Candid conversations with small business owners about what’s working to run & grow their businesses

“Tara is a master at bringing together knowledgable, generous business owners who have worked hard to build their businesses–and are willing to share it all.”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review

About What Works

What Works is a free weekly show that takes the mystery out of how small businesses really work.

With each episode, Tara deep dives with a small business owner and asks about how they manage their marketing, money, operations, team-building, growth, or personal leadership. She asks the nosy questions you’ve always wanted to ask other business owners!

Why a podcast? 

We produce the What Works podcast because it makes learning on-the-go easy. You can take this free in-depth audio content wherever you go and listen whenever you have time using apps like Spotify, Castbox, Castro, and Apple Podcasts.

New to What Works? Try This Episode:

Behind The Scenes Of The Awkward Marketing Video Series With Rachael Kay Albers

by Tara McMullin | What Works

Listen & Subscribe For Free In Your Favorite App

Browse Our Episodes

EP 282: Finding Support Through Coaching With Wholehearted Coaching Founder Shirin Eskandani

I was not a girl scout.

But I love merit badges.

As in, few things thrill me more than earning recognition for learning or doing something.

I’ve been chasing merit badges all my life—so much so that the pursuit of merit badges has often led me away from what I really want out of life… and toward what will earn me the next badge.

I’ve taken numerous jobs I didn’t want just to get the merit badge. I’ve agreed to plenty of collaborations I didn’t really want just to get the merit badge. And, I’ve chased a bunch of goals that didn’t really inspire me just to get the merit badge.

Every merit badge I earn is just another attempt to prove to myself that I’m good enough, that I’m worthy. And each merit badge I earn only convinces me that the next merit badge will be the one that finally makes me happy.

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I made this realization. And I did so with the support of my husband, my team, and coaching.

Now that I know about my merit badge pattern, I’m always on the lookout for it. I’ve rearranged my goal-setting, planning, and decision-making so that I have a better opportunity to notice when I’m stretching toward something I really want… or gunning for another merit badge.

I know I’m not the only person who always has her eye on the next merit badge. There’s a good chance that, as a listener of this show, you’re also keen on collecting accomplishments and achievements. Maybe that’s been helpful for you… and maybe it’s gotten you off track.

Maybe it’s been a result of your own sense of self-worth… and maybe it’s been an attempt to prove it.

My guest today found herself in a similar situation to me—always trying to prove she was good enough by climbing the rungs of her chosen career ladder: opera singing.

But when she earned the merit badge she had most wanted her whole life, she realized that she still wasn’t happy.

I’ll let her tell that story—but, listener, I can relate. And that’s why I so wanted to bring Shirin Eskandani onto the show.

Shirin has done a lot of work on rewriting this pattern and she’s found support for that work through coaching.

Today, Shirin is not a full-time opera singer. She’s a full-time coach herself.

Shirin is a life coach, public speaker and writer who specializes in mindfulness and mindset work. She has been a featured wellness expert on the Today Show and Cosmopolitan Magazine. Shirin’s holistic approach to transformation is influenced by her background in meditation, spirituality and the arts.

We talk about achieving her childhood dream and realizing she still wasn’t happy, as well as how she started to choose the thoughts that would help her feel the way she wants to feel, made the leap to coaching, and found her why. We also talk about coaching as a support structure and how coaching can help you embrace who you really want to be.

EP 281: Business Support Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

All this month, we’ve looked at the challenges–and opportunities–that small business owners face in getting the support they need to feel confident and prepared.

We’ve looked at mental health support, we’ve examined peer support, and we dug into coaching. This week, we asked 4 of our community members to share times when they’ve experienced a profound sense of support and I’m thrilled with how each of them shared a different form of support.

Rebel Therapist founder Annie Schuessler shared how being honest & vulnerable with her peers has made a huge impact on her and her business.

Business coach Justine Clay shared how a year-long program and accountability partner helped her get a new business off the ground.

Voice coach and Speakeasy Collective founder Michelle Markwart Deveaux shared how her team supports her–and has helped her see herself and her role in a new way.

And coach Leigh Johnson brings it all home by sharing how important different types of support and mindset about support was key to the growth and then exit from her last business.

As you listen, I encourage you to think about the support you already have available to you–because it’s probably more than you realize on a daily basis! And I also want you to think about what support you might need to call on more or find new structure for.

EP 280: Thriving With High Functioning Anxiety With The Happier Approach Host Nancy Smith

I started learning about high-functioning anxiety from our guest today, Nancy Jane Smith. The way Nancy described anxiety was nothing like what I thought of anxiety to be… but was everything about my experience of the world.

I’ve shared on the podcast before that only recently did I realize I was living with chronic anxiety. I had always identified as dealing with chronic depression and didn’t recognize my normal-for-me mental state was one of high anxiety. But the more I’ve learned from Nancy, the more I’ve learned about my own brand of anxiety.

Nancy is an expert in High Functioning Anxiety. Nancy is trained as a licensed professional counselor and therapeutic coach. She’s the author of The Happier Approach book and the host of The Happier Approach podcast. And, she lives every day with high functioning anxiety.

People with high functioning anxiety respond to anxiety by over-performing, by showing up to do all the things, by trying to be so good that nothing bad can happen.

That’s pretty much me in a nutshell. And it’s absolutely how I started off this whole crisis. I figured that I could perform my way into sanity and certainty.

Well, listener, I could not. And neither can you.

Now, Nancy and I recorded this interview before the cancelled events, the lockdowns, and the economic uncertainty. So we don’t talk about this collective experience explicitly. But if you listen between the lines, you’ll hear it. It’s there. We might not have known it was coming yet but everything we talk about applies to this unique period of time because high functioning anxiety is so dang predictable.

In this interview, Nancy and I talk about how she thrives with high functioning anxiety as a business owner, how she’s structured her business to support her with this challenge, and who she relies on for the support she needs.

Whether high functioning anxiety is your normal to or whether you’re listening as someone who is interested in the many ways we find what works for our unique situations, I think this episode will be really enlightening.

EP 279: Leveraging Masterminds For Support With Startup Pregnant Founder Sarah Peck

Last year, at an in-person gathering of one of the masterminds that we run at What Works, one participant told me that they didn’t really need anyone to tell them what to do with their business. They knew exactly what they should be doing. Instead, they said they needed people to ask why they weren’t doing it.

That’s why they were in the mastermind group.

To me, that’s the perfect illustration of how a mastermind group can support business owners who are committed to—not just learning a new marketing skill or figuring out how to launch a new product—but to becoming a more whole entrepreneur and building a business that works exceptionally well.

I’ve been running mastermind groups of one sort or another for about 5 years and I have a lot to say on the subject. But I didn’t want you to just get my thoughts…

So I invited someone equally as passionate about masterminding as I am, Sarah K. Peck, the founder of Startup Pregnant.

Sarah was on the show before talking about how the Startup Pregnant podcast got started—but the whole business and community of Startup Pregnant has evolved and grown a ton since then. Check out Episode 134 for our original conversation.

Today, Sarah and I jam about masterminding—how we participate in masterminds, how we facilitate masterminds, and how we leverage them in our businesses. We also talk about the role masterminding plays in how you get support as an entrepreneur and we talk through how we structure sessions for the best outcomes.

EP 278: Prioritizing Your Mental Health With Chris Brogan

This month, we’re tackling that feeling of loneliness and the different kinds of support we can lean on to feel grounded and whole.

Today, we’re kicking things off with Chris Brogan, an author, speaker, and consultant who has been incredibly forthcoming about his own experience with depression and anxiety. Chris helps business owners feel less lonely by vulnerably sharing what he’s going through on a regular basis and by regularly offering his support to those who are in the throws of mental health challenges.

Post by post, conversation by conversation, Chris is doing his part of reduce the stigma of depression, anxiety, and even failure.

You might know Chris from his New York Times bestselling book, Trust Agents, or maybe you’ve heard him speak on a stage or podcast. He’s an incredibly prolific content creator as well as leader, connector, and all-around friendly guy.

Chris and I talk about how depression and anxiety impact his life and work, how he’s structured his business to work with his mental health challenges, and how he knows what work to push through on and what can be dropped. We also talk about why he’s made such an effort be visible and helpful as he goes through the ups and downs he experiences on a regular basis.

Are you a small business owner with an unconventional or highly thoughtful way of working?

Would you like to share the nitty-gritty of how you do things with the What Works audience?

We’re always looking for guests, especially from unusual industries, using creative business models, and from underrepresented communities.

Here’s how to be considered:

  • Let us know 2-3 processes or strategies you use in your business that are unconventional or incredibly thoughtful that might make a good angle for a 30-40 min deep dive interview, or…
  • Share a personal inflection point in your business–like a mindset shift you made and how it played out in your business
Once we have the potential story in mind, we can see how you might fit into our editorial calendar!

Guest Submission Form

7 + 4 =

Meet Tara McMullin

Tara McMullin is the founder & host of What Works. She’s been connecting small business owners through mastermind groups and online community for over a decade. Whether on the podcast or in the online network, her goal is to facilitate the free flow of ideas, information, and inspiration between entrepreneurs.

She believes that no one person has the answer to “what works” in small business–but that, together, we can create living, breathing knowledge-base of real-world solutions to all of our small business challenges.