Spend Your Time Wisely
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Spend Your Time Wisely
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 this was a very hard lesson I learned, so be careful in how you spend your time so we always gonna get a very rewarding feeling from being busy, and this can we just be like, you know, answering emails taking phone calls, you know, doing marketing. But if you do not actually evaluate the impact that all this business is having on your ROI, your return on investment, and what the income is and how you're actually making progress, are you growing your audience, your podcast so whatever, what your income or profit is whatever it might be, if that's not growing fast not changing and yet you're all busy all the time, then you need to reevaluate and strategy.
Everyone this is Devin, here with another episode of the inventive journey. I'm your host Evan Miller, serial entrepreneur has grown several startups, seven and eight figure businesses, as well as the CEO and founder of Miller IP law, where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks, you ever need help with yours just go to strategy meeting calm and grab some time with us to chat. Now today we have a another great guest on the podcast Catherine show Joburg or Howard, as close as I can get to.
So, Katharina. She grew up in South Africa, dropped out of high school and then, instead they completed their examinations to get the degree left at home and 17 went to Japan for a while, which is a fun age to go and explore the world went back home, went to university for a while, got a degree in music and sound production and also did some went to France, do some English teaching had a family tragedy came back home taught some English taught some music.
Excuse me, and then moved back to UK wanted to do something else I signed up to do teaching. First, I think Teach First Leadership Program, and some of the rougher schools in the UK, got some great experience, but it was also a very stressful thing, so I decided to move on from teaching and move over to what she's doing now, which is more of a multimedia company and also does a rise and produce a podcast so with that much as introduction, welcome on the podcast Catherina.
Thank you for that great introduction you basically covered everything but I'll try and expand on some points.
Absolutely. So I gave, as you said I gave kind of a 32nd overview of your journey which is condensing a much longer journey into a much shorter amount of time. So let's go back a little bit and tell us a little bit about growing up in South Africa and testing out of school and moving to Japan, so kind of tell us how that all the journey got started.
Okay yes that's actually like where, if I look at where I'm at now, it all goes back to that stage and of course you don't actually realize it at the time. Now, growing up in South Africa, I mean, it was just such a mixed cultural bag and I'm of a mixed cultural heritage, so obviously one of the things they've really really influenced me was this fascination with traveling and exploring the world and meeting new people and being able to speak different languages, and the other on the other hand, however I was also both just very creative. I loved music loved writing, so these are the things I did. Now you mentioned that I dropped out of school and the reason for this was simply I just felt everything was going very slowly. And this kind of depressed me so in a way I felt like I was wasting my time so at one day I just stopped going. And my parents had to make peace with that, I got the textbooks ordered and just completed the exam, as quickly as I could. The exams that could allow me to for example apply to university and so forth. And luckily this put me in a position to leave her pretty quickly and it also gave me a lot more time to do different things so I spend a lot of time, like to put it in perspective, I wanted to be a concert pianist, I was really fascinated by the power of audio and how it can just influence people and sway their emotions and make them feel better. And then I was also fascinated by stories. So I did a couple of other cultural activities which allowed me to go to Japan, there was a very rare opportunity that opened up. And it was more through people I met, so I took it immediately, but I was still a teenager, I was 17, and my parents eventually asked me to come back and actually go to university, so I did that.
So one question why, before you get back to university, so you went to Japan for a period of time did you just go on your own. Did you have a plan and what did you do while you're in Japan or kind of, that seems like a bit of a cultural jump and also just a, a different direction to go into what did you do there and how did you figure out, or how did you figure out how to make your way there.
And so at the time, I can't actually remember how I got into it but I was playing Eagle, or golf, which is the oldest strategy strategy game, and it was invented like I don't know how many years ago. Basically it's kind of like chess but it's a lot simpler and a lot more complicated for example computers, only they were only able to develop a computer program to be professional Go player, like, a couple of years ago. That's how complicated the game is. So that's what I did, or spent a lot of time on, and I met a what they call the center like a teacher and because of the situation I was one of the few South Africans that especially being a female South African.
So they just said, Well, come to Japan and studied again when I said why not. But yeah, so it was a very rare opportunity and I did just go by myself. I probably, from that point onwards, I've just been a bit of a nomad I have not been able to stay in one piece for too long.
So you say he said okay you know sounds like a fun opportunity you know I've got my testing done with school, ago in Japan have an adventure and do that for a while so you do that, and then I think you said it was what it means studying go now, one question this is a follow up on that you know was that it was playing going up to support yourself, did you work there. Did your family support your kind of how did you while you're in Japan, not being at home anymore. How did you kind of fail to pay for your life expenses.
So, obviously, all of the expenses they sorted out some accommodation for me I didn't have to work or anything I couldn't because I feel that I would have had to have a work visa. I was still like a teenager, so it just wasn't going to work out. So, because they also gave me like, actually I could attend the school for free, where I was studying, so it was kind of like a bursary. And then my parents just supplemented what I needed. Otherwise, sounds like a fun and exciting experience and so he did that and how long were you in Japan for.
I was meant to stay a roughly a year but then of course there was the university question of university which starts in January in South Africa so yeah I had to cut my time short.
So now he come back to South Africa say okay I'm gonna study in university. So, what did you decide to study kind of how did you know how did you decide where you're going to study and what direction to go from there. Yes, very good question, because I was very certain about what I wanted to study, and I was music, but at the same time I knew I wanted to at least specialize in a one on one language, and then, I was so, like, fired up about different languages so I wanted to so in total three majors, which meant that the best degree at that particular university I wanted to study at was something called Music Technology. Now I think this is like 2008. And back then podcasts haven't really started and what music technology basically meant was you were you were going to go into sound production you were going to do something to do with the technical side of sound. And this didn't interest me at all. Even though fast forward to today, this is what my company is basically based on but yes. So at the time I didn't know I just thought well, I could do loads of different things and that's what I've always been doing so that's why I decided to do that.
Now definitely makes sense and so you study that you get a graduate from university get the degree, and then where did the next adventure life where you say, obviously the like traveling.
By this time, so I was just like, Okay I need to get to a new country, or something strange but yeah that was the idea. And because I studied French at the time, I went into the did my post grad in French literature, all the while I wasn't entirely sure what the career idea was going to be all I was thinking about was just like going to as many different places as possible so it allowed me to go to France so there I got his poster the English teacher.
And the idea was to stay in France, I didn't really have any plan to come back to South Africa and basically from France just find a different place to go to.
But unfortunately at that stage, there was a family tragedy which meant that eventually I went did go back to South Africa. And I think that is kind of like where all my, I almost want to say worse decisions started happening because I was on this climb very fastly in a direction, and even though I didn't have a clear destination in mind I kind of knew what I was doing, maybe not. But anyway, when I went back, obviously, you know, I had to think again. What kind of job was going to do in South Africa. At the stage, I mean, I studied music technology, which already was a bit of a vague thing. At that time, and French and English so everyone said Well the easiest thing to do is just go into education. I mean, with that, it's very secure. Everyone needs a teacher, like, it's not something that's going to go out of fashion soon.
And so I said okay, why not so I followed everyone's advice but the thing was getting into an industry like that, which is, I mean, I loved being a teacher I love teaching. Still, if you get really comfortable. And because it's fairly easy to get a position, regardless of where you go, it makes it even more attractive in terms of a career and then you start thinking, Oh well, I want to do more and at that stage I was working for tertiary institutes of higher education. So they asked me to do a bunch of curriculum development, which was great. But during this whole time even though I wasn't enjoying what I was doing. I kept feeling that something went lost or something went missing and I'm not entirely doing what I wanted to like when, way back when I was, like into music and into writing. and the big reason for all of this was some people were saying, well, there isn't really a career in those things unless you're like one of this, like very very special or exceptionally talented you know a virtuoso for writing it was just simply don't even try.
That was the message I got message you decide, okay, I'll do teaching for a period time I think that after the family tragedy, or tragedy after you stayed home for a period of time you went back abroad and you went to the UK and did the Teach versus leadership. Yes, so, I mean this is all just kind of like a blur at the stage so basically I met my partner.
When I went back to South Africa and his family is based in the UK. So at some point, we just agreed that while he said, there's a chance to go over, and I didn't even look at the map, he just said it's, it's in the north of England, and I said yeah why not. So I left everything behind, again, a very secure career job family support structure,
It's very useful, but I found myself having moved country already for a couple of times I knew that
the community living education are the teachers so I looked at
systems, and found something called Teach First, now in this states, It's called Teach America. And basically the principle for this is a leadership development program where they take top graduates, and they put them in, without any prior training, they put them in, like, really tough schools, and in normally very poor regions. So that just automatically because they haven't had no training they've had no background, they can just like really develop the students. And because it's, you know, their mentality they can raise aspirations and then those schools and students and areas will slowly turn around because of these. Well, training teachers. So that's what I did in UK. And yes, that was great. In a way, in the sense that, I mean it really developed me as a person and I got to, I hope, have a positive impact on quite a few students and mean something to them and what I taught them but also being kind of support them, but at the same time, it was grueling It was absolutely like I did not have a life at all outside of it was like very very tough.
So now you do that for you know even sounds like it was rewarding and also stressful and tough and kind of everything rolled into one. And what made you kind of decide okay I've done this very time was rewarding. I want to do something else, you know, kind of go a different direction and how did you decide what direction to even take yes so strangely enough, at the same time because I was in this new country, so the other side of what I was doing, I was actually a music journalist so all along. I've always been writing always been into music and so forth. So, I was doing that at the same time living this dual life, and I was, I also had a blog to explore and kind of let the world know about this really beautiful region, with all these ideas and potential, but very few people knew about it. So, based off of that, I just simply decided that even the interesting story was, it was the first day of a new year that I walked into the headmaster's office, and handed in my resignation and just said, Well, if I don't do it now I'm never going to do it so I did it. I'm freaked out for a couple of months, just thought well I'm going to start a podcast, there's no, no podcast in this area is celebrating the space, people, and I'm just going to start one I did not put a lot of thought into it, even though I did. I just, like, in terms of podcasting and businesses surrounding podcasters and like Multimedia Production I didn't think about that, I just wanted to do a podcast.
And that's what I did and then I found that regeneration studio which strangely enough was not the best name, but I was normally when I'm literally like, if you send me another direction I just.
for the podcast, what was the original idea or what did you want to, you know, kind of focus in on what was the motivation kind of as to where you were with podcasting focus on. Yes. So, because Teach First, they allow us to do a lot of printing or like kind of, what would you call it a kind of like apprenticeship, but during the summer holidays we could go to these big companies like PWC or some of the others Deloitte, and we could do like internships, basically. So that really sparked my interest in actual business I even wanted to do an MBA at this stage. And because of that I was interested my first podcast idea was really like looking at the entrepreneurial ideas, entrepreneurs in the area, and the innovation, and kind of spreading and spreading inspiration through. So that was my initial idea, it was a little bit more business focused and but creative at the same time.
So that was kind of the initial focus initial idea now, did that work out, did you stick with it is that what you're still doing today. We're kind of I think that as we chatted a bit before things continue to evolve a bit as you kind of figured out, you know where the what the place was versus was with the podcasts being there. How did they know, kind of with that initial idea you took the lead, or where did it evolve from there.
And, yes, so at this time. Even though I did some market research. I actually did quite a lot. And I had an idea of it, but I didn't actually think or market what I was doing.
And because of that, there was a there's loads of reasons why I didn't actually spread the word and be one of the reasons is that it was last year that I launched something called COVID-19 happened. But anyway,
what happened throughout the year was basically organically, this was not the idea.
I just met somebody in a coffee shop and told them about the podcast because I wanted to know if people in this area actually listened to podcasts, because I wasn't getting any traction on the one that I started right at the start. Once again because of various reasons, and if so, what kind of things would they be interested in. So I just started talking to this person and they were the CEO of a charity and they were like, really interested in that idea.
And then they wanted more. And that's how my current because I suddenly realized that I've always loved writing and creating content about other people and what really drove me was not a superficial picture, I really wanted to drive into there, like the soul of a business will the soul of what mattered to people and capture that. So whereas, sure enough, there are millions of multimedia production agencies and so forth out there. I felt that there was perhaps not that many really trying to put out something that focused on the impact people wanted to have, and that's what got me thinking and then at the start of this year. I also realized that my name was, At least from a podcast or content creator creators perspective, if wasn't the best name because people didn't quite know what regeneration studio meant.
While it was very clear. If you prefer to urban regeneration, which means it just means turning up kind of a crappy place where should you place into something that's kind of nice and cool. While it is frustrating swearing.
So that was very clear to me but to be honest. Anyone, like if you just spoke to them, they wouldn't know that necessarily unless they're an architect.
So yes, so I decided to really look at my audience as well because I realized that as much as I wanted to have an impact on the people around me.
They're not necessarily they're not necessarily a podcast listener that I couldn't take that approach and just think because it's their areas, they're going to be interested in it. And even more so people outside of the area were, weren't necessarily interested in there either. So I had to find a different angle, and my angle was to look at who can I actually speak to. And that's how creative fraud came about because I'm a creator abroad.
No, and now that name makes at least for me, makes it makes sense and kind of resignation so genuinely makes sense like, did the shift a bit. Now as you did that you know you've shifted he kind of gone through, you know, been a bit of a nomad going to different countries you've been different, a bit of a few different career paths, and now you're on with the the current business you're at now kind of saying okay, we've figured out a bit of work you know why you want to position the podcast what you want to do is for media production everything else. What is the next kind of six to 12 months look like.
Yeah, so I've actually now got like a product like a proper thing that I developed, and I developed it around the idea that I want because I looked at, loads of other podcast production agencies and the exciting part for me is okay so I am literally the first if podcast exclusive production agency or audio marketing agency in this area in the northeast, so I'm basically for the next six months, I've just need to contact as many people as possible and put this in front of them, and also more specifically what I part of my target audience if you like, would be the people who would eventually be attracted to the podcast. So, actual creators abroad, because I'd be able to really like, that's one of the company values I decided at the start, is that it's really a celebration of diversity. So to people who who want that cultural understanding and interaction so that's my other side so people around here who don't have anyone else to turn to, and then created as abroad so that's what it looks like for me and then I've got another thing in the works which is not to do with language instruction by the way, that's what I did I was a French and English language teacher so I've got a very well, let me just say an original idea for teaching languages but that's coming later on now.
Sounds like a lot of fun, fun opportunities are coming up in the future so definitely excited to stay tuned and see where things going so well as now as we wrap towards the end of the podcast I always have two questions that I asked so we'll go ahead and jump to those now. So the first question I was asked is, along your journey. What was the worst business decision you ever made. And what did you learn from it.
I thought about this and there's so many bad things, but what would probably be not paying enough attention to marketing.
And I know that time is limited.
And you, in my case, not all of us feel very comfortable with selling ourselves with telling people what we do.
But the fact of the matter is if you start a business or if you have a service, and you really believe in it.
For example, if I were to use an analogy or a different kind of business there's something that would really change people's lives completely so you can cure people who are short sighted like, like if you had this medical care for people, and it doesn't have to be laser operation for their eyes, would you just keep it to yourself because you're too scared to sell this kind of invention that you know you would talk to it, to people about it, you will tell them about it and it's the same with anything else that you do you have to really believe in it and I didn't, I didn't, I didn't believe in it and I didn't sell it, and because of that for one year, I was like, incognito.
No, definitely makes sense and good mistake to learn from and learn from. So now we'll jump to the second question which is, if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business, what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them. So, I'm going to give two pieces of advice, very briefly, and the first piece of advice is specifically for content creators. So someone who doesn't necessarily have a physical product that they're developing or want to sell. So the really tough thing about a business when you start out, is that you obviously you have to get the word out there. Now, if you do not have a reputation to kind of get that kickstart from. It is really important to think carefully about your branding, and how you're going to position yourself in the market. Because if people are not clear on what you're offering. So, especially like I said for content creators like if you have a podcast, amongst million others, then they're most likely just going to move along. So that time that you need to take to explain to them what it's about, are going to lose perhaps 80% of your audience. So, be very clear and very specific with your branding rather than be too simplistic with it, and too complicated. I like that and I like that, you know, oftentimes of branding and trying to convey so much information you want to know, tell everybody all the cool things and all the different things and the reason why they should pick you and everything else was you know, there's always a lot of excitement, a lot of things that you are probably doing different unique, but I like the simple processes hayleigh are conveyed the information that they're going to need, what they're going to want to know and you know how you how you want them to perceive the brand, keep it simple, and that does more to help your brand, than it is to overcomplicate it or to try and convey too much information over, or, you know, in any given time so I think that's great advice. Yes, exactly. And then just very briefly on the second piece of advice and this is more generally, for any business is. And this is a very hard lesson I learned, so be careful in how you spend your time so we always going to get a very rewarding feeling from being busy, and this can be just be like, you know, answering emails taking phone calls, you know, doing marketing. But if you do not actually evaluate the impact that all this business is having on what your ROI, your return on investment, and what the income is and how are you actually making progress, are you growing your audience if you're a podcast or whatever, what your income or profit is whatever it might be, if that's not growing if that's not changing and yet you're all busy all the time, then you need to reevaluate and perhaps influence.
No, and I agree and I think that there is oftentimes it feels like hey if I'm busy, I must be, you know, must be successful I must be improving on something and sometimes that's true and sometimes you are being, you know, being busy isn't a bad thing. But if on the other hand, if it's just busy for busy sake are the things that you're doing are the things that are going to create the most value, then just being busy doesn't doesn't benefit your business so I think that's a great another great piece of advice. Well as we as we wrap up when people want to reach out to you they want to find out more about your business, they want to hire you as a content creator, they want to be a customer, client and employee and investor your next best friend, any or all of the above, what's the best way to reach out contact you and find out more.
So the best place to go where you'll find all my links, and my contact details, is my website, which is creators, abroad.com, and you can just simply get in touch Email cat at creators abroad. COMM or Instagram, which is where I'm most active at creators abroad. Actually that's creators dot abroad as adopted.
I definitely encourage everybody to reach out find out more and make sure to connect up with. Well thank you for coming on the podcast has been it's been it's been a pleasure. Now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell me like to be guest on the podcast is go to inventive guest calm, always love to share your story, do more things as a listener, one, make sure to click Subscribe in your podcast place you know on all of our awesome episodes come out and to leave us a review, so that other people can find out about all the awesome episodes as they come out. Last but not least if you ever need help with patents, trademarks or enhancing their business just go to strategy meeting. COMM grab some time with us to chat and we're always here to help. Thank you again, Catherine and wish the next leg of your journey, even better than the last. Thank you so much, Devon, for having me on the show.