255 episodes

Transcend the hype and hear from small business owners about what's REALLY working when it comes to running & growing their businesses. Tara McMullin (formerly Tara Gentile) hosts candid conversations about the ins & outs of marketing, management, mindset, operations, product development, sales, customer service, and more. No gimmicks or fads. Just an inside look at how coaches, educators, lawyers, digital product creators, agency owners, writers, consultants, and more make it work.

What Works Tara McMullin

    • Entrepreneurship

Transcend the hype and hear from small business owners about what's REALLY working when it comes to running & growing their businesses. Tara McMullin (formerly Tara Gentile) hosts candid conversations about the ins & outs of marketing, management, mindset, operations, product development, sales, customer service, and more. No gimmicks or fads. Just an inside look at how coaches, educators, lawyers, digital product creators, agency owners, writers, consultants, and more make it work.

    EP 266: Building An Inclusive Community With Whole30’s Melissa Urban & Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison

    EP 266: Building An Inclusive Community With Whole30’s Melissa Urban & Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison

    The Nitty-Gritty:

    * The day Melissa Urban realized she needed to do more to make the Whole30 community more inclusive* Why she’s chosen to be public about her learning when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion* How Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison is taking the lead on efforts to make sure everyone feels seen and heard within the community* What unique challenges Whole30 faces in their DEI efforts* Why listening is at the heart of so many of the initiatives they’re rolling out

    Who’s missing here?

    What points of view, what lived stories, what experiences aren’t represented here?

    Up until a few years ago, this is a question I didn’t think to ask.

    The reason I didn’t ask those questions, simply put, is because the spaces I was in—the spaces I had created—seemed so normal to me. The spaces I was in and the spaces I had created were full of middle class, white women.

    If I’m being frank, the only question I would ask from time to time were: where are the men?

    Which probably just further proves my point… I was used to seeing men around, so I questioned it when they weren’t there. I wasn’t used to seeing people who had different points of view, different lived stories, and different experiences than mine so I didn’t notice they were missing.

    Who’s missing here?

    It’s a question that asks so much more of me as a leader than to “simply” even out the demographics.

    “Who’s missing here?” asks me to consider why people are missing in the first place. What is it about the way I’ve built my business, my community, my brand that doesn’t create space for people who are different from me?

    Over the last few years, like many white women I know, I’ve been on a personal growth journey to better understand systematic oppression and internalized bias—and their role in my business.

    I’m personally invested in this journey. I’m politically invested in this journey. And yes, I see this journey as integral to my effectiveness as a leader and entrepreneur, too.

    I do not have answers. I don’t even have all the questions! But I’m learning and sharing that learning with you is important to me.

    While there are many white women entrepreneurs who are on this journey with me, few have been so public about her learning, her missteps, and the action she’s taking in her business as Whole30‘s Melissa Urban.

    About a year ago, shortly after I finished my own life-changing Whole30, I noticed that Melissa announced she was searching for someone to lead diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts for her company. I kept my eye on those developments and always enjoyed seeing her update her audience on the hire and progress they were making.

    So when we decided to do this month on leadership, I knew I wanted to talk with Melissa and the woman she hired to fill this role, Dr. Carrie Kholi-Murchison, now Whole30’s Director of People & Culture. I wanted to find out why and how Melissa has been leading so publicly on this front—and I also wanted to find out what Kholi was doing to lead this change internally in the organization.

    This conversation has been several months in the making—even though we recorded it less than a week ago!

    • 59 min
    EP 265: Leading Differently With MicroConf Co-Founder Rob Walling

    EP 265: Leading Differently With MicroConf Co-Founder Rob Walling

    The Nitty-Gritty:

    * What values are woven through Rob Walling‘s many ventures* Why he started MicroConf and how it’s a direct reaction to so many communities & events for founders* How Rob sees his role as a leader of a rapidly growing community* How he turns his values into policies, systems, and operating procedures no matter one business he’s working on

    “Different is better than better.”

    That’s what Sally Hogshead says. Sally is a brand expert and the creator of the Fascination Advantage Assessment, which helps entrepreneurs and leaders discover what’s naturally fascinating about themselves.

    What she means is that better is fleeting. It’s uninspired.

    “Better,” she says, “keeps you chained to the same way of working as your competition.”

    Being different, on the other hand, helps you stand out. Being different helps you gather the right people around you—because they immediately see what you’re about.

    Different helps you win on your own terms.

    So how do we arrive at “different?” How do we build our brands, our ideas, our businesses to be different?

    Different is a result of operationalizing our values.

    This month, we’re working our way through a series of conversations about leadership. Specifically, I’ve been talking to small business owners about how they lead with their values and how those values pop up in their businesses in their systems, policies, and operating procedures.

    Today, my guest is Rob Walling and Rob is committed to doing things differently.

    Rob is best known for his leadership in the world of bootstrapped software-as-a-service businesses. He is the founder of Drip, MicroConf, and most recently TinySeed. He’s also the host of Startups for the Rest of Us and the author of Start Small, Stay Small.

    Rob has chosen, from the beginning, to do things differently—and the reason is his values. His values led him to realize that he could build a business without playing by everyone else’s rules—and that’s made him a leader for thousands of others who are looking to do things differently too.

    I talk with Rob about the throughline that weaves his different ventures together, the values that define his work, how his community and events are a reaction to the “standard” in his field, and how he views his role as a leader. Plus, I ask him how he’s ensuring his values continue to play out as his community rapidly expands.

    Now, let’s find out What Works for Rob Walling!

    • 36 min
    EP 264: Leading A Growing Community With Rebelle Founder Shannon Siriano Greenwood

    EP 264: Leading A Growing Community With Rebelle Founder Shannon Siriano Greenwood

    The Nitty-Gritty:

    * The “fetal position” moment that led Shannon Siriano Greenwood to start Rebelle* Why belonging, inclusivity, vulnerability, and authenticity are the top values the community leans into* How the details and design of each event help bring the values to life* How she sees her role as a leader within the Rebelle community* How she’s managing the growth of Rebelle so that she ensures its values continue on

    Stepping up as a leader takes a willingness to walk a fine line.

    On one hand, you become a leader because there is a community, an organization, a group, or a movement that you care passionately about. Your leadership is an expression of belonging at the same time it is a question of possibility.

    On the other hand, as a leader, you have a responsibility to set the tone, to hold others accountable, to make decisions for the group, and set standards. Your leadership is product of always being a few steps in front of the rest of the group.

    Whether you’re leading a team, a community, your current clients, or a bevy of customers, every small business owner is a leader. Which means you—yes, you listening right now—are walking this fine line whether you realize it or not.

    This month, we’re examining leadership and specifically how we lead with our values—and turn those values into systems and action.

    One way that we, as leaders, can make sure our values are known and that our actions support the kind of culture we want to create within our businesses, is by recognizing our role as members of the group we lead.

    If you’re leading a team, you’re a member of the team.

    If you’re leading a community, you’re a member of that community.

    If you’re leading a movement, you’re a member of that movement.

    Yes, you have a role and responsibility that is separate from that—and often takes up much more of your time and attention. But you’re in it, too. And that’s important.

    Last week, Erica Courdae shared that one of the ways she leads is by modeling how she wants her values to play out. She shows up and does the work just like she wants her staff to.

    This week, my guest Shannon Siriano Greenwood, echoes something similar. When I asked her how she views her role, she told me that she sees herself as much as a member as a leader.

    In my own business and The What Works Network, this is also how I’ve learned to see things. If I model the kind of behavior I want to see play out, others will follow my lead. If I show up as a member in our community, others will mirror what I do.

    That’s not how I used to operate, though. I used to think that being a leader meant distancing myself from the people I lead. It meant being different and doing differently.

    What I’ve learned is that being a leader is both/and.

    I’m both a member of my community and the one that sets the standards. I’m both a member of my team and the one that makes the plans. If I’m careful and thoughtful, I can do both.

    And now, it’s time to get to this week’s guest. I’m thrilled to bring Shannon Siriano Greenwood back to the podcast.

    Shannon is the founder of Rebelle, which started as a conference and grew into a whole community of women ...

    • 38 min
    EP 263: Turning Your Values Into Action With Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coach Erica Courdae

    EP 263: Turning Your Values Into Action With Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coach Erica Courdae

    The Nitty-Gritty:

    * The frustrating situation that led Erica Courdae to go on her own and create Silver Immersion, an inclusive hair and beauty company* How Erica has developed her voice and ability to stand up for what she believes in* Why modeling is a key way she leads her team—and her clients* How she made the transition into coaching and decided to specialize in diversity, equity, and inclusion for business owners* Why Erica takes a stand for imperfect allyship and how that plays out in her business


    We talk a good game about having values, living our values, and even running a business with our values.

    But, like, what does that really mean?

    It’s not enough to have them written down somewhere. It’s not enough to put them on your website. It’s not enough to talk through them with a new hire.

    No, values can be, should be, the filter for how we do everything in our businesses.

    Part of our job as business owners—as leaders—is to ensure that the values we hold dear are operationalized in our work. It’s our job to make sure values turn into systems, product features, or boundaries with clients.

    Strong leaders turn values into action.

    This month on What Works, we’re talking about leadership—and specifically, we’re talking about how leaders operationalize their values, how they turn values into action, structure, and systems.

    I’m fascinated by the creative ways that entrepreneurs operationalize their values. I’m fascinated by how values make decisions easier, policies clearer, and plans stronger. I’m fascinated by how brands display immense leadership by doing things differently than the norm—all inspired by their values.

    And I’m fascinated, of course, by the results that businesses see because of how they operationalize their values: stronger communities, bigger movements, more brand recognition, and, yes, often more profit, too.

    Displaying strong leadership and operationalizing our values isn’t squishy and it’s certainly not just a nice-to-have.

    It’s become the bar we have to rise above if we want the work we do to be relevant and meaningful.

    Over the course of this month, we’re going to hear from leaders who have operationalized their values in a variety of ways.

    You’ll hear from Shannon Siriano Greenwood, who has built an incredible, values-driven community with Rebelle. Shannon is now expanding outside of the Richmond area and I wanted to hear how she’s taking her values into new territory.

    You’ll hear from Rob Walling, a serial entrepreneur, podcaster, and the founder of MicroConf. Rob has intentionally an event experience that’s different than others in the same field by focusing on his values.

    You’ll hear from Melissa Urban and Carrie Kholi-Murchison from Whole30 on why they’re investing in making the Whole30 community a more diverse and inclusive community—and what steps they’re taking to do it.

    But today, my guest is Erica Courdae, the founder of Silver Immersion, a Baltimore-area hair and makeup business, as well as a diversity, equity,

    • 44 min
    EP 262: Honing Your Craft Using Smart Project Management With Kickass Conferences Founder Isaac Watson

    EP 262: Honing Your Craft Using Smart Project Management With Kickass Conferences Founder Isaac Watson

    The Nitty-Gritty:

    * How Kickass Conferences founder Isaac Watson manages massive projects like organizing a conference* The 5 phases that each event plan goes through and how project management works at each stage* What tools Isaac and his teams use to ensure every detail is accounted for and every guest has a fabulous experience* How he manages the experience on the ground during a live event

    I used to balk at project management.

    It felt like the systems I was supposed to follow were imposing rules on things that didn’t need rules.

    I’d get it done. And I’d do it my own way, gosh darn it.

    But then, at some point…

    …probably the 341st time I didn’t have enough time to execute a project the way I really wanted it to be done…

    …I realized that project management is as much about honing your craft as it is about making sure you hit deadlines or don’t forget a step.

    Teasing out the bits and pieces of how projects happen helps us make better stuff…

    …whether what you’re making is a publicity campaign, a book, a set of complex financial reports, or a podcast.

    This month, Sean and I have working hard on the next phase of our project management at Yellow House Media. Yellow House is the full-service podcast production agency we co-founded back in August.

    The way we look at it, every step in the process of producing a podcast is an opportunity to make a show better—to make it more engaging for the listener and to drive more results for the business owner. But to fully take advantage of those opportunities, we have to have our process down.

    We can’t just throw an episode together. We have to carefully and intentionally work each step of the process so that both the host that we’re working with and our team has the greatest freedom to innovate and improve.

    The structure of project management gives us the space to hone our craft, to get creative, and to make something great.

    And the better we get at making great podcasts, the better our project management gets too.

    My guest today has had a similar experience learning the ins and outs of event planning and hosting kickass conferences.

    Isaac Watson is the founder of Kickass Conferences, an event strategy and production studio based in the Pacific Northwest. Isaac helps community leaders develop and deliver transformative events for their audiences that inspire them to build a better world. So far, he’s planned and managed events that have touched over 21,000 lives across the US and Europe.

    Isaac is a natural event planner. I know because I’ve attended a number of events that he’s planned and I hired him to plan a conference for me 4 years ago.

    But Isaac hasn’t relied on his natural aptitude for creating meaningful and engaging experiences. Instead, he’s designed a process he can rely on to pull off one great event after another.

    This process and the way he manages his events is clearly a product of the way he’s honed his craft over the years.

    He notices what works, he notices patterns, he notices the things that go unnoticed—and then he adapts the way he manages future projects.

    In this conversation, Isaac and I talk about how things have evolved since his ve...

    • 47 min
    EP 261: 5 Project Management Tools These Small Business Owners Can’t Do Without

    EP 261: 5 Project Management Tools These Small Business Owners Can’t Do Without

    The Nitty-Gritty:

    * 5 small business owners share the project management tools they can’t live without* Why each tool is the right fit for the way each business owner works* How they incorporate the tools into their workflows* Plus, what tools haven’t worked for them

    Project management is so much more than software.

    But if you think about tools like Asana, Trello, Clickup, or Notion (referral link that helps to support What Works) when you hear project management, you’re certainly not alone.

    I remember when Asana first started gaining popularity among digital small business owners. “Finally!” we thought collectively, “We can figure out how to get it all done.”

    Of course, most of us quickly realized that software like Asana doesn’t solve the problem of having too much work, unclear priorities, and a decidedly nonlinear project to complete.

    Project management is as much about how you approach the work that needs to get done as the software you use.

    So if project management is as much about how we approach the work as it is the software we use, why do we spend so much time stressing over that software?

    My hunch is that, despite all indications to the contrary, we believe that there’s a piece of software out there that will make us more productive, more organized, and more effective.

    Here’s what I’ve found to be true, instead:

    My project management software is only as good as I am. I can’t expect it to do for me what I’m not willing to do for myself.

    But if I commit to doing the work of project management…

    …if I organize my projects and get real about what’s required to bring each of them to completion…

    …if I’m willing to do the work I say I’m going to do…

    …if I consciously balance my big picture goals and my daily to-do lists…

    …then I can find project management software that helps me do that. But it starts with me and my own approach to the work.

    Now if that sounds personal, I can assure you that it is. I thought I was “broken” when it came to project management and that maybe there was some piece of project management software that could fix me. I tried a bunch. For while, I tried managing projects in Evernote–but that really just turned into me relying on my own brain, as per usual. Then, we dabbled in Trello… but it just didn’t work for us.

    Then, I tried using Asana. My team used it for 2 full years but I could never get the hang of it.

    That’s partly because I needed it to do something it just didn’t do–but it’s also because I wasn’t fully committed to doing the work of managing my projects. Then, I decided to grow up and do hard things.

    At the same time, we switched to Notion.

    Yes, Notion lets me do things I could only dream of in Asana or Trello. It combines content with task management in an completely customizable interface.

    But the most important piece is that I decided to manage my projects. I decided to work the system. I committed to following through–and Notion helps me do that.


    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

HenryLopez@TheHowOfBusiness ,

It Works!

Tara offers great and actionable information for small business owners like me. Very professionally produced show. Love it!

ThisNicknameIsntChosen ,

Tara is top of the class

Tara is a master at bringing together knowledgeable, generous business owner who have worked hard but also intentionally to build their businesses — and are willing to share it all. This podcast is so well done and ties in beautifully with the What Works community discussions. The podcast is a great tool on its own, but add in the community and you will see tremendous growth in your business. Great job Tara and team! Thank you for all that you do!

Atb275 ,

Such a breath of fresh air

This podcast is so refreshing in a sea of “do more” and “grow faster.” I love listening, and the monthly themes make it easy to stay engaged and not get bored. Thanks for truly making a difference in my business AND life, Tara!

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