People Want To Help
The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
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People Want To Help
There are people out there that really want to help. I have a couple of advisors, just people who have worked in business, that have been so helpful for me. I didn't have a mentor when I did my podcast, but I do have a mentor now. Even though I am accomplished in many areas of this "business" (quote-unquote).
So I think it's really important to have a mentor.
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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and there are people out there that really want to help um i have i have a couple of advisors just people who have worked in business that have been so helpful for me i didn't have a mentor when i did my podcast but i do have a mentor now even though i'm accomplished in many areas of this business quote unquote so i think it's really important to have a mentor hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i am your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several businesses the seven and eight figure companies as well as the founder of miller ip law where we help start us with the patents and trademarks and on today's episode we have another great guest uh jana panoritas if i say that right i always worry that i'm gonna slaughter dave but i did my best and uh just to give you a quick intro so jenna got to a point in their career that was i don't know get a little bit bent or spent a little bit burned out wanted to have a bit more of interaction versus what she was doing and she'll talk a little bit more about that so uh she started her company and uh what started out as a kind of a podcast for interviewing caregivers and has been a is pivoted and moved around a little bit from there and continues to be kind of in that caregiver field and continues to grow from there out of the desire of uh having helped her mother and done some things there so i'll get i'll let her tell a whole lot more about her journey but there's a quick intro so welcome to the podcast jana thanks devin it's great to be here all right so i gave this a very quick intro about uh you yourself and your background but maybe take us back a little bit in your journey and kind of tell us where you came from and how you got to where you're at today sure so i always say my business journey such as it were began about 10 years ago and it was triggered really i would say by the death of my father in 2009 i was living in los angeles i had just gotten a master's degree from usc but i had a hard time finding a job after that it was the tip of the recession and then in the fall my father died unexpectedly my family is on the east coast i am now on the east coast but as i said i was at the time living in los angeles and when my father died suddenly i flew east for the funeral and um decided to actually stay on the east coast because i was in what you would call diplomatically a career low and um i decided that i had no reason to stay in los angeles i was single and i was unemployed i don't have kids and so i decided to move in with my mom and really kind of help her through her grieving process and so i think about that time as rebuilding two lives at once my mother's and i am um i moved in with my mom with the intention of looking for work in the dc area i grew up in maryland and i was born in dc and i grew up in maryland in what excuse me what i would call the lily white suburbs now it's a little more mixed but at the time was very i grew up was very gentrified um but anyway i moved in uh to help my mom out i was looking for work had a hard time i know i already had a full-time job and that was caring for my mom so i decided that uh since it would be hard to find work outside of the house because i really needed to be near the house to care for my mom who was at the time 80 years old i should add she just needed a lot of medical attention and just everyday care because she was very grief stricken so um i went through a lot of uh i tried to do a lot of different things um i even took the foreign service exam because my master's was in public diplomacy and um i passed the test but i did not get invited to the interview for the foreign service again this was ten years ago so um anyway so i decided that in the situation i was in that i would take advantage of a lifelong dream of wanting to write a book so i ended up writing a memoir about the first year of living with my mom now this was you know moving back into your childhood home as a grown adult is an experience but on top of that dealing with grief and um your own you know as i said rebuilding two lives at once this was a huge challenge so during the process of writing the book i just i'm going to just real quick so writing the book so was that kind of out of the intention hey i want to this is going to be my career path i'm going to make write a book and i'm going to be an author and i'm going to make lots of money or is it more of because there's multiple at least one up from the few authors i've talked to and i don't have a wide variety of authors but i do know a few or was it more of the kind of the cathartic hey i went through a hard experience and this is kind of my way of dealing with it or writing it down or getting my thoughts out with you know kind of which camp did it sit in when you said hey i'm going to write a book i would say it was a little bit of both but more the latter it was really a a passion project for me it was a really i saw i definitely saw it as a springboard to a business but i didn't know what that business would be um i really wrote it to make sense of what i had just been through because anyone who's lost a parent or a loved one probably knows that you really at the time you you can't make sense of it you're in a fog you're sort of you know you're in a fugue state you don't know what's going on you you sort of need to make sense of it afterwards and so it was partly as an and the impetus was to um use it as a springboard to a business but i didn't know what that business would be um i did want to i obviously wanted to sell the book to sell i wanted to make some money but i didn't have any illusions about how successful it would be as a sales tool um or as a bestseller so during the writing of the book i came to realize there were lots of other people out there like me caregivers unpaid caregivers and i just thought i don't know how i'm doing it you know how is everyone else doing it and i had worked in um my background is in in the entertainment field i have had a long career both in television and film production and i've also had this sort of other career um as a paralegal to fund my creative things so but my my idea was i i don't know how everyone else is doing this caregiving work so i want to find out who's doing it and how they're doing and so you know caregiving is this huge hidden workforce in the united states it's a sort of unpaid workforce that is really well now we will call them essential workers right so um i just wanted to i wanted to hear hear the voices of the people actually doing the work and so um because it's a very we are in a very data driven culture i wanted to get beyond the numbers and hear about hear the voices of the people actually doing the work and so i started this podcast i had done radio broadcasting in college and um i thought what fun it would be to do a podcast and so i i literally taught myself how to use editing software i got a microphone i um uh at the time we had we i i lived with my mom for three years and then we sold the family home and i moved to a condo in alexandria virginia and it was in a closet in my condo that i did my first podcast so that was really fun and the first person i interviewed was my mom's psychiatrist who diagnosed her with the early stages of alzheimer's disease so that's a whole other conversation but anyway um i started doing the podcast my my short-term goal with the podcast was to be honest really quick and don't make me cut me off anywhere so you did that so originally so 2000 if i were to rehearse through 2010 you'd come out of getting a degree so you kind of you know a bit of reinventing yourself came out and the market was such you know 2009 2010 when you're really in the not a good time to start and go out and look at for a career or to you know look for jobs in the sense that you were in an economic downturn or a depression or the you know depression type state um so then you went to the wrote the book so before i jump to the podcast so whatever happened to the book did you publish it did you get halfway through and give up on it did it become a wild success or what happened to the book yeah so i did self-publish the book and it did become a success in terms of uh it was well received i mean i can't say it was you know an amazon bestseller but it was very well received and it legitimized me in a way um you know it was good to establish a bonafide like i was an expert in this area it was unlike many books like this in this genre it was not a how-to book it was just um the lived experience of someone you just dive in and you have the experience of someone who is all of a sudden has the rug pulled out from under them and is forced through circumstances to because i was the available daughter to to to be a caregiver and your whole life is turned upside down so um it it was successful um i did not publish it until i think 2014 so it was it was a while before i you know it took me a while to write it and to rewrite it you know and any most authors will tell you you you never the book is never a book is never finished it's just done you know you just it's just it's soonerly you've just got to get it out there so i published the book in in october i believe it was october of 2014 and um i think it was 2014. you know devin i just lose track of time but anyway i started doing the podcast soon after that and the podcast so one question i have on that so you you and and sorry i didn't mean to keep that journey so you got wrote the book you know started to have at least some success and it wasn't a bestseller harry potter everybody's going to read but at least you know you self-publish got it out there you know you know as far as i understand the book story some or book industry sometimes you also publish a book it gives you or gives you a bit more to appear to be an authority on the issue and it can set you up for you know the next phase of whatever the plan is so as a was the podcast kind of hey i wrote the book and now we got to figure something else or was it more methodical and planned out or what made you just doing the book to doing the podcast so i'm going to go ahead and confess right now that there's nothing planned out about my life um i am you know i think of the world in terms of creatives and business types you know creatives i think and i'm a creative one of the creative types i think that a lot of for creatives the primary their primary goal is to to be heard and to get out a message or to persuade i think for business people it's to have a return on investment that's the first and foremost goal um as a creative and this was a big learning for me um i had to learn that oh i had to learn how to do a business if i'm gonna convert this into a business or i'm gonna segue to a business i really need to learn something about business um so but to to even go before that one of the lessons i learned of living with my mom is that you i got comfortable not knowing what was next and getting comfortable with the what's uncomfortable is really important in life not just in terms it's important in business but it's really important in life because really none of us know what's next we think we do but we really don't and so the experience of living with my mother where i really didn't know what the future held for either one of us the experience of living with my mom really reinforced this notion of getting comfortable with not knowing what's next um that said um i i did launch the podcast and take advantage of the fact that i had written this book um as a bona fide to to help me to help me to legitimize the podcast and so i could reflect back and say yes and by the way i've written this book so i know what i'm talking about and it legitimized me as the host of the podcast because it gave me the ability to the the ability to come across as more trusting more trustworthy because i had walked in those shoes so the people i was speaking with caregivers professionals in the field of aging and artists who were using media to address health care issues it gave me the having having been a caregiver and having worked in entertainment i had the ability to sort of really relate with not just my guests but also my audience um and so that was really helpful um so what's up so as you made the transition so you said got the book done i'm gonna jump over the podcast and i've got a little bit more bona fides gives you a little bit more credibility and whatnot was the intent as you started the podcast hey this is going to be a revenue source it's going to be an interesting side hub because i mean you get a i do podcasting but it's not my main business right and so i enjoy it it's fun i think it's a good way to create a community to help out the entrepreneur thing and to you know and also to you know share our name of that but i don't have the disillusions that i'm going to create the next huge podcast and then everybody's going to listen to and i'm going to make a lot of money from it and yet there's some podcasts that are very successful and that's you know how people make an income so as you got that was a kind of hey i think i can make a successful podcast i'll get it through advertising you know you know or was it just hey this is going to be something of interest i'd like to try it out i don't know where it's going to go and it's just going to be a fun journey along the way or kind of what was as you said hey i'm going to start a podcast how did you kind of uh set or what was the the thinking or the how you were going to set that up yeah so my short term goal really was just to grow the audience and engage people and it started out not with the idea of being a huge revenue source but it was a long-term goal definitely was a long-term goal i wanted to get some revenue out of it um fortunately i was in a position financially that i wasn't relying on it for a revenue source uh and and um and yet um two or three years in as the audience started to grow i really made a conscious choice to go after sponsors and i did have some sponsors so i um i had i had a handful of sponsors but they were short-lived and i found i learned a lot in that process too the whole idea of educating advertisers was really eye-opening i will say because um you know i think advertisers in any medium want a return on investment it's understandable but podcasting is really a unique beast as you know as someone who does one and um most of the many of the people i engaged just didn't understand that podcasting is a labor-intensive effort and if you want to produce something that's polished and professional it costs time and money and so it was hard for me to convince sponsors that it was worth it to spend money on my podcast also because it was a very niche podcast um so um and and again this was the reason i ultimately decided to cut back on doing the podcast after five years because i learned and this is another lesson i think it's really important to know when to cut bait you know you really i think you really and it's a very personal decision this was just my personal um reasoning i decided that i had interviewed over 180 people i had interviewed everyday caregivers artists news news journalists well-known journalists filmmakers authors researchers i've interviewed like i said over 180 people really fascinating people and have and had reached the point where major publishing houses were sending me books to interview their authors and so i had reached a level of professional and personal satisfaction had not reached that level of satisfaction financially with a podcast and so i decided that i wanted to make a turn and so that's when i you know i turn to this second business really i i mean i guess i can call it a business at this point you know if the if it's a if it's something you're doing and uh as far as a business why not let's call it a business certainly yeah i'm calling it a business now because i'm proud to say i will be doing things differently i mean you know it's it and i started this life stories for the ages and around september of last year i had this idea that i could create this very worthwhile service for older adults and their children to leave a legacy and i wanted to combine my entertainment experience in film and filmmaking and my the the journalism skills i'd really polished through the podcast i i i would say that that was something that came out of the podcast that was really something i'm proud of i really sharpened my my interview skills and um i wanted to combine all of this all these skills that i developed because editing producing into something that was really powerful and lasting and so that's when i came up with this idea for life stories for the ages you look like you're about to ask me a question so i'll stop no i always have plenty of questions but i don't want to don't want to interrupt the journey too much so you did so you went from so far to read now rehearse you went from getting the degree taking care of you know you of of your p of your uh parent or uh to writing a book did the podcast and then you know but there's at least i see kind of that common thread throughout and then you're saying okay and if i understand it and correct me or wrong the more of the current business is hey we're going to have an ability to go in and pre-code it it was going to be face-to-face or in-home type of a thing and you have to adjust that a little bit with coved but now it's hey we're going to go into their house and capture those memories or the tales that they were going to tell or that you know the family members or the hell or the aging population such that you know that the family has a keepsake or something that's left behind they can know the stories remember them and pass them down is that about right exactly that's exactly right right so so i interviewed my mom pre-kovet i interviewed my mother who's now 91 i interviewed her on film with a professional videographer and i have a whole process set out you know a pre-interview process um pre-production production and post-production so there's a whole process to this i but my mom was like a test case so i interviewed my mom on tape and i created a promo video with her and um then i started to think about funding because one of the goals for this business was not to sell fund it so that's one of the things i learned from the first business i did not i mean i didn't really self-fund the podcast because you know i i should have charged for my you know that's a whole other anyway so so i really wanted to but you know many many women will tell you that access to capital for anyone is really very hard but for women in particular it's a very very hard to get access to capital so i stumbled on uh this great um crowdfunding platform i fund women which is really uh now i'm going to do a plug for them unsolicited but it's a really cool platform that is um supports women-led businesses through its crowdfunding campaigns they have expert coaching and they offer a slack community so um i decided to in order to raise money i wanted to raise some money to um create some promo videos to introduce the service to a wider audience so um in march of this year of 2020 the first week of march i used some of the video from the video i'd done with my mom and i did it direct to camera myself to do the pitch in a video to pitch the service in a video and i started a campaign on iphone women and i launched it on march 7th and the pandemic hit i think it was declared as a pandemic on like the 19th or somewhere in mid-march right so by that time i had raised almost four thousand dollars and then the pandemic hit and nobody was giving everybody you know retrenched locked down there's no way i was going to ask people for money at that point so i had to really step back and again here's another lesson for anyone and especially business people especially now is iterating right so things change so you have to change adapt or die so i i stopped my campaign i actually lowered my funding goal and then i relaunched the service as a audio only contactless phone interview service which can be augmented with visuals and can thus have a visual component a video like component by adding photos letters home movies you know at an extra cost but the primary package now is phone interviews audio only which are conducted over the course of like an hour and a half with carefully crafted questions um that are honed based on a pre-interview that i'll do so any also say that i'm now at the point where i have a prototype on my website because i actually interviewed somebody an 82 year old who i'd interviewed for my podcast and he was very game to try out this new service and so she was my guinea pig initially i thought to do it uh through zoom interviews i thought maybe we could do it like this we could do interviews like this but then i thought these these these these interviews could be really difficult for older adults i didn't want to go through even having to send lighting kits or and you know microphones or anything like that i wanted to make it as simple as possible and but i wanted to try out whether or not it could work through zoom so this gal i'd interviewed named max maxine she goes by max she agreed to do a zoom interview and it was really um instructional it was it was great because the video quality wasn't good but the audio was really good so i stripped out the audio and i edited the audio portion of the interview and then i just pulled out some excerpts and created a prototype of what this could look like this through audio and visuals just some photos i created a prototype which is now on my website lifestoriesfortheages.com so that's where i'm at now with the business and i'm looking to get just a handful of customers maybe by the end of september i'm looking to partner with some local um aging related you know communities here i i live in south florida so it's senior central pretty much my my customers are older adults but i am pitching their sons and daughters because those are the ones who will likely be interested in having a keepsake of their parents or grandparents and oftentimes those are the decision makers although i am quick to point out that the older adults are the ones whose stories i'm really really interested in uh so i'm i'm really excited about it you know they've lived through things that we're facing now i mean nothing like the pandemic but you know they have lived through measles and wars and polio epidemics and their perspective on the current crisis is really unique and it's invaluable and so i really think their stories are needed right now as well as um you know the problem so i'm solving this problem of social isolation too i'd like to think by engaging with older adults so i'm really excited about the offer and the end product and we'll see what happens you know i'm kind of trying not to think too far ahead because i just i don't think you can in this climate but um i'm adapting uh the service to make it safe and also to make it valuable and you know let's see what happens no i think it's uh certainly very admirable and i think it's you know a worthwhile service in the sense you know i had i guess it was about a year ago but i had my grandfather he was in uh 90 i'd have to look down 91.92 i can't have to i'd have to think back to exactly how old he was but he was getting older and he had a lot of cool stories to tell and as you pointed out he grew up just at the he grew up during this right after the great grew up during the great depression and then he went off to world war ii and served there and he was a farmer and an educator and so there's always a lot of family stories to tell and i can i can see that you know often times if you don't capture those or if those aren't passed down too often they're forgotten about so i can certainly see you know why it'd be cool i mean i this is a 30 second tangent of that you know he had a when he was in the military he had you know on the christmas eve it was christmas eve they had a person that came into the camp as he was uh as he was a serving as an officer that had uh leprosy and so then it was he had a story about how they had leprosy and then they had to look as to whether or not they contra or contracted it and how that works and everything else but it was a different christmas experience it was just a cool story you told but if that if that never got captured you know then it kind of goes by the wayside and their stories are quickly forgotten that often have can have a big impact on you know family heritage so commend you for you know certainly uh reaching out to that you know reaching out and providing that as a service so as you've now looked down and said okay we've had to pivot for coven we've had to make some adjustments to what we necessarily anticipated you know kind of where do you see the next six months to a year taking you with the business well i'd like to think that in six months i have acquired a handful of customers um and you know i've scaled it up a little bit but i don't really see this as a growth business i think it's a lifestyle business and you know lifestyle businesses get a bad rap but it it's it's really suits me for where i am right now in my life i don't really want to create a huge company that i then sell off that's not what it's about for me so um i'm hoping that in six months to a year first of all we have a lot more healthy people walking around but as far as the business goes i'd i like to also bring on a co-producer eventually you know try to systematize this as much as possible although it's it's difficult because this is a labor intensive uh service and so i'm being really careful not to over um you know get over ambitious with it um i i just i'd like to be able to bring on a handful of customers and really get this service to a place where it's systematized and i'm kind of working on that right now but it's going to take time you know it's going to take time i just know it is true no that certainly makes sense so and i think that you know i don't think i think i don't know that lifestyle businesses are bad or they even get a bad rap i think you know when you typically at least my experience with cms you know they're not investable businesses they're not ones that require but there's a lot of great businesses that hey if you enjoy it you get the income you want from it and it's something that gives you the lifestyle on that i think it's a great it can be a great avenue for a lot of people and you don't always have to say hey i have to be a forever growing business or the dominator have to have a lot of employees i'll just put it as a business that makes it works for me and my goals and then i think it sets up to be a great uh great business for you so well as we get towards the end of the podcast i always have my two questions so maybe we'll jump to those now um so the first question i always ask is so what was the worst business decision he ever made oh the worst business decision i i made was thinking that i could do everything by myself um i really should have brought in an intern at least to do some of the things that i know could i didn't need to to do um booking guests and things like things like that um so i would say that's probably the worst business decision if you can call that a decision i've made it's just thinking i could do it all by myself no no but i don't and i don't think you're alone in making that mistake i made the mistake too and often times you know at least earlier on i would push off hiring because it was like well by the time i train them and bring them on board it's going to take me longer and i could just do it quicker myself and yet you always push that out and then you never get all the things done it was interesting as i've hired other people and brought them on to the various businesses i do how many things that you start to offload and then you typically you don't get any more free time you just have more things that you weren't getting done before that now you can get done that you were they were getting pushed uh to the back burner because you were doing the other things that you could have offloaded so i think that's a good uh a mistake that many people learn and i'm a good one to learn from so so as we jump to now the second question um if you're talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them get a mentor find somebody who has experience in business who you trust who will be able to give you honest feedback and to to coach you if possible you know help you with tough decisions just bounce ideas off of and there are people out there that really want to help um i have i have a couple of advisors just people who have worked in business that have been so helpful for me i didn't have a mentor when i did my podcast but i do have a mentor now even though i'm accomplished in many areas of this business quote unquote so i think it's really important to have a mentor so that's the piece of advice i would give all right that's a great piece of advice so um learn from mistakes of you know not or making sure that get their hiring on early or getting help and not doing it all yourself and then get a mentor and they kind of go hand in glove of getting both people to assist you as well as to get guidance from those with experience so all right so it's now as and now as we wrap up people want to use your service they want to support it they want to find out more about it they want to you know be an employee they want to support it however they want to get engaged or however you want to be engaged with them what's the best way for them to reach out and connect with you the best way for them to do that is just to go to the website lifestoriesfortheages.com all one word no spaces and all my contact information is there so lifestories4theages.com will do it all right well i certainly encourage everybody to check it out and uh if you're having someone that you want to capture the memories before they uh uh why well they're still able to share them and while they're here it certainly is a worthwhile service so well thank you for coming on the podcast um and for any for all those other listeners if you have a journey that you are that you would like to share and like to come on the podcast and be a guest feel free to go over to inventivejourneyguest.com and we'd love to hear your journey and your story um and certainly if you're a listener make sure to subscribe so you can get a notification on all the new episodes and lastly if you need any help with uh patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law well janna it's been fun to have you on it's been it's been an interesting journey that you've taken i think it's a fun one to hear and wish you the the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks devin thanks for having me i appreciate the opportunity [Music] you English (auto-generated) All Conversation Recently uploaded