Rachel Downey and The First Million: Imagine If

When you take your business from "my business" to "our company", that shift has to be done with the right people. For Rachel and Share Your Genius, those "first followers" were Jillian Hoefer and Kyle Stellhorn. Both leaving stable jobs to leap into the messy middle of Share Your Genius, Jillian and Kyle share their why behind joining Rachel, and uncover some remarkable coincidences that led to the timing being perfect for these big bets.

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When you take your business from "my business" to "our company", that shift has to be done with the right people.

For Rachel and Share Your Genius, those "first followers" were Jillian Hoefer and Kyle Stellhorn.

Both leaving stable jobs to leap into the messy middle of Share Your Genius, Jillian and Kyle share their why behind joining Rachel, and uncover some remarkable coincidences that led to the timing being perfect for these big bets.

Listen in to hear how Jillian, Kyle, and the growing Share Your Genius team are helping Rachel "Imagine If..." for the company's next million.

Listen to the first episode of The First Million: https://link.chtbl.com/KoREVkAA

To hear more from Rachel, check out her podcast, Voicemails with Rachel here: https://link.chtbl.com/ZY3ZvYFf

To get Rachel’s Genius in your inbox, sign up for Genius Cuts: https://www.shareyourgenius.com/genius-cuts

Tiffany Sauder: I'm a small-town kid, born with a big-city spirit. I choose to play a lot of awesome roles in

Rachel Downey: I'm none of those things, but I do still have some things in common with Tiffany. I'm a founder, podcast host and producer, a human razor, a believer in magic and homegirl to Austin, aka my husband. Five years ago I founded the production company, share Your Genius, We're in the messy middle, and I'm liking some of it, hating some of it, but loving it all.

Obviously. I'm Rachel Downey, and this is my takeover of Scared Confident.

Last story we left off with the company shifting from this is a lifestyle business to No, we're ready to see beyond. Tiffany came in as a partner owner, and. Since then, things have changed a little bit. A lot of it has to do with the market. A lot of it has to do with a lot of the work that we've been doing.

But more than anything, it has to do with people. it's really cool to think about the impact that we're making in the future that we have. So in this last episode, it really ties to the theme of where Share Your Genius goes next, and it's based on one of my favorite core values. Imagine if

The thing I like to think about when we think about this word and this idea of imagine if is oftentimes we're imagining things for our lives, but we don't know how they're gonna happen. We don't know how they're gonna get executed. All you know is the thing that you're wanting to see happen. . And when you put that stuff into the world and you speak those ideas into reality, often you find what you're looking for and ways that you never imagined.

you know, since we're on the feed of Scared, confident, I think it's only right to talk about some of the inspiration that Tiffany has. On my life in terms of a creator. She talks about this concept on her first 17 years series. of a first follower

And the way that I think about a first follower, I think about it like somebody who had. A really good job. Somebody who had a future working at a really stable company or a really cool company somebody who has that, potential and the ability to go anywhere and be anyone, and they choose you.

Rachel Downey: And for me, that person is. Who I knew her as, Jillian McNulty, and then she got married , and her name is Jillian Hofer. And for me, she was our first follower and she was the first hire that I went to make. the minute this company's future plans shifted. I remember very specifically at this point, share your genius had, um, It was as far as full-time employees at this point, it was two of us. And then there were two people that I was working with quite a bit, but they were contractors. Um, and so we were in the stage of getting some really cool opportunities like this one with Terminus and creating a documentary. And that was something I had put on my sort of wishlist, going into that year. And that project was, it was a whirlwind, but it was a blast. And from my end, like, it was so interesting because from my end, I had a million other projects that I was working on at the time in the content sphere at Terminus.

Jillian Hoefer: Um, and I just had this total like trust with you that I was like, you're owning this, you're taking this, like, I barely checked it on you. I.

Rachel Downey: , I was, really reflecting on that experience and thinking to myself like, this is the kind of content that I need to be involved with creating. And, I just kept in my head the question is, I was like, who can help me?

Who can do this? Who can help me? Who can help me? Because you need the right who to tell these stories. And I swear, I, your name was whispered in my ear. I actually still get goosebumps about it because it was so clear to me and I've not, I have not had many moments like that in my life, and I think within a week of that, I think you emailed me.

Jillian Hoefer: No, cuz I need to tell you my side of the story there because what the, at the same time that all this was happening for you, I remember I was hitting this point at Terminus that like I was doing the coolest work there that I could have been doing in content. Like we were doing amazing things. I love my team, I loved everyone I was working with.

I loved the projects I was working on, but there was still something missing and I just was having such a hard time, like putting my finger. And I think I finally came to the conclusion that I was like, okay, I just, it, it, it's like I am having a hard time getting behind the just like tech platform. I'm such a mission driven person.

I always have been that if I can't rally behind the mission of the thing, I, it feels very like selfish. I don't know. There's just something about it that I just, I need to work for something bigger than myself or a paycheck. It's just always how it's been for me. So I kind of was coming to the conclusion that that was.

Wrong, but I was like, oh, this is such a great job and I'm about to get married and like it's really great to have all these benefits and great to have stability and all that. So I remember sitting down with Daniel and ELA one day who's just like, is the best mentor. He just is so great at, um, encouraging and calling out strengths in people.

So I'm having this conversation with him and I'm kind of like pitching him different jobs for me within Terminus where I'm like, okay, well I could do this or I could do this, and you. Telling him kind of where my career could go. And he, I'm sure he probably sensed at the time when we were talking that like, she doesn't wanna do either of these things.

Like I'm pretty, he just is a really good empath like that. So I, he kind of was like, no, no, no, no, no. I need you to tell me what would you wanna do anywhere, like, think bigger than Terminus. And I immediately, without hesitation, I was like, I wanna do what Rachel Downey's doing. you emailed me no less than a week later,

Rachel Downey: Okay, so it was me

Jillian Hoefer: It was you, you emailed me a week later and I remember thinking Daniel must have put a bug in her ear,

Rachel Downey: No, and I, yeah, no, I literally, I think I emailed you. Okay. I emailed you and I said, Hey, I think it'd be really cool to catch up and grab coffee, and I went into that conversation. Let me say one thing. I care very much about the network I've built. And so I always like when it comes to like talent and things like that, I try and walk a very like, tight leash.

Um, and so I was like, let me just have a conversation with Jillian like on a Friday afternoon and just kind of understand where her head's at and what she's wanting to do with her life. without thinking through the whole thing of like, okay, come work for me at Share Your Genius.

Jillian Hoefer: And you never said anything like that, like in the conversation. It was not like a job pitch by any means. It was like we really were just catching up and talking about the company. And I feel like I, I don't know if this was your perception of it, but it almost felt like it was like a first date. Like, like, or like a third date vibe of like, we both kind of, wait, we both know there's something here.

We both know we like each other. Like who's gonna be the first one to be like, wait, what if we work together? Like, but but what if we

Rachel Downey: And I do think it was me.

Jillian Hoefer: I think it was

Rachel Downey: I think it was me where I was like, all right, well maybe we should figure something out. I think anyone coming to work at a company at the size of the stage is taking a risk. So I'm just curious, like, what made you feel confident in taking the.

Jillian Hoefer: First of all, you and who you are, and I know that's gonna make you uncomfortable, when I was looking for a mission to rally behind, there's no one else who I would rather rally behind than. I'm just so inspired by you and I just love what you're building. And so that was a no brainer.

But then also to kind of echo your sentiment, like genuinely it felt like an answered prayer, Rachel, like, I mean especially because we were getting to know each other on a level way past work in like a nine to five something. And it just felt, it genuinely felt like an answered prayer. Cause I had been praying for so many weeks at Terminus when I was starting to feel that pull. I was like, okay, God, you've gotta be putting this pull in my life for some reason.

you've gotta show me what that poll is. And so I just feel like it was so clear. It was like I got these little breadcrumbs along the way that I was like, oh, this is exactly where God wants me. And I feel like since I've joined Share Your Genius every time that's been hard, every week, that's been hard.

Jillian Hoefer: Every experience that's challenged me. Like, I always go back to that like, okay, God, if you want me somewhere else, you, you put something else in front of me and it's like every time I've been affirmed, like, no, this is where you're supposed to be with these people, with these clients, with this . Work. it's just been such an answered prayer.

That's the only way I can describe it

Rachel Downey: when you came into my life, To me, it felt like affirmation that, that this was something bigger than just Rachel's lifestyle business.

And it was essentially like, Hey, I'm gonna, I'm bringing you the resources, I'm bringing you the right people so that the imagine if becomes possible.

from a living at the core value of Imagine If and being able to help our clients experience the magic of storytelling. That's like a talent that is like within your actual soul and body. And it's not even something that like you can put on a resume, you know what I'm saying? Like, it's just like ingrained as like who you are, which is who I am too.

And so that's what I think about is like, how do I find these people who never stop playing? Pretend. How do I find these people who who understand that story drives human connection. The people that like see the pockets of when to lean in and you. You can't be explicit around when you lean in.

You just know in your gut that this is where it's gonna lead you. Um, and that's rare.

I just absolutely love. Those moments where you can get outside of yourself and just witness something as almost this like omnipotent narrator, like that.

Jillian Hoefer: Those are my favorite moments and I feel like you have that too. you and I are both the type of people that we can like see the story unfolding from the 30,000 foot view there's something so electric and magic about being able to then like point that out to other people.

Because I think when people are in those stories or in those moments, you kind of actually need someone to point out the amazing qualities that are happening or like the amazing story that's unfolding in their own lives.

when you have a talent like Jillian, And many of the people now that are part of Share Your Genius, you have a deeper, bigger responsibility it's your duty to help grow and nurture and help create meaningful work and opportunities for the talent that chooses you. But the reality is what gets you somewhere, those skills that got you where you are.

Aren't always the skills that need to get you to that next level. And one of the greatest things any leader can do is have a high level of self-awareness. It's, it's actually like kind of the minimum requirement to be a leader is you have to have some level of self-awareness. And in that you recognize some of the things that you're not quite great at, and you might never be great at that. And actually, it's better that you don't become great at that because instead of honing in on the weaknesses that you have, it's better to highlight and focus and grow those things that come very naturally to you.

One of the things that Tiffany brought to the table was her lessons, was her tenure, was her experience. And one of the things she realized early on in working with me is she was like, we've gotta find somebody who can balance out your natural gifts.

And so we, we talked to some different people, we had different conversations. , but nothing was really like clicking and the way that would maximize my strengths, the strengths of the organization, but then also help us grow, help us become the company that we had this vision to build together and this vision of a company that would support such talented people like Jillian.

And as these things happen,

the answers slowly unfold.

Kyle Stellhorn joined the company in July of 2021,

Kyle Stellhorn: I historically just run a thousand miles an hour. Don't really give myself a lot of time for self-reflection. it was, it was a serendipitous, as they say. I actually tore my Achilles. I started to think about what's that next career path for me

something like that, an injury where you're kind of bedridden, , it gives you opportunity to, to. And to think about not only where you are at, but also where you want to go and, and then start formulating a plan I definitely knew that I wanted to make a move. Uh, the injury just gave me, more time to think about it and, and then to act on it. Why did you wanna make a move? Like what was going on that you were like, this isn't the right path for me right now.

I thought that, well, I know that I have, uh, a lot of, Skills and, experience in a lot of different areas. And I thought that it, there's a, there's another road where I can provide the value, and help out. But I think the biggest piece for me is like I've, I've seen a lot of bad managers. I've seen a lot of bad boss.

and I just, I know that I could do better. It's kind of, my mom always told me, you know, you learn the best from the worst bosses. And, you know, as, as I've grown and, and learned about how to manage and, and run a business, I really thought this was a great opportunity to, to jump in and try to try to run the operations for a, for a business.

And my family, my dad, Business, a small business, marketing agency, and my mom has always had that entrepreneur like spirit. Um, so I think it's a little bit in my blood and, and I just know deep down that I would do well if I had that opportunity. I just had to find it and believe in myself and, and jump in.

Deep end Your.

I remember the first time I met Kyle and my first impression was that he was kind and that he was open.

And when you're coming into an organization that a founder like myself has helped build, build up to this point,

you can sort of start to feel like a tension between. What that person sees and what you're coming in to help support or help change or help grow or help influence. A lot of times when you work with creatives, we can tend to be a little bit scattered. riding the rollercoaster of the highs and the lows of the creative process of the client, acquisition, all of those kinds of things. And so oftentimes you are looking for somebody who can balance you out, who can help you feel a sense of security.

Um, there was a piece of the business where, . You know, I started to feel scared to sell where I was like, I'm selling more than our capacity can take. The amazing thing about the team at Share Your Genius is because everyone cares so much about us winning is that we were still getting it done.

But there was this tipping point in my mind where I'm like, at some point we're gonna grow to the point where people are gonna break because I can't outrun these problems and I'm getting to the point where, The reactiveness is, is getting to the threshold in which we're not gonna be able to sustain this.

And so he came in to really help us stabilize that. And I got this feeling of intense security, of like, okay, I know that he's open, I know that he's gonna treat me with kindness and He's gonna stabilize us, and I can trust that he's got it. because it's just his personality and I think it's just in his DNA to take care of . Things, to provide security, to provide stability.

And so we lovingly call him now the big brother of Share Your Genius. Um, and in a really short amount of time, he's made a really, really big impact and, um, feel really confident in our future.

Rachel Downey: what do you imagine for, let's say the next million. Or beyond.

Kyle Stellhorn:

A team full of, really passionate, energetic, fun. Folks that are equipped to dominate. So to be able to have all the tools and the skills that they need to, um, to be the best version of themselves. And the way that I look at that is I'm helping them with getting those tools so that they can be the best version of the.

To me that's, that's most important. And the second one is, doubling down on this underdog idea and, you know, just dominating the market, making others know who you are and causing a dent. that's the way that I, I view kind of that first. I think, uh,million has been a great rollercoaster and. I think there's a lot more, uh, million roller coasters up upcoming that are gonna be fun

Rachel Downey: When you think about the big picture, like of your own like vision for your own life, are there like specific things that you are looking to accomplish

Kyle Stellhorn: Be a dad. Being a dad is, is, uh, huge. that's the biggest piece. being a great husband. just trying to grow and improve little by little, and then being balanced.

I mean, I, think for you and for the rest of the team, it's, we see that, opportunity and it's pretty awesome. Being able to work with so many different people, provide them the value that we're able to provide others I always think of, imagine if as looking at all different aspects of what's important to me. So faith, family, work, community friends, and, and imagining a world where I'm fulfilled in all of those what does imaginative mean for you?

Imagine if means leaving room for something bigger. for me, it's always been like in my own life when I have left room for things to happen. Bigger things happen than I can like conjure up myself. the more I just open myself up and leave room, the most amazing stories and opportunities come out of that. if you leave the room for like little magic to happen every day and in every little task, all of a sudden the small thing that you're creating is gonna just open up and blossom into this incredible thing that you probably couldn't have imagined.

every place that I've worked, I felt like I had to kind of like fight upstream to let stories be told and like let big ideas come to life. And this is the first place I've ever been that I'm like, oh my gosh, this stuff can be celebr. it doesn't have to be boundary pushing in a like bottom line way. It's just, it's storytelling for the sake of the betterment of everyone. And it is so magical working with you. we're so cheesy.

I know there's some really good stuff in as we finish the takeover on the Scared Confident Platform, the Scared, confident Feed. Tiffany, first of all, thank you so much for sharing the mic, um, for encouraging me to get on the mic, in this next chapter of Share Your Genius for . Us, we're focused on a few really key things, but primarily we're leaning into this idea of imagine if.

There's so much opportunity for so many people and so many companies, and there's so much abundance out there, and it's so hard sometimes to see that, but it's there and we are embracing the unknown with a really confident awareness that when we imagine if great things come and they will,

if this was fun and you liked hearing about our journey, You can't hang out with me on voicemails with Rachel anywhere, of course, where you get your podcasts.

I would love to connect with anyone on LinkedIn. You can find me at Rachel Elsts Downey, and we'd love to imagine if with you.

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