300 episodes

Stop spinning your wheels and start getting ahead: What Works is all about the nuts & bolts of what it takes to build a stronger business. Tara McMullin talks to experienced small business owners & entrepreneurs about marketing, management, mindset, operations, product development, sales, customer service, and more--so you can learn what's really happening behind the scenes. 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
    • 4.8 • 188 Ratings

Stop spinning your wheels and start getting ahead: What Works is all about the nuts & bolts of what it takes to build a stronger business. Tara McMullin talks to experienced small business owners & entrepreneurs about marketing, management, mindset, operations, product development, sales, customer service, and more--so you can learn what's really happening behind the scenes. 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 316: Planning For Parental Leave With Startup Society Founder Gillian Perkins

    EP 316: Planning For Parental Leave With Startup Society Founder Gillian Perkins

    In This Episode:







    * How Startup Society creator Gillian Perkins prepared for her recent parental leave* What her normal 20-hour workweek looks like and how she adapted that as she was working toward her leave* Why she describes her process as “batching chaotically” and how making that process what she plans for has made things easier for her* What she’s learned from taking time away from the business over the years











    There are a lot of folks out there telling you how to get your work done.







    There are planners, apps, frameworks, and methods. And there are even more messages about delegating, time-blocking, batching, and fitting a whole year’s work into just 12 weeks.







    It’s easy to think that the “way you work” works for you—and maybe it does. But it’s also easy to believe, if you let yourself, that the way you work has been shaped by the “shoulds” of an entire industry devoted to the capitalist pursuit of helping you produce more, be more efficient, and crank out more value for every hour of labor you put into the world.







    How would you structure your work if you didn’t constantly feel the need to fit more work in? How would you approach your tasks with intention instead of obligation? How would you create plans with stewardship instead of urgency as the motivation?







    This month on What Works, we’re tackling the topic of how we work our plans. This is a topic near and dear to my heart because I’ve spent years trying to squeeze myself into all the “right” ways of working and planning—only to discover that I really had to make it mine to make it work. I needed to rebuild my understanding of my work and accountability from the ground up to realize just how powerful I could be with how I create my work and use my time.







    In the last episode, I shared a bit about that and quite a bit about how I’m planning for What Works and YellowHouse.Media. And, I mentioned that one of my commitments for 2021 is Adapt & Emerge.







    So I want to apply that lens to the conversations I’ve had for this month’s episodes. I want to explore how business owners find the curiosity to question how they “should” be doing something or what they thought the plan was going look like and, instead, find their own way by intentionally adapting as they go.







    This week, my guest is Gillian Perkins—a YouTuber with over 450 thousand subscribers, marketing expert, business strategist, and the creator of Startup Society.







    I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Gillian through YellowHouse.Media, where we produce her podcast, Work Less, Earn More. Gillian is a disciplined, rigorous executor who is no stranger to making a plan and working it.







    And there are plenty of conventional ways that Gillian manages the work to be done—for instance, she loves Asana!







    But there was a really intriguing part of our conversation where I learned that Gillian’s found her true way of working on big projects—like planning for her recent parental leave—doesn’t necessarily fit the way we think it’s supposed to be done. She calls it “batching chaotically” and it’s a mode of operation I can definitely relate to!







    In this conversation,

    • 37 min
    EP 315: How I’m Planning For 2021 at What Works & YellowHouse.Media

    EP 315: How I’m Planning For 2021 at What Works & YellowHouse.Media

    In This Episode:







    * What Works founder Tara McMullin shares how she’s planning for 2021 at both What Works & YellowHouse.Media, as well as how she’s allocating her resources to better serve her teams* The 3 commitments she’s made to guide her personal and leadership choices throughout the year* The Strategic Priorities her companies are focusing on to move forward and what projects she’s working on to make it all happen!* Plus, Tara’s unconventional take on goal-setting & sticking with her plans











    Welcome to the first What Works episode of 2021!







    This episode is going to be a look behind the scenes of my two companies and how we’re planning for 2021, some of the choices we’re making, and what we’ll be looking for as the year progresses.







    Not only is this the kick-off episode for 2021, it’s the kick-off for our January series on “working the plan.” This month, I’m going to be sharing conversations about planning for parental leave, leveraging LinkedIn, and writing a book—all things that have taken intentional planning and execution!







    But before we get to those, I wanted to share not only how I’ll be working the plan this year but how the plan got made in the first place.







    I recorded this episode in mid-December 2020. And in that time, I’ve already discovered some things that are altering my plans. After all, the very act of working a plan means you’re gaining new information and even discovering new ideas.







    Planning is a learning process.







    It’s not about getting the plan right, it’s about finding a starting point and then learning from the result as you go.







    My plan is never set in stone. Adjusting my plan doesn’t mean I’ve failed or done something wrong. It means I’m learning. So I start with my best guess of what I want to do and then adapt from there as I gain new information and experiences.







    In this episode, I’ll share how I’m reallocating my resources this year to better serve my companies, what commitments I’ve made for the year, the Strategic Priorities we’re focused on, and what projects we’re kicking off the year with.







    Here’s what works for me when I’m working the plan!

    • 31 min
    EP 314: Discovering Who You Want To Become With Modern Leaders Co-Founder Melissa Emler

    EP 314: Discovering Who You Want To Become With Modern Leaders Co-Founder Melissa Emler

    In This Episode:







    * How Modern Learners Chief Learning Office, Melissa Emler, grew to meet the challenge her business faced leading thousands of educators through adapting to online learning* Why she continues to work her day job—and how it serves her as a business owner and leader* The 3-part framework she used to lead her community through the frantic pace of change this year* Why she’s prioritizing difficult conversations about systemic oppression and racial injustice in education











    There’s a little cartoon that I’ve seen pop up again and again over the years.







    A caterpillar and a butterfly sit at a cafe table, each with glasses of wine.







    The caterpillar says, “You’ve changed.”







    And the butterfly replies, “We’re supposed to.”







    “You’ve changed” is often wielded as negative feedback. And sure, I guess there are times when people change for the worse. But more often, “you’ve changed” means something more like, “You’re not playing small like me anymore.”







    No matter how much you know you’re supposed to change, no matter how much you want to change and grow—leaving people and their expectations behind can hurt. But this is the process we’re called into as business owners over and over again.







    This week, we’re wrapping up our series on leading ourselves by taking a closer look at who we’re becoming—and how we’re changing—to lead ourselves into the future.







    If you haven’t heard the other episodes in this series, I highly recommend making to time to do so! The first episode was with Emily Thompson from Being Boss and Almanac Supply Co—and we talked about how she used a “full body yes” to make a big decision.







    The second episode was with coach & strategist Valerie Black about how she surfed the ebbs & flows this year as the pandemic rocked her business and her ego.







    Last week’s conversation was with Alethea Fitzpatrick about how she’s led herself & Co-Creating Inclusion, her DEI consultancy, by focusing what she can control and letting go of what she can’t.







    Today, we’re talking to Melissa Emler, who leads a community of educators & administrators over at Modern Learners.







    As you might guess from the name of her company, Missy has been through the wringer this year! The pandemic brought an intense urgency to the work she’s been doing and the change she’s been trying to create in education for years. Suddenly, schools all over the world knew they needed a new approach to learning.







    But that wasn’t the only thing creating twists & turns for Missy this year.







    In this conversation, you’ll hear how Missy balances leading her company with working in the “lab” of a day job, the 3-part framework she’s used to lead educators through big change, and how she created space for conversation about injustice and systemic racism in education.







    Plus, you’ll hear how Missy uses a key question about change and figuring out who we want to become to meet the moment to lead herself and others.







    Now,

    • 50 min
    EP 313: Focusing On What You Can Control With Co-Creating Inclusion Founder Alethea Fitzpatrick

    EP 313: Focusing On What You Can Control With Co-Creating Inclusion Founder Alethea Fitzpatrick

    In This Episode:







    * How Co-Creating Inclusion founder Alethea Fitzpatrick navigated this year by focusing on what she could control and letting go of what she can’t* How she took care of herself during troubling times, all while her business was taking off* What operational adjustments she led the business through as they grew* How she’s planning for next year with more uncertainty and growth on the horizon











    It’s a bit cliche to say that entrepreneurs have control issues.







    I mean, our drive for control over our time, our work, our creative output—it’s one of the reasons many of us ended up starting our own businesses in the first place!







    Our control issues can have positive side effects. Needing to be in control can inspire you into resourcefulness, it can motivate you to learn new skills, it can help you find a sense of independence…







    …but control issues, ultimately, harm us and our companies. Our control issues can hurt the people we work with and can stifle our creativity.







    Trying to get or maintain control can hold our imaginations and wellbeing hostage.







    adrienne maree brown writes in *emergent strategy, “*Many of us respond to change with fear, or see it as a crisis. Some of us anticipate change with an almost titillating sense of stress. We spend precious time thinking about what has changed that we didn’t choose or can’t control, and/or thinking ahead to future stress.”







    Well, yes. That feels familiar.







    This week, we’re continuing our series on leading yourself with Alethea Fitzpatrick, the founder of Co-Creating Inclusion—a diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting practice.







    Alethea told me that her go-to practice for navigating the twists & turns of this year has been focusing on what she can control and letting go of what she can’t.







    As you might guess, Alethea’s consultancy has experienced massive growth this year—which has been its own challenge—while she also had to deal with pandemic life with 2 kids in New York City.







    I’ve watched Alethea navigate big emotions, uncertain outcomes, and limited capacity and her openness & grace in the midst of oppression and violence has been astounding.







    Now, let’s find out what works for Alethea Fitzpatrick.

    • 57 min
    EP 312: Surfing The Ebbs & Flows with The Change Agency Founder Valerie Black

    EP 312: Surfing The Ebbs & Flows with The Change Agency Founder Valerie Black

    In This Episode:







    * How coach & strategist Valerie Black led herself through a year of ups & downs* The practices she uses to find her center and stay present—so she doesn’t end up “future-tripping”* What she did to hold boundaries around her work as clients started to come back* The question she’s asking to find direction for the next phase of her work











    I used to live in Astoria, Oregon.







    That’s where the mighty Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean—the northwest corner of the state and the home of the Tribes of the Chinookan people.







    Every day, I’d walk along the river several times and just watch the water flow.







    Because we were so close to the mouth, the river actually experienced considerable tides. Throughout the day, the height of the river might change anywhere from 6-10 feet.







    Not only did the level of the water change dramatically throughout the day, it would appear that the flow of the river reversed.







    When the tide was out, the river flowed as you would expect—toward the ocean.







    When the tide was coming in, it looked like the river flowed backwards toward Portland.







    It was wild.







    Of course, under the surface of the rising tide, the Columbia River continued its journey toward the Pacific. The river never actually changed course—just the water on the surface.







    Life and work can create a similar illusion.







    It can feel like half of the time we’re moving forward…







    …and half of the time we’re being pushed backwards by forces outside of our control.







    But under the surface, we’re still growing, adapting, emerging. We’re continuing our journey.







    When you’re building a business, you’ll inevitably experience ups and downs, ebbs and flows.







    When things are bad, it can feel like every success you’ve ever experienced is being washed away by failure.







    But, of course, the truth is that we’re always learning and moving forward.







    As we continue our series on leading yourself and examining the practices that small business owners used to navigate this wild year, I’m thrilled to introduce you to coach and founder of The Change Agency, Valerie Black.







    I met Valerie at this time last year and was immediately struck by her mix of gentleness and tenacity. She is both strategic and intuitive, open-hearted and strong-willed—not that any of those things are mutually exclusive, of course!







    Valerie has had a year of ebbs and flows, as she put it.







    And I wanted to capture her story and learn more about the self-care practices that saw her through this year.







    Now, let’s find out what works for Valerie Black!

    • 46 min
    EP 311: Finding The Full Body Yes With Being Boss Host Emily Thompson

    EP 311: Finding The Full Body Yes With Being Boss Host Emily Thompson

    In This Episode:







    * How Emily Thompson, host of Being Boss & founder of Almanac Supply Co, led herself through a year with plenty of twists & turns* How she knew that taking over Being Boss on her own with the right decision for her & the vision she has* How she managed herself through turning an in-person event into an online one* The practice she uses to stay focused and present with her own experience* What she did at Almanac Supply Co to replace a revenue stream lost to lockdown











    Well, folks—we’ve made it.







    It’s the final month of 2020 and we’ve been through a lot this year.







    I can’t even pretend to know what the year was like for you. I don’t know if you felt incredibly lonely or never got a moment to yourself after March 17th (or both). I don’t know if you finally confronted your racist uncle or spent precious energy reminding people that your life does matter. I don’t know if your business cratered or skyrocketed. I don’t know if you lost a loved one or welcomed a new life into your family.







    But what I do know is that, if you’re reading this right now, you led yourself through it.







    You found a way to cope. You found the strength to keep going. You nurtured the resilience to grow and adapt.







    And you should be proud of that.







    I’ve had the great privilege of getting the inside scoop on how hundreds of small business owners navigated the endless twists and turns of this year. I’ve watched as they rise to the occasion over and over again inside The What Works Network.







    I’ve observed their new self-care practices. I’ve seen how they reimagine their brands. I’ve witnessed them wait it out. And I’ve seen how how they’ve grown.







    This month, I wanted to take a look back at how they’ve led themselves through this wild year.







    So I spoke to 4 small business owners who each had a very different experience this year. What they all have in common, though, is a fine-tuned sense of self-leadership.







    Sometimes that self-leadership took the form of intentional practices of self-care. Other times, it was finding the courage the make big decisions. And still other times, their self-leadership stared down challenges with intense creativity & imagination.







    My first guest in this series is Emily Thompson, host of Being Boss and founder of Almanac Supply Company.







    Emily had a big year—she separated from her long-time business partner Kathleen Shannon. She reimagined the Being Boss business model. She pivoted an in-person event to the online space. And, she got creative about how to replace a major revenue stream for Almanac.







    Emily and I talk about all of these moments and much more.







    We’ll get into the conversation in just a minute.







    But first, I want to invite you to join me for a different kind of annual review.







    It’s happening on Instagram—and every day this month, I’m sharing a different question you can use to look back on the year.







    So whether the year has been up, down, or lots of ups & downs, these questions will help you reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how you’ve grown.







    Today’s question is: what did you create this year?







    Follow along by finding me on Instagram – I’m a href="http://instagram.

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
188 Ratings

188 Ratings

Trevor Oldham ,

Tara and her guests are great!

When building a business, I know that I can't do it all alone. By listening to Tara and her guests I've been able to gain valuable insight into growing my business!

Mary Beth Simon ,

Critical to launching my new business

I learned about the podcast and network through a consultant I worked with to launch my business. I have made such valuable connections through the network and learned so much from the podcasts, events and members. Listen 🎧 and learn.

Eva Jannotta ,

Tara’s show is so good!

I recently discovered Tara’s show What Works. I love the emphasis on taking listeners behind the curtain for real-life tales of building a more effective, sustainable, and profitable business. Systems and processes are some of the most overlooked aspects of building a business, and it’s so helpful and interesting that Tara and her guests share examples that go against the status-quo.

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