March 1, 2023

117. Lifescape with Monique Allen

117. Lifescape with Monique Allen

What is it like to be a woman in a male dominated industry? How do I balance getting busier and staying focused on future growth? We have an in depth conversation with Monique Allen a Lifescape Coach and the Founder & Creative Director of The Garden Continuum. Monique offers some great insight about making headway in a field dominated by men and general business advice that works in all areas for all people.

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You can find Dana @adashofboss, @dana.dowdell and @hrfanatic
Dana DowdellBoss Consulting – HR Consulting
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You can find Russ @reliable.remediation
Russ HarlowReliable Remediation – Disaster Restoration


Dana Dowdell  00:04

Hi Russ,


Russ Harlow  00:05

Dana, how are you today?


Dana Dowdell  00:06

I'm good. How are you doing very well. Thank you. Good. We are chatting with someone who I'm very excited to talk to because this is an area of entrepreneurialship that we haven't really touched on yet on the podcast. We are joined by Monique Allen. She is the founder and creative director of the Garden Continuum. And we are so excited to chat with you Monique, welcome to It's Just Business.


Monique Allen  00:31

Thank you, Dana. Thank you, Ross. I'm really looking forward to talking to you both today.


Dana Dowdell  00:36

So tell us all about yourself and how you got started in business.


Monique Allen  00:43

So I started in business as a teenager, I my father was self-employed an immigrant from the Middle East, and basically brought his business here. And, and so self-employment for me was a famous family life. So, it didn't, it was not a big leap to say, oh, I'll just do this on my own. When I was 18, just before my 19th birthday, I was introduced to landscaping, I actually tell the whole story in my book just about how I had no idea I didn't understand the language. I didn't understand anything. All I knew was that, you know, at that time in my life, I was so lost. I just, you know, I had graduated high school, I had no aspiration, I had no inspiration to do anything. I was working in a clothing store. And, and I basically went on a Saturday and helped a bunch of guys molt, and this is back in the mid-80s. And it was so eye opening. I never got so dirty. I was never so tired, so hungry, like it. And I grew up dancing. And I was bodybuilding at the time. So, I knew what it meant to be physically active. But this is like, totally different. Totally different. And like, I just I'll never forget, I came home. And I was so dirty. And I went in I lived at home, and I just said to my mom like Mom, this was so cool. This was so cool. And I think she just saw on my face; how happy I was. And I was not very happy. I was I was actually very angry. At that age, I had some trauma and I was just, I was just pissed off. And, and I was using that pissed off energy to fuel a lot of things. And, and so I dove in, my mother hooked me up with a landscape architect who was working on a project. So that was a level up from just like working in with a landscape crew. And I ended up on a planting crew, I met the woman who became my mentor and I worked for her she was a perennial gardener. And I ended up working for her for two years just freelance so you know, work, get some hours get paid, get a check, like not a paycheck, just a check, or cash. And I was at school at the same time. And I moved off to Northeastern University and decided to study entrepreneurship. So, I started to put together I started to link what this really cool work was the need that was out there and the potential that I could build something out of it. And so my idea was I would get the entrepreneurship degree, and I would go into business with my mentor, she would be the, you know, the trade brain and I would be the business brain. You know, as the best laid plans off and go, she wasn't interested. You know, I'm still friends with her today. It just wasn't the way she wanted to take her life. And I was really driven. So I just started landscaping. I, I did freelance found myself work, just figured out how to connect with different, like traditional landscape contractors. And it just started to build from there. And then I ended up going from being a freelancer to deciding that I wanted to register my business and be a sole proprietor. And so, I started freelancing in 86. In 1991, I started my business and hired my first w two employee. I did that for nine years, that company was called second nature. And then in 2000, I, I was going to have a baby I was married, I bought a house, I was gonna have a baby and I thought, Hmm, I wonder if I should like insulate myself a little bit like, you know, and so I thought, Okay, I'll make it a corporation. So, I went to make it a corporation. And lo and behold, I didn't know anything about researching a name. A second nature wasn't available, so I had to kind of rebrand and I did I rebrand as the garden continuum and started that company in 2000 and have been growing that company ever since. Yeah.


Russ Harlow  05:02

So, it's interesting, you mentioned that we've had a couple of trademark attorneys on and they would be listening going, Oh, I told you I tell my clients all the time, it's like clients all the time. So, I'm interested to about, you know, going back a little bit, because there is some catharsis, you know, just working the earth or working with your hands, you know, in the trades, or whatever it is. So, what clicked for you at that time? What was there anything that kind of stood out? Or was it just the actual, you know, kind of digging in? As it were?


Monique Allen  05:33

Yeah, that's a great question. I couldn't have told you back then what clicked because I had no idea. All I knew was it felt good. So, I kept following what felt good. But you know, go into nightclubs and drinking too much. And staying out late felt good, too. It just was not at all restorative. So, this felt good. And I felt better. And so, I started following that thread. So, for me, you know, I was raised in a broken family to parents that absolutely loved me. But there was some abuse in my family. And so, like I was, I just, like, angry, I was angry at a lot of things. And one of the things I was angry about was being a woman. Because I felt like, you know, we didn't have opportunities, and I wanted opportunities. And this was a way that I was able to showcase the fact I'm, I'm a small person. So, this was a way for me to showcase my ability. And I think for people who have, you know, sort of been beaten growing up, there's something about being able bodied, being physically able bodied, that kind of just, it makes you feel like, okay, I can survive. And so I think that was cooking for me. But I found out years later. I mean, many years later, that soil has properties within it that are anti depressive, and that there's a lot of mood regulation that happens from the vitamin D, absorption of the sun. You know, that, you know, when we're outside, we're hyper oxygenating. And physically working, we're hyper oxygenating, which does not happen in a gym in the same way. And so I think these were all factors that were kind of piling in and just making me feel good. But the other thing was, it was fun. Like, it was hard work, like you definitely there were some days where I felt broken. And I hated working in the rain. But I felt alive. And I was, and I was having fun. And it's really pretty, like nature is so gritty, and so mind blowing sometimes, and I'm 38 years in, and I have extensive gardens, and I spend my free time doing it. So there is certainly something about it that is uplifting to the soul.


Dana Dowdell  07:51

So, I want to I want to ask you about being a woman in a traditionally male dominated trade. What has been your experience? And were there any challenges at all?


Monique Allen  08:12

A couple. That's again, you know, that's an evolution. So initially, I was, you know, I am woman hear me roar kind of behavior all the time, like, I can do whatever you can do, and I can do it better kind of chip on my shoulder. I'm the firstborn. So it's me and my brother, my brother's five years younger. My father, being a Middle Eastern man, you would have thought would have completely just counted a firstborn daughter, but instead, my father was much more enlightened than that. Even in his rage and his anger. You know, I, my I was loved by my father, for sure. And he treated me as capable. And he expected my capacity to do things and do them really well. Both my parents did, I was treated like an adult, like the minute I could walk and talk. So that definitely gave me a leg up. But early on, I was definitely like, head to head with the guys. I'm like, Don't you dare watch me like, Just watch me? I will circle you. Right. And it was there a lot of attitude with it. And ultimately, I think that was exhausting. I think it got me in to where I needed to be. But there was I know now there's a very, very different way and basically what I was doing is I was wielding my masculine energy. And I'm you know, we have both we have Matt All of us have masculine and feminine energies. I'm not talking about girl boy, I'm just talking about those, those energies, and I was absolutely wielding my masculine energy and trying to amplify it so that I could fit in with the guys and I did a great job. I was riding a motorcycle, I could drive a truck. I can drive a standard I can drive every piece of equipment like for me that was like I had do that. But it's exhausting. Because even for a man, it's exhausting. Because you're not allowing any of the softer skills to develop, you're not allowing any of the more collaborative potentials to unfold, you know, the feminine energy is, is the long term thinking. It's the collaboration. It's the nurturing, Nature needs all of that, and so does business. So does the development of teams. So, I wasn't working that. So, it got me in. But it didn't sustain me, it started to actually take me down. And it wasn't until I started to embrace sort of the Union energy of masculine and feminine, where I started to understand that men too, are harmed by over overly masculinized places. And that invariably, what we're looking for is balance. And so I think I got in, because I sort of played the game. I stayed in because I realized that the game was unplayable and unwinnable. And I now sort of sustain, because I bring my whole self and I actually invite the men that I work with, to be a little bit humbler, and to be a little bit more embracing of their collaborative nature and long term thinking potential.


Russ Harlow  11:22

I don't know what you're talking about. Just suck it up, buttercup, come drive. Do you, man, you man? Yeah, no, absolutely. And that's, that's kind of one of the my journey along with this podcast has helped me, I think, working with Dana and talking about, you know, kind of differences in how men and women approach life and business. So I'm interested in hearing more about, and we're in a service industry, in the trades. And so I'd like to hear more about, you know, how you develop that, you know, skill set, you know, for men who are maybe kind of Pooh poohing it a little bit,


Monique Allen  12:05

huh. Yeah, so, you know, my access, obviously, is, first and foremost, the fact that I have employees and, and I have, I always had access to more men than I did to women, because women were coming in the industry. My business now is, is more women than men actually. And, and that, and these women are amazing the things that they can do, but so are the men. But that was my initial access. So, my initial access, well, let me take a step back, my initial access was working with contractors. So, I was a solopreneur. And then my first w two employee was a woman. And we worked, we either subbed were subbed out, or we sort of took over, we were kind of like the flower girls, so the guys would come in, they would do all the heavy work and, and then, and then the homeowner invariably wanted something pretty, right. And so we came in to do the pretty, but what happened for me was that I noticed a lot of corner cutting a lot of damage that was happening in construction. And I was really interested in getting on the construction side. Because I thought if I could get in earlier, I could prevent a lot of the problems that these properties were seeing later. And so I connected with a couple of contractors where I was able to kind of like, elbow my way in and start to have more collaborative conversations with them. And I tied a lot of it to money and money talks, I don't care what gender you're working with, but money talks. So when I got them to start looking at how to work contracting, such that they could have more of a linear development process, instead of having that like two steps forward one step back. I because I was so able to see that long game, that I was able to start crafting project sequences that were much more lucrative for them so that they weren't spinning all the time and doing a lot of rework. So, we work with a big deal. So that I think was the first part and I ended up with some guys kind of in my, my group that, you know, then then they were the ones who would share something with me like about their relationship with their mother or their sister or their wife and, and all of a sudden, they would start to soften and I would begin to see them as a whole person. And the relationships just got better and better. I actually have a mason that I worked with who was so fabulous and so creative, that when he decided to retire, he was kind of spinning and hated the idea that he was retiring and he kept like coming in hanging out my office like Dude, I gotta work. Like, we got to find something to do. And he's like, I don't know what to do. And I said, well think about it, like what would make you really happy and he sort of just sat back in his chair and he looked at me and he said, I think it would make me really happy if I could work for you. And that was six years ago and you've been working for me ever since. It's so I think it's, it's been the kind of thing where you start at the place, which is neither masculine or feminine. It's not behavioral in the sense that this is what guys do. This is what girls do. But instead, it's like, I want success. I want reduction of suffering, I want fewer problems. I want to make more money. How do we how do we talk about our projects in that way? And how do we bring into it, the things that are causing us to struggle, and that I've done the exact same thing with my male employees. And then another big thing I did was I chose this work leisure balance, where I decided to schedule the way we work very differently the wind than the way the industry works. So as I was building my corporation, I said, Okay, we only work five days a week. And that was like, unheard of for landscapers. And it was like, we have to choose our families, we have to choose our lifestyle and then craft our work around it. And I've struggled with that. Hugely, I haven't done a great job, like I'm doing better now. But in the first 20 years, I was work, work, work, work, work or all the time. I think that also helped me to endear myself to men, so that they were allowed to let themselves off the hook. To not like be the man like all the time, like just okay, do go chill. Okay, go to your kid’s soccer game. So I don't know if I answered your question. But


Dana Dowdell  16:38

I'm loving this because this is the these are HR conversations, right? It's how do you honor the employee that you have in front of you for who they are, what they bring to the table and a skill set, but also all the other parts of them that exists as an individual. So, I fuckin love this. So much. I love it. And it makes me happy. It makes me so happy to hear you know, in a trade, right, where it's, they're not always doing things right. Or correctly, in a trade in the trades industry like to be doing it not only legally correctly, but like, from a culture standpoint as well. And like employee relations standpoint.


Monique Allen  17:28

For you, it is paying off for me. And it's been hard won, you know, it's definitely been hard won. But like I remember in Massachusetts, when it came up on the ballot to have five days sick days made mandatory. And I remember, I was already at that point, I think I was giving three days, and no days were mandatory. And I was giving three days. And when that came up on the ballot, I'm like, hell yeah, yes. Like, let's do this. And I remember a lot of my business counterparts were like, Are you out of your mind? Do you know how much money that's gonna cost us or whatever, and all I could think of was, okay, I'm already giving three and you guys are giving None, right? I will happily give five. And then you have to give five two. And then we level up the whole industry, and we stopped competing on that lunacy that you can't be sick. I mean, or that your, your kid can't be sick, or, you know, and I've always sort of had that mindset, but it was so outside the trade mindset, you know, the paradigm of the trades. And what we're working on right now, which I'm so totally stoked about, is that, you know, the trades also work super long hours. So like a 55 hour work week is that's like a short week. And so, because a lot of them are doing both Saturdays as well. So, they're 60. They're doing 10 hours a day, six days a week, easily. Some of them are also working Sundays, they have immigrant workers. So, you know, my drilling it down to like 50 to 55 hours was innovative. So this year, we're going to a 40 hour workweek. And it's like, it's, it's unheard of in the industry. And the way we're doing it, because one thing I learned about tradespeople is that they, most of them that I know I mean, I know there's some that are happy to quit early, but a lot of them are like they don't want to leave until it's done. Like they just they sort of buried in there and they just want to get it done. And so there isn't real sense of the hours and they're starting super early. So what we're doing is we're backing off our Mondays and Fridays, so that we're starting late so they can come off their weekends slow and then get into the work week. By the time their dog tired. They can come into their Friday, slow and that still gives them the ability if they want to throw it another hour or half hour or whatever at the end of the day. They can go ahead and do it but they started later. So they're not You know, they're, they're not on their back foot by the end of the day. And we'll see, you know, I might crash and burn. There are other things that I've done that I've totally crashed and burned, but, but it feels like the right move. And it also feels like the right move in this particular market. Because post pandemic, hiring, retaining, developing, it's like a whole new flipping language.


Dana Dowdell  20:26

I really want to elaborate or like, expand on that idea of the decision making that you're doing and your business feels like the right move. And like, it seems like you have a really strong connect connection to kind of like what your instinct is telling you. And when you're in a business, there's so much so many influences, right? We talked about this all the time. Like, there's so many people telling you what you shouldn't be doing what you can be doing what you can't be doing, oh, you should try this, you should try this. So how else has that helped you make really good decisions or hurt you make, you know, and made shitty decisions in your business?


Monique Allen  21:04

I can give you a couple of examples. I mean, a really concrete example was we wanted to buy, we wanted to buy a tractor, and you know, expensive, and I hadn't bought really I bought tribe in buying, you know, buying trucks for years. But I had never bought, you know, a piece of heavy equipment. And I remember having this gut feeling that I would never be ready to buy it. So, I needed to buy it. In order for to be able to use it. Like it wasn't like I was going to start renting one for a while to decide if I wanted it or whatever. And so I ended up buying this really cool John Deere compact tractor with a backhoe loader bucket. And to this day, it is the best piece of equipment ever. Like I say that if I ever sell my company, I'm keeping the John Deere like, you know, it's, but then I did I use the same logic and bought an excavator and the damn thing, just fat. Like it just you know what I mean? So that it doesn't always work. I think the thing that I learned about instinct, and I'll tell you a couple of people's stories, but one thing that I learned about instinct is you can't, you can't use an old instinct and bring it forward and say, Well, it worked then. So let me fit. Let me let me bring that instinct forward. I think the deal with instinct is it's in the moment. It has to be an in the moment feeling I can't I can't borrow from the past. And that's what I did. When I bought the excavator I just borrowed from the past that no, no live instinct at that moment, other than to say, hey, it worked for the year, I'll deal with the excavator and be very happy to tell you, I just sold that excavator in January. I'm stoked, and happy not to have it anymore. But I had, I wanted to hire an office manager, and I was really at this point where I really wanted somebody good, and I wanted to pay $60,000 And this was 15 years ago or something. And I got a lot of pushback and was told that you know, really anything more than like 35,000 was ridiculous. And so anyway, you know, I listened and went against my instinct and hired you know, very nice woman, but she was somebody who needed to be managed, she needed a manager and the thing that I worked it was someone who was a self-starter that didn't need to be managed. So, I let her go within a year. And then I and I let her go in a in a snap decision because she made yet again another horrible mistake that was unforgivable I sweet woman but no, couldn't do it. Now I remember coming home and sitting at my pawn and just like sitting there, and like saying to myself, I just need a little fireball energy Mart like, pickaxe person to do this with me. I just need somebody who has some teeth. And literally the next day, my accountant called me setting new somebody. I called her interviewed her, hired her on the spot. She's been with me for 15 years. And oh, yeah, and I paid her $64,000 a year, like so. So I think when, when instinct comes, I think it's our job to stand back and nurture that feeling. So you have to get into stillness. I'm, I'm, I'm on a journey, a yoga journey. Right now. I'm just starting to teach. I've been studying yoga philosophy for a while. And so, without getting too woo about it. I honestly believe that we need to nurture our instinct, just the way you would build your biceps. You would also nurture your inner voice by listening to it. And kind of being in communion with it going into silence or stillness or taking a walk or whatever it is. Every time I've done that. I have been, I have been rewarded with such a boon of success. Every time I've gone counter to it, or every time I've tried to do this. I've tried to do it like eat Pulling from the past or doing it to solo. Like, I decided that I wanted to hire somebody who had been in the correctional system. And I was, I felt like it was really important. I wanted that population to have a chance. And I made the decision without consulting anybody on my team. And within short order, the person I hired ended up completely unraveling, unraveling within my company and unraveling the culture. And I had to let them go, it was really bad. And so I think that other piece of instinct is that you as you're building your company, you've got to be mindful about how you are integrating your thought process and your decision making with the key employees that you have, so that it can be collaborative. And I've just shot myself in the foot a couple of times, by not doing that. Well, I


Russ Harlow  25:59

think we all find ways to shoot ourselves in the foot. Let's, let's not beat yourself up too bad there. You know, it's interesting, too. And I think it's important, because, well, I'm hearing, it's not just an emotional decision, right? I think someone in my seat being a guy can look at and go, Oh, she just made an emotional decision. And I don't think that's an accurate description of what happened. Like when I look at you hiring that office manager, I think it's important to look at, oh, look at all the extra money you spent and everything else. But look at all the time saved and the productivity that was added to your team. And I think that's the hurdle that a lot of people have to get over, especially men. So can you speak a little bit to that?


Monique Allen  26:42

Yeah, I kind of this is where my work as a business coach really starts to shine. So, I started business coaching eight years ago. And again, another thing that I kind of fell into, I've always been deeply involved in education. So I teach at the Master Gardeners Association. I'm on the faculty there, I've worked on educate the Education Board in landscape associations. I did that for two decades. And I sat on the Conservation Commission in my town for almost 10 years. And, and so I've had incredible access to professionals, not just as one, but in these larger associative groups. And what I find and so the way I got into coaching was that, that a woman asked me to help her with a personnel problem. And, and she basically said, How do you do this? And I said, Oh, you know, let's go have coffee, we'll chat whatever. She said, No, no, no, no, I'm done with coffee. I don't want to have coffee, I want you to coach me. And, and I'm like, Okay, so, you know, we batted around how it would work, I had been developing, actually a training program that I was going to sort of can as a class, and I ended up doing it with her instead. And it was, it was really, I think, and I think that's the place where I have the best access to foster change. I mean, certainly, I can foster it within my own business. But mostly, it's about getting business owners to understand that what they do great is often not building a business. I mean, if you just look at the E Myth, right, you know, the book, the E Myth revisited. So. So this idea that just because you are, you know, an amazing Mason doesn't mean that you're going to be good at managing Masons. And it doesn't mean you're necessarily going to be good at leading a masonry company. So you've got to ask yourself, whether that's what you really, really want to do. And a big part of my work is to take these really amazing technicians and help them to understand that the minute they made a decision to be in business, they had to hang up half of the technician role. And that's, that's like, that makes people heartsick. You know, and so, so teaching them that and finding, finding ways to help them see the joy in building teams, the joy in building a company, and not just owning a job, that that there is, you know, if they had that entrepreneurial spark, if it's really the true spark, then it's more that they don't have access to understanding what it means to work in a management role. All they know how to do is boss. And so teaching them right off the bat, what is the difference between boasting and management? Managing? That's a huge eye opener, huge learning. And then what's the difference between managing and leading, and the fact that you don't manage and lead at the same time necessarily, you're on these end of the seesaw and you're running back and forth, and you've got to figure out how to be nimble. So I think it's those conversations that both honor the choices they made, and then help them to see that they're strong. goal is in the places that they have yet to develop, and then determine whether they're interested in developing them, or do they want to hire somebody. So when I hired my office manager, I was already really good at that work. But I knew I needed to offload it. And when I, when I knew I needed to offload it, when I got the $35,000 person a year, I was stuck in a management role that I didn't want. When I got the $64,000 a year person, I didn't even have to have the management role, I had to be a trainer. But when I was done training, I had a self-starter that could completely manage that part of the job entirely on her own. And that's what I wanted, I was not looking for another management job. And invariably, I think owners ended up just building more and more and more management way on their plate, because they're unwilling to give things way more fully.


Russ Harlow  30:54

You know, I can kind of share a testimony, I guess, in a similar situation where I was driving home from a late night job that we've been working on this week, and I was I called my dad, because I had 30 minutes, I wanted to talk to him. Now my dad grew up painting for my dad, he had it, he started a painting company. And I was just telling them about the work we were doing. And he said, You know, I think you're doing a great job. You know, I'm just so amazed at the things you do like commercials and social media and all these PR things that you do. Because back in the day, you know, I think I ran like one ad on the radio. But I wasn't a businessman, I was just a really good painter. And I said, Yeah, you know, that's, that's the thing, right? Because I find myself my personality type is I am more of a technician. I started a business that I had no experience. And the first thing I tried to do was get good at the work. And I know that that's a problem, I have to fix that I have to start filling that in and becoming the business owner. And so I think there are a lot of people like me in the trades, specifically in the service, service side of it. So what other things can we do to kind of break the cycle?


Monique Allen  32:03

I think awareness is a big part of how we break the cycle. And you know, I have I can't tell you how many people have told just read just read the E Myth revisited. Because Michael Gerber, he says it very well and very clearly. And then if you are in a certain industry, so what Michael Gerber went and did is he went and found all of these professionals in different industries, and then wrote the E Myth, landscape contractor, he wrote that with Tony vas, you know, the E Myth, real estate agent is the E Myth this that, you know, he just, you know, he built an empire out of it. And I read the read the E Myth, landscape contractor, and it was a little bit of a love hate, you know, because there's, for a woman to read it, there's quite a bit of what feels like sexism in there. But if you can get past that, and not be judgmental, look at it for what it is. There's a lot of smarts in there. That just takes that same language and brings it forward. So, I think awareness is how you break the cycle. To start, you have to entirely be aware that you will not be a successful business owner as a technician. You can't mean you can muddle through, I did it for years. But like a good example is that, you know, I built my business to over a million dollars, and then we had the great recession. And you know, I'm feeling great about myself, because 2007 I'm fine 2008 I'm fine. 2009 It was like a little bit of a dip 2010 It was like, holy shit. What just happened to my business? Right? Because I had completely built that business as a technician and a manager. I was definitely learning managing, but, but I really had not embraced the mantle leader, and business builder. And I had to go back and learn some incredible fundamentals. And I have a degree in entrepreneurship. Okay, now I graduated in the late 80s. So in the late 80s, basically, entrepreneurship was just watered down corporate business, it was not what it is today at all, in my opinion. But I think so one of the first things I do when I usually meet people when their hair's on fire, is usually when they come to me at the lifescape coach. And one of the first I have a program called Rapid Relief. And one of the things that we do in Rapid Relief and Rapid Relief is like lightning coaching, we do it in a quick five to seven week period, you pick one problem and you solve it, you literally roll your sleeves up and solve it we do it together. And they're almost always like hair on fire at that particular moment. And one of the questions we need to answer right in the beginning is whether they should be self-employed. And that is like a bit of a come to Jesus moment. Because just because you can doesn't mean you should. Just because you can doesn't mean it's where you're going to find your joy and your Self Realization and your moments of just abundance and peace. You're not going to find it there ever because your personality is completely counter To the work that needs to be done. And so, we sort of we pull apart. You know what they're doing now, why their hair's on fire, if they really say they want it. And the next exercise is that they have to build their ideal calendar, their ideal week, their ideal, like, what is the ideal? And I'm saying, I'm not saying go to Tahiti, that's not ideal. That's vacation. I'm talking about your ideal picture of work. What does it look like? That is such a hard exercise, I can't tell you how much people struggle with it. But what happens on the other end, is when we take the ideal, and we juxtapose it to what they're actually doing, they realize their hair's on fire, because they spend day in and day out at fire sites. They can't help but be ignited. And so that's that first step. And I think that's that moment of looking in the mirror and being like, Oh, I kind of did this to myself. Now, you're not spending all your energy blaming other people. And you can now realize that you have immense potential, when you work on yourself. If you're blaming everybody else who have no power, when you look at yourself, and you say, Oh, I did this. Oh, that was no, now you can do the work. And I think that's, that's that backtracking that I tried to do? In my coaching relationships?


Russ Harlow  36:28

I, you know, it's funny, you think, should we be in business for ourselves? And that's a question that needs to be asked, you know, I look at it and I go, like, just speaking from my own experience, I, I could probably make twice what I make my take home, pay work. And for somebody else, as a project manager, I would never be happy. I now that I've had a taste at it, I don't want to take orders from anybody else. I don't want to make somebody else's vision come true. I want to find a way to muddle through and make this work for me. So that's good to have that evaluation and to ask that question, because you really got to figure out whether or not it's right for


Monique Allen  37:00

you. Absolutely. And when you do, the cool thing is, here's one cool thing I'll just say is when people do when they come to that realization that you've come to, they all of a sudden have more energy, it's like all of a sudden, by making that decision, they've actually tapped into an energy resource that they couldn't access before, because they were in the spin. So as soon as they can access it, and they know where they can actually do work, then all of that natural ingenuity that made them want to be self-employed, becomes accessible again.


Russ Harlow  37:36

I could probably talk about this all day. But one thing we like to do with all of our guests, Monique is have a little lightning round, we asked her some kind of questions about you know, in the first one is, what's the one thing you wish you'd known before starting a business?


Monique Allen  37:58

I honestly wish I had known that what most people do when they start businesses is just own a job, that I wasn't actually starting a business I was I was just creating a job that I owned. I wish I understood earlier. That difference between technician, manager and leader and the idea of building a business, which was a legacy. I just wish I knew that for more about that earlier, because I think I would have I think I would have shaved easily a decade, if not two decades off of my growth trajectory.


Dana Dowdell  38:30

What about the favorite way to market your business?


Monique Allen  38:33

For me, it's education, education, content, education based marketing. I have two blogs. I've written a book. I do lots of podcasts. And I like to educate I just think that and I love to do it like my blogs are free. Like I just open-source education. I just think is awesome.


Russ Harlow  38:55

Yeah, when you add value, and then people get to know you. It kind of helps you take the next step. I think that's a great idea. Is there one business platform that's changed your life or business?


Monique Allen  39:07

Yeah, absolutely. HubSpot. That was life changing. I got into hub so I'm I live in Massachusetts, HubSpot is a Boston based company. I love local, I have a whole hyperlocal mission statement within our company. And so I was like, alright, I want a local company found HubSpot. Like maybe two or three years after they started. And I am such a convert to inbound marketing. We our lead engine is all automated. I wake up and their leads and phone calls booked on my calendar for both businesses. It's an awesome platform.


Dana Dowdell  39:43

Oh my god. It's so cool. Um, let's see. When did when did you feel like you had made it?


Monique Allen  39:54

Ah, you know, it's funny. I wish I listened to enough of your podcasts. know that this is a this is like an interesting one to answer. The first time I felt I made it was when I made a million dollars. Because I thought because always I would always say, I want to make a million dollars, I want to make a million dollars. And I made a million dollars like, I made a million dollars. And then I was like, now what? And I also when I said I wanted to make a million dollars, I never made the connection between the million dollars and what actually hit my pocket. So you know, no sooner did I make a million dollars that I was like completely bereft because I had no idea what was next. So now what I believe is that I'm becoming daily, and that the targets are less important than the experience of the journey. And I'm really having a blast with the journey right now. So, I'm making it every day.


Russ Harlow  40:51

Yeah, let's remember top line revenue of a million is no good. If you're spending 1.30


Monique Allen  40:58

At least I was in the black, I was profitable. But damn wasn't what I thought


Russ Harlow  41:03

you made a couple of references to the E Myth. Is there one book? If not that one that's been huge impact on your business?


Monique Allen  41:12

Yeah, that one was definitely a huge impact. The other one that was a big business and I don't even know if it's in print anymore, but it's, it's called lekota grow. And the authors were Doug white, and what was her name? It might have been Paulie, Doug and Polly white, I think it's the name like go to grow. And that book was really an it is on Audible. So like, I got the book, and I did the audible and that was like a that was like a study in in behavior, like attachment behavior. And I realized that I was, you know, I kept thinking I was so you know, letting go and whatever. But I had like, one hand wide open, and I had a death grip with the other one. And, yeah, so that that was actually a lot of things changed after that.


Dana Dowdell  42:02

I think I need to read that one. Oh, good. Okay, Monique, you are like an incredible wealth of knowledge. And I think that anyone who is in business, whether you're in trades or not, needs to check out your content connect with you learn more about your regenerative, regenerative business community. Right. Yeah. So all of your resources, where can people find you?


Monique Allen  42:31

So the best way is to go to the life scape That's my coaching website. There's links to my, you know, business website, and everything sort of links back and forth, but the life scape would be the best place to find me.


Dana Dowdell  42:43

Yeah, so check out the show notes or look at the guest profile on the it's just business podcast website. And you can find that link. And it also links back to the landscaping business. So, if you need services in the Massachusetts area, and you want to hire Monique and her team, you absolutely can. Monique, thank you so much for being on the podcast. You're incredible.


Monique Allen  43:05

Well, thank you both. I really, I enjoy your podcast. Thanks for bringing this conversation to people.


Dana Dowdell  43:10

Yeah, and thank you for listening, rest. And I always appreciate any and every lesson that we get and we learn every day from these interviews. So, we're really proud to be able to bring you some really good interviews with really good guests. So please go follow us on all of the platforms Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram and it's just business podcast, and you can shoot us an email at it's just business And as always, remember, it's not personal. it's just business.