Interviews

My super rad chat with Natalie MacNeil

January 25, 2016

Natalie MacNeil

When it comes to “girl crushes,” there are very few babes that make me swoon as hard as Natalie MacNeil.

Real talk for a minute: When I left Cheeky in 2014 to launch SimplyBe, I was scared shitless. I thought, will people judge me? What if I fail? Will I look like a narcissist, building a business based on, well, myself? I was trolling the internet during that time, looking to soak up all the knowledge, inspiration, motivation and commraderie that I could find to help me feel less alone and more clear on where I was going. Discovering Natalie was game changing.  (You might remember her from my shout out to 19 babes kicking ass at being their own brands. Natalie was #1.) Not only did I fall in love with her work and her content itself, but even more in love with how authentically she packages, positions and delivers her work. She’s. Just. So. Damn. Real. Her authenticity helped me remember that my voice is just as valid, important and worthy as anyone’s and that it would be a crime to not simply be myself, and to share my gifts with the world.

So back to Natalie. Let’s get real (again): what’s not to love about a bonafide, self-made, freedom-based, 7-figure-earning entrepreneur whose sole mission is to empower other women to tactically, pragmatically and soulfully turn their dreams into realities?

It’s pretty obvious why I resonated with her.

Over the past five years, Natalie’s business and brand, She Takes on the World, has exploded. It’s birthed programs like The Conquer Club, a 12-month virtual incubator for entrepreneurial women to build their businesses alongside other like-minded babes doing the same. Last year, she launched The Conquer Academy, a non-for-profit education program in Tanzania. She’s been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, ELLE Magazine, Mashable, Huffington Post and more. She Takes on the World has been listed as one of the top 100 websites for women by Forbes. Oh, and she’s also won an Emmy. NDB.

As if that isn’t enough to make you swoon, at the beginning of 2016, Natalie launched her latest book The Conquer Kit, a 225-page creative business planner for entrepreneurs. Loaded with insight, tools, concrete action items and inspiration, it’s a book that ALL Entrepreneurial Babes need to get their hands on. I had a chance to Skype with Natalie a few weeks ago (don’t worry…I only kind-of-sort-of geeked out), to discuss her new book, her brand and her insanely amazing business advice. Soak it up, ladies. Nat’s a pro and her words are gold. Enjoy!

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Let’s talk about your branding for a bit. I LOVE the word “Conquer.” It’s so empowering. You have The Conquer Club, The Conquer Academy, The Conquer Camp, and now The Conquer Kit. Where did this word come from and what does it mean to you?

There’s a lot of history to this word, and it started when I was young. I was a peculiar little girl. I was very bossy and very opinionated. In my family, we did “shares” around the dinner table. One day, when I was 9 years old, I came home from school and told my “share” to my family, announcing that I had discovered my new life motto. It was: “Veni Vidi Vici,” which means, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” (I have two younger sisters who looked up to me, but thought I was so intense.) My parents even questioned it. But it come a motto.

Also, when I was traveling in Scotland years ago researching my family history, I discovered that the MacNeil clan motto was “Conquer or Die.” I know that sounds kind of terrible, but there was meaning to it. There have been SO many weird weavings of this word into my life.

“Conquer” usually means taking something that is not yours, but for me the word is deeply rooted. It means recognizing the unique gifts inside of you to make your own living and creating you.

I see that your book encourages your readers to get our colored markers, glue guns and stickers when we create our business plans. Clearly this approach was intentional and I would love to know why. Is this how you personally create? 

I think we spend a lot of time in our heads and not in our hearts and bodies. The business planning process can be quite dull. If your plan doesn’t inspire you and if you don’t want to look at it everyday, it’s not serving its purpose. I want to look at my business plan again and again. A traditional plan wasn’t that for me. It should be intuitive, organic and fun to create. And that’s how this whole book began. But, I need left-brain and right-brain. It can’t just be all vision boards and pictures. There are 225 pages of planning and strategies in this book, encouraging you and deeply guiding you to look at how you’re building your business and WHY. I think you need for both.

Who does your book target?

The Conquer Kit is best fit for companies with five employees or less. These are the new economy entrepreneurs, side hustlers and freelancers.

In the book, you establish feminine archetypes for your readers to identify with to help them more effectively run their businesses. How did you come up with these archetypes and why did you choose this approach?

They are Carl Jung’s archetypes that I have revamped. I crafted the ones that I believe will help women entrepreneurs the most honor and recognize their unique strengths. Women force themselves to wear so many hats. It’s important to know where you’re strongest, where you’re not and where you can fill in the gaps. 

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All small-business entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed and yet struggle with hiring help because they feel they can’t afford it. Any advice?

I’m not asking to go put a full time employee on pay roll. Start with hiring someone for an hour. Make sure you fill it with someone who can help you drive revenue. A few years ago, I had one virtual assistant who helped me publish my blog posts. I committed those new hours I had to business development, new clients, strategy, etc., and in just those few months – my business grew tremendously. You can NOT not afford to have that support. Even if your budget is $100, it’s doable. Start small and create your team.

We all know the importance of video. Your show is a pretty jazzy production. What practical production tips can you share with the novice who is getting into making her own videos?

Even if you’re doing video on webcam, which I started off with, the most important thing is audio. I travel with my microphone, even though it’s super heavy, because the sound has to be good. If people can’t hear what you’re saying – you’re going to lose people right away. The lapel mic will do the trick.

Before having a lighting kit, you have got to know how to work with natural light. That’s the best way to have well lit video. My first lighting kit I bought on Amazon. It was a called “Youtube lighting kit” or something like that, and it cost me like $100-$200. Lighting makes a big difference.

If you’re in the market for a camera, look for the Cannon Rebel or T5i, which are affordable cameras, and cost about $700. Video is key: 80% of content that people will engage with on the internet will be video in the coming years.

You have a very strong point of view on finding mentors. Can you share? 

There’s a misconception on what mentoring actually is. I have a lot of people who have “mentored” me. They are people who have given me time when I have needed it the most, who guided me in that moment vs., the mentors who you talk to regularly. Arianna Huffington sat down with me when I was 24 years old and I got to ask her a couple of questions. I don’t have a personal relationship with her, I can’t call her up, but she was there when I really needed her. My mentors are not people who people would know, I have a lot of people who have come and gone, as well as people who have been there the whole time. And I only play the mentor card when I really need it. That’s what I call people. I have dozens of “mentors.” Someone who meets with you weekly is a coach, not a mentor.

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If there is one piece of advice you could give my readers, that they can’t find in your book or your website, what would it be?

I think a lot of who I am and what I do what I do is because the experiences of my traveling. Nothing has contributed more than me getting outside of my bubble. That’s a big reason why we give back, the Conquer Academy. There’s so much shit on TV and the world is such a big scary place, when it’s not. I have been to 90 countries. I have discovered a piece of myself in each of those places. I went by myself to many of them. I was told not to. I believe there is so much good in the world and the majority of people are so kind and good. And when you travel alone, you have no choice but to rely on the goodness of strangers. Travel has cracked my mind and my heart wide open. Don’t stay in your bubble.

And finally… a question for my readers:

Who’s YOUR biggest girl crush?? I’m sooooo curious! Leave a comment below and share with us another inspirational babe who rocks. Let’s always shine light on each other and continue to conquer.

 

XO,

Jessica

 

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  • Blanca Estela Lopez

    Inspirational babes that rock and inspire me: my mom, my sister and Jessica Zweig 🙂
    Thank you Jess, you are an inspiration and, because you shine light on other amazing women, I have gotten to know about them and they are helping me change for the better. Latest examples of wonderful ladies I have come to know about because of you: Allie Lefevere and Steffani Fort LeFevour (I love the Beyond abundant community) and Dana Gatziolis (I love the Glow school blog tour and all the ladies who wrote blogs for this tour)