Natalie MacNeil: Issue Nine Cover Star!
Our cover star for issue nine of Raspberry Magazine is the effervescent and enthusiastic, Emmy-award winning entrepreneur, Natalie MacNeil!
Natalie is the author of She Takes on the World and The Conquer Kit, and the Creator of SheTakesOnTheWorld.com.
She Takes On The World is one of the top sites on the planet for entrepreneurial women. It was recognised by Forbes on “Top 10 Websites for Entrepreneurial Women”. She Takes on the World is also the 2013 recipient of “Website of the Year” at the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Today, Natalie and her team at She Takes on the World are focused on transforming businesses around the world through The Conquer Club, a 12-month implementation incubator for ambitious entrepreneurs.
Let's dive in!
Natalie, how would you define your purpose here on Earth?
My purpose is to ignite a spark in people, especially in other women, that makes them realise THEIR own gifts, THEIR own power, THEIR own light. And I think when they can see me sharing my gifts and my power and my light, it gives them permission to stand up and do the same.
How did you come to be where you are right now?
This would be the short answer: Dreaming big dreams, doing a little bit of planning, and doing a whole lot of surrendering my attachment to it all.
Here is the super long answer:
My childhood dream was to be an entrepreneur / author / teacher / speaker / astronaut.
I carried this dream for quite a few years, until middle school teachers and guidance counsellors advised me that this was out of the question. They encouraged me to find a “real job” that I might enjoy doing. Through a software program that helps students figure out what job they could potentially do based on their passions, I was told I would make a good lawyer. The second option it gave me was being a circus performer. I have no idea where that one came from. Quite frankly, I think this kind of software should be banned in schools. [Side note: Today I am an entrepreneur and an author and a teacher and a speaker and a soon-to-be astronaut once I book my ticket into space with Virgin Galactic.]
Let’s fast forward to my university years, when I was still thinking I might become a lawyer but my entrepreneurial soul kept whispering to me that I was meant to carve my own path. So with a whole lot of trust and through a series of synchronicities I was led back to entrepreneurship and I started a media business that led into a production company I ran with a business partner for a few years. Things were good, I won my Emmy, and then this happened... While I was building that business and traveling the world, I blogged about it on my little blog called She Takes on the World and that ended up gaining so much momentum and getting featured in major media outlets and it became full time and it’s what people know me for today along with our flagship incubator for entrepreneurs, The Conquer Club.
You mentioned you were told to “get a real job” despite your inner passion to become an entrepreneur. What would you say to other aspiring entrepreneurs who are getting the same advice?
You need to give yourself space to hear your own inner voice. What do I mean by that? Spend quality time with yourself. While I was trying to decide what I do after university I took myself on a very low budget backpacking trip through Europe because I knew I needed to be alone and outside my comfort zone. That really changed everything for me, and it was on that trip that I got the signs and confirmation I needed to follow my own heart.
If you’re always hearing from people around you that you shouldn’t pursue your dreams, you need to find your people! Every entrepreneur needs a tribe that will raise them up.
What does your current business model look like? What prompted you to move from blogger and online business mentor to developing your virtual incubator + community, The Conquer Club?
The Conquer Club is everything I wish I would have had when I was starting. The truth is, you can learn a lot in a 6 or 8 or 12 week program, but it’s not enough time to actually implement and apply all that learning. That’s why The Conquer Club is a 12 month incubator that helps you take massive action. My goal with The Conquer Club is to also feature several mentors and experts in the community, and not just me, although I love sharing my expertise and helping our members grow. You need different perspectives when you’re building a business and that’s really the bridge we’re building for people.
The Conquer Club is our biggest revenue stream right now but our business model includes other revenue streams like books, speaking, sponsorships, and consulting. In 2016 we’re launching a brand new company as well that I can’t wait to share more about soon.
Talk us through a typical day (or week) for you at She Takes on The World.
My typical day starts with me-time. I believe you have to put yourself on your schedule first thing so that you’re energised for the day ahead. I exercise, do some yoga, have my green juice, meditate, and do some light writing or journaling. I love that no matter where I am in the world I can maintain this routine in my life to keep me grounded.
I focus on achieving 3-5 main tasks per day that drive the business forward. These are tasks that usually require me to set aside at least a few hours of creative time where I close my inbox and other distractions so I can do the work that’s most important.
I write quite a bit in the evenings during the week, and I love wrapping the day with a movie or book if I’m at home. When I’m traveling a love getting lost in cities, and draw so much inspiration from those experiences.
How do you handle work/life balance?
I love the concept of strategic imbalance, as presented by Marcus Buckingham. Strategic imbalance is about imbalancing your life in your own unique way that maximises your joy and reduces stress. What causes the most stress is trying to keep everything in perfect equilibrium, and once you let that go beautiful things unfold. For example, from the outside looking in people would say my life is imbalanced because I work a lot more than most people would want to. But I love my work, and it brings me a lot of joy. I also travel a lot for my job, and I don’t mind it at all. My schedule would bring some people a lot of stress, but it brings me joy.
I’ve also learned to put ME as the first slot on my calendar each morning. I do some exercise, drink a green smoothie, meditate, and journal. This routine really grounds me. I am also very mindful of how I fuel my body, and work with a team of health professionals to monitor my overall wellbeing and take the supplements that optimise my health. I make healthy food choices that give me energy and help me be of highest service. Health is wealth!
Tell us a bit about why you think being a part of a supportive community can help with business growth and success.
There is a lot of research that shows how powerful it is to have the support of a community believing in you. The majority of women entrepreneurs are solo entrepreneurs with no employees. That can get lonely, and you just don’t have to do it alone. Our members are always telling us how finding The Conquer Club was like “finding a family” and “finding home.” That’s exactly what we want to continue cultivating because I know it’s what every entrepreneur needs.
Being a business mentor yourself, I’d love to know whether you’ve sought the advice from other mentors, or who you look to for advice or inspiration within your own business?
I am part of a mastermind group of women in business, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have them to lean on. I have also been fortunate enough to get to meet with powerhouse women like Arianna Huffington and get their advice. I like seeking support from diverse groups of leaders and entrepreneurs so I get different perspectives, and I wish more people would understand that mentorship is often in short bursts rather than long-term support. I think different perspectives are really important in business, and you should never get all your advice from just one person. That’s also why The Conquer Club has a whole team of mentors that can give our members advice, ideas, and strategies.
I also find inspiration in the places I travel to, and the people I meet all over the world. Inspiration is all around when you’re open to it.
You recently released your second book The Conquer Kit, a creative business planner for women entrepreneurs, how important do you think it is to have a plan when it comes to business?
Every business needs a plan but conventional business plans assume that bigger = better and more = best. Not all of us want to be the next Apple. Some of us just want our hard work and creativity to be reflected in our earnings – not our employer’s earnings. Some of us would rather die than manage a big team; we’d be totally happy with one part-time Virtual Assistant, thank you. It’s okay if your biggest ambitions are “make a living and a difference doing work that I love.” You deserve a business plan that supports that goal, and that’s what kind of plan you get with The Conquer Kit. It’s a very creative planning process where you’re invited to sketch, glue, scribble, and write all over the journal-style pages while still developing in airtight strategy.
Please tell us your favourite:
- Books: Think and Grow Rich and Good to Great
- Website: Rosetta Stone (language training site)
- Early morning activity: Meditation
- Late night activity: Creative writing
- Gourmet snack: Homemade popcorn drizzled with Canadian maple syrup and fleur de sel!
Thank you so much Natalie! It's been an absolute pleasure to feature you on the cover of issue nine!
Photography: Cover image and top image on this page are by Hillary Gauld Commercial.