Tory Archbold (02:17):
Tell us about why you decided to show up authentically as you? What gave you the confidence to do that, but what is the power of your story?
Rebecca Saunders (02:28):
Oh, there are so many levels to that Tory. So many. If we go to the black and white of the push comes to shove, what was that final flick me over the edge moment? Would have to be that final lockdown in Sydney we had with COVID. And very aware actually, I should probably backtrack that and tell people that I have alopecia. So for me, if you don’t know who I am and you’re listening to this story for the first time, I have alopecia which is an autoimmune condition, which means that I don’t have any hair anywhere. I have the furthest up the scale, if you want to call it that, level of the condition as possible. So no hair anywhere. And I’ve had it since I was seven.
Tory Archbold (03:16):
Can I just say, does that mean that no waxing bills?
Rebecca Saunders (03:20):
I’ve never had a wax in my life. No, nothing.
Tory Archbold (03:22):
You’re going to be saving thousands and thousands of dollars, which is a bonus to this condition.
Rebecca Saunders (03:28):
Bonus in the condition. I don’t have to color any grays coming through as I get older, none of that. So it’s a total bonus. But the push… so I’ve worn wigs since I was seven, essentially. And push come to shove moment for me was COVID lockdown. That final one we had in Sydney where it was a case of masks were mandatory, it was summer, so it was going to be hot wearing a mask anyway. I wear glasses, so my glasses were mandatory with all this extra screen time, and my wig. And that combination of stuff was just ridiculous and something had to give. And two things were legal and required for my lifestyle, one of them wasn’t and it had to go. So that was the wig. And I decided to go, “You know what, let’s just do it. I don’t have to go anywhere, I don’t have to be in front of anyone. I can just do it at my own pace.” But I don’t work that way either. So I did a photo shoot, I changed all the pictures on my website and on social media and decided, “Bugger it, let’s just put it all out there.”
And I think I was able to do that for several reasons, in that I’d done the work personally to be okay with any backlash if it was going to come. I had a partner, who’s now my husband, who was very supportive of the whole process. I don’t think he expected me to go the whole gangbusters of completely not wearing a wig for a whole year, which we’ve just passed that milestone, but he was very supportive of me being me. I didn’t have to cover anything up. So that was a bonus. My family have always been supportive.
And then I have a tribe of women around me that I call the cheer squad, who have been telling me for years, “Becca, when you are ready and you just whip it off, make it happen, and your business is just going to go gangbusters.” And I’m like, “Yeah, it’s really not going to make that much of a difference.” But it did. And I think the reason for that is I had spent the previous nine years building my video business, telling people to be comfortable and confident in their own skin and it’ll be fine, just be you and be human. But I was putting on a mask every day, every time I stepped out of the house or stepped in front of the camera. And that huge shift in deciding that enough was enough and I was just going to go without it was like a catalyst for just an explosion, business and personal life wise.
Tory Archbold (05:57):
And we’re talking about a million dollar explosion.
Rebecca Saunders (06:02):
Yeah, we are. Yeah. In that year of COVID, when the industry around me was crumpling and businesses were shutting down left right and center, we went from zero to seven figures in that pandemic.
Tory Archbold (06:12):
Yeah, just because you owned your story, you owned your power, and you’re like, “Fuck it. I’m just going to show the world who I am.” And you’re clearly exceptionally good at being this video ninja, but now you could be Rebecca Saunders.
Rebecca Saunders (06:25):
Exactly. Yeah. So I put it out there and I’m now on all social platforms. I’m “The Rebecca Saunders” because I’m like, “Yeah, there’s only one of me. I’m going to do it my way.”
Tory Archbold (06:36):
Yeah, and I’m going to own it and I’m going to own that highway of life. So here’s the thing. You were talking about putting everyone else’s impactful story out there and you didn’t think to put yours out until push came to shove. For those listening to the podcast, video content is really important because for me I go, “You know what, people want to see your energy Tory. They want to see and feel and lean into the power of what you have.” And I don’t really believe that you can get that from a flat facing image. And quite often the stories that we see, which are all of those images out there, are not really what goes on in real life. And I feel lockdown definitely has revealed what people are truly like. How important is video content to share the power of your story to build a multimillion dollar business?
Rebecca Saunders (07:22):
I think it’s hugely important, and I’m going to caveat this from more a personal brand founder side of things, because people buy from humans. We buy from humans, we like the connection of it. But when you can be authentically you on camera and you’re not having to be someone else, I refer to it as, “Be a Sean, don’t be a sheep.” You can be part of that pack and that flock but you need to own your own way of doing things. And I think when you can walk in front of a camera on a stage, it doesn’t matter what the platform is necessarily, but if you can just get up and be you as though you were in any other facet of life, how easy is that to show up that way when you don’t have to pretend to be something that you’re not. You don’t have to put on a particular way of presenting or a way of talking.
And so the ability to share that on video, for people to see those facial expressions and the body language that you have, and you might as an individual sit there and critique the hell out of your video, because even I look at myself on camera and go, “Oh yeah, eyebrows are a bit wonky on that one. You pull your face in a funny way.” I’m the only one that’s going to notice that. No one else is going to notice that. And so we bond as humans with that conversation and connection. And I think if we can get over that mental block of it’s being filmed and it’s on camera, it’s just like having a conversation the other side of the coffee table.
Tory Archbold (08:59):
And video as well. I just want to preface this. We can have clients no matter where we are in the world, and I think this is a great example. You’re in New York in a really cool hotel, in the Meatpacking District. I’m in Sydney, upstairs is my daughter studying for the HSC, it’s all happening. But because we can see each other visually, we’ve got that connection.
Rebecca Saunders (09:19):
Tory Archbold (09:20):
So those people that are afraid to show up online, what do you say to them?
Rebecca Saunders (09:25):
You’ve got to start small and I think you’ve got to completely stop overthinking it. So there’s several elements to that. The reality of it is the first video you do or you put out there, not a huge number of people are going to see it. Social media is absolutely swamped with a lot of things. So the more you can train that muscle, and the more you can get in the habit of just showing up on camera and doing that daily story or that weekly live or whatever it is, and you mark it in the calendar and you make it a priority. You prioritize that as much as you would a client piece of work or looking after the kids or whatever it is. If you prioritize that as a business building task then it’s going to get easier, because confidence on camera is building a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger it’s going to get.
But I also think that people overthink the hell out of what they’re going to talk about. If you’re just starting on that video journey, the baseline I recommend to absolutely everyone is just to think about what the frequently asked questions are, that you get asked every day about your business. You can rehash those questions half a dozen, which way or whatever. You don’t have to be reinventing the wheel. And the beauty of video content and social media is that you can say the same thing over and over and over again, in slightly different ways with slightly different backgrounds from wherever you are, and people are going to hear a different message every time you speak. You’re going to think you’re going to be on repeat and it will drive some people, most people, nuts in the process of training that muscle. But not everyone’s going to see every piece of content that you make. And you don’t need to be reinventing and recreating a new piece of content every single time. Answer the same 12 questions on repeat and you have a lifetime of content.
Tory Archbold (11:21):
I agree. And you know what, I teach that in our programs. Because coming from a PR marketing background, I always say to people, “If you understand the power of your story, it’s anchored to your values, your intent and purpose, all you need to do is continually tap into that story to take people on a customer journey.” But I call it the rinse and repeat.
Rebecca Saunders (11:39):
A hundred percent. Yeah. Well feel like you’re on repeat the whole time. You’re like a record on repeat and you feel like a bit of a broken record as you go, but you’re the only one that’s feeling that. No one else is feeling that about you. So you just get into that rhythm where actually you feel guilty. I don’t know about any of the people going through your programs, but you kind of feel like you’re cheating yourself out of, “Is that it? Do I just have to say the same thing in a different way? Really? Is it that easy?” And once you get that in your head, “Yeah, it actually is.” It is that easy. Rinse and repeat.
Tory Archbold (12:15):
Now, coming from a publicist background as well, I always say to people, do not wear patterns on camera. What is your advice for showing up for either TV, for a podcast, or a live masterclass, whatever it is. What should people wear and how do they show up so that the lighting is good, the makeup is good, and they’re actually stepping into the best version of themselves for others?
Rebecca Saunders (12:43):
Okay, so block colors are always the best. So always the best in terms of block colors because patterns and stripes and polka dots and all those little things on camera can band the camera. So for example of that visually, for people who are listening, if you’ve ever watched a TV show and it happens, it drives me nuts on Netflix, where you’ve seen the camera just flick a little bit because someone’s wearing a pattern shirt. That’s what banding of the camera is. So for you to look as professional as possible, block colors all the way. The next thing I do is to wear a jacket or something that’s pretty sturdy, because the chances are you’re going to be mic’d up with a lapel mic that fits onto your clothing, and fancy dresses that look fabulous and make you feel great, don’t mic up well. And when you put that mic pack on the back of your bra strap and you have that funny boxy thing out the back, not comfortable and not a good look. So have something that a microphone can fit onto, like a belt buckle or a pocket that you can put that in is also ideal.
I also find that, and this is probably mostly out of the back of COVID too, but it was starting to happen prior to that, is wear something that you’re comfortable in. Don’t dress up and wear something that you don’t feel comfortable sitting in or standing in or even walking in. How many people put high heels on just to totter to the stage and spend the last five minutes before their presentation starts going, “What if I trip on those stairs? Oh my gosh, what if I trip in these shoes?” Because you’re not used to walking in them. As part of that authentics thing for yourself as well is wear what you would normally wear. Have your own style, don’t feel that you’ve got to conform to a certain way because I’ve seen a heap of sneakers on stages all around the world come up in the last couple of years. If you don’t want to wear heels, wear sneakers. It’s all well and good. But I think what you’ve got to remember is, something structured for a microphone is always a winner. Short skirts are always a bad thing when it comes to sitting down on bar stools or arm chairs. And just be comfortable. Again, don’t try and be something that you’re not on a day-to-day basis.
Tory Archbold (14:56):
So what you’re saying is just be yourself. Be true to you.
Rebecca Saunders (15:00):
Why not? Be true to you. Yeah. Oh, the final thing not to wear though, Tory, dangly earrings that hit on microphones, drive me nuts. I don’t know why AV people don’t stop speakers wearing dangly earrings when they put microphones on their head, but that drives me bonkers. And jangly jewelry that we don’t realize we’re wearing, that also drives me nuts.
Tory Archbold (15:20):
You know what? I’ve had the same diamond studs for a couple of decades and that’s all I ever wear and there’s no dangly jewelry ever for me on camera. So I love that tip too. Now you’ve invested in videography, which can be expensive, the day rates for videography is high, and not every entrepreneur can afford that. And I know big corporates as well have got big budgets. How do people get the ROI? Once you’ve got that content, how do you get the ROI to drive new client acquisitions?
Rebecca Saunders (15:52):
So I think the answer to that question is going to lie before you actually get the content. So when you’re filming that content and you’re creating that one video, that half a dozen videos, whatever that may be, think about how you’re going to promote that content. So is there a piece of that script that you could pull out and do in a slightly different way that could be used as a promo piece? Is there something that you can set up? Is there a phone you can set up to the side to capture real content? Have you got someone that can snap a few photos behind the scenes so that you’ve got that extra piece of content? Out of your long video, could you cut shorter social snippets of content? And so before you even hit the record button, start thinking about all the different ways you could use one piece of video content and then you’ve got it as a list and a checklist before you go.
So one of the things I’m doing now off the back of such an incredible year in my business is teaching videographers how to actually get the brief from their client as well. Because the majority of creatives are darn good at the creative, but unless you tell them what to do, they’re not going to give you any advice back. And so there’s that disconnect where you as a business owner go, “Well, they’ll guide me.” Chances are they probably won’t. So think about… and it’s not their fault, they just haven’t been trained to do it that way because they’re creatives, they haven’t been trained in the business way of doing things. And so create that checklist of, “Great, I’ve got this hero video, I’m going to chop it into social snippets. I want my phone set to the side. We’re going to get a couple of time lapses.” And so you’re constantly within that hour of filming time, I’m making these numbers up, but of that hour of filming you could create half a dozen short clips, heap of photos, heap of behind the scenes snaps. And that’s how you’ll get all of that content to help you get the ROI on that investment in a professional videographer.
Tory Archbold (17:58):
And I agree because we do briefing notes and I’ve done them for years, and because you’re bringing teams of people together you need to understand what are you going to look like, who’s going to do your hair and makeup. And obviously you need to trial all these before you get on camera because if you get the hair and makeup artist and you look like [inaudible 00:18:17]. You’re like, “Oh God, I don’t look like…” I remember one guy gave me porn star lips. I was like, “Darling, I’m not here to give a blow job. I’m here to actually build my business.” So make sure that you test all of that first and that you have an understanding and a trust in your team. But I agree, when you get on set, you want to have all those energetic moments captured because it’s not just a one-off investment, you can actually have other videographers and other creative teams reuse that content for years to come.
Rebecca Saunders (18:45):
Years to come. Yeah, if you can rehash it in so many different ways, if you can plan it right, that content can last you a few years easily, easily. Outfit changes all of the stuff. Yeah.
Tory Archbold (18:58):
Yeah. Make it consistent, make it contemporary, make it modern, but make it last. Now you’re coming off the back of a million dollar year. Pretty big.
Rebecca Saunders (19:06):
Tory Archbold (19:07):
What’s your next powerful step?
Rebecca Saunders (19:09):
Oh, okay. My next powerful step, I’m actually stepping into helping the industry. So I work in the industry, I’ve done it for 10 years. I have seen a lot of shit shows in my time coming through my studio and I’ve heard a lot of horror stories with friends and clients who are business owners, who have come from places where they haven’t had the best experience investing in professional production. And so my next powerful step is to teach videographers how I’ve built my business. Take how I’ve built it, step by step, system by system, process by process, looking at the numbers, all the stuff we know as business owners and give that to the creatives in a way that they can use, so that I’m supporting the industry in the fact that they’re supporting themselves financially. They know how to treat their clients and know how to ask the questions so that the client gets what they want. But most importantly for me, my “why” for that is creatives tend to live invoice to invoice, paycheck to paycheck, and there’s no forward future thinking there in the way they’re going to support their future selves. And I want to change that. I want to make sure we don’t end up with a society of super creative people that can’t afford to retire when they’re ready to.
Tory Archbold (20:32):
Oh, this is so beautiful and I love it because it’s a pay-it-forward, but it’s also sharing a proven toolkit that you’re giving to others. Because I look at a lot of those creatives that have come through the industry at the same time as me, and a lot of them are out of work because they haven’t planned for the future. And what you’re saying is, “I want people to plan. I want them to have a consistent revenue.” But also you’re giving longevity to a career that they love.
Rebecca Saunders (20:57):
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. You’ve just summed it up in a… yeah. That brings me so much joy. The energy and the joy in that for me… yeah. If you could see how I’m feeling right now. Tory, you can see it in our cameras that we’ve got going on, but yeah. Oh, it feels good to be able to do that. Yeah.
Tory Archbold (21:15):
I love it, the pay-it-forward. So thank you for paying it forward with us on the Powerful Stories podcast today.