23 - She's a top business strategist: Tom interviews Vickie Sullivan - Screw The Commute

23 – She’s a top business strategist: Tom interviews Vickie Sullivan

Vickie is internationally recognized as one of the top market and brand strategist for experts and thought leaders since 1989. She specializes in standing out in crazy, crowded markets. Her clients range from world renowned astronauts, New York Times best selling authors, to executives in the B2B space.

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Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 023

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[01:17] Tom's introduction to Vickie Sullivan

[03:05] What Vickie does for smart and cool people

[04:20] She had a job when dinosaurs roamed the planet

[05:36] Turning point to be in business herself

[08:09] Getting out of the job rut

[09:28] Tips on working for yourself

[12:02] Screwed in business is a rite of passage

[13:48] Crazy stuff at a biker bar

[15:46] Best and worst parts of doing it on your own

[16:16] Sponsor message

[17:06] Typical day for Vickie

[19:12] What Vickie's doing now

[21:34] Parting thoughts for us Screwballs

Entrepreneurial Resources Mentioned in This Podcast

Higher Education Webinar – It's the second webinar on the page: https://screwthecommute.com/webinars

Screw The Commutehttps://screwthecommute.com/

entrepreneurship distance learning school, home based business, lifestyle business

Amazing Public Speakinghttps://www.amazingpublicspeaking.com/

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Vickie Sullivanhttp://www.vickiesullivan.com/

30 Speaking Tips webinarhttp://www.onlinemeetingnow.com/register/?id=l8i4jyv23a&

Internet Marketing Training Centerhttps://imtcva.org/

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Upselling and Advertorials – https://screwthecommute.com/episodes/22-learn-the-details-upselling-and-advertorials/

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Episode – 023 Vickie Sullivan
[00:00:08] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.

[00:00:27] Hey everybody. It's Episode 23 of screw the commute podcast and we have a great screw the commuter on today's show. I get to telling you about her in a minute. Remember to check out Episode 22 on upselling and advertorials. I'm going to really go deep in that training session on how you can make way extra money from the same number of visitors you have now. Today's sponsor is amazingpublicspeaking.com this is a membership site with over 475 pro and public speaking training videos plus audios and articles. We also have a corresponding free Webinar called 30 speaking tips in thirty seven point six two five minutes. And we'll have a link to that in the show notes at screwthecommute.com.

[00:01:17] All right let's get to the main event. Vickie Sullivan is here, yay Vickie, and she is something I'll tell you what. Before I tell you all about her she is really screwing the commute. Let me tell you that folks I mean I tried to book her a couple of weeks ago and she's at the beach. So I said OK I'll get back when you get back. I called a couple of weeks later I'm still at the beach Tom. I said what??? I'm slaving over a hot keyboard here and you're out at the beach all the time? She must be really doing a good job at screwing the commute, that's all I got to say. So anyway I've known Vickie for has to be over twenty five years. And I got to tell you folks I'm kind of a clearinghouse for negativity in the business of speaking. People tell me when people were bad. I have never heard one thing ever about this lady bad. Her clients love her and I just want the world to know that from my end that I would have heard about it if there was anything wrong with it. That's for sure. Anyway Vickie is internationally recognized as one of the top market and brand strategist for experts and thought leaders since 1989. I was just in diapers. She specializes in standing out in crazy crowded markets. Her clients range from world renowned astronauts New York Times best selling authors to executives in the B2B space. Vickie, Are you ready to screw? The commute. I don't wanna get punched out from anybody on your end.

[00:02:54] That's ok that's ok. My husband's pretty mellow and I'm the crazy one.

[00:03:00] All right. So, You're read then. So tell everybody what you do.

[00:03:05] Well I help smart cool people stand out in marketplaces where everybody is successful and everybody's got a good story.

[00:03:15] Did you say smart and cool people, is that what you said.

[00:03:18] Yes. I never heard that before. So you uncool people don't listen. This is only for cool people today. You've been doing this for a long time.

[00:03:32] Absolutely. Over 30 years now.

[00:03:34] When did you join the national speakers association.

[00:03:37] I think it was back in 1990.

[00:03:39] That's why I've known you from. I was in 91 so that's how long I've known you. Wow. So go into a little bit deeper with the things you help people with.

[00:03:51] Well at this point what I do is because as you know I've studied the market and you know for the whole time that I've been doing this, I help people find the holes in the market that they can dominate. So we really changed the game for my clients so that they can pick and choose the clients that they want to work with.

[00:04:12] And you do a great job of it too people rave about the things you've done for them. Now did you ever actually have a job.

[00:04:21] Yes. Back when dinosaurs roamed the planet. I was a lobbyist for a healthcare industry. I'm a former political operative and at that age I was more of a trusty sidekick to the bigger lobbyist you know because of my age and all. And yes. So I managed initiatives ballot initiative campaigns I initiated rapid response campaigns and also set up a speakers bureau.

[00:04:55] That's amazing. This is a good chance to get a perspective what was health care like in those days compared to what it is now.

[00:05:04] Just a different kind of crazy. You know everyone was still concerned about cost containment. You had a lot of employers worried about the cost but you had more access. You didn't have the tragedies that you hear about now where people are just going without health care. The access was more there.

[00:05:28] And what was the turning point for you when you said you know what. This is not for me. I want to be the boss. I want to be on my own. How did that transition happen for you.

[00:05:37] Well what happened was my mentor left who was the chief lobbyist and I didn't like my new boss and he didn't like me. So you know where this is heading. I am an accidental entrepreneur. I got into the business because I loved the people and I couldn't find anyone to pay me what I thought I should be paid so I'm like OK I'm going out my own.

[00:06:03] And what year was this roughly. 1987. 87 is when you left the lobbying industry. And was it an instantaneous thing or what happened between then and when you started your business.

[00:06:15] Sure. Well I really thought I was going to be a bag lady. I really thought this is it. You know I'm going to flip burgers because all I knew was politics and I didn't want to be in politics anymore so I thought well I need to go to McDonald's. So I found a trade association ad you know and in one of the journals that asked for someone to promote a professional speaker for about 10, 15 hours a week. And I thought well this will extend my savings until I find a real job. That was the idea. And I started working for this speaker and I just loved it.

[00:06:56] Is it a surprise or confidential who it was?

[00:07:00] It is confidence. Because they're no longer in the business. But I just loved them and I love their message and I love the fact that they were a good person as opposed to what I was experiencing in the political environment. And people were really out to do good things you know like a lot of politicians. But you know the system can corrupt a little bit. So I was just enamored about being able to use my gifts in a different way. So within three weeks I was working full time I had multiple speakers and the rest they say is history.

[00:07:36] Wow I didn't know that story. That's really great. And so you're kidding you mean people in politics aren't really squeaky clean and lovable. I don't understand that.

[00:07:50] Sad yet true. Sad yet true.

[00:07:50] Boy, I'm just floored. I may have to take a break here. I've never known such a thing.

[00:07:56] So what would you say to anybody that's sitting out there in a cubicle and thinking about I want to live the life that she's doing. I want to be at the beach for a month at a time can't get a hold of her or maybe two months. I don't know.

[00:08:09] I'd say be prepared for a roller coaster ride and remember that it's totally worth it.

[00:08:19] It sure is now. Come on now. Were you actually doing some work from the beach.

[00:08:26] Absolutely. Yeah. I married for tech support. So my whole office can be set up inside of 15 minutes.

[00:08:35] Wow. You married for tech support. That's a really good point for all of you screwballs out there. I agree. You know I always talk about getting young geeks but why don't marry one. You don't even have to pay them.

[00:08:47] You know what. And he married for first class upgrade, so it works.

[00:08:54] And it lasted. How long you've been married? Five years. All right. Well that's pretty good. Now I tell you I got a cartoon where this kid was talking to his dad he says you give me a raise in my allowance I'll give you unlimited in-house tech support. 24/7.

[00:09:10] That is a killer offer.

[00:09:14] So give us a couple tips about working for yourself or getting into what you do to brand people. What are some things you can do to help people out there in the audience.

[00:09:28] Well the first thing I tell everybody is you need to pay attention to the marketplace. You know a lot of folks just focus on what they're passionate about and they're focused on what their gifts are which is important but that's just the first step.

[00:09:42] And we hear that a lot. Like just do what you love. If what you love is making you broke, you gotta think about that.

[00:09:49] And so you do need to kind of look up and look around and look at what's getting attention and what people are paying for and what is going for free. A lot of folks don't make that distinction. So they expect to be paid for what everybody else is giving away for free and that's just not going to work. So you got to do that. The second thing I tell people is own your corner and this is a major part of my work right here. You know you can't just put your shingle up and expect clients to fall out of trees. You know it's not going to work that way. Again, you gotta look at what's going on in your marketplace. What's getting paid for what's considered worthy of being paid for. As far as a solution or a perspective. And then you define the role you play based upon the hole in the market that you see. So it's really about how do you look at the chaos and see what's not being done what is the need that is not being expressed and then you create a platform or a persona around that. So you find that hole and then you get to define the game. So I tell people that the third thing is and this is just for work and for yourself anybody should do this. I think you should have what I call a Bite Me fund and that is a bank of cash that you have so you can refuse anybody that's going to make your life miserable.

[00:11:26] I like that. I never heard that term did you coin that term a bite me fund?

[00:11:31] I should and yet I haven't.

[00:11:34] See I would call it a Screw You fund. But it's semantics there. Yeah that's one of the things I just love. You know I've never had a job other than a little bit in high school and college. And that's what I love most about it. I don't have to deal with anybody I don't like and I deal with people I like. So it's always fun. So those are all great tips. Now have you ever gotten screwed. I mean in business.

[00:12:04] Of course! I think that's a rite of passage. I think you're not a real entrepreneur until someone tries to rip you off.

[00:12:14] Ah ha. That's a good point.

[00:12:16] I truly believe that when I first started out and this was after I worked with the speaker that I loved I fell into the wrong hands. And I was an agent for another professional speaker and she tried to screw me out of like twenty five thousand dollars in commission which at that time was like a whole lot of money. And so I got a lawyer who said to me hey this is going to be really hard to sell or you don't have any leverage. And I said leverage from my political days I understood leverage. So I said Hold my beer darling. So when this lady started getting her speaker fee checks she noticed that both of our names were on the check.

[00:13:01] And that's because I went back to all the people that I booked her who loved me because we had such a good time. And I explained the situation and lo and behold a majority of people know someone or love someone that works on commission. So they totally understood where I was coming from so they put both names on the check. That was my leverage. And so she can't cash the check without my signature. So that got her to the table to negotiate a settlement.

[00:13:29] Oh wow that is smart. Lobbyists are smart. That's a really great idea. I would have never thought of that. See I would have just threatened to kill her. That's what I did from my small town background. Well that's pretty cool. Now anything funny happened to you in all this work you've been doing.

[00:13:50] Well a lot has but the most bizarre thing was back when I was in college I was slinging drinks at a biker bar.

[00:13:56] You? Wait a minute. I got trouble picturing Vickie Sullivan refined gorgeous Vickie Sullivan slinging. Don't have tattoos all over either.

[00:14:08] No no no no. I mean this was for gas and groceries. So anyway so I was there. You know one night and a big leader of the biker bar comes who's especially violent. I mean he had a really bad reputation for violence and I screwed up his old lady. That's what they called it at the time. His old lady's drink. And I'm like OK I'm going to die and the bar could not get this drink right. So by the time that he left this woman didn't have her drink right and he paid for it. So I'm like OK this is it. I'm going to get hurt. This is bad bad bad. So as everyone's leaving you know he pulled me aside and I'm like OK this is it. My life's over. He says you know my old lady was being a witch with a B. And I really respect the way that you handled her so good on you. And I thought OK spare my life. And then he hesitates and he says you know if you need anybody stabbed. And I'm like stop right there. I'm fine. I'm good.

[00:15:18] I prefer beating them with a hammer or a bike chain.

[00:15:21] You know as I look back on it's like I have been complimented in so many ways. But there was never a compliment like that.

[00:15:31] Hey Vickie, could you give me his number? If you still know it. I may have some work for him. So what do you like best about working for yourself and what's the worst part about working for yourself.

[00:15:47] Well the best part is I can just do whatever I want whenever I want with whomever I want. So it is that total freedom. The worst part is you know my boss can be a tyrant. You know when you're a perfectionist it's not a good thing.

[00:16:08] I mean we can be our worst nightmare sometimes for sure.

[00:16:12] Absolutely.

[00:16:14] So we've got to take a brief break here. Hey everybody out there. Have you ever thought about getting paid to speak and you're not sure if you're ready to invest in a lot of training. I got the solution amazingpublicspeaking.com has over four hundred seventy five public and professional speaking techniques. Openings closings attention gaining devices humor the business of speaking it's all the stuff I've used to make millions and millions of dollars in the speaking business over many years and it's only 97 bucks for an entire year. So you want to check that out. And also we have a free webinar that's complementary to the site. It's called 30 Speaking Tips in 37.625 Minutes so check this out. It will all be in the show notes at screwthecommute.com. Now, Vickie what's a typical day look like for you.

[00:17:06] Well you know because I'm old now I got a workout.

[00:17:10] Oh you look like they're like 13 years old.

[00:17:13] Yeah well that's because I work out every day. And then you know I'll have some breakfast and check e-mail and I've got my top three things that I got to get done every day. So I'll spend a lot of time analyzing the marketplace looking for holes for my clients and then any time leftover you know I'll write or I'll work on some lower priorities. And then I'm off to act like I'm married.

[00:17:41] Well you mean asking for tech support? Is that what it is? Among other things. The next question was how do you stay motivated. I guess getting to that end of the day maybe. So how do you stay motivated.

[00:17:55] I love my clients. I have been so blessed. And I just love my clients so working with them and their brilliance that really keeps me motivated.

[00:18:08] How many can you handle at one time. Because I know you're a very thorough person.

[00:18:13] It depends on my travel to be honest with you. Sometimes when I'm at the beach I'll take less than when I'm home. When I'm home I'm more focused but when I'm at the beach and it's sunny out I want to play hooky and because I am such a perfectionist I am so thorough it really varies. But I make sure that I don't promise anything that I can't deliver. So I'm real careful about what I promise. And it's always about the schedule. You know what I can deliver. But I'm also very curious. And that is a great motivating factor too. So the markets fascinate me what people think are special fascinate me so I love learning new things and I love looking at all the different moving parts and stuff and so that really keeps me motivated too.

[00:19:07] How can people take advantage of your services. What's your Web site and what are you promoting nowadays.

[00:19:13] Oh thanks. Well I'll tell you what if someone goes to my Web site. VickieSullivan.com.

[00:19:20] We'll have it in the show notes for everybody.

[00:19:23] Perfect. You go there and right on the front page. If you sign up for my blog, Tips Trends and Tirades and heavy on the tirade sometimes.

[00:19:35] And stabbings if you're really good.

[00:19:36] Absolutely!

[00:19:41] You'll get a free report called market trends and how to take advantage of them to stand out in a crowd. So this is kind of what's going on in the marketplace and how you can use it to your advantage.

[00:19:54] Great. And that's at VickieSullivan.com. We'll have that in the show notes for everybody so you can just click on it and zoom right over there and get that great report. And then how do you work with clients. If someone engaged you how does it go.

[00:20:09] Well because my work is so customized it really depends on how the client likes to work and also what they need. You know some clients just need fly by. What I call fly by advice where they have like a book coming out and they're like I want to make sure this book is positioned to make me the top dog like I had a client once that we worked on his book. And within five days after launch he was on CEO Reads as a top biller. So that was good for him because he was a consultant and he worked with those folks so that was perfect for him. So it could be small it can be as big as hey create my brand create my platform make sure that I stand out here. I really specialize in chaotic markets and so I love that. So it's really by the project and it depends on you know what people need and my role. You know some people want to just rent my brain. Some people want me to do it for them. So it just depends on what they want. Very customized.

[00:21:17] And like I said folks I have never heard a negative word about her other than from her husband one time when she asked for too much tech support. Other than that, she's awesome. So you have any parting thoughts for all the screwballs out there that listen to this.

[00:21:33] Yeah I do. And this would be it. Define success on your own terms. There's a lot of peer pressure especially among industry associations about what you have to do and I think the reality that I've learned over the years is that all you need to do is what you need to do to be happy and successful and if you know what enough is for you you're not going to become a raging workaholic and you're not going to do stuff that you really don't want to do.

[00:22:10] Great great advice from someone that's been there and done that. So how do people reach use. Is it at the same site.

[00:22:17] Yeah. Just go to that site. All my stuff's there. Contact me is there. Go there and I will take good care of them.

[00:22:24] And there's no doubt about that. Folks this has been Vickie Sullivan thanks so much Vickie for taking time out of the beach and for your Fiji trips and everything but work on the things you do to talk that little old me. Really appreciate it. And everybody make sure you check out amazingpublicspeaking.com. It's only 97 bucks for the year. Check out all of Vickie's stuff in the show notes at screwthecommute.com and we will see you on the next episode.

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