Pia Silva Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Pia Silva
Pia Silva is my guest today, on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business coaching interview.
She is an Entrepreneur, speaker and writer, and also a partner and brand strategist at Worstofall Design.
This upcoming company build “Badass Brands without the BS” for 1-3 person service businesses in 1-3 day intensives.
She is a Forbes contributor and has spoken at a host of entrepreneurial organizations.
Her company was named top “10 Design Firms Lead By Young People That Are Changing the Way We Look at the World” by Complex, and her book Badass Your Brand: Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Expertise into Profit launched March 16th, 2017.
The Branding Bootcamp
As she says “Badass Brands w/out the BS. We work with service based business owners in intensive Brandup sessions and execute the strategy and build out your entire brand– positioning, messaging, logo, copy, website, materials– in 1-3 days so you can get back to work.
Because who has 6 months to redo their website anyway?
For solopreneurs who need the whole shabang but don’t have $50k to invest yet, we built a Brandup Bootcamp to take you through our exact process at a fraction of the cost.
Now that is the official stuff about today’s guest, but the real story isn’t about where she is now rocking and rolling and loving life.
Joining Up The Dots To Becoming Pia Silva
The real story was the climb into stress, financial difficulties and the realisation that scale, and premium products were the key to her future.
Being able to charge premium prices to less people has been the gamechanger to her and her partners day to day running of their company whilst making her business as lean as possible.
Now she is gaining more and more exposure, loving life, and as you will read in her book (as we will discuss in today’s show) she is shining the way for others to learn from her mistakes and live a life on their own terms by following her practical sensible advice.
So does she see others making the same mistakes as she did, and smack her head with a “Doh!” and think “Man its so obvious that just cant see it?”
And where does she find the motivation to keep growing, when things are already pretty good as they are?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Pia Silva.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Pia Silva such as:
How she has built an amazing business that is lead by her lifestyle. If she wants to close up shop she does, with no clients wanting access to her. That is very unique and powerful.
Why she believes that most businesses would be in a better position by turning people away as clients instead of jumping into bed with them.
Pia explains why most people make a mess of their branding by confusing the message that they are sending out to the world.
Pia shares the dark times in her life when she was heavily in debt. Now she believes its just a phase that she had to go through to get where she is today.
Books By Pia
How To Connect With Pia Silva
If you enjoyed this episode with Pia Silva, then why not listen to some of our favourite podcast episodes such as Table Fables, AJ Leon, Kavit Haria or the amazing Daniel Hayes
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Audio Transcription Of Pia Silva Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:25]
Yes. Hello there. Good morning, everybody, and welcome to an episode of a join up dots coming directly from the United Kingdom across the world. And we’re connecting with America as we do a lot of time it seems to be all the movers and shakers seem to be out there. So let’s go across the pond and speak to an entrepreneur, speaker and writer and also a partner and brand strategist, at worst of all design, where they build badass brains without the Bs, but 123 person service businesses even 123 day intensive. Now she’s a Forbes contributor and spoken at host of entrepreneur organizations. And she’s just doing a good stuff. A company was named top 10 design firms led by young people that are changing the way we look at the world by complex. And her book bad as your brand impatient entrepreneurs guide to turning expertise into profit, launched March 16, 2017, that actually says badass brands. Without the without the Bs, she probably swears but I’m going to clean it up. We work with service based business owners in intensive brand up sessions and execute the strategy and build out your entire brand positioning messaging logo, copy website materials in 123 days, so you can get back to work because we went six months to redo their website anyway. Now for soda pioneers who need the whole shebang but don’t have 50 grand to invest yet, we build a brand up boot camp to take you through our exact process at a fraction of the cost. Now, that’s the kind of official stuff about today’s guest. But the real story isn’t about where she’s now rocking and rolling and loving life the real story with the climbing to stress, financial difficulties, and the realization that discount and premium products were the key to her future. Being able to charge premium prices to less people. It’s been a game changer to her and her partner day to day running of their company was making her business as lean as possible. Now she’s gaining more and more exposure loving life. And as you will read in a book, as we’re discussing today show she’s shining the way for others to learn from their mistakes and live a life on their own by following her practical, sensible advice. So does she see others making the same mistakes as she did and smack her head with? Oh my god, man, it’s so obvious. You can’t see it. And where does she find the motivation to keep growing when things are already pretty good as they are? Well, let’s find out as we bring them to the show to start joining up with the one and only Pierre Silva.
Pia Silva [2:46]
Good morning. How are you David? What an amazing intro.
David Ralph [2:50]
It’s lovely to have you on. It seems like you’ve been around my life for a long time because I have done something different to you that I don’t do with men guests. But I’ve actually read your book. Now I get the book given to me a lot. And to be honest, I don’t generally read them. I kind of flick through because otherwise I’m reading all the time. I picked up yours bad ass brains. And by the time I knew it, I was at page 33 I went all the way through. It’s a bit of a story in it. There’s a good read to it.
Pia Silva [3:20]
Oh, thank you so much, David. Yeah, I tried to make it a page turner. I definitely bare my soul and try to share lots of good advice. Lots of great stories. I think stories are the way to learn certainly how I learned so that’s what I tried to do in my book.
David Ralph [3:33]
Well, you said you sent me and let’s let’s get to the chase. Is it bad ass or bad ass? How do we say it because over here we would say bad ass. Say what’s the way to say it?
Pia Silva [3:44]
I like how you’re saying it David I say bad ass. But you know, that’s the New York accent in me. So you said how you need to say it David
David Ralph [3:52]
I’m gonna go with the ass. I’m gonna go with the ass and, and it’s a good motto for life. I think I will go with that. So in the story that I was reading in your book, it was the classic story of entrepreneurial venture, gone to your head, where at the beginning, you wanted a business to match up with your competitors. You hired staff on big premiums, premium salaries, and now you’ve gone back to lean. Did you have to go through that? Was that part of your learning curve? Or do you look back on it now and think No, I could have just skipped that. I should have skipped back. There was no sense in it.
Pia Silva [4:30]
Yes, I wish I could have skipped it in retrospect, but I don’t know how that would have been possible. I think I had to experience what the agency model was like, especially because without experience it I wouldn’t have really internalized and understood for myself what the pitfalls were. So when you look at other people’s businesses, they look shiny, and and like they’re really successful. And you never know what goes on behind the scenes. And at least from my experience, and how I learned, I tend to learn things much better once I’ve experienced it myself. So I think that was just the path I had to take.
David Ralph [5:05]
So are you saying, Are you saying it’s all smoke and mirrors, people are showing us what they want to show us.
Pia Silva [5:12]
I mean, I don’t want to say everybody is but I’ve seen behind the smoking mirrors quite a bit. I’ve been in business organizations, business development groups, where these are multi million dollar companies. And at some of the times the CEO is not taking home a salary. So it’s really eye opening to see that and to realize gross revenue, and how big the offices and how many employees does not dictate what the profits look like, and what the lifestyle looks like. And to me profits and lifestyle. That’s what it’s all about. So that’s why I’m carrying this flag to help other people realize that we can build a lean business and really enjoy ourselves in the process.
David Ralph [5:49]
Well, what you have done is quite remarkable, because you always is as lean as I’ve seen it and I’ve interviewed under 1100 people now. And I haven’t seen one that is so distinctly lean, you know who your client is very small companies, 123 employees, you know what they want, you deliver it, and then you’re out, it’s like kind of Mission Impossible, you go in, do the job, and you’re back out before they even know that you’ve done it.
Pia Silva [6:20]
Yeah, it’s a really intense process. But it’s very authentic to me and my partner and how we like to work we, we work really intensely, and then we chill really intensely. So we built this model really to play to our strengths. And those strengths are not everybody’s strengths. So that’s a great way to build a business to the strengths that you have that might be different from other people’s strengths. One of my weaknesses, or one of the things I’m not great at is keeping momentum on a project for eight months. So I like to keep the enthusiasm up and keep keep the energy up, and then finish with it and tell the entrepreneur you know, go set sail,
David Ralph [6:57]
I’ll put one of your weaknesses was going to be chocolate and wine. I just kind of expected that to be the the female response. But I got
Pia Silva [7:05]
David Ralph [7:06]
Yeah, it always is. It always is the other one. So so let’s frame your whole journey. As we say, we’ve already touched on it. But it’s important to know that you are a branding expert, you understand how a business isn’t just a logo. It’s the promise, I suppose of what somebody can give to their clients, quickly so that you look at a website and you you know, instantly and you’re not spending a ton of time reading, would that be about right? Would that be a summary of what branding is about?
Pia Silva [7:37]
Yeah, I think that’s a good summary. It’s, it’s what people get immediately when they see your website when they hear your pitch. It’s what people tell other people when you’re not in the room, so you have to be really clear and concise and you got to be badass, because the badass part means that you’re memorable so that people actually remember to tell somebody else about you when you’re not in the room.
David Ralph [7:58]
Now generally, people will always say bad things when you’re out the room. So how do these people make it good that people are actually sharing the good stuff? Because in life, generally you share the the juicy gossip, the bad stuff, but you don’t share when something’s really been impressive. Do you just expect it?
Pia Silva [8:14]
Oh david i disagree. I think when you impress somebody, they tell all their friends, at least that’s been my experience. But more so especially in the small business world, people love to give a really great strong referral because it reflects really well on them. I know when I find a small business that I’ve hired, that does a really good job for me, I end up I’m like the biggest loud mouth about them, because I want to share how great they were with other people because it makes me look good. And it helps out my colleagues. So that’s the kind of business that I built for myself, and that I try to build for other people as well. Do you
David Ralph [8:48]
know, I’m going to disagree with you, I used to be in sort of the customer experience, the customer service experience. And one of the big training pieces that I used to do was bad level of customer service can affect hundred people, a good 1123 that generally if you went out in your lunchtime had really good service in a shop, whatever, you might say to one person, but generally you keep it to yourself. So you are totally in an opposing view to my my viewpoint on that.
Pia Silva [9:19]
It looks like it. But I think we are talking about different environments. So when we’re talking about retail, and the even very high Customer service is still not going to be as intense as the kind of work that I do. I’m working very intensely with my clients, I’m getting to know everything about not just their business, but their life goals and how this business fits into it. And then building something that’s very personal, the entire brand and face and message of their business. And they in turn, usually because I work with small service businesses, they’re operating in a similar manner, because they’re usually very high level consultants offering their service, they two are working very closely with their clients. So we’re not just talking about a high level of customer service, we’re also talking about a pretty intense relationship between the service provider, the expert, and the client. So I think that’s the kind of experience that people don’t shut up about.
David Ralph [10:13]
Right. Okay, so you were talking about the fanboys we’re talking about the people like the apple guys who’s going to queue up a crack of dawn for a new phone, even though they’ve got a perfectly good one in their pocket, the ones that are just going to be advocates for that company. They’re the kind of people we’re talking about.
Pia Silva [10:31]
Absolutely. And that comes from a couple of things that comes from having a message that’s exciting and different and unique. It’s also comes from maybe you work with a certain specific industry or vertical, that might be a reason that you think of some specific business when you’re talking to their exact ideal clients. But the point is, you become top of mind because of the brand that you put out there. And that makes you really easy to talk about. And that’s how you attract and magnetically attract ideal clients. And that’s what badass brands are all about.
David Ralph [11:04]
Right? Okay, so I get it. Now I understand even though I read your book, speaking to you face to face, I get it. So it takes away over the hassle of marketing, you become a category of one people actually seek out to you, because they hear this buzz, they hear this, this delivery that you have is so on message for them, that they are intoxicated, and they fall in love with you before they even see you.
Pia Silva [11:34]
That’s a wonderful way to put it. Yes, that’s exactly what we’re going for. And you know, the hardest part about that is if you’re going to magnetically attract those ideal clients, because you’re so on point for who they are and what they need. You have to be okay, not being for everybody even repelling other people. I mean, we are worst of all design, you better believe that there are some people who don’t get it, and who are like, what is this company doing? Yeah. And that’s okay. They’re just not my client. And I’m okay with that. Because the people that do call me, not only are they attracted to me, but they are all the way down the pipeline they are calling as, as super fans, as you said, and there, they just want to know, where do I sign? And that’s a much more powerful, you know, I don’t even call it a sales conversation, but it takes the place of a sales conversation.
David Ralph [12:23]
So could you could you do have a sales conversation I use or so far past that now, you know, at your core, building a business, it does thrive on the ability to close a sale. And that’s one of the things I think so many people that I’ve spoken to had struggled with, they could provide the service, but they couldn’t actually go give us the money. That’s what I want for that. So they spend a lot of time doing things for free.
Pia Silva [12:48]
Well, you read my book, so you know I am. So against free work, I’m building a badass brand and building a lot of content that create brand and puts the brand out there and kind of fills the brand in with a lot of texture, that eliminates a lot of the need for a sales conversation. Now, obviously, I’m closing clients. So you could call that sales. But I prefer to look at that as looking for the right fit. I have actually found I hate the sales conversation. So all of my conversations with potential clients are really me just asking questions and trying to figure out if they are a perfect fit for me. And if they are, I’ll tell them great. You’re exactly who we work with. This is how it works. And it’s kind of like take it or leave it, I found that it’s really fun to have those conversations because you know exactly who you are, and you know exactly who you’re going to be great for. And part of what’s an ideal client, for me is somebody who signs on the dotted line. And if they aren’t gung ho about our process, or our brand, or what we’re going to do for them, then they weren’t a good fit. So there’s really no harm, no foul either way.
David Ralph [13:54]
Which makes sense. But is that a position, but you can only get to buy going through a journey. You know, at the beginning, you do need money, you need clients. And so I think people do Scrabble around the folder, basically the crappy time sucking vampire customers that just want you over time, and they don’t really sort of deliver you want, do you have to go through the rubbish to get to that point of saying, Now hang on you. I don’t actually need you. I only want to work for the good people. Or should people do that right from the very beginning?
Pia Silva [14:25]
No, of course, that’s a great point. And I had plenty of those clients David Don’t you worry, had many experiences with low paying clients, clients who don’t respect what I do, etc. And, you know, I think it’s an important part of the journey only if only because we needed to cut our teeth in the industry, we needed to become really good at what we did, we needed to build the process that we’re so good at, and so proud of today. And that takes some clients, you’re not an expert, when you first start out in business, you’re certainly not going to present as an expert, if you’ve only worked with a handful of clients. Or if you are reinventing the wheel with every client that you work with having some sort of really well defined process that you put people through some sort of methodology that’s your own, that you know, is time tested and works is a great way to present as an expert and to actually develop your expertise. Because if you repeat your own process over and over again, with the same kind of client, you’re going to get really, really good at it. So this is a branding is showing the badass notice that already exists. But you got to build your badass muscle too, right? It’s not about presenting as a badass when you’re still trying to really figure it out behind the scenes. So I think they go hand in hand, you definitely have to work up to this place. But you can do it pretty quickly. If you focus
David Ralph [15:44]
on the old focus, follow one course until success. People love that only focus, but it’s the it’s the big entrepreneurial Achilles heel, I suppose. Because so much excitement comes in front of you, but takes you away from that focus,
Pia Silva [15:58]
that is probably the most precious fall apart. And you know, that’s where the word badass really originated from. It’s the idea that it takes guts to build a badass brand. Because you have to be able to focus you have to say no to clients that are not your ideal clients, and reinforce the clients that are and it’s hard at first, but it gets addictive. I would say it’s addictive to say no to clients outside your niche. Once you get going.
David Ralph [16:24]
I’m going to start on the wife when I go home tonight, I’m going to just say know, whatever she wants, I’m going to see I’m going to say that Peter has trained me.
Unknown Speaker [16:32]
Don’t Don’t give me away day.
David Ralph [16:36]
No, no, I’ll tell you what this is gonna be you’re gonna be bad ass from from now on. She say make me a cup of tea, I’m gonna go no due to drying up know anything she wants. If you’ve changed my life here, you have changed my life David
Pia Silva [16:48]
if there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s that the most badass thing a husband can do is wait on his wife, hand and foot.
David Ralph [16:56]
I’m going to do that. So you’ve changed me again, I don’t know where I do know what I’m gonna be. I’m going to tell you the words from Jim Carrey that are so powerful. Let’s hear them again.
Jim Carrey [17:05]
My father could have been a great comedian. But he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [17:31]
So are you totally into what you love now? Or have you always sort of known vaguely what you love?
Pia Silva [17:39]
I think in an abstract form, yes, I love jumping into things and figuring them out. As soon as I figure something out, I’m usually thinking about the next challenge. So was it specifically in branding and marketing? Not at all, I only ended up in this industry, actually, because my partner was a graphic designer and I actually built a business around him. And I love it feels really serendipitous that that was because it’s such a fun and creative industry. But I feel like I could have done that with whatever I was given. I really just enjoy the figuring out part of it.
David Ralph [18:17]
And as that realization just come through time, or did you know as a small child, because what we find in join up dots is if you go back to the real small person who wasn’t interested in money, it wasn’t q das career prospects. There’s good clues of what they should be doing in later life. But I forget it somehow along the journey.
Pia Silva [18:40]
Oh, I think this has been pretty clear my entire life. I think from a very young age, people did ask me, when they asked me, What do you want to be when you grow up? I used to just say in charge, I don’t care what it is, I just want to be in charge. I want to be the one figuring it out. You know, helping other people figure out what what’s part of it is. And from a very young age, I was doing the entrepreneurial thing even though I didn’t know it, I was the one organizing all the trips for all my friends. You know, I was the one coming up with the ideas and executing them very early on. So yeah, it’s been a common thread. I always felt I did go to college, and I majored in economics. But the whole time I was like, my grades don’t matter. I’m never going to show this transcript to anyone because there’s no way that I’m applying for a job that requires me to give them a transcript. Yeah. So I had a very clear vision for myself that I was going to figure it out right from the beginning. So
David Ralph [19:34]
so that was a real gift, wasn’t it? Because the majority of people on the planet, I think, haven’t got a clue. They just sort of wander aimlessly and not knowing themselves at all.
Pia Silva [19:45]
Yeah, I guess it was a gift. It was, it was not something I really thought about, it always just was. So I feel very lucky that that’s what it is. I did try a few different things, obviously along the way. But they were all things were I had a lot of agency over how much money I made. I think that was a big part of it. I wasn’t in it for the money, but the money kind of represented the the level of success. So I did real estate in New York City for a while that was pretty interesting. That was a tough, tough industry. But it did give me a perspective on figuring your own little business out.
David Ralph [20:20]
Now we’ve a business where where does it grow to? When? When does when does it become sexy enough? Because as I said in the introduction, where do you now find the motivation to keep growing? When things are already pretty good as they are? Is it more about lifestyle, against business, always business driving lifestyle, where’s your focus?
Pia Silva [20:41]
You have for me, it’s all about just tweaking and playing. So once we figured out this portion of it, you know, these intensive, we raised the prices to a place where we really don’t need to work more than a few days a month to make a very good living. It was like okay, well, what’s next, you know, whatever we do, what’s the next project? So we built a DIY boot camp, you know, we took our whole process, and we basically put it into a recorded lessons, which was a big challenge in and of itself. And then I had to figure out how to sell it. And you know, all of that was really difficult. And there was a lot of failure along the way in that too. But it was kind of fun. And it was always what’s the next thing because we really could have coasted and that’s just not my style. So I don’t know, that’s pretty inherent to me. I think that’s a very inherent characteristic in most entrepreneurs. It’s not that it’s not satisfying, it’s more that, you know, it’s the spice of life to try other things and to and to play with new opportunities. My husband and I both say, it’s like we’re playing with poker chips at this point, you know, we really could coast and just do some clients and live at a nice lifestyle. But I want to see what else is out there. I want to try new things. And I want to have new mountains to conquer.
David Ralph [21:54]
And is it ever going to be enough peer? Are you going to be an old lady on your mobility due to trying to get up that last mountain leaving?
Pia Silva [22:02]
I have no doubt that I’m going to be that old lady going up that mountain? Yeah, I think because it Why not? What else would I do? And it might be that mountain might change, you know, it might become in a completely different space. Sometimes that mountain has to do with your health or your family. But I think if you look at those as challenges and and they’re fun challenges to take on, I don’t see why it should ever end.
David Ralph [22:28]
I love your spark I do I love the fact that it’s it’s not enough, it’s more value, because ultimately it all comes back to how can you provide more value back to people, isn’t it?
Pia Silva [22:39]
It is and we’re always still we’re always tweaking our process. When we work with clients, after every project we do we have a little meeting and sit down and say, Okay, what could have been even better? What could we have added to make it even more valuable. And the funny thing you might you might think is funny to hear is that even as we raise our prices, we don’t increase usually our gross revenue, we just decrease the number of clients that we work with, and increase the amount of time that we have. And then we look for things to do with that time. And sometimes the things we do at that time or take on new projects, but sometimes they are. We spent two months in Europe last week, last year traveling around Italy and Spain. You know, this year, we’re planning a trip to Mexico for a couple of months. And and that’s a fun thing to have time to play with. And I think that’s what a lot of small entrepreneurs really are looking for that flexibility of time. And so I just feel so thankful that I have it. And I’m always just looking for more ways to create more flexibility. I guess that’s the the core challenge. How can I get more flexibility while still enjoying the flexibility that I have?
David Ralph [23:43]
Because most people talk about recurring income. But through knowing you through the show and what I’ve read about you, it all seems to be premium products. Next client comes in it is a recurring income model operating in the background?
Pia Silva [23:59]
Well, no, actually, we do sell our our course. But that’s still one offs. No, it’s really about building continuing to invest in our brand and our content and always trying to up level what we’ve done before. And that’s constantly attracting new clients. And the reason being is that that really gives us that freedom that is so critical to me. And that might be different for other people. But what I like is that when I go away for two months, there’s no clients that are looking for me, and we’re basically shut down when we come back, we can keep working. And that that is the kind of freedom and you know, mental shut off that that I love about our business model personally,
David Ralph [24:42]
boy, okay, so the listeners out here, they’re falling in love with you. And they’re thinking, this is the lady for me. But I don’t want to work for her. I just want to do what she’s doing. I just want to do because it sounds brilliant. How did I go about it? How did I create a business around these principles?
Pia Silva [25:02]
Guess that’s great, I want them to do it for themselves, I wouldn’t hire them anyway, because I’m never going to hire an employee again. Because that wouldn’t be in line with my vision and goals. But I do encourage everybody to do this, I think it comes down to a couple of main points. Although obviously I teach all of this in my brand up boot camp, it’s essentially finding what you’re best at where you provide the highest value, what you love to do most so that you’re energized about your business every day. And then building a business and a brand message around that specific focus, building it in a voice that is special and authentic to you that really lets your expertise shine through. And then creating a whole business and content strategy around that so that you’re creating more and more opportunities for people to encounter your brand, fall in love with it and then chase you down to hire you.
David Ralph [25:56]
I haven’t got a clue what I want to do, though. See, I’m a beginning entrepreneur, and I’m looking around and everything looks brilliant. And I haven’t totally defined myself because you have there’s no doubt you you know what you want, you know what type of person you are. So your lifestyle is driving your business as much as the business is driving the lifestyle. But at the beginning, how do people do this? How do people bad as a brand when they don’t really know what they should be delivering?
Pia Silva [26:25]
Well, I think you kind of mentioned part of it. First, you have to get really clear on what your goals are, what is the lifestyle that you want, some of my best friends, I’m always encouraging them to go out on their own, and they have absolutely no interest, they really enjoy the structure of working within an organization. So you have to get really honest with yourself about that. Because it’s not easy to be an entrepreneur, you have to be very self motivated. Okay, so what if you’re very clear that you’re very self motivated, but you have no idea which direction to go in? Then I think you start to look at where do you spend your time? And what what do you really what what expertise Do you have to offer? What value do you have to offer others, we don’t actually work with startups because you can’t badass your brand. From the beginning, you have to start by working with some clients getting a little information in the world about where your value is, and what you actually like to do. You don’t want to build a brand around a hypothesis, you want to build a brand around real world data. I have worked with clients in this way, and I delivered value and I was really good at it. And they were really happy. Okay, that’s a great place to build a brand around. But you don’t want to build a brand around an idea. And then and I’ve seen people do this, oh, I think I’m going to have this business offering this service to accountants. And then after they built the whole brand for accountants, they worked with their first accountant and they said, Oh, I hate working with accountants, I don’t want to work with accounts, I want to work with creatives. That’s a perfect example of why you don’t want to just build it off of hypothesis, you need to work with a few people first. So when startups come to me, I say, look, go get a few clients, however, you need to get them very low price, do whatever you need to do just to have the experiences and then come back to me. And then we can talk.
David Ralph [28:10]
And then startups do come to you then bye bye. Don’t look at you and go oh, she’s out of my league. She’s working with the big boys.
Pia Silva [28:17]
Oh, yeah. I mean, people want the badass brand, because they think that it’s going to solve all their problems when they’re just starting out. Because they don’t know what to do. I’ve been there, I know what that feels like you’re starting a business, you’re like, I have no idea what to do first. And of course, by the way, that’s why everybody starts with, I need a logo, which is so upside down, because the logo is not your business. And a logo is not going to get you business. It’s all the other stuff, the logo and the website and the design of your brand. That stuff is important. That’s your visual brand. But that really should come out of the business and brand strategy. And you should figure out the business and brand strategy first. So that the logo and the brand look like and reflect and communicate what that brand and business is all about. So it’s everyone kind of does it backwards at first, you know, you just want anything so you can get those first clients. But as soon as you’re ready to actually get serious about your business and turn it into a proper brand and business. You want to do the strategy first?
David Ralph [29:17]
And how authentic Can you be in this process, because certainly, in the last four years, I’ve seen a world of difference in the websites that I’ve researched through to show to where they are now, you know, four years ago, there wouldn’t be anything about the person behind it, there would be a very boring about page. But now you go over there and you see the person you see them on a holiday you see them skydiving, you see all this kind of stuff? Does that detract from the brand? Is is the business different from the person or does it have to be connected now?
Pia Silva [29:50]
Yeah, but I think that’s a great observation. I also have noticed a lot more personality person, the actual, you know, founder owners personality coming through. If you’re showing yourself skydiving, it should be because you skydiving is is propping up the brand, it’s on brand with the personality of the company. I do not believe I tell people your about page is still about the client. So it’s about you, but it’s about how you are a perfect fit for the client. So I don’t want to know that you have two dogs and you like to garden, if your business has absolutely nothing to do with that. So I recommend when you’re thinking about how much of your personality and your personal life you want to share, you think about always going back to is this reinforcing the brand is this reinforcing the brand voice and personality and is this adding to it, if it’s not adding to it, it’s it’s dribble, and it’s personal, and you should keep it to yourself.
David Ralph [30:48]
So it could almost be a website Facebook page, where you put in what you’ve had for dinner, your kids, people get to that regard today,
Pia Silva [30:57]
some people do. And I think that’s a huge mistake. I will share with you david that in the couple months ago, I had my first child, you will not find one post, or one photo of my entire pregnancy or my you know, of my son, because it’s just not part of my business. So it’s not that I’m hiding it, it’s just that that’s a part of me. But that doesn’t mean it’s part of my brand. That doesn’t mean I have to talk about it in my business. And in fact, that would really clutter my message. So I don’t talk about it at all. And I share that because that’s a really obvious one where people can’t help but want to share everything about it online. But you know, I use my Facebook and my Instagram, my Twitter, speak expressly for business and for my my business brand. So it needs to stay clean for that. And the message needs to stay clear. And you really want to be putting out information that is constantly reinforcing a very simple and clear message. They’ve all of a sudden, you started seeing these other posts from me, it would be very confusing, wouldn’t it would actually break the strength of my brand.
David Ralph [32:03]
Well, can I say congratulations to you, I won’t put it on Facebook, I won’t put it on anywhere because I don’t do those. But congratulations to you.
Unknown Speaker [32:10]
Thank you so much. He is his family.
David Ralph [32:12]
And I’m going to ask you this, although we’ve been talking about branding, but his family, part of your journey is with most women, but you seem to be very driven about control. And when you get a kid, a lot of that control goes out the window, and you’re walking around with sick on your shoulder and stuff. And it’s just not who you were beforehand.
Pia Silva [32:34]
I’m only a couple months into this David
but I think that yes, I’m controlled chaos, I would say is really my my goal. And I’ve spent many years working with my love of control and also the need to be able to go with the flow. Because if you’re too stuck on needing control and things to go a certain way you’ll actually inhibit growth. So I’ve done a lot of mental and personal work to really find a happy medium of wanting to to run things and also being able to be a stick in a river when necessary. And you know, a lot of the work that I’ve done to build this lifestyle brand is so that when we had our child, we could easily take off a lot of time and not be worried about it. It’s so that we could continue to do our business and make money without necessarily needing to get a nanny, for example, and be able to spend a lot of time with my child without closing up shop and without giving up what I love about my business, which is working with people and and teaching other people how to do this. So I think it was a long time coming. And I think over many years without even realizing it. I was kind of coming to this point. But it actually worked out really nicely. And the the lifestyle balance was there. And I guess I guess I had been doing that for a really long time. So I’m feeling good about that. at this particular moment David who knows what’s gonna happen next six to 12 months?
David Ralph [34:00]
Well, I’ve got five kids. And so if you need any any advice, you won’t need advice, but I’m just just just let me know. But I’m talking talking about the sort of the personal side of things. on social media, I don’t really use social media personally, and I don’t use it for the show. So you won’t see photos of my kids, you won’t see photos of my wife, you won’t see photos of me on holiday. I just don’t do that kind of thing. But on the show, I can’t stop talking about my own personal life. Is that building my brand? Or is that confusing? The message, as my show is entrepreneurial, is a business related, should I be keeping my personal life out of it?
Pia Silva [34:40]
I think David that that is something you need to explore. But I would guess just based on talking to you that that is a big part of your brand. So it makes sense if that is something that you are constantly bringing into the conversation, especially because family and business as a lifestyle business is important to you and why you talk about with, especially when you talk with guests, and you’re talking about their personal lives and what they bring to their businesses, I think it makes a lot of sense. And that’s kind of what I’m saying, When I’m going back to the skydiving example. It might be the exactly what you need to share in your about page. And it might be totally off topic, it really comes down to what is the brand message and voice that you’re putting out there. And do these pieces of information support that or detract from that?
David Ralph [35:26]
Now with the word was to fall design? I’ve been looking at it for about three months, and I’ve just read it in a totally different way worse to fall. Now, is that am I being overly clever here? Or you being overly clever? Is that is that some kind of anagram? Is that some metaphor? How did that come about?
Pia Silva [35:44]
You mean, you just realized that it’s like Worst of all, like as opposed to basketball? Yeah,
David Ralph [35:49]
I’ve been looking at it. And I’ve just been saying Worst of all, worst of all it just like a word like a German word. Vast of all, most of all design. But now Yeah, I say in a totally different way. First time.
Pia Silva [36:00]
Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you just said that. Okay, so I love that you were reading it like that we definitely took the words Worst of all, and made it one. But the origination of the word is my partner and husband’s Dutch last name, which probably has German roots, Buster, Vol, you practically said it when you said like a German word Buster ball. So that’s the that’s the origination of the word. It was actually his nickname in college as this, you know, artists type in Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, and it was just clearly the name of our company, it was always going to be the name of our company. And we really grew into it. Through many, many years of building our brand, yes, we
David Ralph [36:42]
just suddenly put on different eyes and saw a word in a different way. So we’ve with your company being named 10 design firms in the name the top 10 design firms led by young people that are changing the way we look at the world, which is probably the longest title of an award I think I’ve ever seen in my life. How are you changing the way that we look at the world? How was that sort of given to you? And and what position did you get in? Because if I got voted top 10 podcast, I’d like to know it’s number two. Number five, did you get a position?
Pia Silva [37:18]
Oh, gosh, I don’t think it was a position type thing. I think we were like somewhere in the middle, like maybe like four or five. But how did we get that it’s because we’re taking a completely different approach. And I think the I would say the approach we’re taking is that we really are being our brand and walking our walk. So unlike what I’ve seen a lot of brands and agencies do is that they say a lot, there are a lot of talk, we’re going to make you look different, we’re going to make you stand out. And they all say that, they all say we’re going to make you look different and make you stand out all while looking kind of the same. So we took a very different approach, we don’t say we’re going to make you look different and stand out we’d say badass brands about the Bs, we’re worst of all design, you know, what, basically, we are communicating and not so many words that we are not afraid to be different, that that’s what we do. And that’s what we do for our clients. And it’s been very effective to attract the exact kind of personalities and clients that I want to work with people who have the guts to, to stand out and to repel some people in order to
David Ralph [38:24]
attract others. Well, that’s probably the words of somebody who demonstrated that massively and left a huge legacy, not least these words,
Steve Jobs [38:32]
Steve Jobs. Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [39:08]
Those words are pretty true for you and they appear.
Pia Silva [39:10]
That’s good. That’s a great quote. Yeah. And actually, sometimes I use that as motivation. Sometimes when I’m having a really hard time, or I’m failing particularly well, I think about Wow, this is going to be great, great stuff for my next book. Look ahead, and how this data is actually going to create the next best dot.
David Ralph [39:33]
And then do you have, as most guests do a big dot, when you look back on it, and you go My God, yeah, without that without that happening. There’s no way I would be here today.
Pia Silva [39:44]
I feel like I have many. But the one, the biggest one is the one that I do talk about in my book about getting into quite a bit of debt, building that agency with the employees and the high overhead and the huge clients. I was doing what everyone else was doing. And I ended up maxing out my credit cards, spending all my savings, and we literally had nowhere else to go. So we had to get rid of our employees. And we had to think about doing something else and doing something fast. And that was the magic moment where we pivoted and tried something completely different, which ended up being the business that we have today. And I don’t know if we would have really had the guts to do that if we hadn’t been in such dire straits because of the debt.
David Ralph [40:33]
And it was really bad. You look back on it now. And because if you get far enough away from things, it kind of looks not so bad. But you do still look at it and stomach churn and, and bad nights.
Pia Silva [40:45]
Yeah, it’s funny the amount of debt we were in, then I’ve been in more debt than that recently, because I invest a lot in my business. And it feels completely different. But at the time, it was such a, it was so much more than I had ever seen spend and I had no idea which direction I was going in. So it really does put things in perspective, but at the time, absolutely. And, and every time I stretch myself to go farther, I still feel that same failure, fear feeling. It’s just in a different situation. But the funny thing is, if you experience that over and over again, you kind of start to see the pattern and get used to it. And it gets just just a little more comfortable. Because you say, I’ve been here before. Sure it looked a little different. But it’s essentially the same experience. And I got out of it last time I’m going to get out of it this time. And I think a lot about I read make of what is it shoe dog a great biography about the founder of Nike. And you know that whole time he was building his business, he was he was incredibly famous, the Olympians were wearing his shoes, and I think it was the late 70s. And they were $2 million in debt. They were like every day they were about to go bankrupt and closed, close up shop. And that is so fascinating to me, because I can’t even fathom that from where I am. So it’s all relative is is what I keep trying to remind myself
David Ralph [42:09]
and the relative thing is more often than not, there’s a solution, isn’t there, that the worst case scenario? When you’re in it, and you’re looking around thinking, How the hell do we get out of this? There’s more often than not there is a solution?
Pia Silva [42:21]
Well, there’s always a solution. The only solution that’s not a good solution is to give up. And I do truly believe that the only way you can truly fail is to give up if you keep going you will eventually figure it out.
David Ralph [42:33]
Yeah, I think that’s the case. Well, if I didn’t have a bloody clue what I was doing when I started the microphone on this show, and it’s gone somewhere, it’s gone somewhere very nice.
Pia Silva [42:44]
And has congratulations. This is not an easy thing to do. I haven’t done it yet. And it’s on the long list. But I might never get there. We’ll see.
David Ralph [42:52]
Yeah, you’ve got to want it as you do. You know, if you find the thing that you really want more than anything, you’re willing to push through it. Are you willing to develop yourself you’re willing to go through the hard times is when you’re doing something, but you’re just going for the money, whatever. I think that’s the difficult.
Pia Silva [43:09]
Yeah, I think most people aren’t motivated by money, actually. I mean, I certainly as I said before, money to me is just a way for me to gauge my success. And not just a gross but more like the profit more like leveraging my time how much money can I make within the least amount of time, that’s kind of where I look at it not because I don’t want to work, but because that’s how I’m able to measure success. Because when you work for yourself, there is no boss giving you a promotion, there is nobody saying great job today, here’s a gold star, you know where we all appreciate you, you have to be that for yourself. So you have to build in some sort of markers for yourself. And that seems to be the one that I’ve developed
David Ralph [43:48]
good on you. Well, this is the end of the show. And this is the bit that we called a sermon under my belt joins an overdose. And if you went back in time, and you could speak to the young peer, what age would you choose? And what happens advice would you give her where we’re gonna find out because I’m gonna play the music. And when it fades you up, this is the Sermon on the mic.
Pia Silva [44:32]
Think I would talk to pa at age 22. fresh out of college, ready to take on the world. And I would say dear sweet Pia. Success is not a linear journey. Success requires you to go all over the place and fail many, many times, you cannot have success without failure. And if you think you can ride a tightrope, and very delicately go towards that goal without falling off on your face, you are going to put a lot of pressure on yourself a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself. So just accept it and try to enjoy the ride.
David Ralph [45:21]
Great stuff. And for the people listening, what’s the number one best way that they can connect with you?
Pia Silva [45:27]
Well, if you’re listening, and you want to see if you can figure out what your badass brand is all about, I actually have a little gift for our listeners, I put up a page on badass your brand com backslash dots, obviously. And I’m giving away my brand shrink interview, which is questions that I asked all of my clients to figure out what their badass brand is. So if you download that and answer those questions, you’ll probably get a lot of insight into where you might want to focus.
David Ralph [45:57]
We will have over links on the show notes to make as easy as possible. But thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots. And please come back again when you’ve got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures pf Thank you so much.
Pia Silva [46:15]
Thank you so much David It was my pleasure.
David Ralph [46:17]
Pia Silva, she is a lady in control. She knows what she wants. She knows what she’s delivering. She knows what ideal client is. she she she she’s got it. She really has got it. If you look at all the advice that has been on the Joyner talk show about defining your avatar, really understanding your value charging premium prices, don’t make customers you know, don’t chase customers make them come to you that was in that episode and I cannot recommend the book enough bad as your brain and I sat there and read it literally in two sessions. Literally most of it in the first session a little bit again, really really enjoyable. Hopefully the episode was enjoyable so thank you so much for spending time with us and until next time thank you so much for being here. That was David Ralph that was another episode of join up thoughts in Zach and and we’ll see you again soon. Cheers. Bye bye
David doesn’t want you to become a fated version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots. joined up