442 Angela Lauria: “Be Willing to Suck”
Is 2020 the year you finally write that book you’ve been talking about for years? We can all easily fall into the trap of procrastinating on our dreams. This new decade is an opportunity to step into the power of now. No excuses.
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who has helped well over 1,000 authors get their books published.
Dr. Angela E. Lauria is the founder of The Author Incubator™ and creator of the Difference Process™ for writing a book that matters. In 2018, The Author Incubator was ranked #275 on the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies and #87 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur 360. Angela’s program, The Author’s Way, was named Coaching Program of the Year, and Angela was named by Entrepreneur Magazine, as one of the top 10 most inspiring entrepreneurs to watch – one of only 2 women on the list. She lives at The Author Castle in McLean, Virginia with her son Jesse and her Castle cat Princesses Feathers & Foxy McFuzz Bucket.
Angela Lauria will be here in a moment…
And first …
Please make sure you take a moment, follow Wings of Inspired Business on facebook @wingspodcast, Twitter @MelindaWings and Instagram @melindawittstock2020. It’s such an honor to be featured by Entrepreneur Magazine as #8 of the top 20 podcasts in 2020 alongside some big names like NPRs Guy Raz of How I built this, Lewis Howes School of Greatness and Tim Ferriss. If you like what you’re hearing, please review us on iTunes so more women can find these amazing interviews and soar in business.
Now back to the inspiring Angela Lauria, founder of The Author Incubator™ and creator of the Difference Process™ for writing a book that matters.
Angela has been helping people free their inner Author since 1994, helping over 1,000 authors-in transformation write, publish, and promote their books. Her clients have been seen everywhere from Vanity Fair to O Magazine to the Today Show, and her books have been responsible for over $100 million cumulative revenue. She has a B.A. and and M.A. in Journalism and Media Affairs from The George Washington University and a PhD in Communications from The European Graduate School.
She is the author of several books including Make ‘Em Beg to Be YourClient: The Nonfiction Authors’ Guide to Selling, Serving, and Funding a Movement, Make’Em Beg to Publish Your Book: How To Reach A Larger Audience & Make A Full-Time Income In The Extremely Overcrowded World of Personal Development, The Incubated Author: 10 Steps to Start a Movement with Your Message, and The Difference: 10 Steps To Writing A Book That Matters.
Angela has grown her company to hit 8 figures in just 5 years. Today she shares how she did it, including her secrets for scaling and building a great team – and of course, what it takes to write a great book and how she can help you write yours.
Ready to fly with Angela Lauria? I am.
Melinda Wittstock: Angela, welcome to wings.
Angela Lauria: Thanks for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m so excited to talk to you. I think it’s amazing watching the success of the Author Incubator. I think I was first aware of you on Facebook in your really early days and then in just five years, you’ve taken this business to an eight-figure business. That’s a lot of growth in a short period of time. What was the secret? What was the thing that really propelled you so far, so fast?
Angela Lauria: Well I do have a little advantage and probably some of your listeners have this as well. But I grew up in an entrepreneurial home. So my dad owned a business. He’s actually in the Hot Rod Hall of Fame. He built Hot Rods, 1927 to 1934, Ford Replicas. And my mom was the bookkeeper. And so our family-work was just a big part of our life. There wasn’t… I’ve never really understood the phrase, work-life-balance. Because how do you balance something that’s a subset of something? Work is a part of life. It’s not a separate thing that can be balanced on a scale. I’ve always felt like if you loved your job, you’re not trying to balance your job with everything else. It’s part of everything else.
Angela Lauria: So that’s my favorite stuff to do is work. Here’s the funny story, when I… I don’t know why this is the case, but they say that thing, children learn what they live. So I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad. But there was always this story told about how when my dad was 12, he got his first copy of Hot rod magazine. And he really wanted to buy a hot rod. So he got a shoe shine kit and he would stand on the steps of St Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. And on Sundays he would shine people shoes as they were going into and coming out of church.
Angela Lauria: And by the time he was 16, he had saved enough money to buy his first car. And that was pretty much when he started his business. There were a couple of iterations and he got through high school. But pretty much, that was when he started his business. So I always thought that sometime between the of 12 and 16, I would find what I was most passionate about in the world. And then I would make lots of money doing that thing. And I thought that’s what everyone else was doing too.
Angela Lauria: So it wasn’t until I was 21, that I learned people did not love their jobs and do what they were most passionate about. And by that time, I was already established in the publishing industry. I wrote my first book at 13, started working in publishing at 20, and had my first six-figure writing job before I was 25.
Melinda Wittstock: So Angela, you’re in this entrepreneurial family, but you find yourself working for people, what was the spark where you finally said, okay, wait a minute, I’ve just got to do this on my own terms.
Angela Lauria: Yeah. I was doing a book called The Windows Server Backup 2.0. Sexy, huh?
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that sounds [inaudible 00:19:14].
Angela Lauria: yeah. I can get you a copy if you need it. But I was generating 1900 leads a month from this book. And I went to a writer’s conference and I thought I was going to… Just as a personal growth exercise, I’d always journaled. I thought I was going to write a memoir just for fun and creative expression, not to make any money or get famous. So I went to a memoir writing workshop, and when I got there, I was very shocked to find out all the other participants. And there were 24 people. The other 23 people were all life coaches. I had never even heard of this word.
Angela Lauria: This was back in 2010, three years before I started my business. And I met all these life coaches and they were thinking of writing a memoir to get clients. And they wanted my advice. So I was just talking to the participants or whatever over lunch. And I was explaining how I use these books that I wrote to drive leads for the company I worked for. I was a chief marketing officer, a chief content officer, and I would write books and drive leads. So I just told them how to do it because it’s super easy. And then they would ask me how I edited it or how I published it or how I did covers.
Angela Lauria: So after the conference, I opened up my conference call line every Friday. So I had a bridge line at work and I just gave that out. And every Friday at 1230, I did a free call that was only available to the 24 people who went to that event with me. I didn’t know a free call was a lead gen strategy. I was just trying to help out some new friends. And every week, I would do this free call and answer any of their book questions. And every week, another one of them would hire me. And over three years, all 23 people plus two of the three presenters at the conference ended up hiring me to help them with their book.
Angela Lauria: So my business really chose me. I spent three years resisting it saying I liked my job, but life coaches were really begging me to help them to create a strategy that would generate leads and a steady flow of business from a book. And that’s what we do. Most of our authors generate about 480 leads a quarter, somewhere around 2000 leads a year. Which is… Usually, they’ll sell a thousand books, they give away another 2000 in exchange for email addresses and they’ll end up getting somewhere between 40 and 60 clients that are the best readers.
Angela Lauria: So out of those 3000 people, around 50 of those 3000 people, we’ll hire them. And most of our authors charge somewhere between $2500 and $10,000 to work with them. And that’s really how they make money. So it’s somewhere between $125,000 and $500,000, just by finding 50 amazing readers from 3000 out of 3000 people who get your book. That’s kind of the whole secret. And it was the exact secret that I use to market software for all those years.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness! I’ve read a number of your books. And of course you’ve made… We’re going to get into all the incredible authors that you’ve created and your success in getting other people’s books published. But your own… I remember reading in one of your books how you had to go very, very narrow, narrow, narrow, narrow, focused. Find your, what did you call it? Your-
Angela Lauria: Wee Portal.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? And there are so many people who don’t have the confidence to go narrow. They want to market everybody. And that book was really game changing. So why don’t you to talk a little bit about that. How you had to go narrow to go big.
Angela Lauria: Yeah, that’s the thing most people… I think the biggest mistake that people make in business is trying to reach everyone. What Seth Godin says is, you should try to reach the smallest viable market. What I say is, you need to create a wee portal, a tiny little door that people know they can walk through. And just by walking through that door, they come into the whole garden of everything you offer. But if you just say, I have an amazing garden, people will never find it. Because there’s no entrance. It’s not clear how to get to the garden. So your wee portal is that one problem that you solve even though you do other stuff as well, but it’s the one problem that you’re known for.
Angela Lauria: So I help people with all aspects of marketing, social media, email writing. I’m a sales trainer, I help people create their signature programs. I have a productivity course, I’m a business coach, I do a lot of mindset work. But the only thing I ever market is get your book done in nine weeks. And we have a 99.6% success rate with our authors finishing their book in nine weeks or less, at that rate. So we are hands down, unquestionably the best in the world at helping you get your book done in nine weeks. Nobody else’s numbers come anywhere close to ours.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s an amazing completion rate. So presumably, you’re qualifying people very, very closely. I know you have one of the best funnels that I think I’ve ever seen. Well, and it’s counterintuitive too, because don’t you pay people to get no’s?
Angela Lauria: Yeah, we only pay for no’s. We only pay for nos. When I found-
Melinda Wittstock: So that’s so [categorical 00:25:50]. I want to explain that [crosstalk 00:25:53].
Angela Lauria: I should say, our salespeople have a great base. What I found at the beginning was I was paying people a commission and it was, whatever it was, I don’t know, $1,000 a sale or $500 a sale, whatever it was. And anyone who would pay to get in, our salespeople wanted that commission, understandably. So they were taking anyone and then I had to deal with assholes in my program. So instead, I said, well, if you were hitting your numbers, how much would you be making? And I paid our salespeople that salary, assuming they were going to hit their numbers or they’d leave within a couple months. And then I bonus them when there’s somebody who’s begging to get into the program and the sales person says no. The only bonuses they get are when they say no to somebody who would have been an asshole. An asshole or just not a fit.
Angela Lauria: So there are a lot of people who just would not follow the rules and our program is really structured. So our recruiting is, it’s a bit like recruiting for the army rangers. You really just need to a super smart 250-pound, five foot two computer nerd, even if they’re otherwise great. Because it’s just going to be unpleasant for everyone. So you’re recruiting but you got to fit a certain profile or everyone will be unhappy.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh yes. That’s so true. But I when you think of writing a book in nine weeks, that seems amazing actually, to be able to progress that quickly. And that’s to actually getting it published or just getting to manuscript?
Angela Lauria: Manuscript-finished.
Melinda Wittstock: Manuscript-finished.
Angela Lauria: It takes longer to publish it. But on getting that first draft manuscript is the big hurdle. And we see that once people have crossed that hurdle, they’re extremely likely to actually publish. So about 86%, will actually publish. What I find people do, is they do too much editing before they finish writing the manuscript. So we have people write the whole manuscript before we do their edits. So they don’t start second guessing themselves after each chapter.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s beautiful. Because you get into flow when you’re writing like that. If you start second guessing yourself, you limit your thinking. You stay on the left brain, you get out of inspiration flow. That’s really smart. Do you find that people have a hard time doing that? How do you get people to do that?
Angela Lauria: They don’t have an option. I take their money and we don’t do refunds.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. So it’s just like you do it or you don’t. I mean that’s,-
Angela Lauria: I’m like, “I’m happy for you to pay me to argue with you, but I’m not giving you your money back. So you said you wanted to get your book done, do it my way. What am I going to tell you?”
Melinda Wittstock: Well, you know what you’re doing. So this is the thing. I joke with my partner who works in the mergers and acquisitions space and he’s a longtime serial entrepreneur, that often people either want to be right or they want to be rich. There’s right or rich.
Angela Lauria: I still [inaudible 00:29:33].
Melinda Wittstock: Right. So when you have clients that really need to be right, it’s like, well, they can’t possibly… They don’t have a book publishing business. They don’t have your expertise.
Angela Lauria: That’s what I tell them. I’m like, “If you want to create a process for writing a book, you already paid me 15K, why not do my process first, and then go do it your way later. You can write another book next month. But for now, you already paid to do my process. You might as well learn it. I mean, it could be stupid and yours could be better, but why don’t we decide that after you do mind, since you paid for it anyway.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Angela Lauria: It’s kind of hard to argue with.
Melinda Wittstock: Because there’s so many people, I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs, particularly in service-based businesses and coaching and all of that, that do attract difficult clients or assholes. How do you figure out who’s a good fit, who’s not, who’s going to be difficult at the outset, at that beginning of the funnel? And how do your sales people know who to say no to?
Angela Lauria: We have… I think there’s like 27 different checkpoints. But basically, if someone can’t follow the instructions in the application, we don’t expect them to get bitter when we take their money. So for instance, if there is a question that reads, tell us about your book and the client responds, I was born in Michigan in 1964. We’re like, they’re going to be pains in the ass. If they’re pains in the ass now, they’re going to be pains in the ass later, reject that manuscript. If they can’t answer a question… So if we say something like how… One of the things we’ll ask to qualify people is how much are you making in your business currently? And we will accept clients with really almost any number if they can answer the question. The number can be zero. But if they do not know the answer to the question, or refuse to answer the question, we won’t take them.
Melinda Wittstock: So you have not-
Angela Lauria: If there’s a big [inaudible 00:31:49], if they’re weird about money, if they’re like, I would need to sign an NDA, if they’re not going to talk about it, we’re like, “Okay, not a fit, bye.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Yeah. So, so smart. So, did you start out being that confident in being able to do it or did you just have to learn the hard way on taking on clients who chose to be so crazy?
Angela Lauria: I learned the hard way and it was awful. Really very painful.
Melinda Wittstock: I think we all do, especially at an early stage of a business. Because you want to bring in revenue and you want to succeed and I think that’s-
Angela Lauria: That’s every dollar. Somebody waved a dollar in my face. I was like, yes, please. Some of that was some blood money.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. And that’s the worst actually, because the people who are going to, especially the people who are going to quibble about money, tend to be the people who are going to be the toughest clients.
Angela Lauria: The people who pay the least definitely take up the most time.
Melinda Wittstock: Why is that? I’ve always been asking about that.
Angela Lauria: I don’t know. But it is so consistent and the worst clients are when you really love someone and you want to give them your services for free because you can see their potential. Those are the worst clients of all. When you’re just like, “Aw, I would just give this to you because I can see how you can use it.” And then they don’t.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, well they don’t want it. I mean you have to really want something I think to succeed. Like you’ve got to be willing to have skin in the game or put investment into it of some kind. And yes, you have to be willing to follow instructions. So what was the pivotal moment? I’m curious about the day, the moment, the time, where you just kind of said, that’s it, no more, people are going to go through this qualification process. Was that an abrupt thing or did it just happen and evolved over time?
Angela Lauria: It was actually pretty abrupt. I had a coach at the time who is telling me this and it was, you probably done this too, I know, you’re right, I know. No, I just need to fire this client. I know, you’re right. I’m just going to get through this book and then I’m not going to take another client like this. And then that client… Oh! I remember her name, I remember everything about her book. Every time, I kept telling my coach, I’m like, I’m just going to finish this book and I’ll never do it again. And he was like, fire her and refund her. And I was like, I’ve done so much work. I’ve put in so much time. I would rather just finish it, but then I won’t do it again. You’re totally right.
Angela Lauria: And then from that point, where he was already telling me to fire her, it was probably another thousand dollars. I think at the time the program was 3,500 bucks and it’s now like 18 grand. So this was way early days, and I maybe worked 3,500 hours for that $3,500. It was weeks and weeks of all nighter after all nighter and nothing was ever good enough. And I just kept thinking, let me get through one more day. We’ll finish this thing and I can close this out. And then it was like I was over committed. You know what I mean? I’d already done 2000 hours, I might as well finish it.
Angela Lauria: And he just kept saying, fire her and refund her. And I’m like, how do I give back $3,500? He’s like, it’s going to cost you so much more. [inaudible 00:35:36] cost me that much more. I’m like, how much more? What do you mean? We’re almost done.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. It’s costing you all the clients you could be serving for the time that you were sinking into this one, right?
Angela Lauria: Oh my God! That probably cost me $350 just to not refund 3,500. Very expensive.
Melinda Wittstock: I feel the pain in that. I think we’ve all been there. And you get that [crosstalk 00:00:36].
Angela Lauria: April 24th, 2015 to be exact.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my God!
Angela Lauria: And you know what happened in the end? I fired her and refunded her. She was never going to be satisfied, but I could have done it two months sooner. I would have had so many more clients. And I would have got so many more clients because I would have become the person who has more clients. If you have more clients, you’re not going to keep a super shitty client like that, probably. And so, you just wouldn’t be treated that way. And so, if I fired her, I would’ve made space for more good clients, I would have been telegraphing to the universe subconscious. It would have opened up so much room in my schedule. But instead, the message I was sending to the universe is, I don’t want to get big and please send me more crappy clients that underpay me and take up a ton of my time, and second guess everything I do.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. This is a very interesting one, particularly for women. Because I think we’re so hardwired to want to please. We walk through life where everyone else’s glasses are filled and forget to fill our own cup. I think that is so true of so many women, whether consciously or not. We’ve all been acculturated that way. So it shows up in business in this kind of intriguing way. Do you think this is true? Do you think it’s something that relates to women that were more likely to be in service to the point where we negate ourselves?
Angela Lauria: I do think that’s true. I think it’s our natural tendency to serve and want to make people happy. That’s not to say men don’t do it too, but I just… I’m really smart and I wanted other people to agree enough that I did really stupid things. I would rake myself just to get somebody to say, thank you, this is amazing. And when I didn’t need that external validation anymore, it freed so much of my time to be so much more amazing. So, I do think it’s naturally comfortable for women to do that.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. And there’s a nice nugget in there though too, in that you have this epiphany when you had a coach that was helping you. I think, gosh! It’s to succeed as an entrepreneur in any kind of meaningful or big way without pretty much an army of coaches and masterminds and folks who really help you. People who’ve done already what your trying to do. Did you always reach out and ask for help or is that something that you had to learn along the way?
Angela Lauria: Do I always reach out for help?
Melinda Wittstock: Well, what was the moment you got your first kind of coach or you joined your first mastermind or whatever? Did you try and do it all on your own, I guess to begin with before you figure out on your own?
Angela Lauria: I didn’t. I’m a natural student. So I did a master’s degree. I did a PhD. I like being in a program. And so when I finished my PhD and got a job, I immediately got a mentor. I’m a joiner. I signed up for every joint in the Washington, YMCA. I’m somebody who works out in classes. I always sit in the front. I live in Washington D.C, this the Smithsonian would have an art history series. And I would buy that for $129 and go to all of them and sit in the front first-class. There used to be these boxes that had magazines full of free classes. It was called first-class.
Angela Lauria: Every single time a new one of those catalogs came out, I would circle all the classes I was going to take and sign up for them and sit in the front and implement whatever the teacher said. So I’m a little bit of a nerdy girl.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, you see, my pattern recognition brain kicks in here now. I think what I’ve seen, as a marker of success in all entrepreneurs, whether men or women, is a curiosity and an ability to be coached. And an ability to be coached without losing sight of your North star or your purpose or whatever. And so, some people get over coached and it diverts them from who they are. So you need a strong sense of where you’re going and what you believe in and who you are, your vision, that kind of culture or the company you’re creating, all of that. But to be coached within that and be open to learning, is a real marker of success.
Angela Lauria: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Anyone listening-
Angela Lauria: I think I’m the-
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Anyone listening here right now that doesn’t have a coach or a mastermind or in a program or whatever, think about that.
Angela Lauria: I think that’s totally true. And I think this is one of the secret weapons that came out of my weight challenges. So I grew up and I lost a hundred pounds four times, actually five times. But I gained it back four times. And so, I kind of had a chronic ongoing weight issue. The first time I lost weight, I think I was 21. It was 1993. So I was right around 20 or 21. I was always overweight growing up and I hid in books and classes. I was always the best student. And there are lots of [inaudible 00:41:55] disfunction. But I think I was just really lucky that my dysfunction made me hide in books.
Angela Lauria: And hiding in books has been amazing for me because I became such a great student of life, just a lifelong learner. And I think that’s why I attract such great students. If somebody is at anywhere between zero and say $90,000 a year in their business and they want to get to a quarter of $1 million within a year, if they come to me to do it, we have a huge success rate. 76% of our authors make $100,000 from their books. And it’s because I know what worked for me as a student. And so I’m really picky about how we deliver everything to get results. Everything is very results-oriented.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. That it’s not just the book, it’s the monetization strategy for the book. What’s the why of the book or what do you want the book to actually achieve for you. And so that’s actually an interesting way to go in the interview. I’m curious about that. Most of the people who come to you for books, are they using their books as lead gen or are they making money from the book itself or what kind of combination?
Angela Lauria: Yes. Generally, how it works is we focus on using your book to get in front of audiences, speaking, writing or advertising. And from that exposure, we drive people to a free book giveaway or some other lead magnets. But that’s the main lead magnet that I use as a free book. And then from that lead magnet, our goal is to generate, like I said, about 2000 leads a year, which turned into about 50 clients. And so, we just have a system that we implement to take those leads, nurture them, and turn them into prospects, and then take the prospects. And I have a sales method called the Love sales method.
Angela Lauria: And so, we love them until they make a decision about whether they want to work with us or not. So most of the revenue from the books actually comes from a companion program that our authors sell to somewhere between 40 and 60 readers who have begged them to take them as a client. So it’s a reverse model or what HubSpot calls inbound marketing. It’s really about effectively fielding the inbound requests.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s the most effective type of marketing, that kind of enrollment where people are self-selecting and you’re attracting the right people that way. And just makes it so much easier. I think it’s interesting. It’s actually almost more of a feminine way of doing it as well, right? Where the guys can go out with a spear and hunt down the will to beast. We can just track. It’s good. It’s a better look. I like it.
Angela Lauria: I think that, shifting just in general, people hate to be sold to.
Melinda Wittstock: They do. And also people who have all kinds of weird feelings about sales as well. And so, sales is kind of an interesting thing and something worth talking about here in the context of the podcast. Because a lot of women struggle with it because they think they have to be in pursuit. And it feels okay to them, so they don’t do it very well. I remember a mentor of mine actually had me go out in a really complex enterprise software sale. This is the kind of thing where you go into a massive company, it’s a long lead time. You have to get a lot of yeses from a lot of people in a lot of departments where no one ever got fired for saying no.
Melinda Wittstock: So, in other words, difficult. And my mentor was like, okay Melinda, what I want you to do, you will be succeeding this week, the more no’s that you get. The more no’s that you get, that’s going to be your metric of success. And I was like, what? And then it was really cool. But what happened was, because I was freed from the attachment to the end result, I was free to ask for the sale. So suddenly my sales took off in that context.
Angela Lauria: And that leave in just free, right? It’s exciting because… What I tell our authors is, if you can get a hundred no’s, there’s no way not to make 10 grand. It’s impossible.
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Angela Lauria: Yep.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. No, it’s-
Angela Lauria: And I’ve seen people going for a hundred no’s make a hundred grand.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Because they’re in action. And you know what it is? I think it’s a psychological or a mindset thing. Because you’re suddenly dis-attached from the outcome. And so, much of business success is mindset. And I know so many of the books that you publish are in personal growth and development. I know that that’s your trajectory too, Angela. So what do you think are the critical mindset things that you really need to sort out in your own head to be able to succeed in business, create a business that loves you as much as you love it and that you actually enjoy the journey and make money? What are the secret ingredients? What do you need in your in your head and in your heart?
Angela Lauria: My number one secret has been my willingness to suck. So I always say. I learned this from my coach Brooke Castillo, be willing to suck. And she does this thing that really annoyed me. She was teaching me how to lose weight. And the deal was, it’s very fun. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. And if you eat when you’re not hungry, all you have to do is journal about it. And at the time, the way she was coaching me was just over email. So when I would eat, when I wasn’t hungry, I would send her an email. And the email was usually something like, “I’m so mad at myself. I sat down at the kitchen table and right in front of me was a plate of brownies and I ate half of a brownie before I realized I ate it. And then I looked down, I was like, why am I eating a brownie? I’m so stupid. I should completely know better. I didn’t put the brownies on the table. I don’t even know who put them there. I’m so mad. It was probably my roommate, whatever.”
Angela Lauria: And Brooke would always get so excited. She’d be like, “This is such great news. You over ate.” And I’m like, “Wait, the assignment was don’t overeat. Why are we clapping now? Why are you smiling now?” And she’s like, “Now we get to do the work. When you make a decision that you’re not going to overeat and then you overeat anyway, now we get to figure out what was really going on. There’s no way to learn if you did it perfectly, and you were great knuckling it, then as soon as we stopped working together, you would gain all the way back. We want you to fix up.”
Angela Lauria: It’s one of the things I tell my clients all the time, if you were good at this, why would you have paid me so much money? So weird. I’m like, if you were good at this, you should not have hired me. Because they’ll get very insecure about not being good at things that they hired me to teach them how to do. Why should you put it up?
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my God! I think that’s a really common thing for a lot of people, like smart entrepreneurs who are smart in one area and they need to be better in something else. And again, it goes back to right or rich, right? They feel insecure in some cases if they’re not very evolved and not being perfect at the thing that they’re trying to learn.
Angela Lauria: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s hilarious to me and I see it all over the place.
Angela Lauria: You’re very hilarious. Right Or rich.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, absolutely. Oh my goodness. So I want to talk a little bit about team because I read your most recent book, which I adore about Make ‘Em Beg To Work For You: 7 Steps to Find, Hire, Manage, Reward, Release All Star Players to Help you Make a Dream a Reality. It’s an amazing book and you write beautifully.
Angela Lauria: Thank you.
Melinda Wittstock: And team is something that a lot of women struggle with. They don’t hire fast enough or their inner perfectionist takes over in terms of [inaudible 00:50:51] like who wants to work for a perfectionist. Or they’re mindful of their perfectionism. So it’s hands off. It’s like, “Hey, be like me.” And that doesn’t work really either. So you’ve built this amazing team. I’ve, I’ve visited your offices and Georgetown here in Washington. Your team looks so happy, everybody’s reading and I’ve seen you at conferences with them. They’re really bought in. They are fulfilled.
Melinda Wittstock: I mean, it’s a really amazing testament to what you’ve built. So tell me a little bit, share with everybody a little bit about how you came to really discover how best to hire and manage this amazing team.
Angela Lauria: Yeah. Well, my story really comes from my dad. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and my dad got his business to $5 million. He had 22 employees and, I think an 8,000 square foot warehouse. And when I hit similar numbers, I had a 16,000 square foot space. I had 20 employees and I had 5 million in revenue. It was about four or five years into my business. And it took my dad 35 years to hit those numbers. And one of the things I knew was I was going to have to do something different to outpace my dad or to grow beyond him. And so I listened for what all those stories while growing up.
Angela Lauria: And one of the big stories from my dad was about how much employees sucked. He hated employees. Employees did these terrible things and employees were always disappointing him. At $5 million, I felt the same way. I was like, how have I managed to hire the dumbest people on the planet and I would pay them more money and they seem to get dumber, which just made me matter. I would pay them less money and they were completely dumb and I was like, wow, you just can’t get anyone to do anything. And I was so angry all the time, so very, very angry that my employees weren’t the people I wanted them to be, smart-thinking humans who could put two and two together.
Angela Lauria: And that’s when I realized, I reached out to a bunch of my dad’s old employees and I asked them, what did you like working for my dad? What did you not like? And a bunch of his employees… I think I reached out to about five of his former employees and a bunch of them said, this was the most life-changing job I ever had. I’ve had many jobs since that[inaudible 00:53:55]. This was the one I always missed. I always look back to. And I knew my dad was an asshole to work of, a total utter asshole.
Angela Lauria: And I was like, what made this job so good? Why was this the job that you liked? And it was all about the company’s mission. So my dad’s mission was to make hot rodding accessible to the average Joe. If you were a post man, you should be able to get a hot rod hot rod shouldn’t just be for the rich guys. And it was very powerful. It was the message that they wanted to be a part of. They were the postman. These guys were making, I don’t know, not minimum wage. [inaudible 00:54:49]. Let’s say [inaudible 00:54:52] very highly paid jobs and they wanted hot rods and they were part of a mission that they believed it.
Angela Lauria: So my dad got away with murder, as in, these amazing employees would be completely abused by my father and then come back. And it would drive my mom crazy. She’s like, I don’t know why these guys keep coming back. And when I asked them, the answer was all mission. They shared the vision for the future that my dad shared. And it was a distinct vision and it was a polarizing vision. And you could just find just as many people who hated my dad’s vision and were affronted by this vision. And so, the first step in my book, Make ‘Em Beg to Work for You. My first step, and it’s a step that solves almost every hiring problem. Is to be a company that cultivates controversy.
Angela Lauria: If your company stands for something that reasonable people could be against, you are much more likely to have employees that will be able to think and execute and delight you. Because your mission is their life mission. And that’s what people show up for, it’s their life mission.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, absolutely true. Oh gosh! I love that and I really recommend. I’m going to make sure that everybody has the link to your book and… All your books actually, in the show notes. Super super helpful.
Angela Lauria: I have a free version of that one. So if you want to put that… It’s like an old link, but it is the authorincubator.com/freebook2019. Because it was the book I write. I try and write a book once a year. So that was my 2019 book. But free book, 2019… The authorincubator.com/freebook2019, and you can actually get that one for free.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, wonderful. That is so, so kind and generous of you. Oh my goodness! So what is next for the Author Incubator? You’ve had so much success, it’s on this amazing growth trajectory. Where do you see it going in 2020 and beyond?
Angela Lauria: 2020 for me is really a grounding year. So we have an amazing space in Georgetown in Washington D.C that has finally been renovated and we fit perfectly, and our team is here, and our events are here. 2019 was a year of construction, and moving, and chaos. So this is really a year for us to just ground into our processes and systems. I have 24 weeks of vacation scheduled.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness! That sounds very good.
Angela Lauria: Very executive now.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes.
Angela Lauria: And the team really runs with everything now. I’m so in love with our team. They have better ideas than I do. They execute everything better than I do. They’re super engaged with the mission and their work. I get to show up and do this stuff I love, which is basically I get to coach our clients. I get to run events. And other than that, I just get out of the way and watch them just really running the show and doing it better than I ever could.
Melinda Wittstock: How beautiful! All right, in 2020 all the people who are listening to this, who made it the resolution to get a book written this year, how do people go about finding you and working with you? I’m presuming that the people who listen to this podcast are not assholes.
Angela Lauria: Yes, exactly. Don’t be an asshole.
Melinda Wittstock: They will qualify. How do they go about it?
Angela Lauria: We say no victims, no takers. So if you are a victim or a taker, definitely do not appear to be one in the interview at the very least. So yeah, I have a free class. It’s our master class. It’s theauthorincubator.com/masterclass, all one word, lower case, theauthorincubator.com/masterclass. In that class, It’s a two hour class where I really teach the ins and outs of what it takes to write a book that makes a difference. And so that’s a great place to start.
Angela Lauria: If they already know they want to work with us, maybe we’ve met or they’ve heard me speak somewhere else, you can go straight to our admissions page. So if you go to the website and you go to admissions, you’ll learn more about the [inaudible 00:59:53]. So that is always an option. But I think it’s good to really spend a couple hours learning from me and see if you like my style, if you can pick up what I’m putting down, and if you think it would be fun for us to work together.
Melinda Wittstock: Ah wonderful well. Angela, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us. You are an inspiration. Thank you.
Angela Lauria: Thank you.