Momentum Podcast: 544
Nearly Bankrupt to Booming with Marley Baird
by Alex Charfen
I invited Marley Baird back on for a progress update, and this podcast is one of the most vulnerable and transparent interviews I’ve ever done. Usually, when people are being interviewed in a testimonial style podcast, its all about how perfect everything has been. But not this time.
Since Marley has been in our coaching program, not only has everything not been perfect but just a few months ago she was in a position where she thought she was going to lose it all. After making some hard decisions and implementing the Charfen Cadance, Marley turned her business around to a point that was better than she could have imagined. Tune in, I can’t wait for you to hear how things turned out for her.
Full Audio Transcript
I am really excited for today's podcast because I have one of our regular guests back, and you know, I don't have a lot of guests on this podcast, but whenever the opportunity comes up that I can interview Marley Baird, I absolutely take it. And this one's going to be a bit unique. See, most of the time, when people are going to be on podcasts, especially in a testimonial fashion, it's all about how everything has been so perfect. Well, I want to let you know that since Marley's been in our coaching program, not only has everything not been so perfect, just a few months ago she was at a point where she thought she was going to lose it all, and I can't wait for you to hear how things turned out.
Automated: I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few, who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we're into the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.
Alex Charfen: I am so excited to have Marley Baird here with me today. Marley, thanks for coming back to the podcast.
Marley Baird: This is my favorite thing to do ever is being on your show.
Alex Charfen: We were just talking about that before I hit record on the podcast. The problem that I have every time I recorded with Marley is I'd rather just chat with her and catch up and find out what's going on, but we have to get a podcast recorded, so now we're doing it.
Marley Baird: We got some stuff to do. We've got some stuff to talk about.
Alex Charfen: No doubt. You know, Marley, this podcast, I'm really excited for everybody to hear this because in the world of business, here's one of the major frustrations I have, is that if you go to an event, if you go to a mastermind, if you hear somebody talking about business, what we hear almost nonstop, consistently, is how great everything is, how everything is going perfectly, how all of this success, all of the joy, all of... And we all know it's not like that. Let's get real. If you look at the way people talk about business in the marketplace, it's like the easiest, most fun thing in the world to do. But if you take a zoom in on any business, typically the entrepreneur in charge is having a really hard time. And in the past year your business has gone through some challenges. Right?
Marley Baird: The biggest, toughest, most painful challenges ever that I never saw coming.
Alex Charfen: And you know, Marley, let's go back a little bit because I love this story. So, we started working together. You, originally, I asked you earlier, when did you join our coaching program? And you said, "Before it was invented," and it's absolutely true. Marley found out we were coming out with a coaching program and said, "I'm the first member." And we said, "But Marley, we don't know how much it is." And you said, "That's okay, just make sure I'm the first one." And so-
Marley Baird: Take my money.
Alex Charfen: Yeah, take my money. So you are absolutely member number one. So you started with us April, 2018.
Marley Baird: Yes.
Alex Charfen: And what happened was you started around, I think, it was about a $300,000 business?
Marley Baird: Yeah, I was making, yeah, 30, thirty-ish thousand a month.
Alex Charfen: 30,000 a month, and you drove it up, over the course of about a year, to a million dollars a year, to around a million dollars a year.
Marley Baird: Yeah, we were at a 100k months.
Alex Charfen: Now this is why I'm so excited for this podcast. I often share with people that when you go from multiple six figures, like around that 300k up to a million, it's very common that everything in your business breaks. That people look different, products look different, the team looks different, that literally everything feels like it breaks and has to be reset. Marley, does that resonate?
Marley Baird: Yeah. It's painful. Yeah, it resonates so very much, Alex.
Alex Charfen: You went from 2008 up to a million, so let's talk about it. In April of this year, so a year after we started working together, literally your business felt like it was imploding and it felt like you were just catching a falling knife. Tell us a little bit about what happened.
Marley Baird: Everything was broken. I was in the red. I thought I was going to lose everything, and as the leader of this company, I thought I just have to put on a brave face. I got to power through. Some members of the team knew, like my executive team, and for others, we just... Everything was fine, we're in a little bit of a dip but we have the plan to move things forward. But we really didn't. I didn't know what to do. It was like, just keep trying, just keep working, change your lead generation strategy and fulfill better. And I, honestly, we got to a point where I was like, "If this doesn't turn around in a month or two after all this trying, I'm going to lose everything."
Alex Charfen: Yeah. What did you do? Is that when you reached out to Deana on our team?
Marley Baird: Yeah. And because I had talked to the executive team, on my team, about it, being very vulnerable and transparent with like, "Here's the bank account. Here's my personal bank account, because I'm floating the business and now my line of credit is floating the business." And I'm like, "I'm paying all your checks and I'm drowning here, really drowning." And so, I went onto one of our daily calls, the daily support calls-
Alex Charfen: Can I stop you for a second, Marley?
Marley Baird: Yeah.
Alex Charfen: I just want to stop you because so few entrepreneurs talk about these moments, and I want to slow it down a little bit so that we can do two things. One, let the people out there who this is going to happen to know it's coming and what it's going to feel like, and two, really create a space of empathy for people who are going through this. So, Marley, when you were in that place where you didn't know the answers and the business felt like it was falling in around you, and you just said, "As the person in charge of this business." What does it feel like when you don't have the answers? The business is at a million dollars and it starts to topple like that and you feel like you're the one in charge with no answers.
Marley Baird: It was all on me and I felt like, "There's all these people on my team." My team was 14 people at the time, and I was like, "I have to pay all their paychecks so that they can feed their families and they can keep that roof over their heads. Even if it means I'm losing mine." I was supporting their family to the detriment of my own, and I was like, "This has to work. It has to work."
Alex Charfen: What does it feel like for you personally, Marley? How vulnerable does it feel when you have this engine around you called the business that is now starting to sputter and you're supposed to be the person that fixes it.
Marley Baird: It's like I was trying to be strong for them, but at the same time crumbling with every core of my being, every cell, and feeling alone because I couldn't... Even I felt ashamed to be honest with Wayne, my husband, about, "Here's the reality of it and here's how I'm actually feeling." I was consumed with anxiety and so afraid of, "This might take us all down."
Alex Charfen: I want everyone listening to hear that that feeling of being consumed with anxiety and it's all on you and that level of pressure, that's real and all of us have felt it. Marley's felt it, I felt it, we've all felt it. So if you're in that place where you're feeling it, just know that it's normal. It's who we are. As entrepreneurs we work everyday to put ourselves in the place where we don't know what's going on. That's literally what we do. And so, Marley, you got there and you're in that place of vulnerability, not knowing who you can talk to, not going to talk to Wayne. What'd you do next?
Marley Baird: Looked at the bank accounts, I think, because I'm like, "Okay, how long can I actually float this? All I need is just, you know, your one funnel way and we can turn it around." And we were trying. We launched a webinar, it failed. Launched a new webinar, it failed. Launched a case study funnel. It started to work but just things weren't moving fast enough. And then I did start to have more open, honest conversations with Wayne and the team to say, like, "Here's the reality. We need to move things." I also think, when you bring that to the team, it was hard to get honest or even just like, "Here's tough decisions that need to be made." No one's going to say, "Let me resign." I mean, maybe [inaudible 00:08:44] but my team, they love what they did, but they also were like, "We're ready to fight with you. But at the same time, I need my paycheck." Totally.
Alex Charfen: Yeah. Yeah.
Marley Baird: So I got on one of the daily support calls in the program and Deana, amazing coach, was like, "You know what, Marley? This is a 911. Let's do a one-on-one." Oh, my God, thank you so much. And that's where I... Because even on the daily phone calls, I know it's such an incredible community that I can be vulnerable. But there were still some things, like I wanted to share the numbers and the reality of what's happening on the team, how many people on the team. And so I got on the one-on-one with her and she was like, "You know what, Marley? This is a real 911. I'm going to get Alex involved." And I was just, "Thank God," because I went from, honestly, about to lose everything, like a few threads away from that, to... It felt like triage. Like, "Just here's what you need to do. Stop the bleed. These are really hard decisions, but you've got to rip it off like a Band-aid, and here's what to do next."
And, thank God for you. I will never forget that day. We were in Greece for a business trip and it was like 4:00 o'clock in the morning because of the time zone change, it was... Wayne and I did not sleep that night. I think we pulled in all-nighter just like here, talking with you, and with like, "Here's what to do, here's what to do next." And then waiting for when, in America, when our team was waking up and just like 9:00 a.m. got on calls and we had to let go of three people that day, and totally blindsided them. And it hurt, for everybody.
Alex Charfen: Yeah. Yeah. It's so hard to let people go, but at that point it was a choice, wasn't it, Marley? Like your business and your family, or continuing to employ people.
Marley Baird: Yeah.
Alex Charfen: Yeah.
Marley Baird: And for how long? How long could I keep that going?
Alex Charfen: I want to check in on something with that. So one of the things that I always tell people is, when you're in these situations, one of the hardest decisions to make is to let people go. But sometimes you have to, for you and for them, but that it's the hardest decision to make going in, and it is the most profound feeling of relief coming out. Did you feel that after you had let them go?
Marley Baird: Yeah, it was like bittersweet because of course there's feelings and families involved, but it was also like, "Okay, I actually have a real opportunity to rebuild and actually breathing in."
Alex Charfen: Yeah. Yeah. So we cleared that space. So you moved some people around on your team. Here's what's interesting, Marley. Moving the people off the team lowered the noise a tremendous amount, and then you went back to some of the strategies that you were trying before, and all of a sudden when the noise was gone, a lot of what hadn't been working started working like crazy, didn't it?
Marley Baird: Very much. And even though [00:11:37] you talked about multiplication by subtraction.
Alex Charfen: Yeah.
Marley Baird: And it's not that we had toxic members of the team that sometimes what you talk about in that concept. But it was like, the team came together, and when I had to make that difficult announcement to the team on our huddle that day to go, "Hey, three core members of our team are gone. And here's the reality." I was the one who got caught being awesome that day on the huddle when they were like... Everyone was teary and like, "Marley, we're here for you. We know or we empathize or sympathize with what you're going through. And like you made a tough but good decision and we all have your back," and then I didn't feel so alone anymore.
Alex Charfen: Well, I want to stop you for a second. So the day before you're having to make these incredibly difficult personal decisions, and let's be real, it sounds dramatic to say when you were terminated someone it's life-altering. But is it really? I mean, it's life-altering. You're altering what they do every day, where they get their agenda everyday, where they perform every day. And so you had to make these life-altering decisions. What was it like to get on a huddle and have your team support you like that, Marley? What did it feel like for you as an entrepreneur?
Marley Baird: So scary at first to come into the huddle and there's three less blocks on our zoom call, [inaudible 00:12:55] always bring it up. Like, "It's our Brady Bunch," because we have the Brady Bunch-
Alex Charfen: You've got the broken Brady Bunch.
Marley Baird: That's what it looks like. And yeah, our Brady Bunch was broken. And I'm like, "All right, we're all here. Before we get into it, I have something to tell you," and to be holding back tears in that moment and saying, "Guys, everything changed today and I don't want you to be alarmed, but here's the reality of the situation. And you guys have always talked about being in the frontlines with me and that doesn't change and here's how we're going to move forward now." And, oh my gosh, they... I mean, I'm tearing up thinking about just how hard the conversation was, but also how much of a breakthrough and emotional and just the team that came together, I'll never forget that whole few days of how much they were like, "We love you, we believe in you. We're not leaving." Like we were going to rebuild this and even the team who I have now that came through that with me, we are so, so close because of that.
Alex Charfen: You know what's interesting, Marley, is when... and I mean I love this podcast because there are so many confirmations of the things we teach that so many people doubt because until you've been through this the first time, a lot of this feels counterintuitive. One of the things we tell people is, "When you let people go and you go to your team and you're honest and vulnerable and 100% transparent and real and you tell them the real situation, that nine out of 10 times your team will pull together and rally around you." What's interesting is most entrepreneurs think, "If I go to my team and I tell them things are falling apart, they're all going to leave." What was your experience?
Marley Baird: And that was totally my fear, too, that they-
Alex Charfen: That they were going to leave.
Marley Baird: They could be thinking, "Well, am I secure? Am I going to have my bills paid? Am I going to be able to feed my family and keep this roof over my head?" But they had been with me throughout the triumphs and the struggles and the frontlines, and they were like, "No, we've done this before. We're going to do it again." And maybe they're taking a chance on me, but they're also like, "This is where I want to be." They love what we do, they give their time to this business, and I want to be the best leader that can fulfill them so they can go back and give their rest to their families. And they were like, "We got you. We're in it." And that's the biggest gift of being a leader I could ever get.
Alex Charfen: Yeah. Ah, Marley, it's so, so awesome. Now let's take people where... I want to catch people up. So now, 2018, April, we start working together. $300,000 business grows up to a million dollar business. At a million dollars, literally everything falls apart, right? And it gets to the place where the business isn't profitable. That's stacking up, you're thinking you might have to shut the whole thing down. In fact, there was a few days there where that was the discussion you were having with Wayne, I think, or like, "Should we, can we?" Now, let's take people from April till today because I want to pull out of this very challenging time because things have changed dramatically for you. Let's hear it.
Marley Baird: So, from there, it was a pretty lean team who we could keep and who we needed, were going to still support the growth of the business. And I took on a lot back to myself. I was doing all my sales calls and being on one-on-one sales calls, then I had to do the rest of my work after that. So I was working really long days to the point where I was just drained and exhausted. Another position of drowning, but just in a different way. But I learned so much about the business at that point, and for me to be on my own sales calls, I was actually speaking to the people and hearing what they needed and connecting with them.
And it was also so cool to hear them and to know where they're coming from and what they love helps give me ideas for products. I was like, "Wait a minute, I would never have gotten this if I wasn't the one on these calls," because I had to. And as much as I was, yes, drowning in my workload then after that, it shifted our products. And then, when we were able to sell more of those... Because... And then also meeting on the calls, they were so excited to talk to me. I don't know if that really helps, but I sold a lot more than what [crosstalk 00:17:10]
Alex Charfen: Sure. The numbers sure show like it helped.
Marley Baird: Oh, heck, yes. I started to get some runway back. I'm drowning though. I'm working so hard and so long. And then I was like, "Okay, first step, I need a marketing support here." So I was able to hire a marketing coordinator. And then still drowning with sales calls, I found a sales person and he is incredible at sales and sells so much better than me, and it's really great to have that barrier in between that I'm not the CEO and the sales person. From there things... It's a whole new business today. My whole team, we have our Brady Bunch back on our zoom [inaudible 00:17:48] And I can't believe how things turned around from being like, "I'm going to lose it all," to like, "This is way better than I could have imagined."
Alex Charfen: I want to draw a couple of things out for people listening just because I think there's some lessons here. So number one, we always... One of the things as a company we tell people when they come to us in crisis is, "Okay, let's end the crisis. We need to stop the bleed, we need to lower the noise, and we need to remove the primary pressure," which in your case was going into debt and losing money and not being able to pay the bills.
Marley, what we tell people in advance, is we say, "If you're willing to do these things, your perspective will shift and you will see opportunity." It's a very hard equation to convince somebody of. Like, "You need to make all these changes and then it's going to get better, kind of like magically, but it really will." When you lowered the noise, didn't that kind of happen for you?
Marley Baird: Immediately. So quickly. Even within a few weeks later, I had made a huge... I don't know if I should say numbers, I'm more than happy to.
Alex Charfen: Please say numbers, Marley, absolutely, share numbers. Your numbers are amazing.
Marley Baird: Well, yeah, so we went from, like you said, a million dollar run rate to then debt and drowning, and then two $100,000 months in a row, that we're actually on the verge of like, "Hey, next month might be like $2 million run rate, which I never even thought was possible. I know.
Alex Charfen: From a million dollar run rate and drowning, it's all going to fall apart, to next month may be a $2 million run rate and profitable.
Marley Baird: Profitable. I have money in the bank account, Alex.
Alex Charfen: So, Marley, it's so inspirational to go through this with you because here's what we know as a coaching company, and this is what we talk about. Every business that we coach is broken. We always tell people, "Your business is broken and if things go well, it always will be." So we don't get surprised when we get a crisis call from a client. It's like, "Oh, okay, cool. They're going through a major transition. This is probably a huge catalyst to growth." And when this first started, one of the first conversations we had while you were in Greece, and I know you were exhausted and so much was going on, but I said, I don't know if you remember, I told you, Marley, "Marley, this means you're going to grow. We're going to get through this and this is a transitional period. That means, on the other side of this, there's going to be significant growth. So I want you to prepare for two things. One, a lot of very difficult decisions. And two, a significant amount of growth." Do you remember that conversation?
Marley Baird: I believed you. I just didn't know how.
Alex Charfen: Right. And you said that. You said, "I believe you. I have no idea how that's going to happen." But you see now, sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we want to see this direct line. Like, if I do ABC and D, it's very clear that this is going to happen. Well, sometimes we also have to have faith that if we take care of ourselves, lower the noise, take away pressure, that things will get better for us. And I think you're just such an incredible example of that, Marley.
Marley Baird: Thank you. And, honestly, thank you and your whole team. I don't know how businesses run without your systems, and I've said this multiple times that obviously I am the first member of your program and I will maintain that title, but even when things are good... That's why I am always going to be in the Charfen cadence and with your team, because it's like business insurance to me. Like you don't buy a house expecting a tornado to hit and you don't go into business expecting everything to fall apart and potentially putting your family in danger. But when it happens, I know exactly where to go.
Alex Charfen: Gosh, that's so awesome, Marley. Marley, we love working with you and not only are you our client, I've been your client, and I think that, hands down, you are one of the most talented video strategists in the world today. And I know there's people out there who are going to want to reach out and talk to you. Where should they go and how do they get more information on what you're doing?
Marley Baird: Yeah, my website, marleybairdmedia.com or find me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. I would love to work with anyone and support them in their marketing and their video strategy.
Alex Charfen: Yeah. So if you're doing video online, if you're going to put up a YouTube channel, if you have videos that you want to get more leverage out of them, if, basically, if you are influencing any way with video, you should talk to Marley. She was at my house for one day and in a day I learned two or three different strategies on videos that I've used since then, so her coaching sticks. It's actually real. It's high-level strategy. You should definitely reach out if you are doing anything with video. And so, it's marleybairdmedia.com, check out Marley. And Marley, thanks for being here today.
Marley Baird: Thank you for everything.
Alex Charfen: My pleasure.