Building a joy-fueled business is a choice we all have, whether we realize it or not. If you've never heard of this, M. Shannon Hernandez & Amy Hager break it down for us.
M. Shannon Hernandez and Amy Hager are all about that joy in life and biz. And this duo is specifically known around the globe for their joyful marketing strategies, including the Content Personality Wheel. They specialize in teaching their clients how to create values-driven organic marketing oozing with integrity so that they can call in their perfect fit clients with a simple, sustainable and joyful marketing plan.
Shannon and Amy share with us the inside scoop about how to ensure you build a joy-fueled business.
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[01:33] Deirdre Harter: Now, Shannon is the founder of Joyful Business Revolution, the co-founder of the Content Personality Club, and a sought-after expert in the world of marketing and business strategy. She has been called the queen of organic marketing, growing nearly a $1 million a year brand with zero ad spend and high profitability. Her expertise has been featured on CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC. She has over 25 years in award-winning curriculum design, working with both the NFL and the US. Military and she is a master trainer and teacher.
[02:14] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Amy, a true marketer and community builder at heart and co-founder of the Content Personality Club, helps clients apply simple strategies for increased revenue and productivity.
When this dynamic duo is not working with their clients, you'll find them funding projects that impact the world and its people, visiting wineries, and traveling the world.
We are so excited to have you both on this podcast. And this is a record for us. We've got four people on this podcast, so this is going to be fun. Welcome Shannon and Amy.
[02:46] M. Shannon Hernandez: Thank you for having us. This is Shannon.
[02:52] Amy Hager: And this is Amy. This will be good.
[02:54] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: It's going to be a lot of fun. So we wanted to talk about all things joy and marketing and business, and one of the things that you guys are passionate about is mission-driven marketing. Can you tell us a little bit about how to create mission-driven marketing? How that's different from standard marketing?
[03:13] M. Shannon Hernandez: Yes, I would love to start here. So I really think that mission-driven marketing matters more now than ever for businesses, and it's an opportunity for people to really grow their marketing chops, if you will, and really work on that mission-driven messaging.
A great example of mission-driven marketing is let's say you fund a project and part of your proceeds or part of your sales from your book or part of your sales from your programs or whatever it is that you're selling in your business. You actually take a percentage of those and you fund something that's important to you. And I think a lot of us do this.
In this particular brand, I call it business tithing. So we really try and give back in terms of putting money aside for scholarships. That's one of our missions to help people who maybe can't afford the entire tuition to come and work with us to have a partial scholarship. But also we've worked with organizations in Africa and different organizations that they were bringing fresh water or fuel to people. And so when it's tied into your business, this is what we say using your profits for purpose.
I think the opportunity for people is to talk about that. It's one thing to be doing it, and it's a great thing to be doing it, but people want to get behind a mission. They want to get behind something bigger than themselves.
So we really help people understand if they do have kind of this mission. Maybe it's a philanthropy. I can never say the word. It's a mission rooted in philanthropy, or it's a mission to reach X amount of people through your book or through your podcast or whatever, that you're actively sharing that mission. And I think this is what really helps people stand out from everything else that's being said. And I really want people to embrace mission-driven marketing. It's been such a game changer for this brand, for sure, and the brands that we work with.
[05:26] Amy Hager: And I think just to add on to what you're saying, Shannon, is we have to remember people want to buy into your what you stand for and not necessarily what you sell. And so by diving into who you are and your why and not focusing so heavily on what you sell really allows you to stand out differently in the marketplace.
[05:56] Deirdre Harter: Those are important points that you guys are making here. And I love what you're standing for. And I think that we talk a lot about making an impact as well as making income, because for us, that's the purpose. We're impact-oriented. That's our main mission. But we also understand we have to have the income in order to drive that impact and to grow it.
I love what you're talking about with this mission-driven marketing, because so many women that we have talked to, they just don't love marketing, right? They just are like, oh, marketing. They are experts at what they do, but marketing typically is not part of that. I think that mission-driven marketing really makes that so much more enjoyable. And then another thing I know you guys do is you teach people how to fall in love with your marketing. So let's talk more about that.
[06:57] Amy Hager: So I'll go ahead and jump in here on this one. I think the one thing that we learned about marketing, whether you went to business school or whether you're just kind of jumping into it, is a lot of people feel like they have to be everywhere to be seen by everyone. You need more eyes on your stuff.
And we really find when people are marketing their businesses that way, they develop a hate for marketing because they're doing so much, they're dedicating a lot of time for it. It's creating burnout. And we really want to tap into your strengths when it comes to marketing and allow you to let the rest go. And we do that through one of the five content personality types. And we have the Content Personality Quiz so that you can discover what content personality type you are.
The five are:
- Live / In person
And when you're allowing yourself to create your content by utilizing your strength in your content personality type and really delivering your message and delivering your mission and talking about your why that way instead of doing ways that don't align with you. It creates that opportunity for you to fall in love with your marketing and really enjoy what you're doing and takes away that marketing is a chore. Or I'm not good at it.
So there is a little bit of a mindset shift that's going to happen with that. But the first step, really to falling in love with your marketing and your messaging is to tap into that content personality type.
[08:40] M. Shannon Hernandez: Yeah. And I would say as a follow-up to the second step, we've just developed a resource we'll be releasing soon called the Joyful Content Creation Framework. And we've actually identified six types of content to include in your marketing. We call this your messaging ecosystem, right?
And I like to kind of paint this example of—we all can visualize the ocean with the sun on it. If the sun goes away or the water goes away, the plankton dies and the animals die and it has this trickle-down effect.
And so in our new resource, we're actually sharing with people the six types of content that make up this ecosystem. And I think a lot of people, they fall out of love with their marketing or they fall out of love with content creation because one, they're just coming to the blank page or they're like, I don't know what to say. Or I've said this a million times and it's like crickets. Is anyone listening to me?
And so we've spent the last couple of years really honing in on these six content frameworks that help people understand. When you have this well-rounded messaging system in place, it is doing the heavy lifting of marketing and sales for you. And we're super excited about it. We've got a lot of people actually in our Content Personality Club, which is where we help with messaging and your content personality to really revolutionize your content. We've just had some great successes there.
So I think it's a combination of doing less but doing it better, understanding your content personality, and getting help with frameworks that you can customize so you don't have to come to that blank page or try and do a podcast with a halfway built script and kind of wing it along the way.
[10:24] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, I love what you two are saying because the frameworks are so key. To have a guide so that you don't come up to a point where you now have to make more decisions. Because let's face it, as entrepreneurs and just people in the world, we are faced with so many decisions every single day. And if you come up without a plan and without a jumping-off point, well, now you've just created more decisions for you in that day, that moment, and that week, whatever you're doing.
But it also becomes a chore. And that's, I think, why people don't— they fall out of love with marketing if they ever even were able to fall in love. And we like to say marketing is simply communication. And so when we think about the mission-driven marketing and even if you're not doing the business tithing as you explained, Shannon, which I love the way you talked about that. If you don't yet have a mission that you are funding that way, it's still the mission of your business. Why did you get into business? Who do you help?
You come up with your content pillars and those help guide the way as well. So I love that you've created so many resources for people to actually be able to get into their personality and their marketing and get the guidance that they need so they can love it.
[11:44] M. Shannon Hernandez: Yeah, and I also want to say the content personality quiz has been around for about eight or nine years now, so it's super-validated data and tested. And we just find that every day a new social media channel pops up, I'm sure. I don't follow it because it's overwhelming to me.
The less you do in terms of your marketing, but the better you do it is when you get the better results. And I think we live in a society, we've grown up in a society, at least on this side of the world, where more is better, more is better. And we're really trying to change that dialogue and shift that dialogue to:
- What if you don't need more content, you just need to do it better?
- What if you don't need more leads, you need to get better at communicating with the ones that are already in your ecosystem?
- What if you don't need more sales calls, but you just got to get better at the messaging in that call?
And it's really been so refreshing to a lot of people because we get people who are so burnt out they've paid like the Instagram Coach to post three times a day for 365 days, and they have no clients. Right? And I just don't understand some of this advice that's given out here to grow a business.
So we're just trying to help people find your strength, and use your strength, which is your content personality, to deliver your message. There are six types of content let's work on your message and let's help you build that business of your dreams that you've always dreamed about.
[13:11] Deirdre Harter: That's awesome. Amy, do you have anything to add here on the falling in love with your marketing? Have you always been in love with your marketing?
[13:23] Amy Hager: Well, I would say because I don't know, because I love marketing, I love communicating, and I love community building. I've never not been in love with it, but I will say when I am forced, and this is usually when I was working on nine to five, when I was forced out of alignment and I'm a live in-person content personality type. You can put me on a stage to literally talk about anything. I used to talk about legal, construction contracts, y'all, I didn't go to law school, and I haven't built really anything in my life. Still, I used to speak on stage about it. It really just goes to show allowing me to tap into my content personality type is where I thrive.
I actually went to journalism school and when I first started working at a publishing company, I loved going out and doing the interviews and gathering the story information and having conversations. But I was always that reporter who got my story in past deadline or right at deadline. I thought, oh, I was just a procrastinator, and I work better under pressure and all these other things that we tell ourselves. And when I uncovered my content personality type is live in person, I was like, well, that makes a lot of sense. Why when I went to sit down to write those stories, it really never happened.
And even Shannon's story of how she had to tap into her content personality type. Shannon's a great writer, and she loves writing, but Shannon's content personality type is live in-person and she was fighting it for the longest time and really trying to rely on her written pieces to create that energetic alignment and engagement with her audience to then enroll them into working with her and it was falling flat.
When she finally tapped into a live in-person content personality type and she really tapped into her teaching ability, that's when she saw her business shift and soar. She still loves writing, she journals all the time, she writes on her art, and she's still in her heart of hearts a writer. But really the content personality type allows you to communicate in your strongest way. Sometimes it's just not super obvious, and other times it is super obvious. So it is kind of neat to see when people uncover what their content personality type is, but then also embrace it.
[15:48] M. Shannon Hernandez: Yeah. And I want to build on that because I know you two are a duo team and Amy and I are a duo team, and I think it's super fun. And so a lot of the times we get asked the question, well, if Shannon's live in-person and Amy's live in-person, like, why don't we have a more balanced team in terms of the content personality?
The fact of the matter is that Amy is an extrovert who loves community building, so she does sales. That is her job, right? And she does the community curation and the community aspects. She also teaches a lot of the group sessions in our programming, whereas I, on the other hand, am an introvert. I love getting on a stage, speaking, and then kind of drifting into the crowd, letting people kind of come to me if they want more information. Or coming up with a vision for the company of where we're going and then giving that vision to the other people on our team who are very different content personalities.
So we've used the content personality to not only leverage our strengths for the growth that we've seen the past couple of years but also to have this well-rounded team in terms of I've got somebody that's a visual doing graphics. I've got somebody who's an audio that does the client care and the customer care in case she needs to get on a phone with somebody. And the list could go on and on.
So I think if we're going to talk about business success, understanding that just like there's human design, there's Myers Briggs, there's the Five Love languages, you also have an innate way to build your team, to build your business, and to create your marketing that's going to do its job. And I really think the sooner people will find it out, the better off they're going to be.
[17:33] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, I love that. I love that you have a tool. Quizzes are so awesome anyway, but I love that it's time-tested, right? You've put in a lot and you've refined it over the years. One question that we should have asked in the beginning because we love talking to another company that has two people in it. How did you two meet? How did you get together to be working together? Tell us a little bit about your connection story.
[18:00] Amy Hager: I'm going to tell it because it's funnier coming from me. I put Shannon in a corner at a conference is how we met.
So back in the day, when Shannon first started her business, she was more focused on blog, writing and teaching people how to write content. And she also had and still has this crazy idea that she maybe wants to own a bed and breakfast someday. And so Shannon decided to go to the New Jersey Bed and Breakfast Association, where she lives, and offer to teach them blog writing.
Well, I'm in Virginia. I'm the executive director of the Bed and Breakfast Association here in Virginia. And I hear about this woman who is just rocking teaching blog writing in New Jersey. So I had her come down, but my board was like, well, she's never been in inn-keeping. She's actually not in travel. And really we don't think her session is going to be that great, but we'll just let her come anyway. We're going to put her in the last session—the smallest room in the corner of the conference center.
And so Shannon's kicking off. I've got other breakouts happening at the same time. And then all of a sudden my phone is ringing because they have run out of chairs in Shannon's room and people are standing in the hallways and it is now a fire code issue because there are so many people in this room and in the hallway.
So we really met that way. From there, I started utilizing the content personality wheel to build out my own sales and marketing teams within the nonprofit space and to really then teach all of these innkeepers how to market their small businesses and tap into their innate gifts. And so we started our relationship that way.
And then, when I decided it was time to get out of the nonprofit space and having board members for bosses just was no longer my jam. I reached out to Shannon and was like, hey, I've been utilizing your stuff for a while. I've been in your community. I had enrolled in one of her programs at the time, and I saw that there was a need for someone else on her team. You could tell she had expanded the business as far as it could go on her own, and we took off from there.
She put me through a fun interviewing process. I enjoyed it. And from there, we really haven't turned back. We came up with the Joyful Business Revolution a little over a year and a half ago because we knew we needed to have something that really represented what we were doing here in this business.
[20:28] M. Shannon Hernandez: Yeah, I also need to back up for 1 minute. So you know the movie. Oh God. It's with Patrick Swayze. Anyway, they say don't put...
[20:40] Amy Hager: Dirty Dancing.
[20:40] M. Shannon Hernandez: Thank you. Dirty Dancing. They say don't put Baby in the corner. Don't put Shannon in the corner at a conference because that thing's going to spill out and create a fire code problem. But the interesting thing was the next year they brought me back as a keynote.
[20:59] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Awesome.
[21:00] M. Shannon Hernandez: I earned my space, I guess, on the stage. But yeah, it's been really fun. There's been a lot of growing that's had to happen on my end as a leader on how to communicate. We actually have a very small team and it wasn't always like that. I had too much team at one time. I don't know why, but looking back I know.
I have a salesperson that's Amy. She also helps the coaching. I have a tech VA. His name's Lou. We call him our tech wizard and client care, Jordan. And then we have somebody that does graphics when we need workbooks or graphics done. But we run this entire business super profitable, super joyful, super fun. And it allows us on this team to do all the things that we want to do outside of the business.
And that's really what we're about in this brand, is helping people understand. Yes, you do need an income. Yes, you do want to have impact. And don't we all just want to live our life to the fullest extent that we can with the time that we have left? And so we really put joy fuel at the front and center of everything we do, from the team building to the marketing to the communication to the selling. And we are super excited for what's ahead. And it sure is fun. Maybe you two could chime in that it's so fun to have somebody to bounce ideas off and not be doing this thing alone.
[22:29] Deirdre Harter: Yes, it is, 100%. And it's a relief, too, right? Because it's like you feel like it's not all on me. I've got someone who's got my back because Carmen and I both ran our own businesses prior to our partnership. And I do remember it just felt like there was always this intense pressure all the time. I felt this pressure because, let's face it, there are very few people who get what you're doing when you're an entrepreneur.
Most people in your life, just don't understand it. And I had a network of people from my business past, but they're also like, you're a CPA. Why are you going into business for yourself? Like, you're in a profession that you're supposed to stay until you die? So they don't get it. And it is so much more fun because I know Carmen and I will. When you laugh with yourself, that's great, but when you can laugh at things that are happening with somebody else, it's even more fun.
[23:31] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, it is great. And people need to realize that because sometimes people go and they'll say, well, there's two of you, and, yes, there's a benefit, and then there's the other side of it. There are two of us. So we have to be doubly profitable to be profitable for ourselves, right? So it's a complexity. And, yes, we can both do different things, but we're also growing a different version of a business than a solopreneur.
But what I love about what you were saying, Shannon, and I love the whole joy-fueled thing is having the joy as, like, the centerpiece for those solopreneurs who are out there listening. How can they add more joy and revenue to their business? How do you guys teach people to do that?
[24:26] M. Shannon Hernandez: Yeah, so I'll start here, and then Amy can chime in. The very first thing we have every single person do is take their content personality, take their quiz and find their content personality, because it is not fun to do marketing that is out of alignment.
And so your content personality, just naturally, it does a lot of things. We have identified there are 151 ways to market your business. Well, if you take the quiz and we determine your score is written, now, there are 32 ways to market your business. So just think about not having to have so many choices, so many decisions. If you're a written content personality, you never have to do a video; you don't have to get on a podcast. There's so much permission there that we give people to do their marketing their own way, which actually increases the joy, right? So that's the first thing.
The second thing is we really have built a robust culture of joy here. And it starts with understanding your lifestyle values and what you value. And so I'm going to give a great example. Amy and I both value travel. Her number one lifestyle value is travel. It's number two or three on my list, depending on when I do the exercise. And so we decided this year that we were going to do retreats. We were going to put—starting tomorrow, we have eight speaking engagements in the next six weeks. Amy will be on the West Coast; I will be on the East Coast. So we’re like gearing up for speaking season is what I'm calling it.
But also, Amy and I were like, what would be really fun? We both love travel, we both love really good wine, we both love food. And so in December, we are actually going to Mexico to stay with a chef and do some planning for the new year, for 2024, but also to really think about what this business gives us in terms of our joy. And we couldn't think of a better place than going to Mexico, doing planning, going to the markets, working with a chef and cooking and drinking some really good wine along the way.
And I think people don't think, especially in the early days of growing a business, and it can get away from you if you're not careful as your business grows as well. But in the very early days, you're just like hustling, grinding, trying to get that thing working. There's a huge learning curve. And as we know, a lot of businesses don't survive that early part. But as you survive and as your business grows, there has to be a point where you come back and say, why did I start this business?
I was a former public school teacher. I was not starting this business to not have money, because I already did that as a teacher, and to not have any time off, because I already did that as a teacher. We don't really get summers off, alright? And I was not doing it. I could never travel as a teacher. I was bound to the school calendar and when the kids were there, and if I was traveling, then I was traveling with all the kids across the nation who were traveling with their parents because everyone was off for the summer.
So how can we get people to think about living the life they want to live right now? That's your joy; that's your lifestyle values. And building your business around that, instead of flipping that script, which is usually what's done, is, oh, I will have joy, I will travel, I will do this, I will do that, once I get to X revenue or once I get to whatever. And so when people come into this brand joyful business revolution as a client, the very first thing we do is dive into their values and dive into what brings them joy and start building everything around that. And we work with established business owners, so sometimes that means we have to undo some things that have not been sustainable for their joy or their energy.
[28:13] Amy Hager: And I think the really cool thing about establishing your lifestyle values and building your business from that place is gosh, it just makes it so much easier to make decisions as you're going forward. And so we believe you have three to five lifestyle values. Every time you're making a decision about your business, you run that decision through those lifestyle values. And if it doesn't match up, it's so much easier to say no to.
Right now, there's an opportunity here locally in my community to do some business, and I'm on the fence because community building is something that is really important to me, but so is travel. If I take and work with this, I'm not going to be able to just take off and go and be gone for three weeks teaching on the West Coast. And so by being able to run different opportunities and different business decisions through our lifestyle values, it really does make it a clear yes, a clear no, and really helps with our decision-making process.
And for those who end up working with us maybe a little bit earlier on in their business, I think that is one of the most valuable things and one of the things that they appreciate the most because it does make decision-making a lot easier.
[29:33] Deirdre Harter: As a business owner, I absolutely love this, you guys, because that's something Carmen and I—we actually did this. This was like one of the very first things we did when we even started talking about working together is we did a values exercise. So we each did our know she did her values exercise, I did mine, and then we brought them together and compared them, and then we did it for our business. And that's really the foundation of how we've built our business. And we have our clients go through and identify their values. And it's interesting to see how many women have never done it before or they've just never applied it to their business. And it really is that idea of let's build the business to support our life. It should be the standard, but I don't think that it is. I think it's almost like a revolutionary concept for many.
[30:31] Amy Hager: I totally agree with you. And one of my favorite questions to ask people is outside of your client success and outside of the revenue of your business, how do you define a successful business? What is that definition for you?
Because it's going to be very different than the person next to you. And there are times that I just get that deer in the headlight look of like, well, I have a business. The whole purpose is revenue, really, to be able to tap into a different way of looking at that. And I don't think everybody has thought of it this way.
[31:10] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: No. And that's why it's great to have people we love having conversations like this, to bring this to the forefront. Because you can build anything you want, and when you think about that, it could either be overwhelming or it can be super exhilarating. Because honestly, it can be anything.
Just like you guys are talking about, your top values are travel for each of you. You have it in your top values. So knowing that you want to be able to travel and creating the business that allows you to do that, that just feeds your whole entire life. And that's how it should be. And I think a lot of times, as Deirdre mentioned, either women haven't done this at all, or no one has told them or let them in on the secret that you get to decide what matters most to you, and then you get to craft the business that helps you, that supports your dreams, your goals and your values.
And so I love that you guys are values-driven, and I knew that already just from speaking with Shannon before. But it's so liberating to be able to bring these topics out into the world and know that some people who are listening to this are like, oh my gosh, there's another way to do business.
[32:25] M. Shannon Hernandez: Yeah, there's a lot of ways to do business. I support the joy-fueled way.
Well, one of the things that we do, and you all may find this super fun, is we actually built a retreat around just this piece. It's called our joy money retreat. And we have a lot of fun. We offer this once a year in October in Vermont. So we've got one coming up. And I've been doing my own values work again, right? We get to teach and live what we do all the time. Hopefully, we're doing that.
But we've got people coming in and we're so excited because when you can go away, right? You can go away for four or five days and you can put your mom duties aside or everything that could be a distraction from you actually tweaking your business model to support your highest values. There's some real magic that happens there.
So we're going to be deep diving with people in October in Vermont into that Joy Money retreat and their values and seeing what is above the joy line. What is below the joy line and what are they going to do about it becomes the essential question at the end.
[33:39] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, that's awesome. I was going to ask you guys, what the best way for people to connect with you? And so you've got the retreat, you've got the quiz. How would you want to direct people to learning more about your company and the whole joy of business way of doing business?
[33:57] Amy Hager: So if you check out our website, Joyfulbusinessrevolution.com, that is one of the easiest ways, obviously. And you'll also find the quiz there. You'll find the link to the retreat and everything along those lines, and just feel free to reach out to us there.
We are also on Facebook. Amy Hager and M. Shannon Hernandez. We very much so appreciate a Facebook DM and a friendly hello anytime, but those are the two best ways. And if you want to reach out to me directly via email if you're an email person. Amy@joyfulbusinessrevolution.com. And it's A-M-Y.
[34:33] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Awesome. Thank you so much.
[34:35] Deirdre Harter: All right, ladies, so as we sign off here, this has been an amazing conversation. It's been an important conversation. We appreciate both of you so very much, and this has been so much fun. Do you have any last thoughts or ideas before we sign off?
[34:53] M. Shannon Hernandez: As a marketing strategist, my final thought, which I love to leave everyone with, is if your business is feeling non-joyful, we have to look at a couple of things. One is your messaging landing? Because we've all been there, right, ladies? Where your messages don't land nothing's moving along. It's just not fun. So how's your messaging? Are you delivering your message in your content personality? And are you even aware of what your top lifestyle values are and does your business match those? So those would be three things I'd say write down, do a meditation, do some journaling around them and see what you discover.
[35:34] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Amy, what about you?
[35:36] Amy Hager: I was just going to say the lifestyle values and being able to really think through that will be super duper key. And no matter where you're at in your business right now, whether you've been in business for years, or you're just getting started out, I do really feel like you can take that pause, reflect, and adjust.
We do not build businesses in stone, and so hopefully you can feel the flexibility and flow to really change and do business differently and to find those moments of joy so that they build up into days of joys and week of Joy and Month of Joy. So it's one step at a time.
[36:22] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Fantastic message. Thank you both so much for being here. We can't wait to bring this episode out into the world and have everyone listen to the fabulous information that you've shared.
[36:32] M. Shannon Hernandez: Thank you for having us.