Hello, and welcome to this episode. In this week’s episode of the Thriving Creator Podcast, I’m talking about thriving in your online business and mustering up the courage and grit to keep going when life gets tough. I have a special guest on the podcast today, Laura Smothers-Chu from Befriended Heart and together…I’d say we know a little bit about the struggles and challenges life can throw at you.
Check out Laura’s website: joyindementia.com
E18 – Business and Bad days: How to thrive as an online Entrepreneur when life gives you lemons – Podcast Transcript
In this week’s episode of the Thriving Creator Podcast, I’m talking about thriving in your online business and mustering up the courage and grit to keep going when life gets tough.
Hey, Thrivers. I’m Sara Nguyen, creator of Thriving Creator Academy, and I’m here to help you go from stuck and overwhelmed to becoming a confident, profitable and thriving YouTube creator. Join me here each week for honest conversations about what it really takes to be a successful YouTube creator without compromising your creativity, sacrificing cheeky drinks with the people you love or downtime for yourself.
You’ll hear about the hard lessons I’ve gone through so you can avoid making the same slow and costly mistakes on your journey, as well as my secret weapons to help you dig deep and do the work it takes.
I’m honoured and grateful to have this opportunity to share this together with you right here on the Thriving Creator Podcast. I’m glad you’re here. Let’s get started.
I have a special guest on the podcast today, Laura Smothers-Chu from Befriended Heart. And together I’d say we know a little bit about the struggles and challenges life can throw you, particularly when you’re running an online business.
Thanks for joining me today, Laura. Now, I love the concept of your business. Why don’t you tell the listeners in a nutshell what you do and who you help and how it kind of all came about?
Laura: Sure. In a nutshell. Okay.
Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me on your podcast, Sara. I know that we’ve been in touch for quite a little bit of time. I’m on your email list, which I really enjoy, and I’ve taken one of your courses. So thank you so much for that. And thanks for inviting me on.
Sara: You’re very, very welcome.
Laura: And so to your question, I essentially helped long distance daughters navigate their parents dementia. And from what I can tell, I am very niche. I am pretty sure that I am the only person in the country/the world, that really targets long distance daughters.
And the reason I do that is because I was a long distance daughter and my dad was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which is sort of the first sign of dementia. It can turn into dementia. And for us, it did. And I was 28 years old, I was an only child, and I had a full time job in downtown DC where I live now.
And so I found that there were lots of dementia experts, but many of them did not have the personal experience that I was having. And I also couldn’t find anyone my age to relate to the situation I was in.
And so what I decided a little bit more than three years ago was to create my own business, which is essentially like a social enterprise where I really help these long distance daughters to provide them the resources that I needed to find myself just to make things so much easier.
And also to add that empathy aspect, in addition to the sympathy aspect of my expertise, having already been in the healthcare field.
Sara: I love that. I love how you really looked at providing help for people not just through, like a short period of time, but with dementia from friends I know whose parents had gone through it as well. It’s a long period of time for a lot of people if you experience it with someone.
Which is why I thought with this podcast today it was relevant to talk about in terms of business, people paid the picture of their success and how they went from zero to a hundred thousand and zero to a million in this period of time, this short period of time and everything, they had this little challenge, but then they got over it.
But I think for a lot of people, the reality is like they go through these ups and downs during the period. And the real question is, how do you keep going when it’s really tough when you have these big life things happen, like a parent going through dementia or someone passing away or someone getting sick?
So how do you keep going when you’ve got these big hard life things happening to you? So that’s why I really was excited to bring you on to talk about this topic today, because I think that a lot of people can relate to this not just in relation to covid and the chaos of covid, but a lot of people going through a lot of stuff on top of covid, like people are going through divorces, people are going through grieve, they’re losing people.
People are losing their jobs. Let’s let’s break it down a bit. So in your experience, particularly, I guess, when it comes to caring for a parent with dementia, how do you kind of encourage people or help people when they’re going through the lows? Because it’s not always great.
There’s ups and downs. So how do you encourage them to keep going? And how did you keep going when you’re going through the lows during your business? And I guess, managing and dealing with your father?
Laura: Yes. Thank you for asking that. So I will start by speaking to the lows in my life and how I ran my business during that. When I started Befriended Heart about three years ago, my dad was still here and he was in about mid stage dementia at that point.
And so what I did was I put up YouTube videos and I had a website and offered these tips and resources. And I felt that especially when I was having a low in my life, I wanted to share that and be transparent with the people that I was helping, because I think especially in my field, you see these experts and you just hear that they studied this in a book or they had experience working with people with dementia.
But these people working with dementia really don’t see the person before the dementia. Right. I mean, that’s, like, the really heart breaking part is transitioning from this parent, in my case, my parent, who I knew who was a certain way and preferred these certain things and had the certain relationship with me.
And then it was completely transformed by the dementia. And so what I found and I wanted to share this message with people. And I still do is that there is joy in dementia. And I think in our society, there’s a huge stigma.
And we talk about how scary dementia is. And there’s so much stigma that basically anyone who gets diagnosed with dementia, they lose a lot of their friends. And it’s just such a sad reality that we live in.
And so I think it’s a matter of helping daughters see that there is joy in dementia. And it’s really about shifting your mindset from what we’re conditioned to believe in society about dementia and what the good things can be and what I’ve found in my own experience as well.
And not just speaking like, oh, well, optimistically, there is always joy in dementia. I’ve seen it. And I have examples. Right. So I think in my experience of having lows, then I really think about it’s more important that I share this message with people of whatever I’m going through, because we’re all human and we’re all going to go through similar things. Right.
Especially on the dementia journey. There’s a lot of parallels. And so I really just focus on, okay. I really need to share this message with people. And also, if I’m having a low and I really don’t have enough energy to, like, create a YouTube video, then I just don’t and people understand because I live my life as well.
And that’s actually something that I noticed I did recently because I just created my first online course and I just couldn’t bring myself to create YouTube videos at the same time. It was just too much for me and I was burning out. And so I just listen to my body and I just slap myself rest.
And I focused on the course. And but as you said in one of your recent podcasts, that that’s okay. That’s one of the great things about YouTube is that you don’t have to produce all the time because the way the algorithm works is that it will still come up for people that it is correlated with essentially, whereas Instagram, you sort of have to keep creating content in order to be seen. Yeah.
And I think as far as with my– the daughters that I help, and when they come into lows, the importance of really feeling that emotion, because a lot of suffering that we go through and the decisions that we make that are hard especially on the dementia journey we end up not making maybe the best decisions because we are drowning in our suffering.
And because we haven’t taken a moment to sit in those feelings. We’re trying to avoid them. And as we know when we do that, if our emotions come up at, like, the worst time, you know?
So a way of addressing our lows is just really sitting in that and not only sitting in it, but also having compassion for yourself and really essentially embracing those emotions and saying, of course, you’re feeling that way, right? Kind of speaking to ourselves the way that we wanted to be nurtured and taken care of when we were kids, and perhaps our parents either weren’t there to do that or they didn’t know to do that.
So I think this is a really great time where now that we’re adults, we can essentially nurture ourselves the way that we’ve always wanted to be nurtured. And a really great opportunity for that is when we’re having those lows.
Sara: It was quite interesting because earlier this year and I talked about it on a couple of podcast episodes, but I haven’t talked about it quite openly on other social media. My younger brother passed away, and it was an incredibly hard thing.
And like you, it was this moment of okay, this is a really hard thing I’m going through. I don’t have the energy to cope with turning on the camera to create a YouTube video right now. I’m just going to put that aside.
I’m just gonna put aside and let myself sit in this so I can deal with it, because if I try to muster up whatever it took to do a YouTube video, that video wasn’t going to be very good because I wasn’t in the right head space.
I really like talking about, okay, when you’re going through these hard times when you have these lows to be okay with sitting with it and be okay with not having to produce for the business, because that’s just the reality. And then just managing communication with your clients, your students, that personal stuff have happened.
And I really need a bit of breathing space. And for the most part, I found most people were very compassionate and understanding. You know, there’s a few rule like, no, I really want to talk to you right now.
And it’s like, well, no, you can’t. It’s like creating those boundaries. But for the most part, exactly, that time is to yourself and then communicating that and having people understand it kind of all kind of works out, which is what we really need.
Laura: I think, as well.
Sara: Which is a good segway into the next question that I had. I think, like in dealing with these hard things, particularly with my brother passing away, one of the things that immediately that I did was I got help. I got as much help as I could.
I’m not helping the business to keep going. I have a virtual assistant, and upped her hours. And I’m like, look, I’m just going to need you to take a little bit more. And I’m going to need you to answer these emails while I’m going through this.
And then I also got help in terms of counselling. And I’m a big fan of counselling, a big fan of talk therapy and getting people a professional health. What’s your take on getting help, getting support, particularly when you’re going to really big life events?
Laura: So are you asking me as a business owner or my clients who are also going through a lot?
Sara: Let’s start with you as a business owner and then we can talk about the clients as well.
Laura: Okay, perfect. With me as a business owner, I am not at the point yet where I can hire anyone else. But I’ve noticed to a similar thing that you did when your brother passed. And I’m sorry to hear about that.
I know you’ve mentioned that to me personally in a different conversation, but yeah, I just want to honour that. And the fact that when you share something like that of real life happening to you, it sort of reminds people like, oh, she’s human, and I think it actually endears them to you as well.
Right. Because we all want to work with other humans. And I think that definitely getting help is a huge thing. I have found that that’s been really helpful in my life, which is why I recommend it to my clients. And as I mentioned, so I didn’t have a VA to delegate to, although I would have loved to do that.
And so I sort of just stopped all the things that would have taken more energy from me and really focused on what I felt passionate about at the time and had enough energy to do.
I would say also for me personally, going through my dad’s dementia, I did have a therapist which has been super helpful. And I recommend everyone going through dementia to please have a therapist to talk to, because you’re going to have a lot to vent about.
And it really wasn’t appropriate for me to vent to my mom, who was living with my dad with dementia, like it wasn’t appropriate for me to vent to her how I was feeling. Everyone should get a therapist.
I know I do, too. And I’ve had a therapist, like, since I was in high school, maybe middle school. So I’ve always been a huge proponent. I think that it really, it makes you so much more self aware. I think that me who go to therapy end up being very helpful to people who don’t go to therapy or in our lives.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s super helpful. I think. Also, anyone else going through the dementia journey, there are lots of other resources. I have a lot of things on my website.
Also, I know Alzheimer’s Association has really good information on their website. You can find resources. It’s just it takes some time to look for it. There’s also the area agencies on ageing in anyone’s community that can really tell you what are the services for elders in your area. I know that’s for the US, I’m sure there’s something similar in other countries, like Australia, too.
Sara: Yeah, definitely. I think within Australia specifically, because I can’t talk about other countries. But there’s a lot of, like, support services for you to get therapy and or counselling. And it’s just a matter of digging a little because the government doesn’t make it too easy for you to access, but they’re differently out there. I’ll let you continue.
Laura: I would say those are the big things that I can think of right now that that I’ve been able to ask for help from. And I think, too, which is also been great, my network of colleagues in the dementia field and elsewhere.
Any time that I would need help, maybe creating content, I’m sure that they would be willing to offer that we would do like, they could do a guest email to my people. As far as my newsletter goes, or maybe, like a post, I’m sure they would be willing to do that. That’s another example of asking for help.
Sara: Earlier this year I was going through all the stuff with my brother. I found that reaching out and getting people to do guest podcast was a great way of, like, getting them to not only take the load of of you having to create content, but having to do work, but you still able to have output.
I actually find, like, getting help and communicating and reaching out to people was a really good thing. So I think there’s a balance between protecting your time and protecting giving yourself that space to go through whatever you’re going through and at the same time, being a little strategic and going, yeah, well, I’m gonna allow this guest podcast and let them take the lead on this piece of content and still share something worthwhile.
There’s that balance between yes, I’m going to let people in. And, yes, I’m going to have some space for myself, which is a segway into the next part, which is about when you’re going through these really tough times. What are some of your strategies to be protective of your time?
Because you need the time to sit with it and cope with it, and then you’ve still got responsibilities and you’ve still got things that you need to do. So what have been your strategies for managing and protecting your time?
Laura: I think one of the best things about owning your own business is that you own your own time. And it’s been like I said, it’s been a little bit more than three years, but I’m finally learning, like, Laura, you don’t have to work 8 hours a day anymore. There’s no boss.
That’s like I often say, Laura, you have not worked the right amount of hours today. You’re fired, right. Like you’re your own boss which is awesome, and I’m delving a little bit into human design aspect and managing my business based on that.
But what I’ve learned is that I am not meant to work 8 hours a day. I can, but it will burn me out very quickly. And so what I’m starting to do now is really, really focus on, like, 3 hours a day of either creating content or doing things that take a lot of my energy.
And I have also learned that rest is super important for me. I noticed that the more I rest and do I actually have fun during the week, if I can or go to, for example, go to a new coffee shop, go to a botanical garden, I get more inspiration for content.
I feel less burnt out and I get more rest in. And when I do that, I feel like it’s easier for me to get clients. Like I said, inspiration for content, things like that. So rest is super important for me and being able to give myself permission to take that rest, right?
I mean, that goes with like we’re going to need more rest if we’re going through hard times. I always try to prioritise doing some kind of mindfulness or meditation each day because it really puts me, it gives me a bigger perspective on my life and also what I need to do that day.
And I can also get in touch with myself and say, what do I really want to do today? Like, yes, I have this task on my calendar, but do I really feel inspiration to do it? And that’s the other thing with my type is that I really, I’m successful when I create something that’s based on my inspiration.
If I feel that I am forced to do it or it’s in my calendar to do it, I don’t get as good of a response, which is very interesting. I think really kind of deconditioning myself to understand that like, yes, I have my own business, but I can also set my own schedule and therefore I can set boundaries on my time.
As you mentioned, that’s actually a kindness that we can do for ourselves to take care of ourselves as setting boundaries.
Sara: That’s a good one. I think like for me, I found that going through a year of grief, setting boundaries with time was the big thing that I allowed myself. And I’m kind I’m kind of be like, damn– to force myself and say, hey, I don’t have to answer every single comment that comes through YouTube.
Like, I don’t have to answer every single random DM. Like, it’s okay that I don’t respond to everything, particularly if the comments that are a little bit lazy and asking me to be their Google versus them doing it themselves.
I mind this being discerning with your time and creating those boundaries’ really important. And I think you talk about the joy in dementia or the joy in the pain of going through things. And I think one of the blessings that I’ve had is understanding that it’s okay to protect my time and be protective of that, not just because I’m going through this, but just being protective of it in general that I don’t have to be accessible to everyone because that’s not reality.
I have a life outside of what people see on YouTube and Instagram, all of that. I really, really love this notion of you can be protective of your time. You don’t have to answer everything, and people would be okay with that as well.
Laura: Absolutely. And I want to just say when people do comment on my Instagram or YouTube, I tend to not actually answer right away. And I like to, I usually heart it or something, and then I write to it maybe the day after or the next day, because then I can actually have a thoughtful response and not just react.
Sara: I like that. And I think that’s good because you’re actually training people as well. You’re like, hey, I’m not a 24/7 support desk. I have a life outside of this. And I get that you’re having problems, I get a lot of questions, which are tech support questions for the software tutorials that I do.
And I’m like, I am not the software provider. Pause, pause so that they don’t expect that you are the actual service to troubleshoot things for them. You’re training your audience. Definitely,
definitely good habits to put them in as well. In speaking of that, now, I’ve spoken about this on a podcast before, and it’s about should you grow fast or slow? So I had a whole podcast episode of my thoughts on should you as business owner grew fast or slow?
And a spoiler alert if you haven’t listened to the podcast episode, my take on it was that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter as long as your kind of hitting your goals. What’s your take on growth when you’re going through this long period of, like, difficult times during trying to grow your business as well.
What’s your take on what stance people should take on should they muster through and keep hustling and you push for that business growth, or should they be slowing down?
Laura: Yeah. I actually heard that podcast, and I was really excited that you said it depends, because I was moving slowly, too. I was like, okay, awesome. I’m doing okay. But as you guys probably surmise from the earlier questions, I am fine with growing slow.
And it’s something that I actually struggle with because I have a lot of willpower, probably more than a lot of people. And so I get impatient with myself, especially when I look outside of myself and I see other business owners doing super well or they’re making 6 figures now, things like that.
And I notice that when I look outside of me at where other people succeeding, that’s where I feel down. And I feel impatient. Right. Pay attention to that. And before you look on your Instagram or before you’re following this, like, millionaire business person, kind of see how you feel after you see their posts.
And if you feel terrible or you’re starting to feel impatient with yourself and kind of re-consider, do I really want to be following this person right now on Instagram? Or can I maybe pick it up later when I feel better about my business?
Really checking in with yourself to see how you’re feeling. The other thing, too, is what I have to keep providing myself, especially the industry that I’m in. I’m kind of a disrupter in the sense of the healthcare industry really likes to give all the resources to the caregiving parent or the person that lives with the person with dementia is a primary caregiver, whereas I know from experience that the primary caregiver is already overwhelmed.
They’re just trying to get through day to day. They can’t think about future financial implications or legal implications or things like that. But you think that the healthcare industry would then say, oh, well, is there anyone else that can help out the parents?
Right. Like the daughter, for example? But we are told actually to not intervene at all, which doesn’t make sense to me because I think that if daughters help, where as I did with my family, I think I was better off because I was able to actually help and do something.
My mom was better off because she wasn’t completely overwhelmed and she had some support from me, and my dad was feeling better because I was involved and I was taking the stress off of my mom as well.
Right. I’m a disrupter in the sense of I’m the only one that really directly works with long distance daughters and teaches them what they can do to help with the situation with the dementia journey. So what I have to constantly remind myself is that I’m a pioneer. Right.
And so these grants that I’m applying for, these awards that I’m applying for, the people that are assessing them or evaluating my application aren’t used to seeing me just serving daughters. Right. So it’s like it’s not quite my time yet. Right.
I’m planting seeds. I’m here. I’m making myself known, but I know that it’s going to be a slow process, and so really giving myself grace. And I think your listeners can also give themselves grace as well, because I think that you look at, for example, you look at a bunch of lotuses that are supposed to bloom, right?
This is an example that I saw in my local botanical garden. And they’re supposed to bloom, like, around end of July, beginning of August, where we are in Virginia. And so you see some that look beautiful, and they’ve all bloom. Some of them have already bloomed. Right.
And they already lost all their petals. And there are the other ones that are like just in the process of blooming, and they’re all beautiful. They’re all providing a place for bees and nutrients for animals. Right. But it’s at different times. And so it’s really a human thing that we put on people’s lives to hit things at certain timelines.
But really, we can all make such a positive impact, and it doesn’t have to be right away. Maybe we’re going to make even more of an impact because it’s not right away. Right.
Sara: I like that. I really like that. Yeah. I think for me, it’s as long as you’re making progress, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re being fast or slow. And particularly when things are going really hard and you’re taking a break, as long as you know that you come back to it eventually.
And I talk about taking a break on YouTube, taking a break from the business, and that’s the reality of life. Like, it’s all well and fine when people go through and have all the success without challenges.
But I think success is also going through all these stuff and then continuing to make progress in light of that. So I think if you have to go slow because you’re going through all of this stuff, then so be it. But at least you’re making progress, and that’s better than not making progress, even if it has been slow.
So my view is grow fast or slow it depends. And slow is okay. I think there’s nothing wrong with slow, provided that you are able to clearly support yourself in other means as well. And you are actually taking deliberate, intentional action. Being okay with going slow is a good thing in my view.
Laura: Yes. And I think the hustle is really this, like, human aspect of, like, make the most money, you know what I mean? And have the most “success”.
Right. But then you look at the people who all these millionaires and, like, you see how much suffering they have where they’re making decisions that are maybe not as ethically in line with what they would have believed that they would have done in the beginning. Right.
I mean, I think we all have sort of those things that we come to as like, okay, I could make this much money but does this does this partner or does this company really align with my values?
I just had an example of that happen with me recently, and I said I’m going to forgo the money because I feel like it’s not quite the right alignment for me, and I wouldn’t feel right going ahead with that. Right.
And then you also, because I’m in the healthcare field, you look at these people who are billionaires or they did hustle their entire lives because that’s what they were taught to do. And they have so many health problems and so I think there is so much value in really listening to yourself, giving yourself grace and moving at your own pace.
Sara: Can we talk a little bit more about hustle culture because I have a (inaudible) with hustle culture.
Laura: I think we all do. Yes.
Sara: And Gary V gets blamed a lot because he talks a lot about hustle and hustle culture and you’ve got a hustle in order to make it. And I think he actually gets pigeon holed in that a little bit unfairly because that was only one kind of sound bite. But people Slam him for it because he also talks about, yes, take a break when things are hard as well. But all people here is, Gary says hustle 15 hours a day.
Other way, someone else is taking that food off your plate type of thing. I believe there is a space for Hustling. There’s a space for, like, working and greeting and moving towards your goals. I think that energy that you can put behind it is a good thing. But I think it becomes a problem when it gets out of balance, and that’s what you do and you forgo everything else.
What’s your view on, I guess, hustle culture and business and hustle culture and I guess particularly going through big hard life events?
Laura: Yeah. I’m with you. As far as having a bone to pick with hustle culture. I do feel like especially when it’s couched in the way of well, if you don’t work 15 hours a day, then someone else is going to take your space. Right. That’s very fear based. Yes. It’s very stress based.
And so I noticed I start to feel that way as we talked a little earlier, is when I start to look outside of me and like, oh, this person is making six figures now, or this person can drop their day job and now going full time into their side hustle their side business because they’re doing so well. Right.
And then I feel that what am I doing? Well, why am I not there? Right. And so that kind of the, I’m not enough type thinking, and I find that’s why I don’t really agree with hustle culture, because I feel like it does cultivate that fear, that competition, that almost aggression.
And I would like to think that at least my intention is that I need my business and compassion. And so and I want to be on my own path. I think it’s a little easier for me to say that because I don’t have competitors that are, like targeting long distance daughters.
But I do see, I see some danger in really making business decisions and really scheduling your day around this whole idea of hustling, because, again, it’s really you’re sort of using this adrenaline and the survival instinct. And we’re not meant to use that for long periods of time. That’s when you start to have health issues.
Sara: Totally agree. Absolutely agree. Well, Laura, thank you so much for your time and just the lots of nuggets of support and love and wisdom and feeling with big events and business and how you kind of cope. I hope that everyone has enjoyed the podcast today.
I know I got lots of just lots of reminders that it’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to get help. It’s okay to be protective of your time in general and particularly when you’re going through hard things and that the business, for the most part, will always be there.
Do you have any parting words for our listeners before we wrap up?
Laura: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me on your show. And I do hope that I have try to provide the permission for you to rest, considering it’s your own business and you can set your own schedule and you can still be successful even if you’re not working 15 hours a day, even if you’re not working 8 hours a day.
And definitely if you are interested in learning more about Befriend at heart, you can check out my website, joyindementia.com, and I actually have a free guide right now.
If you have a loved one in your life who is starting to be forgetful and you’re not sure where they are on the dementia timeline, I have a guide that’s all about the stages of dementia, so be sure to check that out. It is free.
Sara: Thanks for joining us today, Laura. And we’ll catch you guys in the next podcast. Bye for now.
The episode is over, but it doesn’t have to end. Head on over to thrivingcreatormasterclass.com, the link is also in the show notes. If you’re ready to go from confusion to clarity and to finally ditch that self doubt so you can build the profitable YouTube channel you know, deep down you’re always meant to create, then join me inside my signature programme, Thriving Creator Academy, where you’ll get the content, coaching and community you need to successfully implement my proprietary system so you can start reaping rewards of running a thriving YouTube channel.
The Thriving Creator Academy is a coaching programme for creators who are ready to transform their creative ideas into thriving YouTube channel. Sign up to the masterclass now to learn more at thrivingcreatormasterclass.com.
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