How Loving Unconditionally And Being Loved Yields Confidence With Tracy Hazzard From Because Everyone Has A Story With Daniela Stockfleth-Menis
The beautiful thing about love is how it makes everything possible and surmountable. There is a reason why the greatest love stories often come from overcoming peaks and valleys. And that is because love makes us confident. Tracy Hazzard believes in this, and in her interview with Daniela Stockfleth-Menis for Because Everyone Has A Story, she shares how growing up loving unconditionally and being loved led her to the amazing life she is confidently living today. As a designer and business owner, Tracy gives fresh perspectives on using our God-given gifts and the power of creative thinking in innovation. She also talks about the interesting dynamic of working with her husband, sharing how they balance between personal quality time and work. On working in the podcasting industry, Tracy then opens up about the story of starting their shows and eventually helping others produce theirs through their company, Podetize. Through it all, she highlights how love continues to play a key role in all her success. Tune in to find out where love shows up in her life and how you, too, can find value in it.
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I am thrilled to introduce you to Tracy Hazzard, an amazing person who knows how to tackle life challenges with love and creativity. A while back, I came across an interview she did with Alex Sanfilippo from PodMatch, and I couldn’t resist leaving a comment. We ended up connecting and having a magical conversation. Her positive energy, insightful feedback, and inspiring words captivated me.
I invited her to my show and she invited me to hers, so it was a mutual invitation. I had so much fun being at her show. She’s such a grateful hostess, and she elevated me in such a way that I felt like a star, a way that only Tracy can. I wanted Tracy to share her story because, like me, she had a pretty good life so far. I truly believe that everyone has a unique and interesting story to tell, not just those who have faith in adversity.
In this episode, she’s sharing not only her story and her fascinating work experiences. She also shares how creativity and personal life come together, and the interesting dynamic of working with her husband and balancing their schedule for quality time. Let’s dive in and learn what Tracy has to say.
Welcome, Tracy, to the show. I am very excited that you are here.
I’m so excited to be here. I have had so many wonderful conversations with you. I was like, “Haven’t we done our interview already?” because we have already got to know each other and that’s my favorite part about doing this.
Since I met you, you have always been so helpful and caring. I am very grateful that you are here because I want to know more about you and your story.
That’s a fascinating thing. I don’t always think of it like a story because, to me, a story has a beginning, middle, and end, and I don’t think there is an end. That’s the type of thing. It’s a continual thing for me. I always look at it as a never-ending story. Have you ever seen that movie when you were a kid? It’s this never-ending story.
That’s what our lives should be like. I always think about that. When I think about when you were talking to me about the idea of telling my story, I was like, “Where do I start?” To me, it’s been, in a way, very continuous since the beginning. I feel like the most blessed person on Earth all the time because I have been loved from the day I was born.
My father tells a story about insisting that he and my mom have kids and being very pushy about it and wanting to have kids. I knew I was wanted even before I was conceived, and that’s a beautiful place to be. My mom and my dad, both of them, I love them. They are amazing people. The day they dropped me off at college, and I went to Rhode Island School Design, and you’d drive up this big hill and trying to unload on a hill with all your stuff is quite something. The day that I left college, my dad cried as he was leaving town and said goodbye to me. You can’t feel more special on Earth than when your parents get all teary-eyed because they are leaving you and they feel sad.
You are excited about your opportunities and you don’t shed a single tear, but they feel sad about it. As a parent now, I understand what that feels like. They do that. That same hour that my father left, I met my husband in a dorm room meeting. He did insult me. He called me a valley girl, which coming from California, that’s a huge insult in the ’80s to call somebody a valley girl. He did it, and he did capture my attention. A couple of days later, I met him in a dorm room with a mutual friend. He was playing guitar and we became really good friends. The reality is that I went from my parents’ house and being completely loved to meeting my husband and being loved. For many years of marriage, we have known each other.
I want to go back to the fact that the story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This one could be a part one of your life, and then we do part two later on. I remember when we spoke the first time, we were talking about all these stories that everybody has trauma or some difficulties. When we have everything going well for us, we feel like, “Maybe we don’t have a story because we don’t have anything dramatic to share.” I remember inviting you over to share because you are optimistic and positive, and things go well for most of us too and we still have stories. That’s the reason why you want to tell your story now.
I think that we have to suffer to learn, and I don’t think that that’s all that there is. If we look at all these things that go wrong as speed bumps along the way, then everything seems surmountable. They seem like, “We can get over it.” We can get over a speed bump. You might need to put a little more gas on and bump yourself over it. Those things are able to be overcome like a hurdle. If you are running and you want to do hurdles. They are a little higher, and you have to get a little more skill to jump over them, but you can still make it over them. They are still something that you can overcome.If we look at all the things that go wrong as speed bumps along the way, then everything seems surmountable. #BecauseEveryoneHasAStory #DanielaStockfleth-Menis #podcastinterview Click To Tweet
When we look at something as this mountain that we cannot overcome, we can’t imagine how it happens. That’s when we hear this story in our head about all these things that are wrong, all these things that are obstacles, and all these things that are in our way. We have to rally something down deep. What if you had that rally all the time? What if you always had the ability to look at something and go, “I see how I can get over that. Let me make a try.” You may not make it the first time. You might fall halfway down, but because you look at something as an opportunity instead of as an obstacle, it changes your whole outlook on what’s possible in the world. I believe that it comes from being loved, but I also believe that it comes from being a designer.
Because I went to art school, because I’m a designer by trade, because I have this view that I am a creator, it means that there’s always an opportunity to create something. There’s always a way. There’s always a creative method. There’s always something around this. There’s always the possibility of that, where someone who isn’t a creator, they don’t necessarily have a path. Maybe they do in their field. Maybe they are extremely a creative writer or something like that and they know they can write their way out of anything. They can write great copy, make great emails, and can do all of that, but maybe they don’t see outside of that how they do that in their business, how they do that financially, and how they do that in other areas.
My particular view of the world is that everything has the ability to be created differently, to be created in a different way than it exists now. We make improvements when we do that. We don’t go backward. The whole opportunity of creativity is that we are moving it forward. If there’s something wrong with it, let’s fix it.
I do believe that having love was very helpful, but I feel like you also came with that to this world to that power and way of thinking. Do you have any siblings?
I do. I have a younger sister.
Is she like you?
No, she’s very different.
That’s why I think that, yes, you studied Design, but I also feel like it’s some kind of your soul that you came with that. It makes it the way you are thinking.
You are absolutely right. There are God-given talents if you want to call them that or whatever it is that you believe in. I feel like there are those things that we come into the world with. Sometimes we don’t recognize them and we don’t take advantage of them, and it takes us an extremely long time to tap into that or something happens to us that is a catalyst to making that happen.
I was lucky in that I discovered it in a sense early on. I have what you call high pattern recognition, which means that when I look at something, I see the pattern that is happening. It’s what makes me a great designer, specifically a textile designer because I create patterns, but I see it in something. If I look at a carpet and something is not right, like somebody made a mistake in it or the repeat isn’t proper, I immediately key into where that point is. It’s called dissonance where it’s not continuous and it’s not doing the proper thing. It’s a point of something being wrong or out of rhythm is its definition. If it’s out of rhythm, that’s an opportunity for us to understand why something is not working.If something is out of rhythm, that's an opportunity for us to understand why something's not working. #BecauseEveryoneHasAStory #DanielaStockfleth-Menis #podcastinterview Click To Tweet
When I was little, my mom learned how to weave. We lived in South Africa for a couple of years when my dad was on a project and a job assignment. It was at the height of apartheid. It was an interesting time in South Africa. He was on the job all the time. Lots of the stay-at-home moms would bring us along after school and other things, and they would learn how to do different things, and weaving was one of them. She had a loom, and I would sit below it and read it. I was a big reader. I would read about anything. I’m still a huge reader.
I’m sitting below her loom and she says, “I can’t make this work.” She’s getting all frustrated. I look up and I say, “That’s because you missed a heddle,” which is where you put the thread through and it creates the pattern. “You missed one.” She said, “What?” I was like, “Here’s the pattern.” I’m underneath the machine looking up at it, and I can see that. That’s what my parents always tell the story that that’s the sign that I had this ability to recognize the rhythm of something or the pattern of something quickly and easily.
People are astounded by it. Sometimes I will do stuff like, “Did you mean for those not to match?” They’d be like, “What? They don’t match?” People don’t even realize it, but that’s just something that’s readily apparent to me. When you have high pattern recognition, what you realize is that there is a pattern to everything. When you understand the pattern, there’s a comfort level to it. When you understand what’s not in rhythm or not in pattern, you either know what you can fix or you know what to avoid, because something doesn’t feel right and look right. It isn’t going to go right because something is missing.
I like what you said about the God-giving talent. You did have this one, but not everybody. Have you met a lot of people who have this pattern recognition talent?
I have met some over time. What they do is that it’s something that you have to tap into and use. If you don’t use it, you don’t learn it. Anything is that way. No one becomes an Olympic athlete without practice. It doesn’t work like that. You can have longer arms. I have heard of swimmers who have longer arms and longer legs. They have the actual physical power to be better at a sport than others, but if they don’t practice, it’s never going to happen. You have to take your God-given talent and not just trust that it’s going to all work out for you, you have to practice.
What happened when your mom discovered that? What did they do to develop your talent?
My mom let me take a class. She was like, “Come join.” I was always taking classes, always trying things, and always doing things with her. I became something like that. I felt better when I was using it. I asked for opportunities to use it. Opportunities to paint and to create things. Those came out of it, but luckily, I also came from a creative mom.
She’s an abstract artist in Laguna Beach, California. She’s amazing, and her work is beautiful. She has decades upon decades of work that she put into her art that shows because anyone who puts work into it has a different depth to it. That’s what I took away from this is that she’s a great artist from the moment I met her, but she’s even greater now because she never stops putting in the work.
What other things do you notice that as you are growing up, your pattern recognition was helping you with?
I was a good student because when you have pattern recognition and you read stuff, you are like, “What are they trying to tell me? What’s the answer to the question?” You can easily discern these things, and pull them out. This is the key. We are moving into an artificial intelligence world right now, and in an artificial intelligence world, the machine does the pattern recognition for us.
When we don’t start to put those pieces together in our brains, we don’t make the human leaps. We don’t make the human innovations. We don’t connect disparate things because a computer will only connect the obvious things. They are only going to see the pattern from things that are like, “80% of the people select this, so that must be the answer.” They are making those choices for us, but what about that 4%? What about those interesting things that only humans can put together in their minds and say, “This is what we should try. This is where innovation happens.” Those things can only come if we are doing our jobs in that model of things.
I think that in the future, this is the area that human interaction is going to be great at. All those little pattern recognition things should be a standard part of figuring stuff out, let the computer do it. It’s going to give my brain, your brain, everyone’s minds the opportunity to be more innovative, expansive, creative thinking, putting all these interesting things together and coming up with new ideas and solutions that no one has ever heard before. You have more time to contemplate those things now, more time to develop that skill within yourself.
What challenges do you have with that talent?
The challenge for me is focusing on it because I see it everywhere, it’s too easy to not try to fix everything or try to adjust things or suggest things. It’s hard to focus on that and make it, “I’m going to do this one thing right now.” At the same time, it’s also how I get enough input. Every day, I read about six different journals. I don’t read them from cover to cover. I just skim them. I have them all preselected even if I’m able to do it on my phone and not do it in person because I do like to flip through a book and flip through a magazine on occasion. You stop at different places when you are doing something physical than when you are scrolling, but I do that every single day.
I try to consume six different journals, and each one of them is different. Some are science and some are digital SEO and Search Engine Optimization. It’s a geeky and techy stuff. Some of them are about finance. Some of them are about world economies and different things like that. All those different ideas start to come together into something, and my brain will start to build the patterns from that and say, “This is what’s going on in the economy. This is what’s going on in the digital world. How do I make a connection to make sure that my business is going to be able to go forward, that my clients will have all the skills and all the things that they will need, that our pricing structure is in line with where the economy is going?”
All those things go through my mind. Trying to think about, “Which one should I fix today?” That’s the biggest challenge for me. “Which one should I work on at this point in time?” I once interviewed a guy who has more than a triple-digit IQ. An amazing guy. I said to him, “What’s the biggest problem in the world where people fail?” He said, “It’s timing.” Choosing that now is the time for something versus something else. Making that decision and making that selection is key to success. Sometimes you are ahead of the time, and you are too soon. You fail because you are too soon. Sometimes you are behind the times and you miss the boat. He said, “That’s the biggest thing.” Determining that for myself is a hard thing because how progressive is this thought that’s going on in my mind? Is it time for it or is it too soon?
That’s a very insightful comment. Let’s go back to university. You met this wonderful man, and now he is your husband. What happened then?
Tom and I quickly learned that we could be great collaborators together. I have the habit of, he calls it, hitting him over the head with a brick. We were one day sitting in what they call The PIT at RISD. It’s this hamburger greasy pit of a burger joint in the basement of a building. We were sitting there, and he was discussing what was going on in his industrial design. He’s a product designer and industrial designer, and I was studying textile design. They go hand-in-hand, think about furniture covered in fabrics.
We easily had collaboration in the early days and/or I was great at color design, that’s one of my expertise areas is picking colors. What product doesn’t need color? There was great synergy between our thought processes, and we like to talk about our projects with each other. One day, I say to him something and he’s like, “I never thought of that before. You hit me over the head with a brick and now I’m awake. Not unconscious, but awake. It just hit me.”
He is so creative when he’s focused when he gets that strike of an idea and that thing that he needs to hear to shift where he’s going. He’s so amazingly productive. He and I together have over 40 patents. The best part about him is we don’t have a bunch of patents. Those patents made money for us or for our clients. That’s a hard thing for a lot of people to say. A lot of people file them and then they don’t do anything. They are a bunch on a shelf. Ours make money for people because they were ideas that were worthy of taking to market and patenting and all of those things. That only comes when you make something very useful, and Tom is amazing at that.
Throughout our lives, what we do is we have this ability to run things off of each other and say various things that kick off an idea that gets us going, but we don’t have to start from the beginning. That’s the beautiful part. We have absolute trust in each other that no idea is a bad idea. No one is going to scoff at anything that you have a hidden agenda because we trust each other. We are also on the same path in life. We want the same outcome. We want to have a happy life. We want our children to grow up and be happy. We are on that same path together. There’s an inherent amount of trust in everything that we say and do with each other.
When we have these conversations, you are not listening to them with all your guard up. Think about it like that. How many times do people have collaborative conversations with you? They might be partners or they might be people who are mentoring you, but you still have your guard up, “Are they asking me for more money? Do they sincerely have my best interest at heart?”
We don’t have any of that which allows the flow of things back and forth to be really simple, easy to absorb, and easy to think about. We also don’t have this judgment that happens, which we have developed over time, and that didn’t happen in the early days of like, “I told you what you should do and you didn’t do it.” That doesn’t happen anymore.
I know that my idea alone is input for him to take to the next stage. It is not a final. He sometimes can’t do what I suggest. It’s not physically possible. The Laws of Physics don’t work like that. Products can’t be manufactured like that, but he hears it, he takes it in, and he develops it into something beautiful and amazing. It comes back through me and I market it, and I do what I need to do with it. We have this opportunity between the two of us to be greater together.
What an amazing story, and I feel like very unusual because not many people go to university and meet their future husband right away or have that connection that is like they were perfect together. It’s incredible.
It’s not like we thought it was going to work out like that. It just did. It’s not like it does not work. You have to put the work in all the time. You have to make them feel loved. You have to understand their love language. Our love languages are not the same, and so you have to get that and you have to provide that. You can’t be selfish about it. It has to truly be a partnership and something that you work at actively every single day together.
We respect each other. We value each other’s skills. We also let each other be our own person. I never feel like I can’t go and speak on stage and I’m taking something away from him. He doesn’t feel like I’m taking something away from him either. That’s an amazing human being. Someone who makes you better, lets you be who you are, and supports you in all of that, but doesn’t feel any resentment that took something from them. That’s never how we feel about each other and that’s a beautiful human being.
You probably learned also loving and communication from your parents as you said that they were so loving.
My husband comes from a divorced family, but he also had grandparents who were together. He had role models. What he saw was loyalty and love. That’s what I’m looking for, that partnership. That’s what I want, but he also at the same time saw an independent amazing mother who went to MIT and did all these amazing things at a time period when women didn’t do a lot of that. He saw the value of an independent woman, and so he also valued that in me. I’m grateful for her to have led that, and that have been that role model for him as well because now we have the best of both.
You wanted to study textile. What was your goal when you started?
When I went into textiles, I thought I was going to go to New York and was going to design fabrics that were in fashion or on upholstery. I interviewed for a few jobs in New York, but I quickly got interviewed for a job in South Carolina for a company called Milliken, which is one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world.
They had this great opportunity in automotive upholstery, which is unusual. It’s an industrial type of upholstery, but their department was growing. They were getting computerated design machines, and so that was going to be something that I didn’t think I was going to love all my life. I wasn’t a big car girl at the time, but I am now. I do love cars from that experience, but I thought I was going to learn a lot from that organization, and then I realized that there were so many departments there that you could transfer to.
I quickly transferred into the office furniture upholstery department, and we moved up to Western Michigan and I worked with Herman Miller, Steelcase, Knoll, and all of these great names and big brands. Eventually, I left the textile company to work on the other side and worked for Herman Miller. It was one of these things where I found my calling in office furniture because the connection between the patterns around you and your productivity is high.
When you work in a beautiful space, you feel better. That’s what I wanted to work towards was to creating that externalized idea that makes you more productive, more comfortable, and more collaborative. The environment does that with you. It came with textiles and then the furniture itself. The majority of the design work that I have done in my life has been in furniture.When you work in a beautiful space, you feel better. #BecauseEveryoneHasAStory #DanielaStockfleth-Menis #podcastinterview Click To Tweet
What happened? Did you move to somewhere else?
Life happens. You have babies. Life moves on and you try some different things and companies don’t always work out. You go on and you move things. Tom and I found out pretty early on that we enjoyed building a company together. We built a company in the late ’90s, or early 2000s around technology, around stylus pens for handheld computers, and at that time it was the PalmPilots.
We learned a lot about building a company and having people work for you. That was difficult for us because you had to focus all your innovation on only one type of product, and we wanted to do something a little bit more expansive. Eventually, we ended up consulting again, and so we could design many different types of projects for different types of clients. It fed us in a little bit more creative way, and so eventually, that’s where we ended up.
A lot of that along the way is this idea of, “I’m going to accept the challenge that’s in front of me. I’m going to try this new thing. Maybe it will take off. Maybe it won’t,” but not being risk averse was something that we both had. We were big risk-takers. Building a company and worrying about whether or not we could afford our mortgage didn’t occur to us.
We were just going to build a company, and of course it’s going to be successful in some way, shape, or form, and we will make our mortgage. That doesn’t always happen. The economy happens, 9/11 happened in the middle of our business. Things occur that can cause a hiccup along the way, but when you look at it like a hiccup or a speed bump, it’s not insurmountable.
For us, 9/11 could have been a gigantic failure point. Luckily, we had diversified our business prior to that. We were in multiple channels of business. While we had a couple of channels that contracted, one kept going, and so we were able to pay our bills and keep going. We came through that into a better place. We sold our company. We made back 5X for our investors so they were happy with that and we moved on, but we did get out of it because the stress of that business was a little too high at that point.
We spent all this time building it up, 9/11 happened, and then we’d have to rebuild it again, and that seemed like I’m not a big fan of doing something again. I want a new challenge. It’s a part of my personality that a continuation of the challenge is perfectly good, but to have to redo things is not in my nature. When we had an opportunity to sell it, we both agreed that was the right thing for us to do because we were going to have to rebuild it all again post-9/11.
You have had a lot of business. You have been a consultant. You work for companies as well. Now decided to still have a new company or what have you created?
We have been consulting for a while now. We decided to start a podcast because we were looking at the next iteration of our business. We were looking at what its challenge was going to grow, and one of the things coming into the world, and Tom and I are big tech adopters. We always like to address new technology.
Anything that we design either might need to use that technology or might need to accommodate it in some way, shape, or form. If it’s like we are going to have all this equipment on our desks, I have to design a desk that works with that. If we are now live streaming, we have to design something to handle that. I’m always thinking and looking at that. One of the things that we saw, and something that we had been using in our business behind the scenes was 3D printing.
3D printing fascinated us. Tom was fascinated by the idea of 3D printers being on the edge of everyone’s desk and being able to pop out your products at the end of the day. What we knew as product designers was that there was no way that was happening without assistance. It’s hard to design products that don’t fall apart or that don’t cause damage that you can’t get hurt from. They have to be engineered and designed so they are also beautiful. I’m not going to be interested in printing it if it’s not beautiful to begin with, so all of those things need to go hand-in-hand.
We have said, “This is great but they are going to need product help. How can we put a part of this movement that helps these 3D printers who might be tech geeks in their garage learn about the design side of things and learn more here? How can we participate in the process? One of those things was I had been listening to a lot of podcasts. It was another new input method. I read a lot but I was starting to listen to a lot, and I said, “Let’s start a podcast.” Tom said, “How about video because it’s visual?” I said, “Yeah, but video is so costly and time-consuming. I got to have my hair done.” It was like an ordeal.
At that time, live streaming didn’t exist, so video wasn’t as casual as it is now, and that was a difference for us. We said, “We will do podcasts but we will occasionally do a time-lapse video or some product video and demo things. We will add that to our channel.” We started this podcast called WTFFF?!, and FFF is Fused Filament Fabrication, which is the geeky term for 3D printing.
In about five months, we had 100,000 listeners a month. Everyone in podcasting was like, “What are you doing?” You know how hard it is to start a podcast. It was easier. This was several years ago that we started the podcast. Everyone was looking at that going, “What were you doing? Can you help me learn how to do this?” I would tell them what we did and they would say, “That’s a lot of work.” Remember, you have to put the work in. You have to figure out what’s working. We were podcasting five days a week. We were doing a produce show. We were having it edited. We were planning all of the topics. We were spending quite a bit of time on the show. Other people were like, “I don’t want to do that much work. Here’s my credit card. Would you do it for me?”
Because we had a consulting business and because I had developed this system and a team to keep producing our podcast, I said, “We have a little capacity. We can take a few people.” Before you know it, we had ten clients. We said, “That’s it. We can’t take more than ten or we have to grow it. I need to set a system in place to handle these ten clients.”
We built a portal to take in their episodes. We had to build systems to be able to handle more than ten because they were chomping at the bit to refer us. About a year and a half after we took those first ten in, we had 100 clients. We spun our business off into its own entity and we have what became Podetize. We had that back then.
In 2017 mid-year, that’s when we started. That happened because of people who were like, “I have a need. Can you fill it?” After we started that in 2017 and made it its own entity, one year later, we shut down our consulting and design business because we were too busy. We kept them both open. The consulting business, the design business, and our royalties funded the start of our Podetize. We were able to self-fund it without any investors and without any push to be a certain way, to do it a certain way. We could do it our way and we did that because we could fund it because we had these royalties. We had commissions essentially from the products we designed.
A clever couple for sure. When you were podcasting, you were not making any money.
We didn’t make money off the traditional sense. We didn’t make money off of our show. We would take in advertisers and we would recoup our costs. We were personally doing that, but that wasn’t necessarily the focus. What we realized is we made more money off of the clients that came from listening to our show. We made more money from the guests that we had on our show who would then hire us to consult with their business. We made more money off of all of these other methods.
When people would come to us and they would say, here’s a pattern recognition and model is they would come to me and they would say, “I have this business and I have been thinking about starting a podcast but I don’t know how I should structure it. What kind of podcast should I do?” I’d be like, “Here’s the model out of these 25 or so that I have seen, heard, and found, and this one, I think, will work for you. Let’s try it.” We built in these layers of return-on-investment from the shows that had nothing to do with advertising. Most shows either never qualify for advertising or should never take ads because they compete against what they have to sell themselves.
You have these podcasts and you started to have clients, but you also decided to have another podcast.
One of the things that we decided was that each year, as we started podcasting, the industry changed. When we started podcasting several years ago, it was a different ecosystem. There was less competition. There were less tools than you have now. Things worked differently than they do now. We decided that if we were going to be the best counselors to our clients, we were going to have to start a brand-new podcast every single year.
Each year, we would start one and we would try out the model of it, and see how it would work and do something. We wanted the podcast to have a life because if I’m not excited about it or interested in it, it’s going to be hard to keep podcasting. After the 3D print one, because we were closing down our consulting business, I had a lot of contacts. I had a lot of methods that we used to design products and I wanted to share it with the world.
It’s almost a 200-episode series. We did it for a couple of years, and it’s called Product Launch Hazzards, Hazzard for our last name, and we shared all of our partners. We shared all of our methodologies for designing. We shared our thinking about our philosophy around what we did and we put it out there. Now, people still reach out to me every single week asking for something from that podcast, and I refer them to someone. I say, “Go listen to this episode and you are going to have the best copyright attorney you could ever find. Go listen to this episode and you are going to understand why you probably shouldn’t patent that.”
I send them to one of those episodes and/or send them to an expert that I interviewed and send that interview so that they can build trust quickly because they trust me because they listen to my show. They can now build trust quickly with that. I created this rich referral network by doing that, and it was a give back and now I don’t feel so bad about walking away from my design business. I’m still serving my community.
That’s one of them we did. Another one, I was very curious and interested in blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Web3. I wanted to understand it. I met someone who was afraid to start a podcast by herself. She had the perfect last name, Proffitt. We did a Proffitt and Hazzard, and we called it The New Trust Economy.
It was an interesting model in starting a new podcast, but starting with a co-host who I didn’t know well. We just became friends. How does that work? What did I learn from it? I put out some episodes and some other things about how to break up with your co-host because it doesn’t always work out. You have different models and different missions. I learned a lot from doing those types of shows, and so we do that.
The two shows that I keep doing all the time are The Binge Factor, which is where I interviewed you on because I like to interview amazing podcasters doing different types of shows so that I can continue to see the patterns of what’s working and what’s not working, and what they are doing and what they are not doing. Sometimes I share those as tips, and we do another show called Feed Your Brand, which are tactical ways to grow your show, market it, and build a website that goes along with it. We cover all kinds of things.
Tom and I do that show together. It’s the one thing that we get to do together each week, and we have it in a model where we are coaching our clients and doing our podcast at the same time. We get to do two things at once. We show up every week. We keep recording, and we get to at least spend one hour a week together in our business, which we don’t always do because our businesses are so busy.
You have a guest and then the two of you co-host?
We don’t have any guests on Feed Your Brand. We only cover topics. The Binge Factor, we have guests and that’s where I only do those interviews. Tom doesn’t.
That sounds interesting. I feel like you are so adaptable and in need of change all the time and creating something constantly that you are always going to be young and always going to be busy.
I like the always young part. That’s the thing, we feel old fast when we feel no longer relevant. That’s what it is at the end of the day. When my grandfather couldn’t drive anymore, that was the decline for him. I saw it. It was necessary, we needed to take his car keys away. He couldn’t see as well anymore. This wasn’t a good thing, but he lost the freedom and socialness that he had where he could go wherever he wanted, where he could pick up a buddy on the way. They could go have coffee together. He felt isolated and no longer relevant. That’s what I think if we don’t keep trying new things, experiencing things, and getting new inputs, and new ideas, then we are not going to be relevant. We are going to feel irrelevant quickly. I do think that’s the key to feeling young.
Especially with all the technology. I have the same feeling. I constantly know about technology. What is new? I do want to always be able to use it and always learn and practice.
You have a mindset to go out there and experiment and try things. You are not going to adopt everything, but you are going to know enough to know like, “That was a lot harder than I thought it was,” or, “That fits me. I could keep doing this. This is good for me,” but we wouldn’t do that if we didn’t experiment.
For me, I love change.
Most people don’t. This is amazing a-ha about yourself. You are comfortable with change. You seek it. You want it, and I feel the same way. My family moved a lot when I was younger. As I mentioned, I lived in other countries. I lived in South Africa. Because of that, I was comfortable with the idea that I got to be the new girl at school. It didn’t scare me.
You love to travel. I know that because I have had you on my show and we have talked about that. Travel is always about change. You are always in a new place. You have to navigate something new. It feeds something in you to be able to do that. It feels accomplished, but it also feels like it’s input and it’s experiences that we need that are important. I’m one of those people too. I need a lot of change in my life because I need to mix it up because it stimulates me. When we are stimulated, we become the best we can be.
It’s interesting that you mentioned about school. I only went to several different schools between kindergarten and preschool. When I hear stories about, “I have to change schools and I was always a new kid.” Even in movies, it’s always shown as a negative thing, but now that you said it, it’s true. It’s cool. You are going to be the different one, a new person.
It’s an opportunity, but kids have a hard time seeing that. In all fairness to them, it feels traumatic.
I feel like it could be hard. That’s true. It depends on the age. You don’t sleep because you are always thinking about things and what will be the next thing.
No. I actually do. I had trouble sleeping most of my life. I felt like I was an insomniac. I have said it to many people. I have trouble shutting my mind off. I had this a-ha at some point that I could meditate. In meditation, I shut my brain off. It was practicing transcendental meditation. It worked well for me that I could do that whole twenty minutes, and my brain would feel refreshed afterwards. I didn’t feel like it was so busy in there that I couldn’t hear my thoughts. I could hear my mantra. I felt like it was working for me and I thought, “If I can do this, I can fall asleep.”
There’s a connection point here. It’s not physically impossible for me to fall asleep. I thought, “I need to do this design of experiment because that’s who I am.” When my husband and the kids went away, and I stayed home to run the business for a week over a winter break. They were going to go skiing and it’s not my favorite thing to do. I thought, “I’m going to stay home, and I’m going to figure out how to sleep this week. I’m going to go to bed early. I’m going to make sure that I go to sleep. I’m going to figure this out.”
Over the course of that week, it was every night, I went to bed, and I was able to fall asleep and was able to make it happen because my mindset was in this place that “This isn’t impossible. This is possible. I know I can do it. It’s not a fundamental flaw in my brain.” It took me a while to figure out how to do that once my husband came home and was snoring in bed with me, but I was able to keep that going.
Now, I have a process. I create downtime in the environment. I have this hard crunchy pillow. That’s what my kids call it, the crunchy pillow. It has buckwheat seeds in it. It works perfectly for me because it keeps that uncomfortableness of things shifting and moving too much for me. It’s perfect for me. I love it, and nobody gets too close to me. That’s like I have my space. Nobody wants to lie on it. The dog doesn’t want to come up near it. I was able to figure out a process for myself to make that work. It’s been like heaven in this latter part of my life. I’m sleeping.
All these years, you couldn’t sleep until no longer ago then.
I was almost 50 by the time I figured it out.
What else have you managed to relearn or learned yourself that you thought was difficult or that other people think that it is difficult?
There isn’t anything that I don’t look at as I’m a how-to girl. A how-to is not difficult. There’s always a method. If you understand it, it’s no longer a mystery. It’s not going to be difficult. The question is, are you willing to pay the cost? There’s always a cost in your time, energy, money, or whatever you want to look at it. There’s always a cost to doing something.
That’s the biggest decision point. Is this worth it to me to learn? Exercise has been one of those things for me. I’m willing to go walk my dog, it’s part of why we have her. I’m willing to go walk my dog, take that time out, and I’m willing to walk to school. Am I willing to go to an aerobics class? No. I’m not willing to jump around. Am I willing to jog and run? My body said no. They said they didn’t like it. In the first few months I tried that, I thought, “This will be a moving meditation,” but it got to be too much on my knees and my ankle. I was like, “That’s not it for me. I don’t want to put physical stress on me because that’s a stress I don’t need. I didn’t have that before, so I will take it a little easier.”
Finding something that I’m willing to pay the cost of the time, energy, and money for, and figuring out what that is for me hasn’t been always great. I instead tackled my diet, and that’s how I got healthier. I said that the exercise wasn’t a great fit for my lifestyle beyond walking, but I can handle my diet. I improved. I ate more vegetables and changed my diet. That’s the trade-off you make. The reason I don’t ski, to go back to that story, is because I wasn’t willing to put enough time into it to be good at it. This means that my family who’s way better, my husband, all his siblings, and everyone started out on skis out of diapers and on skis. They have had their whole lives to be great at it.
I was going to have to devote a tremendous amount of energy to being good enough to ski with them. Otherwise, I was going to be on the bunny slope by myself or in a class by myself, and that wasn’t worth it. If it wasn’t going to be this family social thing for me, then I didn’t care to do it. It didn’t excite me enough. That’s why I don’t ski.
For you, it’s easy to learn anything because you just figure out a pattern. You figured out, “This is a pattern. This is the time that could take how willing I am to do it,” and then you decide. Is that more or less your technique?
Yeah, but here’s the thing that a lot of other people do. A lot of other people think because I’m highly capable that I’m going to do it all myself. There’s an aspect of that. I’m not going to spend money on an expert, coach, system, process, or somebody else’s thing unless I’m sure I want to do it. I will experiment by myself until I figure out it’s worth doing.
One of the biggest mistakes of many people is that they don’t get a teacher. They don’t get an expert. They don’t get someone in to support them. As you are learning something, you don’t have the possibility of seeing things that are going to come at you. You aren’t going to see all those roadblocks, speed bumps, and all of those other things. That’s why you hire someone. You hire a great coach or mentor. You hire someone who’s going to teach you some of those things with the understanding that it’s going to help you avoid that so you can keep going forward and that you can keep finding what you are looking for, so then you can bring yourself into it faster. I look at it as I decide if I want to do something if I’m worth paying the price for, and then at some point in that process I will get an expert.
For example, with sleeping, you didn’t need an expert, but you found the proper pillow. You spend money on stuff that will help.
I did. I spent money on stuff. I did hire an expert, it just happened in a different path. I paid for and trained in transcendental meditation, which taught me the things that I needed. It gave me the tool that my brain can work like this. It gave me that. In this case, I read a couple of books on sleep and tried some of those techniques, and they worked. If they hadn’t worked, I probably would have gone to the next level because it was important to me. I was at that point in realization that I was burning the candles at both ends if I didn’t get more sleep, and that was going to degrade my health to the point it was going to harm my longevity with my family. It was important to me, but luckily those first set of tactics worked.
Another question I have is with your husband. You said that you meet once a week for the podcast, but what about you also perhaps have meetings because you have to meet all the time to share the ideas that you have? Do you have monthly or weekly meetings? How does it work?
We do it casually. There are a lot of people who work together as a couple, and they say, “We don’t discuss anything after 6:00 PM. Once we hit dinner, we don’t talk about work.” The creative process doesn’t work like that, and Tom and I learned that early on. Sometimes it happens on Sunday at midnight, an idea strikes and we need to have a conversation about it.
Tom is no good after 9:00 PM. If I try to have a conversation with him after 9:00 PM, it will be half a conversation. I will be talking and he will be sleeping. He cannot stay awake and function at that hour. If he tries to talk to me before 8:00 AM, I am not at my best. You learn those things about each other and you try to work it in.
His thing is that a lot of times, he will bring me tea in the morning. I will be getting ready, doing my hair, my makeup, and things like that, and I will sit and we will have a conversation about our day and about some of the things we want to try out. This morning, we spent an hour doing that because neither one of us had early phone calls, and we spent an hour mapping out our plan for incorporating artificial intelligence into our platform. It’s not like I haven’t been thinking about it and he hasn’t been thinking about it separately for weeks. I was traveling and so this was our first chance to get together to talk about it. We laid out the whole plan in an hour together. It was a super-efficient time that we spent together. I got my tea, and I got all ready for our interview, so it worked out. It was a great use of time.
This is while you were getting ready. It’s not like you sat on a table and take a paper and a computer.
We don’t do that. The next level is we are going to get out the whiteboard and draw it all out, and then take some photos and send it to our coding team. We will do stuff like that at the next stage. We will plan those and have a meeting for that. When we’re just bouncing ideas off of each other and say, “Is this what we want to do?” Making a decision about whether or not we are going to move forward with something. Sometimes we like to do it in that casual environment because it creates the collaboration necessary. It’s not overly serious and distracting. We are having this conversation, and then do we take it more seriously as we move forward? That’s how we make decisions. The decision level comes in there.
We do have downtime and personal time. I do want to make sure everybody is clear on that. We have a lot of personal time. We have a lot of fun together. We enjoy being together. We love watching movies. That’s one of our favorite things to do together is to watch movies. We like geeky sci-fi stuff. We have similar tastes and things like that. We have a pool and we hang out there. We enjoy each other’s company.
You are best friends. That’s the most important thing. How is Tracy as a mom? Having this God-given talent that you have, how are you as a mom?
I have three daughters. All of them were born at the inception of a different business. My oldest was born, and we started our business for stylus pens for handheld computers right after she was born. She grew up in it. She would toddle around and assemble pens and do some things. Everybody knew she was part of the business.
In our middle one, we had our consulting business kicked off literally while I was on the table delivering her, and we had our first client just as soon as I came home from the hospital. The podcast started right before Vanessa, my youngest was born. We have all kinds of creative flow from having children, but they are comfortable with the way that our lives run like this.
One of the stories that I tell is my middle daughter, when she was five years old, there was a Staples office supply store that was closing. The store was completely closing. We went in there and we were going to buy a few supplies. I said, “This is the last time we are going to be able to go here. The store is closing.” She looks at me and she says, “Where will they sleep?” It’s because we sleep where we work, and she had never even thought of the idea that you would live somewhere else and go to work.
I realized her worldview is different. That’s the key to my daughters being brilliantly amazing. My oldest, nothing she feels is out of bounds for her to figure out. Everything is able to be figured out. Whatever gets thrown at her, at her work, she can figure out how to do it. I’m proud that that’s what she took away from all those years of being around the business.
Every viewpoint that has shifted because of that creates an opportunity, but the youngest is me. She’s exactly me. Probably more technologically advanced early on, so I don’t know what that’s going to do to her. I always joke that our sole job as parents is to keep her focused on making sure that all of those skills, energy, and everything she has is put towards good. That is our only job is to make sure she puts it for doing good in the world. We don’t have to do any other guidance. Just that.Our sole job as parents is to make sure that all of our children’s skills, energy, and everything are put towards good. #BecauseEveryoneHasAStory #DanielaStockfleth-Menis #podcastinterview Click To Tweet
I’m glad you said that because I also think that it’s important. We aren’t supposed to teach them the things that we want. It’s just to see what their talents are and make them polish those.
You angle them. She’s highly capable, and whatever sparks her, she’s competitive, which is an okay thing to be. I’m competitive. It gives you energy. It gives you a reason to go do something, and it doesn’t have to be nasty competitive, but good competitive. It’s healthy. It makes me feel energized when I’m competing at a high level with other people.
You have shared the love that you got from your parents, and you have also shared that with your kids.
We share this idea that it doesn’t matter who you are and how you change, I’m always going to love you. That’s a big thing. That’s hard for us to trust as human beings because there’s so much in our lives that takes love away, but when you have someone who says, “I’m never going to take that away,” nothing could take that away. That’s power because you live in a place where that can’t be withdrawn so you have the power to be who you are.
Full circle, we started with love and we end with love. I am so grateful that you share your story because we all have stories. We don’t have to have bad things happening to us to have a wonderful story and a wonderful life that you do. Thank you.
Thank you. It’s so true. I’m so glad you are doing this show. It is amazing because everyone does have a story.
- Alex Sanfilippo – The Binge Factor Episode
- Product Launch Hazzards
- The New Trust Economy
- The Binge Factor
- Feed Your Brand
Watch the episode here