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Today’s guest is a former executive of Fortune 500 companies. Denise Hamilton is a social entrepreneur who works with different organizations that are aligned with her business. In addition to being a mother, she also plays a major role within her community.
In today’s episode, Denise talks about her business, Watch Her Work, a digital online learning community, and how the situations in her life caused her to start such venture.
How to ask for a raise and how to tell your boss you’re pregnant are some of the commonly asked questions she receives from her clients. She also shares the challenges she faces as she continues to strive to put all the information in one place where women can access it whenever, however.
”That’s the focus of my business – it’s making sure you have the skill in real time when you’re having a problem.” – Denise Hamilton
In This Episode of the Start Fierce Business Podcast:
- Denise mentions that she enjoys the “Aha!” moment that makes people feel empowered, thus putting them back on track to reach their goals.
- She talks about her greatest challenge as an entrepreneur, which is sharing her vision with the right people in the right way.
- She shares her story as a young entrepreneur – buying a box of candy and selling it with a markup and going through college on scholarship while holding jewelry shows in her dorm to sustain her daily needs.
- She gives a glimpse of the five quick questions she asks others to make sure they’re really into what they say they want to pursue.
- She shares her reason for passionately persevering as an entrepreneur, which is to give others a chance to access what she has.
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Welcome to the show. Denise, thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited. I’m excited to have you on tell us about yourself outside of your business.
Is there a self outside of my business, I didn’t know there was a thing. I am a mom of a 22 year old and a wife of an amazing husband. And that much fills up my life. As a social entrepreneur. I spend a lot of time working with various boards and organizations that I’m passionate about that align with my business. So I’m pretty active in the community and love to teach and encourage wherever I can tell us about your business and how you got started. My business is called watch her work and what it is the digital online learning community. I started it, you know, as you know, it’s mostly female entrepreneurs, what we do, we solve our own problems. And that’s how our finances get started. I was an executive. I’ve been an executive for over 25 years that fortune 500 companies like AOL and TV era, but also I’ve worked in small business as head of commercial real estate firms. And I started my own entrepreneurial journey with Jones magazine. And consequently, people are we’re going to talk to me I was the only woman or the only African American in so many different situations that I would have younger people peers come to beat hates needs connected your brain, kidneys, can we go to monitor to have a problem I want to talk to you about and I had to work I had to work myself like, I want to help everyone. But there’s a point where it wasn’t time appropriate for me to invest that much time mentoring other people, but I knew that was a problem. The other side of that coin is they were kind of asking a lot of the same question and that kind of triggered an idea in that what if we just put all of this information in one place so that women can have the answers to these questions when they needed it at their convenience you know how they needed it and that’s how watch her work was born. So basically what we do is we crowdsource professional advice for women interview successful in in great their content in short, clip, 123 minutes and categorize it so you can have that information at your fingertips. How do you ask for a raise? How do you tell your boss you’re pregnant? What do you do when a client hits on you? How do you take control of the meetings, you feeling? box out all of those issues? Like no one person has the answer to all of those questions.
But together we all do. And what do you enjoy most about what you do that aha moment? I love it. When somebody feels like there’s no answer. They can’t figure out a problem. And they get exposed to content information that makes them feel empowered and puts them back on the right track to reach their goals. There’s a lot of people who are motivating right now. You know, we’re in a, in a kind of an explosion of life coaches and virtual coaches and motivational speakers. That’s not really my space, my space and education. I want you to know what to do when you hit that difficult situation. If you cried at work today, it’s great for you to talk to someone that says, you know, you’re okay. You’re worthy, you’re amazing. But it’s also valuable to know what do you do when you go into work tomorrow? What are you saying? you apologize, you act like it didn’t happen, what do you actually do? And so that’s really the focus of my business is making sure you have the skill, you know, in real time when you’re having a problem.
Well, that’s so useful. I could have used your side occasions A few years ago, well, it’s not too late.
The other thing that’s been really interesting is it’s not for young people. People always think you know, that quite often. In closing, I wish I had this at the beginning of my career, the actual situation is that you need this when you’re in the middle of your career even more, because that when things start getting really hairy, I always say, when you start your career, you know, you are looking for somebody to help you find the restroom, right? Like, but who can help you find the boardroom, right, who’s going to help you reach that higher level of success. That’s what watch your work is really targeted towards doing okay, and what’s your greatest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Hmm, my greatest challenge as an entrepreneur is sharing the vision with the right people in the right way, you know, I’ve presented and pitch to investors, you know, of course, a whole room full of male investors, and they don’t always get it, you know, they’re, they don’t understand it. I had one one gentleman actually asked me Well, if women knew how to lead a DVD, so how can you recite like this, that’s all women, right? Which I couldn’t believe you said that. But, you know, that’s part of the challenge of building an audience that needs the service and understands the service. And so we’re continually crafting our message and sharing the message with other audiences.
Denise, when did you know that you are an entrepreneur, I was one of those kids that, you know, bought the box of candy and broke it up and sold it marked it up. Actually, I paid for my college spending money. And I came from a single parent households are low income, that’s a college on a scholarship. But if I wanted to go to the movies, or I want to go out to eat, it was up to me. So I literally would buy jewelry wholesale. I’m from New York. So by the wholesale. And I went to school in Texas, and I would have jewelry shows in the dorm raise money.
And I sold ties. And I’ve always been kind of the creative on entrepreneur. And I’ve been an entrepreneur when I’ve worked in corporate environments. I’ve always been kind of on that creative side, the new project, the marketing space, a kind of innovative state. So that’s part of my DNA, what advice would you have for someone that’s getting started in business, don’t do it.
If I can tell you not to do it, and you don’t do it, then it’s not for you. an entrepreneurial life is really challenging, and you got to have a certain kind of stuff inside of you to make it happen. You have to love selling, or have somebody on your team that love selling, you could be the most amazing artists, the best fighter, the most phenomenal cook. But if you don’t have a solid plan on how you’re going to sell your product, you will be dead in the water. So I think it’s got to be something that you’re willing to commit 80 to 100 hours a week. It’s like having a baby that baby is demanding. And it requires a lot of your intention and time. And you got to be willing to commit to that above and beyond. And if you’re not willing to do that, don’t do it. It’s not a way to get out of going to work every day. You work harder as an entrepreneur than you do. And an office job. Exactly. Yeah, so we are recording this episode in January. And this is the time of year when a lot of people since I do web design, they come to me needing websites, because they want to start a business. And by July, they haven’t had a sale. They haven’t sent anyone really to their site. Except for their friends and family. They don’t have a plan, they do a blog, they don’t want to blog, right, don’t feel like they need to.
And then they see those hard and the next year. They’re just like, Whatever. I’m not renewing my domain.
Exactly. And you know it again, I talked about kind of what my goal is, and what what I want my site to do. What I want watch her work to do is I’m not here to motivate them to come night I’m here to be the hard knocks the real truth This is what it is you can count the cost there’s a there’s a Bible verse what man sets out to build a tower that doesnt sit down and count the cost. So if you’re going to jump into an entrepreneurial pursuit, you know, have you saved to money? Have you researched the market you understand who your first customers will be? Do you understand your product and are you willing to take the sacrifice and to be patient and to get out there and sell that’s really what it comes down to? And if you are via condos right that’s phenomenal. Let’s go join the club but if you’re not and you know it’s it’s better for you to 100% honest with yourself there’s nothing wrong with staying in a great corporate job and Chilean we need we need women to be on boards of directors and the PC. Oh, that’s companies. That’s okay. You know. So I think that don’t Don’t be an entrepreneur because it’s in style. And it’s been both do it because you have a passion around a problem that you want to solve. You developed a unique solution and you’re really willing to get out there and beat the streets to sell it.
Yeah. And I think another thing that I see people that I personally know doing is they don’t consume any content. Like they don’t follow any entrepreneurs on social media. They don’t listen to that many podcasts. Like I listened to podcasts all day. Well, I’m working all different kinds of podcasts. I’m consuming content from Gary van der Chuck Sean was Pat Flynn all the time. It’s free. And I also subscribe to some courses to I pay and I invest in myself and I read I last year I read 46 books.
Not all business books. But look, you have to consume content. If you want to be an entrepreneur, right? and diverse content, right? You have to understand counting, you have to understand the tech dimension of what you’re doing the social media dimension, we’re all in the communications business, no matter what business you’re in, you’re in the communications business. So you’re not going to learn it by osmosis. You can’t put the books under your pillow at night, you got to actually read them you got to consume and you can tell me everything that’s happening on love and hip hop. But you don’t know what’s going on with the latest trends are and social media. And that’s the lifeblood of your business. So I think it’s like anything else. Right? If you care about it, you will develop it, what you see grows, right. So you if you really are passionate about it, then when I ask you five questions, I’ve taught for several years at some local colleges. And one of the things I always tell students when they are telling me about a career they want to get involved in. I always asked five quick questions instead, if you don’t know answers the five questions about that career, you’re not really interested in it? If you want to be a casting agent? Oh, for the movies and TV? That’s great. Where are those jobs usually located? What are the top five Cathy agents in the country? How much the casting agents make? How big other organizations like if you can’t answer a few basic questions about what you say you care about? It’s hard for me to believe that you’re serious. So that commitment to like, steadily feeding yourself and developing you know, people will think you’re crazy while they’re you know, Benji Netflix, you’re watching YouTube videos, learning how to do things and you’re listening to podcast. That’s the tell tale signs of a true entrepreneur. Mm hmm.
Yeah, that’s exactly my thing. I can’t tell you what’s going on.
I’m not saying it’s bad to watch TV. I’m not saying it’s bad to watch reality TV. You know, you may have some shows that you watch.
I have shows that I watch. But I watched them while I’m eating.
I watched them while like right before bed, like my work comes first. And my education comes first. I definitely consume way more entrepreneurial content and way more things that are going to like edify me than like, bring me down.
Absolutely. And there’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, you have so much information at your fingertips, you know, you can learn to do almost anything. I just finished a book called when sleeping women wake moving mountains in your life and work. And, you know, I learned how to design my own book cover. I learned how to type set my own typeface on the book. I mean, like, you can learn so much on YouTube down and on the web and through various courses. So what’s your reason for not having mastery of your content? You’ve got to do it. You know, your competitors are right. Another big mistake. I’m sorry, this episode’s kind of turned into like mistakes that entrepreneurs make.
Another thing that I see a lot of people do is like, No, I don’t need to know how to do that. Like, I can just outsource it. But no, you actually do need to know how to market you need to know how to write a blog post. You need to know what you’re doing so you can know who to hire. Right? Right. You can’t manage a skill that you don’t understand. Mm hmm. You can’t. So you know, again, if it’s annoying to you, if you’re not interested in it, you need to take a look at who’s Well, I really want to do this job do I really want to have this experience is the key ingredients are not interesting to me. The key activities are not interesting to me. And you can outsource you don’t have to have mastery of everything. But you do have to have a baseline understanding. So you can ask for what you need. And also so you’re not overcharge. You know, something that takes five minutes to do something I can tell you. It costs $500, but you you don’t know because you don’t know. So I think it’s really important to educate yourself as much as possible now, but don’t allow that education to be paralyzing, right? I know, people who listen to podcasts and watch inspirational videos all day, but they don’t actually do their work, you know, like there is at some point, you do have to make the cookies you want to sell. Know, be careful that we’re not like immobilized in learning. But it’s gotta be a steady significant part of your daily diet.
Right? I think the best thing to do is just start consuming content from different people. And eventually you realize like, Okay, my, my beliefs, my entrepreneurial beliefs are in line with what Gary vein or Chuck teaches. So I’m going to do everything Gary says I need to do and for me, it’s like well, my freelance beliefs align with Bianca board. And so I’m going to listen to everything Bianca says about web design. And so after a while, you kind of like narrow it down. And you might still listen to all the people you used to listen to. But there will be you’ll have your favorites. And those are going to be the ones that you’re going to take action on their content.
Absolutely. So aside from not wanting to work for someone else, and aside from your family, what is your why I am a passionate believer in access. I think that there is genius in every part of our country. There’s genius, and every race in every age group. And part of why we tend to see the same types of people always rise to the top is because they’re afforded access that others are not. And so a thread that runs through my whole life, not just my business, but my whole life is how do we make sure you have something to bring to the table that you get a chance to boot up your chair and sit at that table, I think we’re all made better when that happens. That’s a critical value about watch their work for me, if you have a good to be on the board. If you have to good to be the director of a division or to start a business, I don’t want you to step away from that because you don’t have the information or you don’t have the support that you need to get there. And so my Why is I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have amazing mentors, amazing peers that I can call on if I have a problem or issue or a challenge. And I know that everyone doesn’t have that same experience, right? That we’re not all equally blessed in that way. And so part of the why of creating this incredible platform has been around giving you a chance to have access to what I have and getting richer that experience. So my Why is I want you to have a shot if you deserve a shot. And I like that.
What’s your favorite internet resource or app that just makes your life easier. A sauna, I’m a little obsessed with a sauna right now because I am wildly creative. I am an idea junkie, I’m a tinkerer. So I forgotten more ideas than most people ever have. So having a tool and a place to really capture those ideas and capture those to do that you can rest it or park it someplace and then come back to it when you have more time it has been really powerful for me one of the things about starting a digital platform just actually today launched washer work that he and one of the things about starting a digital platform lighters is there’s so many moving parts there’s so many things you have to keep those plates spinning that a tool that really allows you to record so you can use you know your brain to make and solve problems not to remember I’m getting up in years now I’m in my mid 40s and I don’t I don’t rely on my whole brain to remember much anymore what’s on your bucket list when I was younger when my daughter was younger she was catastrophic Lee ill for several years over six years and was confined to a wheelchair she’s totally fine now like we went through an experiment with treatment and she is totally healthy and great but it meant that there was a long big chunk of my life that I couldn’t travel and I couldn’t do things that other people could do and so for me I just want to see the world I want to see all the corners of it and looking forward to my business taking me to all those places to meet those women and shared their stories and their experiences for watch her work here like what’s the best way for listeners to get in touch with you I’ve easy Denise at watch her work dot com. Check me out on the site. I love hearing from listeners. I love hearing from people who have questions they want us to answer on the site. And I love real dialogue. real questions about real problems. Like I said I I don’t motivate educate. And so you got a challenge or a problem that you want me to you know, throw on the side. I’d love to hear from you. Okay. And what are your social media accounts Instagram and Twitter. It’s at official you ham official tha n and watch her working for the company. Well, Denise, thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. Thank you for having me. I’m excited about your platform. And thank you so much for sharing your work with your listeners. There’s and sharing your platform with us as entrepreneurs are so amazing.
Cindy Rodriguez is the host of the Start Fierce Business Podcast. When she’s not interviewing awesome entrepreneurs, she’s working on growing her startup, going to Disney World with her daughter, or reading a book.