WTF (Really!)

WTF blog

My life has two tales (or tails, if you will).

Last week I was in Hershey, PA at the Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo. I was surrounded by friends and colleagues from my beloved pet industry – some people that I have known for 20 years or more. They know me as Jamie-the-Dog-Trainer, or maybe even Jamie-the-Person-Who-Started- a-Company-Called-FetchFind-and-I’m- Not-Sure-What-She-Does-But-I-Think-It-Might-be-Kind-of-Cool.  I have so much history with these people that I want to tell them all about my other life,  which blends my love of pets and people with my love of entrepreneurship and technology. But how do I even get started with that conversation (especially when it’s so much fun to just talk about dogs)?

Likewise, when I’m with my technology colleagues, I would love for them to understand that I’m not just a dog trainer who started a tech business, but that I’m also a serious entrepreneur who happens to be working in a dynamic and growing industry.

That brings me to Thursday night…

I attended the Midwest Women in Tech Awards dinner, where I was surrounded by some of the most successful and innovative minds in entrepreneurship, technology, and business leadership. The evening was filled with dignitaries such Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who gave the opening remarks and displayed some truly world-class shushing powers) and J.B. Pritzker, who gave the keynote address.

And the thing is, I won a technology award!  

(See above; WTF stands for Women Tech Founders, which is possibly the most satisfying acronym ever.)

But the entire time I was in that room full of tech and biz stars, I was aware that none of them had any idea that a mere 10 hours before I was talking dogs with my pet industry peeps in Hershey, PA.

How do I represent both sides of my career and passion?  Or should I just resign myself to talking pets with my pet tribe and tech with my tech tribe? Sometimes I feel that I’m denying 50% of my essential self to half of my network, all the time. Which is hard, because I really do like to share pretty much everything with everybody.

But you know what – maybe that’s okay. I’ve dedicated my life to people and animals, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to deploy that passion, experience, and education in building FetchFind. FetchFind gives me and my Amazing Team a platform to meaningfully scale our life’s work and being recognized for that work last night really did bring those two worlds together in a way that felt exactly right. 

 How many of us change careers or try to discover who we really are, only to end up feeling that there’s no way to effectively reach disparate audiences or even just the people from different sides of our life? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve struggled with that dilemma in the past, or are wrestling with it right now – we might be able to help you bridge that gap.

One of the best quotes from last night was “a good leader is a person who opens the door but holds out a hand to help the person behind her”.  So here’s my hand – let’s go through that door together. 

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

 

How to get a great ROI from pet industry trade shows

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By Keith JohnsonFounder of PawedIn Media

Pet industry trade shows are a considerable investment in time and money, so it is critical that you do what you can to maximize the effectiveness of your time while there. There are three key things that you can do to make it impactful so that you come away from the whirlwind trip feeling confident about the results.

Get clear on your purpose for attending, how you will achieve that purpose, and a measure of success.

In your notebook, write down and refine why you are attending the event. Make it crisp on one objective, careful not to create a laundry list of what you are going to do while there. Examples of the purpose can be:

“To make new relationships that my business can further develop over the next year.

“To find new products I would like to introduce in my stores.”

“To learn new marketing tactics to increase my sales.”

Next, write down the two or three ways you will do to try to achieve the purpose. This helps your get focused on what you are going to do. Finally, put a number on it up front. The old adage “you get what you measure” applies here, as studies show that people are more productive when they quantify what they are trying to achieve.

Break out of your shell during the event.

Most people are not natural extroverts…me included! But you must be as much as possible at trade shows. There are many times where people casually pass a booth, and really really they would welcome meeting and learning something new. As an exhibitor, you need to engage them in through an informal “hello, how are you?” As a show walker, you must engage with exhibitors and educators that meet your purpose in a time-effective way. If you are not sure if the individual will be a fit, after an introduction, get crisp on a few questions which will help you qualify the individual or exhibitor. If you realize you are not a fit, don’t try to force too long of a conversation – you want to be able to talk with more people. And if you are working a booth, always be standing in the front of the booth, not sitting behind a table. People will naturally avoid talking to people sitting as they feel that they may be disturbing you. And try using the person’s first name…it helps to remember the individual later while setting a stronger foundation for an on-going relationship.

Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

I have been in many businesses where after the big show, the next steps sort of never happen…the leads are never acted upon. Unfortunately, this is all too common. As soon as you get home, you should be taking out the business cards and notebook, and creating a spreadsheet of the companies and individuals talked to, including all information so you don’t need to refer back to business cards in the future. I do this through a shareable Google Table so that I can share with others and make real-time updates. What is critical is to specifically write the next step, who will do it, and when should it be done. Also, send that individual a LinkedIn invite so that they are able to remember you by your face. To maximize your ability to follow up, make sure you write down one or two points immediately after you talk with them, on the back of their card or in your notebook.

Following these three key activities will help you maximize the benefit of the show in helping you achieve your goals. They also will help you cut out the “time traps” people typically fall into during a show, such as spending too much show time with individuals and co-workers they already know and can talk with anytime. Hope the show is productive for you!

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keith johnsonKeith Johnson is the Founder of PawedIn Media, which helps pet companies grow through new media. He spent 18 years with P&G and was the Global Brand Manager for IAMS. He also created a breakthrough ecommerce pet food company, Petbrosia. Keith’s expertise is in leading businesses at various development stages, the pet category, ecommerce, and impact & inbound marketing. 

You’re not alone

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By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

A lot of the students who take Behavior Fundamentals Online or come through our in-person FetchFind Academy classes are contemplating a career change, and come to us because they want to get the best education possible before moving into the pet industry on a full- or part-time basis. Many students dream of owning their own pet business, and graduate from Academy with a solid foundation and high hopes.

But what happens once they’ve gotten their legal documents filed and their business cards printed and their gorgeous new websites up and running?  Quite often, what happens is a whole heck of a lot of work that may or may not bring in clients or money.  It’s at this point in the proceedings that many new business owners start to think, “I’ve made a huge mistake,” especially if they’ve quit a secure job with benefits and a steady paycheck to do something they really love.

All entrepreneurs, small business owners, and career changers have peaks and valleys, exhilarating highs and depressive lows, sometimes in the same 24-hour period. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone – there are people and resources that can help you stay on an even keel in a constructive and supportive fashion.  Every entrepreneur will have different advice, but here are my top three tips for staying the course:

  • Network. Not everyone can go to trade shows and schmooze with hundreds of people over a long weekend (though I highly recommend doing that if you can swing it), but everyone can join professional organizations, set up informational interviews with different companies, or reach out to colleagues and thought leaders on social media. Don’t be shy. People love to talk about their experiences – let them. You can learn a lot by listening.
  • Stay informed.  Find the best ten blogs, periodicals, or trade publications for your industry and add them to your newsfeeds.  Don’t know where to start? Take a look at the sites your trusted colleagues and mentors are following on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Spend an hour a day going through trend pieces as well as thoughtful analyses of the business(es) you want to be in.
  • Ask for help. This is one of the most important – and hardest – lessons to learn, both as a business person and as a human being. So many of us grow up thinking that asking for help is a sign of weakness, and I am here to tell you that it is not. Asking for help not only gets you help, it can also give you a different perspective on how to do things, and keep your brain from getting locked into stale and unproductive thought patterns.

What are your favorite resources for career changers or budding entrepreneurs?