[00:00:00] Welcome to the School of Moxie podcast brought to you by Sensible Woo. This is the podcast where we break the mold around business podcast conversations. We make it fun around here by using television, movies, and entertainment as a jumping off point for conversations about how we navigate the world as individuals.
I’m your host, Mary Williams, and I’ve been an online creator since 2010. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go over the years, but one thing that has persisted is a struggle among entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their audiences. As a business systems process and operations coach, I’ve seen how much my clients and subscribers have benefited from learning how to incorporate their fun sides.
So we’re going to demonstrate this for you here on this podcast through analogous thinking. Not only that, but we’re using media and entertainment as the lens through which we reflect on our own desires and strengths. Fiction is the vehicle that gives us words to articulate our value systems. And tells people who we are.
I find that a lot of my
[00:01:00] audience and probably yours as well, struggle to find words for their problems until they start thinking about how to use analogies. Analogies help us build bridges between something we can describe into a new area that we’re in the process of developing. As humans, we are a languaged species, which means we find context and meaning in our lives
through the ability to put our feelings into words. This podcast is going to help you normalize this process and see how it’s done in real time as my guests talk through their own experiences in relation to the episodes they’ve been assigned for this show. Our first season of this podcast is centered on the first season of the H B O original series, the Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name, consider this your official spoiler alert.
On this podcast, my guests are going to jump right into the conversation, and we are going to spill all the tea on the story and the plot. So if you enjoy being surprised, I encourage you to watch the episode first before listening to our discussion. Thank you to our generous
[00:02:00] sponsors for the one and only premiere week here at the School of Moxie podcast.
This week has been made possible with support from the AK Collective with Amber Kinney. You’ll hear about the AK Collective in the show credits every week because they’re a major part of how I do my marketing around here. And I’m so grateful for them. And that’s why I’m so grateful to Amber for the additional opening week support.
Scale fast with clear metrics and ads that convert like crazy. And that’s just a very small part of what the AK Collective can do for you. Additional support comes from the Secret to Thriving Online Communities with Tonya Kubo. If your online community needs to grow and delight your members. This is the service and program for you.
We are also supported this week by Everyday Effectiveness with Gwen Bortner. You can’t scale without real business operations running the show, and Gwen is your person to help you do that. Last but not least this week, we are supported by Custom Learning Atelier with Beth Salyers. We demonstrate a lot of divergent thinking
[00:03:00] and alternative methods of learning on this podcast, and that’s what Beth can build for your organization as well.
Links to each of these amazing sponsors is located in the show notes on this episode. I encourage you to give them some love by visiting their websites. Before we get into this week’s episode, have I told you about the weekly readings that I create for entrepreneurs just like you each and every week?
I’m an Akashic Records and Tarot reader, and I’ve been giving clients intuitive guidance coaching for just about 20 years now. That’s a long time. I know that most readers out there don’t focus on your business needs. So that’s where I come in. Readings with me are only about your business development, and it helps you feel more aligned with your intuitive messages so that you can incorporate those gut feelings and inner knowings into your business data for better results.
Click the link in the show notes and subscribe to my weekly email updates, where you can get a free reading sent to your inbox every single week. If you want more, you can subscribe to the weekly extended readings, which are just
[00:04:00] $9 per month and help you get focused on your business energy every week.
No more Sunday scaries. You’ve got this better in hand than you know, and I’ll help you see it. Now let’s get watching and talking. I have been waiting and waiting to get to this episode. It’s a very special bonus discussion that I feel makes this season of the podcast truly complete. Once you get familiar with what has happened around the TV series, the Last of Us, you quickly find a lot of crazy fandom.
I do not think that we can have a proper conversation for our business community without acknowledging the branding, the fan base, and the celebrity buzz that accompanies this show. It’s actually a little distracting sometimes, and I promise you, our listeners, that we are not going to spend an hour discussing Pedro Pascal’s daddy or baby girl status.
When I say distracting, that is what I’m talking about. I have the best person to talk about this with me today. Meet Renee Bowen. A professional photographer and coach for creative entrepreneurs. Her photography career has spanned
[00:05:00] over 20 years with a specialty in branding and portrait photography. She holds a degree in psychology as well as certifications in NLP life coaching, neuro encoding, hypnosis, and Amen Clinics brain training.
Renee calls her style of coaching tried and true with a dash of woo because she integrates proven scientific strategies with a good helping of the metaphysical. Clients often come to her for help with marketing and business coaching, but also walk away with a rewired and regulated nervous system.
Totally my people. Renee, welcome to the show. And thank you for being one of my very first guests who was holding space for better business conversations.
[Renee] I’m so happy to be here and to meet you in person. This is so fun.
[Mary] I know. Well, we kind of sort of brushed in person paths. You came to Ellen Yin’s community out in Oregon.
I saw you there, and then we kind of fell in love over Instagram. And we’ve just been Instagram buddies ever since.
[Renee] Exactly. Yes.
[Mary] Um, you watched this show in real time, as did I, and you were like the one person. who would respond to all of my
[00:06:00] crazy stories that would go up every Sunday. And I was like, this is my friend.
You watch the show. You understand like the fandom and the brand building part, which I mean also goes along with the business you built and everything. So, you know, I really wanted to start there. I really wanted to start with brand building because it’s such a huge niche industry within entrepreneurship to do brand building.
So I think when we look at The Last of Us and all the hot debates between the gamers and the TV show fans, like, what do you think our business community is missing when they also desire that same kind of rabid loyalty and dedication that we’re seeing in those, those people?
[Renee] Yeah, those, um, I think it’s, you know, those brand evangelists that we’re after, right?
And, um, the super fans. I think that what they’re missing is a lot of that deeper work. I feel like I feel like there has to be a really good foundation.
[00:07:00] At least I find in a lot of my, my coaching community and even my community online that people sort of, especially creatives, right, with spicy brains, we are good at something.
And so we just kind of jump in the deep end without a life raft. And then we’re like, Oh, I actually have to figure out how to like sustain this, get clients and all of that. So there isn’t often a really good foundation of like, how connected are you to your deeper sense of purpose and your why. I feel like if we’re not connected to that, we don’t really know it.
We probably know it. We just haven’t highlighted it for ourselves. It’s going to be really hard to build that brand because then you just feel like you’re just kind of throwing stuff up against the wall constantly hoping something sticks. But if you do that deeper sense of work and you get someone to feel, that’s really, I think the key.
[Mary] I love the feeling part because we also read the book Bittersweet by
[00:08:00] Susan Cain, which was just sheer dumb luck on my part that I found it and put it together. But I was feeling all these things when I’m watching the show and posting Instagram stories because I’m trying to process it. And I think that’s what fans do.
They try to process what they feel and articulate it into words because we are a languaged species. That’s what we do. We put things into words. And Susan Cain talks in the book about how the bittersweet qualities of life are the things that really bind us together. And I instantly saw it was the bittersweet qualities of this brand that were bringing people together.
Because, you know, here I was watching the show, I’m completely addicted to it, and I’m subscribed to like every HBO, Instagram thing and fan channels and people are posting pictures and in the comment section, total strangers are bonding with each other and talking about how I’ve never cried this much.
You’re gonna make me cry again this week. I can’t wait to cry again this week. You know, and it was so interesting to watch that all go down and I thought, that’s the thing. That if people are bonding, they have this feeling
[00:09:00] and they’re not getting enough of it in other places, clearly. And this is really doing it for them.
[Renee] Yeah, I feel like that connection of people wanting to feel connected to each other. And, and I, I think the pandemic definitely played a part in that, but I think that we were sort of there anyway. Especially with like the, the constant social media and, and feeling that removal, you know. Um. I mean, it’s a proven fact that you live longer as a human being if you have good quality relationships.
Like they’ve done studies on all this, like diet, nutrition, all this important, but not as important as the, the, you know, foundation of your relationships and your bonds with people. And so we’re humans. I feel like that is something that. is missing from a lot of people’s lives and businesses also because it’s really easy to get stuck behind your brand.
It’s really gets, you know what I mean, especially in the last few years with, you know, not necessarily in the
[00:10:00] last maybe two to three years, because I feel like we have tried to move out of the performative curated space, you know, of like, look at me, more trying to be connected, but even still in that, I feel like people are doing a lot of performative things.
[Renee] With an underlying, you know, um, connotation of that. And it might come across as, you know, wanting to connect, but they’re really just trying to get clients.
[Mary] Yes. Well, we were talking before we hit record, and I was telling you about how like, I never cry at stuff, and I bawled my whole way through this entire season, and it caught me by surprise.
[Mary] And it was so not performative. Yeah. And then I noticed other people having the same reaction, and I think it was this feeling of relief of like, oh, I’m having like an honest reaction, oh, you’re having an honest reaction. We can share this together.
[Mary] I feel like our brands and business are, you know, we get all
[00:11:00] these formulas and programs.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Mary] People tell us what to do.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Mary] We watch what other people do. We try to copy it. And it’s like the thing that you’re honestly feeling is the thing that needs to go out.
[Renee] Yeah. And I think that that is, you know, this conversation about authenticity, like we’ve heard that word thrown around for the last few years, right?
And so now we sort of just kind of gloss it over. But really, I think this is what it is about is real. Just getting real with people. She even talks about it in the book a lot, like you mentioned people connect over the bitter and the sweet.
But that’s also true in a brand and I’m not saying we should lay everything out on the table and speak from the wound, right?
[Mary] Exactly. Don’t speak from bleeding wounds, speak from scars.
[Renee] Yes however people connect with real stories and real people and the heart of this show I mean to me is and
[00:12:00] even the showrunners talked about it in their podcasts and everything like that about love.
[Renee] And how amazing it is and how absolutely detrimental it can be, especially the parent child, which I totally get. I mean, I didn’t have anxiety until I had kids. That’s literally when my anxiety disorder started. I’m not blaming them, but maybe a little. It was absolutely fucking terrifying bringing that kid home from the hospital.
[Renee] Like, all of a sudden, something could really hurt me, and I would also kill someone if they ever touched this kid. And so, I get it, like, I get Joel’s dilemma there, like, at the end with his lie. I understand it, I know it’s wrong, but I am like, yep, mm hmm.
[Mary] What I found so interesting is that the fans of the game have been debating it for like ten years.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Mary] But their debate seems to be more of a debate than the TV show watchers, who overwhelmingly
[00:13:00] seem to be like, yeah, that man made the right decision, like, I don’t agree with everything he’s done. But like, yeah, I do the same thing.
[Renee] Well, it’s interesting because they said that on, I think it was the last episode of their podcast.
Like the wrap up or something like that where they did the, they asked, they said, I think it was they asked the game players and it depended on who they asked what kind of reaction they got.
[Renee] I don’t know if you remember that, but like overwhelmingly when they asked parents that question, it was a hundred percent.
[Renee] But. If it was a mix of everyone, it was about 50-50. But when it was just parents, they were like, yeah, no. So, I mean, I do think that that makes, but I do, I love, one of the main things I love about what they did is how they spoke to the game players, and they spoke to people who had never played the game.
They were able to really cater to both of those audiences, and that is not easy to do.
[Mary] It was really hard to do. It was very intentional. It was so
[00:14:00] thoughtful. There were so many details that they thought about. For anybody who, like, follows along with this, if they didn’t listen to the official podcast, they really, really should, because the context that the showrunners put into everything helps you understand so much more nuance.
And I think just studying production of anything is really useful for business owners. Period.
[Renee] I agree.
[Mary] I think that there was something so interesting in the way that they made very, very specific intentional decisions, knowing they might alienate some people.
[Mary] And I think you have to do that in your business too.
’cause like we evolve all the time. I’ve totally evolved . I’ve had audiences for one thing and audiences for another thing. And there are people who will come with you and there are people who simply are not going to.There are plenty of gamers who are really mad. They didn’t like it, they’re like, because it’s not gameplay, and the showrunners are very specific.
They’re like, this is
[00:15:00] not a gaming experience, what are you going to do, watch someone walk around and explore a room for an hour? Like no, it’s got to be a story. And I think sometimes our business owners forget that, where they’ve created something and it’s so precious to them. Like, Neil Druckmann could totally have been like, this is so precious to me, I can’t change the form of it.
And then there would never have been a series.
[Mary] And I feel like at the time we’re recording this right now, which is July of 2023, there’s a whole lot of change happening in our entrepreneurial community, and I’m seeing the coaching industry go through some really massive changes right now. I think the way that people have built things up to this point is being forced to evolve kind of like this, where it’s like you had something that was really strong.
The times have changed. You’re going to have to change some creative choices. So that people can relate to it in a whole new way.
[Renee] Yeah. People are sick of being sold too.
[Renee] They’re sick of a lot. Like they’re just kind of fed up. Yeah. And,
[00:16:00] um, I think that, you know, Threads, the new, you know, rollout of Threads is a really good example of taking the temperature of where people are right now, you know, but what you just said about, I mean, that’s repelling marketing.
Really at the end of the day and a lot of brands don’t do that. They’re really afraid to create any kind of repelling marketing Because they just have this we all I think do have this deep desire to be liked But at the end of the day you’re not for everybody And part of building a business is not just attracting who you want to attract, but repelling who you don’t want to attract.
It’s really just as important. The showrunners even spoke to that at the end. They said that, you know, at the end of the day, like you said, he said, I don’t really care if people love it or hate it. I just want them to feel something. And that’s really kind of what it this all this conversation is about is
[00:17:00] how are you getting people to feel something because otherwise you are literally just generic.
And there’s a lot of generic out there right now.
[Mary] A lot. I feel like people are afraid of the not, what do they call it, toxic positivity, the not happy, always cheery, you know, sunshiny kind of thing. And I was so inspired by this show and then the book, Bittersweet, because it highlighted how much those not happy memories or the really tough part instead of turning into the but look I’m gonna create an offer out of this horrible thing I went through and it’s like no like yeah, how about if we just relate to people?
[Mary] Instead of trying to monetize everything that came out of your story because whatever you do monetize they will be more connected to you, will be more loyal to you, and you get that rabid fan base that you really do want. Because now you’re a real
[00:18:00] human, you’re learning how to human, and we’re seeing people struggle with this right now on Threads.
It’s only been out for what, not even a week?
[Renee] Not even.
[Mary] And you’re seeing some people who have pretty big brands struggle to be human.
[Renee] Really struggle. And literally asking, is it time? To market?
[Renee] I was like, um. No. The answer would be no. Well, there was a lot of no answers on that thread. It was really interesting.
I was like, wow.
[Mary] We all know what that thread is.
[Renee] Wowzers. Yeah. That was really telling. Yeah. You know? Yeah. But you’re right. A lot of people are struggling. And I think that, so one of the things that I have been speaking to for a long time, because I’ve worked with high school seniors as a photographer since 2007.
So I started. marketing to Millennials. And now, in the last few years, obviously it’s Gen Z. I started talking about marketing to Gen Z in about 2014, way before people were really talking about it because I saw a change in my client base. I’m in California. I kind of see trends happen a lot
[00:19:00] sooner than a lot of the other photographers in the Midwest, let’s say, right?
So one of the things that I’ve been speaking to for a long time is that y’all need to get really clear on what the actual hell you’re about because these teenagers, they are so so savvy and they’re not gonna stand for your bullshit. And so what’s been interesting is in the last two years specifically, and really in the last probably year, nobody is gonna stand for your bullshit.
It has bled into everything because the youth always leads the way. Yeah. Like, so Gen Alpha, which is coming up right behind them, it’s even savvier.And yeah, you’re right. We’re gonna see a lot, a lot of changes and a lot of brands did not start. They didn’t start to think about that in enough time, it feels like
and now they feel like they’re getting slapped in the face, it feels like. Some are really evolving nicely, but usually those are the ones who hire Gen Zers to do their marketing.
[Mary] Yes. Yes. It’s, I, I feel like it’s the desire to hang on to what was and something that I love, the reason why I love looking at fiction to reflect things
[00:20:00] back to us in our real lives is because there’s something that makes it easier to look at something outside yourself.
So you can actually examine it and then it’s not you. Sometimes it stings real hard. It’s really hard to look at yours, but you can look at a story. I think that like this is why storytelling exists. We, you know, go to plays and read books and it exists because we need something outside of ourselves to help us make meaning.
And I feel like these brands didn’t you know, it’s so, it’s so personal. It’s all them, all the time.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Mary] And it’s like It’s not about you.
[Renee] But it’s not about you.
[Mary] Hashtag, it’s not about you. And, and it’s just so fascinating right now to watch this all go down and, you know, teaching analogies in business through these like movie analogies has been a really fun thing that I have done in my business.
And I’ve seen how much the people who, you know, dove into that headfirst have reaped a lot of rewards.
But, but there was another, there’s a huge topic that I really want to get to with you in this episode together, because one of the things that really popped out to me just watching, like standing back and watching what was happening around the world of The Last of Us. And it’s celebrity status.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Renee] And celebrity status also exists in entrepreneurship, whether you want to admit it or not. And I wonder, how much do you think that the online entrepreneur world covets the kind of celebrity growth that we see it’s experienced in actors like our dear friend, we’re just gonna be on a first name basis.
Pedro Pascal. He’s our BFF.
[Mary] And Bella Ramsey. And, and, and, I mean, and anyone else really. This is not the first rodeo for any of them. That dude has been acting his. Oh my gosh. And I, so I, because I knew we were going to do this episode when he said yes so I just started doing like
[00:22:00] research. And you know he, I watch Kingsman Golden Circle, fun ride.
Oh my gosh. He carries a movie. He gets no movie poster. He has no title credits. And they have Channing Tatum everywhere. And that dude, they put him in a coma in like scene one, and you don’t see him again till the end of the movie. And I think our business community frequently sees somebody like that.
And they’re like, they suddenly explode in the zeitgeist. And it happens in entrepreneurship, too. And they’re like, Oh, I want that. I want the audience. I want the money. I want the fame. I want the, I want all the guts and glory. I want all of it. And it’s like, that’s body of work. Even Craig Maizen. Chernobyl is a work of art.
That show is amazing. This is not the first thing he’s written.
[Renee] Of course not.
[Mary] So, you know, I just wonder, like, you know, are we aiming for celebrity status? Or something else is business owners because
[00:23:00] I also look at Con… I’m a conference nut. So South by Southwest, Comic Con, they are filled with celebrity panels now.
[Mary] Even South By Interactive, which is more businessy. More nerdy techie. Yeah. It’s still celebr… it’s still entrepreneurs, celebrity….
[Mary] Where does that leave the rest of us, you know?
[Renee] No, it is a really great topic, honestly, that I love that, that segue into it and that perspective because when I started out as a photographer, that was one of the main things even back in like
the early to mid 2000s had this term, rock star photographers, right? And so, you know, there were a few of them. And yeah, you know, like I think they were also wired with all of social media and just the way that we’ve kind of been brought up, I guess for lack of a better word that that dopamine hit, right?
You know what I mean? Like, We’re a dopamine nation, basically. I have not read
[00:24:00] that book, but it is on my list. Um, it really is a thing, right? And so you’re right. People don’t see the years and years and years of experience, but that goes the same with entrepreneurs and business owners as celebrities and actors and showrunners, whoever, you don’t really see all the years and hours of practice that someone puts in.
You only see their wins. You see when they hit. And so it’s a really good reminder to stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s whatever, middle, you know, or further along in their journey. Because first of all, there’s no way you could do that. There’s no way you could compare that. And I think also a lot of people
because of the way that we are wired with all the instant gratification in our world that we think and and also they’ve done studies on this too because I do a lot of research on Gen Z like
[00:25:00] I mentioned back in the day Millennials leading into Gen Z
[Renee] like and and the rise of YouTube that really started shifting where people were like Oh, I could yeah be famous.
Yeah, right it changed like Before that, it was like, that’s a lofty goal, right? You have to be an actor or a musician or something like that. But then all of a sudden, everybody started having their little bit of 15 minutes. Now, with TikTok, anyone, anyone could be viral, right?
[Mary] The barrier to entry to ground level.
[Renee] It really did. And it shifted so many things. It shifted not just, you know, regular people, but it also shifted the industry because, I mean, I have a different perspective in a lot of ways because I’m married to an actor who’s been acting since he was a child and who also has written 20 plus movies and you know what I mean?
Like he’s just a creative person.
[00:26:00] And so there was a period of time things started shifting where he was doing these shows or doing these projects and he’s like, yeah, they’ve filled it with YouTubers, basically. He’s like, I’m like the only actor. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. He’s like, oh, you know, and then it became a game of like, you know, how many fans do you have?
How many followers do you have? And are you verified? And he’s like, oh my God, I am too old for this. So, it shifted a lot of things, I think, and I do think that that is definitely top of mind for some people, but if you’re coming at it from that perspective. It’s very ego driven, first of all, and kind of what you were talking about before
it’s not about you, right? If you’re building a brand, if we want to bring it back to the business and the brands for a second, who are you talking to? Who is your audience? Because that’s really sort of what you need to be thinking about. Like Simon Sinek. I am a huge Simon Sinek geek. If I ever met that man, oh my God, let me just, let me just preface that.
He always says that. He’s like, you know, people don’t want to be treated how you treat them. They, you know, they want to be treated how they want to be treated. And so, always thinking about that. That’s something that I’m always trying to remember basically and teach. But yeah, the celebrity thing is, is interesting.
The other side of it too is like, okay, well, what if you do get something that goes viral? How are you going to back that up? Because a lot of people do go viral and they’re like, I don’t know what to do now.
[Mary] The system’s growing. I mean, I see that. I see people wish for it. Yeah. And when we get into private coaching space, when they finally like the, the, you know, they’re comfortable and they feel safe.
And I will always prompt them because I can always see it in them. The intuitive in me can read it all over their face. And I’m like, do you want to be famous? And sometimes it has, it’s like, can this disconnect like, oh, I’m allowed to voice this.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Mary] I think I do.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Mary] It’s like, okay. I mean, if you do, there, there is a path to that,
[00:28:00] but we have to work on setting you up for that.
I’m a big believer in it, and you’re an energetics person. The universe doesn’t give you what you can’t handle. So as a business owner, if your systems aren’t set up to accept in and receive everything that comes from that thing that went viral, you lost all of the money anyway.
[Mary] I think there’s a lot of people who are chasing this
it’s sort of millionaire’s dream and I feel like that’s starting to get tempered a little bit. That was sort of that old bro culture that’s starting to die a really ugly death right now. And thank God.
[Mary] But, but it’s like the easy money like, Oh, I set up this thing and I have passive income now and it’s like passive income is so not passive.
You guys. No. So not passive. You have no idea like the blood, sweat and tears that goes into making it in quotes passive. And I think, you know, we can look at the fun part of this whole show property and watch the celebrities do their red carpet thing in their interviews and it’s fun. And it’s like if you,
[00:29:00] I just feel like if somebody notices that they’re like, Oh, well, they have been really attracted to this.
It’s like, pay attention to that. Like it’s giving you data about yourself.
[Mary] You know, and there’s this weird, like, I don’t know, conflict, inner conflict, I think with people. Maybe it’s because my audience is very heavily female. I think as women, we’re told like, don’t, oh, don’t be too big. Don’t want that thing too much.
And, and when you desire it, it’s like, if you desire it, we need to set up your business so that you can have the capacity for that because it is doable. And then there’s also other skills involved, too, and then the magical element of some luck.
[Renee] Absolutely. Yeah. And what is the deeper, like you said, the deeper meaning there for you?
Like, does it align with your purpose? Is it aligned with why you’re here? Is this the mark you want to leave on the world? Or is it just because you want the money? You know, that’s the other thing, too, is that…
[00:30:00] Hey, I love making money. Don’t get me wrong. I love making money. But if that’s only the goal, like really, like it’s more to me about who I’m becoming on the way there because once you reach this goal, then what?
[Renee] Right. So for me, it’s, you know, I definitely, as an introvert, never loved the idea of being the face of my business and having to be out there. And, you know, a lot of my coaching students struggle a lot with showing up on video in particular. A lot. Yeah. Because I also work with a lot of female neurodivergent creative women.
And most of them are like, I don’t know how you do it. At the end of the day, it helps me evolve. It’s a weird kind of way of looking at it.
[Mary] I totally, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I get the same thing. I have had people ask me, how’d you get so comfortable doing all this? And I’m like, well, some of it
[00:31:00] is honest to God, just logging hours.
And some of it’s been great. And some of it’s been really shitty. And I’ve been burned out. And I’m like currently coming out of like a serious phase of burnout, but there is this wonderful feeling that I assume and kind of wonder that actors of the success level of like Pedro and Bella maybe feel which is the sense of personal empowerment like I feel really comfortable in my skin. And I think the reason why people love this guy so much is because he gives great interview. He’s had years of practicing doing it.
Like if you watch some of his baby interviews, like he’s still good. He’s got like a natural something in there.
[Renee] Yeah, he’s an Aries.
[Mary] Yeah. Oh God. Tell me about it.
[Renee] I’m married to an Aries. Oh, are you ? This is why we’re friends. We’re both fire signs and so there’s like the little natural something. Maybe that’s it.
We’re fire signs, so we’re just like maybe a little less.
[Renee] Well, I’m Virgo, but I have an Aries moon.
[Mary] Oh, so your moon affects you, right?
[Renee] I’m married to an Aries.
[Mary] Oh. So I get
[00:32:00] the Aries. Aries definitely have it. Yeah. I have a Leo moon. I’m like, all fire. It’s crazy.
[Renee] I know. I can’t believe when you told me that, I was like, wow.
[Mary] I have a Leo stellium.
[Renee] I have a Virgo stellium.
[Mary] Oh, really? My second Virgo stellium that I know. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, maybe there’s a little something there. I was always told as a child, like, you know, stop trying to be so, you know, and I grew up in the Midwest where like, the whole Hollywood thing was just like, no, we’re academics, you know, like this is how.
[Mary] And I was just like, give me the stage, you know. And as an entrepreneur, I have found, you know, a place for me. But I get that question too from a lot of my, my audience, my clients.
[Renee] Yeah. I got it one this morning from in my coaching group. She’s like, how did you get to be this confident? And I was like, okay, well, first of all, I’m 52.
Let me just start there.
[Mary] You need some years.
[Renee] I was not always like this, and definitely not. And
[00:33:00] it is, it goes back to like those years of messing up, years of experimenting with things too. Like, you’ve got to create contrast, right? Like, you got to find out what you like, what you don’t like, and what hits, what doesn’t hit, what feels good, what’s aligned with you.
And that’s always what I’m going to come back to with, with people too. What feels good to you, like, because what feels good to you may be very different than what feels good to me. And I’m never going to tell somebody you have to show up three to five times a day in video and do this. No, absolutely not, because that’s going to come across very inauthentic.
[Mary] Yeah, I think the overly formulaic branding, the interesting thing with actors and you see it with this show. I think a lot of people forget when they haven’t had a lot of exposure to people in the industry as you and I have done, is that you are a brand, you, you are a business, you are a walking business on two legs.
And I think if our
[00:34:00] entrepreneurs thought of themselves a little more like actors, I think some of this branding stuff would make, it would click into place. It gets uncomfortable real quick because you’re like, well, that’s real personal.
[Mary] That’s personal. But, but you are, you, you are.
[Renee] Well, they get PR training too.
Yes. And that’s a big part of it.
[Mary] Mm hmm.
[Renee] They didn’t also just pop out of the womb knowing how to talk. And honestly, not all of them are super charismatic.
[Renee] A lot of them are actually painfully shy. Okay. And. They’ve had to work on that because part of being in films, and I know this from my husband, you have to be able to promote it.
[Mary] Press is half of an actor’s job.
[Renee] Yeah, exactly. But a lot of business owners don’t realize that that is part of it.
[Mary] For actors, if you really know what they do, press is half of the job. And for entrepreneurs, I would argue that messaging is half of your job.
[Mary] I always tell people, don’t go into online business if you don’t want to write copy.
I was like, you are going to write so much goddamn fucking copy. And if you don’t like writing, because I know people and they’re like, well, how can I get around it? Well, maybe I can do this. And they’re like, maybe I’ll have somebody write it. And I’m like, okay, so what are they going to write? What’s your voice?
How do you sound? And they don’t have answers. And because you’ve got to know who you are.
[Renee] A consistent core, at least, message that you can repeat it over and over and over again in many different ways. That’s the other thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that it, we overthink stuff a lot, right?
Most of my audience does. And usually it’s because they are really oversaturated by watching what everybody else is doing, right? Um, first of all, stop marketing to your peers because they’re not buying your stuff most of the time. That also happens a lot, but they’re oversaturated, so it’s really easy to get stuck in that.
Just bring it back down to, okay, what is my core messaging? What am I about? Do you have that lined up? Okay.
[00:36:00] Well, how can I express that in cute, funny, interesting, educational ways?
[Mary] This is why I love, I love that you said that because it’s making me think immediately. I’m like, this is why I love looking at material that isn’t inside of business because it shows you the example so clearly because otherwise you get all twisted around and you start overthinking it.
We’re talking about celebrity and fandom. If anybody here wants to be a nut, go on YouTube and watch the interviews that Pedro Pascal does for The Last of Us Season 1. And he tells the same stories again and again. He’s got that famous story, well, famous to me, but where he talks about how he was offered the job and he talked to his sister on the phone.
She’s driving her kids to school, his two nephews. And they’re gamers and he’s like, yeah, and like all of us over a certain age is he’s like, so it’s called the la– and they’re like, you better fucking do that show, you know, and, and he tells the story and it’s
[00:37:00] it’s a little different depending on who interviews him, who’s in front of him, what group he’s with.
Sometimes it’s like way over the top, and sometimes it’s not. And when you watch him long enough, like when he was on Graham Norton, he was so nervous when he went on that show. He looked like that. He was like, he was peeing his pants sitting next to Helen Mirren, and it was hilarious. And because people are like, oh, how does somebody get that charismatic and whatever?
And I’m like, that man is nervous. He’s a human. And it just kind of shows you the humanity in some of this. And I just think cases like him are just such fascinating case studies. It’s a really great business case study for brands.
[Renee] I agree. Yeah. That’s a really good point. He also is just so, like you said before, really comfortable in his skin.
And at the end of the day, I think he knows he can sort of just rely on a little bit of his charm.
[Renee] You know, I think especially now, maybe not. in the past, but now I think he, he, he has a little bit of that awareness of like, okay, I kind of just need to show up and be me. And
[00:38:00] that’s kind of all, you know, but you’re right about telling the same story.
And that’s something that I tell people all the time is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time, right? You just have a core message, a brand voice. and say it in a lot of different ways, depending on who you’re talking to. I mean, know your audience, obviously, but make people feel something with it.
That’s, that’s really what it comes down to. It’s not hard for him to make people feel something. Let’s just be honest.
[Mary] I think some people search for that magic ingredient before they search for the work.
I think that’s what it comes down to, and it’s like everybody has their own little magic juju.
[Renee] Mm hmm.
[Mary] And it sparkles differently per person, but you can’t try to sparkle like someone else.
[Renee] Yeah, and most people do.
[Renee] Most people, you know, they try and figure things out on their own. I see this a lot where they’re like, okay, well, I want to do this.
I’m jumping into the deep end. I don’t really have a good foundation, but I also can’t afford to, you know, hire someone to help me. So, I’m just going to like… You know, a lot of us are really good at
[00:39:00] teaching ourselves things. I’m one of those people. But then you get really confused because there’s a lot of stuff out there.
And then it starts to get really muddled together. And that’s when you start trying to not straight up copy, but really, you know, use this inspiration and then feel like it’s going to work for you. But your business is unique. It should be because you are, and it’s not going to hit the same way. It might work for a little bit of time, but it’s not long lasting.
[Mary] I think to that point, one of the best ways to get out of that rut, that loop, is you just got to start producing stuff. You just have to put stuff out. You got to be willing to let a whole bunch of shitty first drafts go out the door. One of the best lessons I ever learned, I was at South by Southwest when I still lived in Austin and the Funny or Die team, creative team, was there and um, they had the perfect title.
They’re like, how to make yourself go viral. So of course everybody was there. Their advice was
[00:40:00] so basic, and it was so good, and they were like, we don’t actually know. Do you know how we solve this problem? We just put out a fuck ton of content every day. And they’re like, You put it out, you get creative, you make it happen.
Publish, publish, publish. And they’re like, the rate at which information recycles and rolls over on a daily basis is so huge. And this was 10 years ago. So like, I mean it’s even more now, faster. And the librarian in me knows this too ’cause people get so overwhelmed with information and I’m like, just put it out there because whatever will go viral will take off and whatever really truly sucks is gonna sink so hard, so fast, it’s gonna get buried so quickly.
Nobody’s gonna know. And I think people are so worried about like, well, am I gonna look? And what, you know, and it’s like you’ve gotta stop comparing yourself in one sense to like all these celebrities who have teams of people, they are a business. They’ve got stylists and they’ve got wardrobe people and they’ve got, you know, whoever.
And you don’t have that.
[Renee] No, that is so true. I hear that so often from the women in my community. I ask them like, why? Why? Again, it is a numbers game and a lot of this, you know? And to that point we can also speak to being an actor. I mean, it’s a numbers game. I think Harrison Ford said it years ago. My husband has talked about this often because he’s been in this business a long time.
It’s like, if you just stick around long enough, there’s not going to be a lot of people left.
[Mary] Longevity says something
[Renee] You know, you got to kind of stick with it and be willing to stick with it and be willing to see what works, put stuff out that isn’t perfect, but go of that perfectionism. That’s really
like rampant in in my community at least and you know, we have we hold ourselves to like this insane It’s usually from unconscious programming as kids. Yeah, right but we can get through that. And you’re right. One of the ways to do
[00:42:00] that is to just take small, actionable steps. Just take the step. It doesn’t have to be the best piece of content you’ve ever put out.
No. No. It’s just content.
[Mary] It’s just content.
[Renee] It’s literally just a video.
[Mary] This is the first of a two part episode featuring Renee Bowen. Our discussion was so good, I knew that I needed to include it in the opening week for season one. Renee dropped a lot of amazing truth bombs during this conversation, and what I encourage you to do is think about how you relate to the entertainment that you consume, especially as you watch The Last of Us.
Along with my guests and me. How does your perception of a well oiled media machine influence your choices as a business owner, for better or for worse? I’m going to encourage you to let that thought marinate in your brain for the rest of the season, and we’ll pick back up with Renee at the end for the conclusion about our discussion around celebrity and notoriety.
This television series has so much to offer us in
[00:43:00] discussion, based on the fictional story alone, but the business side of it is just as impactful. I’ll see you in the next episode for our podcast season, where we’ll pick back up our discussion about the show itself. And we’ll come back to Renee for her conclusion in a few weeks.
This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host Mary Williams and special guest Renee Bowen. The show is written and produced by Mary Williams. This episode was recorded in Los Angeles, California at Melrose Podcasts with Joel Liss as our sound engineer. Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and sound designer in Vancouver, Washington.
Additional production and marketing support is provided by the AK Collective, founded by Amber Kinney. I’m Mary Williams, your host, and the founder of Sensible Woo. You can watch the HBO original series The Last of Us on Max.com. As a librarian, I will always encourage you to check out the companion book Bittersweet by Susan Cain at your local library.
You can find this show wherever you listen to podcasts and all of the links to resources, guest information, and anything else we might reference
[00:44:00] in an episode are in the show notes. We appreciate your support by subscribing and submitting a five star review. It helps other listeners find and share this content alongside you, our wonderful listeners.
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