Coffee Over Microphones: Advice for a young mom and business owner with Ashley Monk

When someone asks Tiffany to coffee, she asks to do it on the mic. In this coffee over microphones chat, Ashley Monk brings Tiffany her questions about sustainably scaling her young business, being a new mom, and balancing her big ideas with the pragmatism required to lead a company.

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When someone asks Tiffany to coffee, she asks to do it on the mic. In this coffee over microphones chat, Ashley Monk brings Tiffany her questions about sustainably scaling her young business, being a new mom, and balancing her big ideas with the pragmatism required to lead a company.

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Tiffany Sauder: I'm a small town kid, born with a big city spirit. I choose to play a lot of awesome roles in life. Mom, wife, entrepreneur, ceo, board member, investor, and mentor. 17 years ago I founded a marketing consultancy, and ever since my husband, JR and I have been building our careers and our family on the exact same timeline.

Yep. That means four kids, three businesses, two career. All building towards one life we love. When I discovered that I could purposefully embrace all of these ands in my life, it unlocked my world, and I want that for you too. I'm Tiffany Souder, and this is scared, Confident.

Ashley and I have a few mutual connections, and I think we've met once in person, like casually at a, like a cocktail hour kind of situation. She contacted me through Scare Confident and just said like, Hey, I really wanna talk to you. I think that there's things that I can learn. From you. Ashley's got a lot of things going on in her life.

She's 26, she's married, she's got a baby that's just a little over a year old. She's running her own business and she and her husband are really figuring out how do they put the ingredients together in a way that helps them work towards theirs goals? And they've made some really unconventional choices.

I think you're gonna really enjoy listening how she is. How do you balance what it means to get what you want out of life, what your husband or spouse wants out of life? And um, you know, she's got a big personality. She is dominant, she's social, she's curious, and that can create a really interesting mix of ingredients.

And so I think you're really gonna enjoy this conversation with Ashley.

Let's start by orienting me a little bit. I mean, I know about, We met at an event briefly, and then mm. I've like, you know, spent a little time on your website, but sort of like where, Yeah, where are you at in your life, What your business does, how big it is, and then, and then we can sort of like launch into your questions.


Ashley Monk: goodness, where do I begin? So business wise, I've had my company for three years. It's been quite the journey. Two years full time. So my backstory, I worked in vocational ministry for a while actually, and did a lot of marketing there. My husband and I were long distance, so I was in West Palm Beach, Florida, working for a mega church down there, and he was up here and originally he wanted to move down there and.

I was just kind of ready. I knew that that wasn't it for me. I went into ministry kind of for the impact and just felt like there. Our church, I think our team at that point was like three or 400, and our weekend attendance was about 50,000. So at that point, the level of impact with that many people, I felt, I love the work that we were doing, but I didn't.

Feel like I was able to really, I don't know, make the impact that I went into ministry to make. So I moved back to Indianapolis, went into sales and property management, knew that I needed to fill my quota and quickly figured out how to do that with marketing. And so that was kind of the pull where I kind of almost joke that I accidentally started my business because I moved into more of a marketing role and.

That was what I wanted my career path to be. I wanted to grow. I felt in love with marketing until the company decided that they were gonna stop growing and they were going in a different direction. So I knew that it was time to make a move. And so during that time, um, the business came about essentially by different tenants that I leased to knowing and seeing what I was doing and asking for my help.

So once my boss and said, Hey, is this something I wanna be mindful of my time here, but is this something that after hours that I would be able to help them with? Mm-hmm. , I would give advice for free when I was there. Give, whenever I had a down minute, I'd go in their office and show them some things.

Long story short, I had a mentor that's. Said, Ashley, do you want a business or do you want a hobby? And was freelancing and doing ghost writing cuz I really at that point wanted to move more in the marketing lane. So fast forward a little bit, I started the business. It was a full-time side hustle, 2019 to the end of 2020.

Um, I met Brian shortly after that was when I, that was about when I had first learned about you and the work you are doing. So you are an unspoken mentor from afar from me, um, which was fantastic. And, um, January of 2020, right before the pandemic is when I quit my job and took it full-time. Okay. I was terrified.

I wanted to go work somewhere else. Brian talked me off that ledge. Um, and two, three years later, here we are. So that's the backstory of business today, Onya. Um, we're a firm, a team of, there's about five. Full time, I guess. Yeah, full-time in office. And then, um, contractors and other team members, we leverage, we do paid online advertising and social media and work with companies that wanna see more of an ROI on their online ads, social media.

So that's the business side.

Tiffany Sauder: Two quick questions. Yeah. Before you go into the personal, So she's talking about Brian Kiki, who you hear on the podcast. He's kind of a repeat. Yep. Cus a repeat customer, but when he talked off the ledge, what did that sound like?

Ashley Monk: O Oh man, you, Yeah. For everyone listening that doesn't know Brian, um, a lot of asking really, really good questions.

I'm stubborn enough that it's hard for me, not stubborn, but I feel like I have to come to my own conclusions and I've had to learn lessons the hard way. And so he just really asked me what I really wanted and kind of at first just was. Ashley, is that really what you want? You wanna go back and lose all the autonomy, you wanna go back to a cube farm, You wanna go to a culture where you're just gonna be another cog in a wheel?

When that was why you left what you were doing. And I kind of had that epiphany of, oh yeah, and then during the pandemic to just really help me see everything. Cuz that was what I was afraid of too. Here I am six weeks into being self-employed full-time and the world is shutting down so, Scary time. And Brian helped me reframe it to really see it as the opportunity as it was with everyone needing what I had to offer at that point and recognizing it to be one of the greatest opportunities that was in front of me.

So that was kind of when the

Tiffany Sauder: switch flipped. So, And then another question I have, you started working with, Property owners. Right. Marketing

Ashley Monk: for business owners. Okay. That lease with me through property management.

Tiffany Sauder: So then, so who do you target now with

Ashley Monk: aa? Yeah. I would say high lifetime value service based businesses.

Okay. So H V I C roofing. Um, but also, um, organizations or brands wanting to make an impact. So non-profits, event venues, hotels, entertainment, things like that. Okay. Helpful.

Tiffany Sauder: Thank you. Absolutely. Just helps me orient. Yep. Yeah. Okay. Now personal. Let's

Ashley Monk: go into that part. Personal. Been married for five years now.

Okay. My husband and I have been together a total of nine years, so that was quite a journey. Met in high school. Were not high school sweethearts. That's the short version there. My husband works with me as well, full-time, part-time, and does the stay at home dad life. Okay. A little bit. So that's been, um, a fun new journey and we are parents who are first and she is 14 months old.

Okay. So this has been a new, crazy, fun season. So that's the, that's the personal side. It's been exciting, a lot of change and a lot of growth all in one short season, but life is busy, but life is fun.

Tiffany Sauder: What was the journey for you guys to decide for him? To like, maybe take a step. I don't, I'm, These are my words.

Yeah. Take a step back from his career, you guys to choose, because my husband and I have chosen a two career home. Mm-hmm. that has its own complexity. Yeah. Some families choose the woman to stay home and support the family that way, and then others choose what you guys at least have her kind of a hybrid.

Yeah. Um, I think, um, a lot of. Professionals are trying to get an understanding of what are the options and what's right for my situation. So double clicking a little bit into what that looked like. Cause it isn't teamwork, no matter what one you choose. It's hard. They're all hard. They all take work and they all require teamwork, but of different sort of flavors.

So I would. Be just curious a little bit. Absolutely. You sharing some of that backstory,

Ashley Monk: so it's still, I feel like it's still in process, right? Mm-hmm. , it's definitely is cuz we, he does lot too. It kind of ebbs and flows too with what's happening in the company. Like we have a transition happening internally right now.

I'm gonna need him a little bit more. Once we have that new person brought in and oriented and we've navigated that transition, then he can kind of take a backseat. But it was. Particularly coming from, so my degree is in biblical studies. I have a very strong ministry background. And depending on kind of the environment you're from, I think the unspoken perception.

Always was inadvertently made clear to me in that kind of capacity, is that oh, husband leads. So there's like a lot of that mentality and that's just never, that's never been us. Um, I have a very dominant, very assertive personality. And my husband, I compliment one another really well cuz he's, so, I'm di on disk for anyone listening and my husband's sc so he's very passive, very reserved, very likes to do things by the book, by the rules.

It's funny, he is a job person and I am a career person. And I think that it took a while for me to understand. Those are two different things. I am motivated by constantly growing, being on like innovating things, creating things. Um, I like change. I like having something to shake up the structure. I hate consistency.

It bos me and it's really hard for me. Mm-hmm. . Um, my husband likes to clock in and clock out. He would be perfectly content in a nine to five if he had to do it, but his motivation to work would be. To provide for family and mine is, again, simultaneous, but also to grow. And that's how I find a lot of my identity and, and what I do.

And that can be, I think, a lot of times a bad thing. But I also think it can be a good thing too, cause we're motivated differently. So the decision is stay home. Um, My earning potential too is also just based on my experience and how hungry I am. We recognize financially for our family that I would probably outearn him.

Mm-hmm. . Um, and so that was another priority to consider. And quite frankly, I just enjoy it more and he, you know, so that's really kind of what it's boiled down to. And we've made a good team, cuz I think a lot of people are like, Oh, so it's a husband, wife owned business and. Yes, my husband partners with me, but he would always defer and kind of say, Well, this is kind of, I remember we had an employee that started and outta respect, she would stuff run stuff by both of us and he's like, I have no idea what's going on.

Just refer to Ashley. And so I feel like it works for us. We have different interests and different focuses and both bring different strengths at a table. And he definitely. A lot more nurturing, a lot more, I think that stable, consistent presence. And I am a little bit more of the unpredictable spitfire that likes to do a lot of different things.

So, um, it's definitely been an evolution of and flows, but it has been really nice. Um, gosh, to be able to go see my daughter, he can bring her to me when I miss her at work. Like it's been a really good handoff, but it does come with trade

Tiffany Sauder: offs. Mm-hmm. , I think there's a lot of power, Ashley, in what you're saying, which is, you guys know what you.

Yeah. And, and I think that sometimes we can chase outcomes that we want that aren't who we are. And like my hus, I'm a di, my husband's a DC mm-hmm. and we are both like career people, not job people. We're both growth minded and in our world, our family can, uh, dry up if we're not careful because we get so much energy from the outside world.

Mm-hmm. . So we've had to work really intentionally, you know, to like, make sure that we're also getting a lot of fulfillment from. Are a little cocoon of a family and investing well in that. But I think that, um, there's a lot and I no doubt you and your husband will go through this season as you're trying to find like friends in your spot in the world where you like don't fit in some places.

Absolutely. And it feels weird. And there's like pressures that challenge some of those decisions, even though they're like very much what's right for your family. So, I don't know. I just guess I wanna encourage you in that, that thank. Time redeems it. And we went through seasons where, you know, my friends had chosen to stay home.

A lot more of them work now that our kids are like in middle school, but they chose to stay home when we were younger. And there was a season where I just felt like it didn't fit. And, and so then you kind of wonder like, am I doing it wrong? Like, what does that mean? And uh, gets kind of weird sometimes.

So I just wanna encourage you that time does redeem it. You do start to get really clear in who you are and you sort of over time find your people. You, you know, sort of f figure out a way to connect with, so. Mm. I love that. Thank you. Um, yeah, so I would love to be helpful. You reached out and I did, um, you know, said, Hey, I have some questions.

I love, I appreciate your courage in doing this on the microphone. Um, Because part of this project of Scare Confident is creating the resource I'd wished I'd had as a young mom and young entrepreneur with like sort of more ideas than I had talent to execute. Absolutely. Trying figure out what do I do with all that's, yeah.

In my head. So I would love to be a resource if I can be and sort of. You know, thank you. Spill out some of the stuff you're working through and appreciate you courageously sharing that with other people who no doubt have the same questions.

Ashley Monk: Thank you. No, it's been so fun because I've followed you for so long that I've been able to see, Oh my goodness.

And just, and so in awe of what you've built in the sacrifices that you've made to do that. And I, it's been so fun to watch those bits and pieces, but there's so many things I'm curious about. But one thing that I'm really curious about is like, what was going through your psyche? Emotional maturity and growth that you have to go through.

Cause I know you've been through so many ups and downs and I have too. I think last year we just went through, gosh, probably the lowest low that I'd had in the business with just teen transition and growing too quickly. Our growth outpace operations, that led to a lot of problems and that was a very low.

Moment for me. Um, and it was a good moment though, and a really teachable moment because I learned so many lessons that came through in that period, but it definitely shook me up. So I'm curious, as you've gone through seasons like that, what have been, not the tactics, but like maybe the things that you've told yourself internally or that you've been able to maybe reframe some of those things and to learn from them, but not to forget those lessons too, to continue.

Tiffany Sauder: We don't know each other well, but I suspect we have similar wiring. We're both DI's Sure. It's very, I'm very excitable. Yes. And I'm very exciting. I'm, I suspect you are too. Yeah. . I'm excitable and I'm exciting. And in the early days, that's very magnetic because it brings people close to you that like you kind of don't deserve to employ.

They bring talents. You're like, but they're just energized by what's in your mind. And they kind of believe you're gonna figure it out. . But when you do run into really hard times, the like lows can be draining. Mm. Where you don't have your adrenaline to rely on. Right. To wake yourself up the next day. And I think with maturity, I'm, I have learned to mature much more evenly and to react much more evenly.

The things that are amazing that are going on and probably not quite that good. and the things that are going terrible, I'm not quite that bad. Like we would win a deal. We would sound a gong. marching band would go through the size that we would celebrate instead of being like, that was, that's sort of what we need to do.

We need to like close new deals, bring on new logos and we should be happy about that. But we don't need to throw a party and have a high school marching band go through every single time. And also when something bad happens, somebody leaves, well, you have a plan. And when it doesn't come together, it's really annoying , especially for people who are really energy oriented.

Sure. Um, and. . I think just reacting to the lows in a way that are a lot more even and reasoned and realizing like everything is solving and everything is progress. Mm. And whether it looks like forward or backward, it's, it's progress because you're learning. And I remember actually talking to Brian and wanting to get to this.

Where I suddenly found a prairie like that was what? That was like. The picture in my head, a peaceful prairie where there were no problems. I had solved everything in the business. Everybody was in their seat, everybody knew, was trained, every client was happy. My employee, net promoter scores were strong, and I had the time.

I needed, like there would be a day. Where I arrived and the meadow was there. ? Yeah. And he was like, You realize your job is to find problems. Mm. And I was like simultaneously so annoyed and suddenly so relieved that that is my job, and reframing that to myself that if I am seeing a prairie, I'm not doing my.

Yeah, because literally there's no possible way everything is perfectly clipped in. But my eye, I think my like need for it to be good and people to like me and it to be likable. One, it was sort of had me in this harried pursuit. This fantasy existence that was never going to be in. So every time I found a problem, it felt like personal, we're doing it wrong, or whatever it was.

And it is personal cuz I probably was doing it wrong. But now I just feel like I reframe it as like it's my job to find problems. It's my job to process those problems and to figure out are they big enough priorities to address or do we just let them be and now we have mechanisms by which we solve things.

And that was not the way that I looked at it for a really long time. And it was exhausting. Yeah.

Ashley Monk: Oh my goodness. So much gold there. But one thing that I think is a really important distinction that I've been learning to make that I would love to hear from you on too in that is saying that you're not that good or you're not that bad, but also.

How were you able to separate and maybe didn't have the struggle, but element three is performing well. Element three is performing bad to Tiffany is good, or Tiffany is bad. I know for me, that's one thing that Brian and I have worked a lot through that just because a mistake or something happens does not mean me, Ashley Monk is a bad person or did something wrong.

It just means there was a problem that needed to be solved or needed to be solved differently. So I'm curious if that's an experience you had and if so, how you were able to separate.

Tiffany Sauder: I think there's a couple of root causes when I got it wrong, sometimes it was, I just didn't know. And those for me are easier to accept.

Like I just didn't know. And I joke, but it's not a joke. I, every day I've run this company is my first time I've seen it that. I didn't secretly get to go run a 20 million business and know what that felt like, and then come do it in the public. Yeah. Yeah. It was like every year we grow. I've never run a company that size every time, so sometimes you just don't know because you don't have the experience, you don't have the person in your network.

You didn't even know to ask the question. Right. Those to me, are like easier to digest. Then there are things that I got wrong that actually knew the right answer to, and I was. Chicken or like cowardly to like make the call, make the phone call, do the thing that I like, knew to do, but I didn't because I talked myself out of it.

I chickened out. I just wasn't big enough to like do it. And those, I think those are the moments that it was personal. Cause I knew I wasn't doing even what my instincts knew to do. Mm-hmm. , um, So I, I don't know. But for me, when I failed, I would, when I went to bed at night, I sort of knew why. Okay. Yeah. Um, when I wasn't showing up well for myself and when I just didn't know.

Um, I, I also, you know, I had a, I, I would say I had a hard time getting out of client work for the ego reason, like you talked about. Like, I got a lot of feedback personally and professionally from. Oh my word. That was an amazing brand plan or whatever, like, Oh my word. You just really get us like, Oh my word.

You added so much value to my life. Like, oh my word. We wouldn't be where we are without you. And I was And you're also very young. Yeah. I didn't work for somebody. I was 25. Yeah. When I started Element three. And so you're also trying to figure out like, what do I know professionally? Like what am I good at?

And you don't have a boss who comes and gives you a review that says like, Here are all the things you're awesome at Ashley. And so you do rely on the environment, especially as an eye Yeah. To like tell you. And it does like put air in your balloons, like, Oh, that feels good. And so as you start to get more into like actual leading away from client work, It is weird how it be has to become so intrinsic where you're like, I know I'm good at this and I practice saying it out loud cuz I have to for myself.

I know what I'm good at. I'm a really good communicator. I'm a really good synthesizer. I'm really good at being honest in really complex situations. I'm really good at simplifying things and that is how I claim for myself, what I'm good. because other people they don't tell you. Yeah. When you've been a CEO since, how old were you when you started this?

Ashley Monk: I'm 26 and I started at

Tiffany Sauder: 23. Yeah, so I was 24 and a half. So like very similar. Mm-hmm. and it's weird. It is. It's super weird when you're 20 something and you decide to do it on your own. Right. If you don't know how to pick that out of the world, you are your own ceiling, like the whole way. So I give you a lot of just credit.

Being intentional about these conversations, leaning hard into Brian, you know, you like pay for those things before you can afford 'em. Yeah. Yeah. Because you know, it's like critical.

Ashley Monk: Oh, absolutely. I don't know what I would do without

Tiffany Sauder: Brian. I wouldn't, wouldn't hack in somebody else's quota. Yeah. . Exactly.

Ashley Monk: So Brian had me read The Big Leap. It was fantastic. Um, one thing that I have noticed about myself and just my personality is, It is really hard for me to find the line between what is me self-sabotaging success, what is boredom or what is maybe out of alignment with what I want to be or what I should be doing.

So I'll give you some context. There's one thing for sure. I love being a business owner, and I know that's true of your story too. I remember hearing on the podcast. That one thing that you mentioned is, I don't know what the industry would've been happen to be marketing, and so I really resonate with that because I really do.

Um, ups, downs, highs, lows, the autonomy, the freedom, the flexibility, the blank canvas to be able to build something. Mm-hmm. , it's fun and exciting to me, but I've noticed that there are times, and it's been hard for me, but to put my finger on it when I mean sometimes yeah, things are going fantastic and maybe that is just me questioning and wondering when the next shoe is going to drop.

Self protection mechanism. Then there's times where maybe I've just been in a role in a place that's draining to me, and maybe I need something. But then more recently there's just been this tug and this pull of, is this the right industry? Is this, and I think this. I don't know where it comes from, but this thought that I don't know that I'm supposed to know exactly what I'm gonna do every single day of my life, and I'm supposed to have this clear vision of what that looks like.

And so I'm curious if you ever experienced that and with all the ideas you've had, how you've maybe wrestled between what is maybe an upper limit or a time where you're going into self-sabotage. What is just boredom? And maybe you need some time off. I. A new project or what is maybe a sign that maybe there's a pivot in the way that you offer what it is that you do with the

Tiffany Sauder: industry changing?

I have a few different answers to it. The first is that it, it is very hard for me not to get distracted, and I feel that hard, and I am in a season right now of my life where I get to. Explore my ideas more than I was able to when I was 24, 25, just getting started. Well, even in the last 15 years, I haven't, And, and what I said to myself was, I have to earn the right to learn how to grow something.

And when I've done that and when it can sustain itself and when it's paying me what I'm worth, plus then I open the gate to be able to. Try other things. This is my formula. I also, you could probably find somebody to go talk to that was really successful. I think inward pictures, thanks to my mom. I picture like a stove.

I literally, I had one pot boiling. And I wanted to fill the water up and boil it as high and hot as I could. Some people I think have like frying pants and they're like six burner stove and they've got like six of 'em rolling. I, I just, that's not really how I learn. I think I know things way before I actually do.

Mm. Um, I naturally need very little information to make a decision and move fast, but I thought I was so successful because I was selling so much crap, right? But I had no clue how to build the system, the people, the training, the infrastructure, the culture, the communication to pick the right technology, to have the right insurance, to have the right security, all the things that are required to build a business that can be lasting.

I had no idea. Um, . I am grateful that it took me 17 years to do it. Um, and not that I don't still have a lot to learn, we certainly do, but for me, I knew I had to redeem the money that had been put into that thing, the time that I had put into it, and I needed to get to a place where it was actually sustainable.

And agencies are hard cuz they feed off their principles hard. Yeah. If you aren't really, really intentional, That was one of the things that was important to me. I will always be a channel for Element three. I will always bring in revenue because I love it, but we've spent money on marketing as an agency our entire existence because my plan was always, I don't wanna get to 55 and just be so tired of this thing feeding off of me personally that I don't have any other options.

And as I looked around, The like landscape that was happening. Right. And so that's a like strategic decision that I made to say, how do I get this thing to live on its own, or at least more so than it was in the early days. I mean, right now it's feeding off of you.

Ashley Monk: Oh, absolutely.

Tiffany Sauder: Uh, yeah. Um, but I always dreamed.

Speaking, I always dreamed of doing a podcast. I always dreamed of investing in other business owners. I always dreamed of serving in a greater capacity on board. Like you talk about the learning process, giving you so much energy, like I would rather go wide and shallow, then narrow and deep like every day of the week.

Mm-hmm. , it's just so much more energizing. Sure. Um, but I felt like I had to. and that sort of thinking of it as like, not never but stage gating it, I think helped me have a lot of discipline. The only things we spent time on for probably the first 15 years was our family, our business, and our church. I didn't even really hang out with my friends.

I see my, my girlfriends need an award for sort of sticking with me for a decade. Um, I like to think that maybe my jokes are funny enough, I kept getting invited back even though I really didn't go to anything for so long. Um, because I just couldn't, It was my family, it was my business and it was church and that was all we did.

Mm-hmm. . Um, and that helped us, I think, get to a place where, Our family is strong. Element three is strong, and now I have some opportunities to branch out, but the same. Poison will always exist. I can still get too distracted. I can still overextend myself in a way that kind of my core doesn't get as much of my time as it needs.

What has

Ashley Monk: been maybe the sandbox that you've created for yourself or like the fuel that you've kind of. Been able to give yourself to keep the course in doing that thing. And what have you maybe told yourself when you've wanted to maybe wander and indulge in one of those new ideas or projects?

Tiffany Sauder: Well, usually it's because I hate part of what I'm doing.

Mm-hmm. that I start looking outside. . And so it's getting really clear about what am I doing that I hate and how do I get rid of that, right? So I hated project management and like detail like that. So I would try, I would, you know, figure out how much revenue do I have to sell to be able to afford that person, or can I go hire somebody in a part-time capacity to take these pieces.

So I would like even stage gate that I just gave up the last depart. . Um, I was, I ran sales and marketing for my whole time here and just sent that to Kyler. And over the last two years, making a list of my priorities of, of what I was doing and in reverse order the things I didn't like the most. I gave to Kyler first and the things I liked the most I gave to him last.

Right. And I think as business owners, we don't always think about how we are always crafting our own futures and we automatically just fill the holes. There's not an ae, so I need to sit into that. That role. There's not this, so I need to step into that role and we, our lives then become this casserole of filling in the gaps instead of saying, I'm gonna start with what I want my time to look like.

and everything that doesn't fit in that box, I'm gonna start grouping it and creating strategies for how I get that off my plate so that my job is giving me a lot of energy. It took me a very long time to mature into seeing that that was something I even deserved. Mm-hmm. , because I saw my job just to serve the business.

In whatever capacity it needed to keep it alive.

Ashley Monk: How did you do that with the areas that still needed so much from you? Because everything you're saying resonates wholeheartedly with me. I think I could look back on my calendar and tell you that probably a part of why I personally feel relatively tired right now is I'm just doing things that outside of genius that I don't enjoy doing, but they're what's necessary.

Mm-hmm. , so probably 80% of my time goes to business development. Mm-hmm. , and while I. Parts of business development. It's definitely my zone of Genius's strategy. Mm-hmm. , I would love to be in strategy all day long, but the business needs business development to obviously grow to hit our goals. And so I just have put my blinders on and continue to do that.

How are you able to continue to feed and pour into those areas of the business that needed you while still maybe making room for some of the things that you did enjoy during your day? So I

Tiffany Sauder: think we see time. in a way that's funny when we're young. So like if I say a year to you, is that feel like long or short?

Ashley Monk: The older that I get the, the shorter that it seems. That's the point.

Tiffany Sauder: Yeah, exactly. Most people, and I trying to say year seems really long. So like Joe Mills, um, who is our salesperson, he's been with us for over five years. The first two years he almost did nothing. Year one, all he did was follow me around cuz how do you teach what you know?

You don't know. How do I teach my perspective on, I don't even know. I don't even know what my, I do now. But then I was like, I don't know. I don't how to, All he did, I just paid him to follow me around. Yeah. And then year two I did, I would say the first 60 to 70% of the sales process. But he like administered the meetings and stuff, which was very helpful to me.

And then year three, he would do like the smaller deals by himself. Mm-hmm. . And then year four, like that's so long. Yeah. But now five and a half years. It's like the mind meld is unbelievable. Mm-hmm. . So I, I'm just gonna talk, I'm just gonna use sales as an example. I knew it was gonna be a ceiling for my time.

Sure. If I stayed involved in the process as much as I was for a couple of reasons. One is when you're the principal, the owner, your brain is really smart and it's hard to get rid of clients when you sold him. Oh, absolutely. They want you cuz everything else is just pushing you down the organization. So I was like, that doesn't.

Long term. The second is I knew I wanted to get to a place when my kids were in middle school, where I was not as tied to my calendar. Mm-hmm. meaning, oh my word, it's one 30, I've gotta meet it too. Yep. Like that, like just constant pull. I wanted more flexibility. I don't wanna work less, I want more flexibility.

Right. I knew if prospects were driving my calendar, that was not gonna be a future I was gonna be able to create for myself. Um, And the third one was I wanted to be able to build myself into a channel that was attracting bigger prospects, not in the weeds of deal management. Mm-hmm. . So I had a couple of options.

One was to go pay a bunch of money for somebody and the second was, was to grow somebody that was like, you know, gonna work for me for like a cent and a half . Sure. But they had the right makings of turning them into something great. I always get nervous. I think there's, again, you could find somebody else who's had a lot of success with paying a lot of money for a salesperson.

I always think if they're gonna leave where they're at for a bunch of money to come to me, they'll probably leave me for a bunch of money for somebody else like I needed. Yeah, somebody who was like in it for the reasons that were. Hey, I helped build what, you know, really tied into our culture, really understanding what we're trying to do in the world and had an altruistic sense of like, this is important, that we have really competent marketers, growing brands and cultures.

Um, So it's kind of figuring out a place where, where do you need to get the business? Where does your monthly EBITDA need to be for you to take that bet on yourself? Yeah. And working towards, and it might be that it's two and a half, three years from now. Yeah. That you're like, I moved that off my plate.

But think about it is these big steps when people do like, I don't like to do these jobs. They're like moving 20 minutes around in the jobs you and I are. When I like moved Kyla into the presidency, it was like 30% of my calendar went away. Right? It's these huge step changes, but there's a preamble knowing for sure that they can do it.

There's the. overlap. I mean, Kyla and I just spent six months where he and I both knew that this day was gonna happen. Nobody external did, but I knew what I was preparing him for. He knew what, like we knew. And then now that it happened, I'm gonna stay really close to him in this process for the next six to 12 months.

And then he is ready to roll. It took like two and a half years. Yeah. But he has a life that he's really excited about, and I'm gonna have a life that I'm really excited. You know what I mean? So I think that. Being committed in your soul to having a business is what gets you through mm-hmm. . Yeah. And being like, I'm just not quitting on it.

Yeah. These years totally suck. I'm sort of average qualified for the stuff that I'm doing. Yeah. Um, But I know I can do it good enough to get us another day. Right. And when I do that, I can hit these targets. When I hit those targets, that gives me the permission to do this thing. When I do this thing, it's gonna be a year of transition.

It's like one Christmas, you know, it's like, it goes fast, but it's also slow, right? And it's like took 17 years. That is so long. But it also feels very short actually. Um, to get to a place where I am not tied to my calendar, I.

Ashley Monk: You nailed it on the head because I think a lot of times people here, I think the perception, especially with women is always, Oh, you have kids, you want to work less.

And I've always related to where I think I what? I went into the hospital at four o'clock to get induced on Monday. I had my daughter on Tuesday, but then I was back taking calls on Friday and went right back in on Monday and was going home. Cuz the early stages too, and I loved. Knew that I didn't feel guilty going to work.

She, my daughter was just sleeping all the time though, so it didn't, and it worked. But to your point, um, the flexibility has been the biggest thing because that is how my calendars run from meeting to meeting, to meeting, to meeting, to meeting. So I am curious, um, how have you though? Cuz there have definitely been seasons too though, where now it's interesting though, I didn't really take a maternity leave.

Now that my daughter is walking and starting to babble, I'm like, Oh, there are moments that I wanna be around. Not that I want to work less for, but I wanna be able to. Drop by at two or three o'clock and maybe take her to the park one day and then kind of go back and maybe finish up at night or with her nap schedule.

But I am curious though, I will say there have been definitely times where I have these goals and I have these targets that I wanna hit, but then there's also this new pole and it doesn't make me any less ambitious. But there's definitely. I don't know. It's like my heart and my capacity got a little bit bigger, but I wanna have more capacity for more of those moments.

So I'm curious how you navigated that. What with four amazing children in the different seasons that Element Three's had, how you've been able to adjust when the businesses needed you, but then you've wanted to be around and make PRI prioritize your family too.

Tiffany Sauder: I was really comfortable outsourcing. Of the care taking, I think about it.

Mm-hmm. Those care taking and heart taking in the younger years, it's a lot of care taking Right. Baths and like routine and wiping their bib and cleaning the high chair and like, it's just, it's, it's care taking. You obviously wanna put them in a safe, loving environment. Right. But you aren't teaching complex decision making and Sure.

You know, character building in that way. Um, so I've missed, I think two of my kids's first day kindergarten. I don't say this to brag, I just say like, I. Comfortable missing these milestones, Not all of them. Knowing that there was something bigger that I was running towards. Mm-hmm. , there's two things. One is thinking about what do you need from the experience of being a mom?

And as they get older you start to have to check in about what do they need from you as a mom. Yeah. I wrote an article recently about how to like not have a summer that sucks as a working parent. Cause I think summers are the hardest. Yeah. And I would get to the end of summer and realize I didn't even, like, I literally didn't put a swimsuit.

Like I hate that. I hate that. Yeah, I do now, but like in the, like when the thick of it, I was like, the babysitter took him to this and so I would, I would only pick two days. That's what I needed. I'd pick two Fridays and I would be done by two and I would take him to the pool and we would have hot dogs on the pool side and we would take home a lot of wet towels and like that whole thing.

Yeah. I just needed to experience it. I just needed to do that with my kids for me. Um, And so I think, I guess I'll be brief and say like, the first thing is if that's what you want, you have to schedule it. Mm-hmm. , you have to say, on Tuesdays or the first Tuesday or on Fridays, or two Thursdays a month, I go do this because I want to experience the stage with her.

And give yourself permission to protect that commitment you've made to yourself. Mm. Um, and treat it as important. , insert big client name here. Sure. And just honor that cuz it's what you need and that's important that you feel like you're getting what you need. I, if you're doing it for the reasons that are like, I feel guilty, I'm not what I would, you know, I have this thing about guilt, like guilt's choice.

Yeah. You didn't use the word guilty. I'm just sort of using this as another way that this can come up. And your daughter's not old enough to ask now, but your husband is there. She's in a safe, loving environment. And I just thought about like the velocity I can create in the early days makes a different point in the line.

If I go slower now it's gonna be 47 where I hit my goal versus, and I, I don't know, we don't actually get to like see life this way, but that's how I would think about it. I was like, I'm going hard right now because my goal was when I, my girls got to middle school that I would have a lot more flexibility.

So that was important to me. Mm. I know other women who have made the choice to be really available when their kids are young and they have more flexibility later. Um, but just know it's not gonna be a perfect balance the whole way. Give yourself grace through that. And then also just like, check in with yourself, especially when they're young.

Like, what do I need to feel really? close to their journey of development and growing where you like feel like you're there for the things that you want to, I missed. I think everybody's first steps, and I heard somebody else told me the first steps are the ones you see. And I was like, I love that I, That's so good.

Those are the ones. So that was easy for me to be like, I love them. They are so safe. I put a lot of energy into them and they are not the only thing going on in my world. Mm. Um, they are very important and especially as they get older, they need to. that I am rock steady for them. Yeah. And I also have a big, full life that I wanna get out of this 30 years now that I'm gonna be raising kids.

Yeah. And I don't feel bad about that. I love that.

Ashley Monk: Yeah, I love that. I think that's amazing. My last kind of question for you is I'm sure that as you. Started your company as you started this journey and you've seen it continue to see it different through fruition, what are maybe the core ingredients that, looking back, if you maybe not do it all over again, but like looking back as a part of your journey, what were the core ingredients that you think.

Should have just been fixed, that you're really glad that you were really rigid on and that we're non-negotiables. And maybe what were some of the things that as time progressed and as you, um, continue to evolve as a leader, maybe things that you're like, I, I could have let go of that, or I didn't, Maybe I had too much prioritization on some of maybe the wrong things.

Yep. Those are

Tiffany Sauder: the really mature question. Um, so the first is I would, if I ever start another company, I will understand that from the jump I have to have an operational. Hmm. I am one side of the circle, but I am not a complete one. And so I would never start a business without an operator. Hmm. Um, the second is that growth is a trap.

And I saw that as the ultimate metric, and that was a very expensive lesson. Um, the other is that learning that success is boring. Uh, was a tragic thing for my personality to learn . Sure. But it is about doing the same things over and over and over and over and over again in a way that you just can do it with your eyes closed.

Um, and I had to really mature into that. Um, Brian has a great saying that I think of a lot that says everything is a big. And if everything is a big deal, you'll have no big deals. And I think especially early with talent, you can kind of like let little things roll that like kind of give you a bad vibe, but you're like, I mean, I don't know.

I've only seen it once. Sure. And I think that I got much better at talent. We got much better at things when I would make a big deal outta small things so that it never escalated to actually being a big thing. The adage that Cassius King. Is actually true. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. It matters a lot. And I felt like I could grow my way kind of out of anything.

Yeah. Um, because I was able to make revenue. But revenue is different than cash. I still think the thing people underestimate is, is their brand. You know, even you saying like, I've watched you from afar. . It's very humbling always to hear that, but it's been very intentional in building a brand. Mm-hmm. , I didn't just wanna build a company.

I, I feel like it's a platform for leadership. Yeah. Brands are. And as I have grown, um, You know, I obviously think that my perspectives and beliefs are worth living existing in the world. And if we're not willing to work to put them on stage, it leaves a lot of room for people who believe things that you don't.

And so, yeah, um, having the courage to build something to invest in building something more lasting can take financial resources along the way, but I think it's worth it. So that would be my brain dump. I also would tell you, over invest in your marriage. Mm-hmm. , Um, the kids get a lot of attention, and I don't mean for this to sound as trite as I'm gonna say it, but like, they will love you no matter what Sure.

But overinvest in your marriage, it's like the biggest gift you can give. Yourself as it relates to just the peacefulness in your own mind of the time. You know? Right. And when your marriage, when you get in a big fight, it takes a lot of brain space. Yeah. It's exhausting and overinvest in that. And it's the most important gift you can give your daughter to have a great mentor who says this like, he's like, Tiffany, this is the time of your life.

And when you see your days that. This is the time of my life. You know, you're in a place where you have the opportunity to invest in this. You've got people around you that are rooting for you. You've got clients who are willing to give you a chance to learn your business. You've got, you know, like a husband who's supportive.

You have a healthy do. This is the time of your life. I love that. When you look at it that way, for me, it just like changes my perspective. Like, dang, that's true. This is the time of my life.

Ashley Monk: Thank you so much, Tiffany. I've looked forward to this interview for a while, and it's just been amazing to be able to learn from you and goodness get to just talk to you and hear from you.

So thank you for taking the time out of I know your crazy, crazy busy schedule to have this conversation.

Tiffany Sauder: Thanks, Ashley, appreciate it.

Thank you for joining me on another episode of Scared Confident. Until next time, keep telling fear. You will not decide what happens in my. I will, if you wanna get the inside scoop, sign up for my newsletter. We decided to make content for you instead of social media algorithms. The link is waiting for you in show notes, or you can head over to tiffany

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