John: Marcia Pledger is a freelance business journalist, author and content creator. She has been a reporter and columnist in Cleveland sharing stories of reinvention either online, in print or with organizations. She’s the author of a book and a 10 year-old column called My Biggest Mistake and How I Fixed It as well as a ghost writer and editor for executives in various roles including books. Welcome Marcia, how are you doing today?
Marcia: Yeah, thanks for asking me to be part of your podcast.
John: Well, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to joining us. I’m looking forward to this podcast because you bring a lot of value in some of the audience members who are listening so let’s start off with… if you don’t mind just telling me a little bit more about yourself where you are and what do you do as… in terms of profession?
Marcia: Okay, well actually I’ve had a… been a business journalist for my entire career so that’s a long time like three decades and so I’ve covered a lot of different things but most of my time has been as a business journalist and so…but now one of those things I did was cover a series called reinvention and now I’m in the midst of my own reinvention because I just left the Cleveland Plain Dealer four months ago and that’s the state’s largest newspaper and while I’ve always done freelance on the side always my entire career well now, my focus is gonna be freelance business journalist and I also my latest interest has been covering the marijuana industry just because it’s one of the fastest growing industries in the country and not just our country but look what you guys got going on…
John: Yeah, here in Canada it’s just recently legalized so I’m not sure if that’s the direction you guys are heading but definitely staying on top of the forefront, right? And yeah so just…
Marcia: Yeah, we’re a long way from that and in…and I think we’re up to 36 states that a legal marijuana…medical marijuana. I’m sorry and 11 recreational and one of the things that I’m moving into aside from writing for publications in that space I’m also co-creator and developer of a Local Cannabis Medical Marijuana Summit called the Ohio Cannabis Health Summit and we just put on our first one three months ago and about 500 people showed up and so our next one is for to two days and we expect at least 1500.
John: Oh, wow that’s amazing so before we get into your new venture can you tell us a little bit more about you know, yes…thirty years of experience and that’s a lot in terms of you know, valuable insights learning about local businesses and how you were able to even interview a lot of them on your column, right? So was this a career path that you’ve chosen or did you go to school with this in mind?
Marcia: Yes, so I always wanted to be a journalist since I was in high school. I mean you know, nobody really knows what they wanna do in high school. Well, most people don’t but so you know, initially I thought I’m gonna be an attorney and watch some movie on TV and it was somebody who was poor and couldn’t afford an attorney and the guys you know, sent to prison forever and so I just knew I was gonna be an attorney but then I realized that I’m gonna not cut out for any kind of a job that’s gonna really connect me too much because I’d probably be a drunk you know, like you know, my father was a social worker for instance and yeah, it challenges because he cared too much but I wanted to make a difference so I kind of fell into journalism because I wrote for it in high school and chose that as a path in college but I wanted to make a difference and I want to be able to help others so my idea well, that was the idea anyway was to be a journalist because you’re in and out of people’s lives you’re not bored ever. You’re constantly learning new things so I thought it was a good career path.
John: So in…were you at the same job for over 30 years?
Marcia: No, so just because I told you that’s how I thought it was gonna go doesn’t mean it did go that way. Yes, I no…I my first job…I’m from Kansas City Missouri and went to the the University of Missouri-Columbia their journalism program and I thought I was gonna do that but life doesn’t actually work that way so I applied all across the country and ended up in Las Vegas of all places and so I later covered tourism which was the start of my business path you know, with just tourism and marketing. One of the hottest tourist places in the country to cover tourism but it didn’t start out that way. I covered crime, probably for four years you know, and it was terrible you know it was gang shootings and hostage situations and just negativity and of every kind that you can imagine bank robberies and the list goes on and so I knew that wasn’t for me and I definitely had to get into business because there is a business side to every story. I don’t care if we’re talking sports or whatever. It’s entertainment there’s all… it’s all about the money in the end.
John: Wow, so your last stint at being a columnist and your local journalism, how long did you stay there for?
Marcia: No, I was in Las Vegas for seven years and while I worked there at the Las Vegas Review-Journal I was always doing other things I was also… that’s when I started working as a as a standing contributor for like…for Money magazine did that d for like 15 years and other publications and then I moved to Cleveland. Seven years but actually 24 years ago so I’ve only been at two main newspapers but I’ve just always done a lot of freelancing on the side.
John: Oh wow, so as a journalist do you actually go into the office or is everything kind of home-based?
Marcia: Well, these days for the last five years I worked at home. Yeah, everything’s changed in recent years in the digital age. Everything so I love working from home. Yeah, but you know, you’re not bored because some people can’t work from home. I know a girlfriend who has a marketing company with several employees and she initially tried to work from home; it’s not for her. You’re doing dishes, you’re doing this, any other all that you know, but as a journalist you have deadlines and you’re not exactly bored because you’re still out on the streets covering, interviewing people you know, but at the same time you know, I do miss the old days of Journalism one with a bustling newsroom and everybody vibing off each other and you’re sitting with blah blah blah but I do love working from home.
John: I think that comes on a good point because you know, depending where you are in your life, right? When you’re younger you want that social atmosphere, right? Where you’re able to you know socialize and go on breaks and go for coffee or lunch with colleagues and…
Marcia: And you learn from each other you can…colleagues help you out. They help you out with your editing all of it, your editors help, are there right next to you know, in the newsroom so it is a whole different world and you feed off each other, you feed off energy you have meetings together and I you know we don’t do that anymore you know, so it’s a whole different world.
John: Yeah and you know last five years working from home I think it’s a good space if you’re set out for it, right? You’ve already gone through that working in the office, you’ve learned from it and I think once you become wiser and ready I think you can get way more accomplished doing your own thing at home, right? You have everything laid out and you plan things ahead of time, right? Because there are a lot of distractions at home as well.
Marcia: There are distractions but quite frankly I’ve spent my entire career as a deadline reporter and so when you work for a daily newspapers you think differently because you always gonna produce you know what I’m saying? You’re always on producer mode. I mean fortunately for me I’ve had a lot of columns and standing features so I never had that daily pressure in many many years of co-cover this news story you know, so but yeah you’re kind of trained in your head and you don’t…the only thing I’d you know, it’s not you can relax ever when you’re working from home still because you’re constantly looking at…we are looking at technology you know, constantly wondering if I ever was reaching out to me or somebody’s you know, that you’re glued steel.
John: But as long as you are focused, right? I think a lot of entrepreneurs listening…the challenge is you know, there’s a lot of distractions, social media, news even ways to you know, deviate from your task at hand, right? Technology today could be a benefit for your business or it could be a deterrent as well, right? Because it’s how you have it impact your life. So no, that’s great
Marcia: Cause you know, everybody’s so different. I have heard people who say they actually get dressed every day and I read this one book one time about the solo entrepreneur and the person was saying that they actually got in the car for a second like as if they were going somewhere and got back out. I’m like, what? And they put on their work clothes.. I’m not doing that I might look crazy. I’m gonna look crazy as heck at home but obviously I have to dress like a reporter right now.
John: Well, it works for certain people, right? So whatever works.
John: You do it for your own purpose and try it, right? Because as an entrepreneur there’s no one set way that’s gonna fit to your ideal you know successful business, right? So no, that’s great so were there people that inspired you to become who you are today like did you have mentors or look up to, people throughout your journey ?
Marcia: I think we’re all different like most journalists They… a lot… most journalists have a lot of jobs you know, they don’t go to two companies and stay forever. I’ve had lots of opportunities and lots of done… lots of things and tons of different columns and all that so I was never bored but everybody’s family situation is different you know, everybody’s life is different so a lot of companies go, a lot of people go from city to city to city that just wasn’t my journey you know.
John: I think stability says a lot, right? Today’s age I don’t know if stability is the same as it used to be, right? Cause today like all the millennials coming up to school, do they really plan on being in one job for the rest of their lives like so many jobs you know…
Marcia: Nobody does that anymore. Nobody. I mean my stepson has had so many jobs you know, nobody does what I do.
John: Because they want to discover themselves, they want to figure things out, they want to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, right?
Marcia: Ofcourse and find new opportunities and make more money you know, oftentimes you know?
John: So all that it makes… you know, as an entrepreneur it’s the same thing, right? You need to figure out who your customers are, who your right customers are or ideal customers, right? So in terms of your career path and having it, was it changed or did you have to pivot throughout the years?
Marcia: Pivot? It’s changed tremendously I mean every…nothing is the same anymore I mean you gotta remember how long 30 years is and it sounds like a lifetime ago but when I first started my career we didn’t have cell phones for goodness sakes you know, we didn’t have…I mean you can’t even…
John: Desktops, they didn’t even have…
Marcia: I mean exactly…is a whole different world. We didn’t have laptops, we didn’t have cellphone.
John: Or email.
Marcia: Crazy you can’t even imagine you know, so everything has changed since then I mean literally let’s just say think about covering crime; it’s an app now but I used to literally walk around with a police scanner and a walkie-talkie if you can imagine. Two big things so yeah, everything has changed since then and in recent years obviously in the last several years more and more of journalism has gone from you know, looking forward to that…our Sunday used to be our bread and butter you know that we look for our big cover stories on Sunday paper and now you gotta produced every day and everything’s digital and nobody really finds your news by going to that medium. Generally, they’re on Twitter or they find it you know, where they are all in social media and that’s if the story interests you that’s how you find it and these days journalists are…have to wear so many more caps you know, I used to consider myself a print journalist for many years. Well that’s long gone you have to be a multimedia journalist you have to do videos you know, and art. When you work for a union newspaper for instance you know, it…there was a time when you would never even think to touch a camera now you take pictures with your cell phone all day. You hardly ever brought a photographer so much you know, unless it’s something that you just you know, it’s just not your world you know, during the work the professionals gonna do a better than you…you know but for the most part everything’s changed.
John: And that’s I think a lot of industries have changed, right? Just because advent of technology, the internet, access…
Marcia: Exactly. We’re not alone and by any chance…We cover…I’ve covered every industry you can imagine in business from corporate America to manufacturing. My passion has always been small business so we can talk about that later but yeah I’ve covered it all and when you think about manufacturing, the law and technology, how it changed that business and how you really have to be…have niches and so much technology has replaced people in that field you know?
John: And you know, going along the lines of like just change. I was in the yellow pages industry so you being in the print industry is exactly the same. It had to transform to a multimedia space or else you get clobbered, right? Because no one uses or ingest content the same way that they used to, right? People want things instant or push at them now right, push notification?
Marcia: So don’t tempt me because you know, I’m a journalist so you got me real uncomfortable over here answering all your questions cause I’m dying to ask you some questions you know, alright when you mentioned that my immediate thought is like how did you give yellow pages and what’s that about and blah blah blah but I’m a shut up and let you ask questions.
John: So in terms of like some of the challenges so over the years I’m sure you face hundreds of them, right? Can you tell me a couple scenarios or some of the biggest ones that you faced and how did you overcome?
Marcia: I mean in my industry you know, I think covering news is easy you know, as a seasoned journalist especially you know, something happens you go cover it whether it’s…I don’t care if you’re covering entertainment you know, you go as a country you cover it. If it’s a crime there’s a challenge there…you with issues, a shooting you cover it. If there’s a news of the mayor or whatever maybe city you’re in, if there’s news or a press conference you cover it that’s easy. It’s you know, the who, what, when, where, why, the how and you get two sides of every story that’s easy. For me though my greatest challenge has been finding columns, creating columns and features that get people to come back especially in this age where there’s so many distractions, there’s so much out there and so and even though the digital age has changed a lot and the most recent decade. But you know and nothing’s really changed and you always are fighting for viewers and people to watch what you’re doing and so for me I’ve created several columns throughout the career and those are my biggest challenge.
John: And I guess for you like were there mistakes throughout the way as well, like I’m sure you’ve…you had to endure some challenges that you know, ventured off to things that you had to…
Marcia: Ofcourse, it’s like anything I mean think of…I mean I’ll tell you some of the columns that I have created you know, there was or standing features, I’ve had at one point many years ago I had a sales and marketing column that didn’t last that long you know, it might have last a few years. I don’t remember how long it’s been a long time. I’ve had a business etiquette column. I mean if you think about starting something like business etiquette you know, it wasn’t my idea but when I…but I follow through on it and the idea was to offer my little opinion and get a professional to weigh in on it but the point is when you start anything new, the obvious thing is to ask for help and so you know, I remember when I reached out to an etiquette type professional some waltz ballroom dancing guy and you know, just known in this community you know, I was telling about my idea so this is business etiquette column. I show up late for the interview with a five-star restaurant who does that? I called the stranger asking for help and I show up late and I left my cellphone, Don’t ask me how that can happen so I can’t even tell them that I’m running late so you know, all you do is you get in a problem-solving mode and you just you know, you…
John: You apologize and hopefully they take that.
Marcia: And then you call yourself, I remember saying the least I better do is just pay for this meal so he don’t even notices so I excused my cellphone to the bathroom and say can I pay this know if we bring the ticket, he already taking care of that. So anyways the point is I’ve done lots of column that was… it just getting started and I loved that column but I’ve had a reinvention series, I had a column called my Biggest Mistake and How I fixed it aimed to small business owners and that lasted an entire decade.
John: Oh, wow. Yeah, like I’m gonna get into like local business type questions because this is our audience, right? And as you’ve already worked with so many and you probably interviewed so many. You probably have a lot of stories
Marcia: I’ve interviewed more than 450 entrepreneurs for that column but I also got a ton of rejection because it was called My Biggest Mistake and How I Fixed It .
John: Ofcourse, so in terms of advice because a lot of these listeners are just thinking of starting to become an entrepreneur. What have you learned over the years that you can kind of give insight or advice to some new entrepreneurs thinking of starting? What kind of advice?
Marcia: You know there’s…when you talk to so many people. If I had to pick like three things for a startup entrepreneur it would be you know, plan as much as possible because there’s gonna be so many distractions when you’re starting a new business but be open to change you know, you got to be open to change and be open to… you want to be… you want to plan so if you do get opportunity you’re not saying — Oh, I don’t have that ready. I don’t have that price, you don’t have this, I don’t have that you know, I don’t have blah blah blah but at the same time you gotta be open to change and be flexible another piece, would be definitely seek help so you know, I mean lots of people have great ideas but it’s not often that you reinvent the wheel you know, and so why not ask somebody who’s already done it and you might put a different spin on it of course but seek help you know?
John: And I think a lot of entrepreneurs, they have to understand there’s a huge community of people that are in the same situation as themselves and the people that are willing to help out , everyone wants to help other people like it’s human nature, right? So if you close yourself from not even reaching out… you don’t know what’s out there, right? Because there’s huge communities, there’s people out there wanting to help people, right?
Marcia: I think that there’s so much out there. There’s obviously your local Chamber of Commerce and there’s small business, there’s women organization. There’s all kind of organizations, young entrepreneur organizations. There’s all kind of organization is sort of… tech organization and this or this…so many specialty organizations out there. There’s just no reason not to seek help but the fact is a lot of people do have different reasons for seeking help not seeking help. I remember interviewing a guy who did not take the traditional business path he had gone to prison, he had been an alcoholic and he had a lot of…and it went into the auto detailing business and I remember when I asked to participate in my series. He actually made me change my whole series. I’ve been doing probably a few years at that point and I ended… he made do a whole section once where you can find help because he had made so many mistakes because he didn’t want people to know about his background so he was hiring people under the table, he was doing…it was the list of mistakes. We all make mistakes every business always makes mistakes but it was a whole different level mistakes because he didn’t want people to know what he didn’t know. I mean I’m talking even one particular thing that made me laugh like mad only because he overcame it but he actually somehow had gotten…went from nothing to getting a big contract with an auto dealership and somehow he had some of those cars parked on the street instead of in the lot; they all got towed. Imagine telling your customer first big customer I might add that don’t have their freaking cars you know, and so the first thing well…first thing you want to do is you try to fix it without telling the customer, right? Well guess what? It’s not in your name so you can’t get it so you have to tell the customer. Long story short he got out of that and I noticed it’s gonna be hard to believe but he actually won that customer back over. And that he was like…he yes of course he apologized profusely and I’m yours. Yes, they said — You idiot, we would never ever do business with you again. But in the end he was like you know what I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get your business back. I’m gonna do your car free for a while. I’m gonna do whatever and he got them back. So yeah, so I guess the point is that there’s a different levels of mistakes and people have different reasons for not wanting to share because everybody doesn’t come from the straight path of you know, going to college and then they start a business or having family support or whatever you know?
John: So I think that’s a really good note because you know, at the beginning there are struggles and a lot of people teach you like fake it until you make it kind of thing. I’m more about being transparent and do the honest thing. Tell people the truth because every time you start lying you dig yourself deeper. Go and it’s gonna take a lot longer to win them over when they find out that you’ve been lying, right? So it might as well start off by being transparent and honest and let them know what really happened and what your struggles really are and be vulnerable and I think that’s so critical advice wise, right? As a small business owner. ..
Marcia: Being vulnerable is key and also seeking help and when I say seek help. There so… not just organizations out there but you know, I’ve had people to share just getting the right accounting, the right lawyer, the right whatever you know and every…if you’re in a retail you know, it would help if you find an accountant who’s dealt with retail businesses because just…because you’re an accountant doesn’t mean you’re the right person for that particular business you know? So they won’t know the loopholes or things you should be looking for in inventory. I mean there’s so many areas but if you just try to wing it, wing it, wing it. I got this you know, I got this experience coming from corporate American in this round. My sister’s got this other experience coming from retail. We got this business down. And guess what you got a couple things down but you need help still.
John: So that’s only a couple scenarios, right? There’s a lot of you know groups like you mentioned not just localized but even online today. Like…
Marcia: Well today’s a whole new day.
John: There’s a lot of like even books or podcasts or videos, right?. Like all these information that was never there ten years ago is now accessible so that’s why like there’s things at your disposal as an entrepreneur that we’re never even thought of like thirty years ago because…
Marcia: And you know you’re tempting me again because I want to ask you why you started this podcast of yours you know, all your business but you’re tempting me cuz I you know, I’m not used to being on this other side here. You could answer that right quick. Why did you start your podcast?
John: It’s really to give back, right? To educate and impact more people to become successful because there’s so many people that fail and struggle and they don’t connect with people, right? So I want to let people know I made mistakes, I struggled, I…you know I always had a dream, right? And for me it’s more now I’m living my dream. I’m actually very grateful and I want to give things back, pay it forward kind of thing. So in terms of tips, right? I know you basically gave some advice. I know you’re starting your own business as well, right? Like you kinda are starting your Cannabis Forum and Events what have you been doing differently knowing all this information like…
Marcia: Well, I’m just getting started and I’m going to conferences right now you know, and learn from other people because you got to start from somewhere. There’s nothing you know if when you’re trying to get into anything new, the first step is to be around people who are doing what you want to do you know and so that’s kind of my step you know, and then start a networking again you know, I…when you’re journalist for as long as I’ve been a journalist, I’m used to people coming to me. I’m used to people saying — Hey, write about my story blah blah. And now and you’re wearing a whole different hat and now my…I’m gonna be helping to put on this event. — Oh, my goodness. I’m gonna have to ask these journalist type folks to ask me for some…to be part, to promote my event what the heck anyway some I’m on the other side.
John: Oh, it’s great I mean I can definitely learn quite a bit from you because I’m starting to put on local events just to kind of help people out right? But again I never really intended to you know, put on live events, right? Like my whole purpose of doing live events was to practice public speaking and then you know, for me it’s like I’m not making a business out of it. It’s really for me to try to learn something new like as a skill set to get better, right and as long as I’m enjoying the whole path of trying something different and I’m still you know, waking up every day in little happy and passionate. I think that’s something that people have to realize like it’s not always about the money, right? Whatever you…there’s different purposes in life.
Marcia: Absolutely, I mean you know, for me I’m going to this in terms of learning I just left four months ago and so I’ve been to I went to a conference down in New York, a major cannabis conference then and I’m going back to New York next month where one aimed at the media because it’s only their second aim because it’s such a new industry. About people covering that industry but yeah it’s you know, your purpose can’t be just about making money. I mean even with this Expo we’re doing our reason for doing it is… it’s new in Ohio and there’s not enough information out there and so initially we plan to do just consumers and workshops all day with consumers and yeah, we have vendors but the whole goal was to get information out there and then we only threw in one business panel with investors and cultivators and blah blah blah and it was when you don’t really promote something like that and you got more than a hundred seven people stand in a room because it was supposed to end at four and we started that at 4:30 and with people willing to stick around on a Saturday that means you’ve got some. So that’s why we’re adding a whole different day just on business.
John: That’s awesome. And listen to the audience, right? And what they tell you, right? At the end…
Marcia: Absolutely, well we…yeah, people were asking for that and that’s… I mean you think about…I mean I think about the mistakes I’ve written about and it’s interesting because everybody makes mistakes but one big mistake sometimes is that when some people are so focused on what they want to do this is my idea, this is my service, this is all it’s gonna be, this is my product and this is how it’s gonna go down but if you don’t listen to your possible customers or your future customer you know, your order comes out there and you just could have made some tweaks then maybe you could actually…we could be a win-win, okay? And I think you know, there’s that old saying about follow your passion and the money will come. I believe that you know?
John: So you know, you’re in a different situation because you’ve worked for many years and you saved up a chunk to start your own business. There’s a lot of entrepreneurs that are just starting a business without even any money so what kind of advice could you ever need?
Marcia: How do you know I’ve saved up? I’m gonna need a loan from you.What are you talking about?
John: No…no but I mean like going to events and even being comfortable networking because a lot entrepreneurs they might not even be comfortable.
Marcia: I’m asking…you’re right networking is key and in anything I mean I literally have not never worked in a long time and so I’ve just started like in the last couple weeks doing intentional network and I’ve just and it’s been great you know, but I got to tell you from what I’ve learned throughout the years of watching others and networking and writing a column called My Business Etiquette column for instance, you can mess up with networking. I mean you can make waste a lot of time going these networking groups that are not the right fit for you and you can waste time but I think another mistake that people make is that when it’s all about you, you’re not gonna do anything if you — I don’t think you should network with saying — Oh, Me? Me me me me. This is what I did. You know? but if you go in with the intention of you know, listening to that person at this particular networking event and then if you merely try to give back trust me it’s gonna come back to you when you need.
John: That’s a great point.
Marcia: You know? And the other thing I gotta tell you about networking that’s interesting to me is that I think that I don’t know first impressions right or wrong we all make them , right? By the time you went from the moment someone walks in the room, by the way someone talks, by the way they look. We all make judgments right or wrong, right? and but so when sometimes we make bad impressions. I think one and it goes back to the mistake, fixing it but I think of one particular incident where the small business consulting was sharing with me how he was trying to help a new young entrepreneur in a family business and he thought enough of this young man to invite him on a golf course with a CEO of a bank and two other high-level individuals so let me get this straight; why did this knucklehead go out there and hit his shot every time and get right back on his technology back on the phone texting and all that ignoring this amazing opportunity for hours on a golf course with a CEO of a bank that’s called a screw-up you know, how do you think something like that? First of all, he didn’t even realize…first of all the person who invited him was humili…was just mortified and humiliated and embarrassed you know, but …and hopefully he did tell him about that stuff because you need to try to fix that one you know, because sometimes you just don’t know with age. I’m not saying you can be young and be way more intelligent than someone 50 or 60. I’m not saying that. It’s not about age but sometimes I’m just saying with this technology world it drives me crazy. I don’t get it…I don’t get it.
John: And I think you know years of experience right and you dealing with so many people in talking to business owners and success stories, failures that says a lot versus someone that’s just starting off, right? They just…they go into these networking events thinking to sell or win a customer over when you should be giving, right? Or building relationships like when I first started doing networking I basically… my intention was to connect with one or two individuals and help them out, right? And build solid relationships with one or two people, right? And that’s it, right?
Marcia: I love it and that’s great as opposed to thinking — Oh, I’m gonna get 10 people from here.
John: Exactly, it’s not realistic goals, right? Like how do you go in even talking to ten people, there’s hundreds of people and you need to feel you know, get to know them too, right? And kind of build that relationship that way.
Marcia: So I gotta give you…on that note. I got to share a quick story you know there’s a…in your world technology there’s a guy who I know who has a company they do what do you got the data backup stuff…
John: Backup storage or…
Marcia: Exactly, that type of technology company anyway, I remember he was sharing with me how… I was telling him that I wanted to…I think that business etiquette and the digital age is so important and people forget about the effects of the personal handwritten note. And we were just having a cocktail and I don’t remember how did this even came up but believe it or not he actually could vibe with me because he was like, Marcia I’ve been sitting out handwritten notes for so long, do you know how much business has gotten me and I’m like what are you talking about and he…and I’ll give you an example so let’s say you go to this 40 under 40 event. You know, the 40 top people in your city whatever he said…He gave me an example. I will do my best at the beginning of that event to meet as many of them as possible and then when I sent a note afterwards if I can remember one thing about them I won’t include it but either way I always said him in the — Hey, it was great meeting you at the 40 under 40 you know, I was one of the 40. Whatever, best wishes to you. That’s it you know? If I can ever do anything to help you let me know. He never ever asks for anything he just says if I can ever help you let me know he said do you know how much business it might not happen overnight maybe a year from now but people remember that you know, because the handy art of the handwritten note in this age is lost you know, And so if you think about it you know, we get we all get our bills in the mail but think about how excited you are if something that looks like a card actually comes you know, it’s just a different day so no one takes the time. Who does that anymore? Hardly. I got this big guy in this area told me that it made me happy because he said he kept it on his note and he’s all into social media. He’s made a huge business out of social media. He’s a consulting firm but he’s big time in social media but he warmed my heart that he said he kept that handwritten note that I sent him congratulating him on his success on his desk because no one does anymore.
John: And you got to differentiate yourself, right? Like everyone that’s emailing and doing ads and this and that well they’re gonna get lost with everything else.
Marcia: We all have to do that, there’s nothing wrong with that. I do say can you send thank-you notes all the time too. By email of course. That’s it’s effective as fast and you know, it’s hard to make yourself sit down and write a whole note. It really is but you know it’s just a suggestion.
John: No…no, it’s great, right? Because a lot of people come into an event or you know, anything wanting to get business out of it you gotta think differently, right? And by giving or helping others that’s where… you don’t reap the benefits right away but eventually they’ll remember you and that’s all that matters, right? It’s all about hopefully connecting with someone so next question I have is what drove you to become who you are? Like I know over the years you’ve had to…had a lot of different you know, only two major jobs but you had a lot of columns and you become a journalist. What really pushed you like what was your purpose or passion over the years?
Marcia: I really do just enjoy helping people, I really do and I mean yes, you have to with news you have to do those basic news stories all the time of course. This person opened this door, would this person did blah blah blah you know, but when you can write something that touches someone else and inspires someone else to do some of their own…follow their own dream or less people know about this person that in the community and no one knew they were doing this great thing you know, because… and maybe that person didn’t even want attention you know, that keeps me that gets me excited. I love sharing good news basically and so even with my column My Biggest Mistake and How I fixed it that lasted so long it lasted until six years ago when I killed it because I needed a change after talking to almost 500 people you know, doing it. I took a break, a mid-career break. A mid-career sabbatical at the University of Michigan for a year off and came back but anyway I guess the point is that when I…in writing that feature every last one of those stories while they shared a mistake they all had happy endings and so there…that’s what drives me. I love…I’m so grateful for everyone who shared their vulnerabilities because it is not easy to ask someone this year — What’s your biggest mistake and how did you fix it? It’s just not easy. People worry about being judged that you know? And the only thing they get out of this… the only thing they get out of this is helping someone else that’s it. I’m not giving any money. I’m not giving… you know? So that’s it because everybody wants to talk about success everybody and I want to hear a bunch of success too but I also want to know about those failures that lead to those success.
John: And every entrepreneur, every business owner has a lot of failures and they have to pivot and they have to learn from it because if you delve on those mistakes and failures you’re not gonna be successful, you’re not gonna continue your business , right?
Marcia: You can’t focus on being down but you gotta get back up but if you think about it think about how many articles you read or how many interviews you heard and that person’s on top. I mean obviously they must be on top for you to want to talk to them you know, unless it’s a bad story for some reason you know what I’m saying? But in business no one’s gonna just go say — Oh. I heard you have many sales, let me go interview you. I hear you did you not even pay your rent, let me interview you. No one’s doing, right? We’re people who interview people who are successful already and…but I really firmly believe that people turn off when you know they’re happy for that person unless you’re just a total hater but you know, they tune out because they’re like — Okay, good for them. Good for him or her but I could never see myself there.
John: But I think being vulnerable and connecting with your audience, right? And I think everyone’s gonna share a mistake and there’s gonna be others that have gone through or are going through the same situation, right? And by voicing it out or even helping one other personnel, it’s gonna make one person’s difference, right? And they won’t make that mistake and I think that’s impactful so…not don’t go after like the biggest you know or a huge group of hundreds or thousands of people that you can impact, start small. You have to start small, right? So as a small business owner. I love that, right? Like just be vulnerable, that’s great. And so in terms of like over the years what motivates you to get up every day doing what you’re doing and what drives you like and now that you’re following this new career path what excites you today?
Marcia: I mean that does excite me. Getting into this space is interesting to me just because it is one of the fastest growing industries in the country right now and in other countries and no and it’s global. It’s global it is…it’s…there’s so many stories to be told you know, everything from people incarcerated who should not be incarcerated you know, because so many people are making money off now. Off of this you know and to you know, how are people being helped by marijuana. How are people you know, there’s just tons of stories you know and so I just want to know and what are the opportunities for people whether you know, if they’re trying to do a career reinvention and pivoting you know, because the fact is with a new industry where it’s all about reinvention you know, everybody is reinventing whether they had to have parlayed their accounting experience, their marketing experience, their gardening experience or whatever it’s all that. It is just simply a new industry you know and there’s so many opportunities you know, whether you’re an ancillary business like ScottsMiracle-Gro which is big-time to that industry with the hydroponics you know, because maybe the home and garden might be tapped out it’s probably you know, you can only go so far with that but there’s this whole big oil industry growing and now this soil company is able to move forward and take advantage of that and grow from there or maybe this small entrepreneur who just has this idea to make a better package for the marijuana you know, whether it’s for a small individual use or for you know plastic bag or for the big drums that are made in cultivation there’s 50 million stories out there and so. And because it’s a new industry I just want to be part of it…that going into.
John: Awesome so I want to ask you this as well because you’ve hosted 500 people locally in a couple months, right? And your last event, what did you have to do to drum up that many people that are interested in the topic? To get them
Marcia: Well, we were in a big time… I must say but because we only had a few months we did that’s three months and so that’s why we’re very optimistic that we can triple that with actually a whole year of planning because if you can get that and a few months just by using a lot of social media and talking to people and getting the right people involved so they can share with their audiences and you know, that’s kind of how that happened and the fact is that you gotta have something of interest this isn’t…Obviously, I mean I don’t care how much social media you grew if nobody gives a cookie. You know what I’m saying? But if it’s something that people are curious about and they want to know what… how do you get them a marijuana car? How do you do this? How do you do that? And what are the opportunities. Well hey, I’m a baker you know what there’s a speaker who’s talking about baking edibles and stuff you know, have you know, there’s is…how to hit people from different angles and see what makes you well you know, what would interest you, well what would make you get up and pay a little money and to get some information you know?
John: To learn a little bit. So you obviously network with a lot of influencers or people that…with an audience of people in your tribe, right? People that are interested in that topic as well as social media to get people on board.
Marcia: And it’s like anything you always got to start with some key influencers you know, I mean our next conference we’re hoping to get a big name to draw you know?
John: As a keynote speaker or someone…
Marcia: Exactly, you know we’ll have more time to plan but it’s like anything you’ve gotta see you know, get outside of yourself and see and listen to people. I add and look at what worked and what didn’t work you know? How we could do things better next time.
John: No, it’s great insight and then aside from business so what are some of the other pillars that kind of has molded you to become who you are? Was there a lot of influencers like within your family personal or business?
Marcia: I mean you know, it’s like anything. Business is just part of your world you know, it’s a big part of all of our worlds but you know, for me my…I’m going through a lot of change on every front. I went through a divorce in the last year. I have a 16 year old daughter. I’ve got a couple grown, two grown-up children you know, who have children. I’m in a different phase of reinventing and I’m just enjoying them, enjoying family and thinking about community and ways I can get back because I’m in a different stage. I’m ready to get back with the community um you know through my sorority Delta Sigma Theta and get back active with them and you know and give back in different ways so yeah, things have interested me .
John: And even life, like myself I’m a father of a four-year-old, right? So it’s more my focus is really to bring him up to speed and you know, mode him or help him appreciate what life is all about, right? So there’s a lot of things I’m learning as well on the fly as a parent, right? It’s a lot of fun.
Marcia: And it makes you smile at the end of your day. You can have a worst day, best day. And you’ve got a four year old baby boy who just don’t care about none of that. He don’t have no bills yet. He just got love and having it.
John: Exactly, but that’s how life should be, right? That’s why you know, not…now I think about how he lives that’s what you should always live like, right? Because all the time so that’s why I’m look… I’m doing what I’m doing I love…what I love. Like my tribe, I love my staff, I love my clients but I also love whoever I’m trying to impact, right? Because I do give back now I mentor a lot of business owners just things that actually bring a big smile to me. I think that’s worth it, right?
Marcia: I mean you know, exactly. You know, I listen to a lot of positive music and we all do what we do. Some people listen to motivational speakers. I love music you know and I keep these positives expressions around. I have a big picture frame that says my goal is to create a life. I don’t need a vacation from.
John: Exactly so when you go to work but it’s not really work and it’s more like play and you’re just enjoying what you’re doing. That’s where you know, you’re at the right you know, company or job or business that you built whatever it is…it’s like it doesn’t feel like work.
Marcia: Absolutely, I mean Lord knows we’re gonna mistakes trying to get to that point but you know, as long as you get back up try it again you know, keep it moving.
John: And when you do feel like it is a business or you feel like it is something more like it’s not bringiing….
Marcia: It’s not enjoyable then it’s time to pivot.
John: Exactly and pivoting is so critical as a small business owner that’s one of the things that I’ve always done and I always talk about as well, right? Because your audience may change you may want to know like you’ll learn from your customers and you may want to change directions because you may want to offer new services or go into different markets or whatever it may be, right? So…
Marcia: I mean exactly in the end and with the hundreds of people that I’ve interviewed for my column my Biggest Mistake and How I Fixed it and other…and my reinvention series the only the biggest takeaway from me is that you know, the only thing constant is change you know, and it sounds like such a cliche but is so true you know?
John: Yeah and changing and being vulnerable and learning.
Marcia: It’s not easy.
John: Being an entrepreneur’s not easy, right? Like and even holding a job for 30 years or 15 years in today’s world. A couple years is challenging especially what’s going on like you know, like there’s so much uncertainty in this world today, right? We don’t know what’s gonna happen? You don’t know where you’re gonna get paid, right? So being an entrepreneur at least you have some control in terms of how…
Marcia: You do have some control as long as you don’t do stuff like get comfortable with one big client, takes over your whole life. You basically are an employee of that one customer but you are actually…be can be an employee for that company so you have to keep it. Make sure you remember those things like how do I get here? I notice it’s what I asked for but maybe I need to have a couple more other clients you need to have that diverse portfolio because otherwise I don’t want to look up and one day they cancel me and I’m out you know so…
John: All these things you’ll learn, right? As an entrepreneur and I’m so grateful. At least you’re speaking about all these mistakes and things you’ve heard from other business owners because it’s so…there’s so many problems out there that people endure, right?
Marcia: It’s so important you know, I did. It makes being vulnerable because I’m telling you just I remember going to just in May when I was in New York at this big cannabis conference and it was huge. It was like 275 vendors three days of workshops and it was great you know, but there was…I can’t recall the name of the company at the moment but is from your world in Canada and in Canada that particular company was talking about how he had given. His business modeling entail giving stock to every single employee at the company but he also talked to and he talked about all these successes and it was just you know and he had this standing-room-only crowd people flowing all out outside cuz he was his big name but what hit me the most was that he shared a few of those mistakes you know, like using the machine with real weed and ruining it you know instead of some other product you know and yes and it was just funny stuff but no one shares those kind of things. You know, and that’s what get motivates the person who’s just starting or the person who’s struggling you know, who’s gotten at the growth phase you know or you know dealing with all kind of other challenges whether it’s working with family or friends and you know, they’re the obvious target because they’re free or young or you…Pamela let me just start now but they can also kill you but anyway or having a bad partner because that can also kill a business real quick you know so yeah so then I guess the point is that anytime anyone is willing to share vulnerabilities, share something that they learned, that they fell down and was not easy but somehow pick themselves back up you know, it just makes me smile because it just is like — Wow, there’s hope out there you know.
John: And it’s real, right? So they’re genuine and authentic because in reality every successful person has failed in multiple careers or multiple…
Marcia: Every major corporation has failed you know, every and I think that people forget that while your goal may not be some major corporation the fact is every corporation started small business you know, you had to start somewhere man think about the founder of the co-founder of OfficeMax who wrote the foreword to my book you know, he started out with one store in Cleveland Ohio and he build up to an international company with 1100 stores but the fact is I mean when the stories he shares and the reason he was willing to write a preface to, foreword whatever you called it for the book is because you know, it might not be your goal to be that big ever or maybe not even to get outside of your community or maybe not doing sales online. I don’t know what your goal is but you always have to start small. You have to start somewhere and so when anyone so it does it wants my heart when people if whether you’re a small entrepreneur or a major force like him who has you know sold that company and moved on to many more adventure since then you know to give back. I mean I love it it makes me.
John: I think you bring out a really good point because a lot of people are stuck up on being perfect, alright? Starting a company knowing exactly everything but my take on it is go and do something about it and start it and make mistakes at least you’re already out there and you’re ahead the curb by trying to learn and make mistakes and get up and you know, figure things out and pivot and make changes and do you know, go out and try to understand who your customers are and provide better service and all that other stuff right.
Marcia: Now, I’m gonna be taking all that advice I’ve heard from 50 million people and I might actually do that. It’s not easy you know, speaking of which I was like — Oh, Lord my site. I gotta work on that. I gotta do this…that.
John: We can talk to that on the side. I really want to thank you so much you’ve brought a lot of good you know, stories and insight because of all the years of experience, right? So I want to thank you for giving this opportunity and taking up some of your time to be on our podcast show so where can listeners learn more about you?
Marcia: I’m so grateful that you reached out to me. Thank you so much.
John: Not a problem so where can our listeners go out to learn more about your business and some of the…
Marcia: So my name is Marcia Pledger MARCIA and my last name is Pledger PLEDGER so any of my social media is just under that. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and even my website would be marciapledger.com and so that’s all under just my name but also…but our newest project is the Ohio Cannabis Health Summit so it’s just..that’s what it is ohiocannabishealthsummit.com.
John: Perfect, well thanks a lot I really appreciate this and if anybody wants to reach out to you they can definitely contact Marcia on her social media page or website. Thanks a lot, Marcia.
Marcia: Alright, you take care. I’ll come to visit you in Toronto.
Marcia: Alright. Bye.