For anyone who is slogging away at a job that they don’t like, read or share this interview for some wildly wonderful inspiration! We sat down with Danielle Hughes, CEO and CPO (Chief Personality Officer) of More than Words, a business that helps individuals and institutions to develop their Genuine Personality Brand. This allows them to own and embody their message, feel comfortable expressing it and convey what makes them different from their competition so they can attract the right audience and repel the wrong one.
Danielle started her business because she was fired from a job that she hated! This gave her the impetus to start her own online copywriting services which she honed into personality branding. She also provides training and guidance for clients to continue building their personality brand on their own. Danielle loves to speak and do presentations and workshops for businesses or people who wish to be themselves.
Meet Danielle Hughes!
What inspired you to launch a web-based business? I got fired! I’m definitely an accidental entrepreneur. I never wanted to have my own business. It wasn’t on the radar. But throughout my corporate career working in TV Ad Sales Marketing, I was always encouraged to “go freelance.” That idea terrified me! How would I get clients? How would I know what to charge? What would that even look like? Then one day I was fired from a high-paying job that I hated and knew wasn’t the right fit. I took it as a sign to venture out on my own and I’ve never looked back!
What do you love most about having your own business? This answer has definitely changed for me over the years, but the thing I love most is how I can change my business whenever I want and whenever I see the need. Not only am I fully in control of my income, I’m also in control of my impact. I decide who I want to work with and what work I do. I also decide when and how I want to work. It’s both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. But where I am now is having a business where I get to help people not only be themselves but realize what they’re good at and what makes them special. It’s pretty amazing!
What is the most challenging thing about running a business? Everything! LOL. But probably it’s that you have to wear all the hats. Even with support, I’m in every role in my business. If you don’t delegate, you can easily drown in minutiae and lose focus on why you started your business in the first place.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments? Building a successful multi-six figure business on a concept I made up! I wrote a blog post about Personality Brand when I first started my business and didn’t think much of it. But now it’s my entire business model and offer! It’s resonated so much and helped so many people and I love that I get to share it with solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and employees. Going from a germ of an idea to making it something I now speak, write and train around is insane! And beyond rewarding.
What are some professional risks you’ve taken that led to positive outcomes? Moving away from client deliverable work and doing more speaking and training. I always thought, I’m a copywriter, therefore I write. But I’ve found that I love speaking almost as much and helping people to do their own writing and branding is even more fantastic. It’s like the fisherman analogy. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he can eat for life. The same goes with Personality Branding. If I can give you the tools, technique and guidance to find yours, you can build your career. But if I write your content for you, you’ll always need my help. Moving away from the content work is scary, but I now have a writer working for me who does a lot of it and that frees me up to pursue more speaking opportunities and workshops inside organizations.
Where’s your favorite place to get work done? I’m very much a self-motivator, so I do my best work in my home “office”. I don’t need to leave the house and I don’t get distracted but of course, I’d love to have a true home office and oasis and that’s all part of the master revenue plan.
Name three web tools you can’t live without.
- Google Docs: These are an amazing way to share content with clients and allow me to run live Done With You content sessions with clients.
- Zoom: I’m an extrovert! I love meeting people and seeing someone’s face on screen just lights me up! I must do 5-10 face-to-face meetings with new people a week (on top of existing client meetings)! It’s also my preferred way to present if I’m not in person.
- Slack: Not only am I in several Slack communities, I use this to communicate with my Virtual Assistant and most of my collaborators. Instant gratification FTW.
Do you have any professional role models? If so, who? Tons! I’m surrounded by amazing women entrepreneurs who inspire me every single day!
What is the one book you would recommend other female entrepreneurs read? One? Gah, so many. Unfollow Your Passion by Terry Trespicio. The Badass series by Jen Sincero. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley.
Do you have favorite podcasts? Again, like 1000! LOL. Marketing-Mentor, High-Income Business Writing, Best Next Step, Terrible Thanks for Asking, So Money, Smartless, Archetypes, Work Life by Adam Grant, This is Joy and Claire, Armchair Expert, Dare to Lead.
Are you part of any mastermind or networking groups? If so, which ones? Several! I’m in multiple coaching groups, networking groups, slack channels and have a dedicated coach. My groups are a mix of regular meetings, some are marketing groups, creative groups, women groups, etc. I believe in spending my time with different minds and diverse thinkers so I find that having various outlets for that helps me be better at what I do and get different voices and approaches to any work related issue.
What does your typical day look like?
- 6:50 am: wake up, make coffee, do Wordle, play Words with Friends, skim email, kiss my son as he heads to school
- 7:30: drive to CrossFit and listen to podcasts
- 8-9: workout
- 9: drive home and listen to podcasts
- 9:30: sit in my sweaty clothes to start work, jump on calls
- 10:30-11: eat breakfast /shower
- The remainder of day until around 6 – usually working, taking calls, talking to my VA, biz dev etc.
- 6:30 pm: start dinner and listen to a podcast
- 7ish: eat dinner with my son
- 7:30 – 10:30: watch TV and relax (my phone goes on DND at 10pm)
- 10:30: read in bed (an actual book with paper pages!) and lights out by 11
How do you unplug from work? Crossfit! I’ve been working out in this way for 10 years. It breaks my body and keeps me sane. I also love to listen to podcasts. I cook most nights and watch TV with my teenage son. We always have several shows we’re into. And since I live in NYC, often I’m out with friends at a show, event, dinner, drinks etc. I’m a huge wine buff, so many activities revolve around wine. 🙂
What tips for maintaining work/life balance would you give to other businesswomen? I like to say that work-life balance is a myth. You need to develop work-life Boundaries. This means logging on and off at set times and not being beholden to respond. I don’t email with clients after business hours and no one gets to call or text me either. Absolutely not! Set clear boundaries with new clients and let them know when your working hours are and typical response times. Remember: YOU ARE IN CONTROL. This is your business and you get to decide how to run it – not the client. Also, be honest. When I take a day off or go on vacation, everyone knows. I don’t hide it. I just make sure things get done beforehand so I can completely check out. And a fun OOO email doesn’t hurt either.
What’s something you do every day to take care of yourself? Sleep. I need 7.5-8 hours and I make sure this happens.
What is a quote you live by? Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
What investments have most helped your business grow? Good help! Pay for people who do what you can’t or who enjoy doing what you don’t. The financial investment will sting in the beginning but will pay dividends beyond anything you can imagine.
Business-wise, where do you see yourself in 10 years? Traveling the globe to speak and train employees on Personality Branding. I imagine a small staff of writers who can still produce content for clients and a PM to make it all go smoothly. I won’t work 5 days a week and won’t live in the US permanently. I also see myself with a 7-figure business.
What advice would you give your younger self? Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. In other words, you are amazing. You have talent and one day it will not only be appreciated but will also be sought after and renowned.
What is the number one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to run a web-based business? Build your brand first! When you know who you are, who you serve and what you do best, everything else falls into place.