Episode #67: Reflecting on the Year + the Future of the Show

DRIVEN: A podcast for modern entrepreneurs. DRIVEN: A podcast for modern entrepreneurs. Reflecting on the Year + the Future of the Show.

In today’s episode, we’re taking a look back at the last year of the Driven Podcast and all that‘s happened in our businesses. We’ll wrap up the episode with a weekly actionable tip.


Diane Sanfilippo: We get stuck in this place where we are able to do things. So then being able to say; I shouldn’t do it. I should be paying someone else to do this instead, and giving someone else that work. That’s a tough one. It’s tough to kind of make that call. But I think it’s usually the right decision.

Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Cassy Joy: In today’s episode, we’re taking a look back at the year of the Driven podcast and all that has happened in our businesses.

Topics:

1.  What’s on my plate [1:05]

2.  Shop Talk: Reflections of the last year [34:56]

3. Tip of The Week: Reflect on your year [1:00:18]

1.  What’s on my plate [1:05]

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses, and in our lives for the week. And, well; this week we’ll be talking about it as a bit of a reflection on things that have happened; mostly in our business, I’ll say, over the last year-plus. Which, as we’re heading into Thanksgiving, this feels like a nice tie to start some reflection.

Cassy Joy: It is. That’s a good point. There’s something about this time of year that if I sit down and I look in the rearview mirror, I’m just sitting in awe and gratitude and other feelings are stirred into that pot. {laughs}

So what’s currently on my plate; I guess I can start there and then we’ll look back. But it’s been a little while since Diane and I have recorded together. Just a couple of weeks. And I have written here that I feel like I’m drowning in Q4; and that’s just really honest. It’s just honestly how I feel right now. And it is all with intention, and it’s also for a very short season. We’re working on this program that I’ve talked about a little bit that we’re launching in January. I’m genuinely beside myself excited about it.

We’re spending a lot of time really trying to support our partners through this Q4; our big product sponsors, for example. Supporting our readers with the content that they really want and need from us right now. And then of course trying to do what I can to support my beauty team and their goals; Beautycounter.

But trying to take breaths of air while writing for the website again. I got to write a little bit; I was telling Diane before we pressed record. I got to spend a little bit of time writing yesterday because my week got rescheduled a little bit, and I had two free days pop up. And I thought; I’ll go ahead and write that Willow versus Elvie pump review, finally, so we can get it published. I’ve been teasing about it for months and months and months. And I had four hours to write. And I can’t tell you; I drove home in like this Zen state {laughs} that I haven’t felt in so long. So I’m really excited to lean into that a little bit more. Soon I’ll write Bishop’s birth story {laughs}. She’s only turning 7 months old soon. Maybe I’ll get it up before she’s a year old.

And then, I’m getting back in the kitchen and cooking and developing recipes again. I just feel like getting back to the heart of what I really love to do here. And then as an act of self-care for Fed and Fit, because there is so much going on right now with this new program, supporting our partners, all these things the Q4 frenzy. But trying to be as mindful as possible on that feeling of rush and urgency and pressure that my team feels, in addition to how I feel.

We made the conscious decision to not publish new content; a whole lot of new content on the website, for the rest of November and then December and then January. Because we have so much other stuff going on. And you get to a point where more is not more. And part of my purpose in being a boss is to also help these folks be able to live happy lives. And I don’t want work to be all consuming. We’ll have a couple of things come up; informative articles, like 10 secrets to your Instant Pot; stuff that’s relatively easy to write and research in the margins. But that will be it.

Our mystery project; my next bullet, is off to a great start. I call it a mystery project publicly, but I’m pretty sure I’ve told everybody here what it is {laughing}.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I don’t remember. I don’t remember how much detail you got into on the show.

Cassy Joy: Ok. Well, it is; I guess by the time this launches it’s still a mystery. But come December 1, we’ll know everything. Diane, I’m really flattered. Because I put up this mystery project wait list thing on Instagram. And Instagram algorithm is really cranking down in exposure. I think the people who see our Fed and Fit stories now; it’s maybe 20% of what used to see it.

Diane Sanfilippo: I hear that.

Cassy Joy: It’s so interesting. And it’s also very interesting, because I’ve noticed trends when it gets tamped down. Like; we do our Tuesday features every Tuesday, and it’s like; the people who see that. The organic reach of our Tuesday features; it’s like 4-5,000 people versus 30-plus thousand that typically saw stories.

Anyway. It’s very interesting. But even with that; even with the limitation on reach, we have 2,000 people that signed up for this wait list. There was no exchange of money in that format. But it’s just neat to know that many people are curious about what we have coming up our sleeves. And I’m really hopeful that we’ll finish the year with about 500 members. Because that’s how many hats I bought. {laughs} to gift them as a thank you for jumping in early.

My next update I have here; I have six months. It’s been coming up on six months after the death of George Floyd, and after publishing our promise to the Fed and Fit community, I am going to spend some time sitting down and republishing that commitment. Because we have been doing a lot of the work that I detailed in that public commitment. But I haven’t updated anybody; we’ve just been doing the work. And I was chatting with my business coach in a moment of honest annoyance. I was like; I’m doing the work, and I have to stop to talk about the work that I’m doing? And he was like; yes, you do. You actually do need to stop and talk about what you’re doing. That’s a part of it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. It’s not about performative allyship. And it’s not about virtue signaling. It’s about helping other people see what the work is.

Cassy Joy: Yes. Exactly. And that speaks; that propels me to want to do it. And I think I was so averse and turned off by performative allyship and virtue signaling that I resisted that for a very long time. The time has come, if not overdue, of republishing that and talking about what we’ve done where I still need to improve. Where I’ve not followed through on some of those bullet points. I want to be super transparent in that. And also the areas that I didn’t foresee that we have tackled since publishing. So I’m really excited to offer that.

And on that note, we’ll be hiring two more people in early 2021. I actually, this morning, finished writing those job descriptions and came up with a job posting strategy. We identified four, I think in my mind are really neat, job boards that are pay to post to reach communities that are well outside our warm readership. And hopefully if there are applicants in those spaces that would feel safe applying and working at Fed and Fit, I would just be so eternally grateful. So we’ll see what that looks like. That’s a net that we’ll start casting; I think I’ve got it scheduled for the end of January to start that.

Again, trying not to rush. And as an act of selfcare we’re putting that off a little bit so we’re not training and hiring in the midst of all of this.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: And then, my last bullet point here is that; this is what happens. I got on this document 15 minutes early, and I just started {laughs} really detailing my thoughts. But 2020, it’s been a formidable year to say the least. We started this show in 2019. Our first episode aired on; what was it? September 2. And I just really feel like it was supposed to span this timeframe. Diane and I were able to intentionally; on a schedule, really think through life and business during this past year.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: I mean, we’ve talked about this a lot. We like to talk a lot in the margins of what we’re doing. Usually in Voxer and talk back and forth. And in looking back, I really see the point of this show. I’m just; it was really great to be a part of it.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, the reason that Cassy is saying that is we’re not 100% sure what the future of this show will be. But Cassy is going to be stepping back as a cohost. And I have not yet made a decision on what I want to do. Because one of the visions that I had for this show; we kind of didn’t take it there at this point for a lot of reasons. I mean, largely scheduling and administrative effort on this front is tricky. But I have wanted to interview a lot of business owners. I probably have a list of at least three off the top of my head that are actual close friends of mine that I could literally grab to have a conversation within the coming weeks.

So I’ve been thinking about that a bit. Do I want to pivot the show to something where I’m having really honest conversations with probably mostly female business owners, just because I think that’s a place I want to lean into? I personally love hearing stories. I love podcasts, like How I Built This. I think that show tends to feature people who have really built things that are even maybe bigger than some of the people that I might talk to, and that’s ok. I think there are businesses that are maybe not at that level that are still worth hearing about. Or are extremely well run, thoughtful, amazing businesses. And I think there’s a lot that I want to talk to people about. I like talking about business every week. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me thinking differently. It keeps me inspired.

So that’s something that I’m just trying to figure out the how. Because scheduling and sitting down to talk with people, and dealing with other people’s schedules, and whether or not they’re going to show up. If things might happen. It’s just really frustrating. So I’m not 100% sure. I’m feeling about a 70%; like, ok, I want to do that. I want to do it. {laughs} It’s whether or not I think I can make it happen given; I don’t know. Just where I’m at. And it’s very possible that I can.

So anyway. That’s where we’re at right now. I will probably try and grab someone for an episode coming up, just so we maintain content. It is something that as a business owner; I don’t live in the numbers, but I think analytics are important. And we have a couple thousand at least very regular listeners. I personally love a podcast. I love to tune in and hear someone’s voice and just kind of have that comfort. It’s just really comforting for me to have that conversation that continues on and that touchpoint of a person who I like and trust. And I don’t know what will happen. If people will want to listen to me if you’re not here. I don’t know.

Cassy Joy: Oh, yes they will.

Diane Sanfilippo: You know, it will be a different conversation, for sure. And I’m sure there would be moments where I would maybe do a solo episode. I don’t know. Anyway; as our listeners, I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? If there are some women business owners that you would like to hear me interview. One in particular that just {laughs} I will drag her onto the show. I don’t know what her set up would be for recording; I might have to have her sit; I don’t know, somewhere in the shop and we’ll record in separate parts of the shop.

But Michelle the owner of Nana Joe’s Granola. I mean; she’s super inspirational to me. She’s been running that business for 10 years. She’s so thoughtful about the way that she cares for her employees, and that is just paramount to me. So; as somebody who is a little bit of a hater on the billionaire business owners. That is more money than any human needs. And all the people that work for you down that chain; what are they getting paid? What is the life they live while you are jetting around? You know?

Anyway. That’s the kind of stuff I think about. But I don’t know; I’m noodling it. But in the meantime, 100% the fact that we had this touchpoint to talk about our businesses, and for things to kind of go how they did and develop over this time. I mean, Cassy you and I for a least a couple of years before we started this show, we had probably thrown around an idea about it. Maybe not a couple of years, because I think we only started it; how long was I not podcasting? Was it about a year after the Balanced Bites podcast ended that we started this one, maybe? I don’t remember. It may not have been that long.

I know that there was such a long period of time where the conversations that you and I would have would be all these things you were doing in your business, and I was like; I have no idea what I’m doing. Like; what is next. What is next for me? Do you remember how many times I was like; I just don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing day to day. {laughs} It was just; I didn’t have this next vision. And this conversation and kind of having this connection over the time really helped take me to this point where; I’m opening a store soon.

So it’s totally wild. I never anticipated that. I did not see this. I think there are so many different kinds of entrepreneurs. And I bet there are tons who have these visions. You’re one of those people; you’re like; I have these visions. And whichever of them you bring to fruition, it will be what it will be. But I don’t have those visions past a really short time frame until I do. Until the day it hits me; oh my gosh, this is what it’s going to be. And that’s actually really frustrating as a business owner. Because I can have these small picture visions of; here’s the next product I want to create. I always have a stream of ideas and drafts and recipes and products that are in the pipeline. So it’s not that. But it’s that bigger step of; what’s the next big thing.

I think we’ve talked about Human Design a lot, and I think this really goes into; I don’t know if it’s just as a Manifestor or part of the type of Manifestor I am. But I don’t know until I know. Something is just always going to be an instinct in a moment. And it’s like; I have to listen to it in the moment, and go with it. Or it passes by. And I’m trying to lean into that, but it’s extremely frustrating as somebody who does like to at least plan a tiny bit, here’s what’s coming next.

But in hindsight, everything that’s kind of unfolded in my career path, starting with Practical Paleo as the thing that most people knew me for. Maybe even starting with teaching seminars. I mean, most of those things; it wasn’t like I set out with this big business plan and then I executed that plan. That’s literally never the way that I these big things happen for me. So it’s just been really interesting.

But I will never forget just watching you do an Instagram story from your office one day and I was like; yeah, I really need that space. Even just being in the middle of this pandemic, and; listen. There are a lot of people who this is not a good thing for. Right? It’s extremely flattening to; I think it’s like 50% of small businesses in San Francisco are even closing or have closed. And truthfully, before COVID tons of businesses on the street that I’m on had been closed. So I think it’s partially also, with retail in particular, just a big trend with retail.

So I get this is a position of privilege, and it’s a position of opportunity that is not widespread. I also have to lean into those things when I have a moment and I can make something happen. Because I have to say that being able to put this life onto the street, where it’s my local community, and being able to create something in this direction. It has changed how I am feeling during this pandemic. And I do feel like, to the point of you sharing what you’re doing within your business and looking at things like diversity and inclusion, all of that.

For me to share what I’m doing with my business, and then I’m not just saying; it’s stopped and it’s stalled and I’m not moving forward. I’m able to move forward. And because I’m benefitting from the fact that my business is doing well, now here’s what I’m going to do to help other people. Because it’s not just about, you know, making money for the sake of it. Just focusing on capitalism. It’s really about; ok, well if I’m right now one of the lucky ones, what can I do for the people who aren’t? What can I do about that?

So we have things that we’re doing internally. We’re updating soon on our charitable giving. That’s something that we’ve had in place for quite some time. And we’re going to have a page on our site that we update with our quarterly post on what we had done over time. But it’s beyond that, too. I think; I’ve had it on my heart to just; think of different ways to be creative. Whether it’s something like a small business scholarship or a small business grant or something like that.

Cassy Joy: Ooh.

Diane Sanfilippo: Different ideas like that where that’s something that I know Sarah Blakely does in her business, with Spanx. But I think; I don’t know. Just all those different ideas that for years I have sat with; how can I do something that’s not just about me. {laughs} Money.

Anyway. Those are things that have all kind of bubbled up. And this year has kind of pushed forward in a positive way. So feeling definitely grateful about that.

So other updates. We are recording this before Thanksgiving. I’m hoping that we’ll have a soft open for the shop very soon. So I’m trying to think; I might be able to do something as soon as this weekend, which is the weekend before Thanksgiving. We don’t have everything here at this point. Apparently finding a freezer right now is extremely tricky, because most of the previously owned freezers were in super high demand. I didn’t really think about the fact that the pandemic was driving that demand so much. But I think there were people maybe who were picking up commercial freezers who weren’t really running stores or restaurants.

Cassy Joy: Really?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Interesting.

Diane Sanfilippo: Like a standup freezer with a glass door, where you could keep that in your garage or something. I don’t even know. But it’s been tough to find one. I’m trying to figure out the path I want to take. I found one I thought would be perfect and then I read reviews of the company, and it looks really sheisty, and I was like; ugh. I don’t want to go that path. But anyway, that’s proving to be a little bit more challenging than I had anticipated.

We have spices, we have granola. We have a new granola that’s coming, super limited edition. I know I’ve said limited edition about a bunch of things. But our sugars; we won’t carry all of those all year round. I might choose one to keep in the line, as in all the time. I don’t know. And then we’ll look at some other flavors to come for future seasons.

The limited-edition super blends are probably all going to come to the line, but there will be a break between; at some point we will sell down on them and then it will take a minute to produce them again. But this flavor of granola; I am just purchasing one batch because it’s super seasonal. The flavor is definitely a holiday vibe. Well, I can tell y’all on here, because it will be out after our Black Friday sale through Cyber Monday, and then it might be out some time within the week after that. But it’s a spiced gingersnap flavor.

Cassy Joy: Ooh!

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s so good. It’s actually amazing how it doesn’t have a ton of sugar after the nutritionals were calculated, because it does taste a little more sugary to me than some of the others. I think it’s because we did not include a nut butter in the recipe. I wanted to limit things like nuts. I like to limit ingredients unless I really want or need them. So I’m like; I don’t really need a nut butter in this. It would change the texture. It would give it something; but it’s a little crispier without that instead of more cookie like. So it gives it this snappier; ginger-snappier texture. It also has candied ginger pieces in it.

Cassy Joy: Yum!

Diane Sanfilippo: It is so good. And I sprinkled some on some lemon yogurt I was eating the other day, and I was like; this is one of the top 10 things I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And I’ve eaten a lot of good things. So anyway, it’s going to be super limited. We’ll, of course, tell our Balanced Bites insiders about it, first, when it launches. So if you’re not on that list, make sure you’re on it. But yeah, I’m really excited about that. We have other things launching, too. So there’s lots coming in terms of new products. But we’ll have all of that stuff in the store. All the spices. All the granolas. Eventually we will have meals in the shop, as well. Swag.

And then eventually I’ll have some other brands products. I just have to deal with a little bit more paperwork. But I’m looking at stocking just a handful of my favorite things. I think I’ve mentioned on here that there’s a grocery store opening; well, did open, across the street. It’s called Luke’s Local. I walked through there yesterday to see what they carry. And they carry a bunch of the Hu chocolate, so I might not carry that. They carry some of Honey Mamas, but they do not carry the best flavors.

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: So, if I want to carry those, I will be carrying the best flavors. Hopefully they’ll be available. But things like that. Some kombucha. Just things I love to eat and snack on and that I want to make available to the neighborhood. So I think that will be in the coming weeks. I’m just not in a hurry. I’m like; eh. I’ll figure it out. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: I’m Googling Honey Mamas. I don’t even know what it is.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh my goodness! I mean, hashtag not sponsored. I first learned about Honey Mamas through Holly Morello, who was on my team for quite some time. And she lives in Portland. And she knows all the chocolate. She and I have a lifetime bond over dark chocolate. But it’s like a paleo friendly chocolate company that uses honey to sweeten. It has almost a kind of fudgy texture.

Cassy Joy: Yum.

Diane Sanfilippo: They sell a couple of them in Trader Joes, as well. But they’re typical bar is like a square that you can break into three pieces. It gets melty. It’s like; if you made this chocolate bar at home vibe. It’s so good, though. Their tahini tangerine; they have a peppermint, like Oregon peppermint, and I think they have a Mayan spice. Those are really; those are the best flavors.

Cassy Joy: Ok, buying. Thank you. My mouth is watering. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Hashtag influence. Buy a whole bunch of their stuff and just keep it in in the office because it is so, so good. Highly recommend cutting it and then refreezing it. Take it from the fridge, cut it into the three; I cut them into 9 squares, and then I pop it in the freezer so I can grab a little square. They’re just so good.

Cassy Joy: I’m so into this.

Diane Sanfilippo: Anyway. So I think I’m going to carry that. You’re like; wait, what is this thing? I can’t believe you haven’t heard of them.

Cassy Joy: Nope. I haven’t.

Diane Sanfilippo: And they just started making a smaller bar, too. Again, not sponsored. But they’re so delicious. Maybe I’ll get the owner of that company to talk to me and do a podcast with me.

Cassy Joy: There you go.

Diane Sanfilippo: Anyway. So yeah, that’s really exciting. And if you’re following along on Instagram, you know I’m sharing updates. So then other things going on. We recently did a charitable giving update on Balanced Bites on the blog. So if you’re curious about that, we have a whole bunch of different things. Myself and Candace, who; interestingly when we get to the meat of our show. Because, this isn’t it, if you didn’t know. {laughing}

Cassy Joy: {laughing} Classic.

Diane Sanfilippo: We spend a lot of time talking about what’s going on. But I think this is; if I were listening, I would want to know what’s happening in someone’s business. Because for me, it’s not just what you tell me to do. It’s what are you doing. I want to know what someone else is doing.

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think this is interesting. So we’ve divided our charitable giving up in terms of different initiatives that we’re doing. So for example; we had a dollar per jar initiative with our super blends. Something that I promised was that for every jar; $1 for every jar is going to the NAACP of that initial quantity. And actually a replenishment quantity I did already on super garlic pizza because it blew out. Probably our best; super garlic and super garlic pizza are probably the top of all. But we are doing that. And I also just kind of added a little bit to it to kind of round it out. So just sharing what we donated on that.

We have an app that we added to the shop site. It’s Shop.BalancedBites where we have all our dry goods and everything. Not meals, but we added an app called Roundup. That sounds like the weedkiller, but it’s not.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It allows you to round up your order. Basically, we didn’t do that because your order would be something 97. And I was like; please, let’s not have people donating 3 cents. But we have it where you can add $1, $2, $5, $10 to your order to donate. And we had it going to Equal Justice Initiative for quite some time.

We’ve had to turn it on and off because there’s another app that doesn’t play with it well, so whenever we have a special offer, it’s so annoying because we’ve had to turn it off. And I’m like; yeah, but this is when more people are on the site. So we’re working on getting these apps to talk to each other nicely. But, if you don’t’ se the roundup to donate, it’s because there’s some kind of offer going on and it’s just putting us in a position where we can’t leave that on because it’s not working.

But what we’ll do is we’ll adjust and reset it to different organizations over time. So Equal Justice Initiative is the one that we chose initially. We’ll change that out, quarterly or so. And you’ll see where it’s going when you do the donation. And we’re matching those up to $2000 a quarter at this point. So, we’ll see what happens with that.

And then we did COVID meal donations. A lot of you probably heard about this when we did it. But we just had people; we had a huge boom in our business when COVID hit. And nothing feels worse than for the country to be deflated and your business is booming. It’s like; I’m not even psyched about it. It’s like; wow this is amazing. But also, I can’t just take this business and be running with it. I have to do something else.

So we had people submit requests or nominations for healthcare workers in heavily affected areas. A lot of them were around New York and of course here in California. A couple of other areas. So we ended up donating, I think it was almost 1,000 meals. So about 100 boxes. So that was huge. That was through donations that a lot of you made. We also kicked in about $5,000 of our own money to that. So I think it was over $12,000 worth of meals. So it was great.

Cassy Joy: Incredible.

Diane Sanfilippo: It was such a nice thing to feel like; and there are pictures of some of the health care workers. You know, not everybody is going to take a picture. But we have a few. And I mean; what’s more heartwarming than someone who is on the front lines, in their scrubs. I know people who are not healthcare workers could be wearing scrubs, as well. But, just seeing some of these folks share a picture; I don’t know. It really puts a face to the cause. It just made me super psyched to be able to help out in that way.

So anyway. More going on. We will continue to work on different initiatives. In the past, we’ve donated to the Loveland Foundation, which I’m sure we’ll continue to do that as well. Which is a foundation that offers therapy for black women and girls. And I think that’s just such a fantastic organization, started by Rachel Cargill.

Anyway. Just kind of a last couple of things; you mentioned that you were going to be hiring in 2021. We will be, as well. We will probably be hiring for; I know people’s ears are going to perk up for this one. But sort of social media coordinator/light graphic design work. When I say that, I mean you’re using Canva for the most part. You don’t have to be a designer, but you need to have a bit of an aesthetic eye where you can see that something is off. Or it’s the wrong color or whatever.

Niki, who is in charge of our social media currently is staying. She will be doing a little bit more high-level work. Planning; and she works on a lot of things right now. But this person will kind of be reporting to Niki. We’re just looking at developing the team and finding ways. Years ago it was like; sorry, there’s really no upward mobility here. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughing} Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: When people came onto the team. I was like; we’re a flat organization.

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: But now; if we bring people on, I’m like; do you need help? If you need help and your skills are to this place where you can work on strategy and planning and more of that kind of thing, then let’s have someone else be executing more of that. And I’m fine with it. So yeah. I just can’t take more direct reports. So if we’re going to hire this person, they will report to you. {laughs}

Anyway. So that’s at least one. And we’ll see what happens, if we have a second one. It’s kind of TBD right now. So that’s kind of the little bit of the where we’re at, what’s on my plate right now. Just kind of excited to be wrapping up this year in a really interesting and different position than we were in last year. As a business, Balanced Bites is just; we’re really growing. It’s fun to look at our numbers and see what’s changed with our product line.

For people who might not remember, just a year ago we had 12 spices. That was it. We didn’t even have; a year ago, we didn’t have our little mini pack. There were so many things we didn’t have a year ago. And now we have; I don’t even know how many jars of spices. 15, 19; I think we have 19 at least. {laughs} I don’t even know. And then hopefully there are two more things coming this year in that way. And then we have three granolas, plus one coming that I just told you about. Plus a couple of other goodies. And so many other things in the works.

So we’re just really exploding our product line. And it feels like it’s been a very organic process. Again; literally would never have imagined I would be making granola. It just wasn’t like; oh, here’s what we’ll do next. And here’s what we’ll do next. That wasn’t in the plan. But you know; having a recipe that people were obsessed with, and being presented with an opportunity to collaborate on it. And then to go ahead and product it. Ok, great. Yes! We will do that! Sounds good! Next!

Cassy Joy: {laughs} That’s what I’m doing now.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s what I’m doing now. You know what I mean?

Cassy Joy: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I feel like that probably sounds so scary to some people. How can you just decide that in the moment? I’m like, I don’t know another way. I wish I could. But I do have some things that I’m planning and working on that aren’t just going to plop onto my desk. But that is how a lot of things that I do happen. Creating frozen meals; I said something about wanting to do it, and then it literally plopped onto my desk. I was like; ok, I guess we’re doing that now.

Cassy Joy: This is what I do now. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: My team; bless all of them. They’re always like; I think every Monday they brace themselves for our team call. Like; oh god, what’s going to happen today. Will our whole lives be different after today or not? They have no idea what I’m going to say. And I can be like; there’s nothing really new this week. Or one week I’m like; oh by the way we’re going to start producing all of these things. So everyone’s going to need to figure out how we work this into our flow. Yeah, it’s interesting.

Ok, well that’s my update.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} I love it.

2.  Shop Talk: Reflections of the last year [34:56]

Cassy Joy: Shop Talk. In this segment, we’re just going to continue this conversation {laughs}. But we’re going to punctuate it. We’re going to take a look back at our businesses during the time that we have spent so far creating the Driven Podcast.

So like I said looking back; our first episode we published on September 2, 2019. It was a little over a year ago. And it was a miniseries that we started on fear, and tackling self doubt in particular was the miniseries. A great miniseries, actually. I would say probably some of our best work, we really did out the gate in terms of really actionable, concise content. And it’s so interesting; reading back on those updates from that episode. In that first episode, I mentioned that I had just hired an administrative assistant. And it was Lauren; she’s so much more now. Isn’t it incredible how so much can change in year?

I remember talking with you about onboarding Lauren. We just went through this whole professional development activity with my team, and how I could better support them and how we could better function as a team based on everyone’s desires and interests. It was so interesting; she told me that; I hope, I’m telling tales a little bit. And she’s going to listen to this. {laughs} Because she helps with the admin side of the podcast.

She told me; I said is there anything I can do better by you and for you? And she was like; well, when I first came on, it was kind of like what you just described. I told her I was going to do a project, and she was like; ok, that sounds good. And then 5 seconds later I was on Instagram announcing this project. And she was going to be the lead on it; and she was like; I was just, wow that moved really fast. And it’s just so interesting; I’ve learned so much by working with her. I mean, she’s blossomed into a great friend and colleague.

Now she’s our office manager, which spans a whole lot. She’s essentially the project manager for Beautycounter at Fed and Fit, which is our largest affiliate so far. It’s just been amazing to watch her work and carve out her own space here.

Since then I’ve hired Brandy, who has also since been promoted. She came on as a junior copy editor, and we’ve all just been wowed by her work ethic and excellence. And because of both of them; and then of course, Amber’s consistent contributions, we’re making room to give jobs to two more people. It’s so funny, we’re actually hiring a social media coordinator, also.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, I love that.

Cassy Joy: Yep, it’s going to be a social media coordinator and a photographer. It’s time. The time has come.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s time. I love that.

Cassy Joy: Yes, we need to delegate that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, so because; and this is something that we talk about a lot that our businesses have a lot of similarities and a lot of differences. So because we’re not in one location working in an office together, the decision that we made around photography several months ago, I think. Not that long. The woman who had been shooting all of our meals every season that we have new meals coming in and who had recently done actual real shoots for spices, not just me kind of doing it at home. Which; I mean, skilled enough.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, they were great.

Diane Sanfilippo: But you know. Trisha Hughes; she doesn’t do photography work full time. But she is working with us on a retainer so that we have a consistent; I think we’ve got one day a week that she shoots for us. And I know she works for other clients, as well. So just to give people this view of different ways to kind of, not necessarily hire someone who is kind of working on your team consistently, but also consistently working with your team. I think we’ve talked about this as well for web development. We both have web development that happens kind of on retainer where you’re paying X amount per month, and they use up those hours on different projects that you’re throwing at them.

But yeah. I think hiring a photographer is definitely one of those things; we get stuck in this place where we are able to do things. So then being able to say; I shouldn’t do it. And I should be paying someone else to do this, instead. Giving someone else that work. That’s a tough one. It’s tough to kind of make that call. But I think it’s usually the right decision.

Cassy Joy: Totally. And that’s how it feels. It feels like; because for so long, I felt like that was my one prideful main stay. That was the one thing I felt like I could always; I was always the one. I touched every piece of content because I took the photos for them. But, it is; we’ve evolved and we’ve grown since then. And it’s also an opportunity that I have to be able to provide that work to somebody else who is definitely going to be more skilled at it than I am. So it definitely is, like you said, the right thing to do. And I’m at that point now where I have a lot of peace around that.

So, that will be great. It’s so interesting; I read through our show notes from that first episode, Diane. And I mentioned that you and I had just had a conversation; probably in Voxer. About how I realized that Cook Once probably needed its own website. And as of yesterday, Cook Once finally has its own website. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Huzzah!

Cassy Joy: It took me 14 months. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It takes a while.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, it did. It’s up. And that is going to open the doors to so much that we’re going to be doing.

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s the website?

Cassy Joy: Just CookOnce.com.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it.

Cassy Joy: It was; so that’s up. And that will be the home for a lot of things that we’re going to be launching, without giving too much away. Mystery project included. And talk about ideas just coming to you; we hadn’t even launched this giant mystery project that we’re going to do as a test run for 2021, and the other day I was sitting there noodling things. I pushed back from my desk, and I looked at my team and I said; oh my gosh. You know what this could be in 2022? {laughing} And they were like; oh no! What?!

Diane Sanfilippo: They’re bracing themselves.

Cassy Joy: They were! They braced for impact. And I just; I’ve been watching a lot of Great British Bakeoff, and taking a lot of inspiration. And it’s kind of one of those; things that I’ve learned about myself in business is, I’ve learned how to address imposter syndrome and move on very quickly. And when it comes to shows and productions like that; why can’t I do it? Why can’t I?

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Cassy Joy: So we’ll see. I need a whole year.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve never watched it.

Cassy Joy: Oh my gosh!

Diane Sanfilippo: Sorry!

Cassy Joy: It’s ok. I resisted it because people told me to do it for so long {laughing}. But anyway. Something along those lines. We are still in the process of launching FedandFit.com, which is up now. And designing HQ. But so much has happened.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Wow.

Cassy Joy: And I wrote a book! That was it. I had a baby, too. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s a lot. Oh, and a baby. NBD. No big deal.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well, I kind of mentioned it as we were talking earlier about what’s gone on. But really in the last year; well, I’ll back up a little bit and kind of go point by point a little bit on our business. But we hired Candace, who was also hired as an administrative assistant. Which I’ve had several assistants over the years. We’re also kind of reevaluating what we want Candace’s role to be. Because there’s not a ton of general admin work to do for me at this point. I don’t have tons of people trying to kind of contact me about different features or trying to have me be sponsored or do sponsored content. Every now and then, stuff like that.

But the admin side of things is a little lighter, and at this point Candace does help with my Diane Direct email every week. And also helping to manage; not bookkeeping, but communicating with the bookkeeper and just making sure some of that administrative stuff is straight. But we’re looking at what her expertise is, and she has a background in public relations, and trying to see as we move forward and create a bigger product line, leaning into that a little bit more, as well, to where we can…

Just so everyone knows. When products, or books, or programs are featured in magazines and on TV, and you get excited that they’re in the media. Like 1% of that is not because someone was paid to help publicize it. 1% of the time the media will find you. 99% of the time you have a publicist telling the media; hey, here’s what’s happening. That’s just how it works.

So, it’s great. But I want everyone to not be under the illusion that people are just getting this exposure because they’re great. It’s because they hired a publicist. Which is fine. It’s just how it works. But we don’t have anyone that’s doing that. And it’s an expensive endeavor. I have had a publicist before, when I was launching Practical Paleo second edition, and when we launched Keto Quick Start and did some TV spots and things like that.

Anyway. We might lean into that a little bit more with Candace. But that’s definitely something that she started. We actually had a retreat here back when she started, because that was more than a year ago, was the end of 2019. So we were all getting together. Remember those days?

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And then hired Katie, who was hired as customer service for Balanced Bites right before the pandemic kind of hit. And was thrown into everything with all of a sudden our business was kind of exploding over those months, and she helped to coordinate a lot with the meal donations and all of that. And also is developing a little bit more into an operations manager type of role. So we’ll see what happens with that. She’s semi-local to me. She lives south of the city. So she might actually be able to come in and take a day or two a week, just depending on as things develop with the pandemic, and being able to have some help watching her kids and come in, now that we have a place that she can come into. When it’s going to be ok and safe to do that.

But I have needed someone who is more of that operations manager to kind of keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening with this purchase order. 50% of it was delivered; where’s the next 50%? What’s in our inventory? What are we low on? And really watching that kind of thing. Which, obviously I can do it. But there needs to be more people in place to handle that stuff.

So that’s been great. It’s been really lovely working with both of them over this last year. And we did hire a video editor at one point. And that did not pan out very well. It was actually probably one of the least successful hires that I’ve had in terms of time and duration and fit. And it was really interesting. We’ve had people on the team who were maybe here for a year at a time before. Most of my team are long haulers. It’s so rare that somebody is not with us for; minimum 2 years. But things come up. So it happens.

Anyway. It was interesting. It was probably the only person that would be working with the team that I didn’t have anyone else on the team also interview. And I just felt very strongly that that wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t have made a difference. I felt the team would have had a good time interviewing her. Would have felt similarly to the way I did. It just didn’t work out. It was just not a fit. Maybe it was a skill mismatch. I don’t know if it was a personality mismatch. But it was just a really interesting experience that almost right out of the gate there was a strange tension, and it just did not pan out. And I’ve never had that happen before. So it was just an interesting experience.

But it turned out; it’s fine. We would still eventually maybe want to have a video editor on the team. But at this point, things are just a little different for what we’re doing internally. And we’re kind of just handling it on our own and just taking care of things. Yeah, that was an interesting experience. Lovely person. Nothing terrible. It just did not work.

So that’s kind of team and all of that. In terms of Balanced Bites, as I mentioned earlier, we’ve almost doubled our product line. Actually I think we have doubled our product line in terms of the number of things that we sell. Which is so nuts to me. I mean, when I think about where we were a year ago, we were still selling our larger jars a year ago. That feels like forever ago.

Cassy Joy: Does it? I still have some of them.

Diane Sanfilippo: I only don’t use them on my countertop because it would be misleading and weird and awkward to pull those out in my Instagram stories all the time. But it was only back in, I think, March/April that we launched our new normal sized jars. Which, I know for super garlic feels like it is miniature, because people go through super garlic like it’s water. And I think we’re out of refill packs on it. It definitely sells the best on our site. I mean, it’s my favorite too.

But we will hopefully have a subscription at some point where people will be able to get replenishments on that on a regular basis without having to think about it all the time. But we have a lot in the works for development on our websites coming up in 2021, probably, and beyond that as well.

But yeah. A huge explosion of our product line. I have many more products that are in the works and on a list that I’m excited to kind of bring to people and see what people think. Maybe some more small runs of things, just kind of throw the noodle against the wall and see what sticks. And then some new formats of products that I’ve never worked in before. So currently everything I work in dry goods. There are some liquid based products that I’m potentially going to work on next, so we’ll see. It will be a whole other endeavor.

Cassy Joy: Ooh.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And then, the other thing that went on this year, the first time ever we did a virtual team retreat which I talked about, I think, on a past episode. You know, it was a pivot. It was not my favorite way to do things. It really changes things when we actually get together in person. And the team can meet. And obviously, you know this. Your team works together physically. And I’m ok that we don’t. I actually think for my particular energy type and the way that I operate, I can’t be around people that much. It’s so draining for me to have someone else with me all the time. So it works for me to not be with people. But that connection that we get rom just a few days typically is kind of like; enough to last us the year.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: It sustains us and we do really well with it. I think it will be great when Katie can eventually come up here. I think that will just be nice to kind of sit down together and look at things and do some work. But we did this virtual retreat. We did the whole zoom thing. And it went really well. As well as it can go for being kind of zoom for 4 hours, two days in a row. We had Human Design light touchpoint readings of everyone and then a group kind of assessment.

Cassy Joy: Ooh!

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, it was really fun to kind of say; ok, here’s how these people would work with each other and how they would relate to and work with me as their boss. So that was really interesting, and I think people really enjoyed having something totally new.

Cassy Joy: That’s really cool.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Which I couldn’t facilitate that. You know what I mean?  I could facilitate a little bit on Enneagram, which we did last year. So this was really fun to look at this year. So I don’t know, those are the big things, aside from the shop. This is just a whole new direction. I feel many things about it. I think as somebody who has worked in retail; I often joke I’ve worked in retail my whole life. This was basically before we were all on the internet doing things; that was kind of my thing, doing retail. So I feel fully qualified to figure this out. I would not say I feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s just; I will figure it out. And it definitely doesn’t feel strange or a nonfit for me.

I think as much as I was saying being around other people too much makes me feel kind of drained, I actually love selling. I’m so happy for someone to come in and ask questions and find the right fit for the thing they need to cook their dish and take it home. That will be so much fun for me. So, yes, I will eventually hire someone to work in the shop. But I have no problem doing that. I think it’s the most fun.

And frankly, I think between the way that I operate on social media and being that hands on touch point in the store for X amount of time, those are the things that as entrepreneurs, if we are not doing that, then we will consistently lose touch with the heartbeat of our business. So, it’s not to say that you expect every CEO to be doing the day job. But you’ve seen Undercover Boss; they’re so out of touch. They have no idea what is happening in the business! And I see it happen all the time with bigger businesses, where they don’t get what the life; the everyday life of getting this product into somebody’s hands. And then what that reception is on the other end.

And I think there’s something so amazing about the fact that we have social media to have that direct connection to see; what do you do with it when you get it home. How do you use it? Which ones are you not using that I need to show you how to use? So we have this wonderful opportunity. And when it comes to retail, I think the landscape has changed with what it means to have a retail store.

That’s not just about COVID. Like I was saying; before that, there were lots of retail stores closing. And I think that as shoppers; I think the whole experience is different. I think that what we’re looking for when we go into a retail store; we’re right next to The Sill. Which, most people might know about The Sill as a brand that’s available online. Because that’s mostly how people will shop The Sill.


The same thing with a brand like Farm Girl Flowers. They’re just online, but what if one day they had local shops? What if one day from what used to be local for everyone, just a small shop; what if it then becomes; that’s kind of the next incarnation of the local floral chain. Or something to that effect. I’m just saying; these are the things that these reinventions of old things; old brands that used to exist that don’t anymore. That’s going to happen over time.

And I think some of these retail companies that don’t evolve, that don’t find new ways to serve their customers; we have a Sur La Table that closed; we have a William Sanoma that closed just within a few blocks of each other, right in this neighborhood. There’s a GAP body that closed; I don’t know what will happen to the GAP store. But all these stores; that’s not to say that’s always a bad thing for them. Sometimes it’s just an evolution. But what could we be doing in a local community that creates a different energy. How can we serve our local communities? Because we do want to actually; we want to do that. But we don’t want to just come in and shop. That’s not it. Because I can just click online. I want to interact with this brand in a different way. So what can I do in the store that’s different?

So I’m thinking of lots of ideas. I have lots of ideas. Not the least of which is painting a mural that you want to come in and take a picture in front of. You know? Or painting a rainbow set of stairs that you’re like; oh my gosh. I need to just take a picture here. Just that little moment of that fun part of the experience. Even if you’re buying the same thing you could buy somewhere else, you could just buy it online. But this part of the experience you can’t get online. What can I offer people?

So I’ve got a list; don’t you worry. But those are all things that are happening now that’s really happened in the last year. I mean; who woulda thunk it? A year ago, I think there was construction in our backyard for the patio.

Cassy Joy: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: When I was sitting in the front of the house. And we’ve since moved that entire office out of the backroom. The Peloton bike that was in the front is now in the back. And now we have this little quiet exercise room in the back of the house. You know; things have just all shifted and moved. And there’s been so much that’s changed over this last year-plus.

Cassy Joy: It’s been really special. I think I will look back on this past year; these past 14 months or however long, and just. I was telling Diane, before I got onto this recording, that I’ve been really grumpy all morning. And I think it’s because I just was dreading this conversation. Because it’s just very, very; mostly bitter. There is some sweetness to it, right? {laughs} Is it the Friends; it’s the end of an era is how it feels for me. And looking back on this era of my role in the Driven podcast, it’s just such a special moment in time. There was a lot of pain and a lot of heartache and a lot of shifting and transformation that happened in 2020 that I’m forever grateful for. But mostly I’m grateful that I had a reason and an excuse to sit down and talk to one of my dearest friends every single week and talk about our business and be able to look her in the eyes. Because we always do video Zoom. And be like; yes, I see you! I don’t know. There’s just something to that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Seen.

Cassy Joy: And I believe; I’m going to butcher this quote. I could Google it and tell you who wrote it. But it’s; I’m a part of all I have met. And I think about that. And I think; I’m sitting here in the supply closet, surrounded by all of these business materials and things that help us do what we do to serve our readership. And it just wouldn’t be here, in the same vibe, in the same spirit, in the same confidence, in the same pace, and clip, and trajectory, if it hadn’t been for this show. I really believe that it has had such an important impact. And I hope that I’ve been able to offer some nuggets to the folks that are listening to this that has positively impacted your business, and how you approach your role in the world and how you move through it.

It’s just been really, really special.

Diane Sanfilippo: There’s no doubt.

Cassy Joy: Yes. I hope that I left a positive mark on this space. And I hope that y’all don’t stay strangers. Please come find me. Follow along. I will be sharing, probably; my hope with getting a little bit of this time and spin back is that I will be able to spin this also more organically. Like Diane was saying; be more present and available on social media. That’s something that I want to be able to regive and I’m hopeful that this space will allow me to do that.

So it’s going to be an ever-evolving concept. As is business.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: In this new age.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I don’t know what I’ll be doing. If we’ll continue with the show. I mean, I like the name of this show, so I don’t know that I would want to change it. But again, I’m curious to hear if I do kind of convert it into more of an entrepreneurial conversations show. Do you think it needs to be a different show? To our listeners; does it need to be starting anew? Would you just like it to continue as it is, and people will discover along the way that it has evolved into something else? I don’t know. I’m a little torn on that, because I do think; I like to keep in the flow of what we’re doing a little bit, but at the same time, if it’s a totally different format, would that make sense? I don’t know. We’ll see.

Cassy Joy: We will see. And if that does happen; if you pursue that, and you ever need a fill-in interviewer, you know to call me.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Or Zoom me. {laughs}

3. Tip of The Week: Reflect on your year [1:00:18]

Diane Sanfilippo: Tip of The Week! In this segment, we give you one tip that you can take action on this week to move your business or life forward. Cassy, why don’t you give us a tip?

Cassy Joy: So our tip is for you to perform the same exercise that Diane and I just did. Look back on the last year. And see; although this year probably derailed a lot of plans that folks had set, it’s ok to bring awareness to that. And I think it’s also ok to bring awareness to maybe some of the progress that was made this year.

I would go so far as to write it down, or bring it up in conversation with a trusted friend or business partner or somebody you look up to; a mentor. Look back on the progress that you have made in the last year. And I would just sit with that, and see how it feels. Roll it around in your head, and just see how those seeds planted might flourish in the time and the months and the years to come. because you just never know what’s coming in the future. But this year definitely is going to shape it forever. And I think that can be a very, very good thing.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s it for Driven. If you liked this episode, be sure you go back and listen to some of our past episodes, because maybe you missed them. You can find them on Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Instagram @TheDrivenPodcast. Cassy is @CassyJoyGarcia as well as @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo as well as @BalancedBites.

Tune in next week to see if something is continuing. This is TBD.

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: So you know; we shall see. Make sure you chat with us over on Instagram to let us know your thoughts; how we should proceed. Bye everyone.

Cassy Joy: Bye.

2 Comments

  1. Hey there! I just wanted to let you both know that I have absolutely loved listening to every single episode of this Podcast and I’m so excited to see the direction that both of you go from here.
    I dont think the name needs to change if Diane takes it in the “interview” direction, and I personally would love to hear from other small women owned businesses.

    As a small note to Diane with the opening of the store, I just wanted to offer a gentle reminder to not under estimate the number of people who are going to want to come in to the store to see not only your store, but also you, and that you will probably need help from the beginning.

    Pandemic or not, and maybe even more so because of it, people are craving things to do in person, and you are going to have a line out the door! As someone who runs a brick and mortar store I am surprised all the time about what happens and I’m sure you will be as well.

    I hope that I get to come see it myself some day!

    Thank you for everything you’ve put in to this podcast, having a real inside look into businesses, even ones totally different from mine, has been very helpful and inspiring.

  2. I would be very excited to see this podcast expand to include other strong, female business entrepreneurs—particularly, as they set the bar in spite of Covid19. It would be wonderful if it included BIPOC businesses; and, even entrepreneurs beyond the foodie industry.
    Melanie of Dahlia May Flower Farm is a business I’ve been watching this past year. She completely switched her business model to online pre-orders; contactless deliveries and pick-up; credit card transactions only. For face-to-face services, everyone is required to wear masks and distance themselves 6+ feet apart. Stagger the incoming clientele with controlled appointments; and, staff on a distancing rotation to schedule. There’s so much we can learn from each other to move with change, adapt and innovate through-and-to.

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