576 Clarissa Burt:

What can being a contestant on the reality show Survivor teach us about thriving as an entrepreneur? …Turns out, a lot – because to win you have to overcome your fears, persevere, embrace constant change, keep your eyes on your competition as you advance to your goals.

MELINDA

I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who emerged victorious on Celebrity Survivor … and applies the lessons she learned on a Caribbean Island to growing her media empire.

Clarissa Burt is founder and CEO of In The Limelight Media – and an internationally acclaimed, award-winning media personality, producer, director, writer, author, and public speaker.  Clarissa is also a former super model with hundreds of magazine covers, top designer catwalks, television, and film credits to her name.

Today we’re going to talk about how to overcome rejection and your fears, and much more, so I can’t wait to introduce you to Clarissa! First…

Clarissa Burt began her rise to celebrity and media maven 30 years ago in Italy, where she worked as a TV personality for Italian television. She’s graced more than 250 fashion and beauty magazine covers including Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Cosmopolitan, and has walked the runway for many major international clothing designers including Versace and Ferre. You may remember her from the movie The Never-ending Story II where she played the mean queen, Xayide, or “The Face” for Orlane Cosmetics for 10 years.

Now as Founder and CEO of In the Limelight Media, Clarissa has created a multi-media platform, comprised of video, podcast and a quarterly digital magazine, to showcase entrepreneurs globally to create brand awareness, share insights and exchange ideas. Clarissa brings you great information from remarkable people from all over the world interviewing public figures, influencers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, millionaires and moguls that share their know-how, tipping points, pivotal moments and life lessons. In the Limelight media promises educative, empowering and entertaining conversations with super guests. I’m so excited to be included in her lineup starting this June.

Today we’re going to talk about what entrepreneurs can learn from the world’s of reality TV, modeling and more – about overcoming fears and rejection, building a successful personal brand, leveraging opportunity – and much more, including what to do if you, um, find a kilo of cocaine on a Caribbean island.

I can’t wait to get into this interview, because Clarissa has lived a full and exciting life.  She was recently awarded the Certificate of Global Honor by the University of Pune, India and the “Women of Excellence” Award by the Women’s Economic Forum in Los Angeles, and her social work as a women’s advocate and leader of social change to improve worldwide standard of living, Clarissa earned two private audiences with Pope John Paul II.

An accomplished author, Clarissa also has a book coming out soon called The Self-Esteem Regime targeting Clarissa’s signature “Look Good, Feel Good, Be Good and Greater Good” philosophy.

So let’s put on our wings with the inspiring Clarissa Burt.

Melinda Wittstock:         Clarissa, welcome to Wings.

Clarissa Burt:                     Hey. So good to be here with you.

Melinda Wittstock:         You’re a media mogul, a supermodel. There are so many things you’ve done in your life, but there’s one thing that I definitely have to start out with, which is your win on Celebrity Survivor, because not least of which entrepreneurship is a game of survival, so there’s a link there.

Melinda Wittstock:         How did you come to do Celebrity Survivor, and what were your tips about winning it?

Clarissa Burt:                     First off, I lived in Italy for 30 years where I worked on television, much like you did in England. And not only, we were both sort of brought up through the media ranks, if you will, and so I started out doing the modeling, and then it went into acting. That went into television and movies, so in Italy I suppose that gave me a little bit of celebrity status.

When they were coming to do the Italian version of Celebrity Survivor, I was already back living in the States. I wasn’t living in Italy anymore, and they kept trying to convince me, cajole me, and all the different things that they could possibly do to get me to do this reality show, and I kept saying, “Guys. Really, thanks, but no thanks. Thanks, but no thanks.” Then, they finally told me what the end paycheck might be, and it convinced me. So, I said, “Okay, I’ll come back,” so I went back to do it as one of the elders of the show, because I was already 50. I turned 53 on the island, so I was already one of the [crosstalk 00:02:03].

Melinda Wittstock:         You do not look your age. My goodness.

Clarissa Burt:                     I’m 62 now, but then I was 53 when I was on the island, or 52 and then turned 53. I said, “All right,” and I went on. We started out on a smaller island, which was 12 people, and the first night everybody was there, everybody got violently ill. Violently ill.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh no.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah, so violently ill, and I was the only one that didn’t, because I was on antibiotics for a tooth root canal I had just had. We think it was sort of like E. Coli, because a lot of people were dipping their hands in the pot kind of thing, and certainly there were no great sanitary measures on the island, and God only knows where their hands had been before. I didn’t get sick, so I ran all over the island. I mean, all over the smaller island, because they put up different encampments around the island, and everybody was, “Clarissa, can you bring me this? Can you bring me that?”, so some of them needed toilet paper. Other ones just needed some water, because they were dehydrating.

So, that’s how I started survivor. Actually, it started out, Melinda, when we had to jump out of a military helicopter into the water, and it started out not well in the sense that I was number three to jump. The first guy jumped out and pretty much almost broke his back. The second guy jumped out and fractured his ankle. Then, I jumped out and hit my coccyx bone really hard. Obviously, there was a breach of security, and the helicopter itself was not at the jump point. It had drifted into more shallow waters, so that’s how we started. Then, again, here I was running around taking care of these guys. Oh, it was a mess, but then I’ll tell you about how I found a kilo of cocaine on the island, but that might be another episode.

Melinda Wittstock:         You found a kilo? Oh my goodness.

Clarissa Burt:                     Because now we’re in Nicaragua, right? So, that’s the trafficking [inaudible 00:04:11] between Central America and Miami, so when they’re being chased, the traffickers are being chased, they’re throwing everything off of the boats. And so, I found myself on a circumspect, and then everything floats over to circumspect islands, so one of them obviously came into my island.

Now, I was, as I said, one of the elders, so I was always the first up in the morning. My job was to go and gather wood for the fire during the day that you had to, by the way, keep going morning and night, because once you finally got a fire or a spark … Yeah, you’re doing like the boy scout thing. When you finally got that going, you had to do 24 hour turns to make sure that the fire never went out, which is lifeblood, by the way. The only way to boil the water so that you could drink it or to cook the rice, which by the way, you only had two handfuls of a day. It was great. I came off 20 pounds. I had lost 20 pounds on that island in three months. I was never happier.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh my goodness.

Clarissa Burt:                     It was the greatest. So anyway, I get up one morning and I go out, doing my thing. Now, I’ve seen enough movies. What do we want to call them? Drug movies, or whatever you want to call them, to know what I’m looking at. It’s just like, you would expect it, Melinda. It’s like all wrapped up in black masking tape, and it’s a brick. It looks like a larger sized brick, and I went, “Oh my God,” so I picked it up, because this would freak everybody out, right? This is another major breach of security, right?

All right. I pick it up, and I take it. I go down the end of the island where nobody can see me, and I take a bottle and I break it. I nick the corner, and I’ll be darned if it wasn’t full of white powder. Just nicked it, but it was white powder. So, at the end of the day, when the production came the next morning, I called them over, and that’s also a breach. You’re not allowed to talk to them, but I figured this is something they might want …

Melinda Wittstock:         This is big.

Clarissa Burt:                     This is something they might want to know, so I said, “Guys. Just to let you know, this is what I found,” and I said, “Look, I’m a producer myself. I know what this means. I’m not going to say a word to anyone, so don’t worry,” and I didn’t. I didn’t say word to anyone. I said, “Don’t worry.”

They go, “Oh God. Thank God, Clarissa. Give it to us.”

“Oh, hell no. I’m not giving it to you. What do you think? I’m going to hand over drugs in Central America? Are you crazy?”

So anyway, it didn’t happen. I said, “Look, bring the police in, and I’ll do a verbal recount, and then they can take it.” Anyway, the police came. I had to go off the island, which was another whole thing, because I had to pretend that something was wrong at home. I had to start crying. Those are my acting years, and I started crying, “Oh my God,” in front of the group, and I had to leave and, “Something’s wrong with my grandmother, guys. I’ll be right back.”

Then, I’ve got to go to the [inaudible 00:06:55], so they take me over to the production island where I meet with the police, and then I bring the police back so that none of the other players could see what we were doing. I showed them where it was, and they took it. Well, the next day we had all of these weirdos all over the island looking for more drugs. Yes, seeing if they could find any more of this stuff, because the word got out. Just to give you an idea how the police worked down there, right? How corrupt it was that the word got out through the police to the drug people, the drug lords or whatever the hell you want to call them, that the drugs were on that island, so interesting stuff. And by the way, I wound up winning, which was interesting.

Melinda Wittstock:         So you described this incredible adventure, but there’s so many things in that, that seem reminiscent of the entrepreneur’s journey.

Clarissa Burt:                     I did. I wrote a speech called Everything I Wanted to Know About Life, I Learned on Survivor. I think something along those lines I wrote.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right, because where I liken it to the entrepreneur’s journey is that there are so many things beyond our control.

Clarissa Burt:                     Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         There’s what we think we can control. There’s the vision. There’s the perfect plan, the old ways, and then there’s the competitiveness. Watch it, because you’ve got competition.

Clarissa Burt:                     Sure do.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right? You have all these different things, and it’s really your own wits and ability. You have to have a multiplicity of ability. You have to take risks, like jumping out of a helicopter. You discover things that you maybe didn’t want to discover.

Clarissa Burt:                     Definitely. [inaudible 00:08:32] getting over fear, because I was a pretty acrobatic kind of gal in my younger years, so jumping out wasn’t the hugest thing. Your heart is a little in your throat, but you do it. It’s okay. I’ve jumped out of plane. I’ve done the whole thing, but to find your coccyx bone just like wham. I mean, I was thinking about [crosstalk 00:08:50].

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s so painful. I know that’s painful, because I used to compete in figure skating.

Clarissa Burt:                     Oh yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         And I hit it really, really hard one day, and then I was recovering and hit it again. Yeah. I know what that’s like. [Crosstalk 00:09:04]

Clarissa Burt:                     Two weeks in, I asked to go to the hospital, because I was still in so much pain. They took me in, and I was a 24 hour overnight. They brought me back to the island, and nothing was broken, but I hit hard. For the guy before me to have fractured his ankle, you know I hit hard. And after he went down and broke his ankle, they were trying to get us to that cross sign that they do to say stop, like abort mission. I just had to jump anyway, but the Nicaraguan military guy behind me tapped on my shoulder, and he intimated, if you will, to jump in a sitting position. Don’t jump feet first, which is what the other guy did, and that’s why he fractured his ankle. Anyway, I could be here all day on that, but you get the idea. Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         The risk taking is actually really interesting in the context of entrepreneurship, because one of the things you have to get over is your fear. Particularly subconscious fears, fears that you don’t even know you have. One of my entrepreneur groups, because I’m in all kinds of different masterminds, but one of them, pre pandemic anyway and certainly post pandemic, we do all kinds of different events where we did everything from running Amazing Race in Buenos Aires to swimming with sharks in Barbados, and all these sorts of things which are really about overcoming fear, or actually like doing the trapeze. A whole bunch of things like that, and I find that each time that I put myself in a situation like that, and I overcome it, it really helps me in my business.

Clarissa Burt:                     Oh. It’s empowering. Yeah. Truly, it’s empowering for sure. There were good moments and bad moments on that island, and I’ll never forget. They used to call me aunt Clarissa all the time, because everybody was coming to aunt Clarissa for advice or to get a couple of cuddles. They come when they had questions or they were in [inaudible 00:11:06], [inaudible 00:11:07], or whatever you want to call it.

One of the things that broke me down a little bit, I kind of got a little sniffily, and I still have it to this day … For Easter, they sent us notes from home, from my sister, her children. They’re like, “Oh. Go Chrissy. You’ve got this. You could do this. You’re doing a great job,” and then they sent this picture of them all holding up a sign going, “We love you.” When you are that far, like you’re two months on the island, no phone, no computer, no food, they’re breaking you down as much as they can. I kind of sniffled a little. I went, “Oh, thank you.” It was great. That was a good moment.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, I want to take you way back in your career, because we’re going to get into your whole media company and everything that you’re doing as an entrepreneur, but you started out pretty much out of the gate as a supermodel. What was that like?

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         What was it like to walk the runways, grace covers, and do all those things? Because that’s many little girls, that’s like a dream in a lot of ways, but what was it really like?

Clarissa Burt:                     I know. Isn’t that something? It was something that I always had wanted to do. When I was five years old … Like you, I’m sure you had the silver screen goddesses that you emulated or that you wanted to be like. For me, it was Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth. So, then I grew up. As I’m growing up, I got buck teeth, my ears protrude, I’m gawky, I’m skinny. By no way am I anything to look at, so I go look in the mirror and go, “Well, that’s probably never going to happen,” and I just never really had the self-esteem in myself or the idea that I could ever have done something like that. Then, life kind of takes over, and you sort of thin out, grow up, and you get a little bit more pleased. You discover makeup, Melinda. You discover makeup. That’s what happens.

Anyway, I was working already in New York City at the time, and many people would say, “You know, you really should model. You really should model.” Every time they did that, of course like a peacock, I felt like, “Oh, that’s great. That’s just what I want to hear, but I could never do it.” Long story short is I was asked by a makeup artist if I would come in and do a test. They were looking for test models for a photographer, and I said, “Sure, I’ll come in.” That’s kind of where it started, so I got some pictures, went to Willie, to Wilhelmina. I went over to elite, and I went to Ford. Ford said, “No.” Elite and Wilhelmina said, “Yes.” I chose Wilhelmina. Six months later, I was in Paris doing my tear sheet thing.

Actually, the story goes that I came back from Paris. I didn’t do well in Paris. I was too homesick. I really hit like some down or kind of was just was not ready for it, and so I went home. I was back in New York city, and I was a temporary secretary. Now they have me temp secretarying for Revlon on 59th street on the 50th floor, and I’m looking around the walls at all of these supermodels on the walls. I just was beside myself. I couldn’t believe it. There went my shot. I really blew it. I go back down to Wilhelmina, and a scout was coming in from Italy. You know, a modeling agency scout. He looked at my stuff, and said, “Why don’t you try it again? Come back to Italy, and we’ll see what we can do.” I was about two years more mature. I had thinned out a little bit. I was really ready to go back, and I did.

That’s kind of where it all started, but to answer your question, to walk those runways … Again, these were the early 80s when it was the Made in Italy year, so I walked with Armani, Versace, Ferré, Valentino. You name the Italian designer. I was on that runway, and then I was in Paris on pretty much every runway there as well. Name anybody, and I was there. And so, that was really one of the first crowing moments, if you will, because I love the runway. Then, the covers and the beauty campaigns were extraordinary, because it was validation, I guess, that mom and dad did a nice job. I was trying really hard to keep it real, because it wasn’t going to last forever, and it didn’t.

So, after that, I moved into the acting realm, which I did for a while. The only movie that came here was The Never-Ending Story, Part II, where I played the mean queen, Xayide, in that movie. It really wasn’t acting, Melinda. I was pretty good at being a mean queen. We did the movie thing, and then I went into television production, because I really, really love television, and I love the live piece of it all. I was in Italy, so I was doing it in Italian, which was really kind of cool. That’s how the whole thing progressed out of the modeling years, which were just extraordinary. The amount of fun to travel. Again, it’s a lot of travel, so you never have the time to put down roots, so that’s one thing you have to expect, but they were great. They were great years.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’m fascinated with the modeling and the acting, because they’re both professions where you have to get used to-

Clarissa Burt:                     Rejection.

Melinda Wittstock:         Lots of no’s. Yeah, the rejection, and that’s something that is, again, a common thread with entrepreneurs, say in the early stage of a company where you’re asking for sales and like, “No, no, no, no, no.” That kind of thing, and we can sometimes take these things very personally, but you have to figure out psychologically, I guess, how to not make it personal, so how did you deal with that?

Clarissa Burt:                     It’s hard in the beginning. It was hard in the beginning until I really dissected it a minute, and it was really more about it … It wasn’t about you. It’s just that you weren’t what they were looking for, so you can show up and have the greatest credentials, the greatest pictures, worked with the greatest photographers, be the greatest model, poser, or whatever it is, but if they were looking for a blonde, bouncy, jumping around on the beach kind of gal … And that would never have been me. Never have been me. I wasn’t this smiley, jumpy, happy. No. That was not me.

Melinda Wittstock:         You start to think of yourself in a way, and this is something I learned as a television news anchor, where there was me, the product, as opposed to me, the person. I had to make that leap going from print journalism to suddenly being an anchor for the BBC and ABC News, and all of that. It was an interesting psychological transition.

Clarissa Burt:                     For me as a model, it was about the product. It wasn’t about me.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right.

Clarissa Burt:                     Certainly it was about the dress on my back or the jar of cream I was holding in my hand.

Melinda Wittstock:         You’re a salesperson in effect.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah. It goes deeper when you think that you’re a communicator as well. You’ve got to know how to communicate. By the way, that changes every minute, because every change of clothing that you put on is a different mood. It moves in a different way. You can only put your hands in pockets if the pockets are there. You can only swirl around if you’ve got fabric that will allow you to create a beautiful imagery as you’re doing it. And all at the same time, working to the photographers at the end of the runway while you’re trying to please the people on each side of the runway who came there to see you and [inaudible 00:18:44].

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, so there are a lot of things going on. It’s not just about being beautiful.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yes, exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, really understanding all the different pieces, because you’re essentially part of a team. And again, a team is vital. Creating a great team is vital to success as an entrepreneur, so I imagine there’s a lot of intuitive skills like that, that separate great models from models that don’t really succeed, because if you go into it thinking it’s all about you, that’s a sure way to fail. That’s true of a CEO as well.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah. There’s a lot of professionalism that goes into it as well. I mean, a professional model knows exactly what is needed when it’s needed. She also knows how to read a photographer, and it really seems crazy to think, but it does go that deep. Every photographer has a different style, uses different lenses, and you have to know how to use props. If there are no prompts, you have to create props, and maybe this shot is going to be better on the ground than it is standing up, or maybe you ask for a chair. You have to know also how to create the image that the client is looking for, because a lot of times photographers don’t really always know.

Melinda Wittstock:         So Clarissa, you’ve had such a full life. I mean, you’ve done so many different things, and I imagine all these different strands of your experience and the things that you’ve accomplished and done in your life really inform the media company that you run now. It’s easy. I think Steve Jobs said this really well. It’s easy to connect the dots when you’re looking backwards, but what are some of the core things that you learned that really inform how you’re running and growing your media company now?

Clarissa Burt:                     That it’s still not all about you. It’s about the end user. Solopreneurs and entrepreneurial, which is whom I work with, are looking to get the word out. They’ve got messages, messaging. Every one of them is different. Every message is different. When you’re interviewing, you have to know how to not only bring out the best in them, because a lot of them are not used to being in front of a microphone or a camera, but you have to make sure that whatever product or service that they came to the interview with is being highlighted to the full extent as well.

I think what I really like to do with my interviews at least is come really prepared, and I keep it light. I keep it light, and I keep it fun. We do some giggles, chuckles, and some right out laughing. I try to keep the interview engaging so that people will stay till the end, which is always the challenge these days. As we’re doing that, and you well know, you’re also thinking about the timing of the interview, and in the back of my mind, and I’m sure yours too, you’re thinking about the end user, the end listener.

You’re sort of baking the cake, if you will. You put in the eggs. You put in the oil. You put in the flour. You’ve got to mix it up. It goes in the grease pan. Don’t forget the grease it. Then, it goes for 350 in the oven. So, this is kind of how I think that really good interviews are done. You come to the table with enough information and research done. They’ve also given you some information that you can use, and then you mix that all together. On the other end, you have to make sure that it is an interesting, engaging, and efficacious interview.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. There’s so many components of this. I think the one thing too, that you said in all that, that really stands out and bares more digging into, is it’s about the customer. It’s about the end user. I see so many people making this mistake in their marketing, like whether it’s sometimes their podcast and the way they market that, or their social media, where it’s like, “Me, me, me, me, me, me, me,” and actually, no. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Or just even in creating a product, how to create a product that’s really customer first focused, right?

Clarissa Burt:                     Plus that are brands, much like yourself. You’re a brand in … How do you say that? In and out of yourself? I never can get my words out.

Melinda Wittstock:         A personal brand, I guess.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah. You are a personal brand. I’m also a personal brand, so it’s a very fine line. A very fine line. With my magazine, for example, I try to get some really beautiful imagery, and I try to get some great advertises in there. The cover is always spot on. I had somebody say, “Yeah, but it’s a little confusing, because I’m not at the level of Lamborghini who’s on your cover.”

I’ll be, “No, but by association, this is where you’ve told me you want to be, so that’s why I think you would be a great addition there.” And I’m excited by the way that you’re going to be contributing. I saw the answer to your email that you’ll be starting with In the Limelight Magazine on June 1st, so I’m excited to have you on.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’m excited. It’s interesting in my writing career, because for a long time I started out on the London Times as a 22 year old business correspondent, so I was always writing about other people. It took me a long time to be able to transition to write personally, because I had to unlearn a lot of the journalism stuff to be able to make that transition. Then, it was always about reporting on other things, not being able to communicate my own thing, and it’s a really kind of interesting transition there.

The other one is that yes, while there is the Melinda Wittstock personal brand around this podcast, a lot of the events and things that I do, I walk that line between that and Podopolo, my company, where I really don’t want it to be a personal brand because it is a scalable, fast-growing company that needs to focus on its valuation growth and not being tied to a specific person. If it’s tied to a specific person, it actually limits the valuation of the company.

Clarissa Burt:                     It sure does.

Melinda Wittstock:         I have to manage that, but I think it’s important for CEOs though to have a personal brand, because as social media moves more, and I think podcasting is an indication of this, that people are really craving authentic connection and authentic conversations, and they want to know the people behind the company.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah, and I would say given even 2020, 2021, as we’re going into it now with the climate all over the place, whether it be political, economic, or the COVID, because we’ve got the trifecta, right? The triple whammy. I think truly, like never before, authenticity is really the word. The truth, I think, and authenticity. Those two. Honesty and authenticity will take you and your brand farther than you probably ever dreamed that you could take it if you live up to those two, which I think are two of the greatest values you can bring to yourself, to your business, and to your customer.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         I remember when people first started talking about authenticity being critical to branding and whatnot. In recent years, a lot of people were confusing authenticity with kind of letting it all hang out kind of thing, right?

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah. I never really bought it either. It took me a minute to wrap my head around all that, not because I was dishonest or not authentic, but how far did we really want to take that? I mean, how much do they really care about …

Melinda Wittstock:         How much should people care about all that stuff?

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah. Really. I mean, let’s just get the job done, people. I’m good. I’m capable. How much do you really know about it? Do you need to know I was Mary Poppins in the kindergarten play to know that I can do a good interview? You probably don’t.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right.

Clarissa Burt:                     It’s not something you really need to know.

Melinda Wittstock:         I think there’s a strength though in the vulnerability, particularly for entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs in particular, getting good at actually being able to talk about failure and de-stigmatize that word, because one of the critical things about entrepreneurship is that all the lessons come from those failures, big and small. If you’re smart, all the failure is just feedback. As you’re trying to find product market fit, serve your customers better, figure out how to get the right team members in the right seats, or any of the different things that you do as a founder … There are going to be those failures. Going back to our conversation about modeling, we can choose to make that about ourselves or we can be really open about, “Oh gosh. Okay, so I learned that,” so when we learn these lessons, we can kind of pay it forward by helping other people avoid them. In some cases, that vulnerability can be used very effectively to help customers, but it’s kind of knowing the difference between the two.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah. Without a doubt. Yeah, it’s important. And again, yes, it’s really, really important. As I said, more important probably now than ever. And at the same time, people need to be moving. People need to be moving quickly now, because I’m already pulling my 14 to 15 hour days. I don’t know. I’m sure you are too.

Melinda Wittstock:         I actually try not to do that. I have more on my plate than you can possibly know. Taking a company from basically a team of 4 to a team of 30 plus by the end of the year, among other things, I could work 100 hours a week, but I choose not to. I find that it’s kind of a law of diminishing returns that I focus a lot more on picking the things in my day that I know have leverage, that if I do this one thing today and execute flawlessly on that one thing, there’ll be a multiplicity of outcomes around that.

Also, hiring, like getting the right team members in the right places, really orienting them towards delivering results, and all those sorts of things, but the actual fact of the matter is I do my best work when I’m not working. It sounds counterintuitive, but I get my best ideas when I have a little bit of distance from the business, when I’m in the woods, or with my dog. So, it’s taken some time for me to be able to learn to have the discipline to create those spaces for myself where I can get the context, I can let things settle, and really be smart about the right strategic decisions to make in the business, rather than being caught on a task treadmill or a human doing.

Clarissa Burt:                     Right, right.

Melinda Wittstock:         But it’s a tricky balance to manage, because our work is never done.

Clarissa Burt:                     No.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s the only thing to accept. It’s never done, right?

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah, no. It’s not. You have to remember where I came from too. I came from a completely creative background. All creative. Almost nothing in the way of administrative, and when I started my company over in Italy when I was producing TV, I had to start learning there also. Then, I still came back to the United States. Was it 15 years ago? I didn’t know what a funnel was. A funnel for me was something I used when I baked. I mean, a funnel. What’s a funnel?

Just to give you the idea how much I really truly had to learn about entrepreneurialism and all the different facets of running a business. I had to go through a lot of courses and trainings just to bring myself up to stuff. Then, today I just signed up for another three courses, just to be able to keep ahead of the curve or at least stay on top of the crest of the wave and not be pulled under by the undercurrent. I’m always learning. There’s always something that I’m doing to make sure … Read the next book. And then, sometimes I’ll go backwards. Right now, I’m reading. At the end of the night, I’ll give myself those few minutes, 10 maybe, The Power of the Subconscious Mind, just to be able to keep everything kind of balanced and even keel, but I’m constantly doing something.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely. Tell me. As we wrap up, because I could talk to you for hours, and I’m sure we will.

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’m so fascinated with your life. So, where’s your business going? Where do you see yourself heading? Where do you want to be in five years, 10 years? [crosstalk 00:31:45].

Clarissa Burt:                     Yeah. I would really like for In the Limelight to be the overarching umbrella with many different channels underneath of it. There are a couple of other shows, channels, and things that I’m planning on creating now. I locked down the URLs, but I need to take one step at a time. My whole thing really is about … I’m very passionate about the position and condition of women globally, so that’s why I wrote the book, The Self-Esteem Regime, which will be out early next year. I think I had mentioned to you that I had gone to well [inaudible 00:32:22] field out of New York city, and the audio rights had been sold as well. For me, that’s a book. It’s a mission and a movement for women to live as happy, healthy, self-esteemed beings.

I’m always kind of this heartened, if not sickened, by what I see about how women are being treated around the world and how women allow themselves to be treated. I’m kind of on a little bit of a mission when it comes to that, so there’s going to be another network just for women that I would like to create, and that is Women’s Global Network. We’re working on the Women’s Global Network now. In the Limelight is moving forward also, but I’ve been in media my whole life, much like you. It’s what I know. It’s what I do. It’s what I love, and to be able to give other people the possibility to have their shows, their voice, their message, to have their interviews, and to have their clients on their own shows is what I’m working toward now.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh. I love it. So Clarissa, where can people find you, work with you? I want to make sure that you find all those contributors that you need-

Clarissa Burt:                     I know.

Melinda Wittstock:         … And lots of readers, listeners, viewers, all of it.

Clarissa Burt:                     We’re always looking for contributors for the magazine. Again, In the Limelight with Clarissa is a lifestyle magazine for entrepreneur. I call it intelligent media for the savvy entrepreneur. So, we’re looking for women mostly to write articles that empower, inform, and educate women. That’s what we do. Not that we don’t have some men in there. We do, but it is mostly women. It’s clarissa@clarissaburt.com, or you can find me pretty much on any social with the exception of Snapchat, so any social. I think Facebook is Clarissa Burt Official, and then everything else is Clarissa Burt. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful. Clarissa, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.

Clarissa Burt:                     That was the fastest half hour ever, Melinda. That was so much fun. Thank you.

Clarissa Burt
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