Lydia Lee Screw the Cubicle

Lydia Lee (she/her) is the Work Reinvention Coach and Freedom Instigator behind Screw The Cubicle. Since 2013, she’s helped hundreds of people transition out of the golden corporate handcuffs and build meaningful businesses that support them in living the life they want.

Most importantly, she believes in intentionally creating purposeful work with our strengths, values, and personality in mind, so that we’re building a business we love, and want to keep for years to come.

Currently based in Bali, Lydia spends her time coaching and speaking on life and work reinventions, solopreneurship, and lifestyle freedom.

We explored so much at the Cauldron today! From 3 ways to ground into the work you’re here to do, from intentional and meaningful business planning and marketing. The value of imperfect action. Why your heart will never lie to you. Why you don’t need to pretend to be bigger or further along your business journey than you are. And how to find your own North Star to guide you through it all.

Conversation transcript:

Katherine

So Lydia, one of the many reasons I was so excited to chat with you was because I actually first entered your orbit when I was researching how to do business without social media. And I was curious, you know, could I make it work? Is that even possible? And I actually found one of your YouTube videos on your Screw the Cubicle channel, which has a great name. And I found it really, really helpful. And I just loved all of your videos, and you’re very calm, clear, and practical approach. So yeah, I’m really excited to talk to you about that today. But I know you’ve got so many other topics that we can explore. But I just thought before we dive in, could you perhaps tell us a little bit about where you are right now. So in the world, the season you’re in, maybe the room that you’re in and what’s around you.

Lydia

I’m in beautiful Bali at the moment, which I’ve been blessed to call home in the last coming up to eight years, feels like a lifetime. I’m originally from Vancouver, Canada. And I was born in Penang, Malaysia, which I’m biased to say has the best Southeast Asian food in the world. And so, you know, I’ve been, as I said, I’ve been very lucky to be in Bali, having having a location independent business, which, you know, supports me in the type of lifestyle that I prefer, and having access to global clients from three continents have been amazing in the last eight years in my business as well. And yeah, I’m in the season. You know, at the moment, I’m glad you mentioned the word season, because that is sort of how I like to operate in my life. And in my business, you know, I feel that actually how I best work in, in my coaching business and in what I do in my business do come in seasons. In the year, when I’m launching programs or, you know, doing particular initiatives that I have this sort of energy that you know, can last for 12 months out of the year, there’s certain peaks and seasons in the year that I do my best work in certain areas. And so at the moment, I’m actually in a bit of a resting retreat break, which is lovely, and something that I’ve included in my practice, in my life. And in my business every year. Now every quarter, I sort of take a few weeks off to work on the business and envision my own path around my work, because that evolves and changes. And when I’m in the doing mode, which is my usual mode, right, I’m a doer, I’m a perfectionist, high, recovering high achiever, I would say this has been a very wonderful way to get grounded and feel into what’s necessary rather than what I have to do you know, there’s a difference between what I have to do versus what I want to do.

Katherine

Oh, absolutely. I’m curious too, because I spent some time in Bali while I was doing a bit of internal searching, shall we say a couple of years ago, and I find it to be a really special place. I feel like Bali has this energy. And this was just my experience. But I found the energy for me to be quite supportive. I felt very held by the islands. But I feel like I was also being encouraged to be quite brave in the moment, if that makes sense. And sort of wondering what’s been your experience? Have you felt a connection to the islands? Have you noticed anything different compared to other places you’ve been or compared to home?

Lydia

That’s a great question. And I think what keeps pulling me back to have a home base here in Bali is you’re right there is a sort of an energetic feeling of groundedness and sort of simmering in silence, I like to say. And because it is an island, I find that noise is a little bit more limited here. You know, when I’m back in Vancouver, for example, it’s a busy city. Just even walking out going for a walk I’m seeing you know, ads and billboards and big buses and you know, people on their phones constantly and and then I find myself also being on my phone constantly, it’s almost like you adapt, you know, we’re very adaptable, aren’t we as human. So, as much as sometimes I’m like, no, you know, I’m bringing all the things I’ve learned in Bali back to Vancouver, when I go back there, it can be easy to sort of slip into that energetic flow. And there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s been times where I’ve actually every year I’m not in Bali all year round, except for the last year because of the pandemic. But most years, I like the idea of a variety of different locations, because I I’m a multifaceted human, you know, there are times where I actually want that energy of being in action, you know, and being around people that are taking action and being inspired in different environments, and different cultures, you know, can really help with that, as well. But Bali has always been the place for me of rest and reflection, you know, when I’m assessing things, when I’m planning, when I’m writing, when I’m in the need of a tight knit community, which is sort of what I’ve been blessed to have here as well, because a lot of people who live in Bali are business owners, are location independent as well. And so there’s a little bit more flexibility of time, you know, where we’re not waiting for the weekends, for example, to kind of go for dinner, you know, and hang out and talk and, and, and all that. And, and because again, we are surrounded by sort of island living, things are a bit slower, you know. The Balinese are lovely in a way to watch as a practice, you know, they, every morning for three times a day, you know, they have a ritual of ceremony, you know, where it’s very slow, you know, they do the blessings, and the lovely incense that you smell all over Bali. And it’s practiced in a very slow way, you know, and they move slower. You know, when I remember coming into Bali, in my first month, I was like walking like a speed racer, you know, across town, not sure where I was rushing to, but that was my speed of walking. And then, a nice shopkeeper kind of stopped me and kind of giggled and said, “Where’s the fire?” And I just laughed so hard, because, you know, you get into a mode, especially living in the city, and you know, I just left corporate when I first came over here, you get stuck in this sort of what I call like, anxious energy, you know, and you it just feels rushed. It feels like a competition that feels like a lot of self-imposed pressure to get somewhere, even though we might not know what that somewhere was. But it just felt like I was doing something productive. And so that’s what this island really taught me to just that rest and reflection and retreating is great for not only our souls, it’s also great for our minds, you know, because I think from a place of having more spaciousness, you know, with rest and less time doing, when we do take action, it feels a lot more intentional, rather, rather than these sorts of hustle energy that isn’t grounded by purpose and intention.

Katherine

Hmm. Oh, I love that. Beautiful. Yeah, because obviously, you know, for the podcast, it is the winter season, and it is winter here in the southern hemisphere at the moment. I know in Bali the seasons are different. But you know, winter doesn’t have to be the season in nature. It could be as what you’re explaining, before, you know, it could be a winter season in our life where our work journey, looking, taking that time, that spaciousness to really reflect on what’s working, what’s not, what’s next. But perhaps taking a few of those lessons that people like the Balinese can teach to us, and that culture can teach us. It’s not about okay, let’s just have a minute to quickly figure out what’s next and then go after it. It’s really just like easing into the season and honoring the cycle and honoring where we are in the cycle. So I guess that leads into my next question, which is, you know, how does that relate to the work that you do? And what would be your guidance for people to navigate, perhaps a tough time, perhaps they’re having a winter in their business or their life and things just aren’t really going the way they want, a lot of things seem to be falling away and, you know, they’re not sure when the sun will come back. So what would you say to them? 

Lydia

Yeah, that’s a great question as well. And I think, you know, when I look at the ever changing, evolving stages of business, you know, when you’re launching a business, for example, or in the midst of the beginning stage, you know, of launching a business, there’s a different season for birthing a new project, right? And then for entrepreneurs like myself and you, that could be in a different season or a different stage of a business of growth and expansion. And that only comes with a different energy, you know, different priorities and essential things that are what’s going to help with the momentum of that particular purpose. And so whenever I, well, I primarily, first of all work with people more in the beginning stage of a business. So I work with a lot of mid-career professionals and business owners that are interested in building a business, not just any business, but a business that they actually want to keep, you know, where profit and purpose can go hand in hand. Right. And what I teach is about creating no matter what stage you’re at in business. It is about creating a meaningful business that’s designed from your genius zone, which is your strengths and your values and your personality type. And that’s a part of, of the ingredients, I find that that is really important for a business, because you could have a profitable business model, you could have a great thing that you can sell, that is an urgent problem to solve. But if you’re operating in that business, in the design of your offer, or what clients you’re attracting to your business, or how you even share your vision in this, right, quote, unquote, dirty word called marketing, right? If you adapt to just whatever the gurus out there are teaching you and blindly taking on strategies that aren’t right for your personality type, and how you want to show up in the world, things feel tough. Things feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Because I mean, I’m all about doing hard things, I think there is a difference between a challenge that grows us and we want to take on that challenge, because we know at the end of it will help us to become the person we want to become. And then there are certain things and activities and ideas that just don’t sit quite well with us, you know, in terms of the have to versus want to, you know, conversation again. And so when I’m thinking about people who are in their beginning journey, or even in an established business, if something feels sticky, you know or not, there’s no traction being built, even though you’re taking so much action. To me, it’s about taking that necessary pause, which can be very beneficial to evaluate, to have a moment of evaluation and an alignment, evaluating what feels sticky, why it feels sticky. And also assessing how can I let this be easier? You know, the word easy has been a hard vocabulary for me as someone who I think was brought up, you know, from an immigrant family where things have always been hard for my family. And so that belief system of that success and money and wellbeing needs to feel like it’s going to cause me blood, sweat and tears to get there. That narrative can sometimes inform my approach, because that’s the pattern right that I’m used to. And so even asking myself this simple question, you know, Lydia, how can you let this be easy can sometimes allow me to lean into things that are working, that I haven’t doubled down on instead of creating something new.

It could be, it could also be that I’ve taken on too much on my plate, because I’ve run into this whole narrative of proving myself and doing hard things all the time. And how can I simplify my efforts by prioritizing what’s truly important for the next door rather than five doors ahead. And I think that’s most relevant to the people I coach because they have other priorities. They are working full time jobs and have families, it’s not the only thing they wake up doing full time, right. So knowing how to carve out the right timing, and also the working on things in bite sized ways, I think, will let us feel more completion, to move on to next stages of action, rather than trying to sort of digest, you know, such large actions because we want to compete and get somewhere faster. Right? And so with my clients that are launching a business, they always go into things like marketing very quickly, because that’s the shiny, beautiful stuff you see on the internet. Right? You look at a competitor you like or an influencer you admire, the one thing you see is a beautiful blog and a beautiful Instagram channel and lovely headshots. So you do feel like okay, well, I have to get those things done. But my belief is that to me, I always use the analogy of building a house. So the marketing part and the invitation in marketing and sales is kind of the event of an open house, right? Where you lay out the cookies and beautiful tea, and you invite the right people to the open house. But we can’t open the house until you’ve built the foundations of the house. Right, you have to design the blueprints, you have to get the architect and the plumber on board to know where how many rooms you’re building and what the layout looks like. And the business is a bit like that to where the foundations aren’t the sexy stuff like marketing, but it’s what grounds you to the work that people rely on you for, you know.

So there’s kind of three main areas that I focus on to help people grow. The first one is really identifying the sweet spot of their highest contribution of work, which is the merging of their skills, their deep interests, and their impact that they want to make. And when they understand how to repurpose a lot of the skills they had in corporate or what they’ve known how to do in their personal life, and understand how it contributes to active problems that certain people want to solve, then they have a much more grounded approach of understanding how am I going to utilize these skills rather than just naming I have copywriting skills, or I have a web design skill. Well, a lot of other people do that. Right. And so in order to sort of stand out, we also have to understand how do we want to deploy those skills in a meaningful way? How do we want to solve problems in a meaningful way? What does that look like for me, and what is my perspective and my own approach, and in my values and experience, I might do that job a little differently than someone else, you know, so that sweet spot, this idea of the sweet spot foundations of the work, the meaningful work you’re trying to do, I think of this as a North Star, you know, the GPS of what you come back to when you’re choosing what you want offer or who you want to serve, and what kind of business you want to build. You know, those ingredients in a sweet spot, the sweet spot recipe for you uniquely helps you own those decisions. 

And then the second piece is our gift, right? The offer, what do we want to offer that is going to help people do great things. But also, as a business owner, I want to be also, we want to also be operating in an ideal way of working. That’s based on our strengths and our personality. So for example, I somehow have about 80% of introverts working with me at all times. I don’t market myself as an introverted coach, but I think introverts are attracted to my message of building a business that feels like you, but you don’t have to be an extrovert to be heard, that you have quiet power, that can actually attract really lovely people that that value that, you know, and so a way an introvert might coach or introvert might offer OBM or VA services, or how an introvert would write copy, for example, for their clients have a different approach, you know, than someone else with a different personality type. And so in the design of our offers and contribution, we also have to think about how do we want to serve? What is the right way of working in my own seasons, in my own timing, how I want to work with clients, and do the work that I feel is aligned, you know, with my genius zone, so I’m not pulling teeth when I’m working with clients and feeling like I have to be someone else, you know, to gain attention. And in that, you know, in that offer stage also it’s acknowledging and understanding what is our unique approach. I’m not just good at words as a copywriter, you know, there are particular values of how you write you know. For example, I really like the way you do it, Katherine, where it’s a non-harmful, non-violent, non-sleazy way of creating invitations through copywriting. And that is an approach not every copywriter values and also not every client, you know, are attracted to a certain type of writing also, right. So in order to infuse more of that, those values and perspective, which is really important in standing out, that also has to be sort of merged into the the how you offer that, that service or product and how you talk about it, you know, that’s gonna land well for the people that should be hearing your message. Right.

And then finally, you know, the stage of sharing your vision, which is that dirty word marketing that we talk about, that I believe marketing doesn’t have to be a trickery, scammy version of you, which is not which feels icky to begin with, right? I think marketing can be translated to an education. How do we educate people to be ready for our work? How do we plant seeds often, instead of just trying to make a sale? How do we create warm and welcoming invitations that don’t always have to be done through great imagery and awesome posts and Facebook ads? You know, how do we do it in the simplest way, like building relationships and having more conversations that change people’s lives. And use that as a portal for inviting people to our world and listening to them, you know. And marketing can also be about community and collaboration and not competition, you know. It’s not that you are the only person that can cast a wider net for your audience, there are wonderful people that are in your niche that are sort of non-competing also, but serve the same audience that you can collaborate with, and actually do more together in order to serve the marketplace, you know, so all of these three big parts that I teach, always, always include the questioning, you know, and the challenging of ourselves on how do I want to approach all three of these pieces that is all about me, and all about the ingredients of my genius zone so that I can show up in my highest contribution to the people that I want to serve. And I think when we get those things solid and grounded for ourselves, and it does make decisions and also planning for actions so that we’re not hustling constantly, and being more intentional, a lot more easier. And perhaps that light will shine a little bit, you know, brighter for you, instead of it feeling like I’m just really stuck, you know, and the stuckness could be due to misalignment rather than, I’m not good enough, or this isn’t working.

Katherine

Wow, Lydia.

Lydia

That was a long answer to our short question.

Katherine
That was incredible. I’m going to have to listen to the podcast a couple of times, I think and just take a lot of notes, because I wanted to be very present through all of that. But gosh, there was so much that you unpacked there, that was just magic. And one thing I love that you said there was the difference between, you know, like for meaningful work, meaningful work doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy all the time. And I love that you said it’s sticky versus having traction, you know, your meaningful work isn’t going to be comfortable, easy work necessarily. I mean, I would say that actually meaningful work can be the most challenging because it takes you to places you wouldn’t venture unless you were being daring, correct? 

Lydia
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Katherine
And just listening to your talk, I was thinking, gosh, I wish I’d found you at the start of my journey and got my North Star, because 14 years of a lot of meandering and a lot of false starts and a lot of dead ends. And of course, that’s my story, that’s fine. But yeah, I can see how valuable it would be to go and do this work at that beginning stage when you’ve got all the ideas, and you just know that you’re here to make an impact, you’re here to co-create something. But you’re just not quite sure how that’s going to present in the world, and what you want to do, and where you want to take it. So I can just say that the service you provide is so valuable.

Lydia

You know, I also want to add a caveat to that is that in order to find our North Star, in order to find what a meaningful business means for us, because that’s a hard question to answer, especially at the beginning of the business when you haven’t really tried anything on for size. You know, so when people go, you know, what’s the hardest question people will tell you or ask you? It’s like, what’s your purpose? God, how the hell do I know that? You know, not everyone has a Mother Teresa or Gandhi moment, you know, where they just wake up and go, that’s what I want to do with my life forever. So the question of purpose and finding purpose is a daunting task for most people. And I think we have to reinvent and redefine what purpose is as well. So that it’s not a getting it right the first time kind of approach. And so I would say that in the work I do, the first thing I tell clients is be ready for imperfect action, I don’t have a magic crystal ball. If I did, I would be, I don’t know, you know, a billionaire. If I know no one and if anyone told you they did and can guarantee you that you find your purpose in seven days or whatever is probably lying.

Katherine
Run away!

Lydia
Run away fast, very, very fast! And, you know, like purpose is an ongoing experience, isn’t it? It’s something that we intentionally and consciously create, to feel purposeful. We decide what that looks like. And that might mean your, your business, your niche, your audience sometimes and even your message can change. It’s allowed to change because you change as a person as you grow. And so we have to start from where we’re at, what we know best about what we want to do with the skills we’ve got, what feels meaningful today, and what I like to say what’s right for right now. Not what’s right for till I die in my deathbed, but what’s right for right now and just embrace that, you know, and allow yourself, give yourself permission to go there without the thought that it has to be permanent. And I think permanence makes us feel a little shaky in our booties, because it feels like we can’t get it wrong. But if I ever looked at, and I’m sure you could relate to this, if I ever looked at all the stages of the last eight years I’ve owned the business. I mean, I’ve had probably 12 to 15 iterations of Screw the Cubicle. It’s literally what happens when you grow your work, where you grow your body of work that evolves with you as a human. And so being able to say, I’m going to move with imperfect action with the right for right now thoughts that I have, and trust those thoughts and allow myself to make mistakes, because even if something didn’t work out, I have a lot more data and insight about what I want more, or what I can do better. And that is way clearer than sort of waiting for the perfect time for the perfect opportunity for the perfect season, you know, to act on what we believe is our dreams.

Katherine

Yeah, and I would say true that, you know, if you did wait for it to be perfect, you probably wouldn’t find your purpose, because I think purpose is found in the exploration. I think purpose is sometimes found in the setbacks more than the successes.

Lydia
So, so true.

Katherine
Yeah. And, you know, I think the other thing too that’s important for us to remember is our purpose is not just our work, right? When someone says what’s your purpose, you don’t have to automatically think, oh, I’ve got to have some amazing business that meets all my needs. The purpose is also in how we are human and how we relate to each other, in how we just live every day, and live our values and live our vision. And obviously infuse that into our work, but our purpose does not necessarily only encompass our work, right?

Lydia

I’m so glad you said that. Because it’s so true purpose is a way of living. It’s a lens. And how we do things, how we show up, how people rely on us, and, you know, and how we contribute, you know, and contribution is not only in our careers, or a business contribution. It happens in community, contribution happens in our families and friends and, you know, and how we contribute to ourselves also, you know, as service based professionals, it’s, it’s, we love waking up and serving, and at times we can forget about serving ourselves also, you know, filling our own cup and making sure that we’re we have the self care and the love for our own beingness to be more of a better giver, to be more resilient to change and show up for others and in a much more sustainable way. You know, so you’re right, absolutely. I think, you know, purpose can can show up in our lives in so many different ways. And in everything we do every day, that isn’t always a big thing all the time. It’s very little things, isn’t it? It’s how we want to wake up, how we talk to somebody, how we approach a problem, how we approach a setback can be purposeful, versus you know, fear driven, and avoidant, you know, sort of energy.

Katherine

Yeah. And I think that’s another trap of the online business world, or marketing world. And all of those messages can be harmful, you know, business is the big moments, success is the big moments. It’s about huge growth and six figures. And I love that you brought that back and said no, it can be the little little intentional steps along the way too. 

Lydia

I mean, I always talk a little bit about like, you know, because I’m in the online business world myself, and I’ve had to shut off a lot of the noise also…it wasn’t, you know, finding my own purpose, full meaning and my business wasn’t where I started. I had a major burnout halfway through my business during a time of my highest revenue year, you know, a time that I should be celebrating and feeling achievement. And instead, I felt burnt out and depleted and was misaligned in my work, you know, because I too fell into the trap of having, believing that I had to learn a lot of these sort of automation, you know, technology driven approaches, and I’m all about technology to help ease our lives into doing things in a simple way, you know, and create sort of streamlined star clients, and you know, but some things shouldn’t be automated, you know. My work can be, not all parts of my work can be automated. And I think, you know, when I, when I sort of became more of a digital marketer, versus actually the job I was hired to do, which is coaching. That was when I was most miserable, you know, in my work. And so from that place, you know, I too, had to take a sabbatical. And I chose to take a sabbatical for a few months when I had that, that sort of business burnout. But that that necessary pause again, you know, helped me to really think about like, okay, I built a bit of a Frankenstein, okay, I’m not gonna shame myself for that, because I was listening, you know, there’s so much noise out there, of what was the right thing to do. And I need to come back to my own purpose. Why did I start this coaching business in the first place eight years ago, you know, what, why did I? What was my intention for this? And how do I really want to envision my day to day that felt more like me, rather than what I think, you know, to compete with other coaches or compete with what even the industry states should be your model, you know, and so now, I do like everything pretty much opposite, but you know, not everything, but a lot of, you know, my colleagues, what questions sometimes that you only have one thing you offer what I mean, this one thing, don’t you have a book and this and that, and, you know, like all these, right? Like, the whole thing of, you know, a coaching business has like eight different offers that it’s like, No, I did that already. And that was lovely to, you know, do that kind of work, but it wasn’t good for my well being. And I, I kind of see myself as a minimalist business now, where every decision I make is intentional, and even things like my flagship program called 90 Day Launch to be evergreen, rather than 90 days. So I have to actually think about changing that name. So, you know, I, I sort of looked at, you know, when you talked about harmful ways, at times, I didn’t also realize that sometimes when, you know, we’ve been taught to run programs, you know, where there’s a start date and an end date. And there’s sort of a, you know, you better subscribe or, you know, register now before the countdown clocks go down, and you don’t get the bonuses, and, you know, like all the things that you see going on in the coaching world. It’s like, I just never felt right doing that. I hate it. The countdown timer, I hate it, I had to offer these bonuses to trick people into my program. I hate that. There was these launch seasons that I was preparing for that felt like, oh God, here we go, another four weeks of just pure hell, you know, trying to recruit bums on seats, right? And I just went, what if I just don’t do it like that anymore? What if I just don’t do launches? What would that look like?

Lydia

Yeah, like, I was like, do I need to do that? Or, you know, is it just because it’s industry standard, like, well, that isn’t making me happy. And eventually, I’m going to close down my business if this is going to be the case. And I mean, some people love launches. So there’s nothing wrong with what you love. But I’m talking more about when something is misaligned, which is certainly my story. And so I did have to take this risk and sort of trust that, you know, I felt better when I listened to my clients, and they said, you know, I need I have my own timing, I have seasons that I have, you know, family to take care of, and a busy time at work. And when 90 days goes, you know, it’s finished, I feel like I’m left to myself again. You know, and, and I’m starting to get going with my habits and my behavior change with all the things you’ve been teaching us. And then it’s over, you know, how do we not do that? Right? And so that’s what helps me to kind of see things from my clients’ shoes and go, how do I meet, you know, meet in the middle for both of us where I’m also not stretched thin trying to do an evergreen program. I have to kind of redesign how I show up also for the students and an evergreen model. But it felt a lot easier and more comfortable. Because I was always creating invitations, no matter what time of the year it was, you know, it wasn’t like, there’s an email intended to fill seats immediately. It was like, no, I am all about the sustainable growth. So I’m going to look at every email, everything that I post as planting the seeds and when people are ready, which are just beyond my control at times, you know, when people are ready, financially, right, soulfully, right, they’re ready to do the work. They will be part of my community knowing that they’ve gotten value from me not only at launch dates, but all year. And they come and if anything, I think my revenue has grown further this way, rather than the sort of, you know, hustle launch techniques that maybe fill seats right away but pisses the shit out of everyone else on the email list, you know, for that four week period of time. And we’ve all experienced that. Like, if I don’t like it as a reader, you know, I subscribe to a lot of newsletters and I know when someone’s having a launch, and I sometimes like don’t really love it myself. And so again, I think we have to operate and how we see things that feel right. You know, that might not look like everybody else’s. And you’re gonna question that, you know, but I think your heart is never gonna really lie to you in what feels right, you know, in the way you want to do it. And I think, yeah, that takes practice, that takes acknowledgement of those things. And then it takes some experimentation, where I didn’t know if that was going to work or not, but give it a good go. And then I can evaluate again and assess whether or not this is where I want to continue, you know. So yeah, it’s been a great journey in figuring out how to do business that feels like me, also, as I’m, you know, supporting people in finding their North Star in business.

Katherine

Yeah. Oh, again, amazing response, thank you. Rewind and re-listen to again, as well. I think that leads in quite nicely since we’re talking about building a business that supports you in your way. And having that courage to do things your way. I mentioned that I’ve been exploring social media, and whether I wanted that to be a marketing tool for me and my business. And that’s how I found you. So I’ve now been off it, I think, almost six months. And what’s interesting is you were talking about, you know, you’ve had the biggest month in your business, which came as a surprise to you because it was when you weren’t hustling and you weren’t doing this launches that were burning you out. And you know, you found a way to be very supportive for your clients and not create this scarcity model that we’re used to seeing. And that’s been the same with me from being off social media, you know, I’ve been forced to be more intentional in the way I connect with people in the relationships I have with my community. I’m not just blasting things out to faceless people, I’m actually making one to one connections more from being off social media, which probably sounds quite funny and paradoxical, but it’s true. Right? And I feel like my work itself, both the client work I’m doing but also the work for my business is so much deeper, and more meaningful, because it’s not this kind of rushed quick overproduction of messaging that just gets blasted onto my social media feeds. But again, being off social media is just what works for me, it’s not going to work for everyone. So and you know, that’s what heart based business is all about. So I guess, since that’s how I did discover you was your video on social media and how to think about it. What advice or guidance would you give to help people? If they’re feeling a little bit burnt out on social media perhaps, or they’re just not sure how they should be using it? Or whether they want to be using it at all? What would you say?

Lydia 

Well, you know, firstly, I do want to say that social media is a tool, just like everything else, you know, it’s how we use it, and, and how we define what that platform purposes, you know, for us that can help you either love it or hate it. And, and that comes back again, to, you know, being grounded about when you start a social channel, or or you take a pause to evaluate how you want to, you know, operate in that channel is again, going into, what is my intention here? And how do I want to show up here that feels good to me? And what metrics? What healthier metrics do I want to measure my success in this platform? You know, that’s important, because the metrics that we’re taught with things like Instagram, you know, Facebook, or whatever else, social platforms, there are, is the metrics always become things like likes, follower numbers, right? How many people commented, which is a little bit better if an engagement metric is people are actually caring about your posts, but not every, you know, comment is always authentic either, you know, because people have been taught these hacks about commenting on other people’s posts in order to get traffic, you know, and so you can tell right away some ways inauthentic comment rather than a bot or you know, for a different purpose. And social media is just one avenue, and I always have to remind that to myself and to my clients is that it’s not the holy grail of getting clients. And it also isn’t necessary for every type of business because if you’re, for example, a one on one coach where you specialize and you prefer, like me, to work on exclusive relationships, higher end experiences, you know, You don’t need hundreds and hundreds of clients every year to meet your revenue goal. But you need really good aligned clients who are willing to invest in that sort of experience. Now, that may not require you to blast everything to social media, it might require a different approach. You know, I built my entire business, through conversations for the first two years, just having invitations. It sounds so not sexy, but it works because you’re having a real conversation. And I remember, you know, thinking a lot about that where, you know, discovery calls that, you know, my own qualities of clients were like, oh, you’re spending way too much time doing discovery calls. And I was like, yeah, but I’m also benefiting from a lot of these conversations, because it’s market research. Even if they don’t end up coaching with me, I understand the language and the worldview of my clients. And also, it allows people to remember me in so much more of a powerful way, even if they’re not ready right away, but will be ready soon. You know, so the conversion for me through things like discovery calls, and just having real conversations with humans are hugely valuable, versus crossing my fingers in hopes that one of the Facebook ads work today. However, I would also have to say that, for example, I’m on Instagram these days, not every single day, but I’ve felt better about this platform. And I’m still kind of on the fence. So I’m going through my own exploration of my relationship with Instagram, for example, I’ve been using it a lot less for posting and a lot more using the voicemail app on Instagram, for example. So because of my genius zone, so I had to come back again, right, like, so what is the thing that feels easy for me? What’s the thing where I show up and be the most influential, and feels authentic to me. It’s never been about writing, really, it’s always been about talking and conversation. And so when people follow me on my account, or they leave a comment instead of, you know, just playing in that reel or that, you know, feed, I will voicemail like couple times a week, I will voicemail new followers, or people who have commented on certain things and provided some lovely comments and feedback, getting to know them like a real human.

And it’s so simple like it, you know, that people don’t even know that you can send voicemails on Instagram. But it’s great, because it brings back what I believe social media was intended to be in the beginning, which is to socialize, to connect, to find new friends, to build community. And we’ve lost that, that for a while, when we’ve been so focused on more bigger numbers and these unhealthy metrics that just makes you feel really bad about yourself. But I think if you connect with, you know, five or eight people every week through genuine conversations and checking their work out and asking them about themselves, and being insanely curious about the work they’re doing and what’s going on in their lives, that this is what makes the difference for a real friendship or a real relationship to be built on social media. And that’s been how I’ve happily showed up on Instagram, not to post but to actually go on the private messaging, voicemail, you know, sort of approach.

So, that being said, you know, as you said, you found me on YouTube. I sort of look at YouTube a little differently as social media. And what I like about it is that people go on YouTube to be educated, and to learn how to do something. And so there’s already a very different intention to enter that realm. It’s a bit more of a search engine, in my opinion, than a social channel. And so there’s less distractions, like cat memes and what your grandma ate for dinner and, you know, things like that, hopefully. And so I find me investing in my YouTube channel, without any advertisements, fully fully organic, has been great in people finding me and that they’re not just finding a quick post, you know, they’re getting a deep dive video that really shares my gifts and my approach and my credibility right away from the get go. And the fact that they can see me, they can hear me immediately builds a trust that’s really hard to get in a sort of passive post sometimes, you know, they can’t hear your voice, they can’t hear your energy behind your words. And so I’ve really stuck to things like YouTube videos and things like podcast collaborations, because that’s my genius zone. And I’ve certainly built a great practice just doing those two things. You know, like Instagram’s really just sprinkles on a cupcake, not the thing that makes the biggest difference. But it’s certainly, you know, it supports my bigger initiatives. But if I gave it up tomorrow, it wouldn’t affect my bottom line.

Katherine

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s worth remembering too with everything that we do to market our businesses. You know, would we miss it? And just putting it back in perspective a little bit. Your YouTube channel is brilliant. So I definitely encourage everyone to go and check out Screw the Cubicle, it’s super, super helpful, no matter where you’re at in your journey, whether you’re still, I shouldn’t say still, but whether you’re in you know, a nine to five or a different iteration of employment, or whether you are starting out on your self-employment journey, or you’re a bit further along like me, you know, there’s just so much value there.

Lydia

Yeah, I think it kind of applies. You know, these were sort of the foundations that I wish I knew when I started a business, because foundations are things that apply, no matter if you’re in the first year business or a 10 year business, you know, because this is the heart of your business. It’s the GPS of how you decide and make choices that I think we’re always making choices, aren’t we, in business every year, I’m making decisions and choices, it’s never just static, you know, you don’t want it to be static, you kind of you know, you want to be changing things and at times, you know, evaluating how things are going, if you’re still going on the path that you envisioned, because sometimes we forget to check in even with that, you know, we’re busy doing the thing on the plan. We haven’t taken that pause two years ago, are we still going where I want to go? Or have I changed my mind? Or is this even going where I’m supposed to go? Or have I just gotten caught up in the doing, we’re gonna, rather than the experience that I really want in my business. And so in a lot of ways, the YouTube channel is a lot of stuff I’ve gone through myself, you know, that I’ve been confused and fuzzy about too, and kind of using myself as a human experiment to go, well, how would I do things differently? And did that work, or it didn’t work. And also, I don’t want to say what works for me works for everyone, because that is against, you know, my own ethics of being this blueprint person. I don’t, there’s no blueprint for success. Everyone has their unique blueprint based on who they are. And so I do ask a lot of questions on my YouTube channel, I do give a lot of examples and you know, things to do things differently. But ultimately, it is about asking yourself, does this work for you today? And if it doesn’t, what else could work for you based on? You know, the evaluative questions and so yeah, I really love the conversations I get to have from people watching my videos, where they don’t might not agree with every single thing, but they appreciate that. They’re allowed to decide what the alternative is, and they’re allowed to, and they can have permission to give themselves that I don’t have to do business the same way as everyone else.

Katherine

Yeah, and I would say that the reason that your content has so much value is because you are asking questions, you’re not prescribing, you’re not giving a blueprint, you’re allowing people to go very deep in self reflection to find their purpose and their path. And I think that we have been socialized as a culture to look to a guru for answers, for what I should be doing. And so I love that you’re turning that around and saying, no, that comes from you. I’m gonna, I’m going to offer some guidance and be that person who’s with you on the path.

Lydia 

Yeah, exactly. And I mean, blueprints do sell, you know, everyone’s seen, you know, six figures in six months, or whatever, you know, is the headline of the day. And I think, you know, they do sell because people do want to be guaranteed. Nobody, people don’t like uncertainty, in a lot of ways. You know, however, I also think that you’ll always reach a point in your life or in your business where the only thing you can depend on is your own perspective. And because somebody has a way of working and how they built their coaching business, or whatever it is that you’re admiring is, is working because they’re there. They’re also working in their particular strengths, or they have a team that you may not have just yet. So it feels like you know, it’s all very doable, but there’s other assets in play. Like sometimes I always say to my first year business clients, like when they’re looking at a 10 year business, they’re like, I have to be like them. I have to have all these bells and whistles. And I’m like, well, yeah, but you’re in grade one, and they’re in grade 10. And so you’re trying to do activities in grade 10 when you’re just graduating grade one. I mean, some people haven’t even worked with clients just yet. So you know, a big part of my life, the launch program, for example, is helping people create self-made internships, so that they can actually experience what it’s like to work in the thing they’re going to be charging money for. And so that’s been one of the biggest game changers in in my work in my business in the beginning of time, as well as also the work of my clients, because most of us skip the step, because we’re just magically supposed to know what we’re awesome at, know exactly how to price and package it. And then we have to guess and read the minds of our clients without having any sort of relationship with them to begin with. And that’s really hard. And so with these internships, which is this beta testing stage that I sort of helped them organize, it really is really valuable in receiving feedback, to better your offers to see the flow of how you work with clients, what can be adjusted and refined to make your style of your offer, or the way you work in your offer a little bit more effective for you and for your clients. And the bonus is that you’ve got great social proof before you launch, and that builds confidence, that is not gonna be your first rodeo, you know, when you start charging money for your packages. And I think that’s been, yeah, one of the things that I have loved helping my clients go through in order to feel bold and confident that it’s not just a feeling you cultivate and go, I should be bold and confident. But it’s grounded on that, no, I took action to be bold and confident. So therefore, it feels authentic.

Katherine

Yeah, and what I love about that, through that approach is you’re also teaching folks to be curious, you know, then you can’t take a wrong step. Because you’re collecting that feedback, you’re collecting that data, you’re staying open to what might be possible, that you wouldn’t have thought of without that feedback.

Lydia 

Exactly. And especially if we’re in the business of helping, which is I think every service based business is, we have to start collaborating with our humans that we want to help, our clients or potential clients from the get go, not from when you start marketing, you know, like, they want to help you build your thing. And all you have to do is ask. And so when we want to discover worthy problems to solve, right, what is the thing people are really looking for? How do I make the most impact? We can’t work in isolation to get that answer. We have to start talking to the people we say we want to serve and serve them now, rather than when your business looks perfectly great in the public world.

Katherine

And as someone who has the lived experience of anxiety and has for a very long time, and I am quite introverted, I understand if people are like, oh wait, I have to actually talk to people and be messy and scrappy, and go to them and not really have a plan and a head shot like you mentioned before? And what I love about that approach is it actually reduces things like anxiety, because rather than feeling like oh, I have to pretend to be bigger than I am, I have to pretend to have a more evolved offering than I have. You just think, you know what, this is how it is right now. It’s scrappy, and I would love you to help create this with me, so that you get the best possible value from it. And I’m in my zone of genius.

Lydia

Absolutely, and introverts are actually great people people, you know, they’re highly empathic, they’re highly intuitive, and they just have to go about it a different way. You know, you’re not going to announce a test project to, you know, hundreds of people. You’re going to, you know, handpick and curate, and have one on one conversations, and ask questions more, and be curious about the person rather than, hey, I’m a great guru, and you should listen to me. You know, like, that’s not the approach that works. And so, I find actually, you know, introverts sometimes have a misconception that they’re not social people, or they’re not people people. And that’s only because they’re living in a quite extroverted world that, you know, they see examples of people shouting from the rooftops on social media and you know, in life and being heard, they don’t hear as much of introverts getting heard because introverts are doing it quietly. You know, they’re having more long term, you know, high quality relationships that aren’t being broadcasted on Instagram Stories every day. Right, so you don’t hear as much of them, but they exist. I know they exist, because a lot of them are my clients, you know, and most of my clients don’t even have a social media channel. They thrive on relationships and community and partnerships rather than big, loud social channels. So it’s very possible and I think, you know, in the day and age we live in when it is a noisy world where people are bombarded with messaging, you do stand out when you go back to just be human and humanize the approach you’re human first, you know, approach that I think people are sometimes even more surprised that you, you know, send them a personal message like the voicemails I do on Instagram. And even I have another app I really love called Loom, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Whenever, you know, I have an email that comes in, they’ll just see me right away on a Loom video. And that makes a huge difference in you know, people going well, you actually took the time to say hello to me and ask me some quick questions before I start working with you. And so that leaves a really great first impression that you care about people rather than you just want them to be a number, you know, on your email list.

Katherine

Yeah, absolutely. I love Bonjoro. Because I write a lot of my work, I find it quite hard to, at the end of the day, to write messages to my friends and people in my community, because, you know, I’m just sort of quite worn out to be honest with you. So I love doing a voice recording, it gives me a different type of energy. And, you know, I sent one the other day to someone that I hadn’t spoken to in a while. And  they were so surprised to receive it and actually said, you know, you made my day, like, I’ve had a really hard day and just getting a voice message from you asking how I am and what’s happening, it meant a lot to me. And I think, I think sometimes we can forget that it’s not all about, you know, getting a sale, or progressing someone through a funnel. It’s really actually about being a human and caring, and being that caring person that you are anyway, you’re just bringing that into your interactions. And it really can mean a lot to someone without you realizing. 

Lydia

And that also is marketing, isn’t it? It’s planting seeds. It’s inviting. It’s, you know, being curious. Marketing doesn’t always have to be a tech related activity, you know, or whatever, or branding, whatever, it can just simply be caring. And I think that’s what it is. If marketing is a journey to get to know people, to offer education and warm people up to things that will support them, you know, to the goals they want in their lives then you’re doing marketing.

Katherine

That’s it. That’s all it is. Yeah, yeah. Oh, well, Lydia, thank you so much for this conversation today. It’s just been phenomenal. And I wish we could go on and on. Because I know another part two will definitely have to happen.

Lydia

I would love it. Yeah, I love that.

Katherine
So where can folks connect with you in the meantime?

Lydia

Well screwthecubicle.com is sort of where my online home is. And you’ve mentioned the YouTube channel, that’s sort of the best platform to really get to know my work and everything that I offer in terms of value in the beginning, if you’re getting to know me, and I think that’s a great place to check out a lot of the things that I do and understand what I do and work reinventions, and you know, helping corporate professionals transition from corporate into a solopreneur ship business. And hopefully, you know, you find great value in some of the videos that you watch. And then on my website, if people are interested after you know, hearing this conversation, and they’re sort of going well, okay, you’ve convinced me that I want to build a business that feels like me, how the hell do I do that? They can sign up for a free masterclass on the four keys to launch a business that you love. And in that workshop, I really go through what is truly essential for the foundations of your business, and to have boundaries about where you put your energy, and what feels like a stage to advance, you know, and it’s going to help you to acknowledge and identify what ingredients you need personally in your business, and how to go about building a business that feels fuzzy in the beginning. But how do we make that clear, to sell through those intentional actions that’s going to support you and actually knowing what your sweet spot is of the work you should be doing? What is going to be that offer of your highest contribution. I talk a bit about, you know, how to start doing things like beta testing to understand what to offer and what marketing can be to be more useful and simple.

Katherine

Perfect. Yeah, definitely check that out. And it just sounds so magical and I’m so grateful you found your magic that you’re bringing into the world and really changing lives. That must feel great.

Lydia

Oh, it feels so good. And I just love my clients as well, which I think makes the biggest difference, doesn’t it, Katherine, to love your business, when you’ve got good soulmate clients, you’re just like, oh, I just love talking to you. And I love doing work with you. Because we just fit in our value system. It’s like, I just think it ‘slike dating, isn’t it, you don’t date everyone on the planet. And we certainly should not be working with everyone on the planet. And so yeah, I’m very thankful for my clients, I’m thankful for the bold steps that they take to challenge themselves. Because you know, a meaningful business, as you said, it’s not easy, because you are going to be testing yourself and embracing parts of you that maybe haven’t been out to shine before. You know, and that is a therapeutic journey, I always say the first year of business feels like 10 years of therapy, you know, you’re going to go through a self development journey. And so I’m just really grateful my clients are up for that journey. And they know that we can do our heart things together, as Glennon Doyle says, and we can certainly support each other and know that meaningful businesses include other humans rather than doing it ourselves alone in isolation. 

Katherine

Well, that leads on nicely to the last question that I love to end with, which is what does heart-based business mean to you? Would you add anything to what you just mentioned there?

Lydia

I would say a heart-based business is something that when you’re contributing to that business, and all the aspects of you know, all the things we talked about, right, marketing offer, how we show up in our business, again, needs to feel from a place where you go, that’s my experience. That’s my story. And that’s my voice. And that’s my perspective. And I think when we can include a lot more of what makes us unique, you know, there’s so many things that can be duplicated from others, right, the type of business we have. I mean, I’m not certainly not the only coach in the world, and you’re certainly not the only copywriter. But the only thing that can’t be duplicated is our story, isn’t it, our worldview is our approach to things, and I think if that place comes from supporting and helping our clients in an authentic and meaningful way, that feels like a heart-based business. You know, being service and being authentic and not, you know, not when we’re doing the trickery marketing. But as Dan Savage says, we want to leave people in our relationships better than how we found them. And I love that feeling of bringing that into my business, as well as that, you know, every relationship, every conversation, we want to leave people with a powerful conversation and also leave them better than they came in. And that’s a good way to look at, in my opinion, a heart based business too.

Katherine

I love that. Lydia Lee, thank you so much for joining me at the Cauldron. It’s been magical.

Lydia  1:08:14  

I hope we get to do it again, Katherine, thank you for having me on.