“So for networking in general, like whether it's in the virtual space or offline, I always tell people don't lead with the outcome. Really focus on the connection first.”
Welcome to Thrive by Design, the podcast for ambitious independent jewelry brands, looking to profit from their products, get ready to make more and sell more doing what you love, without spending every single waking minute doing it. Hey, and if you're a creative fashion or product-based business, I want to welcome you to the show. I'll be dropping big tips on launching, growing, and scaling your business. Spend more of your precious time using your creativity to make you ready. All right, let's do this.
Tracy: This episode is for the parents out there and the mompreneurs and anyone who is juggling a lot. I have an amazing guest on today's show. Damona Hoffman is the host of the I make a living podcast and we're going to talk about all things, virtual networking, dating. She's a dating coach as well. And podcasting, as well as so many other things, including so much more. Okay.
Hey there, welcome to the show. I'm excited to have a very special guest Damona Hoffman, welcome to the show.
Damona: Thank you for having me.
Tracy: You are the host of the I Make a Living podcast. And I'm excited to have you here to talk about entrepreneurship, and your journey and all the things so before we kind of dive in, why don't you tell me a little bit about your entrepreneurial, entrepreneurial journey a little tongue-tied today.
I can relate because as an entrepreneur, I wear a lot of hats. And my brain is always in a million different places. My primary business is as a dating coach. But I also think of myself as much as a dating coach as a content creator as well. My background is actually I worked in corporate media for a long time, I was a programming executive at CBS, and Paramount, and NBC. And I left it all behind to start my own business as a data, which was not part of the plan but has led me to a lot of really exciting opportunities. And I love that I now get to host the I make a living podcast by Freshbooks. Because it gives me the opportunity to talk to other entrepreneurs. As you know, entrepreneurship can be a very isolated, oh, weird, weird environment to work in. And as somebody that came from corporate media, where I was always collaborating with other creatives, it's been really nice to have now this is my third season on the show, to be able to have a creative team that I get to work with and other entrepreneurs that I can learn from.
Tracy: That's amazing. Well, I love that you're a dating coach, because before the free show, we're not gonna really talk about dating, but I used to always talk about how sales is like dating on my podcast for a long time. But I loved it because you had an interview with an expert about attachment styles. And we just kind of caught up about different attachment styles and went down a rabbit hole about my horrible David dating history, until I met my current boyfriend Jason, who is awesome. But yeah,
Damona: We've all been there. And actually, it's funny because I do sometimes I have been asked to talk to corporations about the skills that I help people build in dating and how they apply to, to business. So it's totally applicable. You're right on the money. And I've always said date, like it's your job. Maybe do your job, like as dating is, is the next evolution of that.
Tracy: Exactly. So as an entrepreneur, yourself, you know how crazy things have gotten. I mean, this last year with COVID pandemic and natural disasters and pretty much like felt like the world was crumbling for a lot of people. This is really a new phase in life. So what are some of the ways that you've learned to thrive and survive with all the craziness that's going on in the world and keep your business going?
Damona: Yes, it has been really crazy. I am in a unique position because it was a little bit of, you know what they say luck is opportunity plus timing. I already was working from home pre pandemic, I had built out my studio for podcasting, two or three years prior to the pandemic. So actually, for me, I was well positioned to be able to step into this void. When people were still figuring out how to use virtual tools. I was like, Oh, honey, I got this already. Ready. And on top of that, as a love coach, this is a time when people are really craving connection.
So I've also had a lot of new people seeking me out in that respect. Just because it's, it's wild out there. And it's it is it does really take a different skill set and a different, just a different mindset as well, to be able to still make a connection and in the current world, but through I make a living, I've gotten to talk to a lot of different different entrepreneurs who've had to navigate this pandemic in many different ways people who were doing live events and made their living that way who've had to pivot to completely different business models to be able to stay afloat.
I've talked to people who've literally relied on the PPP program to be able to make payroll and figure out how to sustain their business. And then I've also talked to folks who, like me, we're in a position where their business was actually situated perfectly for a pandemic, if ever could have seen it coming, and have figured out how to kind of amplify their their efforts, using the new tools and technology and systems that have become available to us.
Tracy: Yeah, I think it's really interesting, because we have a coaching program over here called Momentum. And part of that program is that we do two live events a year. And we were already streaming them to people who didn't want to come to the live event, like they just didn't want to, you know, travel or whatever, virtually. So we kind of had that dialed in, and now we're running them like only as virtual events until it's kind of safe, I guess, to do in person events yet, but it definitely was a pivot, and it's like a shift. Well, I'm more curious about though, I mean, this is totally off topic, but I'm just fascinated by it. Because like, how do people date like if they aren't in a relationship, like during a pandemic, because like, everyone's afraid of germs, like you can't even like if you do meet someone up with someone in person, you can't even like make out with them.
Damona: It's still possible, as you see, you know, it's still possible to run many businesses throughout the pandemic, it's sort of the same, I've had to help my clients develop a COVID dating safety plan, where they already know what their boundaries are. And I think this is really helpful for anyone navigating this period of the pandemic, where numbers are very different in different places. restrictions are very different in different places. People's comfort level is very different.
So if you already know where you would meet someone, how, how quickly you would share space with them, when you would potentially test and how many times you would test like I even had my other podcast Dates & Mates I had a I had an MP who's been actually on the COVID front lines. And he was saying, like, you need to test and then wait five, seven days and then test again. It has to be a PCR test, not a rapid test. And I was just like, Oh my gosh, how are we gonna make it? But somehow somehow people are making it. And we've just pivoted funny enough on on that show I, I predicted that video dating was going to become a bigger part of dating. Before the pandemic I did. I do this future of dating episode every year. And it was almost one year ago today that I was like video dating is the wave of the future. I had no idea. Like, if only I had invested in some of the things that I saw coming, I probably would be sitting here having a totally different experience myself.
Tracy: Wait, that is so funny. It totally brings me back to matchmaking. Like there should be like a Bumble type app that does that or like a Tinder type app with like video dating there?
Damona: Oh, there are a lot of Yeah, and a lot of the apps, I also work with OkCupid. As a spokesperson and dating expert, a lot of the apps are embracing video within the app, so you don't ever have to leave the app to go in that way. And they're incorporating video into profiles. I've seen a Chatroulette sort of speed dating situation. People are really getting innovative. And that's, you know, obviously the pandemic is horrible and has affected everybody in very dramatic ways. But if I could I'm an eternal optimist. I try to look for the silver lining. If I see any silver lining, it's that we've had to innovate both you know, in business and just how we operate and how we connect to our customers. Our clients are one another. But I think also it's just caused a lot of businesses to have to just look at their model and and re examine what's what's really important but we might be able to look at in a different way and some of these conversations i think might not have happened if they were not necessitated by the current situation
Tracy: This is true yeah it gets people to like kind of cut out the bs like the stuff that doesn't really matter anymore right and i know a lot of people including myself have been like having serious FOMO and like withdrawal i think from like not being able to be at live events and be in person and develop those relationships because that's such a powerful part of you know building a business so what are your some of your tips for like networking remotely or like connecting with people and growing your business relationships that way
Damona: Well I have maintained i continue to do various classes and meetup groups and events and masterminds with people in my industry and in other industries that i want to learn and grow in and it's amazingly easy to make connections this way and i feel like for a lot of people i'm an extrovert but i'm married to an introvert and i know he has tremendous anxiety about talking to people at live events like i really thrive off of that energy and I can go up and talk to anyone but for him it's really it's the thing so it's an interesting opportunity for people who are introverts or aren't comfortable in that kind of arena where you can connect i have people that i've connected with in classes and then i found them within facebook groups and dm them and said hey can we have like a virtual coffee or a work session outside of class and i formed actually a lot of new relationships a lot of business partnerships I just started my relationship with Okcupid from i think it was like a tweet that i responded to from their PR manager and then we just started chatting online and then i was like we should just have a virtual meeting and then we i was like you should come on my podcast which is you know for anyone that doesn't have a podcast yeah it's a great tool to make connections yeah and then we really built our relationship over time from there so it's totally possible as long as you're you're looking for ways to connect.
Tracy: Are you on Clubhouse?
Damona: Girl I'm on Clubhouse . I have hosted co hosted actually with a friend of mineFrancesca Hogi who's another dating coach who is just slay in the Clubhouse game yeah she does three three sessions a week three i don't know what you even call them.
Tracy: Three Clubhouses three rooms of houses three rooms
Damona: Three rooms a week at least and then a couple others and and she absolutely loves it and it's an like has it is become a part of her daily life i did one with her and i was like i really enjoyed it but i cannot like post up on Clubhouse all day right now.
Tracy: I know it's a lot and what's your Clubhouse handle so people are single and they want to follow you or like
Damona: Me even though I'm like never there I guess don't follow me on Clubhouse I don't know what I'm doing I know I'm still trying to figure out Tiktok and because I'm a video person like I post you know I posted TV shows and I do a lot of television people are like you should do more videos you should be on Tiktok and I'm like I can't figure out another piece of technology it's been a big lift you know all of the technology that we have I think I'm just @damonahoffman everything is @damonahoffman yeah Instagram, Twitter, Facebook @damonahoffman that's where to find me.
Tracy: I love Clubhouse if you guys want to join me on Clubhouse i'm @TracyMatthews same thing just my name but i love it i was just.
Damona: Want to hear your tips on Clubhouse now
Tracy: Well i mean i still am kind of figuring it out but i'm doing i'm trying to do like engage or at least participate in at least one room a week like that's not what i have bandwidth for now but i'm actually going to start a Clubhouse club for creatives roll the world and continue these conversations like i've partnered with some friends of mine who are also support product based businesses and we've done Clubhouse on e commerce like i have this i go to this branding session and i speak on stage at a branding session on Sunday so it's it's fun i think it's fun for now because i think people are just figuring out it's like when Tiktok was new or Instagram was new it's kind of like the wild wild west but also great work way to network and develop some business relationships so with that being said i like what are some like just top tips for designers and makers who are trying to virtually create those relationships and i want to point out one thing because i feel like there's a virtual connection tool is like a great thing for the introverts that you mentioned earlier or like your husband you get a terrified of like meeting people in in real life so or they don't like feel that maybe they're not as they're shyer or not as outgoing so i'd love to hear some of your tips that you have specifically
Damona: So for networking in general like whether it's in the virtual space or off offline I always tell people don't lead with the outcome really focus on the connection first and so many i always say i'm playing the long game like when i gave you the Okcupid example i can also give you an example of when i connected with my producer at freshbooks we were at a podcasting conference he had said that he was looking for a host for this podcast and i was like well that's probably not me like i'm i assume because Freshbooks is cloud accounting solutions i was like i'm not an accounting person i'm just an entrepreneur so they're not looking for me but he had invited me to a networking dinner i didn't know anybody there i was just like okay i wasn't like trying to get the job hosting the podcast i was just like well that sounds interesting i tend to ask myself is this something that i want to do like does this sound interesting apart from whatever outcome could come is this interesting, yes, i might meet some other podcasters i might connect with fresh books and who knows how i might be able to interface with them in the future and dinner like dinner so that's great i love dinner i love food and one when i'm there i really try to be present and engaged and active listening sometimes i find that when you go to networking events everybody is just like like who are you what do you do it's so outcome focused and i just don't even think about the outcome i just think of how can i really connect with this human and then over time i find that we can figure out ways that we might be able to collaborate but it's never it's never ever my intention like i want to get to know that person because i think they might be a stepping stone to that.
Tracy: You are like speaking my language girl like i love that and you know why because there's nothing more icky to me when someone's like oh there's so and so and i want to go meet that person and then they just like beeline over to them to like do the agenda or the thing like i'm really like personally i am someone i'm a total extrovert and like 95% extrovert probably like you i love talking to people i love getting to know people but i like just getting to know people to know them like i'm not using that as like another agenda and if it does build it work into some sort of business relationship over time awesome but if not like whatever it's just like another person that you know that is part of your network and i think this is a really powerful lesson for a lot of people who feel like networking has to be this thing where you're like always talking about business or what you do and like trying to get to some outcome it's really just about talking to a person and that you remember that people actually buy from people and you never know like if they if you have a natural organic conversation that leads to sharing what you do and all those things like you might be part of their like referral network down the road or whatever it might be so there's a lot of ways to like use that methodology to just be like cool about the conversation and not try to like be super pitchy.
Damona: Yeah, yeah and this is probably probably basic for a lot of your listeners but it's worth repeating when you are connecting with someone on social i always try to just add value to the conversation so like with the Okcupid example i think i was responding to a tweet or resharing a tweet and then adding my voice to the conversation and and reacting to what he had posted and that caught his eye and then created a conversation from there so again i'm not thinking about well well maybe i can partner with OKcupid a year from now i'm just thinking like oh well this is interesting my followers might be interested in this if i'm interested in this so i'm going to share or i'm going to engage i always try to engage on on instagram when people comment on my posts i also have people dm me for quite with questions about my podcasts or you know for my podcast or for my advice column i also have an advice column LA times and you know i use the this is like an instagram tips specifically i actually use the voice memos function a lot oh yeah one because it's easier for me because oh my gosh are my are my traps my shoulders are so tight from typing and being on the phone all the time
And I use voice as my preferred medium. You know voice and video but I love podcasting. I love talking to people. And I find that it just makes the conversation so much more real. Yeah, and just the text going back and forth. If you could just pick up, pick up your, your voice memos and just say like, Hey, thank you so much for that message, I really connected with it, you only have 60 seconds. sure to keep that in mind. But that's more than enough time, usually, to, to add a voice to the name and the conversation to
Tracy: Exactly now I want to shift gears a little bit. And I first of all, I love the audio tip because I do that all the time. I think it's super easy. And that's something that my team and I do also at the Flourish and Thrive. Instagram, it's easier to just like talk back and forth to someone than it is to like, spend plus I'm like the worst typer on a phone like I guess it's because I'm big hands like millions of typos like all the time. So I love that little tip. I'm totally shifting gears though. Now because I want to talk a little bit about being a mom and an entrepreneur. And there's so many things to juggle and especially for people who are moms and entrepreneurs and they have a maybe a jewelry or some sort of product business where it's a side hustle right now, it's not actually their full time thing because they have a full time job. So how do you do it all? And what are the secrets? So just juggling mom life and entrepreneur life at the same time?
Damona: The secret is I don't do it all. But no, no, but I really don't. I really prioritize the things that are most important to me. And I outsource the things that I can and I leave the rest. Which means I actually took I've been taking pandemic photos for my Instagram of like, like me and cleaning the bathroom. Yeah, me, I'm leaving my dishes undone, which happens quite a lot. And then I have a lot of support, which is crucial for me. But I know that's not how not possible for everyone. First of all, like my husband and I are partners. Like I chose him for that reason. I was like, I'm not just going to be like your housewife here. I'm a Boss Lady. And I'm going to be doing what I do. So if I'm taking time to take care of kids and raise a family, like you got to be doing that, too.
So we literally are 50-50 partners, and like, you know, like last night, he got called for a meeting at 5:30. He was like, I'm, I'm gonna be down late. Of course, we're all in the same house. So I'll be home from work late means like, I'll be walking down the stairs later, you know? So I was like, Okay, and then I was like, I have to do this call this morning. So before the babysitter gets here, I'm you know, can you take the kids? It's a constant conversation literally every single night. And then I also I have, I have to have a babysitter. And I'm sure there's somebody out there that is going to say like that's not safe and the pandemic, how can you open your bubble? For me, I literally couldn't get it all done like it is a beast, parenting and a pandemic. And yeah, it's the kids, I don't know, who believes that kids are self sufficient. And just like logging on, like adults, like well just go on to school and get my work done.
As expected of me. And I do have some friends who are managing to do this. I don't know what they're on or what magic they've figured out. But my kids are not that way. They have to have pretty constant motivation and attention. So that has been an important thing to me. And I've had to carve out finances to make sure that I have pretty much full time support. And the other thing I do is prioritize my family time. Yeah, and it hits 530. My day is from 530 to 830. I'm with my kids, I'm not on my phone, I'm not multitasking. And that is for my sanity, and for their sanity and for the relationship with my family, which is the most important thing in my life. That's the whole reason we do all these other things.
The other thing is I prioritize my self care. I work out every day. I didn't work out today, but I just could not bring myself to do it. But that is for me. If I do not exercise. I am not a nice person. And maybe I haven't been a nice person today. I want to be a nice person and I want to feel centered so I make sure that I carve out time for that even if it's like 15-20 minutes. That's really important to me and my lifestyle.
Tracy: All amazing tips. And even though I don't have children of my own, we have Jason has two daughters. How old are your kids? Like what age are they?
Damona: They are six and 10.
Tracy: Okay, they're at a good age but still like young.
Damona: Yeah, we're still in the thick of it. We're still in the thick of it. And like, I don't know how any parents do it with more than two kids because like, right now we're, it's one one on one. But you know, like, I have friends that have three, four or five kids. And I'm just like, I bow down to all parents, oh, parents all genders like, yeah, it's just, it's just a crazy time. And we, we are all just trying to show up, you know, the best that we can. And it's, it's also given me a lot of compassion for other people. And parenting has given me a new perspective, there's so many things that I was like, I would never do that. I am never going to make multiple dinners. Because my kids are just going to eat whatever I put on the table. No, they're not.
Tracy: So funny, my friends, we were just in Utah at some friends house. And my friend Jonathan has a son who's very particular. And let's see what he eats. And a daughter who has severe food allergies. And so they literally have to make like three meals a night like, Jonathan and Christie eat the same food. And then the kids have their own meals. It's like so much work.
Damona: Yep, it was a really cute idea on my behalf. But then I have one really, really, really picky eater. And I was starting to, like, think it was something in my parenting and that I had gone terribly wrong. And then my son eats everything. And so I was like, Oh, it's not me. It's just like, they're individuals. They're their own people. And I, there are foods that I don't like. So I understand there are foods that she doesn't like, I haven't figured that part out yet. I haven't figured it all out yet. I literally take things one day at a time. And I know a lot of entrepreneurs can plan.
Like they plan out their whole year, and they have like all their launches and all of their, you know, their entire business plan. For five years done, I am much more of a fly by the seat of my pants entrepreneur, which I don't necessarily recommend. That's just where I'm at right now. So that's one of the great things about hosting that I make a living podcast is that I get to learn from other people. And there have been so many things I've taken from hosting that show. And I'm sure it's the same for you here that even if I can make an incremental shift that increases either my, my income, my happiness, my mental health, just a little bit, it's, it's worth making the changes.
Tracy: That's so awesome. I love hearing all that. And it's so so true. And, you know, one thing that I wanted to ask you really are around supporting the BIPOC community. Because over here at Flourish and Thrive, we a lot of industries have a lot of work to do, right. And many, many companies are trying to do better. We just launched a BIPOC scholarship and welcome six new businesses into a mentorship program, that they're going to be competing for grant competition at the end of the year. And I'm super excited. And this was in response to what things happened in the summer within the jewelry industry with the BIPOC open letter. So I'm curious if you have any tips or feedback on how entrepreneurs can support more black-owned businesses or brown businesses?
Damona: Well, first of all, I think that's awesome and amazing. And I'm so glad to hear that. And to see that as a person of color. We haven't covered this yet. So people might not know.
Tracy: If they're listening to if they're listening to the audio, they won't see your face.
Damona It's brown, just so you know, you all know, I'm and I actually part of my executive life was I started the talent diversity program at NBC. And this is a conversation that I've been having for so many years. And for so long, I have felt like I was just banging my head against the wall for a long time because I just felt like people were not open to doing the things that you're doing and having the conversations that we're having. So the first step is just being open to the conversation. Yeah, knowing that you might mess up you might say the wrong thing. If someone offers you feedback, or tells you that something doesn't land for them, I'm even learning you know, as, as a dating coach, like I, my audience, my LGBTQ audience has grown substantially. And there are times when I like, I have misgendered someone on an episode and I had to re-record and I, I published an apology and I'm learning to as a person of color. So it's reasonable to expect that there may be mistakes along the way and it's all in how you handle those mistakes and how you incorporate them into your overall learning. The other thing I would say is that it's really about having a seat at the table and a voice in the room. And, like, I don't feel like any BIPOC, I'm still even getting used to that term. I know,
Tracy: it's, it's, I hadn't thought of it until the summer.
Damona: I just feel like other folks like me, you know, we're not looking for a handout. We're not even really looking for a handout, we're just looking for our voice to be heard. And for so long, I felt like I was always told you have to work twice as hard to get half as far as that has always been my work philosophy. And you've seen, you know, been on my website, you see, I'm always working twice as hard. But it's just nice to have the door opened. And if you are listening to this podcast, and you're just thinking like, wait, what have I done? Like, just look at, look at your suppliers, look at your collaborators and say, how is diversity represented? And also, who am I trying to reach like I for so long? at NBC? I would say, this is not a feel good initiative.
This is a business imperatives look around the room and look around the world. And does this room represent the audience we are trying to reach? And if it doesn't, what changes do we need to make now to be able to be the brand of the future that we want to be that reaches the customers that we want to reach? Yeah, it's such a big conversation. Tracy, it's like such a big question. That I feel like I can barely do it justice in the few minutes that we have, but just be good. I'm just grateful for the conversation at all. And the other thing I would say is that an ally ship is really important, like I have had, as people of color, we're a little bit exhausted. Also, like I said earlier, I felt like I was kind of shouting into the wind for so long. That to have other people hear us and amplify our voices is really valuable. And I've had friends that have stepped into conversations when they felt like oh, this, I didn't like how that sounded like I don't have to be the one to raise the flag all the time. If you feel like something is a misrepresentation. And you are not a person of color, use your voice. Because sometimes your voice does land differently for other people who can't hear mine.
Tracy: Yeah, that's great, great feedback and great advice. And just one little, sort of offshoot on that for people who are black designers or brown designers who are trying to like, make a mark and get out there. Do you have any other tips for making progress as an entrepreneur?
Damona: Oh, also a big question. Um, one, there is a there are a lot of programs, there are a lot of grants, there is money out there to help you launch or sustain your business. The other thing that I would say is really be true to yourself. And I this is a theme that is consistent across my dating coaching my content that I make my work with fresh books. Authenticity is really the thing that drives everything. And I feel like sometimes also, in the past bipoc artists have been encouraged to sort of downplay that, their authentic self to move into the mainstream, it's like you're either doing something just for a black and brown audience, or you're kind of I guess, whitewashing it for a general audience. And as someone that doesn't fit neatly into any box, I really, I'm excited to embrace that there is such an array of experience and expression of that experience that is now being allowed to come forward.
Tracy: That's awesome. Yeah. And I love what you said about authenticity and being yourself. And this is just another study too. And that like not everyone's your customer, it's just being able to speak to the people who really are right. Because at the end of the day, like the more authentically you are you and the more authentic you show up as your brand, the more you're going to magnetize the right people and repel the wrong people and build a business right.
Damona: Exactly. Be yourself everybody else has already taken.
Tracy: Yeah, exactly. I love it. Thank you so much for being here with me today. Domana, where Can everyone find you online?
Damona: Well, thank you for having me. You can find me @DamonaHoffman on all the socials are at DamonaHoffman.com and if you like this kind of conversation and you want to know more about entrepreneurship or hear other stories, please do check out the I make a living podcast which is on Apple and Spotify and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Tracy: Amazing thanks for being here today.
Damona: Thank you.
Tracy: Thank you so much for listening to the show today and watching this video if you'd like this video make sure that you like it and subscribe to my channel and also if you haven't done so yet make sure that you go follow Damona on all of our social channels and give her a big hello alright this is Tracy Matthews signing off.