Lee: Well, hello there, Brenda, thank you so much for coming on the Coach with Clarity Podcast.
Brenda: Oh, I'm thrilled to be here.
Lee: I'm really excited, in fact we were just talking about how we have been in each other's worlds for a couple years now and it's taken this long for us to finally connect and do this. I'm so glad the day has finally come.
Brenda: Well, the time was finally right.
Lee: Yes, all things in good time. So I would love to kick things off by learning a little more about who you are and the work that you do for the world.
Brenda: Well, I am a Canva Verified Expert, I'm one of only 26 in the world at this time. That will change. I am under no illusions that it will stay the way it is. But it is a bit of a feather in my cap right now. But I have actually run a website development company for over 22 years. And what's interesting is I know that this episode is going to come out just after I have officially retired that business.
Brenda: So I'm recording today is Tuesday. And tomorrow is actually the last day of that business. So it's a long road. And I am really excited, though, to turn my attention 100% to teaching business owners about Canva and how to use that in their businesses. But most of my entrepreneurial journey has been in the website development and website support space.
Lee: What a huge transition. I mean, I feel quite honored actually to be here right as we're celebrating your retirement in many ways, so that you can move all into this other expansion.
Brenda: And it feels good. It was a really difficult decision to make. I will say that right around the time that you and I met a couple of years ago is when I started dabbling with the ideas of downscaling my services. And I made an, you know, pretty significant attempt earlier this year where I stopped taking on website maintenance projects, I stopped taking on new development projects. And I was only offering one particular package. But the more I sat with it and let it percolate over the last couple of months, I realized it's just time to let it go and to turn to something new. And what seemed really scary to do for so long just felt, it feels absolutely freeing on the other end, particularly knowing that all my clients are being transitioned to a developer that I really trust. So I know everybody's being well taken care of and that gives me peace of mind to move on.
Lee: That does really help, doesn't it? And I think that speaks a lot about you and your integrity, making sure that your clients are well taken care of. That just because you're stepping back, doesn't mean things end for them. And so to ensure that continuity, I think is really admirable. So, well done and congratulations.
Brenda: Thank you. Thank you on both counts.
Lee: So I love too that you're essentially like the OG when it comes to being the Canva Specialist like, one of 26 that is pretty impressive.
Brenda: You know, it means a lot. I like to be absolutely clear that I don't think there are only 26 of us who are capable of teaching this platform. I know there are tremendous designers and educators out there that don't just don't happen to have the title, you know, yet. At some point, they probably will. But there's a real, um it feels really good to know as well. This wasn't something I applied for. I was selected amongst 25 others, by Canva’s Community Managers based on the kind of content that we're putting out, the kind of education that we do, what they see us putting out into the world in terms of being advocates and cheerleaders and champions for the Canva brand. And what business owners can do with it or not even specifically what business owners can do with it. That's my area of specialty, is focusing on small business owners and entrepreneurs. Others may focus on personal uses for it. But it does feel good to know that I was, you know, one of a handful who were handpicked by the Canva team themselves. Yeah.
Lee: As well it should. I really believe that we entrepreneurs, and especially those of us that hold marginalized identities, like it's about time that we own our power. And we say “Yes, I did this, and I'm proud of myself. And this is a big deal.” And this is a big deal for you. So well done. Well done.
Brenda: Thank you.
Lee: I would love to know how you even discovered Canva in the first place and what led you into doing this type of work.
Brenda: So, I started using Canva back in 2014, which wasn't at the very beginning of it, but it was fairly early on. And I kind of stumbled across it out of necessity. I’d had a graphic designer who was working on a contract basis for me. She was creating all of my graphic content. She was creating my social media images, and my onboarding guide and my, any kind of marketing material that I needed, she was designing and creating for me. And then she decided that she wanted to take a full time position at another company and I lost my graphic designer. So I was in a position where I needed to find a replacement. And while I was looking for somebody to help me with all of that kind of content, I realized I was gonna have to create it myself in the meantime. And I had Photoshop but I wanted to see if there was something a little simpler, a little more intuitive that I could use. And I came across Canva, which really was in its infancy at that point. And I started dabbling with it. And I certainly made all the mistakes that I now try to teach how to avoid. But I think sometimes you have to make the mistakes in order to learn what not to do. And Canva was a very different beast at that time as well, the kinds of features and functionalities and capabilities that it has now it did not have at that point. And you couldn't create something quite as professional looking. But you could create something that looked quite presentable. So I just started creating content in it and realized that this is something that I enjoyed having the ability to create, you know, the turnaround time that I could create something was so much faster if I could do it myself, as opposed to waiting on a graphic designer. Now that said, there is a very important place for a talented graphic or brand designer in any business. And I did end up hiring one, she created all of my core branding content, my logo and my color palette and all of the things that go into that. But I don't want to be in a position where I'm relying on her then or now to create an Instagram post if I need something quickly. And so I think Canva really fills that position it did back in 2014 when I started using it and it does now many, many what are we? Eight years later? More than eight years later. So that's kind of how I stumbled across it, out of sheer necessity. And now it's kind of full circle now that I teach the thing that I was kind of forced into using in the beginning. But I'm grateful for that having happened.
Lee: I love that. And I have to say Canva is one of those tools that I use almost every day in my business.
Lee: And that is in addition to having worked with a graphic designer, a very talented one, who is responsible for the visual brand that is Coach With Clarity. She did the logo, the color palette, she's done some other really key pieces for me. But to your point, if I need to get out a graphic fast, if I need to do something for a Facebook post, or if I need an Instagram Reel cover, I can use the assets that my graphic designer created for me, import them into Canva, and then create something beautiful quickly. And so I love that you made that point that Canva does not replace a strong graphic designer, it really shouldn’t.
Brenda: Absolutely not.
Lee: It's more like the next step.
Brenda: It is and they really, I think sometimes they're pitted against each other as being competition. And they're not, they really work together beautifully. For those who are not in a position to hire somebody at this point, you're going to be able to use Canva to get started. And I don't ever want to see somebody being held up from moving forward in their business journey because they can't afford to work with the brand designer of their dreams. But, I think there is a point where you do need to invest in your visual branding. And when that time comes, use a professional for that. They're going to know, you know how to translate your brand values and your brand personality and your ideal client and all of those things into a visual contest that you can then import into Canva. And they're going to give you all the right versions of those files that you're simply not able to create in Canva. But I think there's a really beautiful relationship between the two, if you can get all of the visual assets that you need from your designer, and then carry them into Canva. And hopefully even get some best practices from them in terms of, here's how you use these patterns. Here's how you use, you know, here's the color hierarchy and what you should be using for your headings and what does that font hierarchy look like. And give you some guidance on that. And then you have a really good roadmap to carry through all of the other graphics that you might need to, from purely from a budget perspective, as well as a timeline perspective, be able to turn around and create your own visual content.
Lee: One of the things that I'm really intrigued about Brenda that I want to dive in is how you work with Canva. And you have a really unique perspective on Canva. And particularly your role in it because I think a lot of people see Canva as being like, “Oh, I need to get someone to help me figure out how to create inside it.” You, my friend, are more interested in like, well what do you do after you've created all of these beautiful things in Canva and then you've got hundreds if not thousands of creations that quite frankly, like, I can scroll through my Canva and just think to myself, “There's too much here, I can't even find what I need.” And that's where someone like you comes in, right?
Brenda: I tend to approach things from more of an administrative vantage point. I can and do create a lot in Canva. But I'm really interested in, you know, workflow, and, you know, kind of the functional, actual setup of it. I would say the majority of, not the majority even, 99% of the business owners that I talked to who are using Canva, if they have set up, even if they have set up folders in Canva, because a lot of people don't even know that those are there to use. But if they have, they still don't have a system that they are, they feel is intuitive and easy to use, so that they can actually find the designs and images that they've created or uploaded into their account. And so what happens is, you waste an absolute tremendous amount of time, trying to find things you know you've created before, you end up recreating things, because you can't find them, even if you maybe created them six weeks ago, or whatever it was. They spend a lot of time opening designs that all look the same from the outside because they can't tell the difference and they have to open them up and look through all of them in order to determine which one they were actually trying to find.
So there's all these inefficiencies that are absolutely sucking your time. And they're certainly creating a lot of headaches and frustration when opening up Canva. And then it's also costing money. Because if you have team members who are trying to create content for you in Canva, and they can't find what they're looking for, you're wasting a lot of billable time for them looking for the content. And it can all be avoided if you just have a really, you know what I like to call a Canva filing system, your Canva filing cabinet by creating a folder structure and understanding how to use some of the best practices like using templates. Creating not using templates as a starting point but actually saving your own designs as templates so that you never overwrite anything, or if you're looking to duplicate something that's right there for you. And I think the side of it, this side of Canva really gets overlooked, because it's a lot sexier to focus on creating beautiful visual content in it, because that's what it's for. But if you want to be able to do that more easily, more enjoyably, you can't forget about this more logistical side of it.
Lee: So you really focus on helping people create an infrastructure inside Canva so that they can maximize its qualities and use it efficiently as well.
Brenda: That's a great way to put it. Yeah.
Lee: And I don't think I know anyone else who does that. Like, I think you have found your blue ocean? Like I think it's you.
Brenda: Is there another Canva verified expert who teaches and focuses on organization? No, there is not. I am it. So I'm going to really lean into that niche before the ocean starts getting a little more red, because yes, that time will come. But I feel like I am. My experience has uniquely positioned me to focus on this. And it just –
Lee: Yeah tell me a little more about that, like how did this… How did this even come about?
Brenda: I didn't know it was a thing. It's just the way I've always used Canva once the organizational capabilities were actually introduced into it. I talked about having run a website company for 22 years but one of the, you know, there was a period of time where that was a part time thing and the other thing I was doing was working as a professional organizer. So my, what I would consider my very first full time business as an entrepreneur was this business focusing on helping business owners and professionals; I worked with lawyers and doctors and you know, all of these folks to help them tame their paper piles and organize their filing cabinets and come up with more efficient filing systems. And I loved it because my brain has always worked that way.
I like to tell the story of when I was in kindergarten. You know, all the other kids, they were playing. There was a dress up center, there was the trains, the train set was very popular. You know, there's art activities. And then there was this, I don't even know what it was, it was like this dresser and it had this cupboard. And at that point, I was five and a half years old, it seemed huge, and I probably would see it now and it's probably some tiny little piece of furniture, but it had all these little drawers in it. And one drawer would have marbles. One drawer would have bread tags, one drawer would have buttons, you know, they're all these different kinds of things. And you could take them out and you could organize them in some sort of some sort of category, maybe it was by color, maybe it was by shape, maybe it was by size. And then my teacher, Mrs. McPherson would come around and try to guess how you had organized it, and I would try to stump her. So that was my favorite thing to do. And perhaps that should have been a sign. My brain was wired a little more differently. But I have, because it comes so naturally, I have an ability to look at information and immediately start to to chunk it down into easy to digest components, and in some sort of searchable structure, whether that's, let's put something into a color coded binder, or let's put something into file folders or with digital information, let's create some sort of digital organizational structure. And when something comes so easily to you, you do not see that as something special.
Lee: That is so true.
Brenda: You don't see it as something that other people can't do. And you certainly don't see it as something that people will pay you handsomely to do for them.
Lee: That has been such a through line in my work with coaches, who look at what comes naturally to them, their innate strengths and talents. And if anything, sometimes they tend to minimize it because they think it's so easy nobody would pay me to do this or pay for my consultation or expertise in this because like, it's just second nature. And they need to be reminded, it's not second nature to everyone. This is your gift. This is your talent. And the things that do come naturally to us, we do tend to overlook them. Because we make those assumptions that if it's easy for us, it's easy for everyone. And certainly the gift of being able to organize and to make sense out of chaos, and create systems and workflows that are easy to use and create efficiency. That is your gift. And that's certainly not a gift that all of us have.
Brenda: Well, and it's kind of funny, because I look back at high school, and I would get teased a lot. Wiith love, certainly with love. But I would get teased by classmates who when I showed up to the student council meetings, it was all organized in a binder, it had tabs, it was color coded, it had labels, and that they just knew that that's who I was, and they would tease me about it. And I wouldn't say that there's not shame associated with it. But there's almost this little part of me, where it's like, “Well, is this something weird?” You don't see it as the superpower that it is until you know, you just have to start listening to people. And eventually I, you know, hopefully for everybody, eventually they start to realize that this really is something that is unique and special and wonderful. And something that, you know, hopefully you can monetize as well. Because I mean, I was telling you earlier, I'd have finally launched Canva Organization VIP Days. And I have had friends after me for months to do this, a good year, more than a year to do this. And I just wasn't. I kept thinking, “Well, maybe I have to offer something else Canva related. Nobody is going to pay me to organize their Canva account.” And I will tell you, I put out a beta offer on Friday, lower price then I will be doing them regularly, but still a pretty good price point associated with it. And I was looking for three people and I had seven people interested by yesterday, and three of the three slots are gone.
So I think you just eventually, you need to trust in it enough to put it out there. And it may be delightful and surprising what comes back to you. Because now I realized “No, they will pay me to do this.” And I am, if I could do this.. if I could do this and not have to be paid, I would still want to do it because I love it so much. And I think that's also important to find, you know, aside from feeling like it comes so naturally, why would somebody pay me to do this? There's almost a guilt that comes with “Well, I love doing this so much. This is so much fun. Why should I be charging for this?” And that's a bit of mindset trash that has taken some work to get through. But I think we're finally on the other side of it.
Lee: Okay, there's so much that I want to highlight in what you just shared. Number one, I want to commend you for testing this out. For creating a limited number of beta slots and putting it out to the world and saying “This is what I have to offer. This is the beta price point. Who's interested?” Because that's a fantastic way to gauge interest, to see if there is a demand that meets your supply. And sometimes the answer will be crickets and so that's, you know, helpful data And then in other cases like in yours actually demand exceeds supply. And that is so helpful in terms of validating your idea and then helping you develop an appropriate price point. So everyone who's listening, like, let's use what Brenda did as a model for what you can do for your own services to I love a good beta program, whether it's a one on one service or group, even a course, like let's beta test things, because then you can get feedback from your initial users.
Brenda: Well, and people will also tell you what you want to hear. And it takes some times making sure that they're prepared to put some money down on it to really truly get that validation.
Lee: That is so true. And I know a lot of coaches in particular, who do a lot of free or pro bono work at the start, because they want to practice, they want to get better, and they're not necessarily confident in their own skills. And I understand that. And I've also found that my clients who are financially invested even just a little bit, even just the beta rate, even a sliding scale rate, having some skin in the game really changes the outcome for them.
Lee: It's totally cool to have a lower price for your beta program. But let's stop giving away our services. Because that also plays into the “It's so easy, and I love it. And so why would I charge for this?” that minimizes the amount of effort and education and experience and everything that we have that plays into what we're offering. So just because we love it, and it's enjoyable, doesn't mean that we don't deserve to be compensated for it either. And I really love that you brought that to light as well.
It was a long road to get to this point. And I'm still, there are days that I'm still pushing through this, I know I will encounter this again, when I go to, when I finish off these beta sessions in September. And I have a program, my Canva program I have to focus on in October, but I want to really launch these properly in November. And when the time comes to actually put the full price point on it. I'm going to, I'm going to work through this again. And I'm going to struggle putting those numbers down because it just is not going to feel comfortable. But I think that's the place where you have to push yourself a little bit and trust that if it is not priced effectively, the market will tell you.
Lee:Exactly, exactly. And to understand too, how we can separate our worth as a person as a human being from the value we've assigned to a product or service or good that we've made available for purchase. And I think oftentimes I see this a lot with coaches, especially newer coaches, we conflate the two, we think, “Oh, someone doesn't want to spend $2000, or $5000, or $10,000, on my coaching package, there must be something wrong with me as a coach.” And that more often than not is not the case, it doesn't reflect on your worth as a person or your value as a coach, it merely just has more to do with what that person is able to invest right now. It also doesn't say anything about them. As a person, we're not better or worse people because we have more or less money, like we've got to separate those two things, it often just has to do with available resources, budgeting, time. And so when we're able to look at it just as external data points that are inherently neutral, and we don't make it mean anything about ourselves or about our clients, then it, that I find kind of turns down the intensity of the whole pricing conversation. And then we can just treat it as an experiment. And let's see what happens when I put this, this price out there. That's a data point, let's see what the response is.
Brenda: It's really important to depersonalize it because it does feel very personal when you put something out there and people don't want it. And it does take reminding that they're not rejecting you as a human being. They're just saying this is not the right fit for me at this time. And there could be a wide variety of reasons that that's the case. But it is hard. And I think this is why you know, I personally held back putting this offer out for so long. Yes, there was the piece of not seeing the value in it. But also there is that underlying current of fear all the time of what if I put this out, as soon as I put this out, it's real, and I can be rejected. And it's just theoretical, and I'm planning it and planning and trying to get it perfect. And I'm not making myself as vulnerable in that way. But I am not going to get to where I want to go I am not going to be able to help the people I want to help until I take the plunge and put it out there and be comfortable with not A plus work and just get it out there and then pivot based on what comes back to me because you may think you know how people are going to react and I guarantee you most of the time you don't. And there's going to be some adjustment, of course, and you cannot do that until you are willing to put yourself out there a little bit. It's incredibly vulnerable. But it's usually worth it.
Lee: That's exactly right. And again, if we can remember that people are saying no to the offer, not know, to the human being behind it, and we create that separation, that can be really healing, I'm also really struck by something you just said about not waiting for it to be Aplus, before you put it out there, and rolling with something that is good enough, you know, probably a solid B plus maybe an A minus, but allowing that to be enough so that you can continue to refine it as you go along. And I think that ties in beautifully with the whole concept of perfectionism, and wanting things to be perfect before we move forward. I'm certainly guilty of that in my business. And quite honestly, I'm guilty of that when it comes to organizational systems, which is your wheelhouse. And I sometimes feel like if I can't create the perfect organizational system, and if I can't implement it perfectly, then what's the point? And I'm curious if that's something that you've experienced, or that you've seen your clients experience, when you've done this type of organizational work with them?
Brenda: Well, the reality is that any sort of system like this is going to change because your life, the content that you're putting into it is going to change, your life is going to change. So your stuff is going to change. Case in point, I just redid my own Canva organization system this weekend, because with the website development agency being retired, there's a lot of content in there that I don't need anymore, there's a lot of the folder structure was planned with a breakdown between these two sides of my businesses, I don't need that anymore. So I sat down and really refined it. And so in addition, I mean, you've got on one side, things are going to change and evolve, and you're going to have to change and evolve along with it.
But also, anytime you have a lot of digital information, there's constantly stuff, new stuff coming in, this is not a set it and forget it kind of thing. You can't. I mean, there may be organizational systems in your house where you're not changing it up regularly, maybe you organize your closet, you're not probably going to be bringing in new stuff into the closet on a daily or even weekly basis. Maybe some households are, but that system is going to last for a lot longer period of time. But when you're looking at information, whether it's physical paper or digital, we are constantly particularly as business owners, you are constantly bringing new information in. And that is going to require you to stay on top of it. So even if you have a beautiful system, if you don't continue to organize things into that system, it's going to get out of control again. But new information is also going to be coming in and maybe you now need a folder that you didn't need before because now you're creating something completely different that you didn't anticipate you would be doing in the first place.
So I think it's important to take that step of actually creating a system that is good enough and understand that if it's not working for you, if you realize that everything doesn't have a home and you need to adjust the system, or it's just feeling still clunky, it's not feeling intuitive. That's an indication that there's some refinement that's necessary. So it's not just a matter of “Well, I have folders, so I'm done.” It's “Is this working for me? Does this feel like there is ease in my workflow when I'm going into Canva? Am I opening it up and feeling like, am I cringing when I go into my account and I'm not even sure why?” There's probably some sort of information reorganization that needs to be done. So get started with something, organize some of it, you can. It's something you're going to continue to do over time. And I do like to encourage people to, you know, if you need to chunk it down into 15 minute bite sizes once a week, do that, if you would, if you're the kind of person who would rather carve out two hours once a month to sit down and really chip away at it. Do that. Figure out what works for you. There is no one right way. I can always give best practices, I don't even like to use the term best practices, because in some ways there are but for a lot of people, it's just figure out what works for you. How does your brain retrieve information? How are you going to go look for something, it's probably different than how I would. I can suggest folders but it might work for you, it might not. And if it doesn't change it, that's totally okay. But you're not going to know until you start working with the system for a period of time.
Lee: That's so true. And I'm just thinking about the story you told earlier when you were five and a half and organizing all those different things in the cabinet. And there was more than one way to organize those things. And so the same is true here as adults in our business, in our personal lives. There's more than one way to do this. So let's figure out what works with your brain and your life. And when it comes to Canva, Brenda is clearly the expert at that. I have so enjoyed our conversation today Brenda. We went places I didn't anticipate. This has been delightful. I knew this would happen. It always does when you get in the flow with a great guest. So I have just so enjoyed our conversation and I have a feeling people who are listening in on our conversation today are going to want to connect with you as well. So where is the best place to learn more about you and your work?
Brenda: The best place would be my website, that's just brendacadman.com. There's freebies there. There's a link to our Facebook community there, which is knocking on about 8,000 people now. And there's a lot of information and resources that will probably help you address whatever your Canva challenge is.
Lee: Excellent. We will make sure we have a link to your website in the show notes. And again, I just want to say thank you for coming on the show. I've really enjoyed our conversation today.
Brenda: Oh thank you so much for inviting me. This is a lot of fun.
Lee: Can you believe that was a 30 minute conversation for me, it went by lightning quick. And that always happens when I'm connected with an entrepreneur, a coach, a service provider who is passionate about the work that they do, and who is willing to dive deep and talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes along with business. And I really appreciate Brenda's willingness to share her story, to demonstrate her expertise, and to acknowledge some of the own hiccups and mindset issues she tackles in her business. Because as you know, we all have them, and the more we talk about them, and the more we normalize it, I think we create a healthier entrepreneurial experience for ourselves and for those around us. So many thanks to Brenda for coming on the show. I really enjoyed this conversation. And I know you're gonna want to learn more about her. So definitely head to brendacadman.com to learn more and get connected.
One of the moments that really stood out to me was when we talked about your strengths, and understanding that what comes naturally to you does not necessarily come easily to others. And it's those strengths and those talents that can really set you apart. It's one of the reasons why I created my coaching quiz, because I wanted to help coaches uncover what their natural strengths were, and how they could leverage them for success as a coach and as a business owner. So if you have not yet taken my free coaching quiz, my friend, what are you waiting for head on over to coachingquiz.com? Take the quiz for free. It's only seven questions and discover what coaching style you lead with, how it supports you as a coach, and maybe a couple pitfalls you might want to watch out for as you're working with clients and building your business. So again, head to coachingquiz.com to take the free seven question quiz and discover your coaching style.
I hope you will join me next week for another brand new episode of the Coach with Clarity Podcast. And if you've already followed or subscribed to the show, then it will appear automatically in your feed Monday morning. If you're not yet following the show. Go ahead and take a minute to do that. Now. whatever platform you use, you should see a button that says subscribe or follow or maybe a little plus sign. Just hit that and then you will be automatically subscribed to the show and you will get future episodes in your feed. And I can't wait to connect with you next week. Until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.