School of Moxie Podcast – Season 1, Episode 5 Transcript

[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’t describe into a new area that we are 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 premier 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 thankful 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 dollars 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. somebody doing something. And they’re like, I got to have exactly that. A quick message for Sarah’s episode. Sarah is a real live working actor. She’s also a member of SAG/AFTRA, which is currently on strike and has some pretty strict rules about what union members can and cannot do while the union is on strike.
Sarah recorded her episode with me on July 10th, 2023, which is before the union went on strike. Her participation in this podcast has absolutely no conflict with the union rules. And if you want to learn a little more about all that, you can listen to the very first episode this season, where I explain it and what happened during the course of production for the season of the podcast.
Episode 2 surprised me in so many ways, and I cannot wait to dig into this with you today. This
[00:05:00] episode is titled Infected, and it features twists and turns, masterful ways of setting up important information as you follow the story, and introduces the most twisted, creepy, and yet hauntingly gorgeous death scene that I have watched in a very, very long time, maybe ever.
I will always be team Tess, long live Tess. She died way too soon, but her spirit definitely lives on, and we are going to talk about that and more today with my next guest. Meet Sarah Allyn Bauer, who has been following her dreams of being an actor since she moved to Los Angeles at the end of 2009. She started as an intern at a non profit theater, The Blank Theatre, where she met and bonded with yours truly, and quickly rose through the ranks of box office manager, office manager, literary producer, and then finally as lead producer.
In the beginning of 2016, she took a new job working in events and marketing for the Dolby Theater, home of the Oscars. At the end of 2019, she started toying with the idea of finally running her own business so she could have more flexibility as an actor. Then the pandemic hit and about halfway through the year,
[00:06:00] she realized it was a now or never kind of moment.
She quit her job and focused her days on running her own social media management and marketing business. Focusing on small businesses, nonprofits, and solopreneurs, the people who need the most help in navigating the complicated world of social media. On the acting side, Sarah has appeared on hit television shows, including American Horror Story,
y’all should watch it, short films and in multiple plays in Los Angeles. Sarah graduated from the University of California Riverside with a BA in theater and a minor in business. Sarah, my dear friend, welcome to the show and thank you for being one of my very first guests who’s holding space for better business conversations.
[Sarah] Oh, thank you. I’m so excited. Uh, that, that bio just sounds like so like,
[Mary] Fancy. Yeah. Cause you’re fancy.
[Sarah] Yeah, yeah, you know, you know. Um, but I try not to be too fancy. I have way fancier friends like you.
[Mary] Ah, but you know, I’m not fancy. I don’t live in LA anymore.
[Sarah] But you’re like, flying all over the world just to do this podcast.
So I consider that very fancy.
[Mary] Which is very
[00:07:00] exciting. Um, but you know, I really want to dig into this conversation because you were one of the first people I thought of when I was like, okay, this podcast is going to go. We’re going to do this. And I was like, I have to get Sarah on the mic because you have an interesting experience being an actor, having worked on sets.
Being around studios, just as I have. So you have that perspective, but you also have the perspective of being a business owner. And we’re talking about analogous thinking here. So, I want to kind of take us into our first sort of conversation that you and I were talking about. Which is, unfortunately, as much as we all love to be originals, nothing’s really truly original in this world.
But, we can make creative and strategic choices that make our performance different and new to people who haven’t seen it before. So the question really is, like, how do we make things our own to bring surprise and delight to our clients? And in the example that I was thinking of in this point was what you and I were listening to on the official podcast.
So Troy Baker already voiced the character of Joel and Ashley Johnson’s already voiced the

[00:08:00] character of Ellie before Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey took on those TV roles. So that even just goes to show that even in business, we don’t really do things that haven’t been done before, but we can do them differently.
And they do do them very differently.
[Sarah] Yeah, and it was interesting because like they were even talking about how in the game they would get to a point, but when they were writing the scripts, it was like well, we can’t really do it that way so we’re going to do it this way, but we still get to the same end point, like at the very end, you know, spoiler alert, uh, when they’re heading to the Capitol building, they talk about how in the game, it’s Fedra that’s chasing them, whereas in the TV show, it’s the clickers.
And for a TV audience, that’s way more interesting than just Fedra because they even talk about how it didn’t really make sense at that point in the story for Fedra
[00:09:00] to be there all of a sudden.
[Mary] So, you’re a social media person. This is very analogous to things that happen in social media, where one person has done it one way very successfully and people loved it.
[Sarah] Are we talking about Twitter? I mean, threads.
[Mary] Okay, so when we’re recording this, threads just launched and we’re all very tired. But it’s a really great example, actually, of like, Twitter existed for years and people loved it. But now there’s a new version. And we’re going to play with it a little differently, but honestly like the set is kind of the same.
[Sarah] I mean, yeah, and like, you know, I joined it like under my business account, Break the Glass, and we have a nice plug and, uh, you know, it, it is, it’s, I looked at it and I’m like, this is literally Twitter 2. 0, but now owned by Meta. And now it’s appears as though the big three social media platforms are all owned by Meta.
And that’s a little scary,
[00:10:00] but that’s, I guess, not really for this podcast. Um, but it’s, it’s that same idea of, okay. Uh, you know, and, and Instagram had already kind of done it where they were, they were looking at TikTok and they were looking at Snapchat and then they, and then they made reels and stories.
And so it’s, you know, they say that, um, imitation is, is the best form of flattery. Did I get that right?
[Mary] Yeah, you did.
[Sarah] So, you know, and then other people look at it and go, no, it’s just a copycat, but, uh, I think, I, I go on the lines of imitation is the best form of flattery because, you know, it works and also, why try and reinvent the wheel?
[Mary] Well, also, there’s different flavors for everybody. Yeah. Ice cream is ice cream. I mean, yeah. But you can get a lot of flavors in ice cream.
[Sarah] Yeah, like double, double chocolate chip and, you know, strawberry mousse and, ooh, my favorite is like a peanut butter and chocolate with, cookie dough and Reese’s peanut butter flavor.
Oh yeah. My
[00:11:00] desserts. Got to have that itch.
[Mary] Shout out to the Midwest and blue moon ice cream. I miss it. You can’t get in anywhere west of the Mississippi.
[Sarah] Really?
[Mary] No, you have to ship it. And it’s like super expensive and well, yeah, probably not worth it. Um, but you know, one of the things we also did, I gave you guys a ton of homework.
Y’all are champs.
[Sarah] Oh my God. You, you did. I did.
[Mary] And you read a book called Bittersweet by Susan Cain because I felt like she gave us language that helped us figure out why do people bond so hard over this brand, this property, this game, and now this TV show called The Last of Us. And Susan Cain talks about how the bittersweet qualities in life are really the things that bind us together.
And there’s this really memorable story during the book where she attends a therapy group and she questions how she falls into the trap of like comparing her three level problem to someone’s like eight level problem.
[Sarah] That was so beautiful.
[Mary] And so there’s like this comparison thing too, and you hear it in the podcast when Troy Baker talks about Pedro Pascal’s performance, and he’s like, damn it, it made me
[00:12:00] so mad.
He did this flinch, and I never would have thought of doing it, and, and, and yet you have these super duper Troy Baker fans, and you’ve got the super duper fan base for Pedro Pascal. And everybody’s got what they need, there’s plenty to go around, so, you know, what do you think? Like, business owners are, what would be the pep talk?
You’re sitting in the mic.
[Sarah] Oh God. You know, this, I think this is like the hardest part for me. Um, because I’ve a, I’m such like a new business owner and you know, my business. is, is, was also born in the pandemic and, and it’s never something that I imagined.
[Mary] Okay. Now I got a question for you though. Okay.
Okay. Since you still feel like you’re a new business. Yeah. I I totally get that.
[Sarah] Like, I mean, I’m only three years old. Like. Yeah.
[Mary] So you’re, so you, I mean, you are new. You are new. So, since you have that and you
[00:13:00] feel that way, you are kind of like Pedro Pascal coming into a performance. It’s already been done.
And there are a lot of Troy Bakers ahead of you.
[Sarah] A lot of them. Oh, for sure.
[Mary] And even as an actor, I mean, how many times do roles get replayed again and again and again? So you have that perspective and now as a business owner, like what kind of skill or mindset do you carry forward that helps you navigate that?
[Sarah] So I can’t remember, you know, where I read this or heard this or whatever, but, you know, It’s something that is repeated over and over when you are starting a business, so I don’t know who, you know, who coined it, but basically, you have to find your niche.
[Mary] Yeah.
[Sarah] And… When I first started, I didn’t really know what my niche was.
Um, you know, I kind of figured, Oh, I’ll work with, like, actors, because I know actors. Or, uh, you know, small businesses, because, you know, I don’t want to work corporate. That was one thing that by the end of my,
[00:14:00] my career at Dolby, I was done with corporate and how they handled social media. So I, I knew I wanted at least to go…
non corporate and so the first like 18 months really it was just like well, who can I get as a client and one of my very first clients was my high school’s foundation and that was because it was the pandemic, their annual fundraiser in the spring had been canceled and they needed to raise money because they typically raised, you know, at least 10 grand for scholarships, um, for their students and mind you, that’s like in addition to like the other like 150,000 that is grace throughout the year.
Um, and but like this one, it is so important. And she came to me, my high school counselor, who’s now on the board. And
[00:15:00] she was just like, Can you help us? And I was like, Sure. So then, you know, we set up an online auction, and it was great. And then and it kind of grew out of that, and so then it was like, okay, you know, getting back to my non profit roots.
I’m such, yeah, I’m such a non profit girl. Like from the time I was like six, I was, you know, helping at Kiwanis with my mom and helping at Lions Club with my dad and, uh, being a Girl Scout and being a Rainbow Girl. And so it was just part of my DNA. And so I really love that. And then, as I started, you know, talking with some of the businesses in town, I, you know, they’re all mom and pop businesses.
I come from a very small town of, you know, less than 2,000 people. Our only, um, our only commercialism is a Chevron station and a Shell station. You know, like, it, it, we had a Subway. We ran them out of town because we didn’t like non mom and pop,
[00:16:00] basically. So. It just, it felt right. And so finally, probably right around the 18 month mark, I realized
that’s my niche and I’m not going to be charging exorbitant prices. I’m not, you know, I’m going to charge what I’m worth, but I’m also willing to make a deal to help my clients.
[Mary] It’s kind of like finding yourself in like the theater circuit. As opposed to, you know, the, the film, TV audition circuit in a way.
[Sarah] Well, no, it’s more like, it’s more like, you know, I’d much rather do small theater than touring.
[Mary] Yes.
[Sarah] You know, like, I don’t want to be on the road, you know, eight months of the year. I would rather be in LA, you know, making a parking stipend and doing, you know, going on auditions for TV and film than being on
[00:17:00] the road, being away from my cat, my family, you know, my friends.
I mean, I, and I’ve had friends who tour and, and you make, you know, your touring company becomes your family and friends, and it’s really important. But there is something about coming home that I’ve always loved. I always have that, I love to travel, but I have that yearning to always come back.
[Mary] But you have that awareness.
And I think that’s important to point out is the awareness because I think some entrepreneurs, at least the ones that I work with frequently in my audience, struggle to have that awareness where they’ll see
[Sarah] Yeah.
[Mary] I’ve got to have exactly that performance.
I’m an actor, I’ve got to have exactly that performance or bust. Yeah. And, and, you know, this just points out how much there’s a lot more nuance in there than we, than we might give it credit from the outside. I love being able to talk about film related things with you. Um, because on this on this particular episode, there’s a very meme-able moment in here where they’re going through the museum
[00:18:00] and, you know, there’s this gif, jif, however you want to say it, and Gif.
[Sarah] Hard gif. It’s a gif.
[Mary] I know, right? I feel like I have to acknowledge the jif people.
[Sarah] Nope. Nope. Nope. Sorry. I’m a hard gif. Hard gif. Hard line.
[Mary] Awesome. Okay. Um, and, and, you know, Pedro Pascal, like, raises his fingers to his lips, like, shh. And that actually comes from a pickup shoot.
[Sarah] Right.
[Mary] It was not originally shot.
They had to go back and refilm because later down the road, one of their producers, who wasn’t like a fan of the game or anything, she was like, you know, I kind of don’t understand this point about like, how do people get infected? And they were like, well, we kind of explained it through this little bit of dialogue that just really, it was random, like, totally flies over your head if you don’t know.
And they were like, oh, we have to like give some more context. And so I think this episode is great because it really shows how you have to continually go back and massage and give more context to your audience once you learn more of these questions from them.
[Sarah] Well, and like going into the business side of things, you know, you as a business
[00:19:00] owner, whatever your business is, you have a jargon.
And so you just kind of know that and then you start talking like I’ll start talking with a potential client and I’ll talk about, you know, brand awareness and engagement and the likes and the follows and I’ll get these like blank looks or there’ll be silence on the phone and they’ll be like, wait a minute, what are you talking about?
And like to me, it’s second nature to, like, Troy and the Last of Us team. It’s second nature what a clicker is. Whereas somebody from the outside comes in and goes, I need a little more explanation. And, you know, and I don’t want to use, I don’t like the term dumbing it down.
[Mary] Oh, no, no, no.
[Sarah] No, no, no. But it’s, it’s, I guess, leveling the playing field.
[Mary] Yeah. Yeah. It’s a little bit of a course correction. Everybody needs course corrections at some point. Because there are just things we start carrying around with us that we know, um, or we widen our audience as they have done with this property and there’s just people who don’t know the
[00:20:00] lore. So, um, you know, I, I thought it was interesting because you had told me before we recorded that you wanted to discuss something that happened in your marketing world that I thought was great.
And it was about how the same meme is used over and over again, and when do our audiences grow tired of it?
[Sarah] Oh my god, yeah.
[Mary] Um, do you want to tell us about the recent discussion you had in your marketing Facebook group and what happened?
[Sarah] Uh, yeah. I can’t even remember which meme it was, but I swear this conversation comes up like whenever ever.
A meme gets out there, and then it’s used over and over and over again. Like, the, the triple pointing Spider Man. Or, you know, even the Pedro Pascal shhh. Or, I think one of the big ones is the Bill Hader dancing has come back. And… Somebody posted in my marketing group recently going, I’m so tired of seeing this meme, or is that just me as a marketer, you know, utilizing it and seeing it everywhere.
And then, and other people chimed in and was like, No, I don’t, I’ve actually only seen it once or twice
[00:21:00] recently, or, you know, I love it, or as a consumer for this brand, I loved it, but as a consumer for that brand, I didn’t like it. So it’s also. Finding these moments of where not everything is going to work for every brand and discovering that not everything is for everyone because we’re human, you know?
We don’t all have the same likes and dislikes. We, you know, some people will laugh at the Spider Man triple meme over and over and over again. Me, I love it. I think that one is absolutely hilarious.
[Mary] It’s pretty classic.
[Sarah] It’s, it’s a classic. Exactly. And, whereas like the Bill Hader one, I’m like, meh, you know.
[Mary] It’s gonna go.
[Sarah] Yeah. So, it’s, it’s that, like, just, ah.
[Mary] What do you think about people trying to smush themselves into some kind of current thread running through the zeitgeist, like a meme, and it just does not fit? It doesn’t fit. And I, and I hate that when you just, when
[00:22:00] you’re like, oh. This meme is, is going viral, so I need to use it.
It’s like, no, I have yet to use the triple Spider Man meme in anything that I’ve done.
[Mary] Same.
[Sarah] Because, like, while I find it hilarious, it, it still has to feel true.
[Mary] Yeah.
[Sarah] And I think, you know, even going back to like, The Last of Us, it’s like, you know, allowing, they talk about how Pedro, you know, did certain movements or reactions and it was just him and trusting him with the material and
[Mary] I think it was, was it this episode where, um, the flinch, the flinch, but was it Craig Mason who said that you, you cast three times,
[Sarah] four times,
[Mary] four times
[Sarah] when you write it, cast it, shoot it and edit it.
[Mary] Yes. And I think that our business community can learn a lot from production. Oh, for sure. Because of that concept.
[00:23:00] Because so many people birth offers and they’re like, Why did it change? What’s happening here? And it’s like, because you are massaging it. Yeah, three, four times. And you are going to inherently bring your own flavor into that.
So in a way, like there’s no way that anybody can really do something the same way. Nothing is truly original. But also it is original because nobody’s ever going to do that performance the same as way it’s like Pride and Prejudice. How many favorite favorite favorite version?
[Sarah] Oh my God.
[Mary] Why?
They’re done differently. You feel them differently from different actors, different eras.
[Sarah] Yeah, and it’s why we have revivals of plays and musicals, and why we have touring companies. And because we feel connected to it. And I mean, I’ve seen Wicked probably four or five times in different iterations, same with Avenue Q, and Come From Away.
And yet, each one, even though they were all very different
[00:24:00] actors, I still felt moved by it. And, you know, they kind of talk about that in this, is they told, uh, Pedro and Bella and all of them, don’t play the video game. We want your take on these characters. We know the story, and we’ve written it. But we are trusting in you to create your version.
So Pedro’s version of Joel and Bella’s version of Ellie.
[Mary] So they would be unique. Okay. If you’re, if you’re a business owner today and there’s so much that has come before you as previous examples, previous performances, do you think that our entrepreneurial community speaking of this whole like overused name thing needs a little bit of that directorial note?
Don’t watch, like, don’t play the game, don’t overwatch your previous material.
[Sarah] I think so, you know, because we, then we get trapped into this whole idea of comparing ourselves and going back to what Susan
[00:25:00] Cain said about comparing our eights, you know, feeling of, of an eight story to, to a feeling of somebody else’s three, right?
And just going, you know, am I doing it? Like, why am I not making six figures or why am I not, you know, being able to travel around the world for a podcast, Miss Mary? Um, but you know, it’s, I am serving my customers and I am serving my niche and I am finding that I am here for them and they will find me and because I, I believe enough in myself that I will find the right customer and the customer will find me and I finally actually had that moment of my very first customer who
[00:26:00] I didn’t know because of a friend and or a family, you know, like it was when I, like, got to sign them, it was like, oh my god, I finally have a client who knows nothing about me except me as a digital marketer and social media person.
Yeah. And that was very exciting.
[Mary] It’s really thrilling.
[Sarah] And that was, I think, the first moment where I was like, Oh, I can do this, you know, and it took almost three years, but, you know, I’ve, I’ve tried to do the fast and, and, you know, to get shit done, and it doesn’t work. You have, especially in businesses, you have to take it slow.
You have to go, okay, I know I’m not going to make you know, six figures by end of year two, hell, I barely made five figures by the end of year two, you know, but it was thrilling because it was finally doing
[00:27:00] something that I loved, I could control, and I could choose to say yes or no to somebody. And that probably will be a different episode for you, but like letting go of a client is you know it.
[Mary] Oh, yes
[Sarah] You know, it’s so much.
[Mary] Well, we’re gonna talk about Tessa’s death in a minute. Ok, I want to take a slight left turn here because you’re making me think about something right now and you’re the perfect person to ask. In fact, you’re the only person to ask who is in this guest lineup because you’re the only actor in the group
[Sarah] Oh, no. Oh, no.
[Mary] Actors go through a shit ton of rejection.
[Sarah] Oh my god.
[Mary] You go on auditions. Or you don’t even get the auditions.
[Sarah] Oh my god.
[Mary] I mean, it’s brutal.
[Sarah] Yeah.
[Mary] It’s brutal. And it’s, oh god.
[Sarah] Yeah.
[Mary] And business owners don’t realize how similar, actually, they are to actors and their experience because you get rejected.
So fucking ton much in business,
[00:28:00] people don’t buy your offer, you build big lists, 2% is considered a great conversion rate. Are you kidding me? But actually it’s kind of the same conversion rate for acting gigs.
[Sarah] Oh my God, they, you know, they say for a co star role, which for those of you who don’t know this terminology, there’s an extra, which are all your background people who don’t have any words, and they’re, they’re actually have a different casting agency, and they’re just paid by the day.
Then you have what’s, and this is TV, then you have co star, which are, you know, the one or two, uh, little lines here or there, it’s like your waitresses, or maybe like a husband who is in just one scene with the main character, um, and they might have, you know, more than a couple of lines, but it’s just like
you know, for two minutes, and they are still considered a co star, and then you have your guest star, which are usually what the story revolves around, and they are usually there for multiple
[00:29:00] days or for the whole shoot, and then you have your series regulars. So like, a co star role, they say, would probably get an, and I know there’s going to be people out there who either A, don’t believe me, or B, are going to say, oh no, it’s less than that or more than that.
It really just all depends.
[Mary] It’s a spectrum. There’s a range.
[Sarah] There’s a range. But let’s just say for a typical co star, for like, like I was a waitress on a show called Murder in the First, had like three lines. They probably received 10,000 submissions for that, you know, eight, you know, maybe 8,000, um, and then from that, they have to whittle it down to maybe 20 people that they call in for an audition, maybe.
And then from that, they have the casting then whittles it down to maybe like their top like five to eight that they send on to producers, maybe. Every casting person is different. You should, you know, if you’re an actor or want to know more, follow actual casting directors like
[00:30:00] Erika Bream, or Cara Chute, or Betty Mae, or Sarah Haley Finn, or any of those.
And then, you know, the producers, you know, will either pick one person or they might be like, okay, here’s our top three, put them all on, on hold, you know, every office is different. But fact of the matter is, you start with a whole giant group and it gets whittled down to just one. And so much can happen between that giant group and that one that
as an actor, you just have to be like, Oh, great. I got an audition today. I get to act today for five minutes. Yay! And that’s how you gotta look at it. And it can suck sometimes. And…
[Mary] That’s a very kind way of putting it. Yes. I would use a different word.
[Sarah] Uh, it fucking sucks. It fucking sucks.
[Mary] Thank you for finally swearing on my podcast.
Ah! Um, and you
[00:31:00] know, I have friends who… You know, I’ve been in this business for years, and you know, they’ll go through dry spells, and then all of a sudden, they’ll have a great run. And it’s fucking frustrating when you go through one of those dry spells, and you go, What am I doing wrong?
[Mary] Yeah, I think our entrepreneurial community is having that right now, because there’s been a real big shift happening.
[Sarah] Yes.
[Mary] It’s related to economics and politics of the world and all the things, all these things that you don’t control.
[Sarah] Right. And you have to learn to just let go. And I know that’s… I hate that because I am one of the few people, like, I can get very, because I have anxiety and so if I’m not careful, we’ll take over and I will go into a funk.
[Mary] Who doesn’t want to control their experience just a little bit? And, and that was one of the reasons why I picked this show for our first pilot season, so to speak. There’s so much out of the control of these people, so I’m going to use that as a
[00:32:00] segue going into talking about Tess and her ugly, beautiful death, and because, you know, it’s a situation where
[Sarah] Beautiful, ugly?
[Mary] Yeah, beautiful, ugly. They, she, she gets bitten by a clicker. She’s
[Sarah] Oh, yeah, yeah, sorry, I was like jumping ahead, no, no, no,
[Mary] Yeah, she gets bitten. And she’s pretty experienced in the world and yet she still gets bitten and she can’t, you can’t control it after that point. And it’s, you know, heartbreaking because she really is the leader up to this point.
[Sarah] Oh God, yeah.
[Mary] So it’s an uncomfortable reality and, and this is where I’m going to kind of like, the, the metaphor, the analogy is going to get a little complicated because like. I feel like in our entrepreneurial world, we need to deliver our uncomfortable realities to our clients more beautifully. We’re not going to bite them and get them infected.
[00:33:00] Like that’s not, that’s not where we’re going, but I want us to talk about how can we rethink how we help our clients by turning those ugly, ugly realities into gorgeous experiences. Because, like, Tess’s death scene, it’s shot like an intimate love scene. They lit it like a love scene. They talk about it.
In their show notes. In the podcast. They talk about their choices, their creative choices in this. They had a whole bunch of ways they could do it, and that’s how they did it. It’s horrific. It’s the most disgusting thing ever, but it’s so beautiful.
[Sarah] It’s like a car wreck. You can’t look away.
[Mary] Yes.
[Sarah] Like, when, when the tendrils came out, I was just like, ooh, but I couldn’t shut my eyes. And I was like, No.
[Mary] Yeah, it makes her transf, that’s a transformation for her character. And it makes it appealing. Which is wild when you think about it.
[Sarah] Oh,
[00:34:00] so fucking wild.
[Mary] Even Anna Torv, who plays Tess, is interviewed in the, like, extra material, and she’s like, that is not how I thought we were
going to film this thing, you know? Even she’s like, I’m so surprised. She knows it’s a death scene, she’s been infected, and like, ew, gross. And yet, it’s tender, and it’s gorgeous. And it makes her purpose in the way she gave them.
[Sarah] Yes.
[Mary] This extra lifeline even more impactful, you know,
[Sarah] It wasn’t just like oh, I’m gonna stay behind and hide over here and light everything up I’m gonna make sure that they notice me and that they stay in this building and don’t go after you.
I am going to be like here I am.
[Mary] She’s gonna blow that shit up. And that’s great And I feel like our business community frequently misses the nuance and the point
[00:35:00] when we’re dealing with things. People go to absolutes, and this is one of those situations that is not an absolute. It’s a really, actually a really great business lesson because, because, you know, a lot of really ugly stuff is happening in the business world right now.
I’m seeing people’s businesses fold. I’m seeing people exit, I’m seeing all kinds of interesting things. I think the coaching industry is going to go through a really rocky time over the next couple of years. And, like, I’m, I’m closing down my 12 month mastermind too.
[Sarah] There you go. And, you know. It reminds me of something that has kind of become my, my, my motto, my unofficial motto is sometimes life gets in the way of life and you can’t control it.
You can’t control what life is going to throw at you. You know, you can have your perfect business plan and your year going, you know, all beautifully put out with your calendars and your, and your notes and your travel plans. And then something like the pandemic hits, and all of a sudden,
[00:36:00] your year, your life is thrown into chaos.
While the pandemic is a more extreme way of, of looking at it, it, it, it is something that happened and, and it sucked. And everybody had to stop and reassess and, and a lot of people you know, they’ve done a lot of interviews and they’ve done a lot of studies now and polling and a lot of people actually used that, that first year of going, Wow, I’m not happy.
And this is not how I expected my life to go. So I want to travel more. And so as soon as, you know, restrictions lifted, they traveled more or they, you know, moved out of of a bad relationship or they left a horrible job, that would be me, and did their own thing. And I tell that to my clients all the time because I’ve chosen to work with small profits,
[00:37:00] small profits, small businesses, non profits, and solopreneurs.
[Mary] Not necessarily small profits. I learned from one of my clients who is a non profit person too, the NFL is a non profit. Do you know how much money they make?
[Sarah] I know. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, um, well, yeah, the term nonprofit is, is interesting, but that’s a whole other thing. You know, things happen, shit happens.
And so you have to learn how to take it in and reform it and push it back out again and use that to go. Just like Tess went, okay, I got bit. How can I use that to help, uh, Ellie and Joel?
[Mary] I have a take on this. So, I feel like Tess did the thing that we talk about in business all the time, where people say, meet them where they’re at.
I can’t tell you how many times in my coaching Zoom room I’ve had people go, What does that mean?
[Sarah] Oh my god!
[Mary] I don’t know what
[00:38:00] it means to meet them. What do you mean meet them where they’re fucking at? I don’t know. And, and, and she does this and so for the people who listen to us and they follow along and they watch along with us and then they listen to us dissect this thing.
I think that this particular episode is particularly great for that whole concept of meet them where they’re at because it’s what she does. You know, she could do what everyone else does, which is run at them. All of them could have it. Try to, you know, shoot them in the head, hit them, you know, square, you know, in the brains and be done with them, but she doesn’t.
Um, and, and what’s interesting is, is. We, as the viewer, get to see some additional data about this problem, which is what we need as business owners. We need to solve our problems with more data. And if Tess had never done it differently than all the other ways we’d seen before, we would never know that when you don’t fight back, they’re actually rather
[00:39:00] peaceful.
Isn’t that interesting? And I think our, our, our fellow, you know, business owners sometimes will forget that sometimes we just need to like calm your titties and slow down.
[Sarah] Take a breath, take a step back.
[Mary] But really consider it. Now, now Tess has the additional ingredient in her kitchen, so to speak, where her back’s a little against the wall.
She has run out of time. She, she is feeling the infection. Her hands are shaking like she knows she’s, she’s done. So for her, her ability to make decisions more rapidly is I think easier, but I think this happens to a lot of us in business. And it was interesting that you, you know, reference the experience of going through the pandemic, but I think that’s what happened to a lot of people.
I think that’s why a lot of people grew very well during the pandemic is because when your back is to the wall, you stop overthinking things and you can see very clearly what the situation is showing you. It actually makes it easier to accomplish the whole meet them where they’re at.
[Sarah] Yes. Yes. Um,
[00:40:00] you know, and for those of you who are
on the business side of things, listening to this or new to business, the best way I like to think of meet them where they’re at is. In the nonprofit world, think of your donors. How do they, how do they want to give to you? Do they want to write a check, give cash, run a credit card? Okay, um, most of, let’s say, you know, this, uh, Woodlake Foundation, it’s, it’s a lot of, you know, older folks, so they want to write that check or give cash.
They’re, you know, they’re still a little tech adverse, but, and that’s something that I’ve been working with, um, over the last few years with them, is getting them more open because their alumni are, you know the Millennials and the Xennials, and they are very into tech, and so we want to now meet those new alumni.
[Mary] We call that making it easy to get paid.
[Sarah] Make it easy to get paid. There you go, you know. And so,
[00:41:00] while we still take the checks and sell hard tickets to events, we also have an online option. So that… You don’t have to track somebody down who has tickets. You can literally just do it from your phone or your computer.
And while, you know, somebody like my mom might prefer to write a check, she also likes the convenience of I can just put it on my credit card while I’m doing other things on my, on my computer because it’s also like, oh, then I have to call and meet somebody and that could be a 20 minute drive just one way or whatnot because we’re also out in the country.
So, yeah, there’s that. And also, who wants to drive anywhere? I just want to like sit in my home with my cat and stay curled up.
[Mary] Well, that’s why we’re friends because it’s the same. Same.
[Sarah] Sorry.
[Mary] Mr. Giles says hello to Meredith.
[Sarah] Aww. Meredith says hello to Mr. Giles. I love it.
[Mary] Um, I, you know, we could,
[00:42:00] we could probably talk for days on the nuances of this.
[Sarah] Oh yeah.
[Mary] But my hope with this entire podcast is that everyone watches the piece of fiction because we need to be able to talk about things other than just a funnel technique or a marketing thing or a strictly a business definition. And by being able to look at something through the lens of fiction, it can oftentimes reflect back to you something that’s really important to you.
So there’s a lot packed into this episode and one of the things that it does particularly well is it sets up background information that we really need in order to ride through the rest of this. story. And so for that alone, I think it’s incredibly worth watching or rewatching if you’ve already watched it just to see it through that lens and notice what they have done in terms of this production element.
[Sarah] I mean, I’m not a video gamer, and so I came into this show just purely as an
[00:43:00] actor and a consumer wanting to be entertained and also see great performances, and it was wonderful, it was I mean, Pedro, and Bella, and, um, oh no, now I forgot her name.
[Mary] Anna Torv.
[Sarah] Anna Torv. I mean, the three of them just were phenomenal together.
[Mary] They really were.
[Sarah] They, and it just makes me, and it makes me even sadder to know that Tess, you know, dies so soon. Sorry, spoiler alert.
[Mary] Oh no, they already know.
[Sarah] Yeah, I know, I know, but in case somebody, you know, is getting into your car right now or something, spoiler alert, um, it just, it’s so beautiful and when you, it’s so great because it reminds me that those kinds of relationships exist and can be made and you, that’s like your goal is to have
you know, your
[00:44:00] team with you, whether it’s, you know, somebody who’s just there for a little time or somebody there who is like your full time business partner, um, you know, and
[Mary] I love that you so clearly defined a value system for you through that because my last question for you is, I ask this of everybody, what does the Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself.
[Sarah] Oh, I don’t like these kinds of questions. I feel so like
[Mary] Do you feel naked?
[Sarah] Well, no, I feel, I, I actually feel like really dumb. Like I feel Yes, I feel like
[Mary] That is not what I expected to come out of your mouth right now.
[Sarah] I feel like I am not going to give a good answer. And what if I give an imperfect answer?
Because these characters make all kinds of plans and their plans just never seem to work out. I know, but it just, I don’t know. Like when we were discussing, uh, Bittersweet, and we were having that book club, like, everybody was
[00:45:00] making all these, like, great remarks and great, uh, analogies, and I was just sitting there going, Ooh, I don’t know if I, if I made, if I made these connections or not.
Like, you know, I enjoyed it, and I, you know, and I actually listened to it, uh, as an audiobook, rather than read it.
[Mary] And yeah, you weren’t the only one.
[Sarah] Okay, good. I thought that was an interesting choice. Yes. And it’s partially because I drive a lot and going back and forth between Los Angeles and three rivers.
And so during the pandemic, that became like, because I was saying my thing, like, I listened to all the Harry Potter books. I listened to
[Mary] Oh God, the Harry Potter narration is amazing.
[Sarah] Oh, Phenomenal. Um, and you know, I listen to all the Lord of the Rings books. I listen, uh,
[Mary] The performances alone are just worth listening to them.
[Sarah] Yes.
[Mary] But I mean, here’s a great example. I mean, you’re, you are really showing like this reflection of the storytelling element. Yes, it’s
[00:46:00] entertaining you, but it’s feeding your soul in a certain way.
[Sarah] There you go. It’s feeding my soul.
[Mary] It is. I mean, I mean, okay, we’ve all been through, like, a real shit tastical last few years,
[Sarah] Ooh, shit tastical?
[Mary] Yes.
[Sarah] I like that word.
[Mary] And feel free to swipe it.
[Sarah] Trademark, uh, School of Moxie. Shit tastical.
[Mary] Shit tastical. Yeah. But you need, you need some joy back in your, in your life. Do you feel like, the Last of Us isn’t, you know, it isn’t Harry Potter, okay?
[Sarah] Oh, God, no.
[Mary] It’s intense. It’s pretty intense. And everyone seems to have somewhere on the spectrum, you know, different reactions, but even the people who weren’t like, no, I really didn’t cry through it.
Like some people did. Um, they, they, they still like feel a pretty deep impact from it. And, and I feel like fiction storytelling does something that is really unique and that our entrepreneurial community
[00:47:00] can get a lot out of story and as somebody who plays characters in stories you ride this very interesting line between being in it and also being outside of it.
[Sarah] Yeah, uh, I mean it, it makes me want to, you know, be in the show.
[Mary] Oh yeah.
[Sarah] And, you know, I’ll be a clicker. Fuck that. Like, hell yeah.
[Mary] I would take an extra role. I would do it.
[Sarah] I mean…
[Mary] Oh, we could do scene study again.
[Sarah] Oh, that’d be great. There we go. There we go. Um, but only if we can have, like, dinner.
[Mary] I love that that was our homework. Go hang out. And that’s how we became friends. Get to know each other. Yeah. And… You, you see this happen on the screen in this story that we’re talking about. And then if you follow any of the fan things, and I’m going to be talking with Renee about the fandom around this whole thing. So we’ll save that for a different conversation, but, but it’s, I mean, one minor little Google search or Instagram
[00:48:00] search, and you’re very going to quickly see how quickly these people bonded and how close they are in real life.
[Sarah] I mean, just seeing the bond between Pedro and Bella,
[Mary] It’s really beautiful.
[Sarah] It’s beautiful. Yeah. And, and that’s something that I hope to have, you know,
[Mary] That’s what I was going to ask you, I was like, do you think maybe that’s what it reflects back to you is wanting that bond and having more of it
[Sarah] For sure. And that’s something, you know, I’m looking, I’m always looking for that kind of bond and I have that with a couple people, but I’m.
Ultimately looking for it in a partner, you know, somebody to live with and grow old with and help take care of my cats with me.
[Mary] You’re so much less cynical than me. I’m like, I’ll be a crazy cat lady forever.
[Sarah] Yeah, and, you know, I love being on my own, but there are… Days and times where I, I go, you know, especially like when I’m sick, um, where I’m just like, Oh, I just want somebody to like hold me and, you know, or I don’t have to drive,
[00:49:00] you know, they’re just there.
Um, and I’m sorry to get sappy, but no, but like seeing that relationship is so beautiful and I feel like I have that with a few people, but like. I just want more of that in my life. I want those ride or die people, basically.
[Mary] This is the ride or die episode. Yeah. I felt very intuitively it belonged with you, and now I see why.
[Sarah] Yeah,
[Mary] It is that element.
[Sarah] No, yeah, like, the relationship that Tess and Joel have is just amazing. Like, they both lost so much, and yet they have found each other, and they’re both okay with their insecurities and they’re, you know, just, I mean,
[Mary] They have patience for it.
[Sarah] Yes. They have patience for it.
[Mary] And when we first meet them, it’s very interesting because Tess actually is the one who controls Joel.
[Sarah] Oh God, yeah.
[Mary] He’s, he’s rather unhinged without her and he has to re-find himself without her once she’s gone.
[Sarah] Yeah. And yeah, in those next couple episodes.
[Mary] You really see that arc for him in those next couple episodes. Y
[Sarah] eah. And, spoiler alert, when he finally makes that connection later with Ellie, it, it, just broke my heart.
I mean, it, it just, the moment he said that word, I was, I was, I like broke down. And, um, but yeah, just in case anybody’s, you know, watching and listening at the same time. But you’ll know.
[Mary] They have been warned.
[Sarah] Yes.
[Mary] Already. If you’re this far into the episode and you still haven’t watched it, I can’t like
[Sarah] No, I’m talking about like episode, I think it was like six, I don’t remember, after the interview.
[Mary] Oh, yes.
[Sarah] And he, and he says.
[Mary] Well, okay, we’ll, we’ll say this.
[Sarah] Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s what I’m saying. When he says that in that episode. And makes that connection.
[Mary] We’ll leave it. Well, it’s episode eight.
[Sarah] Eight.
[Mary] Well, we’ll just, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna gently place that on the table in front of us as a little thing for people to look forward to.
[Mary] Eight was a beautiful episode, too. I mean, they were all beautiful episodes. They all
[00:51:00] have their, they all have their moments, for sure. And, but, it, and to see where, in this episode, to see how… Uh, Joel and Ellie start without Tess because Tess, you know, I mean, she doesn’t sacrifice herself, but
[Mary] She kind of does.
[Sarah] I mean, yeah, at the same time, she does. I mean, the moment they decide to leave the QZ. The two of them basically knew that they could die at any moment. Oh yeah. So it was.
[Mary] But they’ve been doing it.
[Sarah] They’ve been doing it.
[Mary] Repeatedly. So.
[Sarah] For 20 years. So yeah. So they just, this is another thing, um, except I think it means more to Tess right away than it does to, to Joel because, and they, they talk about this in the podcast, you know.
Tess starts to believe much quicker that
[Mary] That there’s hope
[Sarah] That there’s hope. Mm hmm. And there should always be hope and as business owners, we should always believe that there is hope and that
[00:52:00] there is light at the end of the tunnel or there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or there’s what other metaphor can we use?
[Mary] I think you just put the period on the end of the sentence for your episode. This is really great I’m gonna leave that there
[Sarah] Thank you so much for talking with me. Oh my god, thank you for having me. Like, I felt so special when you were like, you have to do this. I was like, why? I know better actors. She was like, no, no, no.
[Mary] Because you’re a business person and an actor.
[Sarah] And I was like, oh, am I?
[Mary] I really feel like we’re gonna change the way we talk about business. It’s already started to happen. So, thank you for doing it.
[Sarah] You’re welcome, my love.
[Mary] Thank you.
[Sarah] Fuck yeah.
[Mary] Fuck yeah.
This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host Mary Williams and special guest Sarah Allyn Bauer.
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
[00:53:00] 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 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 in an episode are in the show notes.
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