Episode 41: Arlene Battishill

Entrepreneur Conundrum Podcast

Episode Summary

Today I’m talking with Arlene Battishill about how she helps early stage startup companies drive social change through technology.
Arlene has built a multi-million dollar company and then sold it. She went seven years without a paycheck before the company became profitable. She was on the TV show Shark Tank. She is a best selling author of two books, one on how to sell online. She was voted one of the top 100 most influential in fashion in Los Angeles. She won best in show during the Fashion Week in Los Angeles.
She has also done the iron back challenge three times. That’s where you ride your motorcycle nonstop for twenty four hours and you have to have ridden 1000 miles before the end of the twenty four hours in order to win the challenge.

EC 01   |    4min

About The Guest

Arlene has built a multi-million dollar company and then sold it. She went seven years without a paycheck before the company became profitable.

She was on the TV show Shark Tank. She is a best selling author of two books, one on how to sell online. She was voted one of the top 100 most influential in fashion in Los Angeles. She won best in show during the Fashion Week in Los Angeles.

She has also done the iron back challenge three times. That’s where you ride your motorcycle nonstop for twenty four hours and you have to have ridden 1000 miles before the end of the twenty four hours in order to win the challenge.



Episode Transcript


Virginia [00:00:01] Welcome to Entrepreneur Conundrum with Virginia Purnell. Where growing entrepreneurs share how they get visible online.

Virginia [00:00:09] Hi, everyone. Today I’m talking with Arlene Battishill about how she helps early stage startup companies drive social change through technology. Arlene has built a multi-million dollar company and then sold it. She went seven years without a paycheck before the company became profitable. She was on the TV show Shark Tank. She is a best selling author of two books, one on how to sell online. She was voted one of the top 100 most influential in fashion in Los Angeles. She won best in show during the Fashion Week in Los Angeles. She has also done the iron back challenge three times. That’s where you ride your motorcycle nonstop for twenty four hours and you have to have ridden 1000 miles before the end of the twenty four hours in order to win the challenge. Welcome, Arlene.

Arlene [00:00:58] Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. That’s lovely. It’s so funny to hear about the Iron Butt challenge because once you’ve managed to ride, I rode in one of the challenges from Los Angeles to Denver on my bike nonstop for twenty four hours.

Arlene [00:01:14] I think I got there in twenty one hours and by the time I got off my bike, I couldn’t walk anymore.

Arlene [00:01:20] I just got word that I would drive from L.A. to Denver on a motorcycle. Twenty four hours. Yeah. 

Virginia [00:01:31] My dad used to live up in northern Alberta and he used to come out of work and then he would get like to drive a couple of hours out of work and get home and then drive like twenty two hours to southern Idaho where my mom. Yeah. Yeah. I that nonstop. But at least a vehicle. You could shift your position a little bit more.

Arlene [00:01:50] Yeah, absolutely.

Arlene [00:01:52] And also you have the advantage and benefit of air conditioning or heat, none of which are on a motorcycle or if it’s just like the the wind that having the wind on you. Exactly.

Arlene [00:02:06] I did it because I realized after each one of those challenges, I actually couldn’t get out of bed for about two days because the wind and I was obviously riding really fast.

Arlene [00:02:21] When you’re trying to do a thousand miles in twenty four hours and the wind beating on you at high speeds, you just have no sense of how much of a physical toll something like that takes on you.

Arlene [00:02:32] And so I was in bed for a couple of days after each challenge. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t get out. You know what? There’s something to be said about doing something that’s really, really hard. And then when you’re successful, you don’t even care how you’re going to pay for it. It’s just you have the benefit and joy of having that success, that having done something not very many people would even attempt to try, let alone think about

Virginia [00:02:54] Because you did it three times.

Virginia [00:02:56] You thought the first time.

Arlene [00:02:59] At one point I rode all the way from Los Angeles to Whistler, B.C., but I hit the thousand mile mark right somewhere around Portland, Oregon, and then I just continued on.

Arlene [00:03:14] Now I’ve got a thousand miles in idea as well as three or four hundred more. And then, of course, you have to ride all the way back home. But that’s when you meander, right? Yes. It took me two days to get home. That time I came back down the coast and just enjoyed the scenery and the ride and how much warmer it got as I was heading back to home in Los Angeles.

Virginia [00:03:36] Yes, I bet. So is it that same determination that you’ve taken to succeed in winning that challenge three times, but also into the entrepreneurial world?

Arlene [00:03:50] Yeah, absolutely, you have to have the vision to be a successful entrepreneur, and perseverance and determination are critical characteristics of a person who’s going to be an entrepreneur and one who’s successful.

Arlene [00:04:07] And one of the things that probably every entrepreneur listening to your show and anyone else out there who’s been an entrepreneur knows is that you are very singularly focused, you’re single minded, you’re determined, you’re bullheaded, you’re stubborn. You think you know everything. You think you’re smarter than everyone else. And you know exactly what needs to happen to make things happen the way you want them to happen and or have happen, and then to see the success that you ultimately have. And in an among all of that, you have to be able to persevere, things like what we’re experiencing right now, which is in the form of the pandemic. And I experienced it once before in the crash of the American economy back in two thousand and eight. And the byproduct of that and your choice in these situations, especially as an entrepreneur, is you have to figure out how to pivot. If something’s not selling, sell something else. If you don’t have the right customers, identify who else wants to buy from you. You always have a way to pivot into something else or to modify what you’re doing, because just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea. It may just not be a great idea for right now. Or maybe the market hasn’t caught up to understanding why this is a great idea and it may be a great idea that just simply doesn’t work or is going to cost too much that the market can’t bear the price.

Arlene [00:05:38] And so what I always say to entrepreneurs, people were starting out.

Arlene [00:05:43] People are we have an idea and want to bring it to market is that you have to poke as many holes as possible in your idea to see if it’s still floating after you’ve poked all those holes. And if it is, then you really do have a good chance of success because you’ve already before you ever even brought the product to market.

Arlene [00:06:04] You already know what the weaknesses are and you’ve addressed them. And so by doing your due diligence up front and combined with that perseverance and determination, you stand a much greater chance of success.

Arlene [00:06:17] If you go the route of trying to figure out what doesn’t work about what you’re doing, as opposed to trying to convince yourself and everyone else of why it’s such a good idea. So those are all hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs, and that’s kind of what I brought to it.

Virginia [00:06:34] That’s like you said, that you spent like a really long time without a paycheck to. So you’ve been there?

Arlene [00:06:42] Yes, I have seven years worth.

Arlene [00:06:44] I went I literally went seven years while building my company. I went seven years without a salary. And people say to me, yeah, but you had to have some money coming in. And what I was doing while I was building that business, working all day and night on that business and growing it, is that I was paying other people and I had to have other people doing things. And so they everybody else got paid except for me.

Arlene [00:07:09] And what I had to do is I was hustling freelance jobs like crazy. Wherever I knew how to do something, I was out hustling any kind of work that would bring money in to sustain me during those long years that I was building that business. And at one point many years in, I had invented another product that. Basically hit pay dirt for me and the rest is history, and now that company just kind of runs on autopilot and sells the same thing over and over and over again and continues to be successful and profitable.

Arlene [00:07:43] Believe me, there have been many, many years where I had no money coming in from that business. I had dumped all of my money into the business and I wasn’t certain about what the outcome was going to be.

Arlene [00:07:58] But I knew I had the right product, I had the right audience. I just had to wait for the market to recover from the 2008 crash. And I eventually did and made it even more successful than it might have otherwise because there was so much pent up demand for the product that I was bringing to market. And what was unfortunate is that we came to market at the height of the recession in the US. And if you managed to survive a recession or a pandemic, you know, you’ve got the chops to be able to go out and do anything and be successful at it. Not every idea is going to find its way to market. Not every idea is going to be successful. But if you have the idea in the first place, you are different from probably ninety nine percent of the population because most people don’t even have an idea, let alone have an idea and start working on it.

Arlene [00:08:44] So you just have to congratulate yourself, especially in moments during a pandemic that you are you have set yourself apart from pretty much everyone else on the planet by saying, I have an idea. It’s a good idea. It’s a strong idea. I’ve done my homework. I’ve done my market research, and I’m going to bring it to market. And if you happen to be bringing it to market at the height of a pandemic, well, I’ve been there. I’ve done it and was successful coming out of it.

Arlene [00:09:10] You just have to kind of settle in for the long haul and figure out what you have to do to keep money coming in the door from somewhere just to sustain you so that you can keep following your dream and pursue the thing that you feel most passionate about. So it is possible to survive these things. And most people feel like they have to go out and get a job and commit to that job. And that’s their only option. But my attitude is stay committed to what you’re most passionate about and just find other things that you can do to supplement your income while you’re building that business to a point where it can be the thing that is sustaining you.

Virginia [00:09:48] I true so many times we kind of expect quicker results and hope for quicker results, so then we might not have to stick to it.

Arlene [00:10:00] Well, you know, how it is, is that there’s the old expression about a lot of celebrities and stuff. They call them overnight sensations.

Arlene [00:10:08] And when they talk about how it took them 10 or 15 years to get to a point where anyone even ever notice them and the number of auditions that they went through, that they didn’t get the part and the level of demoralization they felt and how discouraged they felt. And the people who win are the people who stick to it. And that is especially true right now. And one of the most challenging is challenging things right now in the pandemic is that you’ve got industries, entire industries that have been decimated because of the pandemic. And those are the restauranteurs. They are the retailers, although retailers have the ability to go online and restaurants for as much as you’re going to do carry out or curbside delivery, there’s just no way for them to sustain themselves because the margins are so low in the restaurant industry and you’re dependent on selling other things like alcohol and desserts and things like that that really add to your bottom line.

Arlene [00:11:08] And if you don’t have people coming in the door, got all the overhead of the space that you’re leasing to have your restaurant. So restaurant tours are really going to they’ve already taken it in the shorts, so to speak. And for people who are those kinds of entrepreneurs, there aren’t many ways to pivot. But if you can figure out, is there your best selling dish that you’ve been selling, well, then you make it, you freeze it and you start doing home delivery.

Arlene [00:11:35] There’s always a way to do something other than what you were doing before these catastrophic events took place. But you have to be willing to let go of what you started with. And that’s why I never I never tie myself to one idea or an idea because I can’t be sure that’s the idea that the market is going to respond most positively toward. And so if I find that something is not working, I just I move away from it and I do something else. And I have pivoted throughout my entire career, both when I was working in corporate America and also as an entrepreneur. And now all of the work that I’m doing in Canada now that I’m living in Toronto.

Arlene [00:12:17] So you just have to be flexible enough to say, OK, if this isn’t working, what else can I do? And I’ve used the same model for myself that I’ve used throughout my entire life. And that is what’s your next move? And that’s how I got through the last recession.

Arlene [00:12:34] I just kept asking myself, even in the darkest moments, even in the moments of the greatest despair, when I felt like nothing was ever going to change, the business wasn’t going to improve, that we weren’t going to have the success we had hoped for or even any, because there had been such a long stretch of lean times coming out of that recession.

Arlene [00:12:55] And I just propelled myself forward by continually asking myself, what’s your next move, Arlene? What’s your next move?

Arlene [00:13:03] Because at least that would give me some sense of I have some control in this situation. I have some power in this situation.

Arlene [00:13:10] And that is actually what motivated and propelled me forward to be able to get through that last catastrophic event economically.

Virginia [00:13:19] So you had talked about. Not sticking with one idea, you always. So do you do that within the same niche or niche or do you do it in different niches to.

Arlene [00:13:34] Well, usually you stay within the same niche, absolutely, because you’ve got a lot invested in it, you know a lot about it, you understand the target audience, you know what the price points are, and sometimes you have to figure out something else. So, for example, one thing I did in my company, Goggle Gear, was that we had been selling only jackets and at the time we didn’t have any pants and we only had the complement of jackets that we made. And at one point, because of the price point was too high for the market during the recession, we had to opt to start offering other companies products on our website because we had a big enough email list and had enough customers that we just needed something different to sell. So either we needed to find some lower price jackets or introduce pants, and that’s what we did. We introduced pants until I invented a very different kind of specialty pant. And then that was the new product that we were selling.

Arlene [00:14:36] But the reality is, is that I was just this comfortable. If that business had succeeded, I was just as comfortable going and buying a coin laundry because it’s recession proof. People always have to wash their clothes or getting involved in a those places where people who have apartments are moving out of their houses. They they rent a storage unit and those are also recession proof. And so what I knew, having had this experience bringing a product to market at the height of the recession, I knew that if I had to look for something else to do, if I I couldn’t be successful in the retail business, I needed to find something that was recession proof. So the one advantage I had in the retail world was that I had started the company in in the real world, not the online world.

Arlene [00:15:31] And the way I pivoted at the point that everything collapsed in my own industry, the whole motorcycle industry collapsed in 2010. And when that happened, I was selling in a lot of stores at that time. I had stores buying my product. And so I was doing just fine as a manufacturer and wholesaler. But then all of a sudden those stores started closing. And in fact, in the span of one year, there were eighteen thousand stores that were potentials for me to sell my product through of those eighteen thousand, ten thousand of them went out of business in one year and so there was no one left to sell the products. And so my only choice, my pivot in that case was not to sell a different kind of product, but rather to start selling on the Internet. And that’s when everything broke open for us, because now we had the ability to put our products on Amazon.com and Amazon’s around the world. We started getting international press coverage and retailers from around the world started buying from us. And it was the Internet that really made our business for us. But that was not how you would traditionally sell in retail, because it was really well before we came to market at a time where the extent to which people are selling online was nothing by comparison to what it is today. And Amazon was nowhere near as big as it was in two thousand and eight nine as it is today. So our pivot was simply to go somewhere else to sell the product as opposed to selling a different product. But we’ve also done that as well.

Virginia [00:17:09] Hmm. So just to back up a little bit, how did you get started in the entrepreneurial around?

Virginia [00:17:18] Question is like just jump around a bit, you know.

Arlene [00:17:22] That that’s totally fine, the question is totally fine.

Arlene [00:17:24] The reason I’m laughing is because I’m actually quite an unwitting entrepreneur and it was not my first choice in life, although my temperament and personality is much more suited to being an entrepreneur than being a team player and working for anyone because I’m too bossy.

Arlene [00:17:45] But but seriously, though, know, my earliest days of becoming an entrepreneur happened when I left a corporate job, a big corporate job, and I just couldn’t work for the guy that owned the company. And I just felt what I can’t do this anymore. I can’t work for someone like this.

Arlene [00:18:05] And I actually went out and started my own company in the field that I was in at that time. And it was completely different from what I’ve done since then. But it was something that I knew. I knew how to do it and I knew that I could sell my services in that area. And so I went out and built that business. And then I got a job offer from a big job offer from a company. Another, a much bigger company is a multinational corporation that I worked for. And I spent seven years working for them and that’s when the market crashed. And so I was back to being an entrepreneur then. And what happened in the beginning was that in the beginning of the company, I had taken my severance package from the company that I lost my job from and started this company. Go, go, go. And in the early years, I was coming to understand how to sell on the Internet even before it was possible to advertise on the Internet. Google ads were out there, but Facebook didn’t even have an ad platform at that time. And so I figured out how I could use social media at that time that when I first started this, Facebook only had 20 million people on it. It was still something being used on college campuses. But I figured if I could get really noisy out on social media, I’d be posting every ten minutes that I could build an audience. And that’s exactly what I did. And out of doing that, that’s how I launched the company.

Arlene [00:19:39] I launched it out on social media and I was talking so much out on social media that I was written up in the Huffington Post and a bunch of bloggers were writing about how influential I had become on social media because I was omnipresent. I was everywhere. I was ubiquitous. And I was doing that because I didn’t have any other way of reaching people. I didn’t have a way of advertising. I didn’t have the money to do any kind of advertising, either traditional or online. And so all I did was talk. And when I was in China at that time, I was there for a couple of months dealing with my factories. I was I was on Twitter and Facebook from China posting about every last little thing that was happening to me in China. And they were just really hysterical things that you just would never think of when you’re in North America. And here I was in China by myself with nothing but a cell phone app that could translate Chinese to English and English to Chinese. And that’s how I was traversing the whole country of China.

Arlene [00:20:43] And part of what happened is because I was using social media so much, I was building a whole new skill set from what I had been doing previously. I was in the real estate business.

Arlene [00:20:55] I was working for a real estate developer at a big one. And then I moved into this world of selling things on the Internet and selling to stores. I hadn’t been in the retail business before that was new. I’d never been in the manufacturing business that was new. I didn’t know how to sew. And what was I doing know being in the clothing business. And there was a lot of things I didn’t know anything about, at least of all speaking Mandarin, of which I speak a little now.

Virginia [00:21:23] out of necessity.

Arlene [00:21:24] Exactly.

Arlene [00:21:25] And so a lot of times for people when they become entrepreneurs, it really is quite by happenstance. There are circumstances in your life that sort of put you in that direction for lack of anything else, where it’s like, well, what else am I going to do?

Arlene [00:21:42] And then you start pursuing your passion. And it wasn’t my passion to go and become an entrepreneur. It’s just sort of how all the cards fell into place. And now I was in business.

Arlene [00:21:54] So it was never a goal of mine to go out and become an entrepreneur. It just sort of happened. And then from that point forward, I knew that’s what I needed to be doing because I wanted to run, I wanted to run the show. And I had managed people throughout my entire career. But having your own business and running that business is a very different enterprise than managing people for someone else’s company. Or a person who owns a company or a corporation, the stakes are completely different. And when you’ve got all the skin in the game as the entrepreneur, you approach that business very differently than when you work for a company and have the security of that paycheck. And so I’m a risk taker. I was willing to accept all of the uncertainty associated with being an entrepreneur and just set about doing it. And because I didn’t know a whole lot when I first became an entrepreneur, I didn’t know, like I didn’t know that there were any rules. And sure, there are rules, but I don’t even care about that. I’ve never cared about rules. I just know what I want to do and I’m going to go and do it. And if somebody says no, I’ll figure out how to turn it into a yes. If someone says it’s not possible, that’s all the more reason for me to do it. If somebody tells me something isn’t possible, I’m going to prove them wrong because it’s just a nice challenge. And for me, being an entrepreneur, I solve big problems. I solve big problems with technology now. And that was something I didn’t have available to me more than a decade ago when I started my company. And so, you know, the beauty of what is available to us today for the purpose of being entrepreneurs, for the purpose of helping people, for the purpose of changing the world, the technology is the key to everything. And so now that I, I have pivoted once again away from my company since someone else now owns it. And I’m happy about that because that left me with a nice exit and I could go off and do other things. And now I have moved out of retail and I’m in the technology business and I’ve had tech skills since university many, many years ago. But I was never able to actually employ them or deploy them. And now I have the luxury of being able to do that. And so I just keep kind of shifting gears because I get bored doing one thing for too long. And the fact that I was with my company for as long as I was, it was almost 12 years. That was a little long in terms of how long I like to stay anywhere. That company got the most out of me and now I’m just busy doing things that make me happy and just are good for the world and the people in it and humanity. And I can do more in the world now that I’m in a position to do so than I was when I was running my company. So everything all worked out in the end.

Virginia [00:24:44] Mm hmm. And like a blessing in disguise.

Arlene [00:24:47] Yeah, absolutely, quite a nice surprise for a life.

Virginia [00:24:52] There was something you had said, though.

Virginia [00:24:56] And I interpreted it basically as just because you have an idea, but you don’t necessarily know how to implement it, you don’t know how to do whatever, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go after it.

Arlene [00:25:10] Oh, absolutely. I mean, if you think because you don’t know something that’s reason to not pursue something, you’re your own worst enemy. You absolutely are. I mean, I don’t need to know how to sell something. I need to know people who know how to sew or I need to know where to find them. If I need a factory to make things, I just need to figure out where that factory is or talk to people who might know where those factories would be. I don’t know how to design clothing, but if I know the people who can do it and who can create the technical specifications for the product that I want to make and I trust them because they’ve demonstrated that they’re expert at what they do, then my job as the person with the idea, the highest and best use of my time is to just assemble all of the correct people into a group of people that can actually bring to life the vision I have or the idea I have.

Arlene [00:26:13] You are one of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is that they start doing everything themselves. And the big problem is that they’re not expert at anything. And so they get busy doing everything because it’s what makes them feel like they’re in control of things and they’re on top of things, but they’re actually wasting their time.

Arlene [00:26:34] And it will end up costing them significantly more money, because by the time they finish making all of their mistakes, they have to hire professionals to come in and undo all of those mistakes. And so I learned very, very early on that you don’t try and do things that you are not an expert at. You leave that to the people who are. And if your argument is you can’t afford to pay people to do the work for you, then you have no business being in business because you are going to cost yourself way more by trying to do it yourself and then having to pay to fix what you did wrong. And so that’s why I don’t care what it costs or what I have to do if I have to give up my paycheck in order to pay someone else to do something that I need to have done, I will pay them before I will ever attempt to do something I don’t know how to do. Plus, it gets you to market faster when you have people who know what they’re doing, doing the work and the quality of the work is always going to be better than if I attempt to do it myself.

Arlene [00:27:32] My job is to be the visionary. My job is to go out and sell my product. My job is to understand the market. My job is to know what kind of people to hire. My job is to understand what kind of messaging do I need to use for the products that I’m selling.

Arlene [00:27:47] That’s where the real brainpower lives. And then you can hire people to do everything else you need to have done to be able to actually make these things happen.

Virginia [00:27:59] Now he’s going to pay for it one way or another. You do it right up front.

Arlene [00:28:05] And this is the funny thing that I’ve seen in all the years that I’ve been coaching startup companies and executives and so forth is there’s a very particular or peculiar kind of mentality that goes around paying for things. And we don’t like paying for anything. That’s the first thing. And insurance is an example of something we hate paying for because we feel like we’re never going to use it. And it’s just so stupid that I have to pay all this money for insurance, like for car insurance and stuff, because we’re so convinced we’re the best driver in the world. But then we’re so happy we have that insurance in the event of an accident.

Arlene [00:28:39] And the point I’m trying to make is we hate paying for things and it is always easier for us to feel like we’ve been forced to have to spend the money because something has to be fixed after something has gone wrong than to do it right in the first place, because then we can just say, oh, well, this bad thing happened, therefore I have to spend the money.

Arlene [00:29:04] So for people who have older houses, the best thing is to just spend the money to make sure the house is in tiptop condition the whole time, instead of going even years without doing any maintenance. And then all of a sudden the roof is coming off and now you’ve got a huge bill to pay.

Arlene [00:29:20] And this is what every entrepreneur does because they’re always the classic thing is that an entrepreneur will say to somebody who isn’t very good at something, I’ll give you five or 10 percent of my company if you’ll do this. Five hundred dollars worth of work for free and you can have part of my company. Well, the level of ignorance that is associated with that kind of a statement, it just reveals how much that person doesn’t know about what they’re doing and the value of the work that needs to be produced. There is nothing to say that a person who doesn’t have very much money cannot be successful as an entrepreneur or bring a product to market.

Arlene [00:29:58] You just have to understand that everything costs. You can’t do anything for free. And if you’re doing anything for free, you’re not going to get the kind of work done that needs to be done, which means you have to pay people.

Arlene [00:30:11] And a lot of times when you pay people and you respect their time and you respect the value of the work that you’re they are providing you, you will actually find that they become your partners, not a partner in the business. But later on, after you’ve honored them up front by paying what they’re asking and getting really good work, they tend to give you a break later on because you respected them in the first place and they will work cooperatively with you. And I have found this throughout my entire time as an entrepreneur, that when I hire people right out, I don’t grind them on the price or the cost or anything else. And I just say, OK, let’s do this. And we have a great experience with one another. It always pays off for me in the end because they will come and do things for me that I ask and they won’t even charge me for it. But because I treated them with respect in the first place, that’s why I get everything on the back end for little or no money, because they want to work with me because I, I showed them the respect that was due them, because they’re experts.

Virginia [00:31:13] That you can reflect on what you currently do.

Virginia [00:31:18] So who is your ideal client?

Arlene [00:31:22] Oh, what a juicy question. I can’t say it in terms of what kind of industry they’re in or the kind of work that they do, it more has to do with who are they as a person and as a visionary and the extent to which they’re willing to take risks and experiment. And I have a client right now who basically gave me carte blanche to come up with a solution to something. And she was expecting kind of like a Ford Escort or a Volkswagen, and I produced a Rolls Royce for her.

Arlene [00:32:03] So and she wasn’t expecting something like that. And it actually has transformed her business.

Arlene [00:32:11] And I have another client right now that I’m building an entire platform for a technology platform that is going to have such a tremendous benefit for good, especially for women. It’s kind of like a security product for women that it’s going to change lives as a result.

Arlene [00:32:34] And so working on something that has real meaning out in the world as opposed to just selling a product and I can make money and then go donate that money to be involved in projects that are all based on social good and things that can transform the world, transform lives, transform the way we think about things.

Arlene [00:32:57] Those are the kind of projects that I want to work on. It’s not so much who is the client, but rather what is it that they want to do. And then my job is to figure out the solution for it. And so that has been probably the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done in my entire career. But I only know how to do those things as a function of everything I’ve done in my career.

Virginia [00:33:18] How do those people find you?

Virginia [00:33:23] Because before you used to be out on social media and that kind of what you still do or.

Arlene [00:33:29] Well, a lot of it is, yeah. A lot of it is just through word of mouth. Mostly it’s referrals. I don’t have a website, I, I don’t do a lot of self promotion because the work that I do is very involved and complex. A lot of it involves artificial intelligence and machine learning and a lot of data manipulation. And so that work is pretty intensive. And I have developers who work for me and other others that are in the world of science and technology where I’ve had I’ve done my share of it, but not to the extent that these guys are doing what they’re doing today. My programing skills go back 30 years and these guys are using the latest greatest things. And it just makes my head explode because I just can’t even believe this stuff exists. But I know what it does and I know what it can do. And so then I just give the instruction to the people who are going to do the programing and then they produce it. And so if I was out there trying to build a huge book of business, I’d have to have a lot of people working for me. And I don’t want to be in the business of managing a lot of people when the kinds of things that I’m working on are so important. I can manage a lot of people if we’re just selling products in the market, which is fine, it’s a perfectly legitimate way to live and be somebody who works for a company. But if I’m doing something really important like I am now with the things I’m working on, I don’t want a lot of business. I’m I’m happy to talk to people any time. But most of the people who have found me have found me because of the other projects that I worked on. And the clients from those projects are usually referring people they know who are trying to do something to me and the people that work in my company. So that’s pretty much how it comes to me. Plus, the other thing, too, is that as a result of building my company and being on Shark Tank and being so visible on social media, I’m all over Google. I mean, there’s probably 10 pages of stuff on me, on Google if somebody were to type in my name. So you’re going to see from when I had my podcast, which was called, What’s your next move? To Everything Else that I’ve done? And you can find me in the weirdest of places, doing the weirdest things. But that’s all part of things that I’ve done that make up my entire career and knowledge base. That brings me to where I am today. So I never have to worry about more business. The problem I have is that I have a desire to do all of it and I just simply don’t have the bandwidth to do it. But I’ll get to it.

Virginia [00:36:11] Every everyone.

Virginia [00:36:12] Everyone’s conundrum, right.

Virginia [00:36:13] I want to do it all.

Arlene [00:36:14] Know exactly, exactly. But I’ve at least learned to hand off a lot of the work to other people, so. I get to do a lot of things, it’s just like I don’t have enough time left in my lifetime to be able to do everything I want to do.

Virginia [00:36:31] We’re just running short on time here. So I’d like to know from our questions, what’s the best advice you have ever received?

Arlene [00:36:40] You know, I don’t know that it was so much the best advice I ever received as much as. It was four words that I read in a book, and those four words were and the context behind these four words and the importance of the meaning to me at the time and throughout my whole career is I was really struggling with how to do something. Very early on in my career, I was struggling with whether or not whether or not it was even possible to do something and the uncertainty and doubt not in myself, but just was it even possible? I mean, I didn’t come from a family that had money. I didn’t have much. When I was growing up, I went to public schools in Detroit. I went through the race riots in the nineteen sixties, the Vietnam War. That shows you how old I am. You know, life was a really different thing back then. And so there wasn’t this world of possibilities available to me. And I was thinking in the sky, but there was no way to reach the sky. And the words that I read in the book were focus and take action. And for my entire life, since I read those words that has guided everything I’ve done, you focus and take action. You don’t sit there and be thinking from now until kingdom come about something. You focus on something. You decide what your next move and then you act. And it doesn’t mean every time you act, it’s going to be the right thing or you to get the right outcome.

Arlene [00:38:17] But at least you’re moving forward. And for me, much like being on my motorcycle, I don’t like to ride with anyone because they ride too slow.

Arlene [00:38:25] I like to be out in front and I like to keep moving like a shark, not because a shark needs to be vicious, but because the only way a shark can live and breathe is if they keep moving. And I always need to be out in front of the pack because I see what’s out ahead. And that’s where I want to get to. And everyone else is just in my way. And so in my entire approach to what I’ve done throughout my career and building my business and all of the things that I’ve done since I left that business, it’s all about do I see what I want? Then I need to focus and figure out what’s my next move and then take action. And eventually I get where I’m trying to get I get there a lot faster now because I’m older and I’ve got a lot more experience. But this was true even back when I read those words or read those words back in the nineteen eighties. And as soon as I read those words, focus and take action, the level of clarity that I had. Told me everything that I needed to do and the rest is history.

Virginia [00:39:28] I like what you said it’s like even if it’s the wrong move, at least you know that that’s not the move to take again.

Arlene [00:39:35] because eLearning.

Arlene [00:39:37] Yes, absolutely.

Virginia [00:39:39] If I sit there, I’ll never know that that was the wrong way.

Arlene [00:39:41] That’s right. And even if you make a mistake, who cares? Pivot. OK, but the goal is just keep moving, because when you keep moving, you’re creating momentum. And once you have enough momentum, everything gets a whole lot easier. But if you start and stop and start and stop and start and stop and and get upset over something that hasn’t worked out, all you’re doing is you’re just completely destroying the momentum that you have. And so whatever is standing in your way, OK, you move around it, you move through it, you move over it, you move past it. You never let that stop you and your momentum. You just say, yeah, that really sucks. But I still have to keep moving forward. You just have to know you cannot invest any of your emotion into the outcome of anything that you do, because if you do that, you’re actually preventing what is supposed to happen from happening. And that’s what I believe. And this has been borne out throughout my whole career. So I never worry about anything. I never worry about money. I never worry about outcomes. I never worry about what’s going to happen next because I don’t try and control anything. I just make a move and I wait and see what happens.

Arlene [00:40:50] I create the things that are going to happen. And then I see what the responses. And then I only I only plan one step at a time. I plan the step I’m just about to take. And then I evaluate what happened in response to the stuff I took and then I make my next step. It’s like a game of chess. Life is just a big game of chess. Not like they’re fighting against someone, but everybody’s making a move. I’m making a move as an entrepreneur, the consumer consumer’s making a move in response to my move. So then I make a response to their move. And then we all end up in a place where we’re happy and we’re successful and everybody got what they want out of what they were doing.

Virginia [00:41:33] Yeah, so what’s the best advice you’ve ever given?

Virginia [00:41:41] Even if it’s just like one that you made up right now, that fine.

Arlene [00:41:44] Thing I try not to give advice to people because what I find is most people don’t want advice and they don’t listen to it anyways. So I thanks think the only advice that I ever give to people is just keep asking yourself, what’s your next move?

Arlene [00:42:01] Because it gives you the power. It gives you a sense of being in control and it creates momentum. It’s that simple.

Virginia [00:42:10] Yeah, momentum huge 

Arlene [00:42:12] momentum. It’s all about momentum.

Virginia [00:42:17] Is there anything that you’d like to say that I haven’t asked?

Arlene [00:42:20] I guess the only thing I would say is for entrepreneurs who are really struggling right now, as we are now almost a year into this pandemic. Is it everything is going to be OK? It really is, no matter how dark it is right now, how desperate? How demoralizing and discouraging things can be right now, especially if you’ve just started or you’ve had an idea and you were derailed or, you know, you’re really struggling financially, whatever the case, this is not a lifetime thing. It is for a moment in time that may feel like a lifetime, but I’m old enough to have had an entire lifetime. And what I know is there have been ups and downs throughout my entire life that continue to come is just the nature of life. And I look at each thing that comes and I say, all right, what can I take from this? That is going to inform what I do next. Everything that we’re experiencing, even when you have to chase around and find money to find income.

Arlene [00:43:28] Back in the day, we didn’t have Uber and we didn’t have home delivery and all these things that people can now do to pick up extra money where people are now shopping for other people because people are ordering groceries online. None of that used to exist. So the opportunities that I had to be able to go out.

Arlene [00:43:47] We’re very, very limited, and so I come from a place where there were no opportunities and what I look at today in this pandemic is if I were in a situation other than the one that I’m in where I was short on cash, I would be out there shopping for people. I would be out there delivering things. I would be doing whatever I had to do to bring in enough money to get by. I’d be cutting my expenses wherever I could. I would do whatever I had to do to keep myself in motion, because the biggest enemy that we all have as human beings is despair. Because despair is paralyzing, and when you have momentum and movement, you feel like something’s happening and that’s where our hope comes from. And so I see hope out there, as dark as it is for so many people. And I’ve been there. I’ve lived it. Just remember, I went seven years without a paycheck and I was hustling that dollar wherever I could find it and lived as cheaply as I possibly could because I was trying to make something happen. The dark days turn to light. They absolutely do. It is the nature of the way the economy works and the way life works, and that you just have to decide that you’re going to trust that everything is going to be OK and focus and take action to deal with whatever you have to deal with right now in your life. So you set yourself up so that you can be doing what you really want to do.

Virginia [00:45:21] I like the on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Arlene [00:45:25] Oh, absolutely. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel and it is not an oncoming train. It is the sunlight coming. It is absolutely there. I saw the sunlight even at the beginning of the pandemic. And we are now and just to give you a little perspective, I’m somebody who’s actually been inside my house since March 15th. We’ve not left the house because we take the pandemic that seriously. And so everything gets delivered. We do not leave the house. We haven’t been to a store. We haven’t been anywhere. We’ve been inside our house. There are four of us inside the house, two who are in online school. So imagine for four people in the house nonstop for almost nine months now. And so it’s like you what you need to see light at the end of the tunnel when those are your living conditions. But that’s what we chose. That was the decision our household made in response to what’s going on, because we don’t put anybody else in danger and no one puts us in danger. And as long as we can manage getting what we need by having somebody bring it, then there’s no reason that we have to leave. And I work from home. So I have that luxury and everyone else has that luxury right now as well. So there’s no excuse for people to be leaving home at this point. Otherwise, this just goes on forever. But even since the beginning of this, I mean, you see the explosion of business and people being hired by Amazon because everybody’s ordering online now the number of jobs that are being created as a result of the pandemic, especially in the health care field and PPE and stuff. So this is what I know from years and years and years of working. And the way the economy works is that when one sector goes down, another sector goes up. So if people are trying to figure out what to do right now, you get your student loans and you go into the health profession, you go into the technology profession, you follow where the market is moving. You bring products to market that meet the need in the market. Right now, don’t create something because you want to create it. You go out and create something that the market needs and wants and you’ll be successful. So I absolutely see great things on the horizon. There’s a lot of pain right now. There are a lot of people who are really hurting and there were a lot of people really hurting like me back during the recession of 2008. And I survived it only because I just said, you know what, I’m not going to let this get me. I’m not going to let it get me down. And of course, I have down days. But the reality is, is that I just had to keep moving. And as long as I felt like something was possible because I was still in motion and the momentum was there, I felt like everything was going to be OK. And I never allowed myself to sink into an emotional state that paralyzed me. And that’s the biggest enemy for everyone, is allowing that emotional paralysis because you’re dead in the water if that happens, because it’s so it takes so much energy to get out of that way of thinking. So we all have control over how we are responding to this emotionally. And if you can keep control of your emotions in moments like this and not panic, you’re going to be fine. You will be your own worst enemy in a pandemic.

Virginia [00:48:31] Thank you for being with us today

Arlene [00:48:33] It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. I hope this has been helpful.

Virginia [00:48:37] I think it has. And I appreciate your words.

Arlene [00:48:42] For what it’s worth.

Virginia [00:48:45] Is there any way that we can send people to learn more about you or let you go?

Arlene [00:48:51] If anyone wants to contact me, if you can find me all over the Internet. And actually the best place to find me is probably on LinkedIn.

Virginia [00:48:59] OK, yeah, that’s just under your name. Awesome. Well, thanks again, Arlene.

Arlene [00:49:07] Thank you.

Virginia [00:49:08] You’re welcome. Have a great day. Taxes.

Arlene [00:49:10] OK, take care. Bye bye.

Virginia [00:49:20] Thank you so much for joining us today. Be sure to subscribe and leave some, leave through a review and I’ll catch you on the next episode.


Virginia Purnell



Funnel & Visibility Specialist

Distinct Digital Marketing

(833) 762-5336



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Virginia Purnell

Virginia Purnell

Virginia lives in Northern Alberta on a small farm with her husband and three children.  

Virginia is a master funnel builder having been certified as an FG Society Master Marketer, Funnelytics, and ClickFunnels Certified Partner.

She also helps businesses with their visibility through online searches.

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