The Vulnerable Side of Visibility with Erica Courdae

Visibility is scary. It’s one of the reasons why so many female entrepreneurs don’t seek out more of it for their business. Yet, it’s also the thing that’ll grow your business.

So how can you feel more confident and empowered in the spotlight? In this episode, I talk with my friend Erica Courdae, a CEO Collective mentor and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant, about what it’s been like to have more visibility than ever before and how you can more confidently embrace greater visibility for your business and message.

On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

5:54 – What kind of visibility journey has Erica gone on? She talks about her roller coaster ride since 2018 and the dilemma she faced in 2020.

11:51 – Erica used to say yes to every opportunity. Now a bit more discerning about what she takes on, she discusses the key pieces that helped her handle the demand for her time.

15:21 – What does it take to get your message out into the world? We reveal why consistency is key to gaining and handling greater visibility.

17:26 – Having this missing piece really makes things easier when you find yourself suddenly confronted with more demands for your time.

23:25 – How has Erica navigated exposure to larger audiences with people who may vehemently disagree with her message?

31:59 – There’s a difference between visibility for yourself as an individual and visibility for your message.

40:50 – To wrap up, I go over a couple of key points I want to make sure you take away from this episode.

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Racheal Cook: One thing I can share after doing hundreds and hundreds of podcast interviews, showing up on live TV, being a speaker on stages in front of packed rooms, it's scary. Visibility can feel very scary and uncomfortable. I think this is one of the reasons why so many women entrepreneurs really hold themselves back from going after more visibility.

That's why I invited my dear friend and diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant, Erica Courdae, to join me today just to have a conversation about what it's been like for the two of us to navigate having more visibility than ever before, how we emotionally ride that roller coaster of feelings and uncertainty, and what you can take away as you're stepping into more visibility for your business and your message.

Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Racheal Cook: Hey, CEO. If there is one thing I know from working with hundreds and hundreds of women entrepreneurs, it's that visibility can feel very scary, it can feel intimidating, it can feel not safe even for many of us. It makes sense because we have been raised in a culture, we have been conditioned by a culture where being an outspoken woman has not always been something we were praised for.

Today I wanted to have a conversation about this, about the emotional uncertainty, about the roller coaster of feelings, about how challenging it can be to be suddenly in a highly visible space. That's why I invited my friend, Erica Courdae, to join me. If you don't know Erica, you absolutely should. She is a dear, dear friend. She is a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant. She is the co-host of the podcast Pause On The Play with India Jackson where they discuss all things diversity, equity, and inclusion and challenging the status quo, having tough conversations.

I'm so lucky that she is also one of our mentors inside of The CEO Collective. Inside of The CEO Collective, she holds a lot of space for us to have these challenging conversations and rumble with uncomfortable feelings in her work that is by far, hands down, her zone of genius. But I wanted to bring her on because I've known her for several, several years now and I've seen her go through this massive transition, from being somebody who was out there doing diversity, equity, and inclusion work who was talking about being an imperfect ally prior to this massive social justice movement that happened in the last few years.

In many ways, she was thrust into more visibility. The demand suddenly spiked on her and she has been on so many podcasts. She has gone into so many different teams, companies, and organizations to offer training. This was visibility she didn't necessarily plan on having but she knew it was an opportunity.

On the other hand, I have also had a huge surge in visibility and it's been something that we are in our Voxer about all the time. It brings up so many uncomfortable feelings. We had different ways we came to having more visibility but we have come to a lot of the same conclusions which I can't wait for you to hear about.

If you've been hesitant to put yourself out there to become more visible with your message, if you've been grappling with feelings of fear or uncertainty, I want you to really listen to this conversation between the two of us and I'm really hoping it will make you feel more confident and more empowered into taking up space and letting your message take up more space. Because we need more women's voices, we need more women to go out there and say what they believe and make a difference in the world, and we have to support each other because doing that is not always easy. I hope you enjoy our chat.

Erica, welcome back.

Erica Courdae: Hello, Racheal. It is always my pleasure to be here.

Racheal Cook: I think this is the third time you've joined me, maybe even the fourth time on Promote Yourself to CEO, but you're one of my favorite people in the world to talk to. When I started recording this series all about really going all in on your Attract marketing strategy and getting more visibility in your business, I also wanted to talk about what comes with that because this is an area that we know a lot of women shy away from more visibility in our business, it can feel scary and it can feel vulnerable and it can definitely bring up all of our stuff, but also, it is the thing that will grow our business, it is the thing that will put us in the spotlight.

I think you and I have been on this parallel journey where in the last couple years, you've been getting a lot of visibility. Can you share a little bit the visibility journey you've been on in the last few years?

Erica Courdae: Oh my goodness. The interesting thing about it is that I didn't necessarily expect it. I think one of the biggest things that I've learned is that I had to be up for the ride however it went and I was willing to let it be versus trying to force it to be. I didn't set out of, “Okay, I only want to do speaking gigs,” or “I only want to do podcasts”, it's like, “Okay, let's see what's coming up. Let's see what feels good. Let's see what's getting results.” It started with She Podcasts back in 2018 being one of those points when I was like, “Okay, this feels like a thing because I have been doing podcast episodes but that just felt very different.”

From there, it kept going. I spoke at Alt Summit before the whole world shut down. I've spoken multiple times at Being Boss. I've done more podcast episodes at this point than I can count. The amounts of workshops that I've done in people's communities, doing speaking engagements for companies like Libsyn and Blue Cross Blue Shield, it's been a lot of different areas, a lot of different subject matters that I'm bringing the DEI lens to. But I knew that what I had to bring to the table was going to be consistent and it was of value. I took it basically to anybody that was going to listen.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. It's been amazing to watch because I remember when we were at She Podcasts live and you were going to be a speaker regardless, you were on the docket, and then the second opportunity came up for you to speak and you guys jumped on that, it was amazing. I think the first few speaking opportunities you had, you definitely had to put yourself out there, you had to write a pitch and pitch yourself and you didn't necessarily know who you were pitching to.

Erica Courdae: No.

Racheal Cook: That was cold pitching, cold outreach, cold, “Hey, I have this thing I want to talk about, Imperfect Allyship, let's have the conversation.” This was way before the conversation came to the forefront in the way that it has, but I feel like some of that flipped for a period of time where you were definitely along for the ride and it was a crazy wild roller coaster. Can you talk about that? Because I think it's one of those things that feels like a blessing and a curse. The visibility came to you which I think a lot of people say they want, but then also it wasn't easy.

Erica Courdae: No, 2020 was when it came and it came hot and heavy. It was challenging for a number of reasons, one was that I had my own moral dilemma of I'm having a lot of people that want to work with me and I'm getting a lot of attention and a ton of visibility but it was because of George Floyd being murdered. I, for a while, had to really grapple with the fact that I don't want to feel like I am capitalizing on someone's demise but I had to work through my own things.

Over time, I realized that part of it was just that I was processing while supporting other people with processing. That's the thing that we've watched a lot of therapists go through right now because they're going through the same thing that their clients are going through. That's not how that normally works.

To be somebody that was trying to process while supporting people in their own processing and their own DEI efforts was definitely very challenging and I had to understand that if I wanted to make impact and I wanted to do something different, that I had to remember that the sad truth was that I couldn't undo something that had been done but I could figure out what could I do with the opportunity that I had presented to me. That was like, “Okay, let's do this.”

It really was this opportunity to do these workshops, to come in these communities, to have people want to work one-on-one, to have gotten retainer clients, a number of which I still have to this day that have made huge strides in what's happening, it was a lot of building the plane while I was flying it because it was like, “I was not ready to have all of this at one time.” But I didn't want to say no because I'm like, “That's doing a disservice to the change I want to make so let's figure it out.”

Racheal Cook: I think this is so important to bring up. The whole building the plane while you are flying it, for you it was a huge cultural conversation shift that was happening, I've also seen this happen with friends who suddenly their content goes viral, no matter what the reason is, there's suddenly a huge spotlight on you and you didn't expect it, you didn't plan for it, suddenly it's there though, what do you do with it?

I feel like a lot of times, people can just be like, “Oh, no, I'm shutting it down. I can't do this. No, no, no.” But you did allow it to coast. Those are things I think when you're getting more visibility, you have to be open to there might be some time or something where something's in the zeitgeist and like boom, floodgates could open. How did you manage, because you said yes to pretty much everything, how long were you in that zone where you were continuing to get so much demand for your work?

Erica Courdae: The demand is still there, I just have more of an opportunity to be more discerning with what I say yes to. Because there was a point that it was like, “I don't know what this looks like. I don't want to turn people away,” so it was like just “Yes, because,” and now I'm like, “Is this a good fit? Is this someone I want to work with? Is this someone that's a value fit?” There's a lot more transparency with myself around what my capacity is and what I want to say yes to. I don't have to say yes and that makes a big difference.

I think that there was a point to where it was a lot and there were a few key pieces that really helped, one of which was that I had been saying the same thing consistently. For example, Imperfect Allyship is something that I now have trademarked, but I was saying it before that point happened. This was something that I've been talking about on my podcast and in conversation with clients ongoing.

I had been having conversations about my take on imposter syndrome way before that moment came up. These were not things that all of a sudden came up in the moment, they were already there. Maybe it was the figuring out of, “Okay, well, how am I going to do this in a different capacity or how am I going to work with this particular client or brand differently?” But what I did was still the same. I think that was what was really helpful. I wasn't trying to create a business or a way to work with somebody that did not already have some type of a framework there. That made a huge difference.

I did not do it alone. I need people to first and foremost understand that you don't go full out on true visibility efforts if you are like, “I'm all in.” You don't do it alone. Part of it is that I have a business partner that also happens to own a media company. India owns Flaunt Your Fire. Flaunt Your Fire does a lot of my visibility. I had somebody that was like, “You do the thing. I know what needs to happen, I will take care of this part.” I also was working with Cher Hale of Ginkgo Publications. Cher did my PR. Cher was a huge part of me being able to show up and do the podcast that she put me out there for.

This did not happen because I was this lone ship doing it all on my own. No, I had people in my corner to support me that understood what I was doing, what my brand was here to do, and they also allowed me to evolve. They were there sometimes to be like, “Are you okay?” Even if I couldn't acknowledge that sometimes yes, it was challenging, it was still somebody to ask. Also, people like you that are like, “Hey, I have a connection for you, let me go ahead and get you connected with this person and this is a great opportunity.” Having these things in place were a huge part of how this happened. These weren't things that I manufactured in the moment, these seeds had already been sewn.

Racheal Cook: I love that. I think if anything for people who are thinking about visibility and you can't control what's going on in the world around you, but if you are in a stage of business where you know you want to get your message in front of more people, you want to grow your audience, you want to make that impact, it can't happen in a vacuum, it can't happen by yourself.

Brené Brown is someone who I think of a lot who has a really consistent message. She talks about the same thing again and again and again. She even shares the same stories again and again and again. You listen to her interview on Oprah and it's the same as her interview over here. You listen to her podcast and it's the same stories again and again and again.

It's really easy to feel like you have to constantly be creating a new message, new stories, or new things to talk about, but actually it's the opposite, if you want that message to get out into the world, it's about staying on message, it's about staying consistent and having that through line of what you're talking about that you can always circle back to. I'm the same way, people ask how do I do all these interviews, how do I do all this stuff and I'm like, “Well, I talk about the same thing over and over and over again.”

Erica Courdae: It's true, but you are one of those examples for me that does show that talking about the same thing is not about redundancy, it's about consistency.

Racheal Cook: It's consistency. I think that also makes it easier when you're going after more visibility because you're not reinventing the wheel all the time. You pitch the same topic or maybe a few key topics to the audiences you want to get in front of and one, you also know how to steer the conversation a little better because you're really good at that conversation. I know you're really good at this because sometimes, you've had interviews with people who don't really know your world or your work very well and you have to bring them back to the point.

Erica Courdae: Right. It helps because sometimes when opportunities come up, you might not have all of this extra time to plan. It's like for some people, they love it, for me, it's not always preferable. But sometimes I'm like, “You know what, just dump me and I can figure it out because I'm going to come with the same perspective with these nuances of it.” Same thing different day.

Racheal Cook: The consistency and staying on message is a huge piece of what makes it possible to go after more visibility at the scale, and like you said, the team, knowing that all you have to do is sit down in front of a microphone and have the conversation but you don't have to think about, “Oh, do they have my headshot? Do they have my bio? Do they have all my topics? Do they know what freebie they're getting? Do we have social about this?” You have a support system around you that makes that happen.

Erica Courdae: Absolutely. If I didn't have that, especially when it was really from probably middle of 2020 until about middle to late 2021, there was no way because there was so much. If I had to worry about whether or not a link was right, there was no way. I needed to show up and be present, especially when there were points that I was doing multiple episodes in a week, on top of already having my own show, having retainer clients of my own, having our clients through Pause On The Play, having our online community, there was absolutely no way. Did I mention I'm a mother of two children? You cannot do that and do it well if you do not employ some type of support and also be very, very honest about what you can and cannot do.

Racheal Cook: I think that's really key because I find often, we don't know our capacity until we've gone beyond it and then we have to reel it back in.

Erica Courdae: I agree. That is where I feel like you really have a learning opportunity that you can either figure out what do you need to do going forward, or for some people, it can break you and you're like, “I don't know how to fix this. I don't know how to go forward. I don't know how to shift this.” At least for me, anytime that I've gone beyond my capacity, it often puts me in a place of me having depleted myself and pushed myself farther than I needed to be and then I have to carry it and I'm like, “Yeah, I don't like this. I don't want to do this. What can I do differently?”

I do try to learn from it. I tend to be pretty good at self-awareness and so when stuff starts to be off, and I'm fortunate enough to have really good people around me that will point out if something isn't quite right. It's not just the noticing of it, it's what do you do. If there is a point that I'm like, “Okay, I need to not do any episodes for a little while,” or “I need to replay a previous episode from my own show for a little bit,” “I need to not take on any new clients for a little bit.”

You have to be realistic about what it is and what it isn't versus “I'm just going to just keep taking and taking and taking,” because visibility for the sake of visibility is not the answer either. You want visibility that's actually in support and service of your message and support and service of you as a human because you are more than your message.

Racheal Cook: Ooh. I love that. Yes, absolutely. I think, like you said, you have to have that support team who's also got your back and who's protecting you a little bit. I think that is probably a missing piece for a lot of people when they're starting to want more visibility is they just go-go-go and they don't have any boundaries in place, they don't have anybody who's watching out for them, even as simple as when we first got on this call, you're like, “Hey, how are you doing? What's going on?” I was like, “Yeah, I'm in a growth period,” and you're like, “Are you going to be okay?” But that's because we have that relationship.

I think so many people are so isolated from that. They don't have people who are checking in on them who know, “Hey, they're going into a busy period,” or “Hey, there's a lot going on right now, are they getting a break? Are they getting some rest? Do they need somebody to talk to to process all of this?” That can be very isolating I think.

This is why I believe relationships are so important for women like us, and entrepreneurs in general, anybody who's a leader who has a big message. You need that trusted group of people you can turn to and be like, “Oh, my god, this is so much right now but what do I do next? How do I manage this? How do I juggle it? How do I keep going without it just becoming all-consuming?”

Erica Courdae: I think that is important and I think it's important to give yourself that space to not only figure out what it is for now but also slightly future forecast because the reality is, like we talked about in the beginning, you don't know when that thing that is the thing is going to hit, you don't know when that moment is going to come up and everybody's like, “Oh my god, please help me.” You know the things and I want to hear it from you. You don't know when that moment's going to come up that you are going to just have that one liner that everybody's like, “You get it. You get it. How many things can I buy from you all at one time?” It's going to happen.

This is where figuring out, like you said, where are those couple of things that you talk about? What are those key points? Do you feel clear on them? Do you know that you have those laid out so that you're not scrambling trying to figure out what you're going to talk about if somebody says, “Hey, you want to come on my podcast?” For me, it's like, “Sure, I'm going to talk about a very short list of things and you already know what I'm going to talk about because anything that you bring me for, I'm going to circle it back.”

It's figuring that out, it's figuring out what is the support that I need. Do I need somebody to write pitches for me? Do I need somebody to do the pitching for me? Do I need somebody to help me get my talks all laid out in a succinct way so I can put them on my website so people can easily go ahead and just book me? Figure out what those things are, but if you need to pause long enough to do that, this is your permission to pause, to get clear and centered and to know what's next.

Racheal Cook: I love that. Something I want to ask you about is dealing with as you increase visibility, you get in front of more and more people, and I find that this might be one of the reasons, or at least my assumption, I'm making a big assumption here, is that one of the reasons often I think women stay “small” with their message and with their visibility, with people who already know, like, and trust them, is because there is a lot of fear around getting in front of larger audiences who maybe aren't vetted audiences, who haven't already proven that they're on the same page as you, and then you end up with people who disagree or more than disagree.

They might be having some opinions you might not want to hear and these opinions can actually be really hard to deal with. I know you've dealt with this, especially in the work that you do. How have you navigated that? As you get on bigger and bigger stages, it means more opportunities for other people to come in and disagree or send you hate mail or whatever. I don't think anyone could ever send Erica hate mail. I really don't. But I'm sure you have people who do disagree with you and that can be hard. Sometimes you can get emails from people where they can really take the breath away for a second when you're like, “Oh, what the heck?”

Erica Courdae: Oh, yeah. Well, first off, I want to start with the fact that comfort is death. When we talk about visibility, if you stay stuck doing the same things for the same audiences, the same groups of people, and it never goes beyond that, you are operating in an echo chamber. You are now not being willing to vet whether or not your message is actually true. You only want it to be true where it currently is because that's comfortable, that's safe, that feels good, that doesn't buck the system.

There's no value in something that is only founded in one very small pond. I don't think for those that want to make a larger impact that there's really any value there. It also doesn't help you grow. The whole point of what I do is about growth and evolution. If I did that, then that would be counter-intuitive to the entire purpose of why I do what I do. That in itself just is a no. Does that mean that it's always easy? No, because, of course, there are people that disagree with me.

Now, the truth is that with what I do, maybe it's because the disagreement part comes with it because there's people that are like, “I don't know if that's true. I don't know if that's true for me,” or “Well, I don't know that I'm that person.” Those types of things come up and I'm like, “I don't mind disagreeing with you.” For me it's a little bit different because that disagreement really is a big part of what I do and there's no way to get around that.

However, no, it doesn't feel good if there's just pushback for the sake of wanting to be contrary or somebody that just wants you to be wrong. I don't think anybody feels good about it. Do I think that there's growth and opportunity in it? Sure. But I think it's also about going back to one of my favorite books, which is technically The Five Agreements but it comes off of The Four Agreements, and it's to not take anything personally because it has nothing to do with me. You don't know me. You just know me as this person that is telling you something in this moment that you disagree with. Therefore, you need to be right, but it's not me.

I have to remember that I am here for something that is bigger than me. When I make it about me, I'm giving myself an excuse to shrink and that's not what I'm here for. That's not how I create a legacy for my children. That's not how I create a movement behind what I do. Is that always easy? No, but I have to come back to that.

Racheal Cook: I want to point back to The Four Agreements or The Five Agreements too, it's funny I did an interview with MegAnne Ford a long time ago, I'll link it up, about the dark side of visibility and we were talking about when she went “viral” a while ago, she ended up with somebody who was like a stalker and a bully. Again, she also brought up that book for the same reason because it's like, “Look, this is not about me. If what I am sharing is causing this reaction to somebody, that is them.”

It's not saying that people have to only agree with you or only be like, “Oh my god, you're amazing,” but it's like if you're getting some of these outrageous responses that are like way out of left field, that is so not about you. I think that fear of, “Well, I don't want to get those people. I don't want to get the bullies, the stalkers, the haters, or just the people who send me mean emails, I don't want that,” I love that you're just like, “Whatever.”

Erica Courdae: It is what it is. Every time that I go in and I do a workshop, does that mean that every single person in that room is on board with everything I say and they are ready to make all these changes and they are seeing the differences? No. I have had people look at me glassy, like, “None of this makes sense to me and I'm not doing any of it.” At the end of the day, you do what you will, I am here. I am going to say what I am going to say. We are all going to have respectful dialogue or we are not going to have dialogue. Then I'm going to continue and rinse and repeat and I'm going to do it again.

Regardless of what happens, it is for me to then do it again, it's for me to then baby pause and figure out is there anything I could do differently? Did I learn something from this? Did this tell me something about the people that I want to work with? That's not about figuring out who is the perfect fit because they agree, but who is a perfect fit because there's an opportunity for growth, there's an opportunity for them to learn something, for me to learn something?

Is there something that I can do differently that might present this in a way that somebody might just be willing to absorb it that they wouldn't be otherwise. That is what I'm going to look for. If I'm so worried about “I can't believe you said that to me”, there's a place for that, but that needs to be the smallest piece of everything else.

Racheal Cook: Yes. I hope everyone who's listening to this conversation is hearing this grounded confidence that the message and the mission is what is driving us forward, it is not ego, it is not the desire to be right or to be famous or to be an internet celebrity, it is in the desire to truly facilitate change, to meet with people, get in front of people, and have conversations with people who are open to uncomfortable dialogue, who are open to being in the growth zone, the comfort zone, like you said, comfort is not where we want to be, that's where things stay exactly as they are, if we want to change whatever our mission is, whatever we're trying to change in the world, that means getting people into that growth zone which is uncomfortable.

It makes us feel emotionally uncomfortable. It makes us challenge those preconceived notions about ourselves, about other people, about the world around us. I feel like you're one of those people who, at least for me, because you're so grounded and there is no ego at play here, it's not about you. I think that makes it easier, and why you've navigated this visibility surge so well is because you've been able to remove that ego related part of it.

If somebody gets mad at you, it's not about you, it's about they're not ready for this message or they're just not the right person for this message or whatever. Or if somebody loves you, it's not even about you then, it's this is the message they needed to hear, this was the next step on their own journey.

Erica Courdae: Absolutely. The interesting part is that we're obviously talking about visibility which does talk about us as the individual but I think that there is a difference between you being visible as an individual and you wrapping yourself up in the success or lack there of a message and that being about you as the individual. I think that's a very different thing because yes, I want to be able to further my message and have more people being able to further that out because I can only do as much as I can do, but the more people I have spreading it, then that's how it's possible.

At the end of the day, not only is that not about me but it's really taking me out of it. I had a very smart friend years ago that pointed something out that I hadn't really thought about, and that the person in charge isn't always, let's say, the brains of the operation. It's kind of that number two, it's the person that's like, “Hey, here's the perspective. Here are the things that I am going to look at.” The person that's out doing the talking sometimes is really the person that is good in that capacity, but in a lot of ways, I'm that person that is telling people the things that they need to reconsider.

It's giving them that space to work through the messy middle and the rough edges of things where they are reconsidering their normal and figuring out what's next for when they go out and do what they do to remind people to utilize the DEI lens for what they do. While there's the visibility that I do when you see me at a conference or you hear my voice on a podcast, you hear my voice when you listen to Pause On The Play, there is also the work that I do when I am working with people and I am the person that is guiding them, I'm the person that's supporting them, that's really the place that I like to be.

Me going out and doing the thing is about making sure that you know that the thing that I'm doing is something worth you checking out and learning more about and employing in what you do. But my sweet spot is being the person that's like, “Let me support the other people.” That's the fun.

Racheal Cook: I love that. I hope this conversation really helped the entrepreneurs who are listening who maybe have had some nervousness or some fear or some hesitation because I think the thing that drives me to continue to show up as the voice of the message in my business is always that I know my clients resonate with this message, there are people out there who need this message, who need to know what is possible, who need to know that they can do this, that they can build these businesses in a way that is sustainable and makes an impact in the world. It matters and it will make the world a better place.

I think I stay focused on them more than me. When I talk about visibility, I am never going to be talking about going to rent a private jet so you can do a photo shoot and show how awesome you are. To me, that is such BS. Unfortunately, I think in this crazy wild, wild west of online everything, sometimes people confuse being visible with faking authority, faking expertise, or faking whatever and they don't have the message. They don't truly have a message, all they have is this made up facade.

Erica Courdae: They're palatable to the eye and so therefore that's all that people need and they don't really actually have a message or a purpose. They just might look cute while they're doing it and they have the funds to do it.

Racheal Cook: Well, and that's where I'm like if we're really here to make a difference, I don't care if you wear Christian Louboutins or the flip flops from The Dollar Store, I really don't care. All those trappings of success that people think you need to be visible or that are what it takes to be visible or to be known as someone who was influential in your space, does not mean you need to try to be an influencer who really has nothing to say.

Erica Courdae: Well, yes and no, and the only reason I say yes and no is because of the fact that an influencer, based on what my child told me, an influencer is someone who influences people. Now the ridiculous online influencer culture of people that want to sell you things that they don't actually use so that they can basically just try to sell you on a lifestyle, that, no. That's not what we're talking about. What we're talking about is people that do something that people witness that somehow influences their thoughts, feelings, actions, or state of being. That's what an influencer actually is.

If more of us can re-center that word and reclaim it for what it actually is, then I'll be willing to use it again in that way. But I think what you are doing is being an influencer, what we talk about in the circles that we operate in, that's what being an influencer is. It's not about how much money it seems as though you have on the outside or how much influence people assume that you have or how smart they assume you are.

Racheal Cook: The number of followers. It's not about any of the vanity stuff, that's what I'm trying to get at is this word has been co-opted to mean something other than what it truly means and it has made people think the only way to get visibility for your business is to become that. I know that you and I are here for the message, we're here for the mission, we're here for the people, we're here to support, and all of those trappings that you might feel like you need in order to be more visible or to go after more visibility, it's vanity metrics, it's vanity actions, and it's not creating a mission-driven, purpose-driven business.

Erica Courdae: Absolutely not. Not at all. All of that stuff, you leave that and you remember that influencing people is simply doing what you do, being honest and transparent about it, and doing it to the best of your ability at any given moment with the capacity that you have.

Racheal Cook: Love it. Erica, you are the best. I so love having conversations with you. I appreciate you coming on because I truly think that watching you embrace more visibility in a period that, like you said, you were also processing what you're hoping everyone else process the last couple years, but also that a lot of what just happened has been really amazing to see you continue to ground into “This is what matters. This is what I'm here for. This is the message,” and using that lens of discernment and continuing to move forward and not just letting this massive wave of visibility take you under, it's been awesome.

I'm just really happy for you and honored to be a part of the work that you do and to have you in my community because you're such an amazing example of someone who I think is just an incredible mission-driven entrepreneur.

Erica Courdae: Same. Thank you because knowing that I have you as not only a part of my community but knowing that I'm fortunate enough to call you a friend, it's really supportive mentally and emotionally to know that I have somebody, not only from the business standpoint but someone that from a life perspective understands what it is to try to want to create something bigger than themselves and how much that can be. You being that example and you being here to support me means so much. Thank you.

Racheal Cook: Awesome. I absolutely love talking with Erica and I am so lucky to call her a friend. I am so lucky that she's only a couple hours away and we try to meet up a couple times a year just to spend time together and provide each other the support as we go through these big things because it is emotional, it brings up all your stuff, and I love having somebody who is also just so grounded in her mission and her message that she can overcome all of the inner gremlins, that inner mean girl voice that might want to hold you back and make you play small and safe.

If there's anything I want to make sure we all take away from this, it’s one, the agreements. If you have never read the book The Four Agreements, it's one that I read probably 20 years ago and it continues to make such a massive impact on me, it's to learn to not take things personally, to know that when people say something to you that may not be in the most positive light, usually that has nothing to do with you. The more you can learn that, the easier it will be to become more visible, because you'll know that most of the negativity out there has nothing to do with you.

This is so crucially important, and I didn't talk about it in our conversation, but as humans, we have this negativity bias. You can talk to 100 people and 99 will give you rave reviews and just say how amazing you are and how much they love talking to you, but that one will find one little thing and that will suddenly become all-consuming, that negativity bias will make us hone in on the one negative voice.

But if you can accept that that negative attitude, that negative voice, that negative comment had really not much to do with you, it will make it easier, it will make it so much easier to become more visible.

The other thing I wanted to highlight is having the support system. This is not just having the team support system, which is I think is essential, if you're really going after a major visibility, if you're in a growth stage of your business and most of your role now is being visible, you need the team to hold down the fort, you need the team to make sure everything is running smoothly because you don't have time for those details. You just need to be able to show up, say what needs to be said, and keep on going on to the next visibility opportunity.

But I think it's important to surround yourself with other people who understand where you are. This is where Brené Brown calls it “I don't want to get feedback from anybody who's not in the arena with me.” If you remember her book Daring Greatly, she talks about the people who are the critics are the ones who usually are not in the arena getting their ass kicked, they're the ones sitting on the sidelines, they're the ones in the cheap seats who want to give all their “feedback” or criticism, but they're not doing the hard thing, they're not in the arena getting their ass kicked like we are, when we're putting ourselves out there visibly, vulnerably.

You need to have the people in your corner, you need to have the people in your Voxer, on your speed dial, whatever it is, who are also, like you, putting themselves out there because their opinions are the ones that matter, they're the people you go to when you really need the support, when you really need the encouragement, when you need the feedback or you need to bounce back from some criticism because they're in the arena with you and they're the ones whose opinion actually will help you move out of the state of overwhelm, frustration, or whatever it might be.

I hope you loved this conversation so much. I know I did. If you want more from Erica, make sure you head over to the podcast Pause On The Play that she co-hosts with our friend India Jackson, I cannot recommend it enough.