Curiosity, Pivoting & The Pep Talk You Didn’t Know You Needed with Ellen Yin
Transcript: Episode #182
[00:01:16] Heather Sager: I am so honored that you get to meet today’s guest. Our very first guest of the new rebranded Hint of Hustle podcast is none other than the incredible Ellen Yin. Now Ellen is the CEO and founder of Cubicle to CEO. It’s a top 1% podcast in a media platform creating financial transparent content, events and education.
[00:01:38] Now, I had the honor of connecting with Ellen multiple times. She lives very local to me. She’s about an hour and a half south down the freeway here in Oregon. So I had the honor of needing Ellen in person about a year and a half ago. Emily and I had the honor of going on her podcast here recently, talking about our founder’s journey and bringing our two businesses together.
[00:01:58] We’ll link to that in the show notes, but we also asked Ellen to come speak at our event this last October, and I had the chance to sit down and interview Ellen about her story, and I was so blown away. I just knew I had to have her on the podcast. Now, here’s the beautiful thing about Ellen. One, she’s a phenomenal communicator.
[00:02:17] She’s very, very clear, but she’s very, very honest and open with her answers. She doesn’t try to sugarcoat things or make herself look good. She shares all in this episode. And the thing that really resonated with me about Ellen’s story is it’s, she’s such an incredible example of growing and evolving. I think that’s so important as entrepreneurs is that we have to be open to change, that the picture we have for our business is probably not gonna be the exact same picture five years from now, or hell even three years from now.
[00:02:47] And so Ellen, she’ll share her story a bit here on this episode around how she has evolved and pivoting her business in the lessons she’s learned from it. We also have some really incredible conversations around some of the skills that are necessary being an entrepreneur. One of my favorites was the conversation around, curiosity.
[00:03:05] We talked about the role of curiosity and how that plays into entrepreneurship, and one of the other really powerful phrases that, Ellen said during the episode was having the courage to cut the safety cord to give the energy to this other thing in your business that you really want. So if you, by the way, if you’ve been straddling the line on two things in your business, trying to like figure out, maybe it’s releasing a program or cutting client work to go all in another area, or maybe you’re still in a job that you’re trying to get rid of moving into here, her narrative and her advice around this dichotomy between cutting the cord and focusing the other project or project that you’re working on. It was just self gold. But the thing that I really want you to pay attention to in this interview is Ellen talking about her experience, attaching her own self-worth and her own self-image tied to her work ethic, the really deep roots in that, and she talked about in the episode, and we had a real conversation around work hours and rest and how does that show up for her as she’s building her company? This was, she blew me away in this interview way, I mean, I knew it was going to be good, but I just didn’t realize just how great, so you’re going to love Ellen. And please, please, friend, do me a huge favor. Take a screenshot of this episode, post it on social media and give Ellen some love.
[00:04:26] Be sure to go follow her and check out her podcast Cubicle to CEO. She does phenomenal case studies and ask business sort questions that you cannot Google. So be sure to give Ellen all of the love, say thank you and I can’t wait, I cannot wait to hear your feedback for our first guest on Hint of Hustle.
[00:04:57] All right. Well, welcome to our very first interview of Hint of Hustle. Ellen, I could not think of a better guest to help me lose my interview virginity on Hint of Hustle. Welcome to the show.
[00:05:09] Ellen Yin: Why am I so not surprised by your opening, Heather? Yes, I am. I am in love with the concept of this show. I’m honored to be the first guest, so thank you for having me.
[00:05:17] Heather Sager: Of course. I’m so, I’m so curious. Selfishly speaking, I have so many questions for you around how you have built such an incredible brand, an incredible community, an incredible whole, like celebrity status. I’ll just like rave on you for a moment. What you have built for your, like, I’m in awe and I’m so excited and I have so many questions and I know, I know people are just gonna love, love today.
[00:05:42] So let’s step back. I, my first question is, can you share with our guests, our, our people of the show, our people of the show? We probably should come up with a better name to phrase that. Share with everyone, what do you think your known for?
[00:05:56] Ellen Yin: That is a really, a really solid question. I [00:06:00] gotta give you credit for that. You know, my answer for right now I think is I’m known for like my education specifically around visibility. I think that people tend to ask me questions around this topic which is funny because all of my courses have always been centered in marketing. But for some reason visibility kind of cropped up as, as the theme that people come to me for.
[00:06:27] However, that said, I don’t think that is my true vision of what I want to be known for in the long term as an entrepreneur. You know this, behind the scenes, Heather, with the pivots that we’ve gone through recently in our business model. But right now, I think because we’re still in that newer stage, people do still very much see me in that kind of coach or educator aspect whereas I would like to be more like media mogul . That’s my, that’s my vision. So, yeah, that’s my short answer to a complex question.
[00:06:58] Heather Sager: Okay. What, so the media mogul thing, tell me about, okay, so I’m gonna tell an embarrassing thing. I remember listening to a podcast five years ago and someone kept referencing themselves as a media company, and I remember thinking, I’m a smart person. I should know what this means, and then Googling that and I still couldn’t find the answer. So Ellen, this vision of a media mogul, like what, what is that like, tell us the vision. I wanna be a part of this.
[00:07:22] Ellen Yin: Well, so you’re not alone. I think almost every person I’ve ever talked to when I say, oh, we, we have a, a media company. Their mind goes in one of two places. One, they go where you went and go. I’m not really sure what that means or they immediately assume, oh, you have social media accounts and you’re a social media manager, and I’m like, mm, not quite. So basically the easiest way to describe what a media company is, is to give you an example of a traditional media company.
[00:07:50] So think of networks like N B C, A B C, Fox. Think of companies like Disney [00:08:00] or your, your favorite radio shows. Your favorite magazines, right? Forbes Magazine, Oprah Magazine. I don’t know, Seventeen, like when you were a teenager.
[00:08:10] Heather Sager: Cosmo Quiz.
[00:08:11] Ellen Yin: Yes. Exactly. If you think of any sort of business where content is their primary product and they a lot of not, it doesn’t have to be all of the revenue, but usually ad revenue is a large portion of how they generate money as a business. Those are media companies in the traditional sense. In the digital age we currently live in, media companies can be podcasts, media companies can be newsletters, media companies can be online blogs. There’s so many different forms of content these days. And so really a media company is any company where the primary product is content, and usually for the audience that’s consuming the content, they either are not paying any money to access that content or something, you know, fairly low and the revenue really is coming from the sponsors who are placing their ads on that.
[00:09:04] Heather Sager: Yeah. Okay. Very beautifully said. That makes, that makes so much sense. And going from interesting reading magazines growing up I had a poster of Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Bop on my wall. I aged myself, eighties baby . Love it. That makes sense. We just in a different world for how content is produced.
[00:09:21] I’m curious, going back to, I’ll put you on the spot and said, what are you known for when you started your business? What did you think was going to be your thing? Did you have these visions of media company, have these visions of doing visibility? Did you even know what that was like? What was your initial intention when you launched your company?
[00:09:39] Ellen Yin: Great question. So no, I am an accidental entrepreneur in every sense of the word. When I quit my corporate job, I was only 23. I did it a couple days before Christmas. I had no backup plan. I had nothing on my calendar. My parents were not pleased with my decision . I always thought my next step was to, so Heather and I both live in Oregon, and at the time I was living in my hometown of Corvallis, so I thought, oh, I’ll move to Portland.
[00:10:05] You know, it’s a bigger market. I’ll apply for some jobs there. My professional background is in marketing, so I thought I would just, you know, apply for, I don’t know, another marketing coordinator role at some business and, and move up the, you know, the rung as, as they say, and that obviously did not end up happening. I ended up, so I quit like end of December, January. I was still applying for jobs, had a few interviews, and then it was like right at the tail end of that month, beginning of February, that I landed my first freelance marketing client. So I was hired to help them with their Instagram account and. At that point, I still don’t know if I, I wouldn’t say I had a vision for myself. It was more so I realized that there was another way for me to generate income that wouldn’t rely on a traditional job structure and I was excited by that possibility. So I thought, why not dive into this and see if I could get a couple more clients because if I can replace what I would have anticipated making as a corporate salary, I would much rather be, do be doing this on my own.
[00:11:11] So that’s kind of what started me down that path. So I did start as a freelance marketer, as a social media manager, but I would not say that my intention was for that to be my whole life and my career. I’ve always been kind of that person where if I see an opportunity and I’m curious about it, I will follow that path and I don’t have to see the whole path for me to walk down that path so that’s kind of where I started.
[00:11:36] Heather Sager: Okay. I love that piece. That word curious, i, I say it a lot. You say it a lot. I wanna dig into that. I, I think entrepreneurs oftentimes undervalue how powerful curiosity can be. Can you talk to me about your relationship? Have you always been a curious person or has that shifted?
[00:11:54] Ellen Yin: A thousand percent. I always said like, you know, growing up I had no intention of being an entrepreneur. Quite frankly, I’m not really sure. I actually distinctly remember, even in high school, they offered in our curriculum, they, there was these elective classes that you could choose that were business oriented and this is going to sound silly, but I honestly didn’t understand what a business class was. I was like, I’m not really, is it like a form of math? Like I’m not really understanding standing, like what, what are you doing in this class? Exactly. So that’s how little exposure I feel like I really had to this concept of being an entrepreneur.
[00:12:25] That said, I’ve always been very entrepreneurial in spirit without you, consciously recognizing it because of curiosity. So yes, I’ve always been curious as a child, I’ve always asked a lot of questions, always had that kind of mentality of, oh, if something seems interesting to me, like the ear-, one of the early examples I can remember is being a kid.
[00:12:46] And I loved reading loved books, loved fiction. And I remember always looking forward to the Scholastic book fairs that would come to school.
[00:12:54] Heather Sager: Yeah.
[00:12:54] Ellen Yin: And so I kind of went down this path where I was like, okay, so like I really love reading these books. I wonder how these books [00:13:00] are made. Like how do they get published? How, how do these authors become, you know, authors? And so I would just like scour the Scholastic website trying to find a place where you could submit writing to be published and I actually remember in sixth grade, I submitted something to, I think Writers Digest and it ended up like getting published on their website for something.
[00:13:18] Heather Sager: This doesn’t surprise me at all. You were a media company before you knew you were a media company.
[00:13:23] Ellen Yin: Yes, exactly. So yeah, curiosity has always been a driving force, I think in my life and when you look, you know how they say like that Steve Jobs quote.
[00:13:34] Heather Sager: I was just thinking that quote. I was literally just thinking that quote.
[00:13:37] Ellen Yin: Okay. Same wavelength. Yeah. So for those of you not familiar with the quote, it goes something like you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. So when I was moving forward through life, no, I don’t think I had this vision of being a media company someday, but looking back, it actually makes complete sense because writing was always my first love.
[00:13:56] And then when I went to college originally, I went to college with the intention of majoring in broadcast journalism because I thought I was, I thought my career path was to anchor like the evening or morning news at some local, I don’t know, TV station or work in entertainment news. So because of that, you know, recurring theme throughout my life, it’s unsurprising. Now when I look back and see the work that I’m doing today but like I said, it wasn’t, it was not a clear cut path from the get-go.
[00:14:24] Heather Sager: I think that’s a theme though, for any entrepreneur who has these stories of resiliency. One of the things I really admire about your story, we’ll talk about this in a moment, is your ability to iterate. And this is a weird phrase, but like rebirth and redesign how you show up and what you’re teaching. I wanna talk about that, but it is just so interesting because think about, for those listening maybe who are earlier on in their entrepreneurial journey. When we’re early on, everything feels so permanent. Oh, you very soon learn that it, it’s not. Tell me about like the first time that you really realized that what you built was all gonna change in a hot minute, like did you have that moment?
[00:15:02] Ellen Yin: Yeah, I did. I think most of the things in my life, it’s, I, I, when I look through my life, I don’t necessarily think there is like a catalyst where it’s like, oh, because this event happened, like, oh, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back that I made me quit my job or something. Like, it’s never something like that. It’s just a kind of that gnawing feeling under the surface where you’re like, I have to do something about this. I have to take action on it. But when I decide to take action, it is very abrupt and very all or nothing on paper, like when people look at it, they’re very shocked by why I would make the decision I would make.
[00:15:37] So for example, like the first iteration of that in my business was, like I mentioned, I started out as a social media manager. I very quickly grew my client base and we, you know, we were operating as kind of like a boutique agency somewhere around the, like middle of 2019 and so 95% of my revenue at that point came in from clients.
[00:16:00] I think I was making maybe at most $500 a month from a digital program that I had launched. It was my first ever like coaching digital course type of program that I had launched. So on paper, when you look at that, it would not make any sense for me to cut off a six figure revenue stream that I made from my done for you marketing clients in exchange for $500 a month in, you know, established income from digital courses but there was something. That just really made me feel like this is where I need to be. I really feel passionate about education. I really think that if I cut my safety cord with my clients, it will force me to give this arm of my business, the education of my business, the time and resources, and energy that it deserves and that it needs to actually scale and thrive.
[00:16:53] So I made that drastic decision, I actually let go of all but one of my clients toward the end of 2019. This was around October. I remember I joined a program of a friend of mines and this program specifically helps you set up like an evergreen webinar funnel, and I gave myself 30 days and I said, okay, the next 30 days, the only thing you’re going to do is set up this Evergreen webinar funnel and then we’re gonna see what happens.
[00:17:16] And within 90 days of that decision, when I let go of all my clients and spent all this time setting up my webinar funnel, we had taken that $500 a month product and it had hit a $10,000 monthly recurring revenue run rate. And at that point I was like, okay, I’m onto something. I can, I could do this, I can scale this, I can add more.
[00:17:37] And so that’s what I spent the next, you know, two, two and a half years doing right up until this summer, the summer of, well now last summer, I guess we’re in 2023 now, so I guess mid-summer 2022.
[00:17:51] Heather Sager: What is time? What is time?
[00:17:53] Ellen Yin: We’re only one week into the new year, so you know, a little grace, but my second big iteration happened this past summer when, you know, at this point we had, we had really been in the education space for, like I said, two, two and a half years. We had served over 10,000 students in our programs and courses and This was going really well and I, I think teaching and creating clarity for people is something I will always love and I will always want to do in some form. But I really felt like I was being boxed into this like coach hat or coach persona online, and it, that wasn’t, that didn’t feel aligned with what I actually really wanted to create and for that to be, I guess like my life legacy or my business legacy. So once again, I make kind of a drastic decision. My largest revenue generator for the last three years was my 12 month mentorship program. I decided to launch at one final time and I closed the doors in August, cut that arm of my business, basically cut almost everything that we had been selling and we started over. We, we looked at and said, okay, we’re, we wanna be a me media business, so what does that mean? We have to go and figure out how to build brand new infrastructure for getting sponsors. We have to figure out how we’re gonna produce quality content, add in other product arms. We have to redo all of our systems. So that’s kind of where you’re finding us at this moment in time is we’re, we’re going through that process and still very green to it.
[00:19:25] Heather Sager: Yeah. Real talk. How’s it going?
[00:19:28] Ellen Yin: You know, it is, I’m grateful, and this is something actually that I think is worth hearing for your listeners, like Heather said, in entrepreneurship, most of our decisions are not permanent. If something doesn’t work out, you can always go back to what was working before. In the same vein, I think it’s important to remind anyone listening that just because you completely change industries, niches, careers, whatever it may be, It doesn’t erase everything that you’ve done up to that point, right?
[00:19:56] So it’s like when you leave corporate and you become an entrepreneur, a lot of people almost have this weird mentality where they, they, it’s kinda like they, for, they write off everything they’ve ever done in their lives before and they’re like, well, I’m brand new to business, therefore I know nothing and I have nothing. But that’s not true, right? The connections that you’ve built up, the skillsets that you had, the resources, all these things still come with you and you can still leverage them to build momentum. So it, it’s hard, I’m not gonna lie like it, it is very hard to start over in an industry that I’m not an expert in and trying to learn everything and being the newbie again.
[00:20:34] But It doesn’t mean that I started over from ground zero, right? I’m still riding the momentum of all of the connections that I’ve built in this online space for the last five years, all of our amazing loyal customers and community members who have been with me on this journey from day one and are still with us today, all of the amazing friends I’ve made, like you, Heather, none of these things just evaporate because I decided to change direction. And I think that’s important for your listeners to hear is that if you are called to go in a different direction, don’t discount everything that you’ve done up until this point. It can, you can take it with you.
[00:21:11] Heather Sager: I would like to drop the microphone, but I do not wanna buy another microphone, so we won’t do that. That’s so, so frigging good and it’s so necessary. I think, well, a couple things we talk about, one, is that we think so often that choices are so permanent, very few things are permanent, right? Like even tattoos anymore, evidently laser hair removal is like the number one whatever body treatment, right?
[00:21:34] So very few things are we need to be a little riskier with our choices. Take, take more, try more things to figure out what our thing is. But what you just said around that foundation we built, I think it’s, it’s so funny how in this entrepreneur space, how many people call themselves newbies and identify with that role and nobody’s coming in new. We all have series of life skills, whether you’re starting at 23, like when you started in this space or somebody, people in my program who are in their seventies are just getting quote unquote started in this space. We all have life experience to bring in and you get to choose whether or not you’re gonna put the badge of I know nothing or say, I know lots of things, but I’m also learning and growing in these new ways. So I just love. I just love how you phrased that. That was just really, really beautiful. So thank you.
[00:22:23] Ellen Yin: Thank you. You know, a thousand percent. I, I think we have to give ourselves so much more credit.
[00:22:28] Heather Sager: Yeah, exactly. Let’s talk about your relationship with the word hustle. That is, I will, full disclosure for you. I hesitated on naming the show Hint of Hustle, cuz I know a lot of people are a little charged up by that word. People love it, they hate it. Everybody’s got an opinion on it. I’m curious, what is your relationship with the word hustle?
[00:22:47] Ellen Yin: I think I’ve had a evolving relationship with that word. I think when I first started out in business, I was very attracted to this idea of hustle because it was, it felt like something you could control, right? Like some measure of your ability to show up and do the work and and saying, okay, if I want this badly enough, I can do anything. And part of that is certainly ingrained, I think in my upbringing as a first generation American as an immigrant to this country, right? That’s very common in immigrant stories of, of you come to a new country with nothing. You do start over from, from the ground up and there is that sort of underdog kind of mentality where, where you feel like I can, I can do this, I can accomplish anything if I put my mind and my heart to it. Now, as time went on, and I was in year two, year three or four, you know, of, of this online business space. I started resent that word because then I felt, oh my goodness, like now that I’m really deep in this, I see how pervasive and how toxic it can be to hustle at all costs and I also started as I became more aware and, and, you know, invested in education and mentorship and just kind of grew as a person. I realized, wow, I attach a lot of my self-worth to how hard I can work to that work ethic and I feel like I’m more valuable as a person if I do more, achieve more, accomplish more.
[00:24:18] And so then I started to resent that word because I was like, it’s, it’s this false narrative of you’re worth somehow being tied to the work that you do and and this belief that things have to feel hard for them to be worthy. But then again, as I continue growing, growing, growing, evolving, I think my relationship with this word has changed again.
[00:24:42] And now I feel like I sit in this kind of place where, and this is why I was so excited when you came to me with the concept of your show, Heather, because I feel like I’m so aligned with exactly how you view hustle in the sense of hustle is a necessary form of work for certain seasons to accomplish certain things, but it is not sustainable as a long-term approach and the only approach that you take to business. And so I think it’s a complicated relationship with this word, but I think I’ve come to appreciate just like anything, just like any other tool in the world, money, right? Money gets a bad rap in a lot of ways. It’s not the thing itself. Hustle itself, money itself is neither good nor bad. It is how we utilize it as people, as entrepreneurs, and the meanings that we attach to it can have positive or negative impacts on our life.
[00:25:40] Heather Sager: Yeah. Okay. I love, I love that piece, and I think we all have our own variation of that journey. I’m not on a mission to make everyone fall in the, I’m in love with the idea of hustle, but I look about, like a couple analogies come to mind for me.
[00:25:52] There’s a, like the strength training analogy around, I know I saw you getting back into weightlifting, girl. I’m paying attention on your [00:26:00] stories . But the, the muscle only strengthens and grows under tension.
[00:26:05] Ellen Yin: Yep.
[00:26:06] Heather Sager: And that’s something that I really want people to hear. It’s one of my missions on the show, is for us to assume that our businesses are gonna grow without any form of effort is just like a weird pipe dream in my opinion, right? And part of, part of why I felt that the need to create this show is I quite frankly was sick of hearing these narratives online around easy and free and blah, blah, blah with every entrepreneur who has an established brand who’s making money that can sustain the kind of life that they want, there is hustle behind the scenes.
[00:26:39] So let’s, let’s talk about that for a moment. I love this concept of taking a peak in the backstage. So one of the things that I am just very curious about with you is it seems like you are everywhere, right? I know you have a team behind you. You have things, but you are, you are on, right? You were just speaking tomorrow. You’re speaking every month with Kajabi for workshops. You just ran a, a panel with some of your, your business friends. You you’re on your podcast and I don’t, your podcast is like so many downloads, like you are showing up everywhere. Tell me a little bit about the, are you actually on all these places all the time? Do you have a team behind you? What does the behind the scenes look like and what does life look like for you in this season? Are you in hustle? Are you in ease? What is this? What’s, gimme the backstage pass, girl.
[00:27:27] Ellen Yin: Yes. Okay. Oh my gosh. There’s so many things I could share on this. I think for me to accurately answer this, I am, I mean, Heather, you know this about me. I believe in the power of context. I never share anything without giving context because I feel like you can make so many wrong assumptions. So I feel like it’s important to my answer to share where it started. When I entered the online business space. You may be surprised to learn that the first two years of my business, I had no website presence.
[00:27:55] I would post on Instagram maybe a couple times a month, and keep in mind, I, we built that into a six figure business with very little forward facing content, right? I think the one thing that I did right from the beginning is that I’ve always had that build in public mentality which I don’t think is right for every type of business and every entrepreneur. It kind of depends on your strengths, but for, for me, that piece of it, always disclosing from the very beginning, I’ve always been very transparent about the finances in my business, bringing people in with me on that journey by sharing my income reports and all of these things because of that, I feel like I’ve fostered a very deep connection with my community that has followed us through all of these different iterations of our business. But in terms of volume, no. I certainly was not on every platform, and quite frankly, even the platform that I was on Instagram, I was not posting with any sort of frequency or consistency that I held myself to.
[00:28:58] And to be honest, even to this day, the only platform I have ever truly stuck to a schedule or given myself any sort of parameters around we have to show up or like I should show up is my podcast. That is the only project where I’m like, every single Monday you can expect that if you come to our show there will be an episode, and we have committed to that for three and a half years now and it’s not changing. But outside of that, on social, anything else, I’ve always been that kind of person that’s like, if I feel like posting, if I have a moment of inspiration, I wanna share something, I’ll do it. But if I also wanna take like 30 days off and not post anything, I don’t really feel any sort of like pressure or guilt around that.
[00:29:40] So this omnipresence your like visibility that you may experience on the other side, I think is more a result of compounding efforts than like an intention to actually post everywhere all the time [00:30:00] and do all the things, and I think a huge piece of that too is very much focused in relationships.
[00:30:06] And what I mean by that is throughout all these years of building this business. I think it’s all of my friendships and connections that I’ve made over the last five years. The private one-on-one relationships that I’ve made behind the scenes, in DMs, on Zoom calls, at events, and networking meetings.
[00:30:23] Those are the things that have allowed me to be presented with the opportunities to get on big stages, like collaborating with Kajabi or speaking at like your conference at the Speaker Co, or, or all these other things that I’ve done that make it look like I’m everywhere, doing all the things. But in reality, I, I don’t think that’s my truth in terms of content output.
[00:30:46] Heather Sager: Yeah. Okay. I love you. Thank you for being honest on that one. Tell me how many, I’m curious, how many hours do you work each week? Is that like a, do you have like a consistent schedule or does that ebb and flow based around what’s on your plate?
[00:30:59] Ellen Yin: I think it definitely ebbs and flows. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not one of those entrepreneurs, I’ve never been one of those entrepreneurs that’s like, I work 20 hours a week and it’s quite easy and it’s like four hours a day and I’m done. That’s just not who I am. And it’s interesting that you mentioned Heather, that you kind of felt a little bit inspired to create this show based on this narrative that everything’s so easy all the time which I think ease is certainly something that we should implement and aspire and I think rest is essential.
[00:31:27] Like even going back to your weightlifting analogy the muscle grow or, or it can only strengthen under tension. Your muscle literally being torn. But the only way you actually grow mass in weightlifting is through rest. Your body needs that sleep.
[00:31:42] Heather Sager: Yeah.
[00:31:42] Ellen Yin: And that recovery period, or else you’re actually gonna make no gains which is interesting, and I actually say this with a degree in exercise science, so , I, I do think that there has been a narrative built over the last two years especially because I feel like the industry kind of swung so far into that hustle culture and then it kind of swung so far back in the other way of the anti hustle culture that it’s almost like there’s this shame if you around this conversation of, oh, if I work more than 20 hours a week, or if I work even more than 40 hours a week, let’s say like what is considered full-time in America? That that means I’m not doing something right, like I am a bad entrepreneur, a bad leader. I don’t know how to manage my time. I’m not productive enough, whatever it is. And I wanna really challenge that concept because I do, my schedule does ebb and flow. There are some weeks where I’ve worked more than 60 hours, right? Or maybe even 80 hours. But there are also weeks where I worked two hours. And so it’s it, it just depends on what is going on. And I think that as soon as we start to box ourselves in, that’s where the problems come. And I also think that you have to remember that the way you view work as an entrepreneur may not match up with everybody else in your day-to-day life.
[00:32:59] Like if you have a lot of friends who work, let’s say in traditional jobs, yeah, for them, expecting an employee to work an 80 hour week is unreasonable and I think likely not very what is the word, not very ethical, right? But for you as an entrepreneur, if work is actually a hobby for you or like a passion and you feel fulfilled, like it’s fun for you to do, there I tell Dustin, my fiance this all the time, I’m like, I know it’s weird. I was like, but sometimes, i, there’s literally nothing I’d rather be doing than working, cuz it’s actually just fun for me.
[00:33:35] Heather Sager: Oh yeah.
[00:33:35] Ellen Yin: And I think as long as you keep that energy and you’re very mindful of like, is this feeling like fun to me or is this feeling just like resistance? If it’s fun, lean into that and don’t let what society shares with you about like, oh, it should look a certain way just. Go with whatever feels right for you in that moment.
[00:33:54] Heather Sager: This is so beautiful and I think this taps into the gift that we have as entrepreneurs is we don’t have to do the same thing over and over again. Now, side note, offers, niching down, getting your shit together. That’s like another story, but when it comes to our, our time and how we show up, like I am a huge fan of going through seasons. I, I can’t remember if we’ve talked about have, are you into human design?
[00:34:17] Ellen Yin: I am very interested and curious that word again about it, but I’m not an expert.
[00:34:22] Heather Sager: I’m not an expert by any means. Emily you know, Emily, my business partner for Speaker Co. She, she turned me on to human design when we were in discussions for our partnership last spring. And it was like, this beautiful like fortune between us to understand each other. But the takeaway I have from that is I’ve learned that I am a manifester in human design and that helps me understand that I am, what is it called? Something hermit where I am like outwardly all the time, but I’m also the person who needs to be alone and Netflix, and go to the beach by myself, or go to the movies by myself or dinner by myself, or lock myself in the pantry away from my children if we’re on lockdown, , all the things, like I, I have this need that I was still guilty about, around like, oh, I should be want to be with my kids, or, oh, I should want to be doing something and I, I physically can’t, like I need to have my alone space and that entrepreneurship kind of ebbs and flow.
[00:35:19] Ellen Yin: Yeah.
[00:35:20] Heather Sager: For you, do you find yourself, like, when you think about recharging, you mentioned rest earlier. Do you find yourself, like planning time off? Do you naturally take time off throughout the day? Like, how does that show up for you when you are, like, do you wait until you’re like totally burned out?
[00:35:36] Ellen Yin: Hmm.
[00:35:36] Heather Sager: What’s rest look like for you in your business?
[00:35:40] Ellen Yin: That’s a great question. I think it’s looked different at different points in my business. I think I’m, I’m not a person who on a day-to-day basis blocks out time for rest. Like, I’m not that person that’s like, every day at 12, I go and meditate for 30 minutes or something. Like I, I’m, I just never been.
[00:35:58] Heather Sager: I’m the person who blocks it out and never does it .
[00:36:00] Ellen Yin: Okay. So, so we’re kind of like, yeah, we’re, we’re not good with that, obviously, or, or it’s not, it doesn’t maybe match with our natural. I would say though that if I really feel like I’ve hit a wall where it’s like, i, I can’t, like, I can’t, my brain is not functioning the way that I need it to. I allow myself that rest without feeling like bad about it, you know? So I, I think that’s kind of more on as needed basis. But I do, on the flip side, I do actually plan chunks in terms of like weeks of time off. So for example, like for the last couple years, every December I’ve taken at least two weeks off, sometimes more in terms of a hiatus. When I go on vacation, I general, those are like the times when I work maybe like one to two hours during the entire vacation.
[00:36:51] I’ll like check my inbox and see if there’s like anything that I want to respond to. But other than that, it’s kind of just like outta sight, outta mind. So I definitely scheduled in breaks, but it’s more on a large scale rather than like day-to-day routines.
[00:37:07] Heather Sager: Yeah. I’m really similar in that way, right?
[00:37:09] I have to be intentional about planning vacation. For me, I’m now in the, the world where I have my kids are at school age and so we actually have a defined schedule which is a whole new thing.
[00:37:17] Ellen Yin: Yeah.
[00:37:17] Heather Sager: But the, I’m the same way. I would love the idea of to have planned rest throughout the day. It’s just, I don’t work that way. When I get excited, I wanna work and here we go.
[00:37:25] Ellen Yin: Yes.
[00:37:26] Heather Sager: Did you mention before, did you used to feel guilty about resting and taking kind of that midweek or when you feel like it time off or?
[00:37:35] Ellen Yin: Yeah, for sure. And I think it’s not something that is still fully what is the word, fully healed in me because so much of my story and beliefs growing up tied achievement to worth.
[00:37:49] It is very, I still struggle sometimes when it, I don’t, okay, let me, let me back up for a second. I do not struggle when I enter the day with the intention that I’m not going to work, like if I’m on vacation, for example, like when I was in Mexico over Thanksgiving with my family, I felt zero guilt about doing absolutely nothing during that week because I, that was my intention, like I entered into that vacation knowing I was not going to work. The only times I feel like I struggle still with that guilt, and it’s something I’m still working through, is when I actually sit down to do work. Like I, I, it’s a work day and I’m planning to work, but my focus is scattered and I’m kind of all over the place, or like my energy is low or whatever.
[00:38:30] There could be a myriad of reasons and I don’t end up getting the things done that I had wanted to get done. And then I, and then I get down on myself cuz I’m like, oh my God, like I’m so distracted today. Like, ugh, I did this again and it feels like a wasted day to me. So those are the times when, if I’m being very frank, I do still struggle, I think, with those feelings of unease or guilt. But never when it’s, the intention is to not work.
[00:38:57] Heather Sager: Yeah. I think that, I think a lot of people relate to that piece, right? It’s really easy when it’s kind of pre-planned and vacation of, we wanna be in that mode. Although sometimes we struggle with that too, but that listening to what we need in the moment, especially when deadlines are looming, that is, that is hard. Thank you for, thank you for being real on that one. Okay. This is my favorite question of all the questions. Are you ready for it?
[00:39:18] Ellen Yin: I am. I’m so ready.
[00:39:19] Heather Sager: All right. If you had to go back and do it all, What would you repeat and what would you remix I as in like, you know, DJ or, or remix? What would you do differently?
[00:39:29] Ellen Yin: Yeah. Oh my goodness. I feel like any sort of like time travel questions, I always struggle with because I feel like it’s kind of that, like that idea of the multiverse, that if you go back and change any one thing in your life, it sets you on a completely alternate path, right? So you never would’ve ended up where you are today. And I’m actually very happy and grateful for where I am today. So there’s a part of me that’s like, I wouldn’t change anything because if I did, I wouldn’t be right here, right now talking to you, right? But in the same vein, if I’m looking more at it from like, the perspective of like hindsight and wisdom I think that I, I think I would’ve been more focused on the big picture goal earlier. I think there were definitely a lot of moments in my business building journey in my first five years and you, we were just talking before we hit record, that entrepreneurship can feel like dog years where like one year is, you know, a million lives cause a lot can change. So I, I say this with a grain of salt. Understanding that in the grand scheme of things, five years in your career, especially your first five years as an entrepreneur is not actually that long and there are people who have been in business for decades. So I get that but even so I feel like were many seasons in my business where I did something because I was successful at it.
[00:40:59] For example, like, you know, I, I was good at services. It was easy for me to attract clients and get contracts and social media accounts, so I did it, but the whole time I was doing it, there was, I knew that, that wasn’t like, if, if you had to sit me down and say, do you see yourself being a social media manager 10 years from now?
[00:41:16] Like, the obvious answer was no, but it was hard to let go of it because, I’m good at it. And, and, and I think that’s something that is not talked about enough. It’s, it’s really easy to quit on things when you’re not good at something, right? Because it’s like, well, obviously just let it go. But when you actually are good at something, you get into that golden handcuffs scenario where it’s like, it’s the same reason people don’t leave high paying corporate jobs, even if they’re miserable because it’s like you’ve locked yourself in this golden prison where you’re really good at what you do and you’re paid well for it. And so it feels much more difficult and much more confusing to those around you if you choose to leave a good situation than if you choose to leave a bad one.
[00:41:56] So I think that would be my, my remix is I would, I would have probably shifted focus earlier, and I would’ve just really gotten clear on what that is. And my repeat would be all of the connections that I’ve made and, and the intention behind making those relationships both local and online, that’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything.
[00:42:21] Heather Sager: Yeah, I love that. I love that. It’s hard to think I’m with you on that remix question. I am a, I’m a person, I don’t believe, like regret is the, like, it’s already happened, so you may as well make the best out of it, like even life, worse scenarios. So I, I, I like you, I struggle with that, but I’m always thinking about, okay, I am a improvement type of person, so what could I think about. What are you most excited about when you look forward to this year and beyond as you become you know your media mogul . I think I’m most excited about the possibilities that I don’t yet know even exist. I think that’s honestly what [00:43:00] excites me about entrepreneurship in general. For a lot of people I know that not knowing the path is the scary part. For me, it’s always been the fun part. I think I would honestly be a little bit bored if I knew exactly what was coming. So I think for me it’s this excitement of, because I am so green to being a media operator and, and you know, building a business model of this nature, there’s still so many things that I’m learning literally every single day where I’m like, oh, I didn’t even know That was like a way you monetize as a media company, are like, oh, I didn’t know that this event exists or this type of whatever.
[00:43:32] It’s like always something new. And I think when I look ahead that’s what I’m most excited about because I also remember that being true for me. You know, years ago when I was a social media manager, I never could have pictured doing this because that possibility, I wasn’t yet aware that something like that existed, but I could have only become aware of it by getting, getting my hands dirty and actually like taking action and doing the thing because you can sit there and plan all day, but your planning is always gonna be based on your current worldview, not your more experienced worldview. So the only way to actually, I think, like open your mind to new possibilities is just to get in the game, even if you’re not sure what all the rules are yet.
[00:44:15] Yeah. Okay. I love this. I love this. And I have to ask you this last question because Ellen, you are an exceptional communicator. I don’t, I would hope that you know that about yourself, but you are very good with your words, the way that you communicate, how open you are in sharing ideas and making things relevant to other people. You just like big kudos to you. You’re an exceptional communicator. Have you always been strong with your verbal communication skills or is that have been something that you have worked on over the years?
[00:44:42] Ellen Yin: First of all, thank you. Huge, huge compliment coming from you, Heather, cuz this is literally your expertise. Honestly, I think it’s something I have always been good at, I actually have some old home videotape, they’re so embarrassing, heather. Someday maybe you’ll see one, but there’s literally videos of me
[00:45:00] Heather Sager: that will be happening, right?
[00:45:02] Ellen Yin: We’ll dig it up from the archives. There’s, there’s old home tapes of me from when I was as young as, you know, five. Just my mom would set up a camcorder in the corner of our living room and there’s hours of footage where I am just reading out loud and doing all these character voices and I’m, I’m like, no one’s in the room. It’s just me, like I’m just reading. But I think that that practice of like literally speaking out loud, even if no one’s listening at such a young age. It’s, it’s that compound effect right over so many years I think has allowed me to really hone this craft. And I hope that’s actually encouragement to some of you is, you know, it’s easy to get discouraged. I think when you’re starting in, in any new space, but especially if you’re trying to gain visibility through speaking. It can feel like, oh, like I’m really bad at this, or no one’s listening but that’s kind of actually your opportunity, like just think of yourself as five-year-old me, like no one was listening to me reading out loud, but it’s the daily doing and like the words and the sounds actually coming out of your mouth that I think allow you to become better at that craft.
[00:46:07] Heather Sager: Yeah. Okay. So well said. It’s, it’s so well said. So where can people, like, where’s the best place to go for people who want to hear more of your voice and more of your daily rambles? Where’s the best place?
[00:46:17] Ellen Yin: Well, the best place to hang out with me if you value consistency, is the podcast because that’s the only place that I will reliably show up for you every single week. But Cubicle to CEO, so wherever you’re listening to this podcast, just search Cubicle to CEO and subscribe. We have new episodes every Monday and Wednesday. And also if you, you know, wanna chat with me one-on-one, Instagram is where I’m most active. So you can shoot me a DM at @msellenyin or at Cubicle to CEO on Instagram.
[00:46:46] Heather Sager: Beautiful. Ellen, thank you so much for your generosity with your time being put on the spot today with some pretty tough questions, like you, you brought the fire today and I cannot wait for this episode to go live so thank you. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your support on this and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
[00:47:02] Ellen Yin: Well, congratulations on the show launch. Thank you, Heather.
[00:47:04] Heather Sager: Thank you.