inspiring how she let herself be so vulnerable and put her message out there through this film. Later on I actually got to meet her, and she's a lovely lady. I look at what inspired me were women that really stepped up outside the norm during that time period and really had the courage to speak up and reveal themself and be raw. That was inspiring to me.
Melinda Wittstock: Now, that's a challenge, I think, for a lot of women even now, because when we talk about authenticity and when guys are very vulnerable, it's like, “Aw. That's so nice. They're showing their feminine side.” When women do it, I think women are a little afraid to do that, because we still worry that in some quarters we may be perceived as being weak.
Jody Colvard: True. That's true. Also, there are a lot of expectations on women that's like how you look. It's like there's a lot of pressure. For us to let our guard down, I think that that's coming rapidly. I see more and more women just like, “Here I am. This is me.” It's like I always say, it's like you're going to be yourself because eventually your true self's going to come out anyway and they're going to figure out who you are, so you might as well just let it go out now.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. That's true. I think there's so much power, actually, in authenticity, but to be able to get there it presupposes a bunch of things. It presupposes that you actually do know yourself, and that may sound like a silly thing to say, because of course we all know ourselves, but often we don't. Often we're on trajectories, we're in jobs or we have careers that were the ‘should’ career, not the one that was really in our heart or our true purpose. What you were saying before about what you'd learned from your dad about speaking from the heart, sometimes it takes a long time for somebody to get out of the should’s and into their true purpose. Did you ever have a detour like that where you felt that you weren't really on your right trajectory and then you, “Oh,” and you figured it out? Sometimes people have these big life-changing events.
Jody Colvard: Actually I did, and that was a big shift for me, because when I started FMG Network it was really about energetically bringing people together and raising women's voices. It was actually male and female, trying to create that balance. During the time period when I first started doing the Internet marketing, it really went … It steered too much to the right for me. It went really ‘business’ where it was just like everything I was doing was just about business development. I was good at it, but it's just like it started burning me out because I felt like it was taking me off the path that I truly wanted to go on. It was like when you get to this fork in the road, it's like all the money's this way and I can just like if I shift gears I'm going to lose all the money but I'm going to be following my heart.
Circumstances happened, because my parents passed away, and then my partner, his parents passed away, and then just like both of us, it just threw us in a loop and we stepped back, and it was like, “What do you want?” It's like you have to really start examining this. “Well, what is it in your heart that you truly want to do?” Because life, you know it's like in a blink of an eye, and if you're not doing what you want, it's like what are you here for? We both stepped back, and then when I came back out into the world of the internet, it's like that's when I started launching Voice of Women and really started focusing on what I'm truly passionate about again. When you start doing that, it's like everything flows, because then you're in the right space, and when you talk to people they feel that from you. They feel it's genuine and I think that if you're just starting off go with that genuine path, because that's the one that's going to work.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. That's so, so true. Often it is an event. It's something that makes us realize that our time here is finite, or we burn out or we get ill or something like that happens. Are there specific things that you find that women do in business that, I don't know; I think that like anything there's two sides of a coin. There are probably things that we do in business that really make us uniquely suited for it, and then there are other things where we get in our own way. What are some of the things that you think … Let's start with the negative first, I guess. What do you think are some of the things that we need to still work on or overcome to really show up as best we can as leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs?
Jody Colvard: You know my experiences, because I've done consulting for thousands of women over the years, and the one thing that when I'm working with them, and they know what they want to do. It's like here they are at point A and they want to get to point B. It's like, okay, you can do all the technical things, because we develop the sites and the marketing funnels and all that stuff, but it's like all this would be developed around them, but what fell short was that they didn't believe in themselves. That they couldn't believe that their message was that important for other people to listen to, or that people are going to take them seriously. It was like it happened over and over again. It's like you really have to work on yourself and know that, you know what, you have that value, you have that worth. You have equal amount of value of anybody else that has a voice out there. They're no different than you.
Once you get to that point, it's like, okay, all of the structure, the technical part of it, that helps lift you up, but you really have to have that strong core. I think that women have been battling with that part of it for a long time.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. That's true. It's funny, one of my guests on the podcast, actually you might have met her at New Media Summit, Dawniel Winningham.
Jody Colvard: Yes. I did.
Melinda Wittstock: She told such a funny story. I forget which episode she was. Somewhere in the 20s.
Jody Colvard: You've been going like a mad women [crosstalk 00:13:29.
Melinda Wittstock: I know, right? I know. Lots and lots of episodes now, but she was so funny. She was saying, well, a man goes out and catches a minnow on a fishing boat, and by the time he's back to shore it's Moby Dick.
Jody Colvard: That's good.
Melinda Wittstock: I was just cracking up. Then she said but a woman goes out there, and she actually does catch Moby Dick, but by the time she gets back to the shore …
Jody Colvard: It's a minnow.
Melinda Wittstock: She's like, “Well, everybody catches Moby Dick. It's no big deal. I'm no different than anybody else, so there's no point even mentioning it.”
Jody Colvard: That's true, that's so true. I can [inaudible 00:14:09.
Melinda Wittstock: It's really funny that mindset, like how we recover from those limiting beliefs or mindset that get in the way, because we've all been acculturated in the same way, we've grown up with the same glossy magazines telling us how we're not good enough, and then other magazines about success telling us we have to do everything, be everything for everyone. Be business Barbie and that's really hard. It's so easy to get lost, I guess, in all of that.
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Jody Colvard: I want to share a story with you, because I've been a artist since I was five years old, so I paint people. I used to have a company called Legendary Figures where I worked with a lot of celebrities and I would do body casts and different types of art of them. I drew so many beautiful people out of magazines when I was a child. There was this whole thing about perfection, because I remember the first time I even got a stretch mark I thought, “I might as well just die now.” Because I'm imperfect. When I started working with a lot of the celebrities and there was a lot of models, and I started doing body casts and I was like they have stretch marks. They have imperfections. They're all air brushed away.
Then I came to this realization and it was like, “Nobody's perfect and everybody has these insecurities.” There's this whole world with this perception of these little girls growing up thinking that we have to be this person or we lose all value within ourselves.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it leads, I think, to a perfectionism that we all have where certainly in the tech world that's lethal, because you've got to get your product to market fast, even if it's not … Like Reid Hoffman who founded LinkedIn says things like if you love your product when you launch it, you're launching too late.
Jody Colvard: It's true. You take a lot of imperfections out.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly, because you need the market validation. You need customers and consumers to tell you what's wrong with it and all that stuff, and you need a tough enough skin to cope with that, but it means that you cannot succeed if you're a perfectionist, and yet so many of us are. It manifests in all kinds of different ways, like we'll make everything look really pretty, we'll wait, or we'll take too long to put our hands up to speak, and stuff like that. How can we turn that around? I think it's getting better, but I still see a lot of women doing that, and I still recognize that streak in myself as well. Every episode has to be perfect. The write up has to be perfect.
Jody Colvard: We do web design and all that, so we have a lot of women that come in, and it's like, okay, let's start getting your site together. You want to do a photo shoot, and it's like, “No. I have to lose weight first. I have to get my chin fixed. I may get my nose done.” It's like [crosstalk 00:17:07 your picture. It's like that. It's really it holds people back. Especially with social media today, because it's like there's a response and somebody's going to comment on everything that you do. There is that hesitancy from a lot of women, and it's like, “Wow. I have to put myself out there and I have to be prepared.” We used to have this saying that if you put yourself out there and you don't get any negative responses, then you're not in front of enough people, because there's going to be a negative response from somebody [crosstalk 00:17:41.
Melinda Wittstock: Actually, and this is a hard thing, I think, for if … Well, anyone who's feeling any insecurity whatsoever, this can be a really tricky thing, but the people who do the best are actually quite polarizing. If you actually try and please everybody all the time, you end up probably not pleasing too many and certainly not pleasing yourself. In business, I think, sometimes we, I don't know, can end up being last, when in fact one of the best things about being an entrepreneur is figuring out really how to build a business around who you are, what you want, how you want to live, figuring those things out and going for it without apology.
Jody Colvard: It's a whole learning process. That's the joy of being an entrepreneur. It's like each thing that you do, even if it's something you feel is a mistake, you learn from it and you grow from it. If you look at everything as a life lesson and you just add it to that little suitcase of things that you want to do, and just take each lesson and make yourself each time a little bit better, and then just like yourself and know that who you are and what you have to share is perfect as it is. The thing too is the people that gravitate towards you are the people that are meant to be with you. You're not going to get everybody, but you're going to get the right people.
Melinda Wittstock: That's so, so true. Tell me what's next for what you're working on. I think it's just amazing …
Jody Colvard: Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: It's so exciting what you're doing with Voices of Women. Tell me a little bit more about what's happening right now and where you're taking it next?
Jody Colvard: When I was talking to you before about when you're in flow, it's like everything is just coming together so nicely. It's like I know I'm in the right place. The whole concept of Voices of Women is really for a woman if she wants to be a podcaster, a radio show, TV show, an author, or a speaker. We're providing platforms for all that. As a woman comes in, I have Women in Podcasting, which is right now the largest women's podcasting directory on the Internet. I've had that since 2005, and then we have VOW Radio, and we have VOW Talks. Then right now we're getting ready to launch our speakers' bureau, and we just launched VOW Press, which is our own book publishing company.
We've all these different mediums for women to really have a presence and have her voice heard. We've partnered with different groups, like in the Netherlands, Africa. I just talked to a woman in Lebanon today, Japan, China, so we're bringing in women from all over the world. Basically what we're doing is taking them in a place that they feel most comfortable, helping them to get their voices out by providing these platforms. Then we have a community where we have, which I'll call VOW circles. Each one it could be in politics, it could be in philanthropic endeavors, business; whatever your passion is. We're putting mentors in place to have really agendas, so rather than just sit there and talk about what you like to see change; it's like, “Let's change this.”
We'll have a mentor and accountability in place, and all these women that really say, “Give me the direction. Tell me what to do.” Have them go out and start doing things to create that change in that specific area that they are most passionate. Then the women that want to go into politics, we give them ways to have training on stage and radio, so then they get their confidence level up, they get their presentation skills to where they need to be to have the ultimate exposure and the presentation to make a difference and communicate effectively. Then as we're doing a VOW summit, which is going to be October of 2018, and that's going to be in San Diego. We have women flying in from all over the world. We're going to have a stage, and we're going to start doing this annually in different parts of the world.
We'll start doing speaking, keynote presentations and also panels. We'll have different topics that are really there to engage with women and take them to the next steps to get them participating on creating the change that they want to see in the world. All of this is starting to click and come together, and it's like that collaboration is there. I think we're at that place now where women really want to create these communities and work together. I'm really excited about that.
Melinda Wittstock: I think it's so interesting what happened last year with the Me Too movement in particular, also what happened in the VC world. We began at the early part of last year with all the sexual harassment cases in Silicon Valley. By the end of the year, I mean there's this blossoming of new, large funds for investing in women. Then you see a lot more women really showing up to help each other, going on each other's podcasts, kind of helping each other with training, with all sorts of things. I think you're so right about that collaboration. It's funny, too, because we're kind of designed that way. Women are very relationship-oriented so it makes sense that we should be collaborating in that way. The summit sounds awesome.
Jody Colvard: I want to create a space where it's not a pitchfest. It's like let's come together. Let's have a place that we can meet. A place that you can speak and have your message heard; It's creating the sisterhood of women that are working together, and it's one of the things like … Like I said, like partnering up with all these other organizations. Not having them be absorbed by Voices of Women, but having them stand side-by-side, and that's what really the beauty of it is, because everybody's keeping their own identity, but they're working together. That's one of the things I'm really so happy about, that's happening this year.
Melinda Wittstock: That's wonderful. Well, congratulations on all the progress.
Jody Colvard: Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: Now, Jody, if people want to find you, how can they find you and work with you?
Jody Colvard: If you go to VOW, which is V-O-W, global.com. VOW stands for Voices of Women, so VOWGlobal.com, and that will take you pretty much to everything that we're doing. It goes into this. Our school and we have our community and we have … What else do we have? The travel. We have all these different things that are going on and things that are being launched as we speak. We also are putting together a program which will be VOW consultants, so we're bringing women in to train them, develop their whole online presence and then going into different companies and organizations and help women really develop leadership skills. That's something that's coming out as well. In addition, we have podcasting classes. You can go to VOW Global and get access to those.
I have a class right now that's pay what you can. Pretty much just like a donation type of thing, because I don't want anybody left out. I want everybody to have the opportunity to have a voice. We're working with women that are in impoverished areas, women that are financially stable, so it's like there's all different types of circumstances and backgrounds of women that are coming in. It's like equally they'll be heard.
Melinda Wittstock: That's a wonderful thing, because you know what, a microphone's not that expensive. It's pretty easy really at the end of the day to just do this. It's just one of those things where you just have to start. It's great that you're doing this around giving women their voice, because often I think we confuse personal branding with personal bragging and shy away from saying the things that truly are uniquely awesome about ourselves as individuals and as a group, and all of that. It's wonderful that you're literally giving voice to all these wonderful women. Jody, thank you so much …
Jody Colvard: Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: … for putting on your wings today and flying with us.
Jody Colvard: Thank you so much for having me on the show. I really appreciate it, and I've been listening to you. I love how enthusiastic, and you're inspiring as many shows that you're putting out there. You're sharing women's voices, so thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: I appreciate that a lot. It's my mission. I have this big, bold mission. I want to invest in at least 100 women over the next 10 years, but with a big dollar value. I want to figure out and find a way, which I know I will, to put $10 million to women in the next 10 years. I really love the idea of really encouraging women to step up and really think in terms of leverage, which is sometimes something that we don't do enough of. Oh my goodness. I want to go to your summit. It sounds [crosstalk 00:27:48.
Jody Colvard: [inaudible 00:27:48. Why don't you come speak at it? That would be wonderful.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Sure. I would love to do that. Let's do it.
Jody Colvard: Okay.
Melinda Wittstock: Thank you so much for joining us again, and we will speak to you soon. Thanks Jody.
Jody Colvard: Melinda. Thank you.