V21. The Collective (of Us): BOLD Broads * Dannie Lynn Fountain

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Bold Broads highlights women founders and creative [read: BADASS] small business owners about how they really deal with the ups and downs of running a BOLD business. These women share honest wisdom and tough lessons to support you in collectively making good shit happen in your own women-led startup or small business. Meet Dannie Lynn Fountain, a marketing expert, business strategist, author, educator, whip-smart whiskey drinker, tattoo hoarder, airplane flyer, aggressive food segregator, hotel pen collector, international speaker. Oh, and she also works at Google.

Let's meet her, shall we? 

1. STARTING A BUSINESS IS HARD AND SOMETIMES LONELY. WHAT THE F*CK MOTIVATED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

Truth be told, my business started on accident. It was a crazy moment of preparation meeting opportunity and I stumbled into a really cool project that I just couldn't turn down. 

But what kept my business going beyond that initial happy accident? The ability to have an impact. I have watched so many of my friends and acquaintances repetitively undersell themselves. They sell their skills, their beauty, their talents, their passion short. They undercut themselves time and time again because they don't believe they're worth that initial invoice price they wrote down. They turn down opportunities because they haven't earned them yet. It breaks my heart to watch them do it - but I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't mention that I do it too. And so my business lasted beyond that first opportunity I got because I saw it as my chance to show these women I cared about so deeply that they were worthy, that they were valuable. And honestly, it was to show myself the same - that I had worth and value.

If I'm willing to pay $9/pint for basic ass vanilla ice cream (I'm kidding - Jeni's is the DREAM), then you are worth your full asking price too. Period.

2. HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED TO KEEP THRIVING IN A CREATIVE SPACE WHERE EVERYONE SEEMS TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER?

Competition is real. I was a competitive swimmer, I know what it feels like to see the person swimming in the lane next to you and to kick a little harder to beat them to the end of the lane. There is absolutely nothing wrong with finding motivation in others' work.

But competition ceases to be a productive thing when it gets nasty. I refuse to get so caught up in what my industry is doing that it begins to cut me down. If I start getting jealous - that means it's time to walk away. We forget that we each have individual stories and perspectives that literally nobody else can share. There are millions of small businesses in the US alone, there is more than enough opportunity for myself and each of my competitors to exist without cannibalizing one another. 

But here's the thing - it's really hard to keep that mindset. It's really hard to remember that there's space for everyone. And so I have to stop myself. I do industry purges every once in awhile - I literally spend a week or more not looking at any industry media or content. I step away from checking out my competitors, from reading marketing publications, from joining those twitter chats. That's the only way to get fresh perspective.

And at the end of the day, if none of that works, I turn on this song: goo.gl/tHKDHC

3. SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES ARE OFTEN QUIETLY SUPPORTED BY A COLLECTIVE OF WOMEN MENTORS, FRIENDS AND BUSINESS OWNERS. WHAT COMMUNITIES AND RESOURCES HAVE BEEN MOST PIVOTAL TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS SUCCESS?

I lean on every single human being who has ever smiled at me. That sounds trite, but it's the reality. You can achieve damn near anything if there is someone supporting you, cheering you on. Think of Navy SEAL training - I'm not going to ring that bell and tap out if my squadron is cheering me on, motivating me, telling me that there's more left for me to give. 

In business, I owe much of my success to humans around me that have lifted me up in some way. Many times it's been a silent smile, a single conversation, or a simple moment that's left me changed forever. Here are a few humans and communities that have left a profound and repeated impact on my soul - 

My group of biz besties; - I've built this squad of people who love one another without hesitation. Joey Vitale, Caitlyn Allen, Reina Pomeroy, Tara Tate, Jana Bishop, Rosemary Watson, Sam Johnson, Meghan Maydel, and all the other incredible humans that support me day in and day out. I'm beyond grateful for this tribe - business is lonely and this crew makes it increasingly less so. 

AdamJK. If you've never met this man, you need to work on that. I've told him before that he's had an impact on who I've became, but the most powerful moment was when he was standing on the VenturePOP stage in New Orleans in 2017 and he looked at that room full of people and said that he admired my work. I felt validated in a way I didn't know was possible. 

Masterminds, business coaches, and other similar communities. If you don't have a mastermind community, FIND ONE. Honestly, the Collective (of Us) is a great example of this. Find a resource that is more than just asking questions in a Facebook group.  

4. NO BULLSH*T; WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS? AND EQUALLY IMPORTANT; HOW ARE YOU WORKING TO OVERCOME THIS?

My challenges are a little more unique than the usual business challenges, but the lessons learned are nearly universal. I run my business alongside working full time at Google and traveling damn near full time too. Finding a balance between that is essentially impossible and so I have to find unique ways to practice self care, get downtime, etc. 

There really is no way to overcome this without starting to say no to things. And contrary to commonly-given advice, I'm not ready to start saying no. I'm willing to live in the hustle and the insanity if it means I can keep living this insanely unique and exciting life I'm living for a little while longer. So I've started practicing micro-moments. Single-minute breathing meditations, 15 minute workouts, anything to squeeze in a break. The biggest lesson I've learned is that if you have an opportunity to breathe, take it. Don't discount it because it's not long enough.

5. SHARE THE MOST HELPFUL PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE EVER BEEN GIVEN.

You're not for everyone. 

Seems basic - but stop for a minute and think about how hard we try to please everyone. It's literally a natural human thing to do. 

I'm not everyone's cup of tea. I swear, a lot. I have tattoos (18 of 'em). I have a septum piercing. I'm a little bit rock n' roll. I drink whiskey like it's apple juice. I am not everyone's cup of tea. 

But naturally, I try really hard to *be* everyone's cup of tea. It's just a thing that happens. And I had to learn to stop trying. Remember that it's okay to not try so freaking hard.

I UNAPOLOGETICALLY OWN MY BOLD BROAD BADASSERY BECAUSE...

Marketing isn't easy. But marketing from a place of passion is even harder. It takes a lot to willingly say I am going to forego KPIs so I can have a true and authentic connection with my client.

Now, I'm not saying KPIs don't matter - but the reality is that KPIs are limiting. KPIs don't measure impact, they don't measure personal growth, they don't measure the things that we left the corporate world to feel. Find ways to talk about things from a place of passion - you'll inherently be more approachable and people will care more. This is literally what I teach and do for a living.

BOLD BROAD BONUS***FAVE APP OR WEBSITE?

I honestly keep things pretty simple, so I'm in the Google Apps suite most often. But, I do have a trick that I think will blow minds. Did you know you can have your Google Calendar show two timezones? Many of us work with clients all over the country, which complicates things. I have my calendar set to show EST and PST so that I don't have to do those time conversions in my head! You can also show current times in different zones on the left (under the month-view mini calendar) if you want! 

Two-Timezone: goo.gl/ugD1NA
Left-Side View: Go to Google Calendar settings, then go to World Clock and choose the timezones you want to show!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Dannie Lynn Fountain is a marketing strategist and whip-smart whiskey drinker. Currently working at Google, Dannie honed her skills working in marketing for brands such as Whirlpool and H&R Block. She has a combined 9 years experience as an entrepreneur and strategist. Today, she works with entrepreneurs and corporate clients alike to brainstorm, strategize, and implement strategic marketing processes to better their business and increase their sales. Beyond strategy, Dannie is the author of four books on entrepreneurship and a regular speaker on strategy worldwide. Her work has been submitted to and recognized by Cannes Lions, the Effies, and more.