Sarah is a lifelong entrepreneur. Known for being resourceful and tenacious, she has taught and deployed her business strategy techniques for thousands.
She lives and works from her college town of River Falls, Wisconsin with her husband, Bill, and (butter)Scotch! the Dog. They all enjoy seasonal foraging in the woods together.
Professional details can be found on LinkedIn.
What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
There is a book right now that I have been gifting to folks going through a hard time called “Read This Till You Believe It” by M.H. Clark. It’s a small hardcover book that has all of those encouraging words that you wish you could say to that person. Having gone through my own dark periods, I understand how these silent gestures make a big difference and let people know that you understand what they are going through without speaking about it out loud.
As far as business books that have influenced me, I would have to say “The 4-Hour Work-Week” by Timothy Ferriss. It opened my eyes to working smart and not hard as an entrepreneur to live the life you want.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My fans love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.
I hate to say it, but my blue light reading glasses. First of all, I never heard about this thing that happens to your eyes when you turn 40. It’s a thing! Anyway, it was time to upgrade from my dollar store readers so I turned to readers.com and plugged in my face shape and got some really fashionable-looking glasses that were a definite upgrade. I ended up getting three pairs for under $50.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
Every job that I ever held has taught me how NOT to do business or at least how not to treat people. That really set me up for building genuine relationships in business as well as treating myself right as my own boss.
While I can’t quite get myself to call it my “favorite” failure, the venture with my startup, WeatherVane Creamery, definitely taught me so many life lessons- about taking care of myself, guerrilla marketing, and just having the experience of pursuing my dream. I take it for granted that the average person doesn’t give themselves the permission to dream, much less pursue it. It’s a wonderful gift that I gave myself.
If you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it- metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions- what would it say and why?
Something like “Live Out Loud” or “Live Fearlessly.” Fear is the invisible killer. Go for it. Give it all you’ve got. What is the worst that could happen? I know it’s cliche but you only live once.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you ever made?
Any investment into my own training and development- whether that is counseling, coaching, leadership training, business classes, or for my own fitness and well-being. Why? Because I am worth it. Too often when I recommend a course to someone I can tell that they are wavering because they don’t think investing in themselves is worth it. Each person has so much to give in this lifetime. It is a waste to not pursue that- not just for you but for those around you that you can make a difference for. So, if you need that permission and you need to make it about someone else, here it is.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
I have a scissor collection. I didn’t mean to start collecting. My dad is an auctioneer and antique dealer and he had these 12” ornate German scissors with a metal sheath that he would use to cut out text from his typewriter to glue onto paper to mock up his marketing postcards or newspaper ads with. I always admired those scissors and told him that someday I wanted them. From there on out, he would buy up any scissors that he would come across over the year and present them to me for Christmas. But literally- any scissors. I have rounded children’s scissors, button scissors, ribbon cutting scissors, and cheap reproduction sewing scissors. My husband is making a display board for them since they have mostly lived in a carpetbag my whole life. My most prized pair is that original, beautiful German pair.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I had discovered that my depression would magically show up every year in October/early November and a friend introduced me to light therapy. Eventually, I bought a HappyLight from Bed Bath and Beyond (and even gifted some for Christmas.) Using it every day in my office was the first thing that I ever did for myself as a self-care routine. Besides curbing my depression, it made me think about the impact that my physical space has on my productivity and well-being. Since that one purchase, I have made other purchases that may have otherwise felt like splurges- better lighting, art, a foot warmer, and my Sea Monkeys (https://eco-sphere.com/). During COVID, I was amazed at how well I adapted to working out of my home office and I attribute all of these things.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Oddly enough, the advice that I have is the same advice that I resented as a smart, driven college graduate so I would expect the same response from giving it now. That would be to look at job opportunities for what training and experiences that they would give you, not the pay. I peaked early in my career. I rose to the top position that I wanted and knew enough to leave. That was the best decision. From there, I looked outside of my degree and had the opportunity to learn what else I could do to make a living. I ended up falling back on my retail experience and took my career in a completely different direction with Starbucks. From there, I always knew that I was adaptable and that I could apply my skills from other experiences to pivot to something new- which I have done several times in my life.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
That anything is easy. While I don’t want to discourage folks from sticking their necks out- the school of hard knocks is real. And it’s real valuable, too. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
I have had to become better at saying no to networking one on one meetings. There became a point where I had enough clients to not have to keep growing. That is one of the pitfalls of being a business of one. So, my one-hour meetings turned into 30-minute meetings, and then I had to make a special calendar with very limited time slots for anything new. It’s a growing pain and I feel bad that I can’t meet with everyone but the good news is that I am at capacity client-wise. It’s a good place to get to!
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
I closely monitor my own mental health and first have to ask if this is for one day or three days in a row? For days here and there, I start with “What is the minimum people are expecting from me today?” Things that I have deadlines on, for the most part. And I focus on just those things. The worst-case scenario is that I ask for one more day. The next step is to get current on my Inbox and make sure my To-Do list is current. Having everything written down in a list always makes things seem more manageable.
If the overwhelm is more than three days, I remind myself that it’s ok to feel what I am feeling and give myself some compassion. That might look like taking the afternoon off, rescheduling my meetings, and taking the dog for a walk in nature. Or some Netflix binging. It is only recently that I have been allowing myself to do this. I used to mock “mental health” days. I thought they were just a euphemism for “It’s nice outside and I want to go play.” Turns out, it can be a real thing.