By Stacey Gualandi/August 29, 2012
We salute the true entrepreneurial spirit wherever we can find it. A great example is author and successful businesswoman, Tory Johnson, who is helping thousands of women everywhere turn their passions into profitable and prosperous small businesses.
“There’s such a sense of people wanting to take control of their careers, their finances and their passions.” Tory Johnson
Go-getter is this gal’s middle name. Tory has two multi-million dollar businesses, is a “Good Morning America” contributor and a New York Times best-selling author. Her latest book is Spark & Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now. She recently finished taking her message on the road, literally, with her own Spark & Hustle bus tour.
I got the chance to talk to Tory on The Women’s Eye Radio Show and learn some of her secrets to success. Here’s an excerpt from that interview…
TORY: It’s amazing to be able to connect with so many great people whether I meet them at our events or because of “Good Morning America” or on Facebook or just anywhere. There’s such a sense of people wanting to take control of their careers, their finances and their passions. That’s what small business ownership allows and makes possible. It’s a good time.
STACEY: Absolutely. Now, tell me about Spark & Hustle. What do you mean?
TORY: Spark is really a tribute to all the people that we meet because they all have this idea, this passion, this nugget, this something that they really want help turning into a profitable business. They want to know they can make money from this thing and that’s where the hustle comes in.
Everyone brings their “spark,” and we focus on the “hustle.” We’re going to teach you how to make that leap or cross that bridge from the passion and the purpose that you have to being profitable.
“…it’s a whole lot of hustle and that’s something that everybody can do.”
TORY: Women for Hire has focused for the last 14 years on employment, helping women get hired by somebody else and work for somebody else. And Spark & Hustle, which we started three years ago, is really about entrepreneurship, helping women to launch and grow their own businesses.
STACEY: So, obviously, you know of what of what you speak because you started these companies yourself and look at how successful they are, so you know it can be done.
STACEY: I know you’re probably so tired of talking about your story, but it’s a great story. You didn’t graduate from college. Do you think people are surprised to hear that knowing how successful you are now?
TORY: No. I think today everyone does their own thing and makes their own path, and I think that people recognize that. What I think is more surprising to me is when people say, “Oh, it’s so easy for you because you’re on television.” But I wasn’t always on television. I had to get my business going long before that.
So, when people hear that I started with an AOL email address and a dial-up internet connection, and made something happen, and then they say, “Gee, in this economy when nobody is hiring, I can’t believe your businesses are thriving,” they want to know what are my secrets and how did I make it happen. And how can they get in on that.
So, I think that when you strip it all away and you look at what’s really going on, people recognize that it’s just a whole lot of hard work. It’s a whole lot of hustle, and that’s something that everybody can do.
STACEY: Absolutely. It’s funny because you mentioned secrets. I think you’re the first person to say there really is no secret to success, right?
TORY: Yes. Everyone leaves a well-documented track in their path, and so you’ve got to look at who’s done things and what’s worked for them and what kind of gray hairs can you avoid because they got them instead and how can you learn from the successes?
I love looking at other women and what they do and taking bits and pieces and swiping and making them my own. I love then sharing all of that and allowing other people to be able to apply my experiences to their own.
TORY: Yes, definitely. At that time they were the hardest words to hear, and I was devastated. And the truth is in that old saying, “Everything happens for a reason” and you can’t really see the reason in the moment.
I’m thrilled because if it hadn’t happened I’d probably still be working in corporate communications somewhere, definitely working for somebody else and wouldn’t have realized my dream and wouldn’t have been able to do the things that I really am passionate about. Maybe I wouldn’t have discovered that this was my calling.
STACEY: Do you think starting a small business is for everybody? Like you said, you were on that track where you could have been the team player, the team employee for years to come, but it forced you to start thinking about creating a business for yourself. Is there a difference that some people can do it and some people can’t?
TORY: I don’t think it’s for everybody. I think there are plenty of people who’d rather punch-in, punch-out. And there’s plenty of people who much prefer to leave the headache to somebody else. And there are plenty of people who don’t want to work as hard as it takes to be a small business owner.
And that’s okay. That doesn’t make them any worse or less. To those people, I say definitely get a job, don’t start a business.
“Initially, it was just to replace my paycheck and not working for someone was like a jackpot, home run and a win at the lottery.”
STACEY: In your book Spark & Hustle, you say you have to know the why before you even go any further.
TORY: That’s right. Understanding why you’re doing this is so critical because when you are really clear about your personal passion and that specific motivator, it’s a lot more difficult to throw in the towel.
STACEY: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that you had this little spark, that little seed that was planted because you said that you wanted to start something based on your interest in promoting women. It stemmed from your admiration of network news stars when you worked with them at ABC and NBC. Why was it important for you to promote women?
TORY: I was a high school debater and became the first girl, along with my partner in Florida, to win a state championship among a sea of only male competitors. All the guys had always won.
At the time the media made a big deal of it saying, “Oh, the girls finally score a victory.” Our school made a big deal of it and that planted that first seed for me. I thought, “Oh, there really is a difference in terms of how men and women compete but there doesn’t have to be. Women can do whatever they want.”
So, the work that I do is not at the expense of men. It’s really just, “Hey, girls can do whatever they want to do no matter how old they are.”
TORY: Initially, it was just to replace my paycheck and not working for someone was like a jackpot, home run and a win at the lottery.
STACEY: So, tell me about the early days of your first business. You had twins and yet you said, “You know what? I’m going to do it.” You gave yourself three months, I believe. Right?
TORY: I did. And that was really because it was all we could afford.
STACEY: Do you look back at yourself then and go, “How did I do it?”
TORY: No, because I know how I did it. I have a great husband, and I had at the time an amazing nanny for my kids. I had just this huge desire to make it happen. I don’t have any formal training as a business owner.
It was figure it out as you go. And if I could do that, a lot of people could do that. That’s really what we teach in our Spark & Hustle book and conferences around the country now. And it’s very much about just using what you have to get what you want.
STACEY: Did you ever think that you would be on television (on “Good Morning America” above)? You do a great job, I must say.
TORY: Thank you. I didn’t. That is something that came out of necessity. I had zero dollars to promote my events, and I had to get women to attend these career expos so I started pitching segments to the local media. I would say, “Oh, can I come and do a segment for you on the five biggest blunders people make when they’re job searching, and we’ll peg it to the fact that there’s this career expo tomorrow?”
I was really good at coming up with great topics, and I happened to be a good talker because I was a high school debater so I could squeeze a lot into a three-minute segment.
So, the local media would say, “Yes, sure. We’d love that segment. Come.” I just started doing lots of local TV, and ultimately, I think five years after I did all my local stuff around the country, I got my first chance to do a segment at “Good Morning America.” It went well, and they had me back again and again, and it built from there.
“It’s the motors that go places. It’s the motor that gets you there.”
STACEY: What’s that one big message you would like to get across to everybody?
TORY: The magic doesn’t happen when you’re planning. The magic happens when you’re doing. You’ve got to take action steps each and every day to get where you want to go.
And you can either hang out with an anchor, someone is who is holding you back, keeping you just in one place– grounded–or you can surround yourself with motors. Those are people who are going places, who are curious, who are moving, who are making things happen. It’s the motors that go places. It’s the motor that gets you there.
So, which do you want to be? Do you want to sit still or do you want to keep moving? The most exciting thing is to have that momentum to keep moving and that only happens when you take action each and every day.
STACEY: Of all the hats that you wear, is there one that you like more than any other? I suppose probably getting in front of all of your fans at the expos.
TORY: It’s very hard to choose. I love just hanging out with my kids and my husband. I love doing live television segments on GMA. I love being in the thick of things at my events. I love all of that. And what I love most is that I’m fortunate to have all of those opportunities.
STACEY: Absolutely. You’ve created them. You’ve done the work. I know you’re a very busy woman so I just want to say a huge thank you for taking time to talk to me. We salute all of your fine work. So take care and good luck and continued success to you.
By the way, Tory has an upcoming Texas Conference for Women Spark & Hustle Small Business Book Camp coming up Wed., Oct. 24.