Start Ups and Motherhood, and other What The F*ck Moments

Tisha M. Pelletier took the entrepreneurial leap in 2004, has run four different businesses, planned hundreds of events, and facilitated over 300 masterminds. She knows start-ups and motherhood, and uses her experience to empower new business owners. She is the president of Tisha Marie Enterprises, LLC, and she empowers entrepreneurs through mentoring, her online course the Startup Entrepreneur Academy, and the Social Connect Business Happy Hour. Her newest book, What Are the Odds – A mom shares her good, bad and what the f*ck moments in life and business, can be found on Amazon and Audible.

In this episode, we talk about a LOT of the things I regularly hear from women entrepreneurs, including the challenges of balancing marriages, raising kids and building businesses, the fear she had around developing her personal brand, and why she had to push past that fear, knowing when to pivot in business, and how to know when to trust well-meaning advice. We also talk about:

  • her passion for supporting founders
  • the fears she had around building a personal brand
  • how she learned the hard way not to always trust well-meaning advice
  • why authenticity so important, and incredibly powerful, especially today

“I’m always going to do what I say – I find that that is challenging for a lot of people. There are a lot of people who are ‘sayers,’ they don’t do. I think by sharing that experience with people of, I set out to do it, it was a personal challenge or a professional challenge, I set out to do it and I did it. And here’s what happened. In telling them the story that I had to keep working at this and I had to keep going. I think you only get that through experience, and experience is your greatest teacher.”

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Transcript

JM: Hi, Tisha. How are you?

TP: I’m good.

JM: It’s so good to talk to you. It’s so funny how you can be in the same town with somebody and travel in the same circles and never meet. But it’s really funny because I have a friend who invited me to one of your events and then it turns out that we have all of these people in common. It’s like so crazy. But your event is super awesome so tell us a little bit more about what you do because you don’t do just these events, there are a lot of things that you do in terms of mentoring entrepreneurs.

TP: Yes, so I feel like I’m a woman of many, many halves. All of them have become my bigger passion, I know we’ll talk a little bit about that. But bringing people together in more of a genuine authentic setting is really something that I am super passionate about and really being able to connect with entrepreneurs on that level and let them know that, “Hey, everybody’s going through this, everybody’s gone through these struggles, these obstacles, and we can all get through this together. You don’t have to go through this alone.” I think that really stems into mentoring and speaking. It’s really building that community. Basically, that’s really the main premise of everything that I’m doing.

JM: That’s so cool it’s so funny that you talk about being authentic, genuine, and wanting to help people connect in that way because at your event, I like struggled with this so much. At your event, you have people put on their name tags their first job that they ever had and there are no exchanging business cards. In this world of spray and pray where most people show up to a networking event and they want to just unload as many business cards as possible, you don’t get to do that at your event. I thought that was super unique, I mean people had to really work at connecting with each other and then finding each other afterward. It was such a great event.

TP: Thank you, thank you. That is something that the reason why that event came to fruition, honestly, is because I was tired of going to events where everybody had an agenda and it was a “What-was-in-it-for-me” type of thing. If in five seconds you didn’t get anything from me, if you didn’t feel that vibe, or whatever, you are gone. I’m like, “Why can’t people just connect with people? Why can’t we just bring it back to basics?”

JM: You have to actually ask questions to get to know each other, it’s crazy.

TP: Exactly. Jennifer, the reason I do those silly little name tags is because I feel like people resonate like when they have something that they can go and ask someone a question, it makes them feel a little more comfortable. There’s not these titles, there’s not these, “Oh, my gosh, that person and he’s like the CEO,” like it’s not any of that, it’s really more, “Can we break down those barriers and really get to know the person and then start to develop their relationship?”

JM: You are absolutely right about that. It’s so funny you get to learn these odd things about people when you start with an icebreaker like that. It’s funny because it really does take everyone back to their first job which is approximately the same phase of life so it’s like you’re coming out more as that person at that point so I thought that was brilliant.

Then you move into a panel of experts who are there to answer questions and help startups specifically. Tell me about your passion for startups. What is it about that phase of business that you love to support so much?

TP: I struggled with this so if we talk about some of my struggle to success stories, I really had a hard time identifying who is it that I was really super passionate about serving. I know there are lots of coaches, there are lots of mentors out there but I was like, “Nobody’s really tapping into this market or very, very few people are,” and I had to put myself back in their shoes. I’ve started companies, I failed, I have gotten backed up, I have had to figure it out. I said, “If I can help someone else just progress them along, be that cheerleader for them, and keep pushing and holding them accountable, and letting them know that they’ve got this, then what’s stopping me? Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I work with that market?” So is it a challenge in the market to work with? Yes, but at the same time, these are people with these brilliant ideas, they just need that confidence, they need someone that is in their corner and sing, “You’ve got this.”

You mentioned the panel and the panel is really more about bringing entrepreneurs, business professionals, they’re not all entrepreneurs, but I feel like everybody has a story to share, everybody has struggles that they’ve had to overcome or times they’ve had to pick themselves back up and keep moving forward. To me, it’s shedding the light on those stories and really getting real with the audience of, “Hey, I’ve been there and look what I have accomplished.” So it’s a great motivator and a great inspiration to anybody in the room. It doesn’t matter if you are an established business, if you’re just starting, if you’re a student. I feel like all of that experience, that knowledge in the room is what’s helping people to say, “You know what? You did this, I can do this too.”

JM: I love that. I imagine that is probably at least in part inspired by some of the experiences that you have had as an entrepreneur. I love that you used the “f-word” failing, people are so scared of that word, failing, like, “God forbid,” and I see it in my clients all the time I think especially as women entrepreneurs, I mean nobody wants to fail like no matter your gender, but I think especially when we feel like we are spinning so many plates, I mean we’re working so hard to take care of our families and to grow our businesses and we don’t want to let down the stakeholders, our employees, our vendors, our customers. We don’t want to let anyone down and that fear of failure can just eat you alive.

You have written a book, What Are the Odds? A mom shares her good, bad and what the f*ck moments, which can be found on Amazon and Audible. Talk to me a little bit about those challenges because I think those tough times are really like the great teachers and they are what allow you to be this incredible mentor and teacher for other people.

It’s so easy as entrepreneurs to think we’re the only ones, “I want to quit. I don’t want to do it. It’s too hard,” and we need people like you so desperately who have been through it and can say like, “Yeah, it is hard and things don’t always turn out the way that we want.” What were some of those challenges in your background that have made you that great teacher and mentor for your clients?

TP: One thing, I do say in the book that I am one of those people that I’m always going to do what I say. I find that’s really challenging for people. I think about by sharing that experience with people of, “I spat out to do it. It was either a personal challenge, a professional challenge, or whatever that was but I did it and here’s what happened.” It’s been telling them the story of, “I did this, I had to keep working at this, and I had to keep going with this.” I think that like you were saying, you only get that through experience.

I do feel like experience is your greatest teacher. You’re going to learn something in the process. So even in the book two, there are a lot of stories, personal and professional stories, that talk a lot about being a mom and a wife and some of the challenges I’ve had to overcome with certain things. But then I also penned life lessons of, “Here’s another life lesson I’ve learned as the result of this.” Everything is a lesson. There’s always a lesson in everything.

For me it’s like I’ve had those challenges where pivoting, I always say the word pivot because I feel like I pivoted a lot in my career too where I started something, I did it, I was successful at it, then I was like, “Now what?” I don’t know about you, Jennifer, but I’m finding that conversation is starting to unfold a lot even on social media with these high-powered individuals who reached that level of success and then they feel, they’re like, “I did it, what now? Now I need something different. I need something else to excite me again.” I think that I fell into that trap as well. I’m like, “Okay, that was fun. What’s next?” “Okay, it works. What’s next?” I feel like you really have to give yourself a good reality check of, “Is what I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Is it in alignment with that mission that I set out to do? Is this that purpose?”

For me a lot of the things that I was doing, I was like, “I think I’ve grown up from that. I think it’s time to try something different.” I don’t look at that as, “Oh, I failed at all of those things.” But I said, “No, I have succeeded in that while I’m onto something else.” And it’s totally fine, in my opinion, to keep reinventing yourself like I think even with you, you’re kind of taking some different role than that in your business. I think it’s what keeps life exciting. You’re like, “Okay, what’s my next challenge?

JM: And it’s giving yourself that permission to keep evolving and improving upon what you’re doing. I think sometimes we put this pressure on ourselves that we are supposed to stay where we’re at or we have committed to something, and certainly I’m not saying that we should just throw the commitments out the window, but I think there’s also a greater commitment to yourself. I think sometimes it’s so easy to just keep kind of trudging through and I love that you used the word pivot because it’s not quitting, it’s not failing, it’s not any of those things, it’s time to make a change.

Also, something that you said a few minutes ago was, “Is this still in alignment with my mission?” And that was very much what I went through in the last few years because I love social media. I especially love what social media represented in the early days of social media because it was this really new cool way to connect with people but I think we’ve come so far in the digital age that we are now swinging back to just really craving that in-person connection, that meaningful conversation. Really feeling connected to your network, and to your community, and working with women entrepreneurs was much more aligned with my mission. I love social media, I still love red balloon. But it’s interesting in going through this process of launching this new business really aligning with that mission, so that is such fabulous advice and such a great thing to point out.

How do you know when to pivot? Because you are working with these clients and you’ve made pivot certainly, you’ve got the experience to know but when you’re working with somebody and you think like, “Yeah, either this is not working out or there’s something bigger for you to be part of,” what is the advice that you give to your clients to say like, “Yeah, I do think it’s time for you to change something here?”

TP: I honestly think it boils down to is it fulfilling you? Like if you dig deep down, are you excited about it anymore or do you feel that what you’re doing is just a lot of busy work? It’s not where you want to be, you want to be somewhere else. I’ll give an example if it’s okay but I ran this women’s group for so long. I ran Mom Entrepreneur’s Club and I ran my Gals’ Inspiration Hub and I had to go back to “What was the mission of this group?” The mission of this group is really to bring women together who are authentic, who could be real, who could just tell it like it is, if something is bothering, you don’t hold back, say what you mean, and to really build this tribe and this community.

I think it got to a point with me where I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, this is becoming more hustle and more work than what I wanted it to be. I just wanted this to be a place where I could come and have a stress-free day and not have to worry about bringing all these women in.” It just got to a point where I’m like, “This is a lot for me to take on, handle, and manage, and let women know why they should be here,” like when it gets to that point where I’m like, “You know what? Happy hour sounds good with women, that sounds like fun.”

JM: Then it’s time for happy hour.

TP: Exactly and what’s funny about that is when I finally said, “You know what, ladies? I’ve really given this a lot of thought, I feel like I’m spinning my wheel a lot of times and trying to figure this out and I’ve done this for so long that maybe there’s something else on the other side. Maybe I need to open myself up to new opportunities.”

As soon as I did that and said, “What do you guys think of just doing quarterly happy hour where there’s no agenda, it’s just us coming together, and having good girl conversations?” They’re like, “Oh, amazing, let’s do it.”

JM: That’s awesome.

TP: I just think that sometimes you really have to look and say, “Is this what I set out to do?” And if not, then change it. Like you didn’t know this but social connect used to just be happy hour and that was it. So I decided, “Okay, could I take that same idea, but could I add some inspiration to it and really talk about authentic reconnecting?” I started to work toward, “Okay, what does this look like? How can I differentiate from other groups that are out there? How can I start to build up this community of people wanting that because of same old same old?”

JM: Which I think is a great thing to recognize too because rather than going out and kind of reinventing something else entirely, it was, “How can I bring more value to this experience? This thing that we’ve already started.” I’m sure when you start something like that, you’ve got a community of people that you are leading. And I’m sure that there are people who are very excited for the change, I think that there are probably people who are disappointed for the change. It’s really easy to get caught up in what our customers tell us they want, what our community tells us they want, and what our friends, family, spouses, and significant others tell us that they think we should be doing, I know that you’ve talked about this in the past but how do you make sure that you are following your path and not somebody else’s path?

TP: You know what, you touched on it a little bit ago because I think for me the hardest part was that I felt like I always had to people please and I always had to go in the direction of, “Well, they’re doing it that way, I should do it that way.” That was hard for me and I wrote about that very much in my book. I remember my coach at that time was like, “It’s your business, do it how you want to do it. Nobody else is running the show. You don’t have to answer to anybody else. If it doesn’t feel right, change it. If you don’t like, don’t do it.” That gave me so much freedom.

JM: It’s so empowering.

TP: Oh, my gosh, I’ve had multiple businesses, I had a marketing company, events planning company, and I run this Mom Entrepreneurs organization for a long time and it was really scary for me talking to you as a branding expert when my coach was telling me, “Now take the next leap and brand you. Everything you do is under what you do, everything that you do should align with what you do,” and that scared me.

JM: Why did that scare you? It’s funny because I think that’s very common. A lot of my clients are either stepping out from under the corporate umbrella, they’ve built a successful business brand, and now they want to use that expertise as an author, a speaker, a coach, or they’re looking at how they can complement something that they’ve created as a personal brand. For some reason, there’s so much fear there. Talk about what was going on for you at that time.

TP: Around that time, I think I was just in that state of uncertainty of, “I don’t know if I want to do this,” like I have a really big issue. One of my biggest struggles was just that whole self-promotion, always out there, my face is on everything. But it’s happening already. It’s like people were like, “I have a woman whom I met with for coffee and her cousin in Florida was like, ‘You need to meet this girl,’” like I’m not believing, not these women but I walked in she’s like, “Yeah, celebrity.” I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “Yeah, everywhere.” I’m like, “What?” You don’t realize that people are watching you.

JM: They are already talking about you.

TP: They are always watching you. I mean we had so many new faces at social connect and they’re like, “I just keep hearing it from other people and I had to come check it out for myself,” and that’s a great testimony and what I’m doing is really making a difference like it’s really making an impact out there.

But back to when I was told, “Hey, why don’t you just change it to this? Why don’t you just be the face and why isn’t it just your name?” I was scared because I’m like I want to hide behind an entity like I want to hide behind, not that I’m not a spokesperson to all the businesses I run, but now I was putting myself out there in front. Before, the services that I was providing, marketing, event management, now it’s like, “Oh, no. Now you’re the speaker, you are the mentor, you are the leader, you’re the inspiration.” It was such a different dynamic of, “Okay, I have to get comfortable with this and I have to start owning this if that’s what I want to do.”

JM: I think it can feel like so much pressure like you’re now taking on the ultimate responsibility for managing those impressions, no pressure. But really, I mean I think that’s what it comes down to but it’s this double-edged sword because on one hand I think a lot of times, I talk a lot in this podcast about women entrepreneurs and those perceptions that we have because that is the clientele that I work with, and certainly not that there’s no man in the world that feels like this but I think specifically with women, we are sometimes so challenged by dealing with self-image and what we put out there and feeling like it’s gotta look the way somebody else is doing it or somebody else is successful on social media or horrified by our headshots, the hair isn’t right, the weight isn’t right, there’s all these like crazy things.

But ultimately while personal branding I think can be such a struggle, it can be such a challenge to manage at all, and you add in the fear of really having that ultimate responsibility of like, “Yes, I am the person and the buck stops here,” I think the really positive bright side of it is just like you said people are already talking about you, Tisha, you’re already out there and you are creating so much and supporting so many entrepreneurs. People are talking about you. Wouldn’t you want to be the person who ultimately manages that perception of other people with your personal brand? That’s how I feel about it. That’s your opportunity to come across, providing that message that you want those people to see, if they’re already talking about it, why would you not be the person to manage that?

TP: Right, honestly that’s the one word that I hear most often when people are like, “You are this,” is authentic and that’s exactly what I set out to do like writing this book was a really good therapeutic exercise, “Okay, no holding back, you’re going to hear everything, everything that I’ve gone through,” I mean I dumped a lot of things into that book and it was kind of this, so September 15th is my birthday and so last September, I went out and I did, to me it was like, “Okay, I’m going to come out, world, and just tell you what it’s like,” I literally was like, “Okay, no more hiding, no more pretending, I am not this face that everything is perfect, I have all these opportunities flying at me all the time, no, I’ve had to work for this. I’ve had struggles too. I don’t have a perfect marriage, my kids are jerks sometimes.” I came out saying that and I felt like that was my bold move to tell the world that, “Hey, I’m this person, love it, hate it, I don’t care anymore. This is who I am and I don’t make any apologies for who I am,” you really have to go there.

JM: It’s really interesting because I think what you’re doing, it is the vision that I have for the future of branding, really and truly. I’ve had my business since 2005 and I started in the very, very early days. To give you an idea, I started on Myspace, which is crazy if you remember Tom, back in the day. So I saw this opportunity very early on in the early days of social media to really work with that medium. Over the years, what I have seen is we have now worked up to a point where it seems like the really most successful brands, whether they be personal or corporate brands are those that are just very beautiful, they are curated, they all have similar color schemes, or professionally photographed.

I’m smiling like a crazy person in front of this waterfall in Thailand with my perfectly coiffed hair, and it’s like, “My God, who lives like that?” Like bullshit, I call bullshit. So now I think the true leaders in the future especially when it comes to I mean, we are all so hooked into social media, I’m looking at those news feeds and seeing just what people want us to see. Like you said, “My kids are assholes sometimes,” my husband, we’ve been married almost sixteen years, he’s not going anywhere, I’m not going anywhere, is it perfect and happy and rainbows and unicorns every day? Absolutely not. Business is hard but if we don’t show that, people are always thinking that they are not good enough, they’re not living up to the expectation, why isn’t life perfect? And I think ultimately as leaders, we set people up for failure if we don’t show the good with the bad. I love what you’re doing in providing that honest view of things.

TP: Yeah, it’s needed. I don’t know if you saw the cover of my book but I’m literally sitting on a porch and I’m wearing ripped jeans, Converse, and a blouse. I remember a friend of mine saying, “That’s awesome, but I’m surprised you weren’t like in front of a big crowd in a nice business suit,” and I’m like, “You know me like I would much rather be wearing Converse and ripped jeans.”

JM: And everybody else is doing that versus you see somebody and it’s like, “Oh, who is this cool chick? What is she about?”

TP: Yeah, and it’s interesting because the moment that I put that, I’m on Linkedin, just the image of the book, I have so many people commenting, so many people just like, “I like you because you’re wearing Chuck’s,” “I like you because you seem real,” “I like you because you’re sitting on a porch.”

JM: You are a relatable human being.

TP: Right, you are relatable. Like, “I like you because I could go sit here and have a cup of coffee with you and have fun,” and I’m like, “That’s that brand that I like to work with.”

JM: That’s where you want to be. It’s interesting that you say that because I think sometimes we are our own worst critics but sometimes we have friends that could be like crappy critics too when they tell us the wrong thing to do. It’s interesting because you, I know, have been in the situation of feeling like you have trusted others too much and you’ve kind of had to learn that the hard way. What were some of those experiences and how did you learn that is what you were doing?

TP: You know for me, the biggest thing that, not everybody has told me this but I’ve had some like coaches, mentors tell me that the one thing that I’m doing that I need to stop doing is putting all my heart into it. That was really hard, that was hard to take. That was one of those pieces of advice that I say, “You know what? That’s you. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m going to keep doing this. I’m going to keep being me,” and I feel like that’s something that I think sets me apart from a lot of people too is I’m like, “I really do care about you, I really do care about your success. I really care about helping you progress to that next level because it’s hard,” like it’s the whole thing like when you are having kids, you need a tribe, you need a community to help you raise your kids. It’s absolutely true in anything you do. To me I’m like cutting the heart out of everything you do is such a wrong move and so that was one thing that I was like, “Yeah, thanks for that. Bye-bye, I’m not taking it.”

JM: You really have to pick and choose the advice that you take and that you leave. I think especially I know for me as an entrepreneur early on that is really difficult. You do have this tendency to compare yourself to what others are doing. I think a lot of times, I built my business on people who are willing to give me advice and people who are willing to meet me with coffee when I had like nothing to show for, in any kind of potential or expertise and God bless those people who invested in me and have inspired me to invest in other people moving forward. But it’s really easy to start getting advice and start trying to take all of it. How do you know now when somebody is giving you maybe some good sage advice from a place of expertise versus, “That’s very nice but no, that’s not really for me?”

TP: I think it all boils down to your gut. I think it boils down to, “Okay, I’m going to take that,” I mean like you said people are always going to give you advice and you may take it or you may say, “Well, you know what? I don’t think that’s really for me. I think maybe you should tell everybody that. It’s not specific to me.” Think about it first and say, “If I do this, what’s going to be the impact of that? If I change everything or if I take the heart out of my business, what is that ultimately going to be?”

JM: A completely different brand.

TP: Completely, completely different brand like I have a situation now where I’ve had some colleagues who are like, “You should change your image up, you should be like, I don’t want to be provocative but I’m like, “You know these types of clothes,” and like he sent me pictures and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, no.” I was like, “I’m a mother.” I don’t want to trust the wrong crowd. I want to talk to the right people and I’m like, “I don’t feel like changing my image to look like this person. It’s going to do that for me.

I’m very much that my way is that I want to just be me and if you like that, awesome. This is who I am. I think it’s working. I think I’m starting to attract the people that I want in my corner that are the same type and that’s ultimately what you want to do.”

JM: That’s it, you wanted to resonate with your audience for sure. I have loved to talking with you. You are so fun and you are just breadth and depth of your knowledge and what you are willing to share, I can’t wait to read your book. Tell people where they can find you.

TP: Sure. My website is tishamarieenterprises.com and as a big-time connector, I love doing virtual latte live especially if people are here in the Phoenix area. But virtual latte, so people can book a virtual latte with me and that’s at bit.ly/virtuallatte, simple as that.

Then as far as the book you mentioned, Jennifer, so it is on Amazon but it’s also on Audible which was a very fun project to record because it’s my voice recording, the book, and you get to really hear the depths and emotion of everything that I’ve gone through, the highs, the lows, the in between.

JM: That’s awesome. I am all about the books and the card these days. So really be sure to look for that.

TP: Oh, yes, you will laugh. You’ll laugh at some of these moments.

JM: Perfect. You can reach out and contact me anytime at brandwithcatalyst.com and if you click on Blog and Podcast, you can find this and other episodes. Tisha, thank you so much. I really enjoyed talking to you.

TP: Thank you. This was fun, I really enjoyed it.