Speaker 1: Welcome to clutching their pearls. I'm your host Marie Hale. And I'm the CEO and co-founder of at revenue, which is a Chicago based sales and marketing firm. That is not the focus of podcasts today. This is a podcast for forward revolution, a company forged from the social economic and domestic upheaval that some of you may have experienced in 2020. I am a single mom entrepreneur. And when I saw how moms were losing their jobs faster than fathers, and basically, I don't know, other humans in general, I got mad and I of, kind of did something about it. So we watched this pandemic tear families apart, and I was

Speaker 2: Just really not okay with any of it. And so when I got mad enough,

Speaker 1: I decided to start a revolution. This is really focused on rebuilding the way that our work works in an equitable and completely innovative way. We've got to fight back against the female recession and we've got to empower people and parents to take control of their lives by creating new and sustainable ways of revenue, generation, and education. And we don't have to build in the old ways because we are the revolution. Again, let me make the disclaimer. This is a podcast where you're going to hear adult words. If you're not okay with adult words, you can believe us out yourselves. It's okay. We won't hold it against you

Speaker 2: Today. I am incredibly excited to be talking to Melanie Hirshhorn about her experiences in becoming a CEO and an unlady like leader, a content marketing strategist and coach on a mission to empower female entrepreneurs. It's been Melanie's goal to support women, business owners, to land more clients by conquering their huge variety of content marketing challenges through her company, VIP digital content. Melanie helps her clients attract their ideal client, nurture their leads and position themselves as experts in their field. A small business owner since 2012, Melanie understands the entrepreneurial journey and that it truly takes a village. She has worked in prints in video and TV, journalism, and has been a PR specialist in Hollywood. Melanie has won numerous journalism awards and received her master's degree in broadcast journalism from the university of so Cal she loves providing marketing tips from our Facebook group, BIP digital marketing tips. So Melanie, first of all, thank you so much for taking time out of your calendar. We've had some great chats so far, and I know that your journey has been just as easy as every other entrepreneur's journey. Um, and I'd love to hear you share a little bit about just kind of what's what prompted you to take the direction that you did and where you started seeing that things might not be what you thought that they might be during that journey?

Speaker 3: Yeah. Well, Marie, thank you so much for having me today. I am really excited to be here because I believe in what you're doing so wholeheartedly. Um, the one and only time I worked in a corporate setting was, um, in radio and public radio. And I, I was working with, with men and mostly, um, and I really wanted to show that I was really part of the team. So I made sure to not get pregnant until it was a non-election year, so that I would not. So that, that come that November. Um, if I had a baby and I had to take off what, like five minutes, because that's about all we're allowed in this country, um, that I wouldn't be, you know, what did they say, jumping ship or letting the team down or any of those really awful cliches that make you feel like you're this big.

Speaker 3: So what happens? I get pregnant. I'm five months pregnant and I get laid off and I'm like, oh, so now what do I do? I am a journalist. This is my self worth. This is who I am. I can't be anything else. If I'm not this I'm nothing. What am I going to do? Just go home and sit there. No, of course not. I, you know, no, no grass grows under my feet. So I was actually very fortunate that a newspaper hired me right away knowing I was five months pregnant and I did some work for them, freelance, you know, I made like $3,000 over the course of a year, but it still kept my brain in check. And when, when I moved to Phoenix from, from Pennsylvania, where I, where that all that took place, um, I thought, well, do I want to go get a job in journalism and pay the nanny more than I'm going to make? Or do I want to do something that's really inside me and that to design and manufacture breastfeeding clothing because why not? So I did that for seven years and I just, you know, you can call it naivete. You can call it just trusting the university of Google. But I went from not knowing what I was doing to selling my clothes on nordstrom.com and after a series of, of things that went on, um, I closed the business eight.

Speaker 2: So take us back to where you were getting your product into Nordstrom when this was not your, not any space you would ever lived in.

Speaker 3: Right? But I, I trusted myself and I trusted my intuition and I, I believe that if we put our minds to something that we can do it as women and I would never ever let something or somebody say, oh, that's not going to work. I'm going to find a way I don't take no for an answer. So I Googled and I developed relationships and I found people to help me. And I went from not knowing what I was doing to selling my stuff on nordstrom.com. And whether you call that being naive or whatever it, I did it. But after that, um, I hired a social media person to help me. And she spent the next year taking my money and be literally me to the point where I had no, self-confidence where my marketing was concerned or my business in general. And I couldn't even go into my home office.

Speaker 3: I couldn't even open the door. I had such negative feelings about it. And I thought, you know, it's time to close this and do something. That's going to really help people because I'm miserable. It's going to help me and it's going to help other people. What do I love doing marketing? I've got the PR, I've got the journalism, I've got the entrepreneurship. And the one thing I loved all the, the whole time I was doing it was the marketing. And so now that's what I do. I help other women business owners with their content marketing strategy so that they can not have to deal with all the crap and just do the right stuff

Speaker 2: And not have to, uh, hang out and be belittled by somebody that they're paying lots of good money to exactly.

Speaker 3: I'm the supporter. I'm not the be littler. It's just not in my DNA. So yeah, there's a couple

Speaker 2: Of pieces that I'd love to go back and unpack if I may. Um, so when you were working in that, um, in that radio job and you, you got laid off, which is such a delicate way to say you're pregnant. You're no longer useful to us. You might have to pump in the other room and that's going to make all of us uncomfortable. So we'd like to show you where else you can find opportunities. Um, did they know that you were expecting,

Speaker 3: They did, and that company specifically had a history of getting rid of its pregnant employees. I thought I'd be safe because I was not on their health insurance. I was on my husband's health insurance, and everything came down to money. Um, but because there had been already rounds of layoffs and 20 people were laid off at the same time, I got lumped into that. And then it became a newsroom just of men.

Speaker 2: How exciting and never,

Speaker 3: Totally. Oh, did I say, did I tell you that they all kind of look the same too?

Speaker 2: It's funny how that happens, right? Yeah. Yeah. And it's, that's exactly what's happening in, in boardrooms across the country right now. It's the diversity loss that is going to impact the marketing industry. I have to say I've started watching mad men again, just because I want like, almost as first time it was for enjoyment the second and third times it was because I was bored and then like this time, it's like, I just want to remind myself of what it is that we're trying to avoid. Yeah. How bad can it really get? It can get that bad. And not just when the lady ran over the guy's foot with the lawn mower, my

Speaker 3: Favorite show, my favorite episode. So

Speaker 2: You ha so like not only are you in a space where you're vulnerable, you're emotional your, about to have a very expensive life event and you've lost your income, half our income. You're also going through an identity crisis. And, you know, if anybody has made a human, you know, that it changes your entire identity anyway, whether you like it or not. And I was in their closing sales. I mean, granted, I was in labor for two days, but I was closing while I w I know it was a long two days. Um, because like, that's just who I was, but how did you emotionally go through the shift of here? I am, as I see myself as journalist too now pushed out and assuming a completely different role in my life being as vulnerable as I can possibly be. I mean, you had your husband ditto, so at least you had some kind of tethering to what was there, but what was that emotional impact like for you?

Speaker 3: You know, it's, it, it's still is something that I, that I struggle with because I I'll just I'll take you back. Okay. So my, my father is a very successful surgeon and he is like my idol. I want to be like my dad when I grow up, of course, I think technically I've already grown up, but whatever. So I want to be like that. What are his values? Hard work, hard work, making money, get accolades, and then work some more. And then on the flip side, I see my mom they're married. Um, but she had a job, but it was more of something she loved to do. And it wasn't really for the money. It was more because she loved it. She was an occupational therapist until she retired. Um, but it wasn't that drive. You know, she was there to raise us. I have two sisters, she was home with us and I always looked at her and was like, well, why don't you have a job? Like, why don't you work? Cause she, she didn't work until I was 13. I go, why don't you work? You know? So I always gravitate toward the, I guess, masculine of, I want to be the breadwinner. I want to do. I want to be the one standing on the stage speaking, and I want to be the one getting the accolades and the money and all that. So when I became a mother, I became extremely conflicted because I never thought you could be both.

Speaker 3: And the F I mean, there's internal struggle. There's external struggle. How come I have to do this and that, and my business. And then the men in my life only have to focus on the business, like why? And then people say, well, it's your boundaries, Melanie. And I'm like, is it though? Is it really, is it just all my fault? Or is it because in society we're conditioned to see that that's totally fine. I had to have the baby. My body was never the same. I was the one breastfeeding all night, long every night while my partner slept. And then I was working in the day and then I'm told, oh, I'm so tired.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I think my favorite line, um, from aforementioned step two day long delivery was when my husband's looked at the nurse and said, my stomach hurts so bad. Every time she screams, I like tense up. And I'm so sore. I am surprised that that nurse did not want his out a window.

Speaker 3: At least he said it to the nurse and not to you

Speaker 2: Out of scratch decided that, um, so as we kind of progressed and we we're, we're looking at, you know, you've had these entrepreneurial wins. You also were vulnerable in who you were at that point, which is probably why it seemed okay for somebody to be little you when it came to being in your professional world, because I can't know. And have it all. Um, when did you start to say, you know, what if I were an unladylike CEO and what does that mean?

Speaker 3: I think that I didn't really step into the role of CEO until I started this business that I'm in now, because I was just, it was a wing and a prayer with my, with my last, my last business. So then when I came into it and I was like, okay, how do I want to run this? Because what was hap, I didn't actually go into the details of this. But when I was manufacturing the clothes, I was designing them, but I had men manufacturing them and they would tell me how it was supposed to look and they would change my design. And I would just, okay. So after that I say, I shut the door on that company. And I said, no, never again. I am not going to let people walk all over me. I am going to take control. And I'm going to accept the fact that I'm an expert in what I do. And I I'll tell you, Marie, I will start typing an email and I will look at it and I'll go, oh, I, I put the word just in there. I've got to take that out. I started with, I'm sorry. Nope. Taking that out. And sometimes when it's really a tough email, I'm going to write, I say to myself, what would a man? Right? And then I write that and I hit send before I can be taken out.

Speaker 2: And, and I think so many people that are listening are gonna resonate with that because there is a lot of second guessing how you show up. And I think that just as women, as those that are used to hanging out with their, with their crew, with their, with their community of people, with, with the chosen ones, we're always worried about, I don't want to say worried, but we, we put special focus on how is this coming across? How could it impact this person differently than this person? If I yell at this kid, is this kid gonna going to hear that? And then wonder when they're going to get yelled at. And now I just don't care. I scream, but I'm like, what do you think it is about the feminine experience that makes us so, especially willing to second guess our own thoughts to spare somebody else's possible interpretation.

Speaker 3: Oh, that question, if I had the answer, but my, my interpretation of that would be, we are taught that we bring these children into the world and then it's our responsibility to take care of them. And we're not living in, you know, the Victorian era where children were not to be we're to be seen, but not heard. You know, we're supposed to be aware of everything going on in our children's lives. And on top of them and everything, and their happiness is based on, sorry, our happiness is based on their happiness. You're only as happy as your unhappiest child. And so we, we think that they, everything about them is our responsibility. And then I do the same thing for my husband. Somehow we're in this role where his happiness is my responsibility too. And then it's like, well, what about my happiness? So then I'm fighting it. You know, I'm like, well, I want to do this for me. Oh, but I'm selfish. Is it okay to be selfish? No, it's not. If you're a woman you're not allowed to be selfish because then you're using that masculine energy that people are like, oh, she's such a. No, she's not. She's just taking care of herself. So I don't even know if I answered your question,

Speaker 2: But there's, there's like some fun things to unpack in there. Cause I think not only do we have all the extrinsic pressures of being responsible for the health and happiness of everyone in our homes, but we're also responsible for figuring out what self-care looks like fighting for it, for ourselves, paying for it by ourselves, finding somebody to pay, to watch the kids so that we can experience that self care for ourselves. And then by the time I get there, I'm so tired. I don't even want to self care. Like it, it literally took me a week and a half to sit down in the bathtub when I was having back problems. And I'm like, I should be able to carve out 15 minutes to put my buns in eight Epps and soaked coconut oil bath.

Speaker 3: Amen.

Speaker 2: And I had to, I had to convince myself of it. And so as I look at how those pressures kind of stack up and the experience of burnout that is happening right now, because it's a lot easier to go to the office and put on your big girl panties than it is to sit home with your kids, staring at you, as you do your job, wondering why you're not entertaining them because Ord enjoy it. Um, but w when you're there all the time and every eye is upon you, and there's still the expectations, I'm surprised that we have not had more people have like public nervous breakdowns. Not that we've been in public, so maybe they've been happening. And I just don't know, but how are you processing through that as you look to? Okay. And by the way, I am not a fan of this whole thought process of like, I've got to come out of, COVID better than I went in, or, you know, those people that tell you, you've got to grieve forward, like give me a break. Um, but what lessons do you think you're going to take from this experience into whatever the hell is waiting for us next?

Speaker 3: Oh my God, how much time do you have? So give me a top three and I'll give you, I'll just keep talking and hopefully it'll be three. Um, I didn't know that I was an introvert. I thought I was an extrovert and I'm having trouble reintegrating into society because I love speaking behind a computer screen more than I love speaking in any other form. Um, so w what that means for me is more time to myself, more quiet, time, less feeling like I need to go here and go there and go the other place. So that's one thing that, yes, I'm not bringing that back. I'm not starting to go to networking events in person. I don't need to not doing it. Um, another thing I, you know, I I'll say this. I've always said to my kids, mommy needs to go out because when she goes out with her friends or with daddy, she comes home and she's a better mommy to you.

Speaker 3: And so they've always known that, but I haven't gone anywhere in a year, so they don't give me grief for leaving, but that's one thing that I have forgotten how to do and we'll have to reintegrate. Um, what, what else have I learned that, that I do enjoy spending time with my kids. It didn't think that I did. Um, but I actually really do. Uh, and so that has been good, you know, in a weird way, I used to dread the weekends because it meant I was with them and I don't know what to do, but now we've, you know, after a year we've kind of gotten into a groove and, and we get each other, all of us. Um, but in, in terms of, I mean, there really are so many things that, that I have learned. I've learned to be more grateful. Yeah. I've learned to be grateful for, for small things that I probably wasn't even acknowledging before. Yeah. And I think,

Speaker 2: And, and again, I expect that every one of our listeners and our audience are going to have different things that they've come away with. And I would love to hear more of those. But as I'm looking back over all of the dips and roles that there have been, I think, and, and I, I, I also got this, this gift when I lost my life partner. And then the next year, when I lost my best friends, where when you get to a point of emotional fatigue, your ability to give Fox gets so significantly less. And you're like, oh, like all of this noise quiets. And you're like, I only have to pay attention to the important stuff. I don't have to put all of this value or pressure on all of these different things. My job is to take care of my kid, take care of my self, take care of my company.

Speaker 2: And I don't have to jump through anybody else's hoops anymore. And if you don't like it, I'm so sorry. Like, I really don't, I'm just done. And if, I think for me, one of the biggest things that, that I took away, cause I had gotten to a point of networking where I was, and I love networking because I love business connections. And I am a complete because I will remember your business card before I remember your face all the time. And it's really embarrassing. I'm not proud of it, but that's, that was not my brainwork, but I'd gotten to the point where I was so tired of coming in and seeing the mask of everything's perfect. Everything's great. Welcome to my instant fabulous life. And I'm like, I've known you for 12 years. I'm asking how you're doing. Like as a human, I don't need you to paint a pretty picture of exactly what life should feel like right now.

Speaker 2: Like I want to know how you are. And one of the things that has shifted is when we took away the components of assuming people were wearing pants, people started showing up in a different way. And I think I found more authentic relationships during the pandemic away from other humans. Then I found when I was out there three, four days a week, networking and speaking and running events. And I will share with you, one of you were talking about being more comfortable behind a computer. I will say that I do love a stage except there was, I am also introverted. And so after I speak, I have like, I have to take a break and like rebuild emotionally because it's, I put everything out to the audience. I know it's fabulous. But I had an event where I, it was one of the first times I'd spoken about the death of my partner and it was a huge event. And the MC out the kindness of her heart was like, oh my gosh, I can't believe you shared that. Everybody give her a hug.

Speaker 2: And this was a group of women that I knew a lot of them, but I had already left it all out on the stage sister. Like I want to go incubate somewhere and crawl under a table. And it was like going through a carwash of love and kindness and it was beautiful, but I was like, oh, now I include that in my contract. And if I'm behind a computer, I've got a little bit more bumper room. I'll take this for right now. It's good. It's going to give me a chance to rebuild. So I want to kind of bring this together to a final thought of, of being the unladylike CEO. If there was one, one feminine quality that is supposed to, that is assumed of us, that we should all give up today and just leave in the middle of the Dan Ryan, what would that be

Speaker 3: To be apologetic for everything? We don't need to apologize when I do copy coaching for people, I often look at, you know, their sales page, their emails, or, or, you know, recently actually for a client, she was doing a webinar and she started the first minute of the recorded webinar apologizing for taking up people's time. And I said, okay, you have to start at a minute nine because that's when you stopped apologizing and started the webinar, stop apologizing own it. You deserve it. Stop apologize.

Speaker 2: All right. So I'm going to officially start a stop apologizing bandwagon for all of you that are listening. Make sure that you jump on. We want to hear your stories of the minute you realized you didn't have to apologize for how you show up and your space that you take up in this world. And I'm going to piggyback off of that and say that the big thing that I'm giving up in the unladylike category is being okay with being direct with men because they really don't appreciate it. And they get very intimidated by it. And I can use softening statements and I do, and I want to make sure you feel respected, but at the end of the day, this is my business. These are my clients. This is my family. And if I need to communicate directly with you, that is exactly what I'm going to do.

Speaker 4: So

Speaker 2: With that being said, we're going to pull this to a close today. And I hope that all of you have found something very ladylike that you can leave in the center of your local highway. And please follow on Instagram at VIP digital content, check out our website, which is also V IP digital contents and take her quiz. She's got a really great, is your content engaging or does it need some elevation quiz@mycontentquiz.com? We all know that everything has

Speaker 1: Changed. Nature always moves in patterns of structuring and creation. And so society, when the pendulum swings one way, it's going to swing back the other. We just went from bull rock to Donald, and now we're somewhere environment like it's going to swing. I encourage you to embrace that a little bit and see where this pendulum swings back to, but be part of the force that fights to swing it back in the direction of working women, everywhere of those feminists that fought before us to make all of these strides that we just lost and beat that loud, brash voice that demands a seat at the table. Don't apologize for taking up your space where you should be taking up space. We are those that have been marginalized and othered in mainstream America, just by the unfortunate consequence of being born a woman, we don't have to settle for it anymore. Be the square peg in America's round hole. We are the mothers and the others and the startup of revolution. Thank you so much for joining us today. It was awesome. Melanie, Dorio your grades.

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