Permission to Kick Ass

26: Cindy Childress

Episode Summary

You know The Standard Formula™ for success - go to college, get a degree, land the job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. After a 7-year employment gap left my guest, Cindy Childress, and her PhD in the resume trash folder - she created her own formula. You don’t want to miss this - listen now!

Episode Notes

Entrepreneurs have a few characteristics in common - they’re curious and they think big. That’s exactly how Cindy went from unemployed to personal trainer to Amazon best seller. With a little help from Google along the way, Cindy discovered the exponential opportunity of entrepreneurship. If you’re wondering what you need to get started, this one’s for you (psst... you already have it).

Can’t-Miss Moments From This Episode:

This one is jam-packed full of advice. Don’t miss out - listen now!

Cindy’s Bio:

Dr. Cindy, The Expert’s Ghostwriter, is a ghostwriter and book editor for entrepreneurs that want to write books that make money and make an impact. Her business, Childress Business Communication, took bronze for Most Innovative Company of the Year for the Stevie Awards for Women in Business 2020. Her clients go on to achieve bestseller status, give TEDx Talks, and win book awards.

With her Ph. D. in English with a creative dissertation from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she blends the passion of a creative writer and the rigors of academic and technical writing. This understanding of the creative process and systems for performance underscore her signature course, Crank Out Your Book in 8 Weeks, and Success Story, a 6-week writing course for business owners to write personal stories that engage and attract their best clients.

She also teaches creative writing classes with Writespace Houston and is on the Advisory Board for Women Helping Women 2 Network. She’s also a foster mom with Citizens for Animal Protection in Houston, TX. 

Resources and links mentioned:

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Episode Transcription

Angie Colee (00:02):

Welcome to Permission to Kick Ass. A podcast about leaving self-doubt in the dust, punching fear in the face and taking bold action toward your biggest dreams. I'm Angie Colee, and let's get to it. Hello and welcome back to the Permission to Kick Ass podcast. I am so excited for today's guest cause I had to, okay. I work with Cindy personally as in I am her client, which is so cool because Cindy is helping me to write my book. You heard it here on the podcast. Woo. There's going to be a Permission to Kick Ass book and Cindy is helping me make it actually kick ass. Cause this is my first book. So tell us a little bit more about yourself other than what I just did.

Cindy Childress (00:47):

Yes. Well, I am indeed a ghostwriter and book editor for trailblazers and leaders to help you write books that make money and impact which we are doing for Angie. You know, she's an impact maker and we want to also put that bread in the bank there with her amazing ideas and getting them out to the world. So, um, yeah, that's what I get to do every day. And then I'll also have, um, online courses that teach an eight week Crank Out Your Book in 8 Weeks course because I'm a firm believer yes. In Parkinson's law, which is that the, um, present task will contract or expand to fit the available time. So, you know, if it can take 12 years to write a book or eight weeks, I like to get it done in eight.

Angie Colee (01:38):

That's such a good strong note to start the podcast on too, because yes, the, the amount of time you give this thing is the amount of time it will take. So be careful when you are setting your deadlines or not setting your deadlines, recognize that you're not giving yourself a time limit on this. You'd be surprised, but you could get done in a couple of hours if you block things off. Like I know that editing this book has been super intimidating for me being that it's my first book. And of course I want to obsess over every little detail and get it all perfect, which we all know. If you've listened to this podcast, I rant about things not being perfect, but Hey, I'm human. I'm still subject to the same foibles. Um, and setting a timer. I can plow through a couple chapters at a time. It's, it's amazing setting a timer actually works. Give yourself a time limit. You will surprise yourself. So, uh, now that we've been ranting about books for a while, what I love, we were talking a little bit before we got on this call about the evolution of your career and how you wound up at being a ghost writer and being a book editor and, and got into this line of work. So can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?

Cindy Childress (02:46):

Yes. It was all really by accident. Um, so I am Dr. Cindy, the experts' ghost writer and I have a PhD in English. And the reason that I'm not a professor somewhere besides that, I would make about a third what I do as a freelance ghostwriter is, um, that, uh, my husband in oil and gas had the opportunity to live and work in Malaysia. So when I went with him on that adventure, um, we spent seven years in Malaysia and Indonesia and I came back to the U S with a seven-year work gap. Yes. And, uh, I have a friend in HR who told me that basically meant all those online resume forms, I was filling out, I was going straight to the trash folder because of that seven years, nothing else trumped that. So I couldn't even get interviews. And at first I was going for things that I was qualified for, um, with my strong writing background and I'd taught technical writing at the college level.

Cindy Childress (03:49):

And, um, you know, those kinds of things, I couldn't get any interviews for that work. Um, I finally just started, I took off my education beyond the bachelor's degree and I was just trying to get like admin assistant roles because at companies I was interested in because I thought if they just meet me and see how amazing I am, you know, I will land in the right place. Well, I couldn't even get those kinds of interviews. And I was, I mean, I was to a point where I was thinking like, was my whole education a waste? Am I 34, and like, my life is essentially over? And, um, that's when I saw an ad on Craigslist for certified personal trainers and I thought, well, I'm also a marathon runner and I've lost 80 pounds and kept it off now for almost 20 years. So, yeah. So I thought, you know, maybe I'm in the wrong line of work and I'll try something different entirely. So I got certified and, you know, in that company, they very quickly, they realized they had way more than just an excellent trainer, which I was that as well. So they promoted me to do quality control on the 1-800 number and write their sales scripts. Um, which for everybody on this call that is in the copy world, I brought their conversions up from around 67% to 85 to 88%. And yes.

Angie Colee (05:10):

And so for, for non copywriters, that basically means that two out of every three people before were buying into the service. And then when Cindy took over eight or nine out of 10, people are like, "wow, we're saying yes." That's an incredible conversion rate. That's an incredible amount of people saying, yes, that's awesome.

Cindy Childress (05:31):

It is. And you know, you might've thought I would. And I even considered, maybe I would start a business around something like that. And I'm not saying I'll never do it, but what ended up happening is I also wrote a few technical manuals for them, um, for SOP, um, you know, that kind of thing. And so then I thought maybe somebody else would hire me to do that. So that really, that company gave me my confidence back. And so then, um, I launched my business. My husband, um, gave me the push to go ahead and do it. So went out, I bought my first website and contacted a friend, who's a lawyer about getting legit. Um, and I was off to the races and all I knew was that I was gonna sell writing services. And that took me down a rabbit hole where I got to do a lot of things that Angie teaches, like getting paid to learn.

Angie Colee (06:27):

Yeah, take those projects even before you feel you're ready. Even if you don't feel like you really know what you want to do, like you're not going to know until, you know, and I think that, you know, I want to circle back to something real quick. And that's the seven year work gap on your resume. Because I think a lot of us have been there, especially like now people, a lot of people lost their jobs. We're filming this as we're starting to come out of the pandemic and people are starting to get vaccinated. Things are starting to open up in April of 2021 when we're recording this. Um, there are a lot of people that have a work gap over the last couple of years and some places are going to be super tolerant of that and be like," yeah, everybody was out of work. It was a pandemic." And some people are going to go right back into that old mentality of like, "well, what were you doing?" "I was baking bread like everybody else, what you?, I was growing a COVID garden. What's wrong with you?" Um, and, and I think that happens to us all. And we can all kind of get caught in that trap of I'm not good enough, like I'm feeling, I can't get anybody to respond to me because I've got this thing that's wrong with me, this work gap, which, you know, hint - Angie doesn't think anything's wrong with that. But, you know, um, and we, we share a mentor, a man named Kevin Rogers who made this joke as a former standup comedian about being unemployable. Like he could not get a job. When he got a job, he could not last in the job. I, I think there's something to that.

Angie Colee (07:52):

Like if you notice that in yourself as a person, you're trying to get jobs, you can't get the interviews. You can't make them last. Maybe it's a sign that starting your own thing is where you're meant to be. And it's not a sign that you are a failure. You know, I got to a point in LA when I was living out there in Los Angeles where I had gotten laid off and I was running out of money. And like you, I tried to go back to waiting tables, which was something I knew. And I, you know, I'm a hustler, baby. I'm really good at waiting tables. I can make a lot of money for both the restaurant and myself. Uh, they all looked at my master's degree, which I have and were like, "why the hell do you want to wait tables? No, you can't wait tables. You're you're too good." I'm not too good for this. I'm obviously in here applying for this cause I think I could do this. I'm not in here applying, saying, "I have a master's degree. You must pay me five times what the other servers make," but it's kind of funny how you get stuck in that job trap. You know, like this is the only way that I have to make money to pay my bills, to support myself. It's it's, it's almost toxic.

Cindy Childress (08:57):

Yeah. It's um, and that actually, there's a section in your book called The Job, The Job Trap. So I'm really glad that you shared, you say that and I cannot agree more when you, especially when you have a work gap and there's something you're going to have to creatively massage. A lot of times, these You know, these digital machines, don't give you the human touch where you can make your case, because they're looking for who to say no to. They're not looking for the gem in the haystack, or I guess the needle in the haystack. And so, but you can be your own gem and what I've found to be so true as a freelancer, even as I've pivoted from, you know, copywriting, which I started out offering when I started my business. Um, and then deciding to go all in on books and doing ghostwriting is when you bet on yourself, instead of trying to get somebody else to bet on you, you have so much more control over, um, whether you're getting hired, whether you're getting paid, how much you're getting paid, and it's just a completely different ballgame. And, you know, I really think it's a shame that it's not taught more widely, um, how to do this and be successful.

Angie Colee (10:14):

How to rely on yourself, how to trust in yourself and your own instincts versus kind of the voice and the stories that we've been taught that we've been absorbing since we could read and watch TV, you know, these subtle cues that you have to. And I, I really did. This is where I'm going to sound a little bit like conspiracy theorist here. But I really do think that we are indoctrinated to be a good cog in the machine. Like, especially in the States, the picture of success that we've all gotten since we were incredibly young is you, you grow up, you get an education, you, you do well, you go to college, you get a good job. You find a partner, you date them for a long time. You get engaged, you get married, you have, or adopt kids, buy a house. Like there's a whole series of steps that you've got to follow. And we all like internally gauge ourselves as failures or successes based on where we are. And this notice that start a successful businesses, nowhere in this list of steps that we all have internalized and know very deeply. And so, yeah, I mean, kind of similar to you, there are several steps. There are several times along the path where I was frankly pissed off. I was so upset. I felt like something was wrong with me because look, "I followed all the steps. Why am I not in the land of happy? Like I'm on the map. I should be in fantasy land right now where everything is in, all of my problems are solved and I never have to do anything again." I mean, like, it sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud, but I think a lot of us are kind of living our lives that way, that like as long as I follow the steps and I'm a good cog in this machine will run and I be rewarded with happiness. No, you have more power than that. Bet on yourself. That's how you get to happiness.

Cindy Childress (12:00):

Exactly. And you know, I was talking about this Southern, not with my husband, where we were kind of looking at our like long-term plan and long-term goals and everything. And I was like, "you know, my business is bringing in this much. And you know, when I do everything that I've been doing and follow this plan, you know, it could get to, you know, so I have a six figure business. Well, it could become a seven figure business."And my husband's like, "well, good because I'm at the top of my pay grade and I get cost of living adjustment. And occasionally I get bonuses and this is my life." And I'm like, Oh man, because as a freelancer, I have exponential opportunity, especially with some of the, the courses have put together now that are mostly automated. So there wouldn't be the amount of participants wouldn't be limited by anything, um, except my own ability to get them in. And, you know, you start being able to think really, really big.

Angie Colee (12:59):

I love that too, because I mean, and I know that, you know, my story because you're helping me with the book, but it kind of that same thing happened to me in my last day job before I kind of walked away and got fed up was that I had, I had written something that brought in close to $10 million in sales. And I used that to go to the powers that be and say, "Hey, you know, I'd like a raise. Look at all the value that I bring to the, uh, I basically paid the creative department salary for like a couple of years with this one thing." Um, and they said, "no, we have a company policy of 6% merit raise". And so like talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Like sometimes these big employers they're so entrenched in what they do, they're willing to, and the sounds like totally snobby and obnoxious, but it is what it is. Like they're willing to let us star player walk out the door. Somebody that has proven that they can make money because of the company policy. Who set the fucking company policy, yo?! C'mon. You are not helpless, but so many middle middle-management men, a lot of them pretend to be helpless when, when they really aren't. Um, so kind of going back to your journey on this, cause I will rant all day about corporate. Trust me. I know that when you first started out, you were doing this part-time like you said, you were a physical trainer. So can you tell me a little bit more about how you got into writing with that? You, you mentioned the scripts, um, but how did that lead ultimately to you getting into books?

Cindy Childress (14:21):

Yeah. So when I first started my writing business, um, I did some of the free advice that I got on Google for starting a business. So I started Googling other writing businesses to see what they do to try to do the same things and compete with them. Well, you know, as far as like what was happening with search results at that time, I was finding big, um, technical writing in a box places that offered like 80 different kinds of writing, you know? So you would write a webinar and you would do email sequences and you would do sales pages and you would do memos and white pages. So I'll start out literally offering every single kind of writing that I'd ever done before or felt qualified to do. And since I have a PhD in English, you know, that's a lot of things. So that first year I did, you know, I wrote webinar scripts.

Cindy Childress (15:16):

I mean, I did, um, a white page for an oil and gas company. Um, you know, like I took notes from, um, presentations and then created worksheets that went with them. I mean, like I did anything somebody would pay me to do that was about writing and, you know, so with all that getting offered though, I also found clients very quickly. And here's, uh, the negative for anybody that is thinking about starting a business. And you're kind of on the fence. Six months before I started my business, I was looking for professional development and I felt like I wasn't getting it in my job. So I joined a women's networking group. Now that was scary. I think I paid $199, one time fee. And I think it started out at $17 a month and that was out of my own pocket. And it was a big leap to decide to do that.

Cindy Childress (16:09):

But I felt like I just wanted to be with other movers and shakers and I probably needed to pay to get in a community like that. And so what happened is so six months of me getting to know these other women, they were these bad-asses who loved their businesses and were so like, I, you know, I was proud of the results I get, but you know, it was for the company, it wasn't for me. And so, um, once I started my business, they flocked to me cause I never been available for them to hire me before. So there's like, wow, let's see some shoulders, man. She had it all like. Suddenly I'm available. So I was hired to do, um, I think an eight page website. And at that point that was going to be so much work that to deliver it in a timely manner.

Cindy Childress (16:58):

I had to go to my employer and say, you know, cause you know, and they were following me on Facebook and we had an open relationship open conversation together. So I was able to just say, you know, that thing I put on Facebook about getting, you know, being hireble. Well, it's really taken off and I got a 40 hour project now. So we need to talk about my hours. So what they did that was also super smart for them because we got to remember those crazy conversions that I got them. Um, they didn't want to lose me. So they were very flexible to reduce my hours and then keep me just for the sales scripts part because, um, you know, I'm not shy about saying I am better than anybody at that for them. So, um, with that kind of locked in, then the cool thing is that was still enough money for me to bring in, to contribute to our home so that I was able to take the money that I was getting for those projects and reinvest it in my business because now what's become my part-time job is, um, kind of paying the bills.

Cindy Childress (18:05):

So that was a really, you know, and I want to say like, don't be, don't be ashamed to keep your other job. You know, now I call them my retainer clients. I'm still doing their sales scripts and quality control on that 1-800 number. But you know, it works for me very well. We have a great relationship. They're a great company, you know, we're all good. And then I can still do all my other stuff too. So whatever success looks like for you, like multiple strings of income, not a bad thing. In fact most wealthy people have more than one stream of income. Yeah. Um, if I think about my other streams of income too, you know, sometimes I do affiliates where I'm selling somebody else's program, um, with my emails and then, um, you know, they, I get a kickback there, which is very little work for me. And that's another way, you know, to make money too, as a freelancer when you have an audience.

Angie Colee (19:02):

Yeah, no, all of this is fantastic. And I was writing down notes while you were talking. Cause I think like there were a couple of points that really struck me as being, I don't want to say universal, but like so many of us on the entrepreneurial path, particularly in the creative path have been here before. Um, so when you talked about, when you first went into writing, writing everything under the sun, I know that I went there too. I think I've told this story before on the podcast, but like I, I wrote business plans. I edited people's books. I wrote the production, the live production script for the Ms. Black USA pageant. They really loved me. That was another one that, you know, like you from Google university, I figured out how to write a production script. And then I wrote it because somebody paid me to do it.

Angie Colee (19:43):

Um, you know, there's, there's nothing better than I think learning on the job and kind of when you're new to this and you're not really sure where your expertise it's totally okay to take projects that you think you can do. Right. I mean, don't mislead people into being like, "Oh, I've never done this before, but well, you know, I, I can guarantee you'll make this." No you can't, but it's totally okay to say, "Hey, you know, I offer this service. I'm confident I can help you. It will be X dollars please." Uh, and then just be off to the races and figure it out and trust yourself, bet on yourself. Um, the other thing that I thought was really cool that I really wanted to point out in addition to you saying that like you don't necessarily have to leave the day job. You can have multiple income streams, you could be flexible.

Angie Colee (20:27):

I think a lot of us treat entrepreneurship as either-or. I have to leave the job or I have to start a business. The business has to be successful or I have to go back to a job, not necessarily. And the cool thing that you did was instead of agonizing over this and getting too in your head about, "I can't possibly work. Like my job is going to fire me. If they find out that I'm doing this." Well, first of all, they already knew that you were doing that. So that was pretty cool. But you straight up, went to them and said, "okay, so this is the thing that I want to do. And I don't really want to leave. How do we work this out?" And to me, that's a very adult conversation that a lot of people seem to be super uncomfortable with these days, which is like, "Here's where I'm at. Here's what I want. What are you thinking?" And just let it be a conversation because if they had had a problem with you going off on your own, they would have let you know right then. "No, we're really not cool with you taking this on. Uh, I don't think that we can continue" and you would have had a choice to make, that's not a judgment on you. You're following your heart. You're seeing some success and that's really freaking awesome. And they can either be on this train, the Cindy train, getting some awesomeness out of this or they can, you know, like the old company, they could let a superstar walk away, uh, and be on their own. They clearly recognize the superstar talent that they have in you and decided to keep you in whatever form that looked like. So it was a negotiation. You got to follow your passion and go right and keep a really awesome client that respected you and treats you well and pays you pay is always good.

Angie Colee (21:58):

So I think that's great. Like we often have way more power than we give ourselves credit for simply because we don't like having uncomfortable conversations or we have that uncomfortable conversation with ourselves in our own heads, imagining all the ways that this can go horrifically wrong and end in nuclear winter, which I'm, I'm famous for ending all worst case scenarios in the depth of everything as we know. Um, but the reality is, is just a conversation. You go and, and without emotion you say, "here's where I'm at. Here's what I want. I'd like to keep working with you. If that's cool with you, let's talk" and just let it be a conversation. And I promise you, anybody that comes at you from an antagonistic, super emotional place in response to something that's so level-headed and open to working things out and collaborating that problem is them. If they're coming back to you and feeling really hurt, I promise you that.

Cindy Childress (22:58):

I definitely agree. And something you said really struck me about, you know, you when you're trying something new that you haven't done before, you can figure it out and get paid too, but you also want to be honest with people. So the way that I transitioned to ghostwriting from mostly copywriting and content writing was I did. I edited a book for a friend and I enjoyed it very much, but what I noticed too, is like, as good as I made that book, when I edited it, I could made it even better. If I had just planned it from the beginning and written it myself. That was my feeling. So then I thought, well, I would love to try that. And then like, people at home, I don't recommend you do exactly this, but what I did is look and see what's the cheapest rate I can find for ghostwriters. And it was like between eight and $12,000. So I decided to charge $6,000. And then I swear, this is why like, don't do what I did, although it did end up working out for me. So then I said, okay, I'm going to offer ghostwriting. That's only $6,000. I'm going to do it half price for the month of April. I did that in 2017, I got three takers. Now, the good thing was that was $9,000 now in the bank, but that was also three books that I was going to write. Off to the races. Well, the good news is two of them were Amazon bestsellers. So that was one of the credentials that I needed, because even though I was, um, with, uh, you know, with my education, I had some writing credentials built in, but I wanted to be able to point to Amazon where you could check out my work and I wanted it to have a gold star on it.

Cindy Childress (24:43):

So I got that. And, you know, once I was a best seller writer, um, you know, the clients came easily. I was quickly able to charge way, way, way more. And now my services start at $30,000. So, you know, but when I started out and I didn't know if I was going to like doing the work and I wasn't sure how good it was going to be, I knew it was going to be pretty good, but I wasn't sure it would be like over the top, you know? And then I made sure that I charged people at a rate where they were, um, they would also be comfortable and no matter what they can, you know, they would walk away feeling they got more than what they paid for. So.

Angie Colee (25:22):

Well, and I think that's really good too, because pricing is such a sensitive topic with people, especially if you've never charged for a particular service before, like Cindy, you wanted to explore this because this feels really good. Um, I bet you learned real quick throwing that number out there, and then having to do the work, the actual value and why you needed to say a big number, right? Cause like just the act of committing yourself to a number and then having to deliver it. And this is where the pro code kicks in, which you guys hear me rant about all the time, but you know, if you commit to something, then you show up as a professional. When you said you would having done what you said you would do because pros honor their commitments. Even if they find out later that they really should have doubled that number, you do the work, you learn the lesson. Cause you got paid to learn that invaluable lesson. That is not a lesson that you could learn studying a book or taking a course. That is only a lesson that you learned from the school of hard knocks from naming a number and finding out, wow, that was like five times more work than I thought it was going to be. Uh, probably next time should start those prices at Y instead of X. Uh, and now I'm going to go practice saying that in the mirror so that I don't get on a call and go, that'll be, I think it'll be $10,000.

Angie Colee (26:38):

Nope. Practice it in the mirror. That'll be my fee for that starts at $10,000. Take the emotion out of it. Take the, you're not asking for approval. You're not asking for permission to set your prices. Permission granted already, you're listening to this podcast. Permission is granted, you already know this. Name your number. Let them opt out if they decide it's too rich for their blood, there will be somebody that can afford this guys. There are people that pay like $3 million for a car. I will never understand this in my damn life. I could spend $3 million on so many fun things that are not cars, but there are people who find that valuable. So no matter where you set your price, there's going to be somebody out there that finds value in what you do. And they might even think, "Oh man, you're so you're so reasonable. You're so cheap. Uh I've I've worked with other people that charged this much." Well, uh, now, you know, to charge even more to those richey rich clients. And just like build up your value to those people that can afford what you want to make. I mean, that's like, that's at the heart of what these car manufacturers did. Right. They decided to build a $2 million car and then they went and reverse engineered. Like what does the $2 million car look like? All right, cool. Uh, gold-plated something, I don't know. I'm pulling this out of my ass clearly. I'm not a car enthusiast, but-

Cindy Childress (27:55):

I don't know. I don't know a ton about it, but, um, yeah, it's definitely like if I could do all that over again, I do think I was smart in the beginning to charge like a no brainer rate, but it shouldn't have been that no-brainer, it needed to still be a good deal for me. And that was what I left out of the equation. And I will say, why did I leave that out of the equation? Well, it was partially because with the part-time role, I had kept at that company that I knew that my lights were on. I knew the gas was in my car. You know, all those things were going to be covered. And then this was kind of an exploration to see what else is possible, what else is out there? So, um, you know, in business terms it was like, you know, a Play-Doh set that I was seeing, what can I make?

Cindy Childress (28:37):

But, you know, um, if I were going to do that over again, I probably would still look at, you know, what's the lower level of what people in this industry charge, but then I would've just started there and worked my way up if I didn't have the confidence to command top rates. And even today, you know, I feel like I charge a fair amount for my work, but then I was just in, uh, in a bidding situation with another ghostwriter and it turned out, they were asking for $50,000 to do the same thing that I was asking for $30,000 for. And then I'm like, Oh, you know, so there's always, there's always more, we're all on this upward ladder.

Angie Colee (29:14):

Well, and you know, actually that's a great point to make too, because I think comparison is a trap too, that we didn't actually go into the it's it's commonly touted, right? The adage is comparison is the thief of joy, which I totally think is true. And I bet that you were feeling really happy with $30,000 until you heard that other person's quote. And like, it would be really tempting to stop in that moment and be like, "Shit I'm screwing it up again." And like immediately defaults into beat yourself up. And that's why I'm like, you know, to a certain extent I'm comfortable not knowing what other people charge in my industry, because I want to set my own rates. I want to feel good about what I said I was, well, I wouldn't say I was happy. I was okay at the old job until I found out, like I was putting up with their toxic bullshit and people screaming at me. I was still producing good work. I loved my creative team and hated pretty much everybody else in the company, but I was doing all right. I was covering the bills, uh, surviving in the Bay area and, and doing all right. Um, and then I found out that I was $10,000 behind the curve for my title. And I thought that I was delivering above the curve work. And so that was when I first made that case about like, "look at all the earnings that I've made this company I'd like to earn more please." And they were like, "uh, screw you lady." And then it, that was like the beginning of the end when they turned me down flat. Oh, is I was suddenly pissed off and look at where that started. Right. It, it was a good thing for me ultimately, because I did not belong in that job.

Angie Colee (30:44):

And in fact, that whole department got laid off and the company got shut down and that's a whole fun story. I explore in depth in the book, but yeah, just, it started with me being extremely dissatisfied because I had compared my salary to someone else's and saw myself as lacking. Um, yeah, I probably kind of like got a little, like I poked holes in my own argument there it's like, uh, to a certain extent, comparison can motivate you to do better, right? Like when you were comparison shopping and trying to figure out how, how to position yourself and what to charge with this project that you're new to. Um, but then by the same token, you have to be careful because you could wind up in this "I'm not good enough dissatisfaction trap."

Cindy Childress (31:29):

Definitely. Like your self worth is not the measure of your hourly rate. Like those two things do not need to be, um, put together. And so for me, for the low dollar that I charged on those test projects, when I was just starting to ghost write for me, the value there wasn't really, um, the payment that I got when you looked at the amount of work that I did, I actually, I did the math, it came up to about $12.50 an hour. So I actually made more personal training. In fact because I was a good personal trainer. I mentioned that, um, you know, so if I can make about, you know, $48 an hour personal training, that was kind of my standard measure. If I'm doing other stuff and I'm not making at least that much, I may as well just put my uniform back on and work people out. And so that was, you know, but when I got, there was the Amazon bestseller status and the confidence of their testimonials and the confidence that what I produced was really, really good, and that was an important stepping stone for everything else. So I think also knowing what you're getting out of it and why it's worth it to you to do it is really important, um, including the dollars, but not just always about that.

Angie Colee (32:38):

And I think great because that in my mind that brings up an important point about cost versus investment. So technically it costs you money to take those projects for as low as it did. Like when you ran the numbers afterwards and you found out that you were making a quarter of what you could have made personal training, that technically costs you money. But if you only look at it from those cold hard numbers, without any context, you're kind of, you're missing the bigger picture, which was that you invested your time for less than you would have made at personal training and then got all of these great results on the other ends that you couldn't have paid. Like you couldn't have paid to get to the bestseller list, uh, at that point. Um, yeah, I think that's just great. It's like we kind of lose sight of the big picture, especially in the beginning end of entrepreneurship, when money is tight and it's tempting to just wear all these hats yourself and save a little bit of money and stretch that stretch that dollar as far as it can go.

Angie Colee (33:39):

But like, you can only wear all of the hats for so long. That was a little bit of a tangent there, but, you know, I want to also go back to something you said earlier with keeping this client and kind of having a hybrid model, not going either, or they paid the bills, which gave you the freedom. You use that word freedom to explore this and, and play around with it and not be so attached to the outcomes. And I think that's important. I know that a lot of us, like when I first went out on my own, I didn't really have savings. So I didn't kind of have that luxury. And I know that not, there are a lot of people that either do have that luxury. They have family support, some people don't, you know, and they don't have savings. They lost their job like with the pandemic, but whatever you can do to insulate yourself against everything having to be, "Oh my God, I land it or I'm homeless" is going to be a good step.

Angie Colee (34:32):

And to me, like, I'm, I'm going to rant about this until someone throws me off a frigging cliff, start a savings account. If you don't already have one, even if you only put a dollar in there at a time, make it a habit to start saving that way, it doesn't become an emergency if you're not immediately bringing in clients, um, and booking yourself solid because, you know, uh, the reality is that like Cindy is incredibly good at what she does. And she made a series of smart moves. That meant that when she was ready to go out on her own, she was booked pretty quickly. That doesn't happen to all of us. It did not happen to me the first time I went out, I did not make smart moves though like Cindy did. I didn't join networking groups. I tried to do everything on my own. Hint - You don't get extra points for getting to the end of the game, having done everything on your own. Uh, it's actually easier to go together and work together. So I'm just going to rant about random things today.

Cindy Childress (35:31):

No, this. It's really, you know, and like, just forgive yourself for wherever you are too, because there's even a lot of things that I've learned since then, that I would do smarter now, like charging more, even for those tests projects and having a little more, you know, faith in myself and just, you know, belief in the value of my own work and my own labor. That was something I've had to learn in the process here. Um, and then just like wherever you are, just keep going, like, don't worry about what you, that spilled milk. Because if I got really bitter on those projects, once it was like five months in, and then the client comes back with like a ton of revisions. And you're just like, what is my life here?

Angie Colee (36:18):

You're going to love the book when you get my edits. Woo hoo.

Cindy Childress (36:22):

Just stay focused on why you're doing it for you, not just for this particular job, but like, what else is there for you when you have this great testimonial and this great case study that you're going to be able to point to and break down for other people to say how you do what you do and why you're amazing at it and how you're amazing at it. And don't forget that part when you're starting out as well.

Angie Colee (36:49):

Yeah. That's, I mean, that's the there's value in doing the work in just doing the work you can't, this is why you can't get stuck in the planning trap. And like once I have everything figured out, I'll move. No, the time to move is when you feel inspired to move, learn along the way, trust yourself, bet on yourself. You'll be able to figure this out well, before it becomes nuclear winter. I promise. Um, so far all of the disaster scenarios that I've imagined in my head have not in fact, come to pass because we're alive, presumably, and you're listening to this, not in a dream state or in Zombieland, uh, but, uh, there's value in doing the work and not attaching to the outcome of like, "This is going to be a best seller. This is going to make my career" because just by doing, putting in the repetitions, like you would, as a trainer, you're developing those muscles, you're developing that confidence. And then you'll be able to leverage this into bigger, better, bolder, more paid, even higher fees. I love that there's so much value in just doing the work.

Cindy Childress (37:49):


Angie Colee (37:50):

And I think like, I love your mindset in that too. I just want to highlight that again, that you said something along those lines of, like, it didn't matter to me. I could get bitter about this rate that I charged, but the more important thing for me was that I, I got the clients that got the testimonials. I got comfortable with doing the work. I understood the value of my skills. And then like, you really, you don't learn that kind shit of in school, ladies and gentlemen and others, like all the folks out there, that's not the education that you get in today's system. That's only the school of hard knocks I'm telling you.

Cindy Childress (38:29):

Yeah. Um, I will amen that. Where did I learn that? Exactly. I think it's just along the way. Um, like, um, Louise hay, um, her self-help, uh, things, you know, and kind of just looking at where is the blessing here? How is this to improve my life? Um, and then it's your job or my job to figure out the answer to that. And it's easy when it's great, how's this to improve my life, who, you know, but then sometimes seems like not a great situation, but there's, that means there's something there to learn and you just have to look a little harder to find it.

Angie Colee (39:11):

Oh, that's such a great thing to right. Because what there's so much information, especially in today's age with, you know, you're listening to a podcast right now and there's videos and commercials and TV, and it was just like information being, you're being bombarded on a daily basis from the moment that you are awake with information and your brain can only handle so much. So it's already got these filtering mechanisms. That's kind of like tuning this thing out, allowing this thing in, just so that you don't get overwhelmed and paralyzed. Right. And the downside to this filtering mechanism is it can be trained. And if you don't deliberately consciously train it, you will default to negativity because that's just human nature. Like we spot the negative things so that we can survive things like, you know, if you suspect every bush behind every bush, there's a murderer or a saber tooth tiger.

Angie Colee (40:06):

You're probably going to live longer than your counterparts. But you know, that's just not the reality and in today's and age. And if you aren't training yourself to look for opportunities like you did with, with this book, with this networking group that you didn't think that you could afford, like all of these choices I think are indicative of the right kind of mindset that is going to find a way to succeed, regardless of what all you people have to say about me, screw you guys. Like this is the thing that I'm going to do. I'm going to figure out a way forward. And I love that. So if you're not consciously thinking about, you know, to go back to what you said, Cindy about, yeah. It's easy to find how is this going to change my life for the better, in the good situation. If you can train yourself to look for the good, the silver lining, if you will, in the bad situations. That's Ooh, that's the super, that's the rocket fuel that is going to get you through to the next level, for sure.

Cindy Childress (41:01):

Yes. Um, the only ghost writing client that fired me, this might not be the best story to end on, but it was like, you know, I can tell, you know, like her expectations and then the process of the work. Um, those were just not adding up. And, you know, when she sent me the breakup email, I was, I kind of had seen it coming. And I just said, I contacted my lawyer. And I said, um, if you helped me with the contract, I'm like, "okay. So she wants out, what I need from you is what do we do in writing to make that happen?" Like, I'd already tried to make her happy when she complained that was unsuccessful. Um that's okay. Um, but then, you know, it was like, how do we get out? And then in that process, and I just hoped that she was looking at what she had learned, which I think was like, maybe don't hire a ghostwriter that talks about story writing all the time if you don't want stories in your book, which I it's definitely my fault though for, um, because I was in conversations with her husband and those went very well, but then he hired me to do her work. So I hadn't really met her and developed a rapport with her and even spoke one-on-one with her about it until I was already hired. And that was my mistake because I was assuming it was all getting transferred, you know, and, you know, I'm sure he thought he was, you know, conveying the deal, but, um, you know, something got lost there and I'll never, um, start business with somebody again, um, that way, even if it means taking longer. And even if that means that my process doesn't fit somebody's expectations, um, I would rather us know then instead of knowing when we get in and then, um, to just be able to cut it clean and then say, okay, what's next? What else? That was a surprise. But then, you know, I made up that income very quickly with an affiliate offer. I wasn't even expecting to do so the next month, like my revenue hit exactly the same place. And that's just where we have to be as entrepreneurs. Um, learn your lessons and just say, what next, what else? And keep at it.

Angie Colee (43:26):

Yeah. And keep saving. Right? Because that happens like that. You know, I, I love that you tell that story too. And I agree that that's, that's going to be like a super high note to end on because there's so much to take away from that. You didn't do anything wrong. You conducted business as usual. You attracted someone that vibed with you. It just so happens that he thought his wife would also vibe with you. And so like, there was a miscommunication there, but it's not something that you did wrong. It's not something that the wife did wrong. Or even the husband, like this was just literally a big miscommunication where everybody thought they were on the same page and you weren't, and that doesn't make you a bad person, that doesn't make him a bad husband, that doesn't make her a bad business person. It's just a bad fit.

Angie Colee (44:14):

And I think like this idea that, you know, you have to land a contract and you have to nail it. Sometimes it's just a bad fit. Sometimes working with this person is going to drive you insane and it's better to walk away. And then, like you said, trust that you're going to be able to fill that gap. And you filled that gap the very next month, you didn't expect to lose this contract. You lost this contract. You said you turned your attention to the next thing and said, okay, well, I got business to take care of. I got a gap to fill. Let's figure this out and then surprise, surprise. You figured it out. It's funny how many entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, I know have such a similar story of like I lost a contract and I could either like, sit there and cry over that spilled milk. Oh no, I lost the contract. I suck as a human being, life will end as we know it. Going to be homeless under a bridge, surrounded by feral cats. Life will end in nuclear winter. There's nothing left for me here. Or you can turn it around and be like, all right, well, what can I learn from that experience? Well, I'm certainly not ever signing a contract with somebody who's not writing the book ever again. That's a good takeaway. Uh, I'm going to make sure that I'm talking to the author of the book so that we know that we can get along and we're not driving each other nuts. Um, and now I'm going to go make some more money because

Cindy Childress (45:33):

Yeah, that's the entrepreneur game.

Angie Colee (45:37):

Oh man, this is so fantastic. So thank you so much for being on the show. We could have ranted a little bit about everything today and I kinda love it. Uh, can you tell us a little bit more about where to find you on the interwebs?

Cindy Childress (45:50):

Absolutely. The best place to find out what I've got going on is www dot Cindy children's dot com. And if you go to backslash quiz, you can take my Discover Your #1 Bestselling Author Personality quiz to unlock your author superpowers. So go check that out and you can also find me on Instagram. I post every day @cindychildressphd

Angie Colee (46:17):

I know Cindy's got the most wonderful Instagram photos all the time and I'm so jealous of her style. Uh, definitely highly, highly endorse. Like I said, I hired Cindy to help me with my own book. Uh, so anything that you can learn from this amazing, amazing, super special lady I highly urge you to do so thank you so much for being on the show. And we were going to have to do this again.

Cindy Childress (46:39):

Definitely. Thank you, Angie. This is great.

Angie Colee (46:45):

So that is it. Another awesome episode of Permission to Kick Ass on the books. If you want to know more about the show or if you want to know more about me, Angie Colee and the mission I'm on to help entrepreneurs punch fear in the face and do big bold things, then head on over to That is all one word together, Make sure to sign up for my email list so that you know whenever there's a hot, fresh and ready podcast episode out for you. And also on Mondays, I like to send out a little newsletter called Kick Monday's Ass. I'm sure you're totally, totally surprised by that. So thank you for being here with me today. I'm Angie Colee. Make sure that you share this with a friend that needs to hear this message today. Like it, share it. Comment wherever you're listening to this today and let's go kick some ass.