Episode 173: Natasha Miller – From Homeless to Business Success: The Story of Natasha Miller
Natasha Miller joins us on this episode to tell us her story of how she went from living in a homeless shelter to being an Award-winning Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author and a successful Business owner. Hearing personal stories from fellow entrepreneurs, especially those who have made it big, is not only to help inspire you but also a great way to educate yourself about what you need to have – mindset, skills, tools – to make it.
As we mentioned, Natasha Miller is an award-winning bestseller. Not only that, but she’s also a three-time Inc. 5000 entrepreneur and speaker, the CEO of Entire Productions, a go-to event and entertainment production company in San Francisco, whose clients include Apple, Google, and Salesforce, and also runs a program called Memoir Sherpa to help other professionals write, publish and market their own success story. Tune in and get ready to be inspired and motivated to start sharing your own journey.
Read her #1 best-seller book: RELENTLESS
Natasha Miller 00:00
Being social and not transactional and creating an experience in a relationship with who you are selling to is important. And it is obviously the hot button. Today, I think we understand the psychology of making a deeper connection with the people that we interact with and sell to.
Bob Woods 00:18
Welcome to the making sales social podcast featuring the top voices in sales, marketing, and business. Join Brynne Tillman and me, Bob woods. As we each bring you the best tips and strategies. Our guests are teaching their clients, so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. Enjoy the show.
Brynne Tillman 00:43
Welcome back to making sales social. I am really looking forward to my conversation today with Natasha Miller. She is the award-winning best seller, author three times Inc, 5000, entrepreneur and speaker and today Natasha is going to talk to us about how we can understand that it is not enough to be resilient.
I am really excited about this conversation. She is also the author of Relentless: Homeless Teen to Achieving the Entrepreneur Dream and she also runs a program called Memoir Sherpa. Welcome, Natasha.
Natasha Miller 00:00
Hey, thank you for having me.
Brynne Tillman 00:43
No, thrilled to have you here today, before we jump into this phrase that it is not enough to be resilient, which I’m really looking forward to this conversation because all of us are you know, we try we strive to be resilient and so why is that not enough going to be great we ask all of our guests what it means to them to make their sales social, yeah.
Natasha Miller 01:45
I think that being social and not transactional in creating an experience in a relationship with who you are selling to, is really important and it is obviously the hot button today.
Brynne Tillman 00:01
Natasha Miller 00:42
I think we understand the psychology of making a deeper connection with the people that we interact with, and sell to and it really has to be a win win for both people and so that is what I consider social selling is that relationship that piece.
Brynne Tillman 02:15
I love that and I think it’s so important that we don’t look at social selling from a cold calling platform or lead gen and so I love your definition or your insights on what makes us well making sales social or social selling so thank you for that. Okay, I’m excited to dive in first actually share with us what your definition of resilience is.
Natasha Miller 02:42
My definition is the same definition that’s in the dictionary where you, you’re where we are today. Then if something happens an illness or setback something like that puts us below that bar, you need to be resilient in order to bounce back to where we are. But does that get you to where you want to go does that get you to your goals to your dreams to beyond what you ever thought was available to you Absolutely not. There’s more to it and what you needed be instead of just resilient, which of course you need to have that skill and that and that rubber band ability you must be relentless in the pursuit of your endeavors.
Brynne Tillman 03:25
Interesting. so resilient takes you to neutral.
Natasha Miller 00:02
Brynne Tillman 00:04
And relentlessness takes you to your goals.
Natasha Miller 00:32
I believe that I really do mean I hear so many people saying, “Oh, she’s so resilient” And I’m thinking, “Okay”.
Brynne Tillman 00:02
Natasha Miller 00:09
Yeah, Good. We don’t want people not to be resilient.
Brynne Tillman 00:08
But we’re halfway there resilient.
Natasha Miller 00:02
Brynne Tillman 03:48
That’s really interesting. Tell me a little bit about your story so I know before I even asked that I know one of the things you do really, really well is help people really tell their story write their memoir. And you’ve done this and this was when I recognized earlier in our conversation that your story is that you were this homeless teen and now you really have an amazing entrepreneurial career. So tell us a little bit about that story and how you made that a book.
Natasha Miller 04:24
The story you know, I thought I was special. While I was writing this book I really did. I thought that I had this crazy life full of very low and quite high inflection points. and it turns out, “I’m not special at all”. There most of us have that but what we do not do is it’s not cocktail discussion. We do not wear it on our sleeve and so I wrote this book about my life and this is the dramatic overview is that I was treated very unwell as a child and that’s an understatement.
But on Christmas Day, when I was 16 years old, I was driven to and dropped off at a homeless shelter by my father and I never got to come home. So, I’ve been on my own since then and you can imagine writing checks you know we’re going to bounce for food. So many people have done that. I am not special there but what happened to me was, I had this relentless pursuit of so many things proving myself as valuable knowing that I had a talent and a skill set that should be paid attention to and honored.
So, I went from bouncing writing checks I knew were going to balance to 22 years in business, being able to pay over $30 million to employees, vendors, talent, artists, because of my core business being in events and entertainment that’s a rags to riches story both you know financially but more emotionally and mentally.
Brynne Tillman 05:58
So, can you share with us a little bit of that pursuit? I mean, you do not have to go, I want them to go whenever you want to go buy the book to hear the whole story. But you know, how do you go from being in a homeless shelter to starting your first business?
Natasha Miller 06:13
Well, when you are in a homeless shelter and you are young, and you aren’t getting the support financial support from your family, I eventually got my own apartment. And then in high school was working a full-time job as a hostess at a restaurant. Because I was not old enough to serve food and drink. Right? So that was a choice versus some other choices that someone in a similar situation might make where you know, they’re aligning themselves with people that aren’t necessarily good for them you know, partying all night sleeping on couches, I was supporting myself.
And then I also happened to play the violin and I was very good for my location. If you stack me up against the entire world of 16 year old violinist, I do not know how I would you know appear top or bottom but I was performing with my string quartet at private social and corporate events. I basically had started my business without knowing I was starting a business at the age of 15 and 16.
Brynne Tillman 07:21
Wow, that is fabulous. How did you end up going into the event planning space in design?
Natasha Miller 07:30
It was a natural accident. How is that for a word natural accident. So, my string quartet and my jazz ensemble, because I am also a jazz vocalist, we’re performing for the smaller weddings and social events and also corporate gatherings as background music and as I got older, and became double booked, triple, booked, quadruple booked, instead of what most musicians would do. So brynne, if you called me, I would say, “Oh, you know what, I am busy on that night. Sorry”. That is what most people would say.
I said, “You know what, I am already booked, my group is booked”. But I’ll bring in a group that’s as good as I am that similar to what I do, and maybe even better, and manage them for you. So I was doing that for year and officially, I did not know that was a business. It was just a hustle. It was just a way to be able to take a piece of the pie in order to pay rent and feed myself and then I officially turned that into a business in 2001 and it just started snowballing and growing and scaling and then we ended up planning people’s events. But because we were so good with systems and processes and analytics and logistics, which a lot of creative people are not, they don’t have that balance of left side and right side brain.
Brynne Tillman 08:56
So I think that’s amazing story. I don’t want to get too off track. But there was a company called us maintenance and I knew there became a national at least. And I knew the two people that started it. Their husband and wife in their basement there one of their sons went to nursery school, preschool with my kids. And I sat down with her and I said me and Nancy, why don’t you guys do this because you’ve built this global brand. And they started off really, as snow removal people and maybe, you know, maintenance, outdoor maintenance, and her story is very similar to yours.
In that she started just outsourcing and managing companies so they ended up you know, getting the target over time and you know, there were targets nationally and they their company managed all of the grass cutting and the snow move removal and all that nationally. So, you wind up with these big national accounts. But it was that same philosophy.
And you are only the second person I’ve talked to that, that actually implemented that. And I think it is brilliant. So, thank you for sharing. That was awesome. So, talk a little bit most of the people that are listening today, most of our listeners are entrepreneurs or people responsible for selling and delivering. So, it is making make it’s that balance. As you grew this business and clearly grown a fabulous business. How did you balance sales and delivery?
Natasha Miller 10:39
Well, that’s a question that is a good one for even today, even at the point we are, we are making and baking. So that’s what we use on our you know, that that’s a funny term that we say inside is that sometimes our salespeople are creating that sale with the client, and then producing that event. But we actually do have, you know a team in place where the salesperson, if everything’s going well sells the dream. And then the operations team executes.
So that’s the hope now, does that happen every time? No. And as you grow and grow and grow it really does have to be separated into the more people that you have the bigger events, you know, you really do have to have someone because the skill set as you get bigger there really is a defining difference between the sales people, the designers and the implementers and the producers.
Brynne Tillman 11:42
Yeah. Okay. So that’s Initially, it was all one roll and you split the roll and so yeah,
Natasha Miller 11:49
Initially, it was just me
Brynne Tillman 11:50
Doing every flight, right? Yeah,
Natasha Miller 11:52
I like at the beginning, right. I know what it takes, I know, the positives and negatives of every role, including bookkeeping. And so, it also allows me to be able to hire well, but I today don’t work in my business entire productions, day to day. I work on it about 20% of my time in strategy and vision and so the team is really there turning on the wheels.
Brynne Tillman 12:23
Yeah, my one question around entrepreneurship and I remember the day that I did this, and it was really scary but when I moved from the solopreneur, to payroll, right.
Natasha Miller 00:02
That is terrifying.
Brynne Tillman 00:11
It’s terrifying and it worked out fine but talk to me about how you knew the moment it was time to pull that trigger
Natasha Miller 12:45
Well, the first 10 years of my business, really were a lifestyle business for me to support my performance recording career and when I saw entire production starting to grow and scale without me putting too much into that initiative, I had to make that decision. Do I want to hire interns and inexpensive contractors and people that aren’t sticky to my brand and I decided, you know, I tiptoed into it. I hired someone part-time than she showed to be valuable and reliable that I put her on full-time. So, there was one person that I hired a bookkeeper in house, part-time. And then I just started tiptoeing into you know, a bigger staff. Before the pandemic I had a million-dollar payroll and I’m almost backup to that now a year.
Brynne Tillman 00:03
That is a lot of responsibility.
Natasha Miller 00:02
Brynne Tillman 12:34
Yeah. and I get it. and, you know, I love the idea of kind of baby stepping it and that’s something that I did as well, once my employee had opened up enough space in my world to make more sales to make more than I was paying, I could bring on the next one. So that was always my goal. So I love that, as we’re coming in, kind of at our time, and we’re a little over because I’ve seen joy to them so much. I’d like just to ask you a quick question on the year the memoir, Sherpa, right? Entrepreneurs, you say should be writing their own story, why? Why should they? And how would they get started?
Natasha Miller 14:31
I truly believe so many entrepreneurs write a book, usually on their subject matter of their zone of genius. We need those books. But do we really, I mean, honestly, it’s a wonderful business card. There are a lot of reasons to do that and I may one day do that very thing. But the response I’ve gotten and the deeper connections that I’ve received from readers on the story of my life are so much more incredible and people are learning like you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable before you write a memoir.
So, if you can’t be vulnerable, don’t bother. That’s my advice to anyone, you do not have to spill every single thing that you’ve ever done that you don’t want people to know about.
But you do have to be vulnerable in a couple of places and I think learning about each other’s life and all that stuff that you don’t bring with you to a cocktail party right is so important. There’s so many lessons, and you can leapfrog and transform your life by reading the stories of others. So I’m clearly passionate about it. And the way you get started with me is that I have a masterclass called “ROADMAP TO YOUR MEMOIR.” and it teaches a little bit of you, as you get start started writing your memoir, it’s a free program.
And then you figure out, you start thinking about how you want to publish regardless of how you’ve published before and how you will publish in the future. And then there’s a little bit of how to market a book and when do you start marketing a book. And if you feel then, like if you get revved up and you’re like, This is it, this is my time and I like how Natasha has everything arranged and how she executes the program.
Then you can sign up to be part of memoir Sherpa, which is a step-by-step program and it’s my signature system of how to do it in a way that is more simple than doing it by yourself. For God’s sake don’t ever try that. It’s a mess. I did that at first. And I just love it. And the people that have gone through the program, love it and are so thankful. And I am so proud of that.
Brynne Tillman 16:39
So, it’s great. And is there a specific link to that? I’m looking at my notes. I don’t see one, but how can they find how can i…
Natasha Miller 16:44
I can send you the link, but you can go to Natashamiller.com. and there are links there, to the roadmap to your memoir program. There’s also a quiz about what the best publishing path is for you. But I’d really start with the roadmap to your memoir masterclass.
Brynne Tillman 17:02
Well, thank you so much last question. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that I should have?
Natasha Miller 17:06
You really didn’t I think we covered so much ground.
Brynne Tillman 17:10
I think we I learned so much and I enjoyed this very much. So, thank you, for our listeners, Natasha Miller is on LinkedIn go to Natashamiller.com. Check out her podcast and her book and just stay in touch because she’s got lots of great content out there. In addition to making sure that you are connected to Natasha, make sure that when you are out and about that you’re making your sales social.
Bob Woods 17:41
Thanks for listening and join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales, training and social selling strategies that will set you apart. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest episodes from the making sales social podcast, leave a review down below. Tell us what you think what you learned and what you want to hear from us next. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information.