I'm the real deal. Like, the person you listen to on the podcast is the person that you see in the room when you meet me. So many people say ‘Oh my God, you really are this high-energy, fun person that likes to hashtag!'
Harry Duran: Podcast Junkies, Episode 33. And we're back with Sue B Zimmerman. Sue and I met a couple of months ago at Agents of Change – it's a one-day conference and it was in Portland, Maine, and we had known each other through a mutual acquaintance. Actually, I had only heard of her because she interviewed on Chris Cerrone's show; she didn't know me. But when I went over and I introduced myself and I said I'd heard her on the show, we just hit it off right away.
It's funny sometimes when you meet someone for the first time and you hit it off and you're like ‘Wow, what's that all about?' I think it speaks to probably both personalities, the fact that we're both outgoing. She's just a really sincere, genuine, fun, kooky person and I could tell right away that she was someone I wanted to get to know a little bit better. So we just chatted throughout the course of the day and we vowed to stay in touch. I think I always knew in the back of my mind that at some point I wanted to bring her on the show, but since it's targeted at podcasters, I wasn't sure how to do that. I was probably thinking of doing a bonus show on social media, but the way that things work out, she ended up starting a podcast.
We got to bring her on after a couple of back and forths, and managed to find a time that worked. We chatted about the fact that she's a serial entrepreneur; I think she's had 14 different businesses and her latest is Instagram. It's in her blood and she's always had the entrepreneurial spirit. She's just really good at what she does, and she's having a really good time and a lot of success with this latest venture. She was on Creative Live – for those of you that don't know, that's a training seminar, it's usually a 1-3 day program that you can watch live by streaming online, and then later they sell a recording. Apparently it's one of the more popular Creative Live seminars, the one that she was on, which is no surprise when you get to hear what fun she is and just how knowledgeable she is about the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.
Without further ado, I'm sure you're going to enjoy the conversation I had with Sue Zimmerman.
This episode is brought to you by PRDCNF. PRDCNF is short for Productivity Conference, it's www.PRDCNF.com, but I made the URL just a bit easier for you guys – go to www.DowntownProductivity.com. It's ‘Downtown' because it's going to be in Downtown Los Angeles at the JW Marriott, which is a really nice location. I think it just speaks to the quality of the event. I think of it more as a one-day intensive. I've taken the concept of productivity and I've hand-selected the speakers who are really at the top of their game – folks like Jordan Harbinger, Natalie Sisson, Mike Vardy and Jayson Gaignard. These folks just really are successful in their businesses and the projects they're working on.
What I wanted to do was rather than just have it be an all-day session of tips and tricks, biohacks, productivity hacks, things like that, I thought it could be something where we could take real-world examples of how using productivity as a touch-stone, they were able to use some of those concepts to be more successful in what they do. This is really me calling out to those entrepreneurs, self-starters, business leaders who are successful now and want to understand what are the tweaks I need to do to take my business and my career or my company to the next level. I think the collective intelligence of the folks that are going to be here on May 9th at PRDCNF are going to really elevate your game and help you take your business and yourself to the next level.
Go to www.DowntownProductivity.com for more details, and register and sign up. There's also a mailing list if you want more information about upcoming events or news as we get closer to the date. I'm really looking forward to hosting this event and I think you're going to have a blast if you decide to attend. So on to our interview with Sue B.
So we finally get to chat, after figuring out that we wanted to catch up and talk at Agents of Change, which was 4 months ago?
Sue Zimmerman: Yeah, was that October?
Sue: I know it was the Fall, right?
Harry: I know we were in Maine and I know it was nice enough to be sitting outside on the grass.
Sue: Exactly, we were having an Instagram session on the grass.
Harry: So, we're starting already, by the way.
Sue: Great, I'm ready.
Harry: This is how conversations go.
Sue: This is how we roll.
Harry: Yeah, this is how we roll! What was interesting about when we met is that I had known of you through Chris Cerrone – our mutual friend, Chris Cerrone, a shout out to Chris!
Sue: Love Chris!
Harry: And we talked because I say you in the break and I was like ‘Oh, I know Chris', but that was the first time we had met ever. For whatever reason, we clicked and I think we even talked about it there at the lunch break. We were just hanging out on the grass outside, but it's funny how you click with people. Maybe we can talk about what we were talking about then – how you have a connection with someone because they come across as real.
Sue: Yeah, especially when the experience is awesome with the person that you both mutually know. With Chris Cerrone, I probably had one of my best podcast experiences because he has such a great radio voice. His interview with me – he had done so much background research on who I was and my entrepreneurial journey so he was able to circle around some of my businesses with questions, and then reference things from my childhood. He was just really brilliant at the way he conducted the podcast interview. I've been on quite a few since then, and I always think of him in the spirit of this amazing radio voice and a guy that really just knows how to interview.
Harry: That's funny because you said he touched on your childhood. Was it like a psychology session?
Sue: No. I started my first business when I was 13, and he knew that because he did so much background research. I was hand-painting barrettes that you put in your hair, and we were talking about me teaching art classes, and me hand-painting my boxer shorts. He just knew my whole journey, and I loved that he had done due diligence and he wasn't just coming out with canned questions like a podcaster that asks the same guests all the same questions. I can tell you he really worked to do the interview and I liked that.
Harry: So you said you've been on interviews after the fact, and you've had people on. When people have you on, do they typically just focus on the fact that you're InstagramGal?
Sue: Interesting question. Sometimes it's about being a female entrepreneur and a serial entrepreneur or my journey – people are really curious about my journey that led me to Instagram, so it depends on who's interviewing me. I did this amazing interview with Bond Appetite, do you know him? He's from Australia.
Harry: No, it's a cool name. Is that his actual name?
Sue: No, that's the name of the podcast. Oh my God, it's just like bonding through eating and on a podcast. He's a cook, a chef.
Sue: And because I have a degree in nutrition, there was a huge parallel to me talking about Instagram and food and me and nutrition and what I do personally to fuel myself and stay top of my game with my food, and about issues with food. It was really a fun interview. I'm asked to speak on at least 2-3 a week, and I really enjoy sharing my stories, and more importantly, it helps me get so comfortable with speaking. Now that I'm a paid speaker on stage, I attribute a lot of my confidence and success on stage to these awesome interviews that I get to do on a regular basis.
Harry: Is that something that's either picked up or new in terms of the speaking? How have you taken to it?
Sue: It's absolutely new. I first took to the stage at Social Media Marketing World 2014 in San Diego. I had a brand panel, I had Dunkin' Donuts, I had Surfer Magazine and Simple Green Smoothies – all great Instagram accounts – on my panel, and I moderated the panel. It went so well and Michael Stelzner asked me back for another podcast interview on Social Media Examiner, and then he subsequently asked me to speak again this year, doing a brand panel and also taking the stage on my own. Since last year to this March, I have been on probably 15 stages and to be honest, I have not been a paid speaker until recently. It's not a career I set out to do. I didn't have any formal training, meaning toast-masters or how to do public speaking. I did attend Brendan Burchard's World's Greatest Speaking Conference, which was very interesting and informative.
I didn't plan on being a speaker, but the power of the stage and your message with what you're so passionate about sharing is pretty freakin' amazing when you can be in a room and command the attention of the people in the room. They're listening while they're on their phone or their computer, or on Twitter, or they're Instagramming, and you can really make a difference in their life. That has just motivated me to be doing more of these speaking gigs, as I call them, and traveling.
I love traveling, I love meeting new people, I love networking, and every time I speak now, I make sure I connect with people I know in the area, which often happens through my Instagram relationships. It's fun! To answer your question quickly, I did not plan on being a speaker; it happened organically through my online fame, if you want to call it that, with teaching Instagram.
Harry: Well, in the short time that I've known you, first of all, you are all over the country.
Harry: Every time I look at my Instagram account, you are posing with one of your fun signs and you're at this conference or that one.
Harry: I think by virtue of that, and obviously part of it is attributed to your outgoing personality, you probably have this whole group of new friends that you didn't have at the beginning of the year?
Sue: Oh, I always have new friends – every day – on Instagram! I don't just have friends now, I have fans and stalkers and people that send me gifts and presents and messages about how I've changed their lives and I've changed their income level. It's like oh my goodness, this is just awesome. I've had 18 businesses. That's a lot of businesses, and I've had success in my businesses. Honestly, I've just never experienced the emotional peace of making a difference in other people's lives, and what that feels like. That is success like no other success I have experienced, which is a really cool feeling.
People talk about this, or at least I've read it in books and I hear it on podcasts and I've heard it from other speakers – it's so great to help others and give to others and not just think of yourself, and blah blah blah. I've heard that, but when that is real, that shit is real and you have people telling you “You have changed my life!” – that's powerful. That's living, for me. It's leaving a legacy that I feel so good about.
Harry: Is that the first time that that's happened? You've had the 18 businesses and you talk about making a difference and impacting on other people's lives, and people coming up to you and recognizing you, and really valuing what it is you're delivering. You're sincere, you're not hawking something on the corner. What you're selling is your own personality, and that comes through.
Not to say that it hasn't happened with the previous ones, but is it something that stands out more with this latest go around?
Sue: Yes. I've always been able to market myself with the businesses that I've had, and I've never been shy about it. I've always been able to get published in the paper or in the magazine with the business that I have, ever since I started my boxer short business. The fame – I want to call it fame – the getting noticed and having people know who you are is nothing new to me. I've been on QVC and that was really wicked cool! I'm putting my Boston twist on that, I don't say wicked when I talk.
I just really enjoy what I'm doing now in a different way. Before, it was to make money, to get something else, to contribute to the camp bill or the extra vacation or if my daughters (I have three) want to go shopping, it was to not feel guilty about going to Anthropologie or Lululemon and buying them some of the things they want. It was extra spending money for things that were not necessarily to pay bills or to change our lifestyle, but to have those extra things. That's kind of been the work I've had in my adult life.
Now obviously when I graduated College and I started my boxer short business aged 22, I did $1 million in my first year in sales – that was pretty cool. That was me just living with doing what I was passionate about. I learned at a very young age how to follow my passion and do what I love, and that might sound trite, but I have a degree in nutrition. That didn't work out for me, and I liked hand-painting clothing, and that's what I ended up doing to make money on a push-cart in Virginia while I waitressed to pay my bills.
One thing led to another. I'm really nimble and I see trends and opportunities before the rest of the world does, that's my gift. That's always been my gift with my businesses. I've always viewed them as success. Success hasn't always been measured in the amount of money that I'm making; it's doing what I love at a certain point in my life and being a role-model to my daughters. But obviously the money does dictate success to some extent.
In this Instagram space, in the short time I've been teaching it (18 months to 2 years, now), it's been explosive. It's partly because when I first started teaching it, there was 130 million active users, and as of December 2014, there was 300 million active users, and Instagram's projecting 1 billion in 3 years. I am at the right place at the right time, like nobody's business. I want to ride this opportunity as long as I can, and with that comes the opportunity for me to help so many people around the globe. My audience is global.
Harry: Interesting you say about being in the right place at the right time because I like the saying that says ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity'. You've positioned yourself, by virtue of your natural curiosity, your personality, the fact that you've been an entrepreneur since you were 22 – all of these things have come into play for you to be at the place you are right now and to take advantage of what is just an incredibly interesting time for online marketing.
Sue: Absolutely. The 17 businesses before this were foundations to where I am now. 8 years ago, I was on stage at QVC teaching scrapbookers how to use double-sided toupé tape to embellish their real photos. I was on TV at 1am and we did so well; we sold so many of our Treasure Tape kits, you have no idea who's up at 1am, watching QVC. This was when the scrapbook craze was huge! At heart, I'm an artist, I'm a crafter, I'm a creator. That was one of my businesses – I was teaching art classes, I had this great craft businesses. By the way, of all my businesses, this was the one that failed the most because we couldn't get a patent for the tape.
However, I was on QVC and it was a great learning experience. That's what I take away from it.
Fast-forward 8 years and I'm now teaching business owners all around the world how to embellish their digital photos on Instagram with third-party apps and the filters in Instagram. It's really ironic that I'm doing this because photos are my most prized possessions in my life. Take my jewelry, okay, maybe not my iPhone right now, but clothes, materialistic things – photos obviously are your memories to your heart and so I've always been the person putting together the scrapbook, the photo album, enlarging photos, framing photos, looking at photos. And digital scrapbooking too. Instagram allows all of that instantly to be curated on your frigging mobile device. It's amazing!
Harry: It just makes sense. If you look back at the thing that you're interested in, the fact that you are, at heart, an artist, and you have the business acumen – did you realize when you picked it up and you had it on your phone and the first time someone told you about the app or you downloaded the app and you saw what was possible?
Sue: Yeah, go ahead, I'm sorry.
Harry: Did it click then?
Sue: Oh yeah. Here's when it clicked. This is serious, because anyone that has teenagers listening, take note to what they're doing – how are they dressing, what are they saying, what are their mobile habits? I have twins, teenagers. Let's start there. They are literally scrolling on their frigging phone – they're not talking, not texting, and I'm looking like ‘What are you guys doing?' They're like ‘Mom, we're on Instagram, don't get on it because we know you're going to start teaching it'. I was teaching social media for the past 6 years, and they're like ‘Okay, Mom, I hate that you know Facebook and you teach other Moms how to do Facebook because now they know about all of our private groups and stuff'. I was like the Mom that knew what my kids were always up to and how to figure it out.
Harry: Of course.
Sue: They hated that! So I embraced Instagram for my retail store on Cape Cod because I wanted a way to bring more traffic in the door at my store, like every other small business owner. My sales increased 40% that summer.
Sue: I'm like ‘Oh my goodness, from a posting strategy, a geo-tag strategy, empowering my seven employees'. Just having call to actions and knowing what to post. Again, this goes back to me being very visual and being able to relate to a photo easily. I'm the person that gets directions in the mail, and I'm like ‘Where are the frigging diagrams? I cannot put this together, there's too many words'. I need the pictures. Show me the pictures. Yes, I was a puzzle master. I could put together a puzzle so fast.
With Instagram, it's all that and so much more. I knew that it would be explosive for my business, and when I had that insane success, and then I went off to Brendan Burchard's Experts Academy, thinking ‘I'm going to teach retailers how to use social media so they can get more business'. That's what I thought. That was the course I thought I was going to create.
I left after 4 days, knowing that the 800 people in the room didn't know how the heck to use Instagram. Everybody I was teaching during breaks how to do it were uploading their beer, their hotel room, the pool, the palm trees. I'm like ‘This is not a place to just post stuff to post it. You can use it for business.' ‘Really? How?' they said. And so I was the person teaching everyone I could at the conference how to do it, and then the last day of the conference, I sat next to Don Crowther, who did some content creation with Jeff Walker, and he said ‘Hi, I'm Don Crowther, I teach social media', and I'm like ‘Hi, I'm Sue Zimmerman, I also teach social media.' ‘What's your favorite platform?' I say Instagram, he says ‘I don't even know how to use Instagram, what the heck does it do?!'
I said ‘Okay, let me show you'. He's like ‘Okay, you so need to be the Instagram expert'. That little bug in my ear was a lightbulb going off and a tipping point moment. Malcolm Gladwell – I'm like that to the max. I went home from California, I took my dog for a walk in the woods and I put the phone in the tree because that's how I know to do a video on my iPhone, and I had this great YouTube video – you can go watch it, you can link it in the show notes, it's called ‘I am the InstagramGal'. I declared back then, November 2013, that I was going to teach Instagram to the world. Maybe it was September, I forget. And here I am, rocking it out, 18 months later! I'm having the best time of my life!
Harry: That's a great story.
Sue: Isn't that fun? I love that. It's a good story, yeah.
Harry: But again, it just speaks to your natural inclination. You're almost like a life-long student at heart, right?
Sue: Oh, for sure! I was not a good student in school. I was the person that should have taken First Grade over because I don't spell well to this day. When Instagram recently said that they were going to change it so you could edit the post, I was so glad because I always type words too fast or I make spelling errors. Everyone corrects me and that's totally fine, but yeah. Instagram is just so meant for my brain.
Harry: Have you been in contact with any of the folks at Instagram?
Sue: No, but I have a feeling, an inclination, that they know who I am because I've taught two Creative Live courses, and Twitter was blowing up at both of them. Harry, they were 6 hours a day for three days – 18 hours of me on stage, live streaming to the world, teaching Instagram for business and then how to sell more with Instagram. Both courses with Creative Live were best-sellers in their business and life division. And I'm going back again to do a third course. I love being on stage at Creative Live, it's so fun.
Harry: When's your next Creative Live course?
Sue: November 2015, and it's called ‘Connect Your Social Media Buttons'. It's not just about Instagram, it's about being completely consistent across multiple platforms, and how one platform builds off of another.
Harry: You were cutting out a little bit, what was that last part?
Sue: It's about connecting your social media buttons and how each platform is built off the other by being consistently branded.
Harry: So it's a strategy or a way to tie Facebook and Twitter and Instagram?
Sue: It's not just Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It's everything. I'm going to have experts on from YouTube and probably Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, maybe. I'm going to have other guests on the show that are experts in their space – Pinterest too. It's going to be fun, and it's really going to talk about cross-promoting, visual story-telling, how to use each platform efficiently and effectively for your business.
Harry: Are you going to reach out to our friend Amy from YouTube?
Sue: She already said yes. I met her yesterday – Sexy, Savvy, Social; I frigging love that little rockstar.
Harry: Here's the thing, I've got to jump in there. We were at Podcast Movement and someone actually asked her what the name of her company was, and they said the same thing you said as well, and she corrected them. She said ‘Actually, it's Savvy Sexy Social', and it was a guy that was saying it. She's cute so people assume that the first one is sexy, so I just thought it was funny that you said it too.
Sue: You know, it's so funny that I did that by mistake because she said to me: ‘Sue, it's in alphabetical order'. I'm like ‘Okay, my brain thinks sexy first because you're adorable and sexy, and so funny, I love you and you're going to be on my Creative Live show'. She's like ‘I'm there, what are the dates?'
She's so good. We did a YouTube interview yesterday about Instagram, and I gave her three tips, so that's going to be on her YouTube show soon.
Harry: Yeah, I saw the both of you and I said ‘Uh oh!'
Sue: Yeah, something's going down!
Harry: Something's going down when Amy is in Sue's Instagram feed.
Sue: Yeah, she was so happy that we connected. It was great because she was the kick-off speaker, and then there was another speaker talking about Gen Y, and then I spoke after that. It was a nice build to Instagram, and they had a great line-up.
Harry: So I think you also made a point recently in your feed that you're pretty proud of the fact that your daughters have now come around. Are they actually helping you with the business?
Sue: Oh no, my daughters don't help me with the business. Two of my daughters have featured accounts on Instagram. Lilah has an account called FreshFitandFearless, and she is doing phenomenally. She was on stage with me at Creative Live. She's 18, a freshman at the University of Maryland, and she's really passionate about eating healthy and eating clean. Since starting her account, she almost has 3,000 followers. I'm helping her build her account so that she can eventually do an eBook download, but there are people that are giving her free products to feature on the account. I'm happy for her.
Harry: And your other daughter?
Sue: My other daughter, Amanda, is 22 and a little bit in search of what to do next for her life. My husband and I have totally endorsed the fact that she just quit her first job, and she's going to four different cities. She has a great blog called Dresseswithpockets, and her Instagram account is @dresses.with.pockets. Amanda has a hashtag #4Monthsx4Cities and it's all about her really finding what she wants to do in her life. It's like the journey of a twenty-something exploring career interests. She's going to New York in February to volunteer at Charter Schools. She's going to go to Austin, Texas, to go to South By Southwest in March, hoping to volunteer there, get a ticket. And then she's going off to San Francisco and then Chicago in May. It's self-exploratory, but at the same time she has a vision board and plans on exactly what she's going to do.
This is really interesting to me because a lot of my clients are in their Forties, and they're stuck. They're working with me as a coach, and Amanda hired a coach that works with twenty-somethings. Amanda's really enjoying the process of going through the intentions of this tour, if you want to call it that, or this journey. She's doing this in the spirit of self-discovery because she doesn't want to just have a job and work. Hello, that's you and me! We love what we do. Usually, 22-year olds are like ‘I'll take any job, I need to make money to pay for my loans'. Amanda has the luxury of not having to pay for her College loans because she didn't have any, and she has some money saved so she can do this. I'm so excited for her.
Harry: It's interesting because we probably have friends that have nothing to do with the space that we're in, nothing to do with online or Internet or marketing or all that sort of stuff. But they're perfectly happy being at this point in their life where things are relatively stable and you don't have to learn new things, and they've got a good job and they don't feel like they have a need to rock the boat. It's interesting when you meet more dynamic people who are literally hustling from the moment you meet them, and you meet them six months later and they're just lightyears beyond where they were just six months ago. It's kind of interesting to put those groups of people side by side.
Sue: Absolutely, yeah.
Harry: On that note, you obviously jumped into the Instagram space and when we met, I think I was telling you about the podcast and you were just sort of figuring that space out and talking to some people who had podcasts and had been on some podcasts. Now you've decided to at least dip your toe in the water, right?
Sue: Yes. I have not launched it, but I've done 5 interviews. I did them as video interviews through Call Recorder, side-by-side, thinking I want to be different. I don't like to be like everybody else out there, and if I can look the person in the eye and interview them and you could see the energy, I thought that would be really cool.
Fast forward to being with Amy yesterday and a group of people that are like ‘Oh no no, no-one's going to listen to or watch a 30-minute podcast interview. People are doing it on the move, it's just audio.' I'm re-thinking my podcast. It's called Stake Your Claim, and yes, I do have audio clips from it. It's like a whole other business, as I'm sure you know, and I also know that I don't want to be just pigeon-holed in my space of being the Instagram expert, because I'm so much more than that, with all of my entrepreneurial experience and business experiences and life experiences and wisdom.
I wanted the essence of this podcast to come through. It's called ‘Stake Your Claim' because I'm interviewing people who have literally staked their claim and owned it, and it's very niche-specific. Everyone I'm interviewing is so content with what they're doing, and not stuck or lost. It's pretty uplifting with the interviews. I interviewed Peggy Fitzpatrick and I interviewed Chris Ducker. I'm sure you know Chris well. I don't know if you know Peggy, but she's phenomenal in the visual story-telling space.
I'm just questioning what to do with this podcast that I'm planning on launching this year, in addition to finishing the book that I'm writing, and we have a couple other projects in the mix. I'm creating this InstaAcademy for people who are social media experts or marketers, where you can learn how to use Instagram for your clients, as opposed to the end user. I'm creating that with Jen Herman, who's a phenomenal blogger, and she's really versed with Instagram. She's an Android expert with Instagram, and I only use the iPhone, so I'm collaborating with her on that project. I have a lot of projects going on, but honestly, this whole podcast space – I only listen to podcasts now. I don't listen to the radio. I listen to them when I'm working out, I listen when I'm walking my dog. There's always something to learn and it's kind of crazy, right?
Harry: Yeah, definitely. So you may have mentioned it when you were going through the challenges or the findings or your ‘aha!' moments with your first foray into podcasting – is there anything that has sort of surprised you or that you didn't expect? Or having only been on the interviewee side, were things different now that you're the interviewer?
Sue: Yeah. I like interviewing because I take people on a journey of how they got to where they are, and I think their story of how they staked their claim from their previous life or business or experience is really interesting, intriguing and inspirational to people who are lost and curious. You can be inspired by other people's success.
Harry: Yeah, I think what's important is the fact that you've started recording your episodes and it sounds like you're not happy with them. I feel like there's a sense of perfectionism inherent in your traits, and I think you want this to be the Sue Zimmerman podcast. I think you want it to have all aspects of your personality, like you want people to have the Sue Zimmerman experience, like I had when I met you. People can have that on a show, and I think the way you've approached your businesses, the way you've approached Instagram and all the other ventures you're working on (you've got your book right now too). I think you're going to do the same thing with the podcast, and I wouldn't be surprised if you start doing things differently than we've seen before with podcasts.
Sue: Yeah, that's my Sue B. Zimmerman way. I'm so not a conformer or a groupie. I like to stand out, as you know, with my hashtag signs. I like to be different, I like to walk into the room and get noticed and have fun with people. It's just part of me. It's nothing more than just me being authentic and making a mark and being memorable. It's that being memorable that I think has really helped along with my success in this Instagram space.
Harry: You saying you like to walk into a room and be memorable. We all have that moment when we're kids when we do a performance or we try to put on a play or we re-enact some video that we saw. Was it the same for you?
Sue: No no no, I was not the girl on stage. I was not re-enacting. I was a jock. I was an athlete, I was not in the drama space. But at school, I set trends. I didn't copy. I was wearing Timberland boots before all the other chicks were wearing them; I had clogs, if you even know what those are. I dressed in a way that was a little bit different than everyone else, event though I lived in Andover, Massachusetts and Lacoste shirts were what everyone wore. I definitely had corduroys and Lacoste shirts, but I'd mix it up. I didn't like to be like everyone else. I always wanted to put my personal spin on being different, and I think that's how I am in Instagram and in everything I do with my business.
Harry: Can you remember – I think they say memories for children start at 3 or something like that – but can you remember a moment when you went out of your way to demonstrate your uniqueness?
Sue: Yes. A moment when I went out of my way to demonstrate my uniqueness in my business or..?
Harry: No, you personally.
Sue: Uh, yeah. I was a tomboy. I was the person wearing boys' clothes when I was 13 or 14 to be different.
Sue: I wanted to go shopping in the boys' department and wear the jock clothes. That was unique and different, and it was totally acceptable. Because I'm so creative, I see things in this world quicker and faster than a lot of people that I'm with. I notice every detail about every person I meet; what they're wearing, the fashion that they're wearing, their shoes, their socks, their belt. I just notice everything very very quickly, and with that just comes a creative mindset about my experience in the room. I can see who the players are in a room at a conference, just based on their body language and how they're interacting and if they're smiling and happy and just nice to connect to. I then know how to engage with the right people in the room, and I think that's what happened to us at Agents of Change.
Harry: Yeah of course. It was kind of crazy because I feel like we've known each other for a long time, and it's weird. We probably met in a previous life.
Sue: Yeah. I have that impact on people on a regular basis, and I think it's just because of who I am. It's who I am with confidence, and I think a lot of people lack that and put on a different persona to fit in, to be accepted. That's never been who I am.
Harry: It sounds like you've been that way for your whole life.
Sue: Pretty much. I was definitely a conformist as a young teenager, don't get me wrong. Let's face it, you want to fit in and be like everyone else at some point of your life, but the older I got, the more successful I got in my own space – meaning doing what I loved and having this ‘I don't give a shit what you think about me because this is who I am. If you don't like it, that's totally cool'.
Sue: I'm okay with that. Some people aren't okay with that and they take offence to it. I don't; I'm fine with it. Everyone has their right to their opinion and you're not going to gel with everybody.
Harry: It's a shame people don't take advantage of the fact that when they go on these conferences, they're in another state. They're out of their element and a lot of people there probably have no idea who they are. Why not use that opportunity to almost create a persona for yourself and put on the suit of ‘I'm the sociable person'? Your old friends aren't there to say ‘Hey, no you're not' and you can kind of be the person that you want to be there and take advantage of the investment you're making in these conferences.
Sue: Yes, and that's exactly what I do every time. I think because I have the confidence to rally people together, to take pictures, to post them on Instagram, tweet them out – it becomes fun and I think that people just really want to have fun. When they go places, it's not just work. You want to have a memorable, fun experience, and I think of that. That matters to me and I like that you felt that way. That's kind of cool.
Harry: Yeah, it's funny. At the very least, you're there bringing it out of people because of all the props and the way you just get people to relax a bit and just not be so in their heads sometimes.
Sue: Right, and take life so frigging seriously. Let's chill, we're just taking a selfie or a picture on Instagram, it's fun!
Harry: I think you were made for the job you have.
Harry: I was interested in the fact that you said you've always been creative, and I imagine your parents supported that. I think what's interesting as I've talked to other people on the show previously about the challenges with the current schooling system and how it doesn't foster any creativity, and how like when kids are expressing emotion and expressing creativity when they're younger, a lot of times there comes a point when it gets stifled. What can we do and what have you done or what are your thoughts around that, so that the new generation of kids coming up – I'm sure none of them lack for confidence, but..
Sue: No, what I love about the new generation of kids coming up is they're so comfortable on video, they're so comfortable with their phones. When they're on Skype, they're not intimidated by any kind of interview or speaking because they're literally on video chat, hanging out, doing homework, talking and interacting online. They're so comfortable with their phone it's like an extension of who they are and how they connect with other people. It's interesting to me.
My target market is mostly women, so I'm saying women 35 and older are just so concerned about how they look and is someone going to think differently of them because every hair is not in place or their make-up's not on. Just be who you are and just get your stuff out there. It doesn't have to be perfect – as long as your content and your messaging is real enough and it gives value, people want to see it and hear it.
Harry: I agree 1000%. That's very cool that you bring that out. We tend to think about the impact we have on people's lives, and I'm sure because of the feedback you're getting and the comments you're getting, that you get to see that and experience that on a first-hand basis. People are talking about how you've changed their perception or their business or anything else for that matter.
Sue: Yeah, I mean, this is a pivotal point to kind of bring this all full-circle. That's it exactly. It's expressing who you are authentically and feeling confident about it, and not caring what other people think. It's having the ability to put yourself out there. You are a little bit vulnerable when you do that, but it feels so good when you get people connecting to you, engaging with you and validating what you do.
At the end of the day, that's what everyone wants, it's to feel validated in their work and to give value to others that appreciate it.
Harry: Yeah. There's a lot there, and that's a lot to think about. If people were jumping into the middle of this conversation, they may not even realize that we're talking about a social media platform.
Sue: I know!
Harry: A lot of those lessons are really applicable to…
Sue: To life.
Harry: Yeah, to life. It's not just like how to be better with social media or with your public speaking or with your confidence. I think what's interesting now, which you alluded to, is the fact that all of these skill-sets translate into the real world very easily.
Sue: Absolutely. I really want to end with this point that I am the real deal. The person you listen to on the podcast is the person that you see in the room when you meet me. So many people say ‘Oh my God, you really are this high-energy, fun person that likes to hashtag!' And I'm like ‘Who else would I be?!'
A lot of people hide behind their computer or behind their Instagram profile, living vicariously or posting vicariously through other people's lives. That's so foreign to me. I think the message here, over and out, is to just really be authentically you with confidence, and you will attract those that love that about you. The ones that you don't attract or connect to, that's okay.
Harry: Yeah, I love talking to people who are real. My hashtag when I post my interviews is #realtalk because I love people that are genuine. They curse every now and then –
Sue: Oh good, I fit the bill! [Laughs]
Harry: And are not worried about sounding perfect on an interview. Just people that don't try to perfect this image that everything is perfect and not a hair out of place. That's not real life!
Sue: Right, exactly. And this interview is a testament to that for sure!
Harry: So Sue, normally you would ask this question of ‘Oh, what's got you excited over the next 3-5 years?' But I think stuff is changing so fast, it just blows my mind. Even the things I had lined up for 2014-2015, I couldn't have even thought that this stuff was going to happen a year ago. From your perspective, what has got you excited? Even just for the next 6 months?
Sue: Yeah, well let's shorten that even more, because like your point, things happen so frigging fast! For me, it's doing affiliate webinars and being a webinar ninja. Webinars are a completely different animal than a podcast interview or being on stage and I'm mastering webinars. I did one earlier today with Steve Dotto, he's amazing. He's a good friend of mine. I've reached a whole new audience of 500 people that signed up, and 100 were on live and we converted nicely. It's so cool that you can do webinars on the Internet, in a hotel room and sell your course. I love that because I'm reaching more people. Mastering webinars and really understanding the psychology of how to do the webinar flow is in my line-up, along with my book Get Your Hashtag On, speaking on multiple stages and creating the InstaAcademy course.
I hear that you should only be working on 3 projects. That's what I'm focusing on. You want to ask me what I'm focusing on? I'm focusing on 3 things at a time instead of 50.
Harry: Yeah, it's interesting because I'm actually working on 3 things too – I've got the podcast, I've got an eBook about my first year of podcasting coming out, and then I'm working on the Productivity Conference. At times I think I'm completely frazzled, but I just jump from project to project and it sort of keeps me engaged from a creative standpoint because if I'm working on something for too long, then I feel like my creativity stagnates a bit.
Sue: I'm just like you. That is my ADD brain for sure. I have to be doing a couple of things at once. We're connected in that way.
Harry: Very cool. So Sue, thank you. When this interview comes out, it's going to sound absolutely perfect and people won't even realize the technical difficulties that we had from a WiFi to WiFi connection.
Sue: I love it!
Harry: I think we're both in remote locations, but I think as a testament to the fantastic work that our editors do, hopefully knock on wood, they're going to make this sound amazing so that your message comes through loud and clear.
Sue: Awesome, I love that! So let me give your listeners a challenge. Anyone that is on Instagram, I would love for you to come on over and follow me @SueBZimmerman, @TheInstagramExpert and I'm hoping, Harry, that you're going to do some graphics for this that people can share over there and connect with us on Instagram. I always tell people to take a selfie and use the hashtag #SueBMadeMeDoIt, and you get curated in the hashtag hub on Instagram with everyone else. Yup, everyone else that took a selfie because I told them to.
Harry: You're always – I hate to say hustling because it's almost like an over-used term, but I think it applies in this context.
Sue: I totally am!
Harry: So I think you've got three, at last count, Instagram accounts, and then you're online as well, so..
Sue: Oh, I have six Instagram accounts.
Sue: Just in case I didn't have enough to do. They all serve a different purpose. I've got @TheInstagramExpert, @The.Daily.IG
My team decided that everyone wants to know what we're doing behind the scenes, so we have @SBZTeam, which is really cool. It's all my employees and the behind-the-scenes of running my business, so that's a fun account. They crack me up. They're all in their twenties so of course, this is another project for them, not me.
And I've got my store @SueBDo.CapeCod and @TheInsta-Academy, so I've got a lot of Instagram accounts.
Harry: And how about online?
Sue: Online is www.SueBZimmerman.com, on Twitter it's the same. I've got a great YouTube channel with Instagram Playlist and www.slideshare.net/SueBZimmerman if you want to learn more about Instagram or social media, for that matter.
Harry: The hardest working woman in social media, I think.
Sue: [Laughs] I've got a team, it makes a difference.
Harry: Thank God for teams, right?
Sue: Yes, yes, I would not be nearly as successful without my team. I have to say that over and over again. I give them credit all the time.
Harry: Alright Sue, big hug, hope to catch up with you live – IRL, as the kiddies say, right?
Sue: Yes, and we will for sure.
Harry: I'm sure, we'll figure something out for 2015, but thanks so much for coming on.
Sue: Absolutely. Thank you!
I'm the real deal. Like, the person you listen to on the podcast is the person that you see in the room when you meet me. So many people say ‘Oh my God, you really are this high-energy, fun person that likes to hashtag!'