203 Franziska Iseli: Business UN-usual for Social Good

Franziska Iseli is an entrepreneur, brand strategist and marketing visionary on a mission to innovate for social good. She shares her inspiring journey, irrepressible spirit, and how she embraces the magic of “woo” to build and scale four businesses. CEO of Basic Bananas, Franziska is also trailblazing in the “evolved enterprise” social good movement with OceanLovers.com. We talk adventure, flow consciousness and how women can step into their authentic feminine power.

Melinda Wittstock:         Francesca, welcome to Wings.

Franziska Iseli:                  Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Melinda Wittstock:         I am excited to talk to you. I’m always interested in what makes women take the entrepreneurial leap. You did about ten years ago. What was the ‘aha’ moment, or the trigger that got you into entrepreneurship?

Franziska Iseli:                  Well, you know … It’s a really great question and obviously there was a specific trigger but, what really led me to it … and my friends often talk about how when I grew up, I always said that I would always run my own business, I just didn’t know what it was going to be.

Growing up, I guess, and going to university and doing all that good stuff, and even working in my first job, which was in advertising, I always had a little bit of a challenge with authority. I just found it really hard to comply. I’ve always had a little bit of a challenge with authority, I just … even now, when someone tells me to do something, even as a joke, it really gets me a little bit in my heart. It’s like, ah, I almost have to do the opposite. Its just … I don’t know what it is. It’s this little rebel living in me that I can’t get rid of.

So, 10 years ago, while I was working in advertising, what really triggered me to then just say, “You know what? I’m just going to do this. I’m just going to jump on this journey and do my own thing.” 10 years ago, my dad passed away from a heart attack at the age or 58, and that was really the trigger.

He was his own … He was a business owner too. He ran his own company, and he was really healthy. He was doing really well. Definitely when he was younger, he would smoke a lot of cigarettes and probably drank a lot of beer, but it basically was out of the blue and so, that moment in my life was like, oh my god, this is obviously unbelievable, like it was the worst time in my life, so far.  It really made me reassess my life and it also made me think that if I was to die right now, would I be happy? Would I be happy with what I’m doing?

So, I quit my career in advertising. I had a really good career as a strategist in advertising, and I quit my career, and just started my own company, the first company called, Basic Bananas, which is still in business now.

Melinda Wittstock:         You know, it’s so interesting that a lot of entrepreneurial journeys begin in those moments of adversity, of some sort of tragedy, or some sort of challenge, or something, because it does make us think, wait a minute, why are we here? What’s our purpose in life? And my goodness, why not have the kind of freedom and flexibility, and create the lives that we want?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, and make the impact that we know we can, because I remember even when I was in advertising, there were so many moments where I was thinking to myself, Oh my God, I can do this so much better. Why are we doing this so complicated? Why are we having 10 meetings a day that are achieving nothing? I would sit there thinking, how productive, or unproductive can we be, with all these B.S. rules and systems?

So, for me was always a little bit of question of, or even a question to myself of, hey, can I do this better? And you do say, which I agree, a lot of entrepreneurial journeys do start with a tragedy, but I do want to also let our listeners know that they don’t have to … Don’t wait for a tragedy. You know? If you’re-

Melinda Wittstock:         Right.

Franziska Iseli:                  … maybe you’ve been thinking, well, I don’t have a tragedy, so I’m not going to start my business. I also actually two disclaimers, one, first disclaimer is, you definitely don’t need a tragedy. I would have started my own business sooner or later anyway, with, or without this tragedy, it just happened earlier. I just did it probably a year or two earlier than I normally would have, because I just was also a bit unreasonable, and I still am unreasonable in that period.

Melinda Wittstock:         Okay, so this is the other characteristic of entrepreneurs, is I do think we tend to unreasonable people, right? Because you’re unreasonable, it’s funny, right? But in the sense that you see things, and you think, oh my God, does it really have to be done this way? Couldn’t it be done better this way?

So, how many people sit around a company, in a big corporation, corporate America, or anywhere in the world really, and marvel, or worse at the bureaucracy, or the like, we’ve always done it this way, kind of ossified way of thinking, and think, God, it could be done better?

But how many people then take the leap, and just say, “God, well that’s me.”

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, and that’s the next thing.

Melinda Wittstock:         And that’s the unreasonableness, right?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, it’s two things, unreasonable, and also courage. Let’s talk about courage in a minute. But I also wanted to quickly share that the second one after being unreasonable, not everybody, well, after the not having to have a tragedy, I do believe that not everybody is cut out to be an entrepreneur. I think a huge percentage of the population should not ever start a business, because they’re not meant to run a business, and it’s a good thing.

Some people prefer the safety of a job, and that’s a really good thing, because as you know Melinda, being an entrepreneur is a really crazy rollercoaster ride, and you have to want it.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. Yes, I know that very well, the heights and the … Let’s just say, the dips. I mean, yes. Yeah, because there’s so much beyond your control.

Franziska Iseli:                  Exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right?

Franziska Iseli:                  Exactly, and unless you enjoy uncertainty, and you can embrace uncertainty, and yeah, you are happy with being on a rollercoaster ride, then it’s a good journey to take, but otherwise, I would not. I look at some businesses, and I’m like, “Why are you just not getting a job? You would be way happier in a job where you know you get your … every month, you get the money that you deserve?” In some businesses you don’t get any money. You go backwards, and then you’re stressing all day long about financial challenges, team challenges, all sorts of things. So, it’s definitely not for everybody.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s interesting that a lot of people think entrepreneurship is a way to get rich, but it’s often not.

Franziska Iseli:                  I think it takes talent, and it takes commitment, and it takes courage.

Melinda Wittstock:         Exactly, and the-

Franziska Iseli:                  For it to make you rich and can definitely make you very rich.

Melinda Wittstock:         It can make you very, very rich, but not automatically, necessarily. I think I see a lot of things that women do with businesses that … Sometimes we pay ourselves last, or not at all, or we you know … trust the numbers to somebody else, or those sorts of things-

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, [crosstalk 00:07:26]

Melinda Wittstock:         … that can get in the way of really … or cluttering up a … Say in the case of a technology company, cluttering up the cap table with a lot of people, a lot of advisors, that are getting too many basis points, so too much of the percentage of the company.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, very much so, and if you do look at all … If you look at the percentage of companies that are actually profitable, and that are paying the owner decent money, the percentage is not that big.

So, you really want to grow a business, there’s two ways to make money, either you build a business that is making you money along the way, so a cash cow business, and you pull out money as you go, and you have an amazing lifestyle, or you’re betting. You’re gambling on the fact that you will sell this company, and it will make you a bucket ton of money when you sell.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. No-

Franziska Iseli:                  [crosstalk 00:08:15] companies are very small.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. So, this is a really important point though that you raise… for any entrepreneur, is knowing actually what they want, and why they’re launching their business. How you create a business around the life you want to lead, rather than you creating your life to fit your business, so that’s a really good point. Those cash flow businesses, the ones where you’re in your pajamas at the beach and whatever, and you’re just selling lots of products with nicer recurring revenue, and everything’s automated, and it’s cash, and you take that cash out. That’s very attractive to some people.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah. Well, you don’t even have to … Like one of my businesses Basic Bananas, is definitely a cash cow business, but I’m not sitting on the beach, or in a pajama all day long. I’m here. We have a headquarters here. We have 31 staff now, and I’m here, and I’m working, and I love it, and I’m in it, and it’s exciting. It doesn’t mean by cash cow business, I’m not necessarily talking about the ones that are these sort of almost fictional [crosstalk 00:09:24] technology.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right, well it’s sort of the Internet marketing, right?

Franziska Iseli:                  It’s more the companies they’re still proper companies if you want to, but what they do, is they fund your lifestyle, and your team’s lifestyle as you go along.

And then there are the other types of companies where they are hardly profitable, or even they are not profitable at all. They get investments from investors, and then you really hope, and the investors hope to cash out when you sell the company.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. I’ve done both, and they’re hard. Those ones where you’re banking on …

Franziska Iseli:                  Oh, unbelievable.

Melinda Wittstock:         You’re creating a technology platform, or a product, or an app, or something like that, and it’s risky, even if it’s a great idea, because it can be timing, and obviously execution, and your competitors, and so many different factors. So, those ones are pretty hard.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, exactly. So, let’s go back to Basic Bananas, and why is it called, Basic Bananas?

Franziska Iseli:                  Oh my God, it’s such a great question. So, when we first started almost 10 years ago, basically I knew that we had to pick a name that is not super conventional, just because of who we are, and how we wanted to build this company, I didn’t want it to be just super boring, conservative, conventional, what everyone else is doing.

And so, Basic Bananas is one of my first companies, and what we do is marketing education for small businesses around the globe. Now, we started in Australia, with just a team of two. Now we are a team of 31 in Australia, Canada, USA, and New Zealand.

We knew that we wanted something that people would remember, and something a little bit reflective of our own personality, which is, we went for a bit cheeky, yet very professional, so we just brainstormed different names. The two final names we had were, Tango Like a Mango, which I think is hilarious, but it’s a bit too long for a business name. And the second one is Basic Bananas, the other one.

And you know what is funny? This is another little lesson for our listeners, one of my favorite lessons. When we picked the name, Basic Bananas, one of my very first mentors, a very successful business woman … I came from advertising. I knew stuff about marketing, and branding, and that’s what I’m good at, and that’s why what I offer is what my strengths are, marketing education.

I didn’t know much about running a company at that stage ten years ago. So, one of my business mentors, who was a very successful business woman here in Australia, she said, “Please do not call your company Basic Bananas. That’s the worst thing you have ever come up with. And I said to Sharon, I said, “Sharon, I will take most of your advice, but I will call this company, Basic Bananas, no matter what.”

Because why? Because, I knew branding. I understood branding. I knew that this can go big. And what she wanted, is something more conservative like, Marketing Institute Australia, or something boring like that, and I wouldn’t ever do that. I’m never building a company that I can’t connect with emotionally. So now, of course when I talk to her occasionally, she always laughs about it, how she was telling me off about the name, and now she said, “This was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.”

So, the lesson, the bottom line here, is that. Don’t always take everybody’s advice. And especially, don’t take people’s advice if they don’t know what they’re talking about, because you, as the entrepreneurial woman, you already know. You have most of your answers inside. A lot of the stuff that you are doing, it’s good if it’s intuitive. So, basically my take on advice is, take it with a grain of salt. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes, this is so, so true. I love that, because it’s … Listening to you talk, Franziska, you have such a sense of fun, and irreverence, and spirit, and so, the name is just so in-line.

Franziska Iseli:                  [crosstalk 00:13:28]

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, but it’s in alignment with your personality, and who you are. And honestly, business should be fun.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, yeah. I agree. It’s so fun. You know, I did the personality profiling test a few years ago, and then one of the main traits that came out of it … There were five characteristics that described me, and one word said, “irreverent”, and I couldn’t even pronounce the word. I had no idea what it meant.

Then I Googled it. So, I Googled it, right? Because I’m Swiss originally, so my native language is not English. So, I Googled the word, irreverent, and it didn’t have the most amazing definition. So, I asked my team, am I irreverent? And my team, a lot of them are Australians here, or Americans. So, the question, I was really a little bit upset about this word, and now I realize it’s a good thing. So, it’s funny that you obviously have a very refined human detector, Melinda, because you work with so many humans. You’re very good at recognizing talents, or skills, or characteristics in people, so I’m quite impressed that you said, “irreverence”.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh my goodness, but you are. It’s just this lovely, infectious thing, and what is so nice, is when I sit here, and I interview so many amazing female entrepreneurs, and what’s lovely and tends to be true of all the most successful, is that there is this real alignment, on a deep, almost like … I’m going to go all woo here, but on this kind of soul level, like your purpose, as well as in your personality, or whatever. And when that alignment happens, magic happens.

Franziska Iseli:                  It’s powerful. Yeah, I so agree, and if you want to keep it a little woo for a minute here, I agree and I love woo-woo. I totally believe in it. And for me personally, I found, and I can see it a little bit in the people around me, I really drop into myself more, into my soul more, in my early thirties. I’m 36 now, just turned 36, and I think …

When I talk to my spiritual friends, they often say, “Your 20s, you’re exploring, and you’re like, sometimes you’re trying to fit in a little bit. You’re finding yourself. You’re still influenceable, often, and then once you get on your legs, 20s, early 30s, you start to really drop into yourself.” And I found that when I really started dropping into myself, late 20s, early 30s, that’s when the magic really started to happen also, for the business.

And running this company, not how everybody else would, or tells me how I should, but actually just really, as you say, dropping into your soul, and having this inner knowing, how things have to happen, even and as you mentioned before, if some of the decisions that you make, are a little bit irrational, and unreasonable.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, so that’s lovely. Your story just a moment ago, about how you had all this advice to go with this really boring name, and that boring name is not you. But you knew yourself well enough, and you had the confidence to stick with what was in your gut, or what was in your intuition, right?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yes, and yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         And just be true to yourself.

Franziska Iseli:                  Exactly, and every single woman on the planet can learn how to be more intuitive. I didn’t grow up super intuitive. I grew up in Switzerland, where things are so logical. Everything is so logical, and everything is based on lists. It’s what’s the positives, and what are the negatives for this decision? Everything is so logical.

So, I know for a fact, because I had to learn it, every person can learn how to be more intuitive. Now, I’m almost 100% intuitive, and then I can rationalize it with logic, once I’ve made my intuitive decision. So, I know that every woman can, and must learn how to drop into their own hearts, and into their own soul, if you want to call it that, to make the decisions based from that level, because those are really powerful decisions, and that’s a very powerful way to run a company.

I’ve had these discussions, especially this year more than ever, with fellow entrepreneurs, where we discussed how we need to run our companies more spiritually, but without talking about it. You won’t have seen me a lot talking about how I run my companies from a spiritual level, but I am. So, basically doing it, just doing it, but not now pimping about it, hey look, I’m so spiritual, and I’m this spiritual guru. I’m not. I’m not a spiritual guru, but I definitely have put more soul into how I run my business, rather than logic, and I think that’s where true magic happens. That’s where you surrender, and that’s where you feel like you are almost guided to where you need to go in your company.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s beautiful. I love this concept of surrender. Actually, that’s my word for 2018.

Franziska Iseli:                  Is it? That’s my word too.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wow! Look at that!

Franziska Iseli:                  That’s my word. It’s on my phone. It’s on my screen saver. It’s my big word for this year. It’s amazing. Isn’t it amazing?

Melinda Wittstock:         That is interesting, because I finally came to the conclusion that, whenever I was being triggered by anything, or whenever there was just some sort of energetic opposition, or something was harder than it should be, and I was having some sort of emotional reaction, even if it was just mild frustration, I just resolved that I wanted to let that go, and just literally let it go, but also just be a lot more intentional about asking for inspiration, and asking specifically in meditation, for … Kind of like, show me, teach me, and asking to be open to opportunity, or what I was being shown, or the right people to be working with, or whatever it was.

And the more that I do that, it is like what you just said, it’s like being a conduit for inspiration.

Franziska Iseli:                  Absolutely.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, you’re kind of getting out of the way. It’s not anything ego-based at all, right? It’s just …

Franziska Iseli:                  I love it. Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         And that’s been my theme.

Franziska Iseli:                  It’s just it slowly … I love it. I love it. It’s totally my theme for this year, and it’s only the first quarter, almost second quarter of the year, and just being able to embrace that concept of surrender, has been incredible, and it seems like, say … Actually, I started sort of surrendering end of last year, and I remember I was at a conference, and speaking in Thailand at a conference as a speaker. And then I met some fellow speakers, and then two of them said, “Hey, you should come to Denver”, for a conference that they were running, and speak at the conference.

And my first reaction, because I wasn’t surrendering was like, “No. I don’t want to travel anymore. I’ve traveled all year. I need to chill, and be in Sydney.” And then after, it took me less than 24 hours to realize, wait a second, I need to surrender to this. The dates line up with a gig I have in L.A. a week later. So, I booked my flights on the spot, in Thailand to go to Denver. And I told the guys, “Hey, I’m coming.”

They’re like, “What happened?”

I said, “I’m surrendering, is the reason why I need to come to Denver. Two different people asking me, and the dates align with me being in the US anyway. There’s a reason. I can’t fight this.” And I surrendered, and then of course I went to Denver, someone else invited me to speak at the conference in New Orleans on the same trip. Suddenly, all this surrendering suddenly aligned with everything that I was meant to be doing, to increase the impact that I am making. So, I just love the concept. I’m so happy you’re embracing the whole surrendering theme.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s interesting, yeah, because when you see signs … Like if something keeps repeating, say three times, it’s like, okay, I better listen.

Franziska Iseli:                  Oh my God. I love that. I need to share this metaphor with you, because it actually … It sort of, I got a little bit … I was living it just recently, this beautiful metaphor about the three signs. One of my best friends, Gina, she shared this metaphor with me. She said, “Sometimes life throws a feather at you, as a little warning sign, but just a feather. Then you ignore the feather, next comes the brick. So suddenly, the brick comes at you. You ignore the brick, and then life throws a truck at you, and you really don’t want the truck.” So, these are warning signs, and I saw this as a great metaphor for our listeners. I love this metaphor, and how I was just recently living it …

I got a Tesla, and the Tesla is a very quiet car. I never ever get speeding fines, but I got two speeding fines in the same week, I think because it’s just so quiet in there, I didn’t realize how fast I was going, maybe. I don’t know I don’t want to make excuses, so that was the feather. And I’m like, “Yeah, whatever. I’m just going to now pay attention to how fast I go, and maybe turn down the music a little bit.”

And then, a few weeks later, I drove into a car park, and I scratched the Tesla so hard, on a pole, which is very silly of me. I was rushing, and then that was the brick. The brick hit me in the bloody head, and it was the brick telling me again, “Just be fricking careful. Just be careful, because you don’t want the truck. The truck could be way worse, could be hurting someone, could be anything.” And I wouldn’t ever forgive myself for doing anything like that, so now, I’m just back to square one, where I’m super careful with how I drive.

And I normally am, I think it was just life throwing me a feather, and the brick, to just put me back into my place, and you can apply this to anything, relationships … maybe you’re in a relationship, you get a feather, you have a big blow-out, next, I don’t know, you get abuse, next you’re like, “No, there’s no next.” You exit.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. No, that’s right, but being good at listening and trusting your intuition, valuing yourself enough to put yourself and what you know to be true first.

So Franziska, you go on all kinds of adventures, and I met you on a grand adventure in the Bahamas.

Franziska Iseli:                  Oh, I know.

Melinda Wittstock:         We were tagging sharks, of all things. So, we can talk about that a little bit, but you do these things. It’s again, it’s this kind of fun spirit, and irreverence, but you make business fun, and you go on all kinds of adventures as well.

So, what are some of the things that you do? Are these mostly entrepreneurial, or are they just beyond that?

Franziska Iseli:                  They’re a bit of both, yeah. I’m a bit of an adventure junky, and I also love to do things that push me mentally, and physically. So, I always look for the next … What else? How else can I push myself? So, I do all sort of things. I go on a lot of surging trips. I surf a lot, so I often surf in the Maldives, or Indonesia, that’s usually a yearly adventure.

Also, last year, I had one of the most amazing adventures. I rode a motorbike through Nepal, through the Himalayas, and that was just mind-blowing. And then I thought, okay, this year, what else?

So this year, I would love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Also, I ran the New York City Marathon the year before last year without any training. I just happened to be in New York, and I thought, you know what?

Melinda Wittstock:         What, you just signed up? Really?

Franziska Iseli:                  Hey, I actually … Well, you know what? It’s hard to sign up, so I had to buy tickets on fricking Craig’s List or something. I was running in someone else’s name, someone who was injured. This lovely guy, he sold me his wife’s ticket, because she was injured. He was so nice. And then they cheered me on, too. They were standing next to their house, cheering me on. I didn’t see them, but they saw me, because I was running in their name.

So, two weeks before the bloody marathon, I didn’t even have running shoes. I’m not a runner. I’m not like a proper runner.

Melinda Wittstock:         What made you do it? It was just something like …?

Franziska Iseli:                  No, it’s this-

Melinda Wittstock:         Curious, just go do it?

Franziska Iseli:                  … curious, and also, I always thought, one day in my life, and I discussed this with one of my friends here, we always said, “Hey, let’s run a marathon together.” And then I said to him, my friend here, Richard, I said, “Yeah, I want to run a marathon one day, but I actually don’t want to really train for it.” because people take this stuff seriously, and eating … you have to be whatever, on a regime of this and this, and then you have to run all these whatever … It’s very regimented, and I’m not a regimented person like that. I’m a free-flow, free-spirited human. So, I thought, I want to do a marathon, but I don’t really want to train. I don’t want to do all of that.

So, two weeks before the New York City Marathon, when I knew I was going to be there, I bought running shoes in L.A. I was in L.A. at a conference, bought running shoes. The guy at the running store, he was this old super-experienced runner, and I asked him as I bought the shoes, I said, “Hey, I’m running the New York City Marathon in two weeks, and I’ve never run a marathon, and I’m also not a runner. What would you recommend?”

And he looks at me, and he says, “Don’t do it.”

I looked at him like, “Damn straight I’m going to do it.” So, I totally just ran the whole thing without training. I had blisters up to my eyeballs, but I just had this mindset. The whole time, I kept telling myself, “I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this.”

And it wasn’t actually too bad, but the New York City marathon is also so … It’s such a high, because there’s people cheering you on, the entire time. There’s people all the time. And I’m not unfit. I don’t run, but I surf, and I yoga, and I hike sometimes in the Swiss mountains.

So, those are some of my adventures. This year, I want to do the Silk Road on a motorbike, or at least part of it. So, go through Turkey, and then Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran … I really want to go through Iran, and a lot of people say I shouldn’t, but a lot of the locals there, that I know, that live outside of Iran, they say, “You will be completely safe. You just have to cover up. Wear a scarf, and cover up.” And then Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, so some of these countries, I want to do in July, on a motorbike. So, I’m just looking at that right now.

And why do I like doing these things? Because, they fuel my spirit. They are like … They light my soul on fire. These experiences that push me, they just make me so happy. They light me up like nothing else.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s wonderful. So, it’s like a … A lot of people who want to do adventures like this, get … When you say, light your spirit, do you find yourself getting into a state of flow? Is this sort of like a flow-

Franziska Iseli:                  Oh my God.

Melinda Wittstock:         … consciousness?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah. I feel like right now, and touch wood here, I feel like right now, I’m constantly in flow, constantly. Not only when I’m on adventures, like constantly right now, working, getting up, doing whatever I’m doing every day, I feel like I’m so in flow. Things are so synchronicious, synchronous …? I don’t know [inaudible 00:28:54]

Melinda Wittstock:         Sync … Yeah, that’s a hard one to say. Absolutely.

Franziska Iseli:                  I know [crosstalk 00:28:58]

Melinda Wittstock:         I can say, “synchronicity”, but-

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, but what’s that-

Melinda Wittstock:         … I guess it’s just synchronous. I think it’s just synchronous.

Franziska Iseli:                  Synchronous, maybe.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah.

Franziska Iseli:                  It might be synchronous. I like making up words, so if it’s synchronous-

Melinda Wittstock:         We’ll go with synchronous.

Franziska Iseli:                  I think synchronous is … And everything is just synchronous, and I think it’s because I fuel my soul. I also fuel my soul every day, with a meditation, or this morning, I went and caught a few waves, just as I was running in to meet you. My hair is still completely dripping wet, and so, it’s basically just doing things …

And surfing of course, is definitely a flow-state type of exercise, that puts you into flow very quickly, and I think just having these sort of practices that keep you in flow will make sure that you are flowing through life. And for me, life is about flowing. It’s not about … I don’t like … If I feel like I have to push really hard for something, or I have to really try so hard to make something happen, it’s not the right thing.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s interesting though, too, about feminine energy, in an archetypal sense, and businesses, because when we act like men, in again, in the archetypal sense of like pursuing things, and I joke about … people have heard me on this podcast talk about, going out with a spear, and getting the wildebeest, and bringing it back. When we’re in pursuit, we burn out. We get out of flow. It just doesn’t really quite work, but when we’re more in that kind of attract energy, or manifest, or whatever, it works much better for us.

So, it’s almost like the business models we create-

Franziska Iseli:                  I’m so glad you brought that up. Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s interesting isn’t it? I have this big … speaking of adventure, I had that epiphany when I was in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, and I was thinking about it.

Franziska Iseli:                  [crosstalk 00:30:49] tell me about it.

Melinda Wittstock:         And it was funny, because it was literally sitting there, and it felt like it was this beautifully, perfectly balanced ecosystem, but it had this masculine/feminine balance about it. And I don’t know what it was that made me feel that so strongly, and left that experience thinking, when people are in their really most highly evolved states, or in flow, they’re really leveraging the best of both, in fact.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, I agree. I agree, and I am so glad that you brought this up, and I could talk about this tapping into your femininity forever. I do maybe just do want to mention, I do agree with you. I do believe that as women, and especially as women entrepreneurs, I see so many women, especially once they reach a certain success, they think that they have to now be like, or act like men, and we don’t. We really don’t I think we as women, we have to stay true to our core, and embrace our femininity, because we are great leaders, just the way we are, whether that’s being vulnerable, or in a very raw, honest way, nurturing. We don’t have to act like men, and I actually think it does rip you out of your flow, if you start to be acting like men. We don’t need to.

We can compete, and we can be at the top, just being the way we are, in our feminine energy, so I’m really glad that you brought that up. I think that’s a really important topic to discuss, always.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh my goodness, it really is. And it’s so nice to see now, women being able to do that. I think going way back, because I’m old enough to remember, often I was the only woman in the room, and your only role models were men, so you thought, oh, that’s how business is done, and there was this sharp elbowed thing about, okay, I’m going to muscle my way into this, and I think some of that is going away, right?

Franziska Iseli:                  Definitely changing. Oh, it’s totally, yeah. I think it’s changing. It’s still … I’m part of this organization that I absolutely adore. It’s called Entrepreneur’s Organization, and you can only enter this organization if your company turns over more than a million dollars.

Melinda Wittstock:         E.O. Yeah.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, and most companies are bigger than that, but the percentage of women in that organization is very small. Sydney actually has the highest percentage, 20%. I’m very proud of that. Well, I’m not proud, I’m just excited about it, but also proud.

And a lot of the other chapters have very small numbers of women, and the women often that are a little bit at the top, they still act in a very masculine way. I can see it changing. It’s still a challenge though. It’s still a challenge, and it is changing, and it has to change.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s so interesting. There’s a woman who I interviewed on the podcast, who does a program called, Million Dollar Women, and her whole goal is to get women to a million dollars in revenue, but she says that it’s so difficult, because I think a lot of women are so focused on working in their businesses, they’re not working on their businesses. They create businesses doing the thing that they like to do, but don’t hire fast enough, or don’t get out of their way fast enough, to really understand scale. So, so few actually make it to that million dollar level.

So, what was the moment for you, that ‘aha’ thing, where you were able to scale, and get there and beyond?

Franziska Iseli:                  Well, I think it’s a mindset thing, and I think I always from the beginning knew that if I build a business, it’s not a hobby business. It’s not … can I give you a really, really crazy funny expression that the office use? Because [crosstalk 00:34:57]

Melinda Wittstock:         Sure.

Franziska Iseli:                  And it’s very rude? So … say is, “I’m not here to fuck spiders.” And it’s hilarious. I know. I own the … I’ve been here for 12 years, and I only in the last year, found out about this expression. It’s a very common expression, “I’m not here to fuck spiders.” And what it means, is that I am not here to stuff around. If I do something, I do it right. And so …

Melinda Wittstock:         Right.

Franziska Iseli:                  So, I always knew from the beginning of starting my business, I wasn’t in this for a small gain. I was always in this for a big gain. So, I knew from the beginning. There wasn’t a specific moment in the journey, where it suddenly clicked. It was from the beginning. I knew that with Basic Bananas especially, this was going to be a global company, that it was going to be impacting thousands of people.

My focus was not on the money. It was always on the number of people I get to impact with our bus. And I guess then, just staying on course, and of course hiring the right people and believing in this mission is what led us to where we are now.

Melinda Wittstock:         I love what you say about the money, because if your focus is on helping other people, and creating value for other people, and solving problems for other people, the money will follow.

So, everyone I know, female entrepreneurs that have built businesses of 50 million, 100 million, 250 million-

Franziska Iseli:                  It’s [crosstalk 00:36:24]

Melinda Wittstock:         … unicorns as well … Say someone like, Cathy Reid, actually in Australia, billion dollar unicorn business. So, she says the same thing as you. Had I started out just thinking of building a unicorn, I never would have gotten there.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah [crosstalk 00:36:44]

Melinda Wittstock:         But starting out to help people with being … With their cancer treatment, impacting many, many millions of people is yeah … You’re more likely to get there by having that kind of mindset. I think that’s right.

I also like what you say though, about going big, because it’s just as easy, or just as hard, whichever your perspective, to launch a small business, as it is to launch a big business, right?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s the same functions, and the same effort.

Franziska Iseli:                  Absolutely.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, you may as well go big.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah. Well, I don’t think you may as well go big, I think it’s a choice. I think if somebody is in business, and they really, really, really don’t enjoy leading people, hiring people, they just want to have … That they do just want to have this hobby business on the side, they just want to …

You know, I’ve met so many women entrepreneurs that they just want to do this a little bit, you know? They just do this a little bit as a hobby, and that’s totally fine. That’s totally fine, but there are also a lot of women that say, “Hey, I want to do this all in. I’m all in. I want to impact more people. I want to bring this to everybody.” And that’s where you choose a big business. As you say, it’s not a huge difference between running a small, and I’m not working harder, or less than I used to when it was just two of us.

Melinda Wittstock:         Exactly. But I think you said it though again, where we began the conversation, being in alignment, knowing what you want.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Building the thing that you want.

So, one of the things that you do that’s so inspiring to me, you have another company called, Ocean Lovers, and I want you to tell the story of it, because it is an evolved enterprise company, and by that, we mean doing social good, that you can do social impact activities that used to be almost entirely in the realm of non-profits, but that you can do very well, and create profitable companies with this social mission. So, tell us a little bit about Ocean Lovers.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, sure. So, I always believed that entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to make an impact in the world. So, every company that I build, also has to have a social component. So, two years ago, I started the company called, Ocean Lovers, oceanlovers.com, with the whole purpose of making an impact to our oceans, through ocean awareness, through ocean education, et cetera.

So, we started this company with the entire purpose to make an impact for our oceans, and the first product that we launched about a year ago, are surf suits, made from recyclable fabric. So, they’re made from fishing nets, and plastic bottles. They’re really stunning for girls.

And with the purpose again, to raise awareness that we should take care of our oceans, and then all the money right now, that we make, all the funds that come in, go back into the company to run beach clean ups around the world. We have ambassadors around the world, that are running beach clean ups for us, and also education programs in preschools for kids, to learn not to trash our beaches, basically.

Melinda Wittstock:         See, this is such a beautiful way of doing this, and of course, Franziska, you’re going to be talking about this on the Wings of Success Summit, So, just as a little aside here, go register at wingssummit.com everybody, because Franziska’s one of 50 amazing women that we’re bringing together, and you’re going to be talking about Ocean Lovers, and this amazing model for how you can put this together.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah. Absolutely, yeah. And I’m super excited to be on your summit, because I know it’s full of jam-packed awesomeness.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, well …

Franziska Iseli:                  50 [crosstalk 00:40:42]

Melinda Wittstock:         50 women who are amazing me, and many have been on the podcast, and then there are some new faces, and voices in this mix as well, but we’re doing a whole section on these social good models, because so many women do get really attracted to entrepreneurship because they want to do something good for the world, but then they think, oh, well the only way I could do that, is a non-profit, but that’s not true. More and more Millenials have been showing the way, and the Gen Z’s coming up behind them, they won’t even buy from companies that don’t have some sort of social, or do good mission.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, I agree. I agree. It’s really, I think the future of running any company is to run an evolved company. It’s to run a company that makes an impact beyond what we are doing as a company.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. Absolutely. So, what would be your top three pieces of advice you would give women who are either thinking of making the leap into entrepreneurship Franziska, or women who are just at the fairly early stages of … Say they’re still in that sort of chicken and egg stag, or they’re trying to figure out how to scale, or they’re at a different junction. We have different things at different stages of the entrepreneurial journey, but are there three go-to pieces of practical advice that you can share?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, the first one is definitely one of my favorite ones, which I’ve shared earlier, which is, be careful with whose advice you take. So, take all advice with a grain of salt. That’s really the first one, because I know that’s helped me stay true to what I believe in, rather than being swayed by other people into every direction, because nowadays, everyone is an expert. They all want to give you their advice, and it can be quite overwhelming.

And the second one is to definitely trust your heart more. Listen to your heart, and do exactly what you want to do, not what someone else tells you. “Oh, you should run this type of business, or this type of business.” Or, “You should go big, or go small, or go home.” Just do your own thing. Just do your own thing, and trust that you know what you want, and take that time to listen to what you want. Because you start a company that you are not sure about, it will be really hard to run a business that you are not even sure if you like it. You really want to build something that you enjoy.

And for me, if I had to run a toilet paper company, I wouldn’t be that excited about it.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. Yeah, you’ve got to love what you do.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, exactly. And of course, an epiphany for the third one is definitely to see how you can use your business as a force for good. As we just spoke about, use it as an evolved enterprise. So, how can you make an impact with your company, because those companies are also more attractive, and you will probably be more jazzed up about it. You will be more excited about it.

And then the last one of course, is courage. Have the courage to take big decisions, and then stand by your decisions, stand by your principles. And it does take courage to go on this journey. It takes courage to embark on the entrepreneurial journey, and it also takes courage to stay on course. It takes courage to stay committed to your cause, because there will be many, many, many road blocks, many people, events, experiences, circumstances, that tell you not to do what you’re doing currently, and that’s where you have to have the courage to stay true to your cause, and to commit to your company.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, this is so true. And really, the courage to really follow your intuition. One thing that I do want to share, when people sign up to be guests on the podcast, make everybody fill out this form, and in yours, I said, “Who’s your go-to guru for all things marketing, PR, social media?” And of course, you do run a company in this area, right?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         And also just for full disclosure, you have like a 100,000 followers on all sort of media, but your answer was brilliant. It was just, “My intuition.” And I love that. That’s like the best answer. It was wonderful, because how does that … As we start to wrap up the interview, I’m just curious how that manifests practically, with things like social media, and communication, and getting your story out, and just being you?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah. People always ask me, “Who do you look up to?” And I actually really, honestly don’t have anyone. I love everyone. I don’t have a guru. I don’t have a guru, and people say, “Who is your guru?” I’m my guru. My heart is my guru. My intuition is my guru. My soul is my guru, and the universe is my guru. I don’t have one specific person.

I do have a crush on Richard Branson, always have had, for the last [crosstalk 00:45:58]

Melinda Wittstock:         Who doesn’t?

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, but he’s the only … and Elon Musk. I also have a crush on Elon Musk, but they’re not my gurus. I [inaudible 00:46:05] in love with their bods.

And in terms of social media, and getting my story out, I have a team. Obviously I don’t do a lot of our social media channels anymore. I do my own social media channels. So, Franziska Iseli, anything on those channels are what I write, and it’s usually what comes from the heart, and everything else, all of the other businesses, Basic Bananas, and the Business Food, and Ocean Lovers, I actually don’t do the social media for any of these companies. I have a really incredible team member, [Kira 00:46:34]. She runs it all, and I don’t even need to approve anything. She just does what she wants to do, and she knows the essence of these companies. So, yeah …

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s wonderful. So, I know that you’re offering our listeners a free marketing planning course, that really helps everybody get clarity, and focus, and direction, and thank you so much for that. Everybody, you can just go to basicbananas.com/minicourse.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Basicbananas.com/minicourse. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Franziska Iseli:                  It’s just basically I put this course together. It’s showing you exactly how to put together a one page marketing plan, and the reason why I love this, is because people always ask me, “How do you run different companies, and still surf every day, go on all of these crazy adventures, and stay sane in your head?” And this is one of the reasons why.

I have a one page marketing plan, for every company that we revisit with my marketing manager here, every quarter. It just keeps you super focused on what matters, because a lot of things … Basically our to-do list, as entrepreneurs are never-ending. There’s always more to do. There’s always stuff that has to be done, but some of the stuff is not as relevant as others.

So, this one page marketing plan really helps me to stay focused, and I wanted to share it with fellow entrepreneurs, and so that’s where people can find it, it under basicbananas.com/minicourse.

Melinda Wittstock:         Ah, that is wonderful. Well Franziska, I enjoyed our conversation so much.

Franziska Iseli:                  Yeah, so did I.

Melinda Wittstock:         Really wonderful, so thank you so much for putting on your wings, taking off flying with us today, and I can picture you on Kilimanjaro somehow, and the Silk Road.

Franziska Iseli:                  Of course, I’m wearing wings.

Melinda Wittstock:         Awesome. So inspiring. Thank you so much.

Franziska Iseli:                  Thanks for having me, and thanks for the listeners, for tuning in.


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