EP 311: Finding The Full Body Yes With Being Boss Host Emily Thompson

Dec 1, 2020 | Community, Mindset & Identity, Podcast

In This Episode:

  • How Emily Thompson, host of Being Boss & founder of Almanac Supply Co, led herself through a year with plenty of twists & turns
  • How she knew that taking over Being Boss on her own with the right decision for her & the vision she has
  • How she managed herself through turning an in-person event into an online one
  • The practice she uses to stay focused and present with her own experience
  • What she did at Almanac Supply Co to replace a revenue stream lost to lockdown

Well, folks—we’ve made it.

It’s the final month of 2020 and we’ve been through a lot this year.

I can’t even pretend to know what the year was like for you. I don’t know if you felt incredibly lonely or never got a moment to yourself after March 17th (or both). I don’t know if you finally confronted your racist uncle or spent precious energy reminding people that your life does matter. I don’t know if your business cratered or skyrocketed. I don’t know if you lost a loved one or welcomed a new life into your family.

But what I do know is that, if you’re reading this right now, you led yourself through it.

You found a way to cope. You found the strength to keep going. You nurtured the resilience to grow and adapt.

And you should be proud of that.

I’ve had the great privilege of getting the inside scoop on how hundreds of small business owners navigated the endless twists and turns of this year. I’ve watched as they rise to the occasion over and over again inside The What Works Network.

I’ve observed their new self-care practices. I’ve seen how they reimagine their brands. I’ve witnessed them wait it out. And I’ve seen how how they’ve grown.

This month, I wanted to take a look back at how they’ve led themselves through this wild year.

So I spoke to 4 small business owners who each had a very different experience this year. What they all have in common, though, is a fine-tuned sense of self-leadership.

Sometimes that self-leadership took the form of intentional practices of self-care. Other times, it was finding the courage the make big decisions. And still other times, their self-leadership stared down challenges with intense creativity & imagination.

My first guest in this series is Emily Thompson, host of Being Boss and founder of Almanac Supply Company.

Emily had a big year—she separated from her long-time business partner Kathleen Shannon. She reimagined the Being Boss business model. She pivoted an in-person event to the online space. And, she got creative about how to replace a major revenue stream for Almanac.

Emily and I talk about all of these moments and much more.

We’ll get into the conversation in just a minute.

But first, I want to invite you to join me for a different kind of annual review.

It’s happening on Instagram—and every day this month, I’m sharing a different question you can use to look back on the year.

So whether the year has been up, down, or lots of ups & downs, these questions will help you reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how you’ve grown.

Today’s question is: what did you create this year?

Follow along by finding me on Instagram – I’m @tara_mcmullin!

Now, let’s find out what works for Emily Thompson!

Emily Thompson: I felt a full body yes, right? Like it was just a complete knowing that this is exactly the answer that I've been waiting for. Why didn't I think of it before? Which is also the thing that you always think whenever you hear these stories of these big creative sparks is that it was so simple and so obvious, but not something that I had ever really considered at all.

Tara McMullin: Well, folks, we've made it. It's the final month of 2020, and we've been through a lot this year. I can't even pretend to know what the year was like for you. I don't know if you've felt incredibly lonely or if you've never gotten a moment to yourself after March 17th or both. I don't know if you finally confronted your racist uncle or spent precious energy reminding people that your life does matter. I don't know if your business cratered or skyrocketed. I don't know if you lost a loved one or welcomed a new life into your family. But what I do know is that if you're listening to this right now, you led yourself through it. You found a way to cope. You found the strength to keep going. You nurtured the resilience to grow and adapt, and you should be proud of that.

I'm Tara McMullin, and this is What Works, the show that takes you behind the scenes of how small business owners build stronger businesses. I've had the great privilege of getting the inside scoop on how hundreds of small business owners navigated the endless twists and turns of this year. I've watched as they rise to the occasion over and over again inside The What Works Network. I've observed their new self-care practices. I've seen how they re-imagined their brands. I've witnessed them weighted out and I've seen how they've grown.

And this month, I wanted to take a look back at how they've led themselves through this wild year. So I spoke to four small business owners who each had a very different experience this year. What they all have in common though is a fine-tuned sense of self-leadership. Sometimes that self-leadership took the form of intentional practices of self-care, other times it was finding the courage to make big decisions, and still other times their self-leadership stared down challenges with intense creativity and imagination.

My first guest in this series is Emily Thompson, host of Being Boss and founder of Almanac Supply Company. Emily had a big year. She separated from her longtime business partner, Kathleen Shannon, she re-imagined the Being Boss business model, she pivoted an in-person event to the online space, and she got creative about how to replace a major revenue stream for Almanac. Emily and I talk about all of these moments and much more.

Now, we're to get into the conversation in just a minute, but first I want to invite you to join me for a different kind of annual review. It's happening on Instagram. And every day this month, I'm sharing a different question you can use to look back on the year. So whether the year has been up, down, or lots of ups and downs, these questions will help you reflect on what worked, what didn't, and how you've grown. Today's question is what did you create this year? Follow along and share what you created this year by finding me on Instagram. I'm @tara_mcmullin, or grab the link in the show notes. Now let's find out what works for Emily Thompson. Emily Thompson, welcome to What Works. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Emily Thompson: Tara, I will be here any day. I'm excited to be here.

Tara McMullin: Yes. I am really, really excited about this conversation. You and I have talked a few times over the last year and I've gotten bits and pieces of it, but I think we're really going to dig into it today. So speaking of which just about a year ago, you let me in on the news that Kathleen was moving on from Being a Boss. I would love for you to take us back to that time and tell us how you were feeling about taking over the brand on your own.

Emily Thompson: So excited. I remember being so excited, but I even think more than excited, really relieved. Really, really relieved. The 12 to 18 months that came before Kathleen and I came to that decision were really tumultuous, like emotionally tumultuous. And not between Kathleen and I, Kathleen and I were fantastic and we were really helping each other work through a lot of stuff, but internally, emotionally, I was really dealing with some hard emotions around letting Being Boss go, but I didn't even realize that that's where the hard emotions were coming from. I thought they were something deeper. Like I was still really dealing with burnout. And I was in so many ways, but what really was causing me so much anxiety and like heartache was the idea of letting Being Boss go, of shutting it down.

And whenever I connected those two things that like my deep heartache was from my previous decision to leave Being Boss, for us both to leave Being Boss and for us to shut it down. Whenever I reconciled that and then realized that my solution to healing that heartache was actually keeping it and keeping it running. And with Kathleen being so amicable about that idea and that working out so wonderfully, what I really felt was enormous relief and so much potential for what I could do with Being Boss if I continued it. So a lot of excitement, but definitely more relief.

Tara McMullin: Yeah, I love that there is part of the story that just illustrates so beautifully that what works can be so very different for different people, because it seems like you and Kathleen were going through a lot of the same kind of experience of burnout and the harder emotional side of things around just the work in general, for just like capitalized work. And for her, that meant moving on, and for you, that meant coming back to it with a renewed focus and renewed intention. Can you talk about the process of coming to that realization? How did you decide this is really what I want to do as opposed to maybe this is what feels safe or this what's feels comfortable? Does that makes sense?

Emily Thompson: Yes. So it was a big magic moment. And I've talked about these a couple of times in my own story usually. For me, I know that those sparks of inspiration, some people need to work at them, some people need to wait for inspiration, some people like pick up little breadcrumbs along the way. I know that how I come to big transformative decisions is by getting really quiet, giving myself a ton of space and just waiting for it to come to me. And during burnout, that's really what I was doing. I was definitely like healing myself and giving myself space and paying attention to myself so that I could feel better and get better and all of these things, but I was also very intentionally making a lot of space for myself so that my muse would visit, right? I needed her to show up and tell me what to do.

And so I did for months and months, and as with all great stories of creative sparks, I thought that she would never show up. But I very much so remember sitting in the backyard with David one day crying as I was most days, and it hitting me that, oh my God, there's a solution to this. And my solution is actually buying Kathleen out. And as soon as it hit me, and this is how I always know that these are my big magic moments, is like I felt a full body yes, right? It was just a complete knowing that this is exactly the answer that I've been waiting for. Why didn't I think of it before? Which is also the thing that you always think whenever you hear these stories of these big creative sparks is that it was so simple and so obvious, but not something that I had ever really considered at all.

So I waited until it came to me, which I know is how I process things. It's not the process for most people. And when it came to me, I just knew it was right. I did sleep on it for a couple of days. I didn't say anything to anyone other than David, my partner, David, but a couple of days later, I brought it to Kathleen. And again, one of those pieces is she knew something was up. We hadn't spoken and she knew that like I needed to talk to her about something. And so that for me too was just a bit of confirmation that whatever magic feeds my creativity was at play because not only did I feel it completely, I also saw it. I saw exactly how I wanted it to play out and Kathleen knew something was up. So not a replicable process at all, I don't think for anyone, but it's how I work.

Tara McMullin: Yeah, I love it. Obviously we're all about what works differently for different people, and I think the process that you described is probably one that feels very familiar to a lot of people, even if we can't engineer it for ourselves in any given moment. All right, I want to fast forward a little bit because you've already hashed out the sort of behind the scenes of how the partnership dissolved and the buyout, and it's a really neat story the way you guys share it because it's something that could be so contentious. It's something that there can be so many big feelings around and you guys show up the way you always do with vulnerability and transparency. And so we'll make sure that everyone is linked to those episodes of Being Boss.

But I want to focus now, especially on this year. So sort of this you fully stepping into leadership of Being Boss, and then also all of the wildness that has transpired over the course of this year on top of this big personal identity shift that you were making at the same time. So I think let's just start off by looking at how you've shown up this year. Do you find yourself showing up differently now that you are the face of Being Boss, as opposed to half of Being Boss? Has it changed anything about the way you lead or manage the business on a regular basis?

Emily Thompson: Oh, there's so many little things. Quickly, I would say, nope, it's all the same. But that's also not really true. I think in terms of how it is that I show up, I have to fill the space that used to be very much so filled by Kathleen. And Kathleen is a lot to fill.

Tara McMullin: Yes.

Emily Thompson: It's one of the reasons why I love her so much. She has such a big personality and has always been such a fun person to work with, but now it is my responsibility to show up in that fullness that was once both of us. And it's different. It's not the same. And I went into it knowing that, embracing it, all of these things, but there is a bit more bigness that I need to bring to it. In the past we've always talked and joked, but it's also very much so true that like I've always run the business of Being Boss always. And Kathleen has definitely played her part in it for sure, but she was also very much so the personality behind it, and now I have to be both of those things.

I have to show up and run the business, like do all the things. And obviously I have a team, so I'm not doing all the things, but I am running the business and I am like the bigness of the personality. So there is a bit of a shift there. And a part of that too has just been me being allowed to come into my own in a way that I probably wouldn't have if Kathleen were still around, in the same capacity. So there has been a shift in how I show up a bit, but it's more of just like... I don't even know how to... Kathleen's gotten out of my way. And not that that is the case at all by any means, but like I have had to really step forward and replace that space that she has filled for so long. So there has been a bigness that I've had to bring outwardly.

And then inwardly, a ton of little things. One of them being I don't have to ask permission from Kathleen anymore to do all the things that I've wanted to do. So most of the things that we've implemented, and by all means, not all of them, but most of them were my ideas. Most of them were implemented by me. I project managed. That has always been my role is really that like the management piece of it. And so now I'm not... Now I can move forward with my ideas so much easier and more quickly, but then this flip side of that is I don't have that sounding board, right? So I don't have someone to workshop the ideas. I'm having to pull in... Like I'm relying on my peer group more than I really ever have before to be the soundboard for those ideas. I'm having to sleep longer on my ideas because I don't have that soundboard for them.

So there has been a little bit of a shift in even how it is that I make decisions because for so long, those decision-making processes were done with Kathleen. I'm now either doing them alone or with other people. And that could be my team, that can be my peers, and in some cases, even the bosses. I'm going to bosses that I know, I'm going like, "You've been here for a long time. What would you think if we were to create this thing?" So I think it's given me a more diverse perspective of my decisions because it's not just Kathleen and I making decisions, but it's me and so many people who are making these decisions. So there's been a shift in how it is that we do some decision-making.

In terms of management, I think the biggest thing is probably including my team a little more in there, and at least like the workshopping that goes into like, "Okay, I have this idea, what would this look like?" Not so much in the actual decision-making, but definitely in helping me brainstorm how it is that things work and what's going to work and not work. So I'd say those are the biggest things. It's really just been filling the gap that Kathleen has left in her moving on, but I think it's definitely for the better. It's fun. It's a fun transition to do. Obviously I miss Kathleen all the time, but we also still talk all the time. So it's fun. And she is still there to soundboard stuff with me occasionally.

So it's really just been an expansion of how it is that I brainstorm, make decisions, and move things forward. Otherwise things are really pretty much the same. I'm still running the business the way I always have, I'm still project managing, all of those things. It's just outwardly, it's replacing that sort of bigness of personality and behind the scenes, finding other people to soundboard and help me make decisions.

Tara McMullin: Awesome. I want to ask about this, the bigness, the filling the space piece a little bit, because I think a lot of times in partnerships, we break off into roles that come naturally to us. And obviously, like you said, Kathleen is a very big personality. I've always thought of you as a big personality as well, but compared to Kathleen, no. I know. But have you felt like this is a natural shift into showing up more bigly or has this been something where you are learning a new way of showing up or learning a new kind of method for putting yourself out there?

Emily Thompson: No, it feels very natural to me. It feels very much so just like me stepping forward and like I'm sharing the space with someone, it really just is me owning the entire space in a way that that does feel very natural to me. It's funny Kathleen... If anyone here is astrology nerds, Kathleen and I share a Leo. And Leo being like the clown or the person on stage, he just wants everyone to look at them, whatever it may be. That has been one of those common things between Kathleen and I. And though, one, she's taller, two, she can be loud. We're equally loud, I think.

But with her gone, it's not like I'm trying to replace Kathleen by any means, it's just now I get to... I'm just not having to share the stage anymore. And I would share the stage with Kathleen any day, but it is mine. And so it has been me stepping up being more vocal about my opinions, as opposed to just like sitting back and letting Kathleen share hers and like go back and forth, whatever it may be, it really is just me stepping forward with mine. And that Leo, mine's a Leo moon in case anyone's interested, it's there and it's fine. And it's like it's been waiting for this the entire time, I guess. And it feels very natural.

Tara McMullin: I love to hear that. Awesome. Let's talk about some of the big things that then happened with the business this year. Big things I think happened with everybody's businesses this year, and we've all had to lead ourselves through them in different ways. One of first things that happened around Being Boss was having to shift your conference from in-person in New Orleans to virtual along with so many other folks, myself included, earlier this year. Walk us through your thought process, your decision-making process around that time, and how you met that moment to make the decision that you did and then execute from there.

Emily Thompson: Sure. One, I was nosing the news constantly. And just to give a little background, about the time that the world shut down, or at least America shut down, we were right at one month out from an in-person conference in New Orleans. And so it was like decision-making time. And I'll tell you, two big things made me make the decision as quickly as I could because we actually made the decision about three or four days before the mandatory lockdown. So people were still not like accepting that this was happening and that it would actually have any effect on anything, but I was so nose deep in the news and talking to my team, my event planners, talking to Kathleen, talking to some people who were emailing us about it, some of the attendees that I made the call pretty early. And there were two big reasons why I made a decision as early as I did.

If I had waited a couple of days, the government was going to make the decision for me, right? But for me, I needed to make a decision a little earlier because, one, we were on payment deadlines with our vendors. So like literally the day that I made the decision was the day that I had to pay thousands more dollars to finish paying off our venue and catering and some things like that. And the money that I had already put down, I didn't get that money back. And if I had paid that money to continue thinking in a month this would be over, isn't that cute that we all thought that it would be over in a month? I would have been even more sort of in, not really in depth, but I would be more out of my pocket from this.

So I was on a very tight payment deadline until I think I had it. I had been in... I think I had COVID. I had been in California like two weeks before, I come home a week later, I got a fever and I couldn't get tested. So there were no tests. And it wasn't so much that I had it or that I think I had it, but it was that I was calling around that day trying to find tests and no one even knew what I was talking about.

Tara McMullin: What?

Emily Thompson: It was the most insane. And the couple people who knew what I was talking about, they were no help. They had no referrals and they gave me no suggestions. They didn't even tell me to stay away from people. It was just like, "No, we don't have any." And I was like, "This is about to get real bad. Real, real bad." And so I had this behind the scenes look very early on at the healthcare system and how unprepared they were. And I knew that it wasn't going to be over in a month. So I made the call.

A couple of days later, the government made the call and the government was backing me up because we had some very angry attendees who were so annoyed that we had taken it off. So for me, it was so many layers of decisions as it is for everyone, but it was like very practical in terms of how close we were to deadline. The event was in a month and I had to make a decision immediately because the longer I waited, the less time I had to transition it if it needed a transition. And it did. And so I needed to give myself as much time as possible to make the transition to an online event. Because if I waited any more time, I wouldn't have been able to do it in the capacity that I was able to do it, and even that limited amount of time that we had.

So there were so many things that went into it. That was both one of the hardest and easiest decisions that I ever made. We also had attendees emailing us saying like, "I'm scared. I'm immune suppressed. I'm afraid for my life if I were to go to this thing." And so it was an even decision for me and my bank account or me and my own sickness, but literally the wellbeing of our people. And now we know, obviously I made the right call maybe before anyone else was comfortable making that kind of call. And because I made it as early as I was able to, we were able to have such an amazing event in the transition that I was able to do.

Tara McMullin: Yeah, you pulled off an amazing event. You'll hear how Emily says that going through burnout last year helped prepare her for this year in just a minute, but first a word from our What Works partners. What Works is brought to you by The Commitment Blueprint. It's time to start thinking about what you want out of next year. Is this the year you launch a new line of business or streamline and simplify? Is this the year you get serious about writing a book or go all in on writing for social media? Is this the year you build out a team to support your vision or get back to basics and do it yourself? Every year presents us with its share of decisions to make, and making those decisions can be stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Before you decide on what you want to do in 2021, make a commitment.

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I'd love to ask more about how you personally have dealt with this year, the emotional... I don't want to... The word that's coming to me is backlash, but backlash is not the right word. I have been way more acutely aware of other people's emotions this year and the way that it is showing up in their behavior, in the messages, in how they show up on calls. Some of it very positively, some of it very negatively, some of it just ambiguously in between and just weird, which is not... Like that's not calling anyone out. We're all right there, right? But I think as leaders and as people who are responsible as well for leading ourselves, I have had a really difficult time managing the heightened emotional back and forth that is being required of me this year. And so I'm curious just for any reflection that you have on how you have personally dealt with that emotional back and forth with people on a different level this year.

Emily Thompson: Well, I am a highly sensitive, intuitive person, so just welcome. [crosstalk].

Tara McMullin: I'm too but I really try hard to deny it. So you're the [crosstalk].

Emily Thompson: Yeah, no, no, no, I am very empathic. I've always been very highly aware. Like ask anyone who just hangs out with me on a regular, especially poor David. We'll walk into a room and I'll just look at someone and be like, "I don't like that person." Or like, "They're having an awful day. Don't even go over there," whatever it may be. So I've always been very aware of people's emotions. And just... So this year though has been kind of more of the same, but obviously also very heightened. And for me, it's like it's boundaries 100%. I have no problem telling someone on a Zoom call like, "Don't make me kick you out." And I've had to do that a time or two. Like I see you're having a hard time and if you need to go, you can go. And if this is a problem, I can remove you if you can't make that decision for yourself.

There've been a couple of tense moments where people just get real heated real easily or whatever. So for me, it's just been really owning my own expectations, but my own space. My own space. And so creating boundaries and communicating them clearly with people, but also just being... I mean, we all have to be okay being alone these days or not, because I also haven't been alone. Yankee family, I love you very much. In months, but it has been being very intentional about giving myself space so that I can more easily deal with everyone else.

But I will also say, I mentioned this in the last episode I did with you, 300, if I'm not mistaken, right? Where one of the things that burnout prepared me for this year in a way that I knew it would because I think I mentioned in the episode that I had wrote something in my journal along the lines of like the world is about to burn out and I just went through this so that I could help them through it, whatever that means. And it was like it's the most cryptic little journal entry ever. It is so weird, but I wrote it in there a year ago. And and so for me, it really hasn't been as taxing. I don't think as it has been for a lot of people. So I probably don't really have a good answer for that except boundaries and telling people when they need to go.

Tara McMullin: Yeah, I think that's a great answer and I appreciate it a lot.

Emily Thompson: To keep people out of your Zooms, Tara, it's fine.

Tara McMullin: I have not had that issue. It's more just... Yeah. Like I said, I try to deny how empathic I can be and that's not been helpful this year.

Emily Thompson: You have to accept it and do what you need to do. One of the things I had talked about, actually I talked about it in a recent episode of Being Boss. Actually Kathleen came on to talk to me about it. We talked about using intuition in business. And one of the things that I talk about is I have this sort of energetic practice that I do. It's called cord cutting, where I literally will meditate and just I imagine a cutting apparatus. It's always something different. Sometimes it's like a huge pair of scissors, sometimes it's a sword, sometimes it's just like a big butcher knife or something, and I'm literally cutting all of the energetic threads for myself. And I do this not quite daily, but especially if I'm feeling quite effected. I will do this with the idea that anything that has attached itself to me or that I've attached myself to, I can remove those attachments.

And the trick here, and some people have a hard time with is it's literally everything. Like my kid, my partner, my job, like literally all of these things, I cut them away with the idea that you can reattach the things that you want back. That is the intention of it, but you also are removing the things that you don't want anymore. And it's totally woo, but it works for me. I've done it for years. Probably two decades at this point almost of business ownership even. I'm using in my business to cut myself away from bad client experiences or that weird email that you got that rubbed you wrong, or whatever it may be. For me, that practice has been very foundational and is one that I continue obviously practicing to this day, but for me, energetically, keeping myself separated from all of the things, especially as a very empathic person has been monumental in me keeping myself grounded, especially in the craziness we find ourselves living in these days.

Tara McMullin: Yeah, and did you say you do that daily?

Emily Thompson: There are times when I will do it daily.

Tara McMullin: Okay.

Emily Thompson: I'd say these days, like in normal times... What is normal? Once a week probably, but usually for me when I feel very effected or just like really tired, really drained, or really feeling something that I know is not mine. Like if I walk around and I'm like so annoyed but I don't know what I'm annoyed at, it's probably not my annoyance. Like I'm probably picking up someone else's... Like probably my kid's annoyance more than anyone's, right? And so I just cut it away and move on with my life.

Tara McMullin: I love it. I am also going to try that.

Emily Thompson: Highly recommend.

Tara McMullin: I can't do it immediately [inaudible], but as soon as I can today I'm going to try that and I will report back.

Emily Thompson: Thank you.

Tara McMullin: Okay, so that leads me beautifully into the next question, which was going to be around what's worked for you this year to stay as mentally healthy as possible? You've talked about boundaries, you've talked about cord cutting. Is there any other practices that you have that you could share with us?

Emily Thompson: I have to get in the woods. I have got to get in the woods as often as I possibly can. We actually have plans to do that today even while the weather is still nice.

Tara McMullin: Nice.

Emily Thompson: Just me getting into nature, getting amongst trees, and there's tons of research around being in the forest breathing in those terpenes, my family hates it because I will walk through the woods breathing those terpenes. Basically, the breath of the forest literally does amazing things to the human's stress systems. So for me, getting in the woods as much as possible has been my like must do all year.

Tara McMullin: I love it. All right, so that's mental health. I'm also super interested in people's sort of self-coaching habits or self-coaching practices. In other words, the things that we do to help us through negative patterns, negative habits, the mental roadblocks that we end up putting in place, the assumptions, the stories that we tell ourselves that hold us back or create friction. Do you have any practices that helped you identify those unhelpful habits or patterns and overcome mental roadblocks?

Emily Thompson: For sure. One is just journaling. And I'm an SOS journaler, as we call it. And I think it was actually Katie Dalebout coined the phrase SOS or taught me this phrase SOS journaling. We're like, if sure it feels bad, go get out my journal. That's when I'm journaling, when I need it, when I really need it. So I do a lot of journaling. But also I am very lucky in this field that I've chosen for myself to have cultivated an amazing crowd of boss friends. And for me, it's conversations. It's having conversations with my various groups of people. And I'll go to them sometimes and be like, "Guys, I have this thing about pricing, this thing that makes me feel weird. What do you guys think?" And they're like, "Emily, let me tell you this." They're such a good mirror of being like, "Look, I know you believe this about yourself," or, "I've heard you say this thing a couple of times." And I'm like, "Is it true?" Whatever.

So for me, it's surrounding myself with people. And I guess this is actually getting coaching from people kind of, but for me, it's self-coaching. Like I surround myself with these people so that they can be that mirror. And none of them are actual coaches, they're just so much in this space and we have such open and transparent relationships that I can go to them and be like, "Guys, someone just said this thing to me and this is how it's making me feel." And they will be like, "Okay, then let's break this down and let's see if this is aligned or blah, blah, blah," whatever it may be.

So for me, it's community. It's being around my people and having my people support me, showing me the things that I don't see or that I do see, but I don't want to see. I think that even is the block of self-coaching is every one of us gets to a place in self-coaching where we still refuse to see what we see. And for me, it's the community that breaks that barrier. It's a barrier. It's my people who are like, "We know you know better, but we're going to tell you anyway because you're still doing it."

Tara McMullin: Yeah. Yes, familiar. Guilty as charged. All right, I want to talk about Almanac now because we've talked a lot about Being Boss. I think a lot of the biggest, at least externally, the biggest changes I've seen you have to make this year or the things you've had to lead yourself through seem to be on the Being Boss side, but I'd love to get kind of like an update on Almanac and how it's evolved this year, and then we'll go from there.

Emily Thompson: Perfect. Almanac has changed a lot this year obviously. So Almanac is a product business that is online and offline. We were planning on moving into a retail space this year. Wouldn't that have been cute? And things fell into place in a way where we did not make that move in January that we thought we were going to make. We ended up last minute deciding not to take a space that we were looking at, and instead decided to wait a couple of months to see if anything better came along. And by George, aren't we glad that happened? Right?

Tara McMullin: Oh my God.

Emily Thompson: Because if we had made that move, if we had moved fully into in-person retail at the beginning of 2020, we'd be screwed. We'd be totally screwed right now. So I'm very grateful that that did not work out and it was definitely for the better, but we immediately had to rethink a lot of things. We lost one of our revenue stream that made up a third of our revenue last year, which was local markets immediately. We knew that the local markets were not going to be a thing and that if they did come back, they were going to be food focused only. We do not do food. So we were not going to be included in those. So we had hoped to at least double our revenue this year and then we immediately lost a revenue stream that was a third of our revenue.

And so it's funny where, yes, a lot of big changes have happened at Being Boss, but also Being Boss is still operating in the exact same way, more or less than it always has, right? So like there hasn't really been that much change at Being Boss, we just haven't been able to do our in-person events. Almanac on the other hand has really had to change its entire vision in a lot of ways of what it is that we want to do. And honestly, David and I are still having the conversation of like we need to make that decision. Like what is the vision? If we can't do in-person retail, what are we working towards? And that's something that we want to see how the holiday season pans out to gauge which direction we need to move Almanac into. And also just seeing what happens with the pandemic over the next couple of months as well because retail's not 100% dead forever, but retail is kind of dead right now.

But online luckily, thank goodness that we did online first that we have such a foundation in online. We didn't rush to build a website, right? We didn't rush to put email marketing into place. We didn't rush... Like that was how we started and then retail was going to happen second. So we're... This is mid November when we are recording this and we've still doubled our revenue this year.

Tara McMullin: Oh shit.

Emily Thompson: Yeah.

Tara McMullin: That's awesome.

Emily Thompson: It's amazing. So we've made a couple of pivots that have worked out really well. Also our customers have showed up in online shopping. Online shopping almost immediately replaced that revenue stream that we lost.

Tara McMullin: Oh my word.

Emily Thompson: Which was amazing. And most of it is return customers. So our return customer rate is impeccable. They love us. We have a ton of fun. And we also decided instead of doing markets, which we did later have the opportunity to do, we were like, "No, we're not going to go do that. [crosstalk]. No, thank you. That is not for us. Not for candles." If we were selling apples, maybe. Candles, we can sell just fine online. So we actually, the biggest pivot that we made has been in doing what we call crystal parties. Crystal parties are something that I started on Instagram years ago. Actually, I remember doing it in like the first month or two after launching Almanac. I put some crystals on Instagram stories and sold them through Instagram stories. We did it a couple of times.

And I'm not a huge social media fan. Like I don't love Instagram especially. Well, Facebook especially, especially, and then Instagram especially. So we didn't stick with that, but we wanted to... We iterated it basically. After the pandemic hit, we decided, okay, if we don't get to do it on Instagram because we hate Instagram, what platform can we do it on that feels good? And what does this format look like? All these things. We ended up launching basically a weekly YouTube show where we were going live on YouTube every Friday. We've been doing it I think since May or June at this point. We go live at 2:30 PM Eastern for 30 minutes. So we call it Tea Time with Almanac and it's just David and Mary and I sitting around a table shooting the shit. That's what we call it behind the scenes, but there's actually some intention that goes into it.

We're usually talking about either what's happening seasonally because that is the basis of the business, or we're talking about the stones or the themes that are on the table for the day. And then at 3:00 PM, we start our crystal party. And it's literally like people show up live, we show crystals, they buy the ones that they want. It has become an amazing community builder. We have people who are showing up every single week to hang out and chat with each other. And then any other time, I don't know that it really would have worked in this way, but the time that we're living in, people are so hungry for one things to do. Like say if they don't have to worry about. Something different. And the ability to talk to people about something other than work has really turned into an amazing thing that this thing has iterated into.

And so we're doing them every Friday. It has not quite replaced the revenue of the markets of the weekly markets that we were doing, but almost, and it requires significantly less work. And no one's getting COVID from us moving it, which is also [inaudible]. Right?

Tara McMullin: No one is... That's amazing.

Emily Thompson: It's a ton of fun. So that has been one of the biggest changes that we've made at Almanac. And for us, it's really shown us that there are some interesting opportunities in sort of content marketing and I'm putting air quotes, "content marketing," and like social media marketing and all of these things that are so "out of the ordinary" whenever it comes to how most product businesses think about doing business online, and it works amazingly. And again, what it's doing that like I can't even express the amazingness of is it's built a community around a product business that probably... And not only like community with us, because that's like... Everyone always thinks of like engagement equals community. They're not the same thing, right? So whenever you're on Instagram, that's engagement. Like your people probably aren't talking a lot to each other. They're kind of just talking to you, but this has given us the ability to actually build a community where people are showing up and having conversations with each other in this space.

It's amazing. And I love it. It's become one of our favorite things that we do. Still this year, I am CEO of Almanac. I am not in there doing day-to-day stuff, which I absolutely love doing. I can really just show up basically every week and I pick out all the crystals, dream job, for the crystal party, and then I'm showing up and I'm like talking about the crystals during the crystal party, also a dream job. It has culminated into what I think is such a more appealing to me future for Almanac than if we had gotten that retail space.

Tara McMullin: That's beautiful. All right, we need to start wrapping up, unfortunately, but I have one more big question for you, which is that as you start to look toward the next year, 2021, what are some of the questions that you're asking yourself? Some of the things that you're wondering about as you look toward the horizon?

Emily Thompson: Two big things. The first one is Almanac. And that really is what is the vision for this business, because the vision for this business is currently completely nebulous. And I don't know. And I need... Everyone obviously needs like the star to shoot towards or whatever. So very much so vision because our previous vision is not a good business plan right now. Just plain and simple, not a good business plan. For Being Boss, the big question is when is it going to be safe to see each other? To do events, even like small events because... And every time I have a meeting with anyone in the community, they're like, "When are you going to have another mastermind retreat?" Or, "When are you going to do another vacation?" And I'm like, "Guys, as soon as it makes sense, I will." So those are my two big questions moving into 2021 is what are we doing at Almanac? And how does that play into literally everything that we're doing? And when can I get bosses together?

Tara McMullin: Yeah. Okay, I lied. I have one more question, which is the question I-

Emily Thompson: Nope, go ahead.

Tara McMullin: Always ask everyone, which is, what are you excited about right now?

Emily Thompson: 2021.

Tara McMullin: Literally what someone said yesterday at the end of the interview as well.

Emily Thompson: For sure, let's just get 2020 behind us. And it's funny, I keep hearing people saying nothing's going to be different in 2021. Like there is absolutely going to be an energetic shift.

Tara McMullin: Yes, agreed.

Emily Thompson: 100%. And even if the sun's not shining brighter the next day or you're not making more money when we're in 2021 or whatever, you are still going to feel different because 2020 has been, if I can say it, a bitch. Like it has been a real hard year. Even if it has resulted in a lot of positive things for a lot of people, it has also resulted in a lot of awful things for a lot of people as well. And I just think that having this year behind us is going to feel so much... Feel like there's going to be so much more opportunity and potential in a way that we have not built this year. And sure, by February, it could be gone. I have no expectations by any means, but right now, I am very excited about January 1st.

Tara McMullin: Hey freaking men. Emily Thompson, thank you so much for taking us behind the scenes and taking us into your inner world to share how you've led yourself over the course of this year. I really appreciate it.

Emily Thompson: My pleasure, Tara. Anytime.

Tara McMullin: I love how Emily described the realization that she could take over Being Boss on her own as a full body yes. I've certainly experienced that several times over my life, and even a couple of times this year. I'm an internal processor and I'll ruminate on a question or problem for days, weeks, or even months. And sometimes when that rumination actually pays off, I get that sense of utter release and rightness in my body, a full body yes. Now I don't believe that this is the only way to experience a good decision or a creative idea, but I do believe that the more we tune into our bodies and welcome the wisdom they contain, the more open we are to finding the yes in our bodies that our brains haven't arrived at yet. And I will also say that the me of four or five years ago did not believe that, could not believe that. Even finding my way to a full body yes that I could accept and trust has been a process of leading myself and of being led.

Find out more about Emily Thompson at beingboss.club and also at almanacsupplyco.com. And listen to Being Boss wherever you listen to What Works. I'll be on later this month talking to Emily about what worked and what didn't this year. Next you'll hear from coach and strategist, Valerie Black. Valerie had some pretty low points this year, but through it all, she showed up with grace, openness, and creativity. I wanted to know how she was leading herself to make that happen.

What Works is produced by Yellow House Media. Our production coordinator is Sean McMullin. This episode was edited by Marty Seefeldt. Our production assistants are Kristen Runvik and Lou Blazer. What Works is recorded in what is now known as the Lititz Pennsylvania, the ancestral home of the Susko Hanok people. The Yellow House is in what is now known as Kalispell, Montana, the home of the [inaudible] nation.

Host of What Works

Tara is a podcaster, small business community leader, strategist, and speaker. She’s been helping small business owners build stronger businesses for over a decade.  

Tara McMullin, What Works Weekly Newsletter

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