254 MINISODE Naomi Mdudu: Intentional Connection

Naomi Mdudu is the CEO and Founder of the Lifestyle Edit, where her compelling mix of content, coaching, and retreats help female founders find alignment and inspiration in their businesses. A former journalist and marketing maven, Naomi shares her advice on how to work “on” your business instead of always “in” it, plus how to build a supportive “business family” of other entrepreneurial peers and mentors to assure your success.

Melinda Wittstock:         Naomi welcome to Wings.

Naomi Mdudu:                Hi, I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh yeah, me too. I'm excited to talk to you as well and I always want to start these minisodes with: what is inspiring you right now?

Naomi Mdudu:                What is inspiring me right now? I am so inspired by how this proliferation of women in entrepreneurship. When I first started my business, there wasn't the kind of plethora of information and content that there is right now so, just being part of this movement and seeing more women feel empowered to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to cultivate success on their own terms is so inspiring and it's pushing me to think of more ways that I can kind of be a support to these women as they're making that transition.

Melinda Wittstock:         It is really inspiring. I started this podcast because I wanted to catalyze an ecosystem where women showed up for each other, mentored each other, helped each other, threw business to each other, invested in each other, and I started it as a daily. And I also believe that women were succeeding in silence and I wondered, “Really? Were there enough women around to fill this podcast as a daily?” And there are more than enough, which is so inspiring to me.

I love hearing all the stories and, of course, along the entrepreneurial ups and downs if you will, there are challenges. It comes with the territory. And I want to de-stigmatize that for people so, I always ask everybody, “What are you struggling with right now? What are some of the challenges that you're facing in your business or your life that you can share with people?”

Naomi Mdudu:                Wow. Where to begin? There was so many things, I think. I think an ongoing challenge for many entrepreneurs is this constant balancing between working in your business versus working on your business. So, I read the book The E-Myth a few years ago and it was an absolute game changer, and now I'm kind of reading it every year to kind of reiterate. So, if anybody is unfamiliar with the book, he's basically giving advice on how we can make that transition and he says that one of the biggest reasons why small businesses fail is because the founders get stuck in technician mode so, where you're constantly being the doer. So, he says there are three personalities. We have the technician, the manager, and the entrepreneur. The technician is the doer, the manager is procedure, making sure things happen on time, and the entrepreneur is the visionary thinking big picture, that is kind of planning out where this ship is sailing.

And I think that is one of the things I have definitely struggled with and I feel a lot better about it now as we've kind of grown as a business, we're growing our team but, it's something that I have to constantly be reminding myself, you know. What is my secret source? How can I make the biggest impact? What are some of the tasks in my business that I am uniquely positioned to do? How can I delegate the rest and really empower my team to take ownership of those things? As founder knows, your business feels like your baby so, that process of kind of handing the reins of things that you've done because let's face it, you've pretty much done every job in your business. It's really challenging. So, that's something I'm constantly working on.

Another thing is, you know, every time you go through a moment of growth, you have your stuff. Like, it brings up your stuff. It's funny because before we got on air, we were just talking about it, that business is almost like therapy because it brings up all of the areas of your life that you're kind of triggered by. You can trust entrepreneurship to bring up that stuff. So, one of the biggest challenges, if I'm being honest, that I have struggled with is this kind of two sides. So, one side is really trying to support as many creative female entrepreneurs as I possibly can and creating products or services that meet them where they are whether they're further along, whether they're at the start of their business. That's my mission.

But, on the other side, there is this part of me that's like, “How can I create a growing bottom line and run a purpose driven business?” That's where I'm triggered a lot of the time. Because this is such an impact driven business, it can be hard sometimes, and I find this a lot with my clients who, again, want to make an impact in people's lives. When it comes to the financials, it brings up some stuff. And I'm constantly having to coach myself that, actually, when I try to chase these big, audacious revenue goals, when I break it down, it's actually meaning that I'm able to impact so many more people and the women that I'm impacting, they're going on to impact the lives of their clients and their customers. So, definitely, those kind of competing interests are something that I'm constantly trying to coach myself on and reframe that I can run a growing business and a profitable business and make a really big impact in the lives of the women I want to serve.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, that's beautiful. I mean, we all have a relationship with money and not necessarily a good one, right? Because somewhere in our childhood we heard our parents arguing about it, or we went to church and learned that everybody who had money must be a bad person or greedy, or something like that, right?

Naomi Mdudu:                Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         When in actual fact, you know, money, y'all, it really is an exchange marker of value and when you're creating value for people, right? And that's wonderful. The more money you have, the more good you can do. And so, so much of entrepreneurship for me, you know, when you that it brings up all your stuff, that's been a big part of my journey, too. I mean, completely changing my relationship with money and being very much in alignment with why I'm doing what I'm doing. And having the resources and the freedom to be able to lift others up.

How beautifully said. And you remind me too of another guest I had on recently. She's got a great new book out right now call Scale or Fail and Allison Maslan is a ten-time serial entrepreneur and she actually has a trapeze in her back garden. I mean, she is a trapeze artist as well as a ten-time entrepreneur. So, she's a trapeze artist in many ways but, she likens it to the fact that it's, at a certain point, as your growing your business, you've got to let go of something. So, you let go of that bar to grasp the next one, and that can be a really uncomfortable moment and it is a real challenge if you want to build a business. You know, get out of the way of doing it all yourself, you got to let go of these things and ask someone else to do it, and then when they're doing it, you got to get out of their way as a leader. So, it's very challenging at all these different phases but, it's exhilarating, right?

Naomi Mdudu:                So exhilarating and it's funny because I've just hired a coach that's going to work with me into 2019 and it was a very big financial investment and my clients were like, “Oh my god!” They never thought that their coach would be investing in other leaders and it's like, “Of course.” Every time you are going through this next stage, you need that support of someone who was in there before you. So, entrepreneurship is a constant up-leveling and it's so important to be able to surrender and say a little bit, “Actually, I haven't done this.” So, I'm now in that stage where I'm trying to transform my business from a six figure business into a seven figure business. I've never run a seven figure business before.

So, could I figure it out? Absolutely. But, I would much rather work with somebody who has been there, who has done it multiple times over, who could be my support, my confidant, as I kind of go through that next transition.

Melinda Wittstock:         That's great. I love that you're aiming for seven figures. Only three percent of female entrepreneurs make it to seven figures. So, really trying to change that number and you'll get there. And it's right. You've asked for help. Like, this is the biggest thing women don't do often enough. You know, we don't invest in ourselves enough and invest in coaches and people who know how because they've done it themselves before. So, that's really awesome.

So, Naomi, what are your top three go to pieces of advice for female founders, women in business, entrepreneurs that you've learned along the way? The top three you absolutely must do to succeed.

Naomi Mdudu:                So, the first one is about really being intentional about the people that you spend your time with. This has been an absolute game changer for me. So, just to give you a little bit of context, when I first started spending a lot of time in New York, I didn't have a big professional network or many contacts in the entrepreneurial space. So I made a list, who are all of the women who are doing incredible things, that are as invested in supporting creative entrepreneurs as I am, and I just called/emailed them. And I connected to each and every one of them. They've now become big influences on my business and part of my network. And I think so much of entrepreneurship, especially as a solo founder, can be really lonely and isolating.

So, it's so important to intentionally kind of rally those people who are on a similar trajectory to you. And that could be through peer-to-peer masterminds, paid masterminds. Investing in that has become an absolute gamer changer for me because, like we were saying, every time you're up-leveling, you're going through that stuff. So, to be able to connect with people who are at a similar trajectory from you and are playing big, who are testing things, that you get to kind of learn from their experiences, too. And also, people that make you up your game. Every time I am having an accountability session with the women in my mastermind, I don't want to be that person who is still saying that I'm going to do the thing that I said in the last time.

So, it really pushes you to kind of up your game. And you respect these people, so you wanna respect their time. And again, just being around people where success is just the norm. So, when I say some of my revenue goals, for example, a lot of the women in my group will tell me that, “Naomi, that's a great start. We can start there.” So, to have that validation and people that are there kind of rooting for you is amazing. So, I definitely say that.

The next one is get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Whenever you are stepping into a new domain, it is never going to be perfect. I did an interview with the founder of [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:12:14"]. She said something that stuck with me, she said, “You don't have to be perfect to start. You have to start to be perfect.” So, it's all about taking that kind of messy but aligned action every single day to kind of go towards those bigger goals.

And then the final thing that I would definitely say is to make time to step away from your business and have that time to kind of really invest in yourself.

So, whether that is having a morning and evening routine that grounds you. What are the things that you can do to kind of increase your vibrations so that you are showing up as the best version of yourself to your clients and to the people who you are there to serve because like we said, entrepreneurship can be challenging. I always think about it as that analogy with the tree; the bigger the tree is on the surface, the bigger the roots need to be and I think if the roots as that in a reserve. So, as your growing your business and your scaling, how are you making sure that you are intentionally building the inner reserves to withstand that growth?

Melinda Wittstock:         That's beautiful advice. Wonderful. So, Naomi where can people find you and work with you because you do so many things in your company and like me, you're very focused on helping women, particularly creative entrepreneurs. And so, anyone listening right now, how can they find you and work with you?

Naomi Mdudu:                Yeah so, head on over to thelifestyleedit.com. There you can find out more about how you can work with us, work with me one-on-one, we also have a group coaching program, and we run biannual retreats for creative entrepreneurs both on the east coast and west coast of the states, so definitely thelifestyleedit.com is the place to find out all about those things.

Melinda Wittstock:         That's wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.

Naomi Mdudu:                Thank you, Melinda, it's been wonderful.

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