Dr. Erika Michalski – Strategically Authentic – Founded in FoCo Podcast

In this introspective episode of the Founded in FoCo podcast, Dr. Erika Michalski, the vivacious and recognized master performance consultant best known as Consultant Barbie, sits down with host Nick Armstrong to discuss the nuances of authenticity in personal and professional spaces. Erika’s infectious energy and depth of knowledge create an engaging conversation that digs deep into what makes authentic leadership and engagement so vital in today’s world.

2024 Event Podcast Kicks Off with Alison Proffit of the Soulful Entrepreneur Summit

In this enlightening episode of the Founded in FoCo Podcast, Nick Armstrong welcomes back Alison Proffit to discuss the interconnectedness of business acumen and personal growth. Known for her expertise in guiding entrepreneurs toward success with soulful strategies, Alison delves into the significance of embracing an entrepreneur’s entire journey, be it personal trials or professional triumphs, in the world of business.

Authenticity: A Key Sales Ingredient

Many people commonly associate “sales” with stepping out of their comfort zone. But, as I’ve learned, “sales” are less commonly associated with one key ingredient that actually makes sales successful.

Can you guess it?

Hint: It has to do with connection.

*drum roll please…*


Maybe this seems obvious. But let’s just get curious for a moment: How often is “authenticity” the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the next sales conversation you’re prepping for?

The idea of selling has a tendency, all too often, to feel scary, intimidating and nerve-wracking. Which is exactly why I love helping entrepreneurs actually experience sales as something fun—and not so scary.

This journey of marrying “authenticity” and “sales” in the same sentence, and living it, has been nothing short of eye-opening and diverse.

And it’s been a journey, let me tell you. One that’s taken me totally out of my wheelhouse and walking along spectacular views. And, one that began when I decided to step away from the career in HR that defined me since my freshman year of college.

Working in HR taught me a lot about communication, and how the way we show up in our communications makes a world of difference. Little did I know, the universe was setting my stage for the work I’m doing now helping clients have authentic, enjoyable and fruitful sales conversations.

When I left HR I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. So I started my own business. And failed. I started again. …And failed, again. This happened again. And Again.

Four failed launches.

So I changed directions. Numerous times. I became well-acquainted with stepping out of my comfort zone:

  • I was asked to be part of the opening team (as restaurant manager) for Fort Collins’ dazzling Elizabeth Hotel. What began by staring at an empty lot of concrete and steel transformed to a team collaboration that created an integral and amazing aspect of the Fort Collins community today.
  • Constant Contact offered me a job. I took it and learned a wealth of information about email marketing.
  • I moved to Idaho, turned around and left four weeks later—because I wasn’t afraid to get honest with myself and recognize what was truly best for me, letting go of expectations.

In hindsight, it became clear that all these seemingly disconnected experiences were actually perfectly interconnected, and leading me to a beautiful part of the journey I now find myself on: successfully owning the Proffit Coach, helping others shift their sales experience.

What did all parts of this winding, interwoven journey of mine have in common? What allowed me to successfully launch the Proffit Coach and pay my bills (plus some) during the first 3 months of launching my business? (I spent zero on marketing these first 3 months, BTW. I know, it’s nuts. And yes, you read that double “f” in Proffit right–I’m lucky enough to have ”Proffit” as my last name 😉 ).

As I’ve reflected on a common thread, this is what I’ve noticed:

  • I wasn’t afraid to step out of my comfort zone and make a change (even when other people thought it was crazy). I was willing to trust myself.
  • I made authenticity the tone for all of my business (and personal) communications.
  • I’ve learned to be open to possibility.

Being committed to authenticity and open to possibility, and experiencing this firsthand, allows me every day to help clients apply these ideas to their own business.

What’s amazing is that sales (and most of business) isn’t just about stepping out of our comfort zone. It’s also about being committed to authenticity.

As you become more comfortable sharing your incredible gifts with the world, get curious and ask yourself:

  1. How do most sales conversations feel to you? Do they feel authentic, or does the conversation feel awkward?
  2. If you’ve experienced a truly authentic-feeling sales conversation, can you think of one important thing that made it feel so natural? (Get specific! 😉 ).
  3. If not, what is one thing you could do to help future sales conversations feel more natural? (Hint: check out this post for some tips).

When we communicate authentically, we have an incredible potential to transform our business engine (sales) from experiences in which we forget to breathe, to experiences that feel so natural and energizing that we detach from outcomes, and confidently receive what our journey has to give us.

This guest post is by Alison Proffit, the Proffit Coach.

Alison Proffit teaches small business owners how to become more effective in the sales aspect of their business. Her work focuses on becoming more clear on where the breakdown is, creating a sales process that resonates with them so that they can go into sales conversations more confidently and then have a plan to follow through on the connections that have been made.

Meet Matthew West, Business Librarian at Poudre River Public Libraries

The Poudre River Public Library District welcomes Matthew West to its team as the new Business Librarian. Matthew comes to Poudre Libraries from Loveland Public Library where he managed various library services, programs, and outreach initiatives.

“I truly appreciate the spirit of entrepreneurship throughout our community,” says Matthew West. “It’s a testament to a business ecosystem that understands and values startups and small businesses. I’m excited to be part of that system and help people successfully create and grow their businesses.”

Matthew brings a deep knowledge of data and market analysis, strategic planning, and research to his work as a Business Librarian. He is located at the Harmony Library and is available for one-on-one meetings to discuss business research and analysis and to teach methods for effectively using the many free business resources available at the libraries.

In addition to providing business services and programs at the libraries, Matthew will lend his expertise to the Larimer Small Business Development Center where he’ll work with clients interested in industry and market trends, and customer, demographic, and competition research.

To learn more about the Library District’s various business resources or to request an appointment with Matthew to discuss your small business or startup, visit the Library’s Business Center webpage: PoudreLibraries.org/business.

You can meet Matthew at Fort Collins Startup Week 2020, where he’ll be on-site for the Scale-Up Week sessions.

What makes good professional communication? A healthy respect for boundaries.

Professional communication is based on customs and socially agreed-upon values. When you meet someone, how do you introduce yourself? In the U.S., we shake hands to greet people we don’t know.

Imagine walking into a job interview and introducing yourself by pulling the interviewer into a bear hug. Does that seem ridiculous? Uncomfortable? Silly? If so, what you’re feeling is a cultural boundary. When we don’t know people, we have a set of behaviors that we use in order to communicate. These behaviors are culturally established, and in the U.S. that means handshakes, not hugs.

Written communication also has rules of behavior that relate to cultural boundaries. When people don’t meet our expectations for behavior, we become uncomfortable.

Consider the following email:

I have an “eye exam” appointment this morning, after that I’ll go pick up the sandwiches for the meeting at noon and bring them in. Then I have to meet Grandma at the doctor’s office at 10. I will be back in time to deliver trays to the Education Room for the noon meeting. After that, you may find me in my office sipping on a cold frosty “one”. Okay, maybe not but it sure sounds good.

This is a real message sent from one professional to the entire office. Does it make you feel as uncomfortable as hugging that interviewer? It should.
Three aspects of this message cross social boundaries:

  • No greeting. Greetings establish the tone of the message. You are starting a conversation with a group of people. Face-to-face, we begin by smiling, waving, nodding, shaking hands, raising our arms for a hug, or saying hello. These behaviors establish that we are about to talk to each other. In email, the greeting does the same thing. A greeting should include a word or phrase like “Hi” or “Good morning” and the person or group’s name.
  • Too personal. The writer dictates everything they are going to do. Remember, this is a message from an office worker to the rest of the office. Do all of their coworkers want to know about the doctor’s appointment and the family member? No. Most people in the office probably don’t care. Personal details are the privilege of friends.
  • Too I-focused. The first three sentences begin with “I,” which signals to the reader that the writer is only concerned with the writer. Professional messages, ones that enhance our credibility, build trust, and create strong working relationships, show that we care about the reader. These messages pay more attention to what the reader needs than what the writer wants. Only two details in this message matter to the reader: 1) lunch will be in the Education Room at noon and 2) the writer will be away in the morning.

Here’s a you-focused, work-content only, revision of this message with a greeting:

Hi, colleagues,

Lunch will be available today, 10/12, in the Education Room at noon.

I’ll be in my office as soon as I arrive with lunch. While I am out this morning, Grant will be available to assist you.

A message like this doesn’t feel like a suffocating bear hug that you can’t get out of; it feels like a handshake. And that’s exactly how our professional messages should be.

This guest post is by Jenny Morse, Founder of Appendance, Inc. In her own words:

Words, language, communication, writing, books, poetry, brains. My background is in creative writing–poetry, non-fiction, and I’ve written a YA novel. Now I train professionals in business writing at companies around the country and at CSU. My expertise is helping people learn writing strategies that enhance their own credibility and build relationships.

She Leads, Indeed!

Women are taking the stage and taking up their space more than ever – globally, and right here at home.

Part of the mission of Fort Collins Startup Week is to empower entrepreneurs of all stripes, backgrounds and passions to build better business through a spirit of inclusion. It is important to our team that Startup Week celebrates entrepreneurship as a primary driver of social, cultural and economic equity.

Last year’s polling data revealed that 59% of our respondents identified as female. This is hardly surprising, as our Northern Colorado communities are rife with strong and visible female leaders. To ensure we are living our values, we crunched the numbers and were delighted to find that 54% of the speakers this year are women!

Given our values of inclusion, representation, and diversity, we often find ourselves aligned with local organizations that share our mission and empower entrepreneurs of all stripes, backgrounds and passions to build better business.

Enter: She Leads.

She Leads is a community of professional women in Northern Colorado. They consider themselves the “anti” networking group, suggesting we all “ditch the elevator pitch” and get to know people for who they are – not just what they do. Designed by introverts for introverts, She Leads embodies the #Give1st mindset. The group hosts two free events each month where members practice taking up their space, being seen as leaders in the community and increase their influence through personal and professional development.

Since its inception in 2017, She Leads has blossomed into a force to be reckoned with in Northern Colorado. With over one thousand members and counting in their Meetup group, sponsorships from powerful local organizations, and a paid membership tier to help scale the business while keeping regular meetings free and accessible to women from all walks of life, this is a community with serious staying power.

Sounds like a group that should be active during Startup Week!

As it turns out…they are. Of the 81 female speakers this year, 14 of them are active with She Leads, totaling 28 presentations throughout the week.

Check out these diverse and impactful presenters speak on a variety of topics from video production and sales to self-care and human resources. She Leads is proud to collaborate and support these powerful women, including:

So as part of our 5-day celebration of entrepreneurship, we would like to celebrate She Leads for bringing such talented leaders to Startup Week. We can’t wait to see you there.

To learn more about She Leads, visit: www.meetup.com/sheleadsfc

She Leads is on Instagram: @sheleadsfc