Starting something new takes a ton of courage. It’s easier with an amazing friend by your side.
Michelle and JoyGenea, a platonic love story to end all love stories. First comes love, then comes co-working, then comes the podcast in the Apple feed.
Learn about Michelle and JoyGenea’s journey to podcasting – how they met, how they started, and where they got the audacity to think anyone would want to listen in on their conversations. This is just the beginning of a long podcast journey toward inspiration, enrichment, and even, at times, the best kind of failure.
M: Hi I’m Michelle, owner of BadCat Digital.
J: And I’m JoyGenea and I own Solutions by JoyGenea. Welcome to “If These Heels Could Talk!”
M: Today on our show, we’re gonna talk about “If These Heels Could Talk” wait, what? We’re gonna talk about how this started and how we met. People have been asking us about that and so we thought we would do a podcast about it. It’s not that we think that we’re so cool that everybody wants to know. No. But people have been asking us about “IF These Heels Could Talk” how it got it’s name. How it started. Why we started it. And so we thought we would address that today.
J: Why we’re gonna live past 7 episodes?
M: Yeah because we already recorded like forty.
J: I know. We’re here to stay. Keep on listening. So we should probably start with how we met.
M: Yeah and you remember this much better then I do. I vaguely remember a friend but I don’t know which one telling me that I had to meet you and then I ran into you at a Forum of Executive Women meeting. We were sitting at the same table.
J: We might have been or somebody I don’t even remember that much.
M: I don’t know.
J: I remember the same space.
M: It’s gone.
J: I just remember a couple of people were like, “Have you met Michelle yet?” And I’m like who’s Michelle?
M: Yeah and people said have you met JoyGenea yet. And I think I just recently told you I could have met you significantly earlier had Perkins not had a kitchen fire.
M: Yeah, So JoyGenea ran, at the time a few years ago, ran a business book club that was on Meetup and when I moved to St. Cloud and I didn’t know anybody, I was starting to network and in my millennial mind the best place to go and try and meet people that have similar interests was to check Meetup. And so I did that and I found this book club and I got all geared up and I was super nervous when I bought the book and I read like ¾ of it and then I read reviews of the end because I didn’t quite finish it and then I went. All I remembered was that it was at Perkins. And I didn’t know that St. Cloud had two Perkins. Perkinses.
J: We had three.
M: You had three? Oh my gosh. Well anyway so I went to the only Perkins that I knew about which is the one by Crossroads Mall.
M: And it was the day that they had a kitchen fire.
J: It was the day of.
M: The day of the fire.
J: So the whole thing is shut down.
- The whole thing is shut down and there’s you know like big signs on the door that are handwritten “I’m sorry we’ve had a fire.” And I was like crap so I checked the Meetup and there was no notice on there so I was like, oh ok well I guess it’s not meant to be and I went home and I finished the book. But that’s it and that was your Meetup.
J: It was and we would have met at that time.
M: And it was like a year before we met.
M: Yeah. It was that early.
J: So you were really new to the town.
M: Super new to town. I was just trying to meet people that liked things I liked.
J: Were you still driving to the cities?
M: Oh yeah. I hadn’t had started BadCat yet. I just wanted to meet some people and make some friends.
J: Ah I’m so sorry.
M: Except I’m not because I think we met at exactly the right time.
J: That is a really good example of just timing. So many things in life are just the timing and it does work out.
M: Absolutely. Whatever is supposed to happen kind of generally happens.
J: It does. So yeah, we had mutual friends and acquaintances that we were meeting as Michelle was getting to know the community better and so forth. And a few of those mutual friends are like oh my gosh you have to meet JoyGenea and I was running into those people who were like I just had lunch with this great gal and you would love her and she is doing SEO and you got to meet Michelle and I’m pretty sure it was our mutual friend Jon that totally… Like you two gonna finally have lunch. He’s like here’s her information. I’m like ok ok. I’ll reach out to her.
M: Get off your butt and meet this person.
J: And I do remember we had lunch at the Indian restaurant downtown.
M: At Kohinoor.
M: And there was like nobody else there. Which is unfortunate because Kohinoor is amazing.
J: It’s really good.
M: Yes. Super good food.
J: So we had really nice food.
M: Yeah it was like 2 hours we were there.
J: We sat and had nice conversation. I don’t believe at that time you had an employee yet
M: I didn’t have an employee. I didn’t have an office space. I was working from home.
J: Yup. You were fairly new. But we got we got talking about office space and we got talking about the fact that I was in need of an office space. I was being relocated for the umpteenth time. And you were like yeah I’m getting out. It’s time. And so we chatted then but then you moved into the…
M: I moved into the Maxcel building which is probably called something else.
M: Yeah it was a single office not thinking much about it. Like that’s just what worked out the best.
J: It was a really nice little office though.
M: It was a nice little office and then I hired somebody and stuck them in the corner in this little office and he was way too tall for it but it was great for the 3 months I needed it. And then when I had to upgrade and I went to the basement of the United Way building.
J: That’s when I moved in.
M: That when you moved in.
J: That’s when we officially like upgraded.
M: Yeah at the time I couldn’t afford the rent by myself. And I wasn’t willing to promise that much rent for a year without some help and it had two private offices in like a big open space and kind of a something that worked for a conference room.
M: And we talked to a third person about joining us but that didn’t happen.
J: NO and I think that was for the best.
M: That was for the best.
J: That was great that you continued to grow.
J: …and expand into the open space which become by the time we left weren’t you up to 4 people?
M: By the time we left I was up to 4 people in space that really only comfortably fit 2.
M: And they were snarking at each other. And I don’t blame them.
J: No, no, it was cozy.
M: Yeah it was cozy.
J: There was no private conversations for anybody.
J: It was cozy.
M: It was cozy.
J: But it was a great first office space.
M: It was a good intermediary office, yeah.
J: And for me I had figured out by now that if I was going to rent space, I work really well in collaborative co-working spaces.
M: Well you like the energy.
J: I do. I really like the energy and the people and I like to bounce and idea off or two but then I’m going to hibernate a little bit and get my work done.
M: When we moved again it was a big jump up and I knew that we could have a conversation about you leaving and that would allow me… but it wasn’t going to give me enough time. Like I really would have only gotten another 6 months out of that space.
M: Even if you left. So then it was nice when we jumped up significantly in space and money because the rent went up by like 4 times and I had to sign a three year lease because now things are real.
J: Oh yeah.
M: And so it was really nice that you came with us.
J: And I loved coming with.
M: It was great.
J: But the podcast comes out of being in the little space in the lower basement. I like to call it the waterpark offices.
M: I call it a dungeon but whatever.
J: I called it the waterpark.
M: Oh yeah because those windows were like right at street level and like people would drive by and splash.
J: Any time it rained you would get this shhhhhhhh like somebody was coming down a waterslide.
M: Or being in a carwash.
J: Pretty much all day. It was great. So we were in this space in this basement area. Well-lit though.
M: It was nice.
J: And she has all of these employees out there she and I, Michelle and I would get together periodically to go over a topic.
M: Just to gab.
J: Right. And her staff couldn’t help but listen to us and they had a hard time working.
M: Right because it was entertaining.
J: Yeah, they were listening to us like that was so interesting what you were talking about.
M: Yeah, we would talk about business things. I mean it was not like let’s get together and talk about hair.
M: Cuz that doesn’t really interest either one of us.
J: Well that’s a fast conversation for us.
M: Yes, I like your hair. Yes, I like yours too. Moving on. No, we would chat about client challenges. We would chat about what we were reading. We would chat about business ideas, goals, growth things, and you were really helpful. I am diverting a little bit. I think the biggest thing that was really helpful for me in that whole scenario was how much the staff trusted you to help them with the things that they needed help with. You know when they weren’t quite like where I was super busy or they couldn’t quite feel like they could come to me they could come to you and it felt like I was providing that regardless of whether they could come to me or not even though it was all your time.
J: That opportunity of assisting you growing your business helped me to know I wasn’t gonna be wired for that and that actually wasn’t what I wanted. And so it was a great opportunity to support you and to encourage that and be like wow I don’t think I’m built for that. Like we are two different women.
M: We are. We are.
J: We’re two different women. With different risk levels. We have just different goals.
J: Similar values. Different goals.
J: And so it was wonderful to be part of that and it did really help me also be reminded that I love to be a coach.
J: And that is one of my strengths.
M: And train.
J: And I need to be doing that and so it was really helpful. Like that brought a lot into my space but that was having those conversations. And so in that space it was brought up to us. “Why don’t you guys just have a podcast?” Like somebody in that space said a comment or we said something like you guys always stop when we’re talking like what’s up and they’re like, well it’s like a podcast like we can just listen to you guys and we learn so much. And I remember we kind of looked at each other and we’re like why don’t we do a podcast. You know I thought about that.
M: Yeah and I had thought about doing a BadCat podcast but I never really solidified a concept. You know there’s a zillion podcasts and most of them flame out really fast.
J: The statistics are after 7.
M: Yeah, I mean it’s kind of like when blogging was new when people would set up a blog and make a blog and write for a blog post and then get over it. And so I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to start a podcast, put a bunch of work in and then just let it die.
J: Well considering the industries that we’re in.
J: We couldn’t do that. Like the reality of that would look very poorly on us.
M: Yes. You just have to do it. If you’re going to do something you have do it all the way. And so that was daunting cuz I didn’t really know what I was doing. I still don’t really know.
J: Yeah no we still don’t. Were still figuring it out.
J: So that was the initial idea and concept. Like we heard that and we’re ok and then last May we actually started recording.
M: Yes. May of 2019.
J: And got the equipment. Like we said ok this is a thing. Let’s start to put it on the schedule and at least set aside an hour and that was when we were in the new space.
M: We were in the new space and if you listen to some of those podcasts, some of them haven’t been released yet as of the time of recording this. Some of them are kind of echoey. We were still figuring out sound. We were still figuring out topics and kind of rambley a little bit and timing.
J: Oh yeah. They’re learning.
M: They’re learning podcasts.
J: And so after we gotten enough in the queue…
J: Then it was time to start cuz we even started recording before we had a name.
M: Yeah we just started figuring out it was a thing.
J: Like would we really do this for a couple of weeks or are we going to flame out.
M: Can we schedule the time for this? And we didn’t tell anybody what we were doing because that way if it flames out you haven’t publicized it and by recording for, I’m not even kidding, six months in advance of launching anything, we were able to create a backlog of content and topics that as we pushed them out here in 2020. We’ll be able to record new and always stay ahead of it and so life and clients and timing won’t keep us from releasing a weekly podcast.
J: Which is nice.
J: One of the things I learned.
M: And it is something I would recommend to anybody who does this. Is start. Just start and get a huge backlog of content, because right at the beginning when you’re excited about something you want to tell everybody about it.
J: Oh yeah.
M: But instead put that energy into creating it and then wait until its somewhat ready before you tell everybody about it.
J: I think that’s some of the wisdom of just being in business a few times and starting a few businesses. Proof of concept.
M: Proof of concept.
J: We had an idea. We thought we would work well together. We thought we might like it, but we didn’t know.
M: No, we didn’t know. We thought well maybe it won’t be entertaining. Maybe what we think is entertaining nobody else will think is entertaining. Maybe what we kind of feel is chemistry and conversation while we’re talking nobody else will hear.
M: And that happens. It happens all the time. Yeah.
J: So once we proofed out the concept then we went to Michelle’s team.
J: Of brilliant writers and amazing…
M: Figure out what we’re going to call this.
J: Yeah and that process always kind of starts with everybody has a keyboard.
J: And everybody is googling to decide if domain names are available. So you come up with an idea then everybody googles to see what pops up when they search.
J: Google that.
M: Or there already podcasts. So how we typically do that brainstorming as a team is everybody does it individually. I give everybody a brief. This is what this is about. This is kind of what we’re trying to communicate in the name and then everybody goes off independently and makes a list. Just blurts out a list. And then some really quick – fancy industry term is brute force search which is just googling but – brute force search to see is the name already taken. Is there a podcast called that already? If the name is already taken by something that’s not a podcast, what is it? Is it something terrible? Is it something that urban dictionary might have an entry for that we might be a little uncomfortable with?
J: Well and this was I can’t even tell you what the multiple names were.
M: Oh my gosh yeah, there were hundreds of them.
J: There were.
M: And we sit together as a team and then people cross off the ones that don’t qualify based on those parameters. Really loose parameters.
M: Super loose and then we get together and we talk. We talk them through. We spitball them around. What does this mean to me? What does it mean to you? Because something might sound like a good idea when you’re in your head, when you’re typing, and then you get into the real world and you’re like yeah no that sounds like strip club.
M: Yeah. Or that reminds me of my great aunt Betsy’s doily collection. Whatever.
J: You’re just like no.
M: So that’s where it came from. That’s where it came from. That’s how it all kind of boiled down.
J: And in the end this was the name that when we said it everybody in the room just kind of went yeah…….
M: Well and it does a couple of things. The idea of “If These Heels Could Talk,” you get the idea of talking. The idea that it’s a podcast. You get this kind of concept of something that somebody wishes they could say in the moment but don’t really feel they can say, which is what women feel a lot of the time. We talk about heels because it is a very woman identified noun. It’s a very female identified thing. But we’re not saying women talking, it’s more clever than that. And they’re also considered more professional. You know it’s a more professional shoe. What we were looking for was a symbol of a professional woman and that’s what heels did for us. I can tell you that at almost 40 the only time I wear high heels is when I have to. Definitely related to work. Unless I am valeting.
J: I don’t mind heels. I don’t mind them.
M: Well I have a pair of, I call them valet heels.
M: Yeah. Heels that I actually can’t really walk in very well and they’re really pinchy and they hurt. But if were going on a nice night on the town they’re gorgeous and they make me feel really sexy so you wear them in the car when you’re not driving because you can’t drive in heels like that. Well I can’t anyways. And then you valet because you can’t walk more then walk a block
M: In these shoes and then so they are shoes that are made to walk from the car to the table in the restaurant and back to the car and that’s it.
M: Yeah and then you have to be done.
J: You’re not going long both distances
M: Nooooooo. This is not a fire drill kind of shoe.
J: I think every woman’s got a few pair of those heels.
J: I think we all have those.
M: I have to tell you that right now they’re in my closest and they’re super dusty.
J: Ohhhhhhhhh. We should dust those off.
M: I should break those out.
J: We should. Maybe when we have our debut. Our official launch.
M: Are we going to have a red carpet launch of a podcast?
J: Our style.
M: That seems like a really bad idea.
J: Our style which is call me for coffee. On a day when we get all dressed up.
M: So that’s where the name came from. It was a brainstorm. We did see that there were a couple of other podcasts that used a similar framework. The if these blank could talk and it is a reference to a book and movie. Several things that have to do with women empowerment or women’s rights have that kind of framework and so we liked it for that reason. That didn’t seem like a drawback to us.
J: I think about it as some of the things that are just unspoken in a space. Like how an object or an animal or something could tell a very different story observing situations as they kind of happen.
J: And I think of that if my shoes could you know kind of tell some of the stories of the places that I’ve been and the things that we’ve done and the things you shouldn’t do.
M: And the whole idea of walking in somebody else’s shoes. And empathy. It just had a lot of ideas in it that we liked.
J: Yep so that’s how we came up with that name. Then it was a matter of buying domain names and nailing down everything else and that is a whole different podcast we’re gonna have about naming and branding.
M: We are going to do that. We’re going to talk about naming and branding and from a marketing prospective and research on your name and brand and so.
J: So this was a nice little warm up. There’s a reason why we continue to do this. Like we would have probably only made it seven episodes or less.
M: We probably only would but you moved out.
J: I moved out so this keeps us able to have conversation.
J: And also we had a greater why.
M: We each did.
J: Yup and so some of my whys were about teaching. Being able to pass along some of the life experiences that I’ve had. That I wish somebody else would kind have told me about beforehand. I might have listened. I might not. Removing some of perfectionism that I think we place on ourselves and on other people.
J: We purposely launched a few of these podcasts that are less than perfect.
M: Oh absolutely.
J: And we do it on purpose.
J: Like that’s why we’re not going to go back and re-edit. I literally just edited it up one of our old first podcasts. It was painful.
M: Yeah and we’re not going to do that. I want people to understand the process and see that when you start doing something you suck at it.
J: And I’m with you. I want people to kind of see that so we’re gonna list that right in the description that this was our third recording and you’ll hear that. We’ve made progress. There is still great information but this is…
M: But you’ll hear it. You’ll hear it in the recording
J: Absolutely and that’s important to us. I’m enjoying the learning from you.
M: And me too.
J: When we have these conversations.
M: Yes. Me too.
J: And now we’re going to be bringing in guests.
J: And so I’m looking forward to learning from them and adding them to the content of what we’re doing. And then just overall sharing along the way. My collaborative style. I don’t want to hear myself all the time. I like the chance for us to collaborate.
M: I was thinking about this this morning and I was thinking about the bubble of entrepreneurship and the kind of loneliness of it cuz it is. It’s very lonely. I mean it’s even in the name, solopreneur. You’re in a bubble. You’re yourself. And sometimes feedback from the outside of that bubble can feel like criticism and sometimes it is and sometimes it’s unhelpful and sometimes it’s helpful and you have to learn how to hear what’s helpful and ignore what is not and that’s a really big learning curve.
J: And it’s much easier when you can do it with other people that are in similar spaces.
M: Yes and both you and I process out loud. Like I think and process at the same time. And so as a person with staff I caught myself very early on dreaming, processing, visioning with them and that caused confusion and anxiety and all kinds of challenges.
J: I remember watching it.
M: Yeah and so I had to specifically stop myself from doing that anymore. I can’t sit with staff and ruminate out loud.
M: Because it’s confusing.
J: It is for them. They take things as fact.
J: When you’re processing and those are two very different spaces
M: They are. Then it just feels really unstable and that causes people anxiety because it is their job. It’s their livelihood and they want to feel a certain level of stability and security with that.
J: And you want to provide that.
M: And I want to provide that because it’s dumb to just talk out loud and have that be the reason that somebody feels like they need to get a different job.
J: And don’t we all have enough stress?
J: I think most people humans are walking around with too much stress.
M: But it isolates me even further.
J: It does.
M: So for me part of my why…
J: I was just going to say please Michelle.
M: Part of my why is that I really get fed as an entrepreneur by talking to other people who own businesses at any size because there is so much spectacular information and experience in what they have to offer. I haven’t been doing this very long and I’m more than capable being the first person in the room to say I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
J: We both will.
M: I’m making it up as I go. And so that’s part of my why. And another part of my why is that I just know that there is some 24-year-old sitting in their parent’s basement with an idea who maybe doesn’t have the confidence that it takes to make that idea into something for themselves. I want them to have that confidence. I want them to make that choice and I also want them to make that choice with a realistic idea of what they’re choosing.
J: I agree. I like to bring the realistic. Some of the reality of it. It’s like this looks really pretty on paper – that’s my engineering brain – like this all looks good on paper here’s what it is like to actually have to put that plan into action.
M: Well and what does it feel like when you’re elated in one moment and devastated in the next. I mean in literally moment to moment. And what kind of fortitude it takes to experience that and then go home and leave it at work.
J: At least leave most of it at work.
M: Leave enough of it at work.
J: Yeah. I can’t say that I can separate that fully but there’s adaptability to it.
M: Still working on it.
J: Yes. We are getting a line built.
J: We’re in that process.
M: Because it’s really important because my partner, he doesn’t understand to that level.
J: Not just that – I don’t think mine wants to hear about it all the time.
J: Like that’s the other thing
M: Well and your partner is a solopreneur too. So he will understand but he had his own.
J: Right. He’s got his own.
M: Yeah so inspiring other people to do this. Encouraging young women, especially, to have the kind of belief in themselves that it takes to stand up and say to the world – I have something to offer. That’s a big deal. And it took me a long time and I’m still struggling with it. And it affects all kinds of business decisions, especially your pricing.
J: Oh, absolutely.
M: So all of those things are something that I hope and then I do have to say I have a business why as well. Do you have business why as well as well as a personal why?
J: A little bit of a business why.
M: What is yours?
J: Oh darn it I was gonna, that was good.
M: Were you going to have me go first?
J: I was so gonna let you go first. You know this started out when I first started telling people that I was creating a podcast with you they were like well how’s that going to make you money. And what was great about that is it helped me to be able to verbally tell people to just process through and say you know what not everything I do makes money. It still might look business related and this my hobby so back off.
J: And I got really good at that line. Like no no no this my hobby. I get to have a hobby. I get to have a hobby and have fun.
J: And this is really like in my world this is a hobby.
M: It’s fun.
J: I added up these things. Like I have a good time. This is fun to me. So I’m like this is my hobby. On top of that I’m very clear that any opportunity that I have to share some of my philosophies and my values helps my business to grow.
J: It helps people to get to know me better. To know that at the end of the day everything in business when it comes to sales know, like, and trust.
J: And this allows me to have people have an opportunity to get to know me better and decide if they kind of get to know me they like me and if they trust me.
J: And so that’s kind of my business why. That was a bonus really out of it.
J: Cuz like I said I had to kind of express to people, it’s only taking up X amount of time per week. And I’m calling it hobby. And it will have business pluses but I can’t be focused on like that can’t be my only reason.
J: I’m not built that way.
M: Right and the thing is neither am I because I look at what we’re doing and I think to myself where do I want BadCat to be in 5 years, in 10 years? What is it that I want my role in BadCat to be? Because if I’m still managing clients and in the day to day of the business in 5 years then I will really feel like I failed at something. I am looking to run a business, not work in a business. And so I know that’s not gonna happen to tomorrow and that’s fine but I am working towards that. But then what is my role? And so part of what I’m hoping my role becomes in the next 5 and 10 years is to represent BadCat by speaking, by doing presentations, both about marketing and about business and about women in business and entrepreneurship and about our industry. And I think that a podcast is a good way to start that journey and I don’t know what that end game looks like yet. That’s part of what our brains do as marketers.
M: We’re not – and go back and listen to the podcast we did called Why Can’t We All Just Get Along about sales versus marketing. I do things – and I need to get my husband to listen to that one again because I do things for my business thinking about how it can get me in front of people? How it can get people to know who we are? What we do? To know us, like us, and trust us. And then I trust that the business will come after and it’s worked so far and so for me to say we have this sales goal and this podcast is gonna draw this much revenue… that’s not why started it and that’s one of the reasons that we don’t actively seek sponsors. Instead, we give away the sponsorship time to the non-profits that we work with because we love them and we want…
J: And at this point they aren’t even aware that we’ve done this.
M: Right, I mean I’ve told them a little bit.
J: I sent a podcast now that we’re published I sent it out to one of them and they listen and they’re like we’re in the middle of that. Like you didn’t even tell us like you were promoting us and I’m like no we didn’t like its free..
M: Because that’s not why we did it. We did it because the podcast…
M: Expert and consultant told us to have a sponsorship section.
M: And were like ugh….I don’t want to sell sponsorships.
M: But let’s do this. This feels like us. And so we recorded a bunch of them and I think it’s really kind of charming. I think it’s cute.
J: But I thoroughly enjoy being able to bring light on things that we support.
J: And the two of us support a lot of things.
M: And a lot of the same things. And a lot of things that are really different.
- Yeah. So that’s kind of my business why. I do see there being a bigger future in it but in terms of you know why are you doing this and how is being justified with your time. It’s like babe backoff because this is my business and I’ll spend my time how I want and if I want to spend my time tuning a ukulele because I think that somehow it will pay off in eight years, then that’s what I’m gonna do.
J: I know.
M: By the way I can’t tune a ukulele.
J: Bet there’s a video for that.
M: No. Well, yes, but I’m sure that there’s a bunch of them.
J: You would rather be quilting. We know,
M: I’m very tone deaf. Very,
J: Oh, we may need to explore that. That can be entertaining later on.
M: Really not. Just ask anybody who have ever been to karaoke with me.
J: Ooohhhhh that’s awesome.
J: So thank you. Where this goes from here I promise you we will continue to grow.
J: That’s what I would tell our listeners. We’re going to have interviews and we’re gonna have topics that you may have seen very little about sometimes. Other topics that you’ve maybe heard a variety about but not our prospective or not our views.
M: So I can you tell right now we are coming up on publishing our seventh episode. That will happen this week.
M: And it is currently as we are doing this the end of January 2020 we’ve been recording for seven months and we have about 15 edited podcasts scheduled to go out in the next 15 weeks. As we record these podcasts in the midst we might interrupt that schedule.
M: Because some things are timelier or you know this or that but in general, I can tell you that we are going to leap over by huge bounds the seven podcast average.
J: Heck yeah.
M: So If These Heels Could Talk is here to stay. We really appreciate you subscribing, listening and thank you so much for joining us on this journey!