InnovaBuzz Episode #34 – Annemarie Cross

Annemarie Cross - Women in Leadership Podcast

In this episode number 34  of the InnovaBuzz podcast, Annemarie Cross,  a business mentor and a communication strategist, as well as host of the Women in Leadership Podcast, talks to us about the importance of a positive mindset to the entrepreneur and about scaling a business with a great team and sound systems and processes. It’s another fascinating interview with a lot of valuable advice; find out more on the podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

If you were sitting or standing on a boat and someone was in the water and they were scrambling, they were drowning, you would throw them a lifeline. So similarly, if your client is struggling with a problem or a real challenge, if you’ve got an answer, why wouldn’t you throw out a lifeline

Annemarie Cross

Show Highlights

Some of the highlights of this episode include:

  • What we think, and our beliefs and values, underpin, strengthen what we do and in some instances unfortunately can weaken what we do.
  • If you were sitting or standing on a boat and someone was in the water and they were scrambling, they were drowning, you would throw them a lifeline.  So similarly, if your client is struggling with a problem or a real challenge, if you’ve got an answer, why wouldn’t you throw out a lifeline.
  • Getting systems and processes in place and well documented is critical to growing your business and having a team that can work with you to free up your time.
  • Focus sometimes requires difficult decisions to be made – letting go of  an activity.  It’s important, though, to recognize what is important and make those decisions.
  • Customer feedback and stepping into the mindset of your ideal customer is key to successful product/service innovation.
  • Having a mentor and accountability partner or coach on your team can have an incredible impact on your success

I’ll create processes and put systems in place so that my team can implement that for me, because as entrepreneurs, as business owners, as we continue to grow, there’s no way you can handle everything. So, I surround myself with some key team members so that I can continue to do what I love doing. This is so important and imperative to allow myself space to continue to grow my business.

Annemarie Cross

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Annemarie’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Watch the interview to get the full scoop.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative – get rid of the negative mindset, and that includes your own and other people’s.
  • Best thing for new ideas – Give yourself space to be able to think creatively and really get into a space that allows you to be creative and step into the mindset of your client.
  • Favourite tool for innovation – I love technology, but I will always for innovation go back to pen and paper.  There is something about getting your thoughts through your hand onto paper and mind mapping, and that just really works for me. I do use technology such as online calendars and online to-do lists to really get me focused.
  • Keep project / client on track – Basecamp project managment software
  • Differentiate – Give yourself permission to show up as themselves. Absolutely get really clear on who you are and what does make you unique.  When you start weaving that throughout all of your communications – online, offline, how you show up – that is what is going to distinguish you.

To Be a Leader

Get a mentor, an accountability partner; get a coach there on your team – people who can stretch you and support you in taking your business to the next level.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Annemarie via Twitter (@AnnemarieCoach) or LinkedIn or her website

Suggested Guest

Annemarie suggested I interview Gary Vaynerchuck, author of “Jab Jab, Jab, Right Hook” and host of the AskGaryVee show on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. So, Gary, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of Annemarie Cross!

Links

Full Transcript

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Intro:

Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 34 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation and the Internet of Things become even more innovative.

In this episode, my guest is Annemarie Cross, who is a business mentor and a communication strategist, as well as host of the Women in Leadership Podcast. Annemarie helps women entrepreneurs and women executives design and launch powerful online and offline marketing strategies, so that they can finally get noticed, get hired and get paid what they’re worth.

Annemarie is very passionate about helping people succeed and develop the positive mindset that is critical to their success.  We also talk about scaling a business and the importance of having systems and processes in place and a great team around you, including mentors, coaches and accountability partners.

Let’s get into the Innovation Hive and get the Buzz from Annemarie Cross.

Interview:

Jürgen:
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz, and I’m really excited to have here with me on today’s episode of the Innovabuzz Podcast from very close to where I am actually, from Melbourne, in Australia, Annemarie Cross, who is a business mentor and a communication strategist, so welcome to the podcast, Annemarie.

Annemarie:
Thank you very much.  Great to be here.

Jürgen:
It’s a privilege to have you here.  Now you’re here as a result of Kara Ronin suggesting that we invite you, so a big shout out to Kara.

Annemarie:
Thanks, Kara.

Jürgen:
Now, Annemarie, I did some research on your background, and it looks like you help women entrepreneurs and women executives design and launch powerful online and offline marketing strategies, and you say – so that they can finally get noticed and hired and paid what they’re worth, it sounds like you’re really passionate about that.  Also, there’s a lot of great information on your website.  Annemarie is also a host of the Ambitious Entrepreneur Show and the Purposeful Leadership Podcast.

Annemarie:
Yes, and recently Women in Leadership Podcast.  I love podcasting, as you can see.

Jürgen:
Okay, so there’s another one there that I missed.

Annemarie:
Just recently, so that’s alright.  The beginning of this year.

Jürgen:
That’s great.  Well, before we talk about podcasting and inspiring marketing for women and all of the other things that you’re up to, because there’s a lot of stuff on your website, let’s get started on your background and find out, way back when you were a young child, and it probably wasn’t that long ago, what you wanted to be when you grew up.

Annemarie:
Well, I came from a family of teachers, and so when I was growing up, that’s what I thought I wanted to be.  I had an accident around the age of 14 or 15, I fell off my horse and had a serious concussion, so I was unable to go back to school.  I did go back to school kind of the next couple of days after staying home for a couple of days, and didn’t realize that the concussion really caused memory loss and so forth, so for six months I had to go back to the hospital and get therapy treatment.  So, yeah, my career kind of took quite a different turn from that.  Overall, I’ve come full circle, and now am training and supporting entrepreneurs and executives.

Jürgen:
Okay, and what was the journey … so your teaching ambition kind of got derailed a bit, so what was the journey from there then?

Annemarie:
Well, you know after kind of not being able to go back to school, my parents said “Well, why don’t you go to night school; get a job and see what the future holds,” and I swore when I was at school that I would never work in an office.  But that was one of the first jobs I got, and I loved it because I was introduced to computers, something that was really quite new.  And those were the days when the Internet had not yet been developed, and we were using these big floppy, I think it was 5-1/4″ disks, you know, floppy disks.  This was way back when PCs were just the ants pants, and now you look at them and they’re, oh goodness, many, many are ancient.  But anyway, so I started doing that for several years and then when I started a family … Then I was back in New Zealand and I met my now husband, that was 20 … oh gosh, 27 years ago, so it was quite some time ago, Jürgen. Not anymore a child, but anyway, after leaving the workforce and having children, I thought “Wow, I love motherhood, yet I need to get my hands into something,” so I went back to night school and started studying, continuing my accounting degree, but realized that figures were just not doing it for me anymore.

So I started study into human resources, and that led me into team development, leadership, and also career development.  And you know through the process doing all of that training and learning, for me it also enabled me to answer that question:  Would I have chosen this career path, i.e., working in an office and now looking more at human resources and careers, had I actually followed my dream, so to speak, and the answer for me was absolutely yes.  You know, I learned self-awareness, self-exploration, and self-development, and did a full circle and through those studies being able to implement that within my business and consultancy at that stage as a career consultant.  So, yeah, I can say I kind of went through the journey in what a lot of my clients then in the career industry were struggling with, “Is this my dream job?”  You know, “What am I here to do?”

And I find that that’s also true with the women entrepreneurs that I work with who may for one reason find themselves now working in their own consultancy or coaching practice, and really wanting to identify what’s my purpose, what’s my passion, what’s my mission.

Jürgen:
Yeah. So, did you start your own business after you decided to go back to work post-motherhood?

Annemarie:
Yes.  I was offered a very lucrative … to come back to the workplace for a very lucrative consulting job, but I decided that I was going to stay at home and open up my own business.  And that’s what I did.  It was very part-time juggling with it and being at home in business, but I really loved it, I really loved it.  I would never go back to full-time work. I should say it’s full-time work up in entrepreneurship and you often work longer hours than you ever did ….

Jürgen:
Exactly.

Annemarie:
It’s different, isn’t it?  We’re passionate about it.

Jürgen:
Exactly.  It’s the passion, and also the freedom to, as you say, sort of balance the different demands.  So I know a lot of women that take time off to have families and take time off when their children are young, and when they decide that they want to go back and do some work, that working for themselves or working as an entrepreneur, self-employed entrepreneur out of home gives them that balance.

Annemarie:
Absolutely.

Jürgen:
So, obviously going through that journey then you decided there was a market there for helping that kind of business person or business woman to be successful.

Annemarie:
Yeah, you know a lot of my clients who were working for a company …. I was, you know helping in their career – finding a job that they loved, and then also going for promotions, so that’s around interviewing, negotiating salaries, and all sorts of things.  Many of those women recognized that they weren’t being paid what they were worth, and they said to me, “No we will want to set up our own consultancy,” however doing that, of course, there was a whole myriad of unanswered questions, such as how are we going to market ourselves, how are we going to have a conversation with a prospective client.  So my business evolved with the needs of my clients.  They then came back to me and said, “Well, you’re marketing yourself really well, can you show us, can you teach us.”  And that’s how I then expanded into supporting them in their consultancies and coaching practices.

Jürgen:
Okay, that’s great.  And it’s good, well it’s always good when somebody’s gone on the journey themselves and then shares their learnings with other people, rather than sharing textbook learnings, as I put it.

Annemarie:
Yeah, and also I think too what was, looking back, in hindsight and the insights, was really listening out to what your customers are saying and if you get asked, you know if there’s a common theme there and you get asked a lot from different clients there – may very well be an opportunity to do more.

Jürgen:
Yeah, listening to your customer.  That’s not rocket science is it, but….

Annemarie:
How often, and I’ve done this myself, you create something and you think this is going to be better than sliced bread.  You launch it and there’s crickets.

Jürgen:
That’s right, yeah. And I see it over and over again, I see people doing it.  I mean I fall into the trap myself, although I’m pleased to say that I’ve got something happening at the moment which is nowhere near ready, but I’ve already got customers, so that’s….

Annemarie:
That’s the greatest place, isn’t it.

Jürgen:
Yeah.  So a lot of the work you do is around mindset, and I noticed, when I first started looking at some of the information about you on the web, there were things around human resources and leadership and processes, and then I dug a little bit deeper and I realized that your message is more about mindset and you can have all of these things, but mindset is really important.  So can you kind of talk about that a little bit.

Annemarie:
Absolutely.  I think mindset, which is really what we think, you know, and our beliefs and our values, really underpin, strengthen if you will, what we do and that in some instances unfortunately can weaken what we do.  And what I mean by that is I notice that as I was supporting women in creating their message, and a lot of time their message could be their bio, could be how they wrote about themselves, or if they were speaking, creating their signature talk and getting out there and speaking their message, didn’t really step in powerfully to own that message, a lot was around self-confidence – “Oh, there’s no way that I can say this and that,” because you know they devalued what they had to offer.  And until they started to see the impact that their expertise, their skills, their strengths had for their clients, and really recognizing that “Hang on a second.  I do have incredible value to give, to offer, to share,” and starting to shift that mindset, they continued to struggle.

Similarly, when they were having conversations with prospective clients it was like “Wow, I couldn’t charge that much,” yet providing a service could enable their client to double, triple their salary package or sales or whatever, it was really sitting in to help them take a step back and recognizing the true value that they offered.  So, it was all based on mindset, around their self-esteem, self-worth, their self-value, which really impacted their self-confidence; it’s all around mindset.

Jürgen:
Yeah. Now, obviously because of how you have positioned yourself and your audience being women entrepreneurs, you’ve kind of targeted that message there, but I think, is it an Australian thing that we don’t like to promote our strengths or we don’t like to talk about our strengths, that we kind of sit back and are more humble than that.  And I find the frustrating thing about that in the entrepreneurial space is it undervalues things people do, and so there’s an expectation out there that, for example, let’s say websites because that’s the game I play, people think that a website shouldn’t really cost much because there’s not much to it and there’s a lot of people out there offering to do it for very low price, and they’re essentially undervaluing what contribution they’re making to that business.

Annemarie:
Look, I absolutely agree with the Australian market.  There’s something about us and about, you know, our sense of character.  Having said that, you know, I have interviewed many men and women overseas and in the U.S. primarily, and they struggle with self-value as well.  What I find here in Australia though that is quite different is we have more skepticism, we are very skeptical, and in fact many years ago, and I remember going back, goodness, I think 2008 was when I started my first podcast.  Prior to that a couple of years, you know even earlier to that, I met with a few of my colleagues who were already on social media and Twitter and you would speak to a lot of business owners and they would say “Social media …. that is just a waste of time.”  And now here we are 2016, and if you’re not on social media, well look no one, who knows about you kind of thing.  So I think Australians tend to be a little bit more skeptical in that way and certainly we have the tall poppy syndrome.

I think that’s something that we really unfortunately can say, you know, don’t stand out too high above your competitors or out in the crowd, you could get your head sort of chopped off, you know that tall poppy syndrome, and I think that’s unfortunate.  But you know if someone’s listening and they have been through a situation where they’ve had critics or they’ve had naysayers, just rise above that.  You’ve got a message to share, you’ve got a service or product to offer your ideal client who is struggling.  If they don’t hear about you, they don’t have that solution or that option, and a lot of times those people are boohooing and naysayers, they’re just envious, you know, so….  You continue the hard work that you’re doing.

Jürgen:
Yeah, I like that, and also what you said earlier about being really clear about your own value and skills and what you can bring to the table.  And then, I can’t remember who this was, but there was somebody that shared with me, if you’re aware of your own skills and the things that you know that you can help other people with, what right have to got to actually not share that with the people that you can help.

Annemarie:
You know, I heard a beautiful story once, and I share this often ….  If you were sitting or standing on a boat and someone was in the water and they were scrambling, they were drowning, you would throw them a lifeline.  So similarly, if your client is struggling with a problem or a real challenge, if you’ve got an answer, why wouldn’t you throw out a lifeline.  Now it’s up to them whether they want to choose to take that lifeline or not.  At least you’ve given them that opportunity, and I think the way in which we talk about our products or our services and the bottom-line value, what is it that your ideal client is going to walk away with, you know for websites, it’s an increased awareness, it’s increased sales and revenue, and you know maybe opportunities to speak …. Whatever it might be.  Now, sure they can get something cheap and nasty, but is it going to be created to consistently get a flow of ideal clients who are going to pay them what they’re worth?  I seriously doubt it, and that’s the value that you bring.  So, you need to really be comfortable in having a conversation around what is it that your ideal client is really looking for, I’m talking bottom-line results, and if you create your message around that and tapping into the emotion of their struggles and where they’re stuck, that is when you attract your ideal clients who really will value you at the end of the day, so the conversation is far more beneficial for you and the outcome for the client to say yes to your services.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that’s fabulous advice, and I might even steal some of that text actually.  I was smiling when I heard you say that because it’s very aligned with our message of building a product that actually delivers value to the customer in the form of a return in business.

Annemarie:
Yes.

Jürgen:
Alright, so in terms of your business, what are the key components of the business because, clearly you’re consulting to women entrepreneurs, you’re co-hosting one podcast and hosting two others, you’ve got speaking engagements, and there’s other activities going on as well, so what’s the focus of the business?

Annemarie:
Well, for me I’ve done a little bit of refocusing, and so in the future what that holds for us, for me, is really focusing on women in leadership, and this is women in leadership in their own business or even women in leadership such as executives within the corporate space.  And that’s all around what we’ve spoken about, really standing out, getting noticed, and getting paid what they’re worth.  Also for me is doing more workshops and face-to-face ….  I’ve done it backwards.  I started many, many years ago doing virtual, working with clients, you know, by Skype and a lot of those technologies which were very new, and so for me I had an international marketplace.  And now for me it’s, you know what, I want to start doing the face-the-face, holding in-person workshops with clients.  So, just recently, last week, I had to get over the fear of public speaking because to communicate your brand, one of the great ways is to get out in front of a large audience of your clients, and believe it or not, so many people are fearful of that, which is an area that I love to help them shift and again transform their mindset that it isn’t so scary, it’s actually a lot of fun. So, it’s around public speaking, it’s around really defining their message, so whether it be on paper, to their bio, online bio, right through to their signature talk, or even for many entrepreneurs now, they’re recognizing the incredible value of either having their own podcast like you have or being interviewed on podcasts, and that can be a little bit scary too, you know how do I do or how do I position myself, so it’s really helping them refine their message so that they really can build their awareness with their ideal client.  So that’s really what I’m focusing on now.

Jürgen:
Okay.  That’s exciting stuff.  And again, it comes back to what we were talking about earlier in terms of mindset, doesn’t it, because if you get up in front of a big audience and you treat it as a conversation and you talk about the things that you’ve actually got which add value to people, then having that mindset will make it a hell of a lot less scary, and I remember one of the first ones I did, and I was a student at the time and I had scripted this talk, it was a scientific talk, and I had scripted the thing word for word and I had the notes in front of me on the lectern, but I’d done the work to actually memorize the text, the thing was with that scripted, that was actually a burden because I got about 80% of the way through the talk using slides, because it was all scientific formulae that I was talking about, at about the 80% mark, my mind went blank and I couldn’t remember what was next, and of course I hadn’t been turning the pages on my text, so then I had to spend a few minutes or a few seconds turning the pages trying to figure out where I actually was up to in my talk and then pick up the thread, which you know, when you think about it, and now I know of course that that’s totally ridiculous because nobody else knew the text of my talk, and if I had kept talking as long as it made sense, nobody would have known that I had kind of gone off track there.

Annemarie:
Exactly.

Jürgen:
So it really is all about value.  And I don’t know if you’ve seen, there was a …. it was either a podcast or a video that Seth Godin put on recently, and the gist of it was that to do a speech or presentation in front of an audience is actually a gift that you’re giving them, and you shouldn’t be withholding that gift, you should actually be out there and …

Annemarie:
It’s true.  It is …

Jürgen:
…giving that.

Annemarie:
And you know once, as I said, once a couple of people got up through the last workshop, they realized just how much they loved holding the microphone.  We did some test to two women who said, “You know what, over the weekend we’re going to go out and buy a microphone and just walk around the office.”  You know, once you kind of tap into that confidence, that inner confidence, you can use that then and often it is recognizing, you know what, I don’t suck; I can actually speak my message, and then it’s about engaging with your audience.  Yeah.  So true.

Jürgen:
That’s right.  Coming back to what you said right near the beginning, listening to your customers and getting a sense of what they’re expecting and when you’re presenting or speaking, that’s key as well.

Annemarie:
Yes, for sure.

Jürgen:
Okay, so in your business then, what do you consider to be the biggest challenges right now?

Annemarie:
I think time.  Time is the biggest challenge.  I’ll tell you why.  I love technology, love marketing, and when I get to put, you know blend both of those, I can really geek out.  But you would know, being in your industry in websites, there are so many different tools and technologies that are launching every day, you really have to keep focused, don’t you.  So, for me, some of the challenge has been, you know, saying no to certain technologies that I’d love to dive into and get my hands on, and to really ensure that the foundations are in place so that when I finally do start to use some of those technologies in my business, I’m communicating a consistent on-brand message because so often we can use a tool, we can jump online, or a video, or whatever it might be, and then we realize, Oh, that’s not really on-brand, and so we can do damage unfortunately and tarnish our reputation, so we need to be very mindful.  So for me it’s just holding back, making sure everything’s in place before I launch into …. and that is online video and things like that.

Jürgen:
That’s really good advice, keeping focused.  And I guess it’s kind of the curse of the entrepreneur, isn’t it, the shiny object syndrome?

Annemarie:
Yes.

Jürgen:
Okay, so what’s the most innovative thing you do in your business?

Annemarie:
Well, you know for me, I think it is really, it is keeping your finger on the pulse and aligned focus.  So in other words, if it’s something that’s going to enhance and add to what I’m already doing, and it is aligned and it’s going to support me in achieving my goals, then I will spend more time into it.  And you know sometimes it’s getting back to the basics.  Just last weekend, my husband and I, we love going camping.  And you know I’ll bring my iPad with me and I’ll do some reading, and because I’m away from my normal day-to-day environment, I find that that’s when my creativity can really click in.  And you know I was able to map out a new marketing strategy that I’m going to be launching in June.  And so yeah, it’s just getting back to basics sometimes, and that is allowing the thought process, your creativity to flow in whatever environment you know will allow you to do that.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that’s great advice.  And I think a lot of people forget about just taking some time out, whether that be camping or for me it’s going out on the bicycle and going for a long bike rides or photography, because I’m a photographer.  But I find exactly the same experience, if you can kind of switch off and focus on those other areas, and then all of a sudden you’ve got ideas and thoughts coming in your mind, and you can start to map something out that’s about the business and away from the day-to-day pressures, and I think a lot of people actually forget to take that time.

Annemarie:
It’s imperative, I think.  And it’s interesting that you say that you are an avid photographer.  Something that I have just recently stumbled into, so yeah, when I’m camping, I’m out there behind the camera trying out some new lenses and techniques and everything, and it’s incredible.  And I now use a lot of those photographs in my business.  I love to capture …. again, it’s all storytelling, isn’t it?  Marketing is storytelling, really connecting with your ideal clients, and so for me I’ll capture an image and then I’ll think of, I’ll either borrow someone else’s inspirational or motivational quotation and I’ll add that, those words to that image and share it and so, yeah, kind of blending what I love to do, photography. I’m only an amateur, though; still learning.  Yeah, within my business and so it’s something that I really enjoy doing.

Jürgen:
Alright.  So, if you could wave a magic wand then and fix one thing in the business today, what would that be?

Annemarie:
I think for me I would love to find someone with similar skills, you know, duplicate yourself, but then in all seriousness, it’s really taking a step back and really defining team for me, that’s really where I’m looking, for expanding my team so that there are certain things that I don’t necessarily need to do myself.  I’ll create processes and systems in place so that team can go and implement that for me, because you know as entrepreneurs, as business owners, as we continue to grow, there’s no way you can handle everything, and I recognize that.  And so sometimes it’s having things in place before you need them.  So, that’s where I am at in my business at the moment is to surround myself with some key team members so that I can then continue to do what I love doing.

Jürgen:
Yeah, and that’s always a big step for every entrepreneur because letting go of things is hard.

Annemarie:
Yes, absolutely.  And I’ve had to make a couple of decisions.  For instance, the Ambitious Entrepreneur Show you mentioned and the Purposeful Leadership Show, I loved both of those shows, yet I recognize there are so many hours in the day.  I have made a decision that moving forward I am just committing to Women in Leadership podcast, and it was really a difficult decision because my Ambitious Entrepreneur Show has been on for many, many years and has been mentioned in many articles, you know alongside some of who I would call the great podcasters, so to say goodbye to that was quite difficult, but I recognize it is so important and imperative to allow myself space to continue to grow my business.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that’s right, and also looking at, you mentioned processes and having those in place, and I guess the … that’s something that I’m really passionate about getting, you know, good processes in place for my business, but I’ve talked to a lot of people about it and how that then frees you up to actually be able to get somebody else to do something to the standard that you would do yourself, and then be free to go and do something else.

Annemarie:
Yes, absolutely.

Jürgen:
And that’s critical to growth, as you said.

Annemarie:
It certainly is.

Jürgen:
Alright.  Well, this has been really great, and I sort of almost could’ve scripted some of this stuff myself.  Um, I think it’s time to move onto the Buzz, which is our innovation round, and it’s designed to help our audience who are primarily leaders in their field and innovators with some tips from your experience.  So there’s a series of five questions that hopefully will get some really insightful answers from you, that’s going to inspire people to go out and take action and be awesome.

Annemarie:
Yes.  Fantastic.  Fire away!

Jürgen:
Okay, so what’s the #1 thing you think anyone needs to do to be more innovative?

Annemarie:
I think get rid of the negative mindset, and that includes your own and other people’s.  So if you’ve got an idea or something’s brewing and yet you’re in a community of naysayers and critics and skeptics, that innovation and creativity is not going to bubble forth, and so you’re not going to really give birth to that idea or that next big thing that’s going to be fantastic, so get rid of a negative mindset and negative voices around you as well.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that’s great.  I love it.  There’s a quote, and I can’t remember who this is attributed to or if it sort of goes back into hearsay and it goes something like: Those of you that say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those of us that are going to go and do it, or something like that.

Annemarie:
Yes.  Absolutely.  Watch us!

Jürgen:
Alright.  So what’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas?

Annemarie:
I think what we spoke about earlier was giving yourself space to be able to think creatively.  Often, if I’m thinking up a new idea, I’ll remove myself from the normal day-to-day area where I do my business and go into another space.

To create a product or an idea, or particularly if it’s going to be for clients and you want to sell it, you really do need to step into the mindset of your client as you are developing.  Say for instance, you know, if you’re a coach or a consultant with a service space, what are the steps, what’s the first step that your ideal client needs to know, map it out.  What’s the second step?  What’s the third step?  Because quite often I think as business owners we assume that this is going to be fantastic for clients, but if you don’t get into the mindset of where your ideal client is, using the words and the phrases that they use and, you know, the steps that you know is going to be supportive, you’re going to launch something and it’s just not going to sell.  So really get into a space that allows you to be creative and step into the mindset of your client as you are developing it so that you know that at the end of the creation, when you launch it, that your ideal client is really going to take note.  And you know this whole process may involve going back to clients or a client group and saying here’s what I’ve developed, what do you think, what can I change, what needs to be different; get them involved in the creation process too, if you can.

Jürgen:
Yeah, that’s great advice.  And I like a lot about that.  My business coach, she says that you should have two rooms in your work area, one of them is the engine room, if you like, and the other one is the creativity room, so if you’re looking to do some planning or developing a new business idea, that you go back into the creativity room, which is the physical space analogy that you talked about.

Annemarie:
Yes.  I love …. Have you heard of the Disney technique?

Jürgen:
Yes, I think that’s what it’s based on.

Annemarie:
Yeah.  Well, you know, it’s the innovative, the visionary, then it’s the realist, you know, so what do we need to know to really get this going and then of course sitting in the mindset of the critic.  And when you go through each of those three processes over and over until the critic goes, “Hmmmm, I think that will work, actually,” then you know you’ve kind of ironed out some of those issues and you don’t end up with a product that’s going to sit in the factory stagnant, you know, not selling.

Jürgen:
Yeah.  Alright, so what’s your favorite tool or system for basically making you more productive and allowing you that space to innovate?

Annemarie:
You know, I love technology, but I will always for innovation go back to pen and paper.  There is something about getting your thoughts through your hand onto paper and mind mapping, and that just really works for me. And I’ll often go to events and I’ll write down in my notebook rather than typing because it’s just something about those notes that I can go back to that stimulates, “Ah, that’s right; that’s what I was thinking about,” so yeah, pen and paper …. good old-fashioned pen and paper certainly helps.  And productivity, that is where I do like to go back and use technology such as online calendars and online to-do lists to really get me focused.  You know, scheduling out things in my online calendar so that I know exactly what I need to be working on, the most important tasks, so that I’m proactive rather than reactive in my business.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice.  So what’s the best way then to keep a project or a client on track?

Annemarie:
I think that a product or program that … one of my colleagues, we joint venture, I do a lot of coaching for her clients … She uses Basecamp.  I don’t know if you’ve use that, uh …

Jürgen:
I haven’t used it personally, but I am familiar with it sort of from a conceptual thing, and a lot of people I know use it.

Annemarie:
Yeah, you can collaborate with people on a project.  You can upload files, documents, all of that from one central area, which is fabulous because if you’re working with a lot of different clients and you’ve got a lot of different documents and files that you need to share, it’s all up there and accessible by everybody who’s involved in the project.

Jürgen:
Yeah, there’s quite a number of these project management tools that are around now, and they are really awesome …

Annemarie:
Yes.

Jürgen:
… in that sense in terms of having everything available for everybody that’s working. And even if you’ve got remote teams.

Annemarie:
Absolutely.  And I think with Basecamp, the investment level is not that high, so obviously there’s certain plans that you can go onto.  Because I know that there are some online productivity tools which are very, very costly, so … Basecamp is certainly one to check out.

Jürgen:
Okay.  Well, that’s good.  We’ll post a link to that underneath the show notes as well as all of the other things that we’ve spoken about.  So what’s the #1 thing you think anyone could do to differentiate themselves?

Annemarie:
Give themselves permission to show up as themselves. What do I mean by that?  You can provide a similar service to someone else yet it’s often not the service but rather the experience that you create doing that service, offering that service.  So there’s things about you, strengths, characteristics, all of those different areas that makes you uniquely who you are.  It could be a trait.  That trait is something that your client, it will resonate with your ideal client.  And I think so many of us tend to try and look at “What are other people doing?” ” I’m going to try and do this,” or “That person is like that; I’m going to try and be like them.”  You know what, that is inauthentic.  Give yourself permission, do some self-exploring, absolutely get really clear on who you are and what does make you unique.  When you start weaving that throughout all of your communications – online, offline, how you show up – that is what is going to distinguish you.  And that’s what people are going to talk about.  It’s the experience that you create, and that’s through being you.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice.  And I … There are a few people on this podcast that actually said be yourself as the answer to that question, but not as eloquently as that.  I guess the … you know, at the end of the day we’re different to everybody else because it’s me, and that’s different to you, and you’re different to everybody else as well.  So, where the challenge for everybody is to then understand how do you bring that into the value that you add to your customer.

Annemarie:
Well, that’s an area that … I can quite confidently say that that’s the expertise that I bring, and often it’s because we don’t recognize those nuances or those strengths, we don’t recognize them.  Or, in some instances, some people that I’ve heard actually try and lessen them, someone might have a sense of humor and, you know, if you go into an environment and then people feel inspired and empowered just through you being you, that is something that’s really quite unique.  So you need to make sure that all of your touch points have humor or something inspirational, you know that kind of thing.  For me, my core value in who I am is to inspire hope and possibility and greatness in others, and so often, if someone is either reading an article or reading a quote, or listening to a podcast, they go away thinking “Oh, I feel really inspired!”  That is, you know, my intention. To inspire after listening or reading an article or just attending a workshop, then I’m off brand and I’ve got to think, “Okay, so what touch point, what experience did I not deliver?”  And it is just having to be mindful and often, yes, it does take someone that’s not you because, you know, it’s just like when you’re so close to something you don’t recognize that incredible uniqueness.  And it may even be a blend of experience that you bring, for instance you mentioned science, so as an instance that you were delivering a talk.  So you might be someone that really loves analytics, I’m just, you know, it may not be the truth, but …

Jürgen:
It is, actually.

Annemarie:
Yeah, you think of websites.  What might make you really different is your ability to be able to not only capture analytics for clients, but be able to share it with and explain it to them in laymen’s terms so that the clients can understand what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be changed, you know.  So, again, it’s looking at what do I do differently, what can I bring, could it be previous experience.  Could it be just how I show up, you know, how I communicate that really is the difference between me and everyone else.  Once you capture that, I call that your inner brilliance, your essence, then that is when you take your message and your marketing and your communication and just who you are to another level, and it doesn’t matter who says … anybody says anything about you, when you stand up for what I call your stand-for, that is the why you are doing what you are doing, all of the people who are your critics, they don’t matter because the people who do matter are the ones that are listening to you, that are being inspired, that are saying “Yes, I want to work with you,” and that’s who you are here to support, and that’s who you really want to continue to be mindful that you are creating content and offering services that really make an impact in their lives and business.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice.  I feel like I’m getting a master class here, so that’s really good.

Annemarie:
You feel inspired?

Jürgen:
Absolutely.  I always feel inspired doing this podcast.  So what’s the future then for you and for your business?

Annemarie:
Well, I kind of hinted to it earlier, was that I really wanted to start doing some face-to-face.  The reason being is that I’m finding that while I love technology and a lot of the online video, you can really impact and inspire and empower people, there’s something about in-person that really can take it to the next level.  So for me, I recognize that so many of us, and this can be men too, but there’s something about that self-confidence that there’s sometimes doubt, you know, self-criticism, so for me I really want to continue to bring trainings and workshops that is really going to support people in what I call breaking that confidence barrier, so that they really can step into their greatness and continue to do the work that they’re here to do,  whatever that may be.  And so they’ll be doing workshops and also online too.  In fact, I’ve got a 30-day challenge which it’s going to come up in June, Breaking the Confidence Barrier, or Break the Confidence Barrier, and yeah, so keep an eye out for that because that will certainly support people in really building their confidence so that they can really take their business to the next level.

Jürgen:
Okay.  Well, that sounds really exciting so, certainly we’ll have a link to your website and if that comes up, in fact if you’ve got a URL for that, we’ll post a link to that as well.

Annemarie:
Alright.

Jürgen:
So, yeah, this has been really fascinating, Annemarie, so before we finish up, what’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in innovation and a leader in their field?

Annemarie:
And this is something that I have done always throughout my business, and have recognized that it’s enabled me to take my business forward in leaps and bounds, and that is hiring a mentor or a coach – someone who can be your accountability partner or but also is going to stretch you and going to support you in taking your business to the next level.  So many of us think “Oh, I can do it myself.” But you know what, again, there are certain mindsets and barriers and self-beliefs that are holding us back, so having a mentor and accountability partner or coach there on your team is certainly something that I think can be the incredible impact that you need.  Definitely, don’t struggle on your own.  Get a mentor; get a coach.

Jürgen:
That is great advice.  I’ve actually got two people that I … that are kind of mentors and coaches, and they’re accountability partners, and they’ll call me out when things are, when I’m not doing something that I should be doing or when I’m off track.  And it really is, it’s priceless.

Annemarie:
It is.

Jürgen:
Alright.  So this has been really fascinating.  So where can people reach out to you and say thank you, Annemarie?

Annemarie:
Um, go to my website.  All of the different social media presences are there too, and the main website is annemariecross.com.  You’ll probably have a link on the website.

Jürgen:
We’ll put that there, yes.

Annemarie:
You know, if you’ve got a question, I’ll be happy to answer that and for people to reach out to me from there.

Jürgen:
Yeah, we’ll put a link to that, as well as the podcast and I’ll find that other podcast that I missed so people can listen to some other interviews because certainly there’s a lot of fascinating stuff there, and there’s some free downloads, a lot of information on your website, which is really great.  So finally, then, who would you like to see me interview on a future Innovabuzz Podcast?

Annemarie:
This is a guy from the U.S., and it’s someone … in fact, he’s the only person at the moment that I continue to just devour information from because he’s right on the cutting edge of a lot of innovative social media tools, and you might, you’ve probably heard of him, Gary Vaynerchuk.  Have you heard of Gary Vaynerchuk?

Jürgen:
Yeah, yeah, of course.

Annemarie:
If you get him on the show, that would be fantastic.  He’s a little bit edgy sometimes.

Jürgen:
Yeah, yeah, I was just going to say that will be a tiger by the tail, I think.  Yeah, that could be fun.

Annemarie:
Oh definitely.  The insights and innovation that just comes out of … you know, his mind is just fascinating.

Jürgen:
It is.  Yes, so he’s got a podcast that, I think it’s AskGaryVee.

Annemarie:
Yes, he does a show.  And also the DailyVee, which is really interesting.

Jürgen:
Okay.  Yeah.

Annemarie:
His YouTube channel, you know he also posts his keynotes as well, you can really learn a lot from tapping into his knowledge and wisdom.  And he’s a really great guy, too.

Jürgen:
Yeah.  Okay, well Gary, keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll come and invite you to the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of Annemarie Cross.  Alright, Annemarie, thank you so much for sharing your time and your insights with us today.  It’s been fascinating.  I’ve learned a lot.  As I say, it feels as though I’ve had a bit of a master class here, and I hope that the audience gains a lot from this interview as well.  So, I wish you all the best for the future.  Maybe we can catch up sometime up in Melbourne; we’re not that far apart, but certainly, let’s keep in touch.

Annemarie:
We will, certainly.  Thank you so much.  It’s been a pleasure and honor.

Jürgen:
Thank you.

Wrap Up:

Well I hope you enjoyed meeting Annemarie as much as I enjoyed speaking with her.  There is a lot of really useful information in the interview, focussed very much on mindset and systems and processes.

All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/annemariecross, that is A-N-N-E-M-A-R-I-E-C-R-O-S-S, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/annemariecross, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode .

Annemarie suggested I interview Gary Vaynerchuck, author of “Jab Jab, Jab, Right Hook” and host of the AskGaryVee show on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. So, Gary, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of Annemarie Cross!

Thank you for listening to the InnovaBuzz podcast.  We’d love you to review this podcast, because reviews help us get found and your feedback helps us improve.  You can review us at iTunes or Stitcher and while you’re there, please subscribe so you’ll never miss a future episode.

Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.

Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!

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Jürgen

Jürgen is the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches to enable you to acquire more leads and more business by reaching your ideal target prospects with your message, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Pages.

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