What SOCO Members Accomplished in 2021

What SOCO Members Accomplished in 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, we can again say, “what a year.” 

The challenges were real, folks. It was a roller coaster ride in more ways than one. And while it’s easy to focus on the lows, we want to highlight the good things that happened around the SOCO community. 

It’s a bit of a “family tradition” around here. Once a month, we have #winningwednesdays which we use as a time for members to share the awesome stuff in their life (business or personal). And once a year, we ask them to tell us what they’re most proud of over the last 12-months. 

The answers cover a broad spectrum of accomplishments. But the common theme is this: these folks did incredible things over the past year, like freelance copywriter Cat Treme, who kept her business going (and thriving) while caregiving for her parents. 

Or Mary Cate Spires, who wrote a book that’s scheduled for publishing in 2022. We love to see our folks be recognized for their hard work. 

Others, like Amanda Goforth and Jeremy Tong, landed new jobs (working remotely at SOCO 🙌) with companies they’re really excited about. 

And SOCO’s own Whitney Balish blew through her reading goal of 60 books (“I’m sorry, did you say 60”)? And read 78 books as of the publishing of this article (her highest total ever). 

Yours truly (Ben Culbreth), quit the 9-to-5 life to become a full-time freelance writer. 

These are just a few examples of what members are up to. From building new companies to leading non-profits, we’ve got a pretty amazing group of people who call this community home. 

We don’t like to talk about ourselves too much, but we’d be remiss, not to mention a few things we’re proud of. 

First, we welcomed two new team members; the aforementioned super reader, Whitney Balish, who’s leading our sales and business development efforts, and Hannah Lee, who manages operations and makes sure the workspaces work the way they’re supposed to. 

For the first time since SOCO 80808 opened, we participated in Vista Lights and welcomed more than 1,000 people to our humble abode in one evening.  

We invested blood, sweat, and maybe a few tears into the GrowCo Growth Summit and continued to fulfill one of our values by supporting the entrepreneurial community. 

At 80808, we made some home improvements by enclosing offices to give members a better experience to do their best work. In addition, we upgraded seating at both locations and added outdoor lighting. In short, we have the best work infrastructure in the city (Seriously, it’s really awesome). 

And gave back; SOCO members lead the way by donating more jackets and coats, which will keep local students warm this winter than any other group participating. We have Dawn Dawson-House to thank for getting us involved. 

It’s been a long year. But we’ve battled through a pandemic and many other things, and we’re still here. We’ll continue to support the good people who choose to be part of SOCO. We’ll tell powerful stories and hopefully offer the advice and insight that will make you better at what you do and a better human. 

Nothing in life is a given. Not for one second do we take for granted the opportunity we have to serve people who are doing work that is changing our city and the world. Whatever 2022 throws our way, we’re ready. And we hope you’ll be right there beside us. 

Get to Know: Derek Tsuboi

Connect with Derek on social:

I’m a paid advertising and digital marketing guru who likes craft beer, video games, and playing music. I used to play in metal bands, and I’m looking forward to teaching my kids how to play when they get old enough. I’m always looking to expand my knowledge, and I’m always on the hunt for delicious food and craft brews. 

Cool! We have a few questions… 

What jobs did you have before you landed where you are today?

  • Salad Maker at The German Gasthaus 
  • Supervisor at Taco Bell 
  • Supervisor at UPS 
  • Supervisor at Gamestop 
  • Route Manager at Trugreen 
  • Marketing Bitch at VOLT Lighting (Where I started my internet journey) 
  • Various Agencies 
  • Various Startups  

What do you wish outsiders knew about your industry? 

Paid advertising isn’t a silver bullet that’ll save a failing business. Businesses themselves actually have the best advantage when it comes to creating the most successful campaigns. 

What’s the #1 question clients or customers ask you? 

“How much should I spend?”

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned the hard way?

Perfectionism is the enemy. I allowed perfectionism to hinder me to the point where I never released a product I could’ve back in 2013. My perfectionism caused me to never launch, and someone else ended up doing it and making a killing doing it. 

What’s one book, podcast, series, or movie you’d recommend…and why?

I hate to sound cliché, but Dale Carnegie’s books have been the most impactful reads I’ve found. 

What’s one way the SOCO community has shaped your life?

SOCO has shown me there is a community of like-minded, progressive people here. Being around people who have similar interests and all seem to be striving to live our best lives keeps me motivated. 

What improvement do you hope to see in your own life in the next 12 months? 

I’m hoping to finish building out my business. I’ve evolved it and changed my agency over the years, and I haven’t been able to really scale up as a result. I think I’m closer than ever before, but I want to get things in scale mode within the next year

Get to Know: Ben Landers

Connect with Ben on social:

Ben Landers is a Husband, Dad, and Teacher.  When he’s not teaching or creating resources online, he loves to get active through camping, hiking, kayaking, surfing, snowboarding, or any other outdoor pursuit that he can manage to squeeze in. He’s also pretty handy with a camera and loves making videos and documenting fun trips and daily life with his family. 

Okay, so, who are you? 

I’m a Hubs of 13 years and a Dad to 3 kiddos 6 and under. Our life is definitely a circus, but we usually salvage some beautiful moments in the chaos of it all. I’ve been teaching Physical Education to Elementary kids at River Springs Elementary going on 14 years. In 2014, I started a teacher resource website to help out PE teachers and create content and resources to push the profession forward. 

Cool! We have a few questions… 

What jobs did you have before you landed where you are today?

  • First Job: Landscaping company doing yard work
  • Worked 6 years for Mungo Homes installing Sprinkler systems in the Columbia heat
  • Worked at a summer camp as the Tech Guru and Weekly Highlight Video Creator 
  • Started my own Photo and Video Business
  • ( https://benlandersmedia.com/ )
    • Currently taking a break from this to focus on other stuff
  • Phys Ed Teacher 2007 – present
  • Online Content Creator and Membership Site Founder for PE Teachers

What do you wish outsiders knew about your industry? 

Honestly, I wish everyone realized how real the opportunity is to start a business creating content in almost any niche or area of interest that you are passionate about. I think lots of folks who are discontent with their work should start creating content about something they love and are passionate about and try to turn it into a business through creating resources or a membership. It’s definitely not easy work, but I would rather work 50 hours a week doing something I love than 30 hours a week doing something I hate. 

What’s the #1 question clients or customers ask you? 

They ask, “How do you find the time to do it all?” I usually answer with a few tips like focus on one thing, prioritize your tasks, and batch your time for different types of work. But in the end, everyone has the same amount of hours in each day—it’s just a question of finding a way to use them in the best way possible to achieve whatever you want to do with your life. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned the hard way?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint…Starting a business takes time to gain traction, and there are a lot of hard and long hours. In our microwave society, we want everything to be delivered in 2 days, but the truth is change is hard, and it takes time. Most people will give up on something before they’ve put in enough work to realize the outcome they were hoping to reach. I have to constantly remind myself of this when I get impatient with the way things are going or how long it’s taking to learn something new, develop a new resource or product, or push out a new initiative. 

Another big perspective shift is learning to love the process, sometimes it’s the journey over the destination, and if you can enjoy the journey more than the destination—you’ve pretty much figured out the best life hack there is.

What’s one book, podcast, series, or movie you’d recommend…and why?

My favorite Podcast is The Tim Ferris Show. It’s incredible. The most recent interview with Hugh Jackman is a great one to catch if you haven’t heard it; there are so many takeaways and valuable insights that he shared.  

What’s one way the SOCO community has shaped your life?

For the first few years, I built my online business in coffee shops and the public library. But when I found SOCO, I was pumped to be able to have a sanctuary to get more focused on work with fewer distractions…unlimited beer and coffee had a slight impact on my decision as well :-).  I enjoy the feeling of working in a place where there are so many other people working towards their goals and building something valuable as well—the hustle is contagious. 

What improvement do you hope to see in your own life in the next 12 months? 

As a PE Teacher, health and activity has always been one of my top priorities, but the whole quarantine situation with 3 kids has pretty much wrecked both me and my wife’s exercise habits…and most of our healthy routines we had in place before COVID.  I’m hoping to get some of those routines back and build in some regular exercise, personal development, and mental health-focused times into my life over the next year.

Get to Know: Jada Willis

Connect with Jada:

Jada Willis is a business owner, podcaster, author, and HR professional. When she’s not helping small businesses create scalable HR processes, Jada is usually listening to a podcast or spending quality couch time with her wife. When COVID isn’t a thing, she travels, enjoys the spa, and other adventures. Jada is passionate about being a problem-solver and helping others succeed.

Cool! We have a few questions…

What jobs did you have before you landed where you are today?

I’ve been working in Human Resources in some way, shape, or form since 2001. I started as an HR Intern at Ponderosa Steakhouse working for chicken wings and mashed potatoes. I begged an HR Director for a chance to learn. By 18 years old, I had participated in sexual harassment investigations, attended corporate strategic planning meetings, and interviewed and hired managers in 3 different states. I didn’t receive any money, but the experience was priceless. The chicken wings were pretty good, too! 

Prior to Willis HR, I have been a: 

  • Human Resources Business Partner
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Recruiting Specialist 
  • Target Store Manager
  • Server/Runner
  • Computer Lab Assistant 

I believe that every experience has led to Willis HR, an opportunity to help small business owners reach the goals that have previously been unobtainable. 

I have this passion for helping others. It’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

What do you wish outsiders knew about your job or industry? 

Everyone should know that, without the right HR partner, a company of any size is like a boat without a rudder. At Willis HR, our team is typically providing guidance, stabilizing or implementing new processes, and chartering the path for growth. A business has the greatest chance of succeeding and reaching its people, purpose, and profit goals with relevant HR systems. HR can be much more than just payroll, benefits, and filing.  

What’s the #1 question clients or customers ask you? 

Initially, our clients usually want to know how an outsourced HR firm can really get to know their company quickly and customize HR solutions. (That’s actually one of our strengths) 

Initially, our clients usually want to know how an outsourced HR firm can really get to know their company quickly and customize HR solutions. (That’s actually one of our strengths).

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned the hard way?

There are a few that I could list, but one worth sharing is that everyone isn’t a potential client. It’s okay to have an ideal client. 

Our ideal client has a true desire for an HR partner, sees the value of their employees, and has less than 50 employees. We build partnerships with our clients, and that’s how real results occur. This is our sweet spot. But, it took a little while to get to the point where we weren’t working with clients that just wanted to check a box. 

I have learned not to compromise my (our) values for money. We want to be a good fit for the right client. We even state on our website “We don’t say yes to every prospective client.” That’s one of the great perks of being an entrepreneur, the freedom to choose who you serve. As HR professionals, we terminate employees—it’s just the nature of our work. But, I naively didn’t think about the fact that I had to terminate clients. Ugh!  

What’s one book, podcast, series, or movie you’d recommend…and why?

I’m going to say, “The Big Leap.” Once someone operates in their zone of genius, lookout. This book helped me realize what a zone of excellence and zone of genius really was for my company and myself. It was life-changing. My fulfillment level went up and revenue increased!

What’s one way the SOCO community has shaped your life?

SOCO was the community that I searched Columbia for. A space to be a game-changing entrepreneur with vulnerabilities, mistakes, and insecurities. The members are insanely smart, generous, down-to-earth, and truly embrace others in the community. I’m thankful to be a part of it. 

What improvement do you hope to see in your own life in the next 12 months? 

I have learned that when I am taking care of myself and refilling my cup in the ways I need most, I am a better HR, leader, wife, daughter, friend, and stranger. I am structuring my morning routine and self-care to be able to fully make a positive impact on the lives I get to interact with on a daily basis.

Goal Setting in 2019 w/ Jeannie Sullivan

What small steps will you take regularly to create momentum toward your goal?

If you’ve got big plans for 2019, you don’t want to miss out on setting goals. Last month, I had the chance to work with a small group of entrepreneurs, creators, and dreamers to help them map out their plans into actionable steps.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of how to turn your big picture plans into actionable goals.

Step 1: Cast a Vision

Take just a few minutes to dream about how your life will look three years from now. Specifically, consider the areas of livelihood, wellness, creativity, connection (relationships), and money. Don’t worry about making this part perfect, just jot down a few phrases that represent what you hope will be happening in each area three years down the road.

Step 2: Write REAL Goals

Take each area, one-by-one, and write a REAL goals for where you’ll focus in 2019. REAL goals are like SMART goals but better. Why? Because they include feelings. What does REAL stand for?

(R) Realistic, but challenging

(E) Energizing

(A) Aligned with your vision

(L) Linked to success

An example from my own life in the area of creativity: In 2019, I’ll switch up my morning writing practice so that I’m actively working on an article, short story or poem to share; the sharing will take some courage.

Step 3: Create a Habit

Think of things you can shift in your environment that will support you in taking action toward your goal. Do you need to expand or limit your access to resources? What small steps will you take regularly to create momentum toward your goal?

Step 4: Set Your Intention

An implementation intention will help you start and protect your habits helping you actually accomplish your goals. To help you start a new habit, use a when/where statement. To help protect your habit, use an if/when statement.

Here are examples from my own goals setting strategy:

  • Weekday mornings from 5-6, I’ll write at my dining room table.
  • If  I miss a day, then I’ll add a weekend writing session.

Step 5: Make it Stick

Learn more about your own tendency when it comes to expectations and leverage it to set up accountability systems that truly work for you. To learn more, take this quick assessment by Gretchen Rubin: quiz.gretchenrubin.com.

If you’d like to learn more about these topics, check out these books that have been truly life changing for me:

  • Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin
  • Atomic Habits, James Clear
  • The Desire Map, Danielle LaPorte

Want some help getting your plan out of your head and down on paper? Reach out to me for a free laser coaching session: jeanniesullivan.com/laser.

Knowledge Bomb: Goal Setting

It’s a familiar cycle. We set a goal, tape it to our desk, and think real hard about it for a few weeks (or minutes, if you left email open). Then something happens. Whether it’s a move, a kid, a layoff, or lack of willpower, most of our goals derail.

Since this is such a shared pain point, SOCO figured what better time to chat about it than in January.

For the first Slack Session of 2019, we met up with a group of members in the #slack_sessions channel to chat through setting and achieving our 2019 goals.

Picking a target for the new year

Some members had big targets, others had small habits they wanted to improve. Things like:

  • Get into digital illustration
  • Cut out (gasp!) caffeine
  • Plan a few snowboarding trips
  • Bulk up various savings accounts (have you read through the Personal Finance session, yet?)
  • Coach a child to a basketball championship
  • Go through the mail every day
  • Take a full month off for vacation
  • Finish a book

Figuring out how the heck to get there

Once members know their goal, it’s less of a matter of what they want to achieve, and more about how. And a lot of members think small steps are the way to go.

How NOT to hit your goals

Just like you can set yourself up for success, you can also set yourself up for failure. If you want to ensure you don’t hit your goals, here are some foolproof ways to do that.

Members’ recipes for nailing goals

Thankfully, members have just as many ideas on hitting your goals as trashing them. When we asked what’s tipped them toward “nailed it” and away from “failed it” in years past, here’s what they had to say.

To reach a goal, you have to put in daily effort. And you want to make sure you have the kind of support system that encourages you to do that. Because doing the work day in and day out? That’s far from easy.

Hey you, don’t miss the next Slack Chat!

If you’re already a member, make sure you’ve joined the #Slack_Sessions channel. It’s where we post updates about topics, times for the next chat, and other related info.

If you’re not a member, how about scheduling a free tour? You’ll get to check out our space, meet a few members, and see for yourself why we rave about SOCO.