Lauren Smith Brody says no to the offer she thought she always wanted

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Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester turned down a high prestige offer when she realized saying yes would make her feel like a fraud. Then, a surprise turn of events proved the decision was the right one. 

 

In Lauren’s story you will learn:

  • Why she turned down a speaking engagement invitation she really wanted

  • How her entrepreneur philosophy has changed since her book was released

  • How turning down that so-called opportunity led to better ones

In Lauren’s lesson you will learn:

  • How she balances her desire to volunteer with the importance of being paid for your work

  • Her specific strategy to put a price on your time- even when you are volunteering

  • Specific ways parents can evaluate how much time to allocate to different commitments

In Lauren’s money tip you will learn:

  • The specific way she decides what to outsource, and what to do for herself

  • Tips for entrepreneurs on setting up their business

  • How taking the time to learn new skills like setting up a website and putting together presentations, improved her value as an entrepreneur. 

  • What she chose to outsource and the mistakes she made along the way. 

In my take you will learn:

  • Why you need to decide if you are a business, or a hobby. 

  • How to evaluate the true vale of an opportunity, beyond the direct financial benefit

  • Why I am adamant that entrepreneurs must trademark their brands

 

Episode links:

Squarespace

Harvey Karp’s book: The happiest baby on the block

Learn more about Lauren at http://www.thefifthtrimester.com/

Follow Lauren on instagram @thefifthtrimester

Follow Lauren on Twitter @Laurensbrody

Follow Lauren on Facebook @thefifthtrimester

Buy Lauren’s book The Fifth Trimester

In this Financial Grownup podcast episode, Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester turned down a high prestige offer when she realized saying yes would make her feel like a fraud. Then, a surprise turn of events proved the decision was the right one. You'll also learn the things she decided to outsource and tips for entrepreneurs on setting up their business. #EntrepreneurInspiration #BusinessTips #Author

In this Financial Grownup podcast episode, Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester turned down a high prestige offer when she realized saying yes would make her feel like a fraud. Then, a surprise turn of events proved the decision was the right one. You'll also learn the things she decided to outsource and tips for entrepreneurs on setting up their business. #EntrepreneurInspiration #BusinessTips #Author

 
In this Financial Grownup podcast episode, Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester turned down a high prestige offer when she realized saying yes would make her feel like a fraud. Then, a surprise turn of events proved the decision was the right one. You'll also learn the things she decided to outsource and tips for entrepreneurs on setting up their business. #EntrepreneurInspiration #BusinessTips #Author

In this Financial Grownup podcast episode, Lauren Smith Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester turned down a high prestige offer when she realized saying yes would make her feel like a fraud. Then, a surprise turn of events proved the decision was the right one. You'll also learn the things she decided to outsource and tips for entrepreneurs on setting up their business. #EntrepreneurInspiration #BusinessTips #Author


Transcription

Lauren S. B.:
I didn't want to get up in front of a room full of women and know that I was sitting up there as a fraud, as someone who wasn't getting paid for this.

Bobbi Rebell:
You're listening to Financial Grownup with me, Certified Financial Planner, Bobbi Rebell. Author of How to Be a Financial Grownup. But you know what? Being a grownup is really hard. Especially when it comes to money. But it's okay. We're going to get there together. I'm going to bring you one money story from a financial grownup, one lesson, and then my take on how you can make it your own. We got this.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, friends. This episode is about saying no when you are not valued. And by being valued, I mean, being paid. My guest is Lauren Smith Brody. She is the Author of the bestseller, The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby, which just came out in paperback.

Bobbi Rebell:
Lauren is also the founder of The Fifth Trimester Consulting business, which helps parents and businesses create a more family-friendly workplace culture. Lauren is also the former Executive Editor of Glamour magazine, and you've seen her all over the media, including Good Morning America and CNN. Here is Lauren Smith Brody. Lauren Smith Brody, you are a financial grownup. Welcome to the program.

Lauren S. B.:
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Bobbi Rebell:
We'll talk more about this later, but your book, The Fifth Trimester, is out in paperback this week, so congratulations on that.

Lauren S. B.:
Thank you. It's been a fun year.

Bobbi Rebell:
You've been building The Fifth Trimester into a whole consulting business, which brings us to the story that you are going to share because it has to do with basically running your business, and how that's evolved.

Lauren S. B.:
I have learned so many financials this past year since the hardback launch last spring, I can't even tell you. The story that I wanted to share is about the first big thing I turned down. So this whole year has been about building, as an entrepreneur, my own business, and really having to put a price tag on my time, and on what exposure is actually worth to me, and what things I'm kind of willing to do for free for the good of the community, and the good of my business, and what things are really, I must be paid for. So anyway, I had a big bank. Like think of the biggest name bank you can possibly think of-

Bobbi Rebell:
I have a definite name in my head, but okay. Go on.

Lauren S. B.:
I'm not going to say it. The two came to me this week and it was through someone else. It wasn't actually totally direct, but the conversation got a little muddled along the way, and it turned out that they didn't want to pay me to do a presentation. They wanted me to do a presentation. Didn't want me to pay them, and I'm thinking-

Bobbi Rebell:
Literally free? Not a low pay, just free?

Lauren S. B.:
No, literally, free. And so then it was like, well, maybe they would buy a big quantity of books to give to all of their employees, which at least, sort of makes my soul feel a little better about the situation. And all I want to do is take a big screenshot of their logo, turn it gray, put it on my website, and say, "I spoke here. It's huge. It's worth so much to me." Except then, I found out that actually the event was a client event. They were trying to woo new business and I was basically going to be the hired entertainment, and they weren't going to pay me for it.

Bobbi Rebell:
No, they probably would pay the caterer, right?

Lauren S. B.:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I'm sure the food would have been really nice. I wouldn't have eaten because I would have been speaking. Anyway, I don't mean to sound bitter. I'm actually not bitter. It made me feel so good to say no to this because it's the bravest I've been about saying no to something. It could have been valuable for me to have that exposure.

Lauren S. B.:
But actually, I didn't want to get up in front of a room full of women. It was going to be women, and talk about things like the pay gap, pay parity, the motherhood penalty, and know that I was sitting up there as a fraud, as someone who wasn't getting paid for this. So it felt good to make that decision and then the big PS is that the very next day, I got two more offers from other big corporations that want me to come and speak. I turned them right over to my speaking agent, she's negotiating it, and I think it's going to go well.

Bobbi Rebell:
And they will pay you.

Lauren S. B.:
And they will pay me because I feel confident enough that if I can say no to X thing, then I can probably say yes to a lot of other really good things.

Bobbi Rebell:
So what is the lesson? I mean, I feel like there's a lot of pressure, especially on moms, to volunteer.

Lauren S. B.:
Yeah.

Bobbi Rebell:
Because so many moms are so qualified, they're organized, they have their act together, and yet, they may not be working to maximize their income in certain years, so there's an expectation. "Well, you have the time. You should volunteer."

Lauren S. B.:
Right.

Bobbi Rebell:
I mean, and that's really what that was. Is you would have been a volunteer for this for-profit event.

Lauren S. B.:
Right, and you know what I love even more than my business, is I love my children, and I love their school, and I love all of the things that I can do for that community, to foster that community for them. And so what I really learned ... I worked in corporate America for many, many, many years in publishing. I worked at Condé Nast. And then so this is my first venture working for myself. This is the first time when I've had the freedom to do a lot of this volunteer work, and I do squeeze it in, in the middle of the day and then I'll end up doing a lot of my work-work in the evenings.

Lauren S. B.:
And so after saying yes to the umpteenth thing that I really did enjoy, I found that I had to kind of in my head, put a price tag on my time, which sounds a little crass. But it's only in my head. I'm not sharing it with anybody else. But it's I need to put a price tag on what is an hour of my volunteer time worth? It is, what sort of satisfaction does it give me? Is it worth X dollars of my day to miss this much work to be able to enjoy this much pleasure? Is it something that I'm doing with my kids? Is it something that will directly benefit them? Or, is it more of a sort of like status thing in the school, which is worth less to me, frankly, because it just doesn't feel genuine.

Bobbi Rebell:
But sometimes we feel obligated.

Lauren S. B.:
Yes, we do feel obligated. And it's okay, like when you're part of a community, you do have an obligation sometimes to be a part of it, but it's helped me. If I put a dollar amount on an hour of my time, both for work and for volunteering, and that has made me make a lot of decisions a lot more clearly and easily about whether I say yes or no to things.

Bobbi Rebell:
I want you to share a personal money tip, and I know the one that you've brought has to do with being an entrepreneur, and things that you have learned in terms of what you want to do yourself and what you outsource, and how to do that. How to decide.

Lauren S. B.:
Yes, there are so many mothers who are very, very, very good at outsourcing absolutely everything that is not something they're naturally good at. That's not me. I'm one of these people who would rather just do it all myself. Well, there's diminishing returns very often on that, and it comes back to what is an hour of my time worth? So when I was putting together my website, thank God there's Squarespace, and there's actually things that make it sort of intuitive and easier, but I have never done that before. I'm not even joking.

Lauren S. B.:
This is embarrassing to admit in a podcast. I had never made my own PowerPoint. I always had a staff of designers and assistants. I would tell them what to write and do and they would animate me this gorgeous PowerPoint. Well, those are two things I actually decided to do myself because I knew that in doing them, I would gain the confidence I needed to do a lot of other things. I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about having worked in print magazines and not so much in digital.

Lauren S. B.:
Now I feel I've built a website, I've built an online community, I have built a social network. I feel very digitally savvy, and I've grown that all myself, and that started with actually spending three days struggling through Squarespace, trying to figure out how to size pictures, and how to line things up, and how to communicate to an audience, really more than anything. So that was really valuable to me.

Lauren S. B.:
On the other hand, what I did spend my money on was trademarking my company name, The Fifth Trimester, which ended up, has been ... I am so grateful there have been probably a dozen moments over the last dozen months when I have been so glad that I own that trademark. It is now something I can license. It is actually worth something to me.

Lauren S. B.:
I actually expanded the trademark to several other categories a few months ago, so that if I want to claim it in many other ways, I can. And that is definitely something I couldn't have done myself. I actually initially signed on for one of those online legal websites, and I realized I didn't know what I was doing, and I ended up hiring a real lawyer to really do it for me.

Bobbi Rebell:
Yes, I actually did the same thing with Financial Grownup, and it gives me a lot of security because I knew when I went to do the podcast, I had the audio rights to it, and I wouldn't have a problem. I think that legal money when you're not a lawyer, is definitely money well spent. You want to be protected because you're building this business, so for entrepreneurs, spend money on the right things. So speaking of The Fifth Trimester, so as I mentioned at the beginning, it's paperback week. Congratulations.

Lauren S. B.:
Yeah, thank you. Thanks.

Bobbi Rebell:
This has been quite a journey. First of all, it's been a bestseller. I love seeing it on the shelf in Barnes & Noble in my neighborhood, which is really nice. It's usually in a beautiful display because people love this book.

Lauren S. B.:
Oh, thank you.

Bobbi Rebell:
It's really resonated with so many people. I wish it was there when I had my son, 10 years ago, because I would have felt so much better having a guide going back to work.

Lauren S. B.:
It is the book I needed. It's the resource I needed. When I was pregnant, during my first three trimesters, of course, I had Baby Center to tell me when my fetus was the size of a kumquat, and when he was the size of a cucumber, and then he was ready to be born. Then I learned about something called The Fourth Trimester, which was the newborn phase because the idea is that human babies are actually born a whole trimester too early. So to soothe a newborn, you recreate the feeling of the womb-

Bobbi Rebell:
Right, we swaddle.

Lauren S. B.:
Yeah, so we swaddle. Exactly. Swaddle, we shush, we swing, all of those S verbs. It's the Harvey Karp idea. Then when I got back to work, all that support sort of fell off. I have to tell you, I was working in a fairly supportive industry, surrounded by women who were very comfortable talking about things like breastfeeding. I had a supportive spouse. We had enough money in the bank that I could take a few weeks of my leave unpaid. I did have to back after 12 weeks, which to me, was not quite enough. But it's what I needed to maintain my job.

Lauren S. B.:
And yet still, I just felt like there was nothing out there to support me. I ended up, years later, I had the idea that this was transition, that I had gotten through essentially another trimester. This one was for the Working Mom, and I had colleagues who said to me, younger colleagues who weren't in this phase of life yet who said, "Thank you for being so honest and transparent about what's hard here, because ..." And I thought, "Oh, gosh. Have I been unprofessional?" And they were like, they went on to say, "Because you've shown me I can do it one day, too. You've shown me that it's hard, and that I will still get through it, and it will be okay."

Lauren S. B.:
That was really a eureka moment for me, when I realized that my next goal in the next phase of my career was going to be support new parents in this transition back to work.

Bobbi Rebell:
And it's more than a book now.

Lauren S. B.:
It is, yes. It's a movement. For the book, I interviewed hundreds and hundreds of new working moms to figure out what worked for them, and they've become this sort of working, collective working mom mentor for anybody going through it. But what I found is that in speaking, I go into companies and I help them make, not just better policies, but actually better culture so that even if they have good policies, a lot of these, especially the big tech companies, the big law firms.

Lauren S. B.:
People feel like they can't use what's available to them. This actually lets them change the culture, lets them use what's theirs, sort of equalizes things between moms and dads, and people who don't have children, and may never have children. To make things fair for really anyone with a personal life in the workplace.

Lauren S. B.:
So I've been in, I'm going into Google next week. I'm going to AmEx. I've been to Facebook. I've done a ton of big law firms. It has been so fulfilling and the room is full of not just new moms, or expectant moms, but also the managers who really want to support them. And that is, we are in a groundswell movement for women's rights in the workplace and it has been a good moment to be here.

Bobbi Rebell:
Well, we are lucky to have you leading the charge there. Tell us where people can find you.

Lauren S. B.:
Oh, absolutely. So I'm all over Instagram. Too much, it's-

Bobbi Rebell:
I love your Instagram.

Lauren S. B.:
Oh, thank you. I'm having so much fun with stories in the new font. And again, like that's because I made my own website, that I feel confident that. And then on Facebook, it is The Fifth Trimester. On Twitter, I'm @LaurenSBrody. Lauren Smith Brody. Lauren S. Brody.

Bobbi Rebell:
Here's my take on what Lauren had to say. First of all, Financial Grownup tip number one. Are you a business or an expensive hobby? You cannot be afraid to say no to something if it does not benefit your business if you are running a business. In some cases, you may say, "You know what? I do want that logo on my website. I don't like the deal, but the logo on my website does present enough value to me that this time, I am going to say yes." That's okay, but realize you have set a low and, frankly, unsustainable price point.

Bobbi Rebell:
You will never make a profit if you don't get paid. There will come a time when you have to say no to free. Or, like I said, "You just have an expensive hobby." If a for-profit company is running a marketing event to bring in clients to benefit their business, and they don't have a budget for speakers, it is because they made a choice when they created that budget. It's just not something that they value. So think, "Are these people that you want to be in business with? And, will you feel good about being there?"

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grownup tip number two. Lauren also talked about trademarking. If you are investing your time in a new venture, make sure you protect it. And frankly, make sure you're not violating some else's trademark. This is serious stuff. If you are not a lawyer, and I should say a lawyer that specializes in this, get a pro. Get the right lawyer for this. Don't mess around. The last thing you want is to devote your limited time and resources to something, only to have someone swoop in, and benefit from the brand value that you have created.

Bobbi Rebell:
All right. Thank you all for all of your support and feedback. I truly appreciate everyone who has subscribed, rated, and reviewed the podcast. If you're listening and you haven't subscribed yet, it's free. Hit that subscribe button. Of course, please follow me on social media @BobbiRebell on Twitter, and at BobbiRebell1 on Instagram, and go to my website. Sign up for my newsletter so I can keep you posted on everything going on with the show and other projects.

Bobbi Rebell:
I hope you enjoyed Lauren's story and that we all got one step closer to being Financial Grownups. Financial Grownup with Bobbi Rebell is edited and produced by Steve Stewart and is a BRK Media production.