Making a difference while making a living

Raney Day Talks 02: How To Work Through Fear with Cat Townsend

Today’s episode is with our FIRST guest founder of The Good Alliance, Cat Townsend!  Cat and her team are on a mission to “help socially motivated entrepreneurs strengthen their platform, grow their community and scale their impact.”  We discuss how to build momentum to work through fear in running our businesses.

 

How To Work Through Fear with Cat Townsend

Jennifer Sakowski
So we are sitting across from, I like to say sitting across from, technically I’m staring through the Computer Monitor, but I wish we were sitting across from one another. I know! I Have Ms. Cat Townsend of The Good Alliance with me today. Technically my first true guest recording. So I can’t even tell you how excited I am. Like for people who are seeing this, they can’t see me rocking around and moving and jiving. But for those that are going to catch it later on the youtube channel. My Cat is with me like CAT! I put out the call, “Hey, I need some guests”. I know some really awesome people around the world and this one beautiful friend who has a heart to do good in this world. She accepted the call and filled out my form. And like, here we are. So Ms. Cat Townsend, tell me a little about your business and your story.

 

Cat Townsend
Wow. Hard questions right out of the gate. So as you said, I’m the founder of The Good Alliance, my business and my story. So I kind of feel in many ways, I’m so I’m anyone, any one of us, and just kind of got to the point where I was frustrated that my work didn’t have meaning and I set about trying to do more work that had meaning and it eventually became the good alliance. So we are an alliance of creatives, solopreneurs who want to do work that means something that makes a positive difference in the world. So we work with clients, socially motivated entrepreneurs around the world who are setting up businesses that solve some sort of social issue, whether they’re just helping individuals change their lives or helping families or communities or, yeah. You know, even bigger than that then we use our talents, which are typically on the ickiest side of, you know, just branding and marketing and all of that stuff and we use them for good. So those people can actually get further along and create an impact that they want to make.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Phenomenal. And you shared with me a blog from way back when of a video that you did. I had no idea. Can you share about that the journey that you took about running for a cause? Basically you take some time off you, you put a video together about it. Like just tell, tell our audience a little bit about it because I was impacted

 

Cat Townsend
That video. Right. so where do I, where do I even start with that? I think, I can’t even remember what year was it was, it must have been 2006 maybe. And I that year I’ve been doing a leadership program and I’ve been stunned to get a lot more conscious of the contribution I was making in the world. And although in my day job I was out there, I was working as a brand consultant, I was working with big global brands in London, city of London. We were like, I was doing all right. I was making some decent money and I was pretty good as what I was doing, but I was very conscious that I wanted to contribute more. And I started donating to charity investing in programs such as Kiva where you lend money to up and coming social up and coming entrepreneurs in developing countries.

 

Cat Townsend
And I just had this feeling like I had to do something, particularly at that time. The refugee crisis was really coming to everyone’s awareness, the scale of the refugees moving out of Syria across Europe. I know I was just a appalled and watching this on the news and feeling so impotent in terms of my impact. So I had this brainwave that I would do something big. All right? So yeah, I can dedicate a little bit of time to it, but I’m just gonna, you know, in my spare time I’m going to run across the country and I, I’m literally at Christmas one year instead of as most London’ers head to the airport and fly out to the different destinations, I put my running shoes on, strap the teensy toddy little backpack on my back and ran from London to Holland and live blogged the whole thing under the guise of a fleeing the country on foot because it was just amazing to me that people can travel, like human beings can be shifted out of their own lives yeah.

 

Cat Townsend
From their homes. Yeah. It’s such a terrifying because of such a terrifying circumstance. I had to flee their homes, take their family, all their belongings or possessions, travel across whole countries, across whole continents. And it’s just, I just can’t imagine what that must be like. So I was trying to like raise awareness of that and it was the biggest thing I’d ever done to that stage. I ran for six days straight through mud and calls, like, you know, this is December and in the UK. Yeah. And it was, and it was huge. And the raw de probably the best thing that came out of that was actually that I raised jackal money.

 

Cat Townsend
Sorry. So here I was thinking I was gonna make all of this impact. I was going to raise money for the UN refugee organization. I was live blogging. I love the people going, yeah, you can do this. And most of the people following the journey and in the end I actually raised less money for that charity. Then I actually spent doing the bloody challenge and it was, oh man, that was when I realized that that was such a heart thing, this huge thing that I had done, you know, it was such an abject failure and it really got me, it forced some introspection. And that was really when the good alliance was really founded because I went back to work after that and I was working on a project, which I won’t name who the client was, but we will lobbying in the EU government to change the regulations, which I sort of just had this moment going, oh my goodness, how did I get here?

 

Cat Townsend
]I was like, okay, this has got to change. I can’t be trying to do something, you know, I can’t be trying to make the world a better place in my spare time. And with stupid random acts like running across the country thinking that it’s going to change anything. I needed to dedicate my energies to actually doing that rather than actually spending most of my time creating a welder. I don’t want to see, I want to be spending it creating a world that I do want to see. So is that the story you were talking about?

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Yes. Well, and that was a pivotal point in for you, like that impact, like you said, it founded the good alliance. So from there and working full time for someone else, you’re doing part time for yourself right on the side. Did you just like, how was that transition from leaving a full time job and taking the leap into your own business?

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Like what, what did that feel like, especially after you just experienced that journey?

 

Cat Townsend
So I guess I was a little fortunate in that I had been working as a contractor for a couple of years. So when I was working with these, with these brands, I was working as a consultant. So I kind of had gotten over a little bit of the scary bit of actually just selling my time for money. So that put me in a little bit of a better position at that stage. But it was still a big, oh my goodness. So if I can’t work for obvious, and first you have the first group and you know, all of these big companies I was working for, what the hell am I going to do? Like how am I gonna make money? What am I? So it became a whole excising in me going, okay, so my talents in Briony, how do I, how do I package up what I want to do here so I can do it smart and actually get further and create a bigger impact. That’s awesome. So let’s, let’s fast forward to two years ago, one year ago, two years ago when I officially met you in person.

 

Cat Townsend
Feels like a lifetime.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
I know. OK. So a little backstory is we accepted the call in very awesome wordpress community. I’m with freelancers, small business owners, but it was all centered around wordpress. And I know that when that came out to do a mastermind and that was the first time they did, I was like, I need to do this. Like this is a no brainer. But the scary part, it was at the time,

 

Jennifer Sakowski
I like when we still have tiny humans, but they were Tinier when and knowing that we’d have to meet up in person. So not only we had all of our online meetings and like the learning and all, but you’re, we were thrown into a room with, I don’t know, like 13, 13 of us, 12 of us, I forget how many of us, but not knowing each other other than seeing online and doing a few calls beforehand. And the whole point of this was honestly to scale our businesses, to overcome whatever it was holding us back into scale and our the mastermind head, I don’t know what you’d call him, but Troy, he was phenomenal in leading and he instilled us some really awesome tools and ways to overcome that. I just remember we’re doing a call out for their rooms and who we ruined with. And I was like, ah, I’ll room with somebody.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Like, let me talk to them. So the enters Cat, this woman who I’ve never met in person from the UK. Oh No. Where you in? Where were you staying then?

 

Cat Townsend
I was in the UK at that stage.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Yeah. Okay. And so I thought, oh, like I’m going to have international friends. Like that felt good. Indiana girl over here. And then Tara entered and I roomed with you and Tara and oh my goodness. You talk about let’s, let’s just jump right into fear because that’s a big part of our podcast. Like I want to talk, we’re just having some coffee, some tea. I don’t even know what time it is there. What time is it there?

 

Cat Townsend
Oh to look. So perfect. 11:00 AM so well, there we go. It’s exactly time for tea. Yes.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Well it is nine after 9:00 PM here. It’s probably not time for coffee, but here we are. But let’s talk about that moment in your business that you realized that like, I, I need to make some change to grow. You know that you hit, you had decided to join that mastermind for a reason and I don’t know what that reason is, but and then getting thrown into a room with all these people,

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Like let’s talk about that.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
I love that you were scared of it. It warms my heart to know that you are, you’re full of fear as well. Yeah, because when you join something like that, a mastermind you’re paying to be part of something brings out that fear. Like what the hell have I got myself into? Who are these people? What the hell are they going to do to me? Am I up to it? It was probably the biggest thing for me going, oh my goodness, I’m going to get in a room with these people and they’re gonna realize that I’m in the wrong place and they shouldn’t have let me in. I’ll be honest, he’s there every day. That yeah, as as a business owner, there is rarely a day when I don’t feel that fear. Sometimes it’s magnified on a thing where I can go right mastermind. Right, okay, I’m going to drink my fear there and all of my little inner voices are going to be every to go on it. That’s the thing that’s gonna unfill all this, you know, you gotta be found out, but if I don’t have that thing then I’ll find something else to be fearful of

 

Jennifer Sakowski
For me. I know that that was a big part for me stepping into something like that. Cause I never done that before was opening myself up to like something bigger than me in business and being able to learn but also like I was, I’ll be honest, like I was going through a major identity crisis during that time. I could just had her second child. Evelyn came in this world, that girl, and it was like I didn’t, I was like, I know I need to be a business and you know all these things and I just needed a to be centered and focused on what I’m doing with Raney design and who I am with Raney design. So that’s how we met and we spent several days getting to know each other running, you know?

 

Cat Townsend
Right. You know what I, I just need to say what I find hilarious about this and what was probably the single best thing that came out of that mastermind with me was realizing I did a look at Jen and I’m just in all of everything that she’s done as anf and as achieved and she’s got such a wonderful, beautiful family, are really well adjusted and wow, how can this woman do this? I just think it’s amazing. And then to hear her share those fears that she has and some of the hesitations went through her mind and to admit that she was in there in the midst of an identity crisis at that time where I met Jen and just went, this woman’s amazing. Isn’t it funny the difference between what goes on in our head and what all the people are actually saying,

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Preach, let’s go there you, you’ve moved again. So let’s talk about that. Cause I, I appreciate that comment but I’m going to put it right back on, you know? No, but, but that’s so true because I, that’s one reason why we’re here is that I get so up in my head about what I’m doing. How am I going to be perceived? You know, we talk about.

 

Cat Townsend
…imposter syndrome.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Yeah. And just who am I to be here? Cause like there are some days that God, I, you know, I got ready, put the kids back, got ready and I’m like, this is work. How cool is this that we get to do that? So like I have those days, my step back and I’m thinking we did this, like we made it to where you’ve got clients from all over the world doing good things and making great impact. It just, it’s amazing to me to be able to step back and see how that’s evolved, but also if we could just get out of her head like this much and do the thing that we’re trying to do. So a lot of our businesses that we talk to are trying to get past that, whether it’s fear of success online or putting themselves out there or we talked to some startups that are just still trying to put together their products, but it’s like, is anybody gonna really buy this? And so fear keeps creeping and creeping and creeping in. That’s why we’re here. That’s why it’s podcast. Cause I figured if I’m going through it and that mastermind and being able to talk to so many awesome business owners that are in the same boat as I am about fear, there’s gotta be other people out there that need to hear that.

 

Cat Townsend
I have a feeling that there are my own personal take on fear. I’ve spent a lot of, I spent, spent a lot of time trying to get past the fear to conquer it, to get to get rid of it altogether. And I think I’ve just become a lot more accepting these days that is going to be there. And to the point, you know, even above my, my computer here, I’ve got like little post it notes. It doesn’t matter. You know, that I’m willing to feel this fear. I’m willing to do it anyway. I’m willing to just step up and try every day. And what I’ve found is that the thing that keeps my fear at bay, so for a long time I’ve been in, sometimes sometimes it’ll flare up and I will feel like I’m completely paralyzed by that fear. But fear is that k is the action I take based on that fear.

 

Cat Townsend
That’s not okay. If I let allow to stop me, then I’m not okay with that. But if I, you know, I just acknowledge it and I can move past it, it becomes a lot easy to ignore it or just to, yeah, thank it. And then move on if I’ve got some momentum. So it’s the moments where I stop and I’m stuck in something and I’m like, you know, I’m listening to the fear and the voices in that had the imposter syndrome, and, and all of that that things really come on done. But taking the small actions and continuing to show up every day and just do a little bit more in a little bit more and then start to see the progress and then having those moments where you look around and go, oh my goodness, am I doing this? Like this is pretty amazing. I do get to travel around the world. I do get to work on my own schedule. I get to work with some amazing people. Like it’s pretty cool. And then the fear pops up and goes, yeah, but yeah, but if they only knew and who you have all that, I just have to like go, okay, I’m busy here. I’ll deal with you later. Right off.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Right, right. And it’s a lot of that self talk. So what’s your number one quote that you go to or how do you pull yourself out of it?

 

Cat Townsend
So the one so I’ve got a couple of my wall on there now. Yeah. So the thing that’s pulling me through at the moment is one that’s being grateful. Many people, like many people spend their whole lives looking for purpose. And I have my found mine, I know mine. So that is like, okay, start from that place of gratitude that I can go, you know what, it’s not so bad. Like even though there’s days when it is really hard than, than that sort of gives me a bit of a boost. But the thing that’s make me keep going through, I don’t think it’s a quite, but it is something from one of the events we went to, Dana Malstaff says something along the lines of can’t remember what she said actually but. So think of, paraphrase it and I’ll just go at something works for me.

 

Cat Townsend
But it’s basically that I don’t need to be the person who finally changes the world. You know, trying to be perfect and be that person is such a big way all I need is just be the person that shows up and is willing to go through the stuff to try. And so that’s this thing that just keeps the momentum going. So it takes the pressure off every day that I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to be, you know, I don’t need to have everything at, you know, my vision is so big. I don’t need to have everything there every day. I just need to keep up in and, and doing the stuff and giving it a go and moving through it anyway. And then hopefully in the process I will get somewhere towards achieving my vision. So not sure how profound that is for anyone else, but it’s kind of working for me. [inaudible] The orange post-it note on the wall.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
No, that’s good because one of the things that, that you had mentioned in my cutesy questionnaire was when we, and I asked about the fear of anything that held you back in business and if so, what was it and how’d you break through? And there was something that you wrote down. It said, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully overcome them, but I know that action and momentum keeps them little. And so I take that as in it’s, you’re right, just show up. Just show up because that’s half the battle. It’s half the battle. To hit publish to make those phone calls, to send those emails. Like that’s half the battle. And then please just little things be my husband, God bless him cause he’s probably listening. We’re not going to tell him that he’s right. But he always said little things become big things. And so when I, and so a lot of times we’re …, I start like out here, like we’re, he can’t see me so listening, but my hands are up and it’s like you, I tend to make things this big and it’s not until I take a step back and I write it out, then it comes into little chunks and then I’m able to, okay.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Cause I always believe like if you can’t conquer it, if you don’t face it, so I’m like, okay, like the first thing I’m going to faces this task, this email, this client, this, whatever. So talk to me about, cause you said right now that you’re working to overcome, so if you don’t mind, tell me, how are you taking action and moving the needle right now and whatever you’re trying to overcome. Like how are you busting through that?

 

Cat Townsend
Oh, how I busting through that. So the momentum thing is so powerful, like, and there’s ultimate power in momentum. So even before I get into my day, say I just get it, getting down to the day to day. A lot of it is just reminding myself of that, that momentum. Because I believe, particularly when I read the news, I get a bit overwhelmed by all of the things that go wrong. Like I think the only way to fix a lot of the challenges that we have as a society is to actually build momentum. Like we need to. Once we have some momentum, once we’re doing something, then we’re suddenly have a lot more power and influence over the people around us. People we’ll stop and listen. They’ll, you know, they might actually be inspired by what we’re doing. And so that creates movements that creates change and there’s only way to do it.

 

Cat Townsend
So when I think about our day to day basis, it’s almost, you know, I’m connected to that vision I want to have, but I realize that it’s got to be a knock on effect. So this little piece that I do now is going to have an impact in my world. Yeah. But it’s going to have an impact. My team, it’s going to have an impact for my clients. So some days it feels so fricking meaningless. Yeah. I’ll be working on like what sort of like, when I think about it, so we work a lot in branding and building websites and marketing. Sometimes you’re looking that and going, how is a website gonna frickin change your world? Like how is me sweaty? Whether or not this font is right or going back and forth and trying to get the wording, like how is this actually gonna make a difference? Right. And yeah, I’d have to just scan, you know, step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Yet this is, this is me focusing on the pixels, but really I’ll go to, you know yeah, that it’s, it’s about the bigger picture. It’s hard to keep both of them in mind at the same time. Now sometimes it’s gotta be a practice, a bit of a, you know, yeah. I’ve considered effort to make sure that you do that.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Yeah. That’s, that’s something that you’ve helped me. Our last meeting I was really overwhelmed of like just not overwhelmed. Maybe that’s not the right word. But I was really trying to figure out like what is the problem in my business? I’m like, why? Why does it seem like to be such a bottleneck? And I like we went on vacation, came back and I was just noticing it just w we weren’t where I wanted to be and I wasn’t showing up the way I want it to be and I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture the way I ha I think it should look. And so we met and just basically like our calls are just catch up, you know, life and then it turns into what are you working on? What’s working for you? And we’d like dig deep. And the thing that you helped me is [inaudible] this too.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Like can it goes right along with what we’re talking about is I, I find out that I’m really good at looking at the bigger picture and for leading my team. Like, I’m real good with the clients cause you know, I can break out the plan and you know, we, we dial it in and you know, they’re focused on doing the thing. We look at the big picture. But from my team, a lot of what I’m trying to do is in my head or on my whiteboard and something that you do so well is to break down those big goals and putting them into actionable tasks or at least to look that way. When you, When you opened up creating project plans, yes,

 

Jennifer Sakowski
It was just, it was well organized and it was well thought out and you can see, and it was told transparency within the team because you could see each of the team members and their impact that they were having on the project. The plan, whether it’s on your business, Good Alliance, or if it was for a client, but they could see their role. And that to me was like the light bulb. So I met with my team the next time and I said, listen, there’s a problem here. And I told him, it’s me, it’s me. But here’s the beautiful thing. The solution is me. So I blew up our Asana and did that and it was amazing for me. It took work. So y’all listen and like it takes work to break something down like that that you have in your head or it might have on the whiteboard.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
But once that I was able to put it on paper and then break it down into actual steps, I’m able to properly delegate, add my notes, do all the things that helps them only do a better job in their own, like, you know, and from my expectations for them to show up and do. So that was huge. That was a huge takeaway from me and helping me just take bite sized chunks of the big goals and I’m trying to accomplish. And also the why. Like do you ever have to go back to your why when you get stuck up in your head in business and like when you read?

 

Cat Townsend
Oh, all the time. So I wouldn’t say we’d do it. Like on our weekly calls, every week is going back. Here’s the vision here’s who we are serving, here, our values. And He’s already won. I’m like, and it it, yeah, if it’s only the once a week that I’d do that, it’s always a big, oh, that’s why. That’s why it’s frustrating at all. That’s why that, oh, that’s why that went well, you know? So, yeah, absolutely.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Awesome. In closing, I want to do like a little wrap up of the things to take away from this episode is number one is that we all have fear. Whether it’s fear, how we show up in business, how we’re perceived, what fear of failure, feel, fear of success. So once again, I’m honing, I’m like hammering that nail. Like this whole, Huh,

 

Cat Townsend
You’re not alone. You’re not alone. Like that world going with that one.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Right. And maybe you’re not doing it right. I’m just going to put that out there. If you don’t have some kind of fear or you’re not comfortable, or if you’re comfortable and doing the thing that you may not be doing this thing right. And then two is chunking them down into bite sized pieces. You know, little things become big things.

 

Cat Townsend
Yeah. Well, I think start, start with, start with the why and then break it down. So why are we doing this? And then if you can break it down into the small actions off to that, then it makes brings that that small pace that you gain. Why the hell am I doing this? Back into context.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Yes. And then pushing the gas pedal, building your momentum and keep moving forward because there’s power in momentum.

 

Cat Townsend
Absolutely. And you know, I think there’s something that you, you said just minute ago that I think is really important. Remember too, is that we can be the weak point in our business. Like as business owners, we’re gonna the business is gonna be so influenced by us. Maybe we bring the challenges, but we also bring the solutions. We are the biggest asset we have in our business. Yeah. So don’t, don’t get so hung up in, in how you, you know, if I’m a terrible manager, I hate that about myself. I can’t. Yeah. But actually the other skills I bring so much more valuable than that thing. So I let let up on yourself and just keep moving.

 

Jennifer Sakowski
Awesome. Awesome. Well Cat, thank you so much for being a part of Raney Day talks. I’m so excited to have you here and I think you for your time and I’ll make sure to drop in if you want to check out the awesome things that The Good Alliance and Cat Townsend and her team are doing, go to thegoodalliance.org.

 

Cat Townsend
Thanks Jen. Take care. Bye Bye.


Connect with our Guest:

Cat Townsend, The Good Alliance

Website: https://thegoodalliance.org/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegoodalliance/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thegoodalliance
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thegoodalliance/

 

Thank you to our Sponsor

A huge thank you to Mark Levander of Mark Levander Productions for sponsoring season one of Raney Day Talks. It truly is because of Mark that we’re able to put these podcasts in our YouTube channel and a lot of our videos and load the animations together. So, if you’re interested in launching your own podcast or need work with photography or videography, please contact Mark through MarkLavanderProductions.com.

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