Takeover: Rachel Downey and The First Million Part 1

As part of Tiffany’s personal mission of being “for others”, she is intentionally inviting people in her community to host takeovers on the Scared Confident feed. And in the next 3 weeks, you’ll be hearing from her first takeover: Rachel Downey.

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As part of Tiffany’s personal mission of being “for others”, she is intentionally inviting people in her community to host takeovers on the Scared Confident feed. And in the next 3 weeks, you’ll be hearing from her first takeover: Rachel Downey.

Rachel Downey is co-founder and CEO of Share Your Genius, the podcast production company that Tiffany and her husband bought in 2021. After helping Tiffany create The First 17 Years series for Scared Confident, Rachel got to thinking: it’s amazing and inspiring to hear stories from a hindsight perspective, but what about sharing the real stuff while you’re in it? In this 3-part takeover series, The First Million, that’s exactly what she set out to do.

Rachel is sharing the journey to Share Your Genius’ first million—all of her stories from the messy middle of growing a company, its culture, and herself. In this first episode, you’ll hear from Rachel on the inspiring story of how Share Your Genius was born alongside her first daughter as she spent her first months in the NICU, and the mentor and co-founder who helped her coin their first company value: Be Great.

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 life.

Rachel Downey: I'm none of those. But I do still have some things in com with Tiffany. I'm a founder, podcast host and producer, 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.

When I first heard the words, scared, confident to describe the journey that Tiffany Soder went on, I almost had an out of body experience because I had never had anyone articulate so crisply the experience that I was literally living. So for those who aren't familiar with my voice, why should you be?

I'm often. Sort of behind the screen, not behind the mic. And I've had the opportunity to produce Scared, confident since its inception in, I don't know, 2020. Since then, Tiffany and I's relationship has gone from client and producer, mentor to friend. She's now a, a owner at Share Your Genius and. With that comes all sorts of opportunities and learnings and stories.

I founded Share Your Genius, right when I had my first kid through building this business and navigating life as a new parent, a business owner, leader, all of those things, scared, confident is the best way to describe that journey. And so what I wanted to do in this takeover was actually take some time to pause and share.

Our road from zero to what will be our first seven figure year. It's a big milestone for a company to get there because it gives you the opportunity to say, wow, we're a real company. We've got amazing clients. We have the ability to build a team. We have the opportunity to put some infrastructure around us and what's it gonna take to go to the next level.

So I wanted to first pause and go back, kind of share some of the early. Share some of the present before I ever have the opportunity to do something as profound as the first 17 years

be great for me, be great, ultimately comes down to one word and that word is choice. So often. We are given the opportunity to be average, be good status quo or be great. And it all comes down to our behaviors, our habits, and our decisions. We are the total sum of the decisions we make and the relationships that we foster.

And so when we think about those words, be. It has to be personal because it comes down to the choice that you make day in and day out to be great.

June, 2016, four o'clock in the morning, I woke up in the middle of the. Thinking that I was experiencing a miscarriage. I calmly looked over at my husband, woke him up and said, Hey, we gotta go to the hospital. And for some reason, I just had this calm about me. We got to the hospital. Literally, I, I, I was just sitting there kind of just like, just tell me, man.

Just tell me that the baby's gone. Like, let's just, I wanna move on. You know what I mean? That, that's just how my mind works. At the time, I was 24 weeks. And they hooked me up to the portable ultrasound and it all of a sudden I just heard, and it was very fainted, but I heard the beat and it was a heartbeat.

And that is actually when I started to feel emotion because it was just like this insane sense of relief that, you know, my girl was still.

The doctor was like, the reality is you're not leaving the hospital and the biggest thing that we need to do right now is keep you from going into full labor. I then spent the next two weeks in the hospital unable to move cuz I was told not to. When you're in it, it feels like forever when you're alone by yourself all day, every day.

Even if you have visitors popping in between, it's really hard to keep your mind from going negative or going south. You know, you have doctors coming in basically saying, Hey, keep your baby in. Keep your baby in. Um, we don't know what's wrong, and so it's really hard to keep your mind from going into negative places.

I started listening to podcasts. I found podcasts to be a medium that kept my mind in a positive place. and I would just spend time imagining what linen would look like. I spent time imagining what our life would look like. I spent time imagining what I wanted for our future. Um, and that's, that's what I would do.

I, I would listen to podcasts and I would imagine these different scenarios. She ended up being born at 26 weeks, 26 weeks and six days to be exact. It sounds crazy, but those are the moments that became the foundation and the seeds that ultimately led me to. Leaning in and helping to build, share your genius.

While I was spending time at the hospital after Lennon was born, she was in the NICU for about 83 days, and at that same time, Jim reached out to me,

Jim Brown: so I am pretty sure you were still in college when I met you. They have the grit and the termination. This is Jim Brown. Yep. So like I always admired that about you and I knew you were going to do something amazing.

Uh, I tried to stay in touch with you for a while, and multiple times I reached out to you saying, Hey, I'm thinking about this, or I'm thinking about that, looking for help, or an employee or someone, right? And you would never take the bait. You would always tell me someone else that I should talk to. I'm like, Rachel, I mean you.

Uh, and you never, ever, uh, took that.

Rachel Downey: Jim Brown was somebody that I had always stayed connected with. We would meet every quarter or. Catch up on life, talk about business, just see what was going on in each other's worlds. I had mad respect for the way his brain worked because it was very opposite from mine, and I continually just wanted to learn from.

So he and I would meet randomly and, and occasionally, um, but also intentionally

Jim Brown: when I was thinking about launching my podcasts, which seems like it was an eternity ago now, I knew that I needed help and I wanted your help. So I thought it was a new enough medium that we really couldn't screw it up. So let's just go have some fun and try some stuff.

And so I remember meeting with you at, uh, Starbucks at 71st and Ben. And telling you about all of the ideas and you're like, yes, I'm in. I want to do it. I don't care about pay, like don't pay me anything. Like, I was like, that's weird. Um, so we started, we, we literally just,

Rachel Downey: I was in my third semester of law school.

Um, on top of the freelance work I was doing, I was also doing additional freelance work from a marketing ops and project management standpoint. And then of course, being at the hospital and trying to navigate what life was gonna be like with Lenon. And ultimately I came to the conclusion like I was just doing too much, and so I had just decided to move on from helping Jim with his podcast sales tuners.

Jim has an incredible standard of excellence. And it's something that I admire and it's something that has helped me increase my standard of excellence. But at that time in my life, I was just like not in it. Like I was like, I don't wanna be this challenged. I don't want to be. Push this much. Um, I need things to be good enough.

And Jim wasn't having it, so I said, I can't do this. And so I walked away.

Jim Brown: You know, that kind of pissed me off. Uh, and I think I even came back maybe not in the moment, but like a day or so later and said, Hey, uh, I totally get that something has to give, but why does it have to be this? Like what if Right?

And kind of went down that path. And so I think it, you, you. Thought about it, but uh, you said it's just, now's not the time, but then it was like, Three months later, four months later, you came back, you're like, okay, so I made the wrong call. Uh, I want to do something with you, but I've got a bigger idea.

Rachel Downey: So I think from the beginning it was always gonna be bigger than sales tuners.

I really went into the podcast game, if you will, thinking that I would be a podcast publicist, which would be like pitching people on shows and helping businesses get on podcasts and maybe manage talent and all that kind of. That was where my head was when I approached him from the beginning. It was never gonna be sales tunes because he had already sort of filled the role of who was gonna support him on that opportunity.

And so for him, he was like, all right, well this has to be a business, which means that we have to have clients and this means that we have to be doing things for people, I believe. And so uncover, that's what we did.

Jim Brown: Something you believe share your genius could be something. It was

Rachel Downey: just kind of funny how all that timing ultimately works out, but.

And I remember you just being like, what's the minimum you need to live? Like what? What's


Jim Brown: the minimum? That's true. I remember that conversation. Yeah.

Rachel Downey: And then I ran downstairs and I was like, Austin. And he was like, yeah, what's up? And I was like, okay, here's the thing. I can go. And I had all these interviews lined up at little like local tech companies and I was like, look, I can go do that and blah, blah, blah.

And I was like, but, and I was pitching him this whole thing and. Five minutes later, he comes back to me and he's like, all right, look, if you can just bring home, I think it was like 400, 500 bucks a week, something like that. He, he was like, it's a crazy number. Yeah. He was like, if you can just bring that home, go do whatever you want.

And I then I remember like, I was like, are you sure? You sure I'm gonna go do this? And then immediately like called or texted you. I don't know, but it's just kind of funny how that stuff plays out over time. Most

Jim Brown: people. Aren't willing to do that. They're not willing to actually bet on themselves. Um,

Rachel Downey: for whatever reason.

I was just like, you know, even if there was ever conflict between us, like he or not, like, I never doubted that you were in my corner. You know what I'm saying? So I, that also allowed it to be easier for me to sort of bet on myself because I was like, well, Jim's not gonna like, let me drown. I was just hustling.

I was like, I would meet with anybody that would say yes. I mean, I met with so many people, it was dumb, and I just loved it. I freaking loved what podcasting could do. I had never seen a content channel work that way before it. It could drive relationships, it could drive revenue, and it created content waterfalls.

And I'm like, why are, like, why aren't people doing this? Like, what is wrong with people? So I was like, on this mission, it felt. And what was interesting about that time in life is Jim was running a sales training, coaching and development company while doing his podcast as a way for him to kind of generate his own opportunities and content and all that kind of stuff and learn in all those things that podcasts do.

And so we were kind of working in silos in a way, like we would meet to talk about what was going on, to share ideas and, and he would really work with me. How I showed up in sales conversations and positioning and just building out my confidence and my mindset and all that kind of stuff. Getting comfortable

Jim Brown: with who you were as a person.

Um, you know, starting to get to the point where you realize like what other people's opinions are, don't matter, like you started to get there. Um, I think that's the biggest thing. And, and, and there there's so many other aspects just of confidence that we could talk about. But I think that another big one was just like you started to really understand the difference between leadership and management.

They are not the same thing. at all. Leaders inspire others to be great managers get shit done. They, they, they make sure you cross the T and dotted the I and, and did it in the right order, right? Like, No one's inspired by managers. Do we need them? Yeah. In a lot of cases we do. Um, but that's not leadership and, and also leadership is not doing all the work yourself.

Uh, that's, that will kill you.

Rachel Downey: He was in a really interesting life transition because he had been planning to do this trip for years. I mean, I remember him talking to me about this trip before he and I ever talked about him doing a podcast. He was like, no. In three years, I'm traveling the world. We're gonna go to a different country and live there for one month.

For 12 months. So that was, you know, January 1st, I would say real deal closed. And then in December of 2018, I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, olive, who I had not planned on having, like at that point in my life, um, I was really just like, let's grow this thing and do this thing I did. And um, so I was very nervous to tell Jim that I was pregnant because there was so much hanging in the balance it felt.

And I was very nervous to tell you, but I wanna know if you remember what, like me telling you and what went through your head. Gosh.

Jim Brown: Uh, do I remember you telling me that one? Um, so this, this is gonna sound a bit crazy, Rachel. Um, people usually are not thinking about you. It's usually the case. I had a, in my world, a really big life event that was about to happen.

I was moving out of my house and leaving the country for a year. I heard you for sure, but I was like, girl, this is on you. Can you still get the work done that you know that you've promised? Like, what are you gonna do? You had already proven to me like you are a person who's just not gonna let things fall.

You're gonna get the work. I probably alluded to the fact that you're going to be out longer than you think you're going to be. Um,

Rachel Downey: which by the way, I never was out. I remember it was our biggest month ever at the time, and I, I was in labor and delivery and I remember being in Slack and Christian back from Innovate Map signed the contract, and at the time that was like a really big deal.

But I was in the labor and delivery room, and. I was at their office doing a kickoff a week and a half later. Crazy because I was dumb. But it's okay. But

Jim Brown: no, I mean, that's what I would say. It's like, uh, in that moment, like I was thinking more about myself than

Rachel Downey: you because of what was going on in your life.

Yeah. The thing I that I admire so much about Jim is his ability to demand excellence. Without actually telling you that that's what he's demanding. And I just knew that if I worked in his orbit long enough that I would create a higher standard for myself and I would grow. And I was so hungry to just grow and learn.

And I've had, I've always had this innate desire that I. Articulate really to reach my potential and who knows what that means. But very specifically, there was this moment in time where Jim and I working together meant so much more because I had two girls and it was so important to me that my daughters grew up seeing a mother who never backed down.

Using her gifts and using her talents to make the world a better place. And I remember thinking to myself, and this is even before I was pregnant with all of my second, but I remember in that moment of calling Jim even back to the beginning of the story of calling Jim and saying, Hey, I wanna do something in podcasting.

Because I was looking at Lenn and Linen was born without her lower left. I remember thinking to myself, there is no way in hell that I'm gonna let her grow up and not let her see me reach my potential because she's gonna be given excuses never to, just because of the way she was born. And I was like, no way.

I needed somebody like Jim to push me, to educate me, to grow me, and to not let me make excuses. And when you work with Jim, that's, that is what's gonna.

When we look back on the Sherry Genius journey, Jim was now leaving, but it felt like a changing of the guards in a way because he officially was leaving the country. He wasn't gonna be as available. I mean, he still made himself available, but um, it was really like, okay, Rachel, you need to lead this team.

You need to lead this company. And at the time that he left, it was me and one other employee, Mike Fisher. And I remember Mike and I were in the office that we shared at the time, and Jim had left and I walked into the office that morning and I was sitting down and crossed from me is where our big whiteboard was.

I sat down and just opened my computer, got to work, and I looked up and on the whiteboard he had written in all caps at the very top, be great.

We continue the story next week with the Voice. You're more familiar with Tiffany Souder and how she encouraged me to see beyond. We've got more of the first million next week. In the meantime, you can find more from me and my team of producers and our newsletter Genius. Cut. Which of course you can find the link to sign up for in the show notes and check out my podcast voicemails with Rachel.

See you next week.

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