If You Have the X and Y, Someone Else Can Bring the Z

Chpt.-21 CRAVEguides for 25 cities!.

Ingredient  #2:  If You Have the X and Y, Someone Else Can Bring the Z

I had no idea how to go about producing a book, but ended up with CRAVE books featuring women entrepreneurs in 26 cities. Throwing an event isn’t a natural thing for me, but I have been in the event business for the last 15 years.  Writing is not my favorite thing, nor my forte, but I am a published author. I barely know how to use my microwave, yet have sold millions of dollars of strawberry shortcake. Here’s my secret ingredient: You don’t have to have all the answers; you don’t have to do it all yourself. Just add in the Z.

As entrepreneurs, we’re predictably caught up in the idea that we have to do it all, and we’re reluctant to pay for outside talent.  Or we suffer from the perfectionism plague– only you can do it right, and every aspect of your launch or project has to be perfect before you can move forward.

Whoa right there!  If that’s what you’re doing and thinking, STOP IT!  Bringing in the “Z”’s, the outside expertise, can make a huge difference

When I start a project or business, I first visualize how the end result will look…then work backwards. I assume there will be “HOWS” I don’t know, and that I will need help…and I budget for this.

For instance, I found an overseas publishing expert for the CRAVE books, which enabled me to produce and expand.  I wouldn’t have been able to build the CRAVE community without some great event planners. And if you ever see me in a kitchen baking shortcake biscuits, you’ll know I am not thinking about strategy or growing a well oiled machine.


                              (Biringer Farm parfait style shortcakes, outsourced from a local bakery – my “Z”)

Now over to you. You are the fabulous X and the unstoppable Y of your business. But there’s that pesky Z that you discover you need help with.  Maybe it’s the graphic design; maybe it’s the social media.  Whatever it is, you know someone else could do it better than you, which would ultimately make your business better.  How do you find them?  Who can you trust?

As scary as it seems, letting other people help you can be a very good thing.  Don’t be terrified of the “Z Factor”.

 XO Melody





P.S.  Don’t forget to surround yourself with cheerleaders.  Those are your biggest “Z”’s

P.P.S. Need help figuring out what you do best and identifying who should be your “Z” ? Work with me: http://thecravecompany.com/storm-1-1-melody/


Let them eat Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredient #1 KISS Keep it Simple. Simplicity is Sexy.

Every July, we gear up for my side hustle business selling strawberry shortcake at Seattle’s largest food festival: The Bite of Seattle. It’s a great reminder of the opportunity for KISS-my first basic CRAVE/biz ingredient.

A big key to our 27 years of success is simplicity.  In the early years, I veered off on a few tangents, thinking other items would be as popular as our original features – shortcakes, scones, brownies and Berry Coolers. I tried berry cobbler, pie-in-a-bag, and even s’mores (because I am crazy about marshmallows).  None of them sold like shortcakes. And can you imagine the difficulty roasting marshmallows, one by one, over a hot charcoal trough, while hundreds of people stood in line watching you make a sticky, chocolaty mess of yourself? Those items ended up being more trouble than they were worth.  

I learned that the sexy biz ingredients are the simple ones – easy to make, easy to sell. People tell us all the time the only reason they came to the fair is for our shortcake.  All we need to do is apply new paint to our booth and set up shop.                                                                                                                                                                                


The first thing I do when I work with a new client is help streamline their menu of products or services.  I ask: What is the simplest menu of products or services you can offer?    I find we all have a tendency to add when, in fact, we usually need to subtract.  Simple is not always an easy thing to accomplish. We get caught up in the excitement of possibilities and more often it ends up confusing the end user.

Who--What--Where's-Waldo-food-boothLook at the above picture — talk about brain overwhelm for your customer (not to mention a lot more work for you). Would you even guess that one of the 45 menu items is shortcakes?

Be known for one thing and be really good at it. This clarity also makes your elevator pitch, marketing, and mission statement more effective.  Go deep with it and don’t veer off and distract yourself and your audience. Simple and sexy attracts.

What are you putting into your menu of products or services?



P.S. Need help to simplify?  I’ve got lots of real life experience to share…learn more at:  ……





Ten Helpful tips from our Business Mentors at our mid-year Stop & Think-Tank




ANGELA SHEN – Founder of Savor Seattle Food Tours
Never react to emotional difficulties on the first day,  give it 24 hours…everything has a different perspective in 24 hours. Get your battle royale out of your brain and onto paper. It will help you be more objective and stop wasting energy running a mental marathon.


 GINA FRESQUEZ – Founder of Women’s Side Hustle Society
 Structure creates freedom. Become a master of your time by staying focused and scheduling  everything.  With change brings fear. Constantly be working on your mindset and addressing fears  to move forward. 


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 LARA FELTIN – Co-Founder & CEO Biznik
 Most new business ideas are assumptions we’ve made about a problem we believe we can solve  for an audience. If you’re stuck on how to move forward, focus on a just one problem you believe  you can solve. Taking steps to prove that 1) the problem is real, and 2) your business idea actually solves it, makes the parts that don’t work more recognizable, and the path for how to move forward more clear.


 MARIE POULIN – Co-Founder Oki Doki
 Start small and focused; run a pilot version or MVP (minimum viable product) before you invest  tons of time and resources into building an online course that may or may not sell. Adopt an  iterative mindset if you want to make real traction. 


 To start building community find 5-10 people you think would care about your business, and send  each an invite to grab coffee (your treat!) so you can ask them for advice about what you’re  building or for support or mentorship. At the end of the  meeting, ask them to introduce you to someone else who might be interested and ask if you can keep in touch through email or a Facebook Group.


 LYNN CHAMBERS – Founder of Lynn Chambers Consulting
 When your monthly budget goes sideways 1). Realize we only get 12 times a year to practice our  spending plan. Ease up on yourself.  2). Look back 2 months and see where the money (all of it!)  went.  Do this without judgement. Tally it up and ask yourself if this is where you want the $ to go.  If it is, great! If not…let’s look at how to adjust it! Small steps yield great strides.


 CATHARINE GATELY – Founder of Cantadora Communications
 Be authentic and tell your true story. You never know who needs to hear your story. Don’t  undervalue it. Make sure the story you tell drives your business mission, and keep it simple. 


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 MANPREET DHILLON – Organizational Management Consultant
 Organizational Management Consultant
 When you are overwhelmed thinking about making a change, become curious. Curious about what  is possible. Overwhelm is a great emotion as it shows us that we are uncomfortable with where we are at. Ask yourself: what am I really scared of? What is the worst thing that can happen? What is the best thing that could happen? If I were to take 3 actions what would they be? Then just schedule the next three actions. Your brain just needs to see a path to move through the overwhelm.


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 TINA NOLE –  Founder of Larj Media
 The top podcast providers are reporting that the average amount of time a listener will tune into  a podcast is for 30+ minutes. That means 30 minutes of your direct consumer/target audience’s  undivided attention – a perfect opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.


 MELODY BIRINGER –  Founder of The CRAVE Company
 Live from a deep place inside and be obsessively specific about where you are going.  Even if  you think you are ready to go, look at it again and cut it in half.  Keep it simple…simple is sexy.

If you are in Seattle,  Join us June 11th from 10-3pm – details here


A Co-Stormers Experience – Meet Molly Bullard

Molly Bullard profile pic







Tell us a bit about you! Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Molly Bullard and I am the founder of Seattle Photo Organizing. I help clients organize their print memorabilia, digitize and share their memories. I work 1/1 with clients, teach group digital photo organizing classes on both PC and Mac platforms, and create legacy books and milestone videos.

Prior to being an entrepreneur, I was a data analyst, sales & marketing manager for Oracle Corporation and stay-at-home-mom.

Why did you sign up for a CO-STORM?

At the beginning of 2016 I wrote out my goals for the year. The list included a lot of the same ideas from last year and a few new growth opportunities but I really lacked motivation. After ten years of building my photo organizing it was a well-oiled machine, like they say, “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?”. My right side of the brain was shooting for the moon but my left side was fighting harder to stay status-quo.

January turned into February and then I received the Facebook post about the Co-Storm event. I watched the event video, read about the mentors, and felt this childhood enthusiasm to PUSH myself. I really felt like an opportunity like this might push me out of my comfort zone, and I liked that.

What are the people in the CO-STORM like (including instructor + fellow stormers)?

I learned quickly that the network of mentors and attendees is robust. The first group I was paired with at the Co-Storm were from my industry and just as I thought they could help me, I thought I could help them. It felt great to be a part of someone else’s journey just as I expected their support of mine.












What were some of your breakthroughs?

I went into the event with a very open-mind. I thought that others will see me, my business, and industry very differently than I do and that their perspective is not readily available to me anywhere as a solo entrepreneur. The most interesting comment was about me choosing to be an industry leader within the photo organizing industry – with my ten years of experience, technical skills, and foresight to protect our personal digital content, now is the time for me to lead others, and I want to!

What was your favorite part of the CO-STORM experience?

I loved listening to other women entrepreneurs talk about their goals and challenges. I had to learn the hard way about self-employment tax fees and recognizing that some business offerings were too much of an emotional and/or business expense for me to maintain. Each of these fellow mentees were honest about their passion, failures, and fears which made me feel connected to a like-minded, motivated group.

How have you applied the strategies or goals after the CO-STORM?

I have tuned and tuned my plans since attending the Co-Storm event. Each week I spend time working toward my goals and it feels like I am able to focus more and more on a clear path.  

What would you say if you were recommending a CO-STORM to a friend?

Accountability is a wonderful thing. It is proven that we will lose more weight if we have a buddy helping us through the tough late-night cravings. All of us at the Co-Storm event are now each other’s support system. We listened intently to each other, offered advice, and exchanged contact information with the anticipation that we will reconnect soon to share our progress. This environment is just the right amount of “family” to keep us moving forward.












How do you feel right now?

I feel supported. I have my existing support group and this new one that believes I can achieve my dreams.

What motivates you on a daily basis?

Helping people gain confidence with their technology and reconnect with family and friends through photos.

What do you CRAVE?

I crave smiles. I spend time each day engaging with people I know, and don’t know, in an effort to get them to smile. Photos and the stories behind them bring out the best in each of us.





Are you looking for answers in the same place over and over again?



It’s easy to get stuck. Whether you’re starting a new business, climbing a corporate ladder, job-hunting—or doing all of this at the same time—you find yourself up against problems that don’t have a clear solution.

This is when you talk to your friends, mentors and coworkers. And that can produce fantastic results … sometimes. Those people all have one thing in common: they’re likely to have been immersed in the situation for a while. This is probably not the first time you’ve talked to them about your job, or your boss, or your new business. As your closest friends and confidantes, they’re also likely to be a lot like you in the way they approach a problem and view the world. Sometimes you need a fresh perspective, an outsider’s view of your world. This is what a co-storm is all about.

One of the most striking things about the co-storm I attended this weekend was the diversity. I talked with women whose ages spanned decades and whose current projects were surprisingly varied: a woman early in her career trying to negotiate a fair salary; a mid-career teacher launching a STEM summer camp; a longtime graphic designer creating a board game; a mother building a photography business; a young software developer eager to make her side project a reality; a start-upper in search of strategies for dealing with a hard-charging CEO; and a job-seeker hoping to better define her strengths and experience. 

During the six hours we spent together in the co-storm, I watched an amazing thing happen: People became unstuck. Their faces changed, their eyes lit up, and their body language relaxed as they were able to see their problems from a different perspective. They could focus with confidence on next steps. They finally knew what to do next.


The reasons they were stuck were as varied as the people themselves. Some realized they were asking the wrong questions. Others realized they were focused on what they thought they “should” do instead of where their strengths lay.  Many already knew the right answer—but the encouragement from others helped them to trust themselves. For all of them, generating focus and ideas among a new group of people was a transformative experience.

What I took away from the experience was that, when I find myself stuck on a problem, I’m probably also stuck in the way I’m searching for solutions to that problem. I’m probably looking in the same place over and over again. It’s crucial to look in new places, and with new people, for answers, and the co-storm was the perfect place to do just that. 

Sasha Pasulka – Director of Audience Product Marketing at Tableau   twitter.com/sashrocks