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Welcome to episode #97 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Lorraine Ball, the host of More Than a Few Words and owner of The Digital Toolbox.

Top Talking Points

  • If your habits aren’t fun, then you are doing something wrong and you need to reevaluate.
  • Take pictures of your day to day life as an expression of creativity and a way to take in the beauty around you.
  • When you need to make an important decision, you can never ask enough questions.

Resources & Links

Connect With Lorraine at DigitalToolbox.club or MoreThanAFewWords.com

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.

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Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Hey, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote, where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan  

Hey, Lorraine, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast. How are you?

Lorraine 

I’m great. Ryan, thank you so much for being here before. Thank you so much for inviting me to be here.

Ryan

You have your own podcast. So you’re probably so used to saying that, you know, it’s funny.

Lorraine 

Talk about habits.

Ryan  

Yeah, you’re on the right show to talk about that. So why don’t you tell everyone knew who you are and what you do for a living? No, I know, I know you sold a business. But you’re still you still have entrepreneurial activities that you do every day. And then give us a win that’s happening in your life right now. Something positive.

Lorraine 

So my name is Lorraine Ball. I’m the host of More Than a Few Words, which is a marketing conversation for business owners. And I also have an online training community called the Digital Toolbox. Wins in my life right now. Well, I am celebrating, I’m in my 13th year of podcasting. And I really consider that a win just because of the consistency and the fact that I still love it and still have great conversations all the time.

Ryan 

That’s amazing. I’ve had to do it for two years and the 13. That’s like, That is impressive consistency.

Lorraine  

It’s fun. And it’s changed a lot in podcasting. In general, it’s changed a lot. But I think the ability to have the conversations and recognize that each one is different, and each one is fun, has just really kind of made it a joy to keep going.

Ryan  

I really enjoy it. It doesn’t feel like work to me, honestly. And so sounds like it’s the same with you for me if you’ve had to go on for 13 years. So let’s start by talking about your morning routine. Lorraine. How do you start your days?

Lorraine 

Well, it’s so funny because it’s become such a routine that my cat knows that. And if I vary, he yells at me, I get up every morning, and I have some workout equipment. And the goal is to do six different exercises, three repetitions of 10 each. So I might do 30 setups, and then 30 squats or using weights, different things. But I got to do six different activities. And I have to walk 1000 steps before I can kind of sit down, whether it’s for breakfast or at my desk. I can’t sit down until I do those things. And it’s so funny because my cat will literally sort of meow at me in walking in circles to kind of walk me into the room where I have to do that. And then he sits and watches me. And then he knows when I’m done and he stops me out.

Ryan 

And that’s an accountability partner. Amazing.

Lorraine  

Yes, I have a fuzzy accountability partner. But I’m really liked that I do other exercises throughout the day, and I have other goals. But I found that if I start with that, it really just sets a tone for my day.

Ryan 

Yeah, I mean, exercise, you can never go wrong with that I do the same thing. Part of my morning routine is exercise. So I 100% agree, what are their habits do you have like, if we look, if we look at your day, from when you start work, and when you go to bed? Do you have any habits that you like the pillar habits that you rely on?

Lorraine

I have always had task lists. And I, I’ve referred to them. I’m currently trying a software task list, which is a little different for me because I’m kind of old school and I like to write things down and I like to erase them, and cross them off my list. But that’s become a nice habit where I get up in the morning where I sit down at my desk and I’ll look okay, what do I have on the task list for today and really try to focus my day around that. I’ve gotten out of the habit of journaling, and I keep thinking I need to get back into it. But full confession, I’m just not there at the moment. Other habits, you know, just I think distractions I think, you know, we’ve had some personal challenges, the last few months family, you know, family issues, and I just have not felt like writing about it in writing at least recognizing that. And I have journaled on and off over the years and you know, I’ll go for a year or two, or I’ll go for six months, and then something I’ll interrupt. And I know I’m in that interrupt phase and I’m okay with it kind of like embracing it saying okay, but it is something I know I will get back to when I’m ready for it.

Ryan  

Yeah, I mean there are seasons for everything in life. So I think you know, it’s something that will eventually come back for you sounds like once you’re more into it, you know, and I think that’s totally fine. I think I think I think it’d be I think you bring up a good point too. is like being okay with not being perfect and not beating yourself up over it. I always talk about how I try to get my stuff done like personal development 80% of the way done. My morning routine. That’s a pillar habit. I try to get that done almost every day, but rest stuff like nutrition and exercise, I try to get it right 80% of the time because life is life. And you know, what’s the point of beating yourself up for over. So I’m glad you mentioned that.

Lorraine  

Life, if it’s not fun, you’re doing something wrong. I mean, not that every moment of your life has to be fun. But if you are literally walking through your days, and you’re checking off all the things that you know you’re supposed to be doing, and you’re not enjoying any of them, you need to step back and regroup. You need to look at it and go, okay. Where can I? Where can I shake this up?

Ryan  

Yes. I 100% agree with my Ballantine book club, and my agency. We’re reading Who Moved My Cheese. And it’s a classic. I mean, it’s, I mean, since the 80s. But I haven’t read it in a while we’re reading it now. And it’s so good. And he talks about the book talks about how like, things are changing, don’t like to hem and haw about it, just like, okay, things have changed, take action and find the next thing and just keep pushing forward. You know, and so such a great book.

Lorraine  

Yeah, it is. And the underlying philosophy, this idea that things are going to change, and you can try to be the immovable object in the middle of a storm, but you’re gonna get worn down, or you can kind of flow with it a little bit and go, Okay, I know, it’s changing. Where do I, you know, where do I want to go and see if the changes can take you there?

Ryan  

Yep, exactly. So one of their habits, I kind of took us off course. So you mentioned that you use a journal that you then you don’t write now that you’re gonna say something else where they’re having to do you have photography?

Lorraine  

I am what you would call a happy amateur I love taking pictures. And I try to take a picture every day. Again, it’s one of those things that when I’m traveling, and I’m somewhere interesting, that’s way easier. But getting out in your life and trying to not look at the whole world all day long through the lens of your camera. But to look for something beautiful or something interesting. Every single day is so much fun. I have a personal blog, it’s just Lorraine ball.com. And I have, over the years been more active and less active in putting some of my favorite photos there. I’m happy if I take a picture every day. And if I get around to getting a post up great. And if I don’t, that’s okay, too. But it’s the act of taking the picture that really is what’s fun for me.

Ryan  

Yeah, sounds like a real creative expression. I’m not a photographer. But I would imagine, you know.

Lorraine 

The thing is that you know, a dozen people can look at the same thing. And they’ll all snap a photo, and there’ll be one person who just tilts their camera a little bit differently or shoots it from a different angle because that’s the way they saw it. And I enjoy looking for those moments.

Ryan

So it’s sort of a business learning. I know you told me that you sold your agency, why did you sell it? And then what did you learn through the process of selling it or about the actual process? Or what did you learn about yourself doing, you know, selling agency?

Lorraine  

So I started the company in 2002. So, I had run the company for 19 years before I sold it. So I’ve learned a lot along the way about running businesses, what I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy. And I actually started the journey to look for someone to buy the company several years earlier. And so it was a really long process to figure out what the company would be worth to other people. Emotionally, I knew what it was worth to me. But also to get a sense of who I wanted to sell the business to because I had a really good offer about five years earlier. But it was to someone who I thought I didn’t like, and I didn’t think my customers would like and I didn’t think my employees would like and so I was like get knocked not gonna go there. And I learned, I think through the process, I learned that you can never ask enough questions, and I’m still not sure I asked all the right questions. I’m happy with the way the transition went. And I had an opportunity to go into this conversation with okay, I’m willing to sell this but not this because the podcast and the online training had all been part of the business as one entity when I was running it. But as I looked to sell, I realized that those were pieces that would not have value without me and that I really didn’t want to give those up. And so kind of getting to that moment where I realized what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do, and breaking those pieces off and selling the entity without them was there was a little learning that went on in the process and kind of knowing myself where I wanted to be when I came out the other side of it. I think the other thing is letting go like every now and then I’ll see something that the folks who now on the company did. And I sort of shake my head in disapproval. Well, I wouldn’t have done it that way. And then there’s that moment there. I’m like, well, but if you wanted to do it, you’d still be doing it. And then I’m like, Yeah, that’s true. And I go off and take a couple of pictures, go for a walk and have lunch with a friend and I’m fine.

Ryan 

You have any regrets you sold it? Or is it you knew you wanted to do it? And, so once it was done, it was more relief.

Lorraine  

There’s always buyer’s remorse. Do I have regrets? There are things that I’m sad about because they don’t do them the way that I did it. A number of my employees have gone on to do other things. But in the big picture, this was the right thing for me at that moment. And it was the right thing for the business. So I’m good with it. As you’re always gonna look back and go, Well, what if the what if, you know, there are lots of what-ifs, but the bottom line is, I’m happy with where my life is now. And it would not be where it is if I hadn’t made the decision to sell.

Ryan  

Yeah, what-ifs are very tough. That’s very tough, because like, there’s so many other variables and factors and the crystal ball. So if you had kept it, you know, who knows what would have happened? And so if someone’s listening to this, it’s, it’s going through the same process? Or maybe they’re, they haven’t sold their business yet. But they’re thinking about it, or maybe they’re in the middle of it, what advice based on your experience would you give them?

Lorraine 

So you actually said something there, that is absolutely critical. And that’s a process, you absolutely need to create systems, if you want your business to have value, you have to have systems in place that allow the business to run without you and that create replicable code. So that if somebody else comes in to take over the business, they can pick up where you’ve left off without missing a beat. And the more of those systems you have, the more valuable the business, the more contracts, and long-term relationships, the more valuable the business, we had a number of clients, instead of just coming to us, you know, piecemeal, where they were on a retainer, there was a year contract, those relationships had gone back 789 years. So there was a history, we had a history of people whose websites we had done, they came back, your customer list in your processes are two of your most valuable assets.

Ryan 

I know I’m staying on this topic for a while, but we sometimes go heavy on entrepreneurship on this podcast, and I’m just really interested in this. When you sold the business, was it? How much of a factor were you in it? Like were customers there working with you or clients working with you? Because it was a you and when you sold the business? They were afraid that you know, clients were going to leave? Or did you start to remove yourself from the business a little bit? So that wasn’t the Lorraine show and they wouldn’t leave, the clients wouldn’t leave.

Lorraine  

By the time I got ready to sell, I had probably one or two clients total, who saw me as their point of entry or not their point of entry, but their point of contact in the business, my content managers were content managers slash account manager, they had the primary relationship with the client, they were the ones talking to the clients multiple times a month, I would drop in on a meeting, I would check in with the customers so that they knew I was still there. But their relationship was with the content managers. And that was deliberate. The same thing with the web designs, I was involved on the front end, I would make the sale, I would do the handoff to the production team, and then drop in periodically, you know, review stuff behind the scenes, provide creative direction, strategy, that type of thing. But very deliberately, very little customer engagement so that when I wasn’t there, there were clients that really wouldn’t have noticed. Me we did tell them but really and truly they were like, well, is Sam staying is Stacey going to be there Simon going to there. Yes, yes. Yes. So that really wasn’t the issue.

Ryan  

But really great advice. For anyone listening that’s thinking about selling their business, you know, having a system and process for how you do things are very documented. And there are actually tools that you can use to do that captures all that. Or it can be as simple as Google Drive and videos and screen shares whatnot. And then just slowly removing yourself from the business at least from being the front person where if you sell the business it’s not like all relying on you I think that’s really good advice. Thanks, Lauren. Pleasure. So I’ve got one last question for you, we’re going to swing back to I guess you consider this personal development, personal developments, the whole topic of the meaning of life? It’s a very personal question. The meaning of life is different for everyone. So what does it mean for you,

Lorraine 

I firmly believe that we need to leave the world a better place than it was before we got here. And that may be for me, I’m a lifelong teacher. So teaching, training, and helping cultivate talent and other people. You know, over the 19 years that I ran the agency, I don’t even know how many interns and new college grads came through our doors. But I can tell you that as they move through their careers, it’s a lot of fun to watch and to see the impact that they have in the world. And, you know, as I’ve helped different small businesses get started and to see those companies grow and succeed and, and to sort of being the center of a ripple is really what I think all of us need to try to do. So that’s kind of where I like to define why I’m here.

Ryan 

I love that you were ripple. I love to think about the ripple effect. So you piqued my interest. And you said that? Well, thanks, Lorraine. This was great. If someone wants to reach out to you, where should we send them?

Lorraine  

So you can certainly always find me on LinkedIn, Lorraine Ball, and reach out or connect there or look for more than a few words wherever you listen to podcasts and digitaltoolbox.com.

Ryan 

Perfect. Thanks. So, thanks Lorraine, and thanks, everyone for listening. 

Lorraine

Thank you.

Ryan  

Thanks for listening to the  Morning Upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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