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Shannon Olson on Going For It

Sep 15, 2021
 

Season 2, Episode 33

Summary:

What if you listened to that internal rumble, made the leap, and trusted it would work out? What difference could that make in your life? Whether it’s a career change or launch into entrepreneurship, most people want to know the next move before they take it but what if you decided to just go for it? Shannon Olson loved her career and she was really good at it. At the same time, she knew she needed to keep stretching and growing, and it was time for a new adventure. Without knowing what that was, or how she would discover it, she left her corporate job and gave herself time to talk and learn from others. She’s now the Founder of Indee, a modern marketing co-op. Be ready to be inspired and challenged to go for it.

 

Links:

Shannon Olson

Indee

 

Transcript:

Michael Kithcart: 

Hello, I'm Michael Kithcart, creator of the Wynning Your Way and performance coach for sales leaders. Welcome to the Champions of RISK Podcast, where we examine the many aspects of risks so that we can all face uncertainty with more courage, confidence, and humor together. You know, so often people find themselves in new careers out of necessity, either because life situations happened, and they needed to move on, or they just didn't enjoy where they were anymore. And they knew that they needed to pursue something that they love. But today's guest, loved her job, loved what she was doing. And she left anyway. And so there's lots of lessons to be learned that we will uncover undoubtedly, so please welcome Shannon Olson. She's the founder of Indee, which is a unique Co Op model that brings independent strategists, marketers, and creatives all together in one place, for a better way, for better- to better brands. So she also spent over a decade at Thrivent Financial doing super cool things like corporate strategy, research, innovation, and customer experience transformation. But we are going to connect the dots on how she went from point A to point B. Shannon also serves on the board of North Side Economic Opportunity Network known as neon, which is an organization that helps entrepreneurs in North Minneapolis start and sustain businesses. Shannon, welcome to the Champions of RISK podcast.

Shannon Olson: 

I am so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Michael Kithcart: 

It's a pleasure to have you and I will just state, Shannon and I met at an event. And I just kept saying, Tell me more about your story. Tell me more about your story. You have to come on, you have to come on the podcast. So let's start with what you're doing right now you did phone in the marketing. So tell us what it is? And how you help better businesses?

Shannon Olson: 

Absolutely. Yeah, so Indee started last July. So I always say, you know what, what better way, better timing to start a new business then the middle of a raging global pandemic?

Michael Kithcart: 

Why not?

Shannon Olson: 

Exactly, why not. So you kind of alluded to it a little bit in the introduction. But Indee is what we call a marketing Co Op. And we are an eclectic crew of about 50 or so and growing, independent marketers. And we started in the Minneapolis area. So most everyone is based in the Twin Cities right now. But we have some some we have collaborators that are outside outside of the state. But yeah, we are now independent together. So everybody has found the thing that they absolutely love to do, they have gone out and started their own business. So they left their role at big agencies or big jobs at bigger small companies, and started their own business. And now everybody works together. So we sometimes operate like a traditional agency, Indee offers anything connected to marketing and brand experience. So from website design, to branding, to video production to social strategy, and everything in between, we've got people who have deep expertise in every area.

Michael Kithcart: 

Okay. And so if- who comes to you like, Who are your clients, and how can they work with you?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, absolutely, we are, we are really nimble and flexible model. So we do a lot of work directly with brands. So and of all different sizes. And a lot of our brands are that we work with in businesses, we work with our small to mid size, but we also work with like departments within larger companies oftentimes sometimes will be almost an extension of their team, an almost like an outsourced marketing department. Other times, we will come in like a traditional agency would with a very clear scope of work. Like if we're launching a new brand, for example, and developing brand strategy and logo and all of the visual identity and all of the messaging and culminating in a website design or something like that, for example. But we also do have a lot of really awesome partnerships with agencies. So agencies actually tap into us for freelancers to help with their clients as well.

Michael Kithcart: 

Great. It's not uncommon for people to have career paths that are Zig zaggy and everything. But this is what you're doing now, You started out in the corporate side. And you grew pretty quickly in your career. Tell me like, what did you love about the work that you were doing in your corporate environment?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, absolutely. So I spent almost 12 years at Thrivent Financial. And as you mentioned, I did elevate pretty quickly in my career there into leadership, and I loved so many things about it. I had, I had just some of the coolest roles and opportunities. I had the most amazing kind of team that reported to me and partners across the organization. You mentioned this a little bit in the intro, but I spent majority of my career and time there operating at the front end of innovation. So I got to do a lot of work around Human Centered Design Thinking and research and learning about market landscape and what's changing and what's trending. And a lot of the work I did was looking at, where is the world going? And where- what should the company be thinking about, and what will be really big for the company and highest priority three to five years from now. And so I was sort of operating in this really fun, cool space where we were doing a lot of testing and learning and trying things and understanding a customer insight or sort of market or Industry Insight, and then understanding business strategy and connecting the dots. And so well, that kind of culminated in a lot of different ways throughout my time at Thrivent. And that was sort of the thread and almost every job I had there, it was like the first of its kind, nobody had been in that position before, it was either a role that was created for me, or a role that was created out of some of the innovation work. And I had actually had a pretty sweet journey, there were one of the ideas that I designed when I was in the innovation area, I later got to bring to full scale. So I had the opportunity to lead something from insight to full operations. And when I walked away, it was a $75 million operation for the company. So I just I, yeah, the opportunities I had there were pretty awesome with incredible people.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah, that and that is something that not a lot of people get to do from from start to finish. You mentioned in there, that you're on the front end of innovation. So you're always looking ahead, kind of having that futuristic lens of what might be happening three to five years from now. I'm just curious, since that was some of your work? Did you? Did something like a global pandemic ever come up? (laughing)

Shannon Olson: 

(laughing) No, no, it did not. Unfortunately, I think everybody would have wished they could have predicted and prepared for that one.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yes, when you're charged with giving some insight around what might be happening so that a business could respond to it? What type of research Do you look to, to be able to inform your ideas and thoughts?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, we did a lot of what's called ethnographic research where we would have in depth conversations with consumers, and a lot of times sitting inside their homes and understanding sort of what's beneath the surface, because a lot of times research and what people say and what people do, are very different. And so a lot of times, you have to dig quite a bit deeper to understand the true insight, or the true motivation, or value that's behind some of the consumer behaviors that you're seeing. So we did a lot of really in depth research and a lot of other things, we're coming up with hypotheses, and then testing those. And when you're in sort of the early stages of innovation, so much of it is about just putting some stuff out and putting things in front of people and co creating solutions with the people that will ultimately use them. Because that's the way that's sort of most effective at ultimately creating something that people will value.

Michael Kithcart: 

Okay. And is that a lot of the human design work? Or it feels like I hear the behavioral psychology or sciences behind it as well.

Shannon Olson: 

Absolutely. Yep. It's, it's a little bit of both. And then there's also absolutely more of the analytical side of things where there's quantitative research that's being done or looking at secondary research or, you know, competitive analysis. And so there's, there's sort of this balance of the analytical like the analytics and sort of the emotional, empathetic, learning side of it.

Michael Kithcart: 

Okay, got it. Very intriguing. Sounds exciting. You've had a lot of success, you got to do a big, huge project. So what in the heck made you decide to move on?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, so after that, after that journey as an intrapreneur, I, I had I had a short stint in there where I was doing corporate strategies though, I basically catapulted from being an individual contributor, doing some cool research, sitting at the you know, the the table at the board of directors and the executive suites and helping with the strategic planning process for the company and, and at the end, I was leading customer experience transformation across the enterprise. And I just, I, I honestly would not have even though all those opportunities, were really fabulous. I'm actually very surprised I was there for 12 years. The way I I am a sort of a lifelong learner and adventurer, and I sometimes joke that I'm not sure why I do this to myself, because it's almost like self imposed stress, but I like big jolts to my system. And I'm at my best when I have no idea what I'm doing. And, and so like it actually works very well during my career at Thrivent, because about every two years I was sort of thrown into solving a new big hairy problem for the company. And it certainly hadn't been done before it or you know, the role didn't exist. So I got to sort of pave the way and figure out how to do it. And so I had been, truth be told, there was probably maybe 2, 3, 4 times throughout my career there that I almost left where I'd be kind of looking for what was next because I was feeling like I was hitting the end of end up the road of like, new opportunities to learn and grow within those four walls. And so then at the end, when I was doing the customer experience work, interestingly enough, I didn't think their organization was quite ready for that the significance and degree of kind of transformation that we needed to do the work correctly. And they were going through some other structural changes internally, where leadership was a bit preoccupied. And so I recommended that we dissolve the team I was leading. And so I sort of eliminated my position, they offered me my old- because I thought it was best for the company- they offered me my old job back and I was like, you know, this is my time I've known I had sort of absorbed as much, you know, as much as I could learn from my time, my time there, my extensive time there. And had a great, you know, had a ton of fun doing it. But it was time for me to like just like get kicked out of the nest a little bit and sort of figure out what I wanted to do next.

Michael Kithcart: 

Okay. So you could have another jolt to your system.

Shannon Olson: 

Exactly.

Michael Kithcart: 

I want to come back to that in a minute. But you earlier you said I'm, you know, I was an intrapreneur inside the company. So when you started to see recommend to dissolve your position and everything. Did you start thinking that you were going to be an entrepreneur, that you were going to have your own business? What did you think at that point was going to be your next step?

Shannon Olson: 

You know, at that point, I literally had absolutely no idea. And I kind of sometimes joke that I almost became Freebird Shannon for a short while where it was very, very blue sky. And I because I had eliminated my position, I had some sort of outplacement services that I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of and I think they thought I was a little bit crazy, because I would explain to them, you know, I don't actually know if my role exists, because I was very much open to going into another like into another court, you know, potentially corporate leadership or getting in a smaller company where I would be able to wear a lot of hats and sort of kind of pave ways into, you know, either entering new markets or, you know, I wasn't sure exactly what that would look like. And it absolutely was on the table to maybe do some sort of consulting or join an agency and I, I went through a period, I actually took five months off after I left. And I think I had just about 200 networking meetings, I became like, there was some weeks that I had 15 to 20 meetings, and I was having so much fun, just discovering it was almost like I had been locked away. For like a while I had, you know, I was so I was so blessed for all the incredible experiences I had at thrive. And it was all that one company, you know, and while there was a lot of different nuance to the work, and I was in different areas of the, you know, the enterprise and different facets of the business, I was just like, as I was discovering all of these other businesses out in the world, I was just very open minded on where I would where I would land next.

Michael Kithcart: 

And what was going through your mind, like the the type of intention that you walk through that five months through, because for some people, that would be a very nerve wracking period of time, because maybe there's a self imposed time limit, maybe there's an actual time limit that they would allow themselves to be able to find that next thing. But even as you're sharing this, you sound so relaxed and explaining that period of time. How did you keep yourself in that state? So you could stay open?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, well, I'll say I absolutely. Like I did have a bit of a runway financially. So that that helped calm the nerves a little bit. But when I left when I made the decision to leave, I actually did not tell anyone I was going to make the decision. Like none of I talked to a couple people, but most of my mentors, most of the executives who would have- because I knew everyone would try to convince me to stay and come up with a new job and so I kept it pretty close to the chest. And when I made the decision, I promised myself I would not panic and I would not just take a job that I would like do something really excellent and really awesome. And in give myself the freedom to explore. And so and I did set a time limit, like what's funny is, so I left Thrivent at the very end of 20- or sometime in August of 2018. And I gave myself to the end of February of 2019. If I didn't have income earning activity, I needed to like get a job. I would say one thing that sort of compounded the dynamics of that period of discovery that was sort of interesting for me, and almost, I would say, somewhat surprising, I didn't expect it is I did not realize how much of my identity actually was connected to my time and experience and accomplishments at Thrivent. And I think it was most evident because I had met my now fiance, two months before I left, I left my job and so I was meeting much of his family for the first time. And, you know, like, the number one question people ask is, like, oh, what do you do? And I was networking and enjoying cocktails during the day, and I had gotten a puppy. And so I was playing with a puppy. And so just like, sort of re-finding myself and having been being comfortable telling a story that was not, you know, that my identity was not so closely connected to my, my role at a company was also really fascinating. And, And truth be told, I also had moments of total imposter syndrome of being like, Oh, my God, what, what do I do? What can I do and, and then just sort of refining my, and clarifying my story of all all that I had done, and then figuring out where I wanted to go. And it all sort of happened by accident, because I didn't know I was exploring all different avenues. And then I sort of fell into freelance with a couple of agencies. So I started doing some brand strategy work with my good friend, Erin Keller over at Capsule, and then met some of the awesome folks at Zeus Jones and did some some strategy work with them as well. So I had kind of just fell into freelance. And I was like, well, this is fun. And so then that that consumed my time initially.

Michael Kithcart: 

The identity piece is something that so many people go through, but what really different stages in their lives. Sometimes for some, it's like not until they retire, right? But there is that piece, and it's such an American thing. Because traveling around the world. The first question isn't, what is it that you do? Yeah. In some cultures, it will be how much money do you make, but it isn't what do you do, is such an American thing. And so when you did unravel that, and you played with the puppy, what did you come up with? Like, what's, what's Shannon's identity outside of working Thrivent?

Shannon Olson: 

Well, what was actually interesting is in my because I elevated pretty quickly, and I think this is consistent anytime you're in positions of higher up leadership. But I had to do a lot of actually on a couple different occasions, executive leader assessments where I had to do really in depth, like personality testing, and like, sat down with a psychologist for four hours, like I mean, like incredibly in depth. And so I even went back and, like, looked through all of those results and sort of spent time understand- like reminding myself of the things that I loved and the things that I didn't like, and I would say it took me a long time. And I don't even know if I still have, I mean, I've kind of adopted a new identity now in the work that I'm doing. But I would continuously be refining the story of even what I introduced and what I was looking for. But one of the things, I'm not explicitly answering your question on this, but I think another interesting observation and experience that I had during that period of networking in sort of finding myself as I discovered opportunities around me was almost this frustration with how much the world also tries to place people in very small boxes. And I knew there's a lot of different facets and how we people try to be boxed in you know, from race to all sorts of other things, but to gender identity, right? Like all sorts of things but but related to more more of like career. So many people would be like right away, they'd say, Oh, well your your background is in financial services. I know somebody at TCF. I'm like, I'm actually trained to get the heck away from financial services. A large part of my, you know, career and experience that private wasn't in the traditional financial services space. It was more on the community building and generosity side of things and and innovation and frankly, any skill set transfers across industry. Yes, there's some nuance that's relevant as you go from category to category. But I actually think the best innovation and thinking comes when you cross category bounds. And so I was also kind of continuously fighting against, like, people being able to try to understand. Like, how can because I am a little bit over like, I'm a little bit different. And I have a really wide variety of my backgrounds. And I like variety in my work. And so a large part of my, of my journey to was almost revolting against minimizing myself, so others could understand me, and I know there's, there's some of it some gray area, or of having a really, you know, succinct elevator pitch per se, but also being like when one other quick example is one person that I met made a comment to me and said, Are you crazy? Nobody at your age has made it in corporate and leave without a plan. And I just like, I kind of paused for a moment. And I said, Well, I never said it was a good idea. Like it, you know, because I didn't know what I was doing next at that point. But, but then later on, I kind of laughed about it. And, you know, we joked and moved on, but I that that sort of sat with me a lot later, as I reflected on it. And I sort of kind of irked me a little and instead of like, Well, why the heck not like, like, Why I am sort of a believer in the not naively but in the pursuit of joy, and in continuous learning, and being open to taking risks and figuring out what's next. And I didn't know what it was at that moment. But that it has to be crazy that you have to either, you know, hit a certain age or like, I don't know, just these societal bounds that are placed or expectations that are placed on things and, and making it more acceptable to break free from some of that.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yes. Thank goodness, you didn't listen to that person. And kind of rude, right, that I mean, that clearly what is so much more about them than you because there's there are plenty of people out there that don't even consider corporate as an option. Right? Yeah. It sounds like in meeting with 200 people over the course of several months, that you really got this cross pollination of people somewhere in corporate some works and maybe hadn't started their businesses. What were some of the patterns that you started to see emerge in your conversations with people?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, and the if, if you're in the, in the conversations with that were just complete networking, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. They were all over the board. And some people would say, well, you need to know what job description you're looking for, you know, like, and, and again, that was sort of the narrow mindset. And I also met people, there was one person that I was actually entertaining a couple positions in corporate. And I had mentioned to him what the two were and he was the first- he was a complete stranger before this and left an incredible impression on me. And he made a comment and said, okay, neither of those positions will be good for you, we just talked about how you are excellent at being like the hub, the hub that influences like everything else that happens, every single one of those positions, you will be a spoke and you will hate your life. And and then he actually looked at me and he said, Please promise me and excuse my french and this, but this is what he said in my first meeting, you will do something fucking awesome. And I was like, I promise. Like something. I also met just the most incredible humans in that process. But like kind of reinforced like, you're right. Don't settle like if like, trust your gut, if something doesn't feel right, like be open to something new. And what I would say is, after the, after I started the freelancing work. What sort of led led to the Indee, like in the founding of Indee is, this was my first taste of like true life of a freelancer because I'd say for the first, I don't know, 9- 9, 10 months or so I was fully booked with the agencies that I was working with and I was living the life I had to turn some work away because I was so busy and then some of the projects I was supposed to be getting brought in on ended abruptly and or they did not they did not get the work didn't get close. The clients didn't move forward with the work. And so then I found myself Freelancer Shannon and didn't know what I was going to do next. And so at that point, again, I went back to networking. I had a period of, Am I really going to be a freelancer? Do I really want to start my own business because I had been white labeled under the agencies that I was working with. So I had kind of established myself in my own my own brand and that work and so I started reaching out to strangers on LinkedIn. I searched for independent marketing strategist or you know, freelance brand strategy or anybody that I could find locally that was open to meeting and sharing their stories. So I set out to build my own consultancy. And in that process, I discovered, there are the most amazing humans who are brilliantly talented who are out on their own. And it's sort of, I always say it's kind of a 'no duh' moment. Because to be successful out on your own, you have to be absolutely brilliant at what you do. And a person that people want to be around and want to work with. And so much is built off referrals. But I'd say that's where I started to see the most patterns in conversation where I had set out to learn how I could build, you know, Shannon Olsen consultancy. And I quickly realized there was sort of a mission that I was on that was bigger than myself, because every one of those conversations while I would kind of glean slightly new insights from the different conversations, there was a lot of commonalities with every person that I talked to where they're all operating in their place of joy, like I mentioned before, they found the thing that they love to do, and they're absolutely great at and they made, they made that their career and they were now in control of the clients that they work with. And, and they're working on their most favorite type of work all day, every day. But they all miss collaboration. And they missed having a team based environment and somebody to be able to bounce ideas off of before they present back to a client, you know, to make the work the best. And I heard some of them talk about how business development can be really hard when you're out on your own. And that's on the grind of finding a new client. But also, when you're a one person show, you have to turn work away, because when you're booked, you're booked, I heard some people had micro networks built around themselves have complementary skill sets. And others really lacked that and longed for that to be able to better service their clients. And then I also heard some stories about some of the existing models on the market being really good for the business at the top, but not for the individual freelancers that make their business work. So some of the staffing firm models where they would just offer really low rates to the freelancers. And in a lot of them weren't interested in taking that work because they knew their worth. And so anyways, all those conversations sort of just got my mind, got my mind rolling, and I almost became a little obsessed for a little while there with my networking meetings almost turned into market research, right? Be like, tell me more about this, like, you know, and and I started studying models all around the world that were bringing independence together in interesting and unique ways. And so then started coming up with different ideas. And as I would have coffees with people, I'd say, Well, what if something like this existed? would you would you be interested and in the spirit of Co-creation, as I as I had talked about earlier, I figured if it like the people to design this with are the freelancers themselves, and like getting their input on how this model could or should work is the first step in seeing if there's really something here that the market needs. And then it's bringing it's a client. So so that was sort of the the accidental happening behind what is now in the marketing.

Michael Kithcart: 

That is fantastic. Because you can hear as you're saying that what you shared with us earlier about what you used to do and how and your approach inside of Thrivent is absolutely evident in how you formed Indee. So what was that timeframe that you use? Like, because you went back into networking after your freelance deals, but when you really started going like, wait a minute, wait a minute, there's an opportunity here to the time that you formed Indee what, how many months or weeks or days was that?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, so I I start the client work at the agency that sort of sent me out again on this, What's Shannon doing with her life adventure, (laughing) was late or like winter of 2019. And so that sort of set me to start doing reach out to people I would literally just message and say, Hey, I really love corporate and I think I'm going to you know, do my independent thing, want to chat, and those started off slow. And then as I started getting, like I said a little bit like there I think there's something here and it's it's something that's real and valuable and that the market really needs those started picking up so I would say I did all of those. Those meetings kind of spanned over the holidays and into the into 2020 the beginning of 2020 I finally had a realization I've met. And I probably at that point had honestly had coffee with about 30 different individuals. And I said, there's something here, I've got enough validation. There's real incredible interest here. I don't know what we're building, but there's something here and I need to pursue it. So let me just invite some now I know all of these fabulous people, but none of them know each other. So why don't I bring them together and see what happens. So that was in February of 2020. And so I invited everyone together for a social, I wasn't sure if anyone was going to show up, because it's one thing to say you're interested in something. And it's another thing to physically show up, particularly for freelancers who are very protective of their time.

Michael Kithcart: 

I was gonna say in particularly in Minnesota,

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, exactly. And I had 32 register and 25 showed up. And it was incredible. And coming out of that I asked if anybody wanted to help me build the brand and figure out the business model of what we're exactly doing here. I was expecting to get like two people that I could bribe with the wine or cheese, or I don't know, something all but two, were interested in helping. And so that sort of what's that Indee on course, then the pandemic hit, which is wild, but I just kind of put my head down, put together a little bit of an advisory board to hold me accountable. And then we launched in July. So it was like once I sort of made a decision that there was really something here and I was gonna go after it. It was just a few months.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah, that's, that's great. What surprised you about business ownership once you really started getting rolling?

Shannon Olson: 

Oh, my gosh. Well, like I mentioned earlier, I'm at my best when I'm like in ambiguity and figuring things out. So I wouldn't I'm accustomed to wearing a lot of hats and different roles that I've had. And so I think a lot of that I was anticipating I'm, I like to work. And so I've always said I've worked long hours. And I remember when I first made the decision to like really do this. I looked at my fiance, though, and I said, Are you sure you're open to this? Like, I don't know what sort of journey I'm taking us on with this, like, are you really in? Because it could either fail miserably, or it could be wildly successful and grow out of control. And, and it's been it's been an adventure. The I think one of the things that have been interesting is while I've done a lot of this before, in terms of like I'm running into, like early innovation, I'm testing and learning and trying things I have not overbuilt systems and structure behind the scenes. We're incredibly nimble, we're collaborating regularly, I continue to use the other indies to like, you know, brainstorm ideas on how we should operate. So like that part I'm very comfortable with what was fascinating is even early on, or just maybe like, just a stark reality of entrepreneurism, because even though previously, a lot of the stuff I designed, you know, fully myself in the early days, like as I grew, and as I was trying to evolve the technology as we would scale, I had my IT director that I could, I would put together the capabilities map of what I needed, but then they you know, I'd had a business architects that would go put it together, and I hit them all up early on, because I knew what I needed. But so I can't even tell you how many calls I was on with different tech vendors trying to piece it all together. And, you know, so it's just the all the hats, because I'm literally everything from sales, to marketing, to tech support to HR, to finance, you know, like all the things and we have been growing very quickly. And so it's been that part has been a little bit overwhelming some days. But I think the other thing is just I mean, we launched in a global pandemic. And so I think everyone was surprised that I had an idea and lunch of business A few months later, like because everybody that I launched the business with another interesting thing to note were complete strangers before that. So I, I like kind of everybody believed in the vision and the opportunity and the model. And I think one of the other things, it's maybe just kind of interesting to note about the model itself is I'm trying to create an ecosystem that is good for everybody. So it's good for the agency partners that we work with. It's good for the clients that we work with. And it's absolutely good for the individual freelancers, and we call indies that are part of it. And so we're centered around being complimentary, not in competition with one another. And that's not just internally, but that's externally so I'm, you know, very open minded. I've talked to other people that are interested in building models like this and shared everything about how I work and what I've learned and because there should be more models like this, so, so I think that I don't know, I mean, I'm not sure I've kind of moved off your question here, but I just, I think that I've been overwhelmed with some pieces. In terms of just like, the amount of things I have to do, and not enough hours in a day, and you know, just the journey of being an entrepreneur, but also just like so encouraged and so excited about the receptivity of all of the awesome people that have joined and are part of the nd network and all of the external collaborators that we have, and just other people that are open and interested and excited about this model, because it is quite different than than other things on the market. And people are like, My vision is will be in every major city across the US, if not, even globally, eventually. And people are excited to be part of that journey, and helping us sort of think through even aspects of evolving our business model itself, so.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yes, that is fantastic. And love the big vision. And you talked about the collaboration that you're doing with other indies. Yeah, and how they've helped shape it. What are clients saying that they're loving about the model that you're bringing forward to them?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, so I think there's a few different things. One, I this is another thing that I think is just been encouraging is our model is almost quite disarming. Like, even when I've done some proactive, like cold reach outs, people are like that, wow, this model is really interesting, because it's very human centric, and it is actually quite friendly. And so I think that it's refreshing to have new options available for clients to be able to solve their marketing, marketing and brand challenges that they have. But I'd say probably the things that people are, like most excited about is the flexibility and nimbleness of our model. So we operate like in a lot of different ways. So for some clients, we like I had mentioned previously, we are like we do operate like a traditional agency would when it's a very clear project will bring on, you know, whatever type of strategist we need, usually a designer, you know, a copywriter, you know, we'll we'll put together the team that's needed with the expertise that's needed to do a really clear project that's multi phases and has clear deliverables. In other cases, they don't, the clients don't have any idea what they need, but they know they need partners to help them and so we just come alongside them and, and operate more on an hourly basis. And just and we pull different experts in if and as needed. And because we have such a kind of extensive network of people with different skill sets, we are very much a one stop shop. Um, the other thing that is really like a value-add, this is more logistically, but Indee does all of the billing and contracting and invoicing. So for any brands that have often hired freelancers, one of the pain points is that they have to do contracting, and billing, you know, all those things with every single person individually. And so this also simplifies and streamlines the process. And we're 100% virtual. So our pricing is very competitive. I always tell people, we're not cheap. But we are we do kind of pride ourselves on having good and fair pricing for everybody involved, which includes the the individual indies. And one thing that's also unique about our model, and I'm very forthright about this is I let all of our independence determine their own their own value and their own work. So everybody has different price points. And so we're just really transparent when we work with clients about what budget they have, and what they're hoping to achieve. And we do our best to meet them where they are. It's not always possible, but but we just try to be very open, transparent and like human about everything that we do. So everybody wins.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah. And that, in turn will attract the right clients to people who've actually valued the same thing that you do. By being transparent like that. Shannon, you mentioned at the beginning, that you are you like it best when you have a big jolt going on. So I just have to wrap up by asking you like how does that transcend into like, your personal life? Like what's what's something that you've done in your life that has created a big huge jolt, besides leaving your job and starting a co op?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, you know what, what's funny is that well, I'm even trying to like think pre pandemic right now, because it's like, I feel like I, I've been almost like, withering away in the pandemic because I am a person that is 100% extroverted and love adventure and I used to do a ton of travel I think that was sort of my, my escape and my adventure and my, like, just kind of wandering it, you know, like discovery through wandering, I would let at times not have a big agenda when I would go I would sort of know what area of the country I was going to be in but then just sort of figure things out. I love experiencing culture, like authentically not the tourist stuff, but I honestly in my personal life I'm due for like some of that, you know some of that kind of freedom in the book. quarantine was incredibly difficult on me because I was I was locked away and missing a lot of that. So I yeah, I don't know, I don't know that I've done enough of that. But I, it's, it's it doesn't always have to be major. It's just I don't do good with routine. And I like when I'm like, yeah, it's mostly like, combating routine and feeling like I'm doing the same thing because even back to my time at thrivent even when I was at like the peak of my career and loved what I was doing and had incredible roles and was traveling across the country and speaking all the time and, you know, mentoring a lot of people and had literally number one priority for the whole company had resources at my disposal, like I would drive into work and just look around at the because it was routine, right? Like I was driving in at the same time every day sitting in the same traffic every morning. And I would just look at the people in the cars also knowing the statistics about how many people are dissatisfied in their work. And then you know, I always felt very blessed that I had high satisfaction but I feel like, this is what I do i driving to work every day. Yo know, like I said, there's so think it's just it's it's mor like mini shakeups or just lik adventure and breaking fro breaking from the mundane i what keeps me engaged in life

Michael Kithcart: 

Love that Good, good quote to end on. Shannon, thank you so much for being part of the Champions of RISK podcast. How can people follow you?

Shannon Olson: 

Yeah, so personally, I'm most active on LinkedIn. So it's, I don't kno if you can connect the- or, c n add the link on there. Bu it's Shannon Olson, and th n for anything with Indee, our w bsite is HelloIndee.com, it's I- -D-E-E. And then all of ou social handles are HelloIndee But it might be worth noting that I'm responsible for social ight now. And I don't think e've posted since March, but that will become active again And you'll start to get to mee all but consultants, but that s how you fi

Michael Kithcart: 

And if you re a client of Indee Marketing o Op that would not happen to our social

Shannon Olson: 

Never! Absolutely. You know, what's funny is the reason I stopped posting is because I want everything we do to be reflective of the people that actually do it and are great at it. And that's not my strength.

Michael Kithcart: 

Appreciate the honesty. Shannon, thank you so much.

Shannon Olson: 

Thank you. This was wonderful.

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