Entrepreneur Alycia Darby Zimnoch helps business owners become instant celebrities via online video shows that attract exactly the right new clients and customers. Creator of StartYourShow.com, Alycia helps entrepreneurs develop a personal brand that aligns with their true passion and purpose while building trusted relationships and influence.
Melinda Wittstock: Alycia, welcome to Wings.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Thank you Melinda. I appreciate being here.
Melinda Wittstock: You know, I always look forward to these conversations because there’s so much wisdom in every entrepreneur’s journey. No matter how long you’ve been at it, but the longer you’ve been at it, the more likely you’ve had fails, I guess, as well as successes. And so, tell me a little about yours, ’cause one of my missions with this is to really demystify or take the sting out of failure. All it is, is kind of like being in a lab-
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: And learning, right?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Uh-huh.
Melinda Wittstock: Tell me some of your ups and downs along the way and what you’ve learned.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yes. I’ve had many as well. And yeah, it’s interesting ’cause it’s sort of like bumper bowling but yet in most entrepreneurial worlds, we don’t really have bumpers, right? It just goes into the gutter and you got to go again. But with each pass of bowling, you kind of get better and better so … yeah, my first stab at entrepreneurism was, I had been following the greats in the industry for many years, Marie Forleo and Gabrielle Bernstein, Louis [House 00:09:32 and I watched them grow, but only for a couple of years before I decided, hey this looks pretty easy, I think I’ve got to do this.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: So, I actually quit my job with no plan. No clue what I was doing. I kind of just, Melinda like you know how a lot of entrepreneurs, aww [burden 00:09:52the boats you got to go all in if you really want to make it work. Well that’s great, but for me I really should have had a strategy. And I did not. So, what’s beautiful about this is that I learned the value of strategy, and because I didn’t have one right away, I was able to experience that confusion, and disorientation. I worked on college campuses for years. My whole career was on college campuses and in education prior to that. And now all of a sudden I was like, I’m going to start a business. Who knows what it will be. I’m sure the universe will tell me. Well, that didn’t work out.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: In the meantime, I really did learn the value of niching down. So, I ended up working in the fitness industry. Got some consulting clients and slowly kind of put together … I wouldn’t … I mean, it was of course, an entrepreneur adventure, but it really wasn’t online business as we see today. It was more one to one and more consulting sort of behind the scenes.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Then it wasn’t until my next real venture that I decided that I’m going to niche into the pageant industry. I’d had some success myself in pageantry, you know, beauty pageants, Miss America, Miss USA, that type of thing. And so I launched a business around, win a pageant. And my first online program was this series of about a couple hundred probably, videos, teaching about everything under the sun related to pageantry. I mean everything. Like, it talked about wardrobe. It talked about what type of earrings you should wear. It talked about interview. It talked about where to go for your photo shoot. I mean, it had to do with everything and as you know, when you do all of the things, you do none of the things. And so, no one bought it. I think I probably had four buyers or so, and of course honored them with the program but what I learned from that was, you really have to know what the market is looking for before just launching something that … you know, I really believed this is what the industry needed. I truly felt like, oh yeah, this is going to be so good. Everybody’s going to come flocking to this you know. And they didn’t. And it was because I really hadn’t done enough research about what the industry, what the market was really asking for. So, I kind of learned that the hard way.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: But fortunately, each of these things, while they did take up a lot of time and money, it wasn’t the end of the road for me. So I knew that there was still something more. I knew that there was still something else and so I just changed it a bit and tried again. I tweaked it a bit and tried again. I made another iteration, tried again.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: So, my husband and I talk about different versions, you know, like the IPhone didn’t launch the IPhone 10 first, right? They started with IPhone, the original. And everybody loved the original IPhone, but it doesn’t do nearly what it can do now. But I’m sure that the creators of IPhone had in a vision, the IPhone 10 or maybe even the IPhone 20 now, they have that in the vision, but you still have to start with the IPhone one, and then you tweak it, and you tweak it, and tweak it, and tweak it, until you come out with version two. And then you tweak that and tweak that and tweak that until version three. So now I have a new understanding of business that what many would call failures, I describe them more as different versions of what leads to my online business today.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s so funny. Your IPhone story reminds me of something that a mentor of mine said to me when I was struggling to sell my software in the early days of air feed, and one of the things that was holding me back from selling it, she identified was that in my mind it wasn’t perfect yet.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: So it was hard to actually ask for the sale because it was great but it wasn’t in full vision. And she said to me, “Hey Melinda, do you remember your first phone?” And I’m going to, like, age myself here dramatically ’cause “Oh yeah, like that brick” yah know?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: She said, “How did that make you feel?” Oh amazing, like, I could talk to … you know. And then there was a long pause and she said, “Was it the IPhone?”
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? And that completely changed my thinking and my mindset around you know, how to sell product, whatever it is. Or service or whatever at different stages of the iterative development.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: The other thing I really wish I’d learned, I had the privilege earlier this year, no last year now, of meeting one of the founders of Google X-
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Oh cool.
Melinda Wittstock: Yah know, who did Google Glass and driverless cars and how they do the rapid prototyping process is fascinating because you’re with literally like post it notes, chicken wire, like whatever-
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: You’re getting customer feedback before you’re really putting … before you’re actually building anything.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Right. Yeah and it’s [crosstalk 00:15:03
Melinda Wittstock: It’s constantly testing your hypotheses I guess.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah. It’s hard to see that from a … moving from a consumer to an entrepreneur, I think that that’s a … ’cause rarely do we ever see the behind the scenes of great products and services being developed. So it’s cool what you’re doing with this podcast, allowing people that, really that, kind of behind the scenes curtain. You know, peeling back that veil to show that, hey, you never start with the final version. That there really are so many steps in between, they just aren’t as well publicized.
Melinda Wittstock: No, because nobody every talks about that.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: See, what I’d love to be able to do is demystify or de-stigmatize this idea of failure.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: ‘Cause I think it’s easy to look around at other entrepreneurs and think, oh man, they’ve got it together. They’re making all this money, or they’re doing really well. What’s wrong with me? And I think almost every entrepreneur has that feeling.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: No matter how successful because by definition, you can succeed and fail like dozens of times in the same day.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: You can. Yes. Oh, so true.
Melinda Wittstock: Depending on what frame of mine you’re at, right?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: And so like so much of it is just sort of a battle of mindset and really bringing all these things out in the open. It just is what it is and you just have to accept it for what it is. It’s learning.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? Like, your life is like a lab.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? So the pageant thing is so interesting because you think, yeah, it totally makes sense that a lot of people would want that. Anyone that’s going into a pageant. Wow, like I can have all this information in one place, right? But then figuring out, okay, well who, and like, why will they buy?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: And if they really want all those customer interviews. And i find that sometimes women, and men too, can be shy or a bit reticent about having honest conversations with customers or potential customers, like just actually asking them the question, like, what do you want?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Right. Well and I think there’s this assumption that, well if they knew what they would want, they would’ve created it. Or they would’ve found it. Or they would’ve researched it. But the truth is that the entrepreneur spirit is a problem solving spirit. We are built for problem solving, identifying the problem and then creating the solution. And not everyone is. So if that is a spirit that you carry, if you feel that you are an entrepreneur in your spirit and your soul that you want to solve problems. Then you’ve got to ask people what their problems are. And they will willing tell you. You know? People want to express their problems because they would love a solution but they might not-
… Problems, because they would love a solution, but they might not necessarily have capacity or interest in creating a solution.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s our job, so our job is to listen, and I understand the problem and figure out innovative solutions. I think one of my mentors said it brilliantly, she said fall in love with the problem, don’t fall in love with your solution.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Oh good, Melinda that’s good. Heck yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s good, right? When you fall in love with your own solution, you get attached to things that may not be the right thing. I think that’s what sets us up for disappointment, when our vision doesn’t take hold, it’s like, “Well, it was an idea.” We were honestly trying to solve a problem, and it’s good, but yeah, it just has to keep getting tweaked.
The other one that I talk about a lot, is that Twitter originally started out as a podcasting company. Podcasting wasn’t really ready to fly until recently, and suddenly all this venture capital money is being invested in podcasting. Back then it was like, what? Podcasting, who wants that? Who wants to listen to stuff, right?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, and then how cool that they were able to use elements of what they created originally I’m sure, to re-create this new thing that really did fill a void, which is great.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely, but Twitter became Twitter on the eighth try.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, and so you’re constantly refining your business model, your product, your service. It actually doesn’t really end. What got you out of the pageant thing to creating your own show? How did that transition happen?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Well actually, that first product that I created with hundreds and hundreds of training videos, I ended up turning into a podcast, and created a new product. After of course, realizing this isn’t what people wanted. I started surveying my market and my one-on-one clients and asking them, “What is it that you really want? What’s the specific need?” Then I created an online product to fill that specific need, which happened to be interviewing.
In pageantry, women really win their pageant based on how well they can communicate during their interview. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes interview with just a panel of judges, or on stage interview. That’s of course, the elements when we watch Miss USA and Miss America, when we watch those shows on television, we love to rip women apart when they stand up in front of an audience of millions sometimes for the first time in their entire life, or career, and answer a question in 30 seconds or less.
It’s a very high-pressure situation, so I solved that problem. I filled that need, and then used all of those other … Again, nothing is for nothing, right? I had already created all of those videos, so I was able to turn them into a show. Actually the person that suggested I do this, John Lee Dumas, of Podcasters Paradise, he was a neighbor of mine at the time, and had come over for an event that we were holding and said to me, “This is what you got to do, you’ve got hundreds of videos that nobody’s watching, turn them into a free show.”
I thought, “Okay, let’s do this,” so I did. I repurposed that content, so that it wouldn’t go lost, created it into the online show. That show then was what allowed me to build my online business. Now I had a signature program that was helping pageant women learn communication skills, and leverage them to leave a legacy throughout their interview. That was what I focused on, and then I had a show to market that, to market that, and it was brilliant.
I really feel like, “Oh my gosh, I cracked the code, I figured it out.” Now, having a show was really my way of helping people to understand who I was, what my values were, because I really believe it’s important to infuse your values into communication skills, and into your marketing, and into all of your interactions client facing and otherwise really. Created this show to market that, and then I was able to attract people who bought into really me as a person.
I was able to, through video, I was able to get that know, like, and trust combination very quickly. That was what was able to build my program through winapageant.com.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s wonderful, that’s so interesting, so it’s great that JLD just happened to be your neighbor, that’s good.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yes, I know, and I really agree with you, that there are people that come into our lives. I truly believe this, that God positions them to tell us what we need to hear, and if we do not listen when they tell us, then that’s on us. For me, that was a Holy Spirit moment where I felt like, “Oh, I have to do what he’s telling me. This is definitely going to crack the code. This is going to take me to the next level.”
: Even though I could never have imagined what would come of that, I just knew that what he said was truth. I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to act on this,” but of course, it’s still the responsibility of the entrepreneur to take that action, and to make it work. Yes, it was a divine moment that he gave me that gift, and I willingly received it, and then put it into motion.
Melinda Wittstock: See that’s a really big part of entrepreneurial success right there. Asking for inspiration, but being open to hearing it. A lot of people give you advice, but knowing which advice to listen too, because that can be tricky. I’ve seen a lot of women be very eager for advice, and get over advised, and then get to overwhelm, and then just not know what to do. There’s a trick to it too, in terms of knowing who to listen to, and where that’s in alignment, right?
It sounds to me like you just instantly knew this makes sense. Obviously, it’s JLD, so there’s a know, like, trust factor there.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: All the same …
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, I really think, because you’re right, there’s a subtle distinction between the advice that doesn’t stick, and that, that does. For me at that season of life and business, I was very open, but I was also not … Melinda, I think this comes from a level of confidence. I feel like sometimes when our confidence is low, then we are more susceptible to advice that doesn’t suit us, which could be seen as bad advice, right?
If it’s advice that doesn’t suit you … If it’s not going to help you, then it’s going to not serve you. In that moment, I was balanced with my self-confidence was still high. I still knew I had value, I was surrounded by some incredible people. I really knew that I was on the right track with something. I was really more looking for the how, and what JLD provided in his infinite wisdom around the topic of podcasting, was not only the kick in the pants that I needed, but also the strategy.
Just knowing what I needed to do wasn’t enough; we also need to know how to do things that we need to do. I was a member of his Podcasters Paradise program, and that’s what really led me through … This sounds like I’m pitching his program, I’m really not.
Melinda Wittstock: No, it’s a great program, I mean…
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: It truly is.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s really helpful.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: That’s so true, and any program I believe that is oriented to the, if you know that this is what you’re called to do, then here are the steps to get there, those are my kind of programs. I don’t need to think of the how, I just have to take action to the direction of my dreams. He really laid out that path for me.
Melinda Wittstock: You were already in alignment, knowing what you love to do, what your mission was, all of that, right? You knew your why?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: My big why, yes, the answer is yes, but I believe that there are lots of why’s, right? There’s the short term why, which is more of a goal, and then the long term. For me, the biggest thing that I have stood on from I believe birth, I think that this is something that was just innate to me, my big why, is helping people live lives of influence, with integrity. That we aren’t being out of integrity with our own lives, and doing things we ought not to be doing, because they’re not in line with our own personal values.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Whether it’s winning a pageant, or for a while I worked on college campuses in leadership. I taught leadership from an integrity perspective, and so yes, that showed up in pageantry, but for me, the big why was really helping people build influence with integrity. Then how it was showing up in that moment through that specific business, was through pageantry. I was helping women understand how to communicate their own personal values through an interview.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: What JLD helped me realize, is look, you can attract more people, you can share these values at so much of a bigger scale, and really leaving a bigger impact with greater influence if you have a show. Then of course, when you do that, people are attracted to that. They feel like they know you, they learn to trust you, and then of course, if they like it, then they’re more likely to buy your programs.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, so that all worked for you, and now you’re helping other women do the same thing.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yes, absolutely, women and men. Yeah, but of course I do love working with my girls, because I just feel like women, we get it empathetically. We show up empathetically on camera and on audio. In this podcast, I feel like women do a great job, not that men can’t do this, but women just do great on camera. We just really do, because we have this layer of empathy that helps us to communicate deeper, at the real soul level of somebody, and inspire them from within.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, so now I’m helping people, because that was a huge realization for me, how I was able to notice that you change of wow, I can market my services through this show, and already get out the people who I would not click with, and get in the people who I would love and adore. They would self select, when they’re watching my show, they self select. I like her, I do not like her, and then over a series of time they understand my values, they get to know me, how I operate, and then we can fly from there.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yes, now I started the new brand, which is I think … I started the pageant brand super niche, and now I’m using those same concepts, that same why, and expanding it to entrepreneurs, and people who are growing personal brands. It’s still around communication, still around influence, but doing it through the online show.
Melinda Wittstock: This is an interesting challenge, because everybody needs a personal brand, if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, right? Even if you’re an executive, whatever you’re doing these days, your personal brand is your calling card, right? It’s so important to get that right, and yet I’ve noticed that a lot of women confuse personal branding with personal bragging. They’re a little bit reticent to jump all in on that, and particularly with video.
Melinda Wittstock: They start to think, “Oh God, do I look good enough? God, I’ve got to get my makeup done, my this, my that, whatever.” How do you get women in particular passed all that fear I guess, so they have the confidence to take the leap into really finding their voice, and I guess their presence actually, it’s not just voice, it’s presence?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, because it’s so real, right? That fear, when we’re experiencing it, and when you’re sitting in it, it is so real to just know that like wow, … The phrase that comes to mind a lot of women are afraid of, or know that they want, and yet something is blocking them from making it happen, is to put myself out there. How do I put myself out there? There’s this real fear, that if I put myself out there, what will others think?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Truly what will they think of me? What I would say instead, is ask this question, if you put yourself out there, what can you help them think of them? Most of us are not evil people, most of us are not looking around, seeing how we can point out the bad stuff in others? Most of us truly are just wanting love and acceptance, all of us really. If you envision yourself speaking to your audience, your guests, your followers, your fans, even just one on one with somebody.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Instead of worrying about well, how they are going to view you, rather speak life, speak love, speak acceptance. Let them know, let your mission be, rather than being perfect, so that they don’t judge you, rather let your mission be, how can I serve them? How can I let them know that they can do it? Whatever it is they’re called to do. That they are loved, that I accept them just as they are, and when we shift our mindset to serving, to serving others, to helping them, letting them know that they are no longer judged, then we don’t feel that pressure anymore.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: We can do that through a variety of ways. I remember when I first moved to San Diego, there was a woman who I adored, Claudia is her name, I still adore her, we’re dear friends now. Claudia invited me to go out to brunch, and I was all like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to brunch with Claudia, oh my gosh, I’m going to brunch with Claudia.” I got all in my head about what did I need to wear? How did I need to be? What was I going to order to impress Claudia?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: It was all about what … What is Claudia going to think of me? This is how we show up to all of our fans and our audience. “Oh, I’ve got to be so perfect, I have to be this aspirational version of everything.” Instead, I caught myself doing it, and this is what pageant women do as well, it’s magnified on stage in a pageant. I’ve had lots of training on changing this mindset. Personally I said, “I’m not going to do that to myself, and I’m not going to do that to Claudia.”
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: If I show up to this brunch, and I’m all feeling like I’ve got to order the right salad, and oh yes, I never eat carbs, right? If I try to be this person that I’m not, then it’s going to put her in an awkward situation, and make her feel like she needs to pretend as well. Instead, I wore what I love to wear, which is my Lululemon yoga gear, and my adorable little sandals, and I rocked up with my sunny’s on, and just was myself completely.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: I ordered exactly what I wanted to do, and I was able to get her in a position of feeling really comfortable. What’s funny, is at the end of that brunch, she pointed it out. She actually said to me, “Alycia, I was overthinking … I can’t believe you dressed so casually, I should’ve worn my yoga pants.” She commented on the fact that how comfortable I made her feel.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, and it was truly because I didn’t worry about what she was feeling, but rather allowed myself to be fully authentically me, so that she could be as well.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that; I mean first of all, authenticity is so critical. Really as entrepreneurs, if we can’t value ourselves enough to be that, it’s very hard to create value for other people. I think for women, and we’ve been socialized so much to be nurturers, or servers in a way, and I think sometimes we confuse that empathetic service, with being servile, right?
Melinda Wittstock: In other words, dimming our light to make other people feel better, and it doesn’t work.
Melinda Wittstock: Make other people feel better. And it doesn’t work. There is no need to dim ourselves down, right?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Right, right, but-
Melinda Wittstock: I think there’s confusion around that.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, or put on a fake light.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, well that’s true too.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Because that can happen too is that maybe we’re not really dimming ourselves, but we’re also saying “Well, I think I have to be this other version of me, and we all have many versions, but the ones that you feel most at home, you feel most confident in is, I think, our true version of self. And then you don’t have to dim yourself down because there would be no reason to, but rather allowing others to shine their light too.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. Gosh, this is so true. So, let’s go back in time a little bit. When you were a little girl, did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Well, I actually didn’t know what entrepreneurs really were at that time.
Melinda Wittstock: Did you have the lemonade stand? Were you entrepreneurial, I guess?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Well, yes. In fact, I was. So I grew up in Pennsylvania, in this farming town. And my mom and dad were both in education, they were teachers. So we all had summers off. And I just thought, until I was probably like eight or 10, I just thought everybody had summers off. I didn’t realize that most people worked year round, so when I learned that, I was shocked. So I’m sure I had some level of desire for that freedom lifestyle. So during the summers, my family and I would actually plant. We grew and harvested and sold sweet corn. So instead of the lemonade stand, I had a sweet corn stand. So we’d get up really early in the morning and pick corn in our many acres. We had many, many acres of corn that we would handpick and we sold baker’s dozens because you always get more than you pay for and that’s still a motto that I believe today. So we always sold baker’s dozens, which is 13 instead of 12. And we would wholesale it to local grocery stores and things about an hour’s drive from our farm. And then throughout the Saturdays and Sundays and evenings, I would sell corn by the dozen, by the baker’s dozen, in front of our home.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: So that’s really where I learned a lot of communication skills, I was interacting with customers at a very young age, very early on, managing money and dealing with even customer complaints. So we would always give a couple of extra ears of corn for the people, our greatest clients and that type of thing. And some people would come to use several times a week to buy sweet corn. So I was able to learn that over kind of a long period of time as a child. But I didn’t see it as being an entrepreneur. Melinda, I didn’t even know what … I didn’t really understand the concept of that until I was probably even in high school and into college did I actually see it as an opportunity to be a full-time entrepreneur, because my parents were teachers. And most of my family was in education. And most of my town was in the steel industry. They were in tool and die. So a lot of people worked nine to five jobs and I didn’t really know a lot of entrepreneurs.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: So I didn’t see it as an opportunity for myself until really the era of social media, when personal branding became popular. And I would notice these people that would pop up seemingly overnight as personal brands online, and that’s really what attracted me to being an entrepreneur, was “Hey, I’ve got a message too. How do I promote what I believe in to a wider audience?” And that’s really what kind of got me into it.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s wonderful. It’s great when we all look back on our lives and there’s always these little clues of things, or just things that we’ve learned and there’s a certain point when they start to kind of converge and come together. And so all that stuff that you were learning as a kid, and even all the stuff that you were learning with your original pageant business, it all comes into play at a certain point. So even when things … I say this because I really want to encourage people. Even when things don’t seem to be going well, there’s always something in there that you’re going to be using later.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s so important to know that.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: That’s true. And you know, I’m thinking too about your question about just being an entrepreneur alone, but also being on TV was always a dream of mine. And in fact, I remember as a kid, I was probably eight years old or something, my parents had a camcorder, where you put the VHS tape in and hit record, and I remember using this one day, like I was playing dress up, and I sat the camera up and I sat in one chair that was facing another chair that was empty. And when I sat in one chair, I was pretending that I was a host. In that day and age, it was like Rosie O’Donnell and Oprah Winfrey were the big hosts. So I was pretending I was the host. And then I would jump into the other chair, I would throw a purple boa around my neck and fake an English accent, which I really probably wasn’t that great at, and I would answer my own question. And then I would throw off the purple boa, hope into the host chair and ask another question and then hop over. And this probably went on for like 10 minutes, and I’m filming myself doing this.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Well, fast-forward a couple of days later, I guess I didn’t know what was going to happen with that tape. But a few days later, I came into my living room and discovered that my mom and dad and my oldest sister were laughing at something on the television. And I thought, oh what is it? What is it? And I ran out to the living room and found them watching this tape that I had recorded, which I’m sure was … Sure it was adorable and they weren’t laughing at me, but as an eight year old that crushed me. It really made me feel like I’m silly, my dreams are nothing, I’m clearly no good at this. And it just really, really crushed me. And so I gave up that dream.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s heartbreaking. Oh my God.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Isn’t that awful. Again, it’s not something that they were doing to me.
Melinda Wittstock: They had no idea. This is the thing, but so many of us as kids get scarred by these things, and we don’t even know. We grow into adults and these old things are driving us and we don’t even know, often.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Right, that is so true. Yes. And it took me … That dream, I believe that that dream was in my heart since the beginning of my days on this earth. I think that God gives us those dreams so that we will chase them. And somewhere along the way, often times, we receive messages from outside of us, from other people or circumstances or whatever that kind of crush those dreams. But I want to inspire people and encourage them to know that if that dream is on the inside of you, it is designed to be there so that you will chase it. So chase it. And I got back up on my feet, I ended up chasing that dream when I moved to Los Angeles from Pennsylvania, I moved to Los Angeles, I started to learn hosting, on camera hosting. I took many classes, I learned how to work with a teleprompter. I got part-time jobs just to try my hat at it and went to conferences and built that back up and I know that that has now served me with my shows and with the work that I do today as a host and things, because that dream was still inside of me. Just an inspiration to not let someone else’s words or your interpretation of the story that we create based on what someone else has said or done. Don’t let that kill your dreams because they’re on you for a reason.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s so funny that you and I have this TV thing in common. All the time when I was in high school and in college, people would say things to me like “Hey, you know, Melinda, you should go into TV reporting. Or you should be on TV.” And I’d be like “What?” I just didn’t really take it seriously because I think I didn’t really have the confidence to accept that about myself. I became a print journalist. I’d have all these little businesses and things as a teenager.
So very entrepreneurial all my life, but I became this print journalist. And then what happened was … It’s so funny with these things … I started getting interviewed on television about my stories because I’d break a story and then the more I did that, then I ended up just getting recruited as a television anchor. I mean, I just became this television news anchor for first of all in business news for CNBC in Europe and Asia, and then I joined the BBC and then ABC News and all of it. So it’s funny. And then I stopped all of that. So I went really back hard into entrepreneurship first with a content business, which I create and ran for 10 years, more than that. And then another one, an app business, and then more and more into the technology space. So it’s funny now doing this podcast, because all these skills come back. You’re like “Oh, yeah, this makes sense.” So I’m combining all the entrepreneurial knowledge along the journey and then all these other skills that I really learned in my 20s.
Melinda Wittstock: So it’s funny how these things combine. And so Alycia, what’s the big vision? What’s next?
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, so in the immediate future, I’m building out alyciadarby.com, personal branding, starting the show, starting that, which will be launching some time mid 2018, nowish. And then helping others build their shows. So this is the work that I’m doing now. I gained a lot through 90 day strategy sprints and so I’m now helping my clients to create strategy sprints for their businesses as well. So in 90 days, accomplishing a big goal and then moving to the next. So this is kind of how I work, in 90 day sprints. But my long term, the moonshot goal, as you say, is really to continue studying and researching influence. And it’s such a popular word right now to be an influencer. But I believe there are certain skill sets and certain characteristics that might be innate to our greatest influencers and might also be learned. So I really am interested in doing more research around influence and seeing if it’s something that we can train our children and even on college campuses, my background being in leadership development, I would love to be able to train people around specific concepts of leadership as an influencer, so that we’re not just chasing the next celebrity status, but rather owning our level of influence.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: I believe we’re all influencers at some degree. We might just influence out pets. We might just influence our children. But for some of us, we have a desire to influence many more than just that. And the way that the internet is going, the world is getting smaller and smaller, we have an opportunity to influence more and more people. So imagine if we could do so much good in this world if people could study how do I build influence, influencer skills, and lead from that perspective. So my goal is to research that more and then bring my findings at a larger level. Eventually I would love to have even some type of assessment that would allow people to know which ones are their innate qualities that they may already possess and not be aware of, similar to how people pointed out to you your qualities in influence in television and media. And then if i could also train around skills of influence. So that’s sort of the long term vision to achieve my big why or helping people influence with integrity.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s beautiful. And so how can women and men listening to this podcast find you and work with you if they want to kind of create their own channel and what does that all involve? Tell me a little bit first about what they get and how they can work with you.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: So creating your online show is really about identifying what is your message. So clarifying the depth of message. So that’s the big why as I’m calling it. That I call your legacy project. So your legacy project is really what stamp do you want to leave on this world. And of course we recognize that it will change and develop as you personally change and develop. But that’s something that we really want to get clear around first. And then, we talk about the how. So for some people, they are creating studios that are big and brilliant and they’re spending thousands of dollars and a makeup artist team and this and that.
For me, I believe the best place to start is with a home studio. So just find a corner of your home and create a little set for it. And I’ve got, in fact, Melinda, I’ve got a download for your listeners, so if they are interested in starting their own show and want to build out a home set, you can do that very easily, so that they don’t feel like “Oh, I’ve got to spend a million dollars to build this gigantic set.” No, it’s something you can do pretty easily and a lot of distribution channels you can do for free. Like YouTube distribution is completely free. Uploading videos on there is a breeze. So most of my clients start there. And then you can always build and grow and develop from that place. So to get that free download … Melinda, is it okay if I share this download?
Melinda Wittstock: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s wonderful, thank you.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Yeah, so it’s at alyciadarby.com/wings. And that’s where you can go to get the free download for how to set up your home studio and what gear to get. It’s very simple once you take a look at it and there are different levels you can start with. But that’s really a great place to start. And then you build out your show from there. So in Start Your Show, that online program, we help people go from zero to 60 pretty quickly. Of course, less than 90 days. My whole goal is to do major projects in 90 days or less. So my clients are doing that, launching their shows, and being able to build influence almost immediately. And then all of the details of how we can work together to build online businesses through these 90 day sprints, all that can be found at alyciadarby.com. Alycia with a Y. A-L-Y-C-I-A.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s awesome. And we’ll put that in the show notes. And thank you. What a generous offer. It’s such a delight to speak with you. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation.
Alycia Darby Zimnoch: Thank you, Melinda. I appreciate being here.