EP 265: Leading Differently With MicroConf Co-Founder Rob Walling

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • What values are woven through Rob Walling‘s many ventures
  • Why he started MicroConf and how it’s a direct reaction to so many communities & events for founders
  • How Rob sees his role as a leader of a rapidly growing community
  • How he turns his values into policies, systems, and operating procedures no matter one business he’s working on

“Different is better than better.”

That’s what Sally Hogshead says. Sally is a brand expert and the creator of the Fascination Advantage Assessment, which helps entrepreneurs and leaders discover what’s naturally fascinating about themselves.

What she means is that better is fleeting. It’s uninspired.

“Better,” she says, “keeps you chained to the same way of working as your competition.”

Being different, on the other hand, helps you stand out. Being different helps you gather the right people around you—because they immediately see what you’re about.

Different helps you win on your own terms.

So how do we arrive at “different?” How do we build our brands, our ideas, our businesses to be different?

Different is a result of operationalizing our values.

This month, we’re working our way through a series of conversations about leadership. Specifically, I’ve been talking to small business owners about how they lead with their values and how those values pop up in their businesses in their systems, policies, and operating procedures.

Today, my guest is Rob Walling and Rob is committed to doing things differently.

Rob is best known for his leadership in the world of bootstrapped software-as-a-service businesses. He is the founder of Drip, MicroConf, and most recently TinySeed. He’s also the host of Startups for the Rest of Us and the author of Start Small, Stay Small.

Rob has chosen, from the beginning, to do things differently—and the reason is his values. His values led him to realize that he could build a business without playing by everyone else’s rules—and that’s made him a leader for thousands of others who are looking to do things differently too.

I talk with Rob about the throughline that weaves his different ventures together, the values that define his work, how his community and events are a reaction to the “standard” in his field, and how he views his role as a leader. Plus, I ask him how he’s ensuring his values continue to play out as his community rapidly expands.

Now, let’s find out What Works for Rob Walling!

By Tara McMullin

Writer, Podcaster, Producer. Founder of What Works.

Feb 18, 2020

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

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